Posts filed under ‘happy’

Focus on the G.O.O.D.

Life can be hard, and when it is, it’s easy to get down, lose perspective, feel overwhelmed, even depressed. It may be the poor choices and bad behavior of others, or perhaps our own. Financial, medical, or emotional, strain can also send one for a loop. Life is full of challenges, presenting ample opportunity to shrivel and shrink, lash out, or simply give up, but the results of any of these are sure to bring nothing but more despair.

For BEST results (sounds like medicine?), consider a better choice with an outcome guaranteed to bring greater peace, satisfaction, and success: Focus on the G.O.O.D.! Just looking for the good that surrounds us is by itself good advice in good times and bad, but what I’m suggesting here is to simply focus on the G.O.O.D.: Gratitude, Others, Opportunities, and Doing.

Gratitude – The happiest people I know are the most grateful! Even in the darkest times, there is so much to be grateful for. When your head hurts, be grateful you have one! When the house is messy, be grateful for being surrounded by others. An empty fridge means you have a fridge! A challenging job means you have income. There is ALWAYS something or someone to be grateful for, and just the act of focusing outward (instead of inward on yourself) at all the good that surrounds you, puts things in perspective and changes your attitude from one of scarcity and woe to abundance and wonder.

Others – As Albert Schweitzer put it, ”The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” The very act of focusing [outward] on others and their needs shifts the focus from oneself (inward) and one’s problems. You cannot focus on two things at a time. By centering your efforts on those in need your life takes on greater meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.

Opportunities – No matter where you are, there are opportunities to improve your situation…especially when times are tough. Life is all about learning, growing, and improving, and there is no finish line for any of these. Some of the most inspiring examples of living a full life come from those who appear to have had “nothing” to work with, yet have accomplished amazing things! Opportunities are everywhere!

Doing – “Action is the antidote to despair.” These words wisely penned by Joan Baez are among the truest when it comes to turning things around. Sitting and staring at your problems only makes them bigger…if not worse. Attacking them, or anything for that matter, gets the mind working and the blood flowing, shifting your focus away from the problem to something, more worthy of your efforts.

It is best always to focus on the G.O.O.D., but especially when things aren’t going so well. The most effective people understand and practice this; and the most effective leaders guide their teams to do the same!

Lead on!

Cliff

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June 3, 2016 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

New Life Through New Eyes

Have you hit the wall? Do you feel like you’re “done”? Is the joy gone…in your work, a relationship, or your life in general? There comes a time in most lives where the joy and satisfaction that once filled and fueled them diminishes even to the point of crisis. When this happens the natural reaction is to run, to flee, to get away from whatever it is that’s moved from beautiful to drab or from exciting to boring. In extreme cases this can lead to divorce, unemployment, or worse. At a minimum it results in dissatisfaction, disharmony, and disengagement.

The interesting thing is that most people who resort to “flight” versus hanging in to “fight”, don’t ever really solve the problem. They may find temporary relief in “different”, but the tendencies that pushed them to the tipping point in the first place will take them there again and again. The reason is that as they see it, the problems…AND the solutions are “out there”…when in reality they lie squarely within themselves! It’s easier to blame a companion or a job or our environment for one’s misery…when the real problem and solution lies within themselves and they choose to see things.

It is a marvelous and amazing thing to witness when someone chooses to see the same [old] thing in a new or different light; to see through new eyes. The author Marcel Proust wrote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. When we choose to see the same thing differently, to refocus on the positive, on its worth and potential, it (or they) changes right before our eyes. Seen from a different perspective or “attitude” what was drab or boring CAN become beautiful and exciting again.

Try this… Whatever it is (or who they are) that’s lost its luster in your [old] eyes, take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top “Things I love about…” (whatever it is). Then below that make a list of all the good things, the good qualities, the value, the interesting things, the things about it that you’re grateful for, it’s irreplaceability…in short – the things you genuinely love about it or them. Then, before you go to bed at night stand in front of a mirror and read the list saying before each item on the list “I love….(that thing, aspect, feature, etc.)
Then the next morning repeat this reading, staring yourself in the eyes as you do. Do this every day for the next few days until you begin to see a transformation – until you see the thing (or person) as you once did…and you will!

A small investment in this process may well bring a huge improvement in your life and your relationships and may prevent unnecessary pain, loss, and disappointment down the road.
Too often people run from the very things that are the best things…when the right thing is just to see things with new eyes.

Lead on…

June 2, 2015 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Build a Life with Goals

“I think I’ll build a house next year. I’ll do it when I have time…and can find some materials. No need to plan it or schedule it as that would take the creativity out of the process. But it’s going to be an awesome house! No…really!”

Silly? Yes…but isn’t that just what we do each year? We say we’re going to do any number of things – major things – in the new year…but in the end too often they just don’t happen! We don’t make them happen!

Building a house is a beautiful illustration of setting and accomplishing goals. Building a home requires a mental vision first, a paper version (blueprint) second, a list of materials and skilled labor, a detailed timeline, and the financial resources to pull it off…to name a few basic requirements.

Building a successful life requires the same. A vision, a written plan, and the resources – carefully accumulated and arranged, and ultimately the discipline to stick to the plan.

Think about the big things you REALLY want to accomplish next year. If you REALLY want to do them they’re most likely linked to your values or one of your roles (leader, spouse, parent, etc.) that you value. If not, stop right there. No need to proceed.

If the things you really do want to accomplish ARE things you really care about, then set a goal – a real goal – a written, detailed goal. Remember, a goal without a [detailed] plan is just a wish!

Take them one at a time. Ask yourself, with pen in hand, “what do I want to accomplish AND by when?” “What materials and resources will I need…and by when?” “What do I need to do NOW to begin and continue the process?” “What are [all] the milestones, approvals, research, and activities required…and by when?” Only with this kind of thinking and then doing, are we assured of accomplishing our most significant goals. But even the most challenging goals are no match for the power of an effectively planned and followed goal.

Last week during our annual business planning meetings I remember a few moments where presenters shared some REALLY big stretch goals. These were received by some in the audience with chuckles and I presume some skepticism. In some instances, where important pieces of their plans were shared I was quite confident that these individuals would pull it off, remembering an old quote, hope in the future gives power in the present! While hope alone won’t produce results, hope and faith in the possibilities and in our own potential, combined with well planned goals ARE powerful! Overwhelmingly powerful!

Whatever your goals, whatever you really want to and earnestly believe you can achieve, is within your grasp…IF you follow the goal-setting process and stick to the plan! It takes character (“the ability to carry out a worthy decision once the emotion of making the decision has passed”), but character is the stuff good lives are built of.

Make 2015 YOUR best year yet!
Lead on!
Cliff

December 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

What’s Your Motivation?

Why do you do the things you do?  Why do you perform at the level you do?  What about your employees; What’s their motivation for what they do and how they perform?  

In a speech by author and lecturer Hyrum Smith, he said that there are three basic emotions behind everything we do.  These emotions cause us to act upon, or react to, the various events and opportunities that make up our lives. These emotions are…Fear, Responsibility, and Love.   

Everything we do, every choice we make…is the result of one of these emotions – fear, responsibility, or love.  When you jump out of bed in the morning, it’s because you’re afraid if you don’t you’ll lose your job, or because you’re driven by a strong sense of responsibility to those who count on you, or…because you love what you do and you love those you serve…and you can’t wait to get to it!  One way or another, everything you (and your employees) do links back to one (or more) of these emotions. 

Why does it matter?  Consider the following: 

  1. The emotion of fear relates to “I have to thinking…  “I have to go to work or I’ll starve”.  I have to help that person or I may lose my job.”  “I have to stretch the truth or I’ll lose the sale.” 
  2. The emotion of responsibility relates to I ought to thinking…  “I ought to be on time because that’s right thing to do.”  “I ought to sweep the floors because the place should look presentable.”  “I ought to call the customer back because that’s she’d expect.”
  3. The emotion of love relates to I want to thinking…  “I want to get up and get to work because I love what I do.”  I want to serve my customers well because I genuinely like and care about them.”  “I want to do exactly what the boss asked – even when he’s not looking – because he’s a good guy and I like working for him.”  I want to spend the extra time training this employee because I love his enthusiasm and potential.”

Clearly, there’s a difference…a BIG difference between the depth of motivation…from fear…to responsibility…to love!  Which would you rather have working for you?  I’ll take ”I want to” every time!  It stems from the love of a job, love of an organization, a customer, an idea, a vision…  Imagine the difference over the life of a career between an employee that is motivated by love (“I want to”) versus one motivated by fear (“I have to”). 

The example you set and work environment you create can make all the difference in how your employees are motivated.  Model the actions, emotions, and care that you desire from your employees and you’re far more likely to see them respond in a similar fashion.  If they know you “want to” carry out the mission, and love doing what you do, your influence will spread and your team’s results will skyrocket!   

Lead on…

Cliff

October 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

“What Did You Do for Someone Today?”

Jack grew up in very humble circumstances in the hills of southwest Virginia.  He was one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mom.  Every day as the family sat at dinner, Jack’s father would ask each child in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?”  This caused each child in the family to consciously go about each day looking for some way to help others…so they could give a good report each night.  From this experience, as the children grew and matured an interesting thing took place.  Their motivation changed from needing to report well, to each of them developing a sincere desire to help and serve others.  We all know from personal experience the reward and good feelings we enjoy as the result of personal sacrifice and service; imagine the effect on Jack and his siblings after years of this practice!

So, what ever came of Jack?  Well, he became a doctor.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  But that’s not all!  Inspired by his father’s vision for his children, Dr. Jack McConnell went on to accomplish much more!  He directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI!  He also created the organization “Volunteers in Medicine”, which allows retired doctors to provide free medical services to the uninsured.

Dr. McConnell has left a significant and lasting mark on humanity all because of a sincere desire to help others, instilled by the inspired vision of a father.  I am sure that Jack’s father wanted his children to be good citizens and to serve their communities, but I am even more certain that his ultimate objective was to help his children come to understand the joy and peace and warmth that come to those who learn to selflessly serve others.

As we each look for ways to grow and improve, we might well give thought to adding a degree of “service” to our personal goals and objectives.  There are opportunities all around, formal and informal, and in every community.  Find an organization, a church, a cause, or just someone in need, and get to work helping.  At a minimum, go about each day looking for some way to help someone!  If we would all do this one simple thing, and teach it to our children to do the same, imagine the collective good, and the lasting difference it would make…in the world and in our lives!

Have a GREAT day…..serving!!!

Lead on…

Cliff

September 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap…”

Sound familiar? You might remember this verse from Sunday school or from more recent study.  It is a profound principle with powerful implications. It is an enduring principle with a promise that underlies everything we accomplish, or fail to accomplish during our lives. It is the key to joy and abundance or to failure and frustration. It is a sure promise – as sure as the sunrise or sunset.  If we do something, something happens. Everything in nature and in life is based on this principle. We control what we sow, and in that way only we exercise SOME control over what we reap.

Yes, sometimes there are outside (uncontrollable) factors at work. My Mom and Dad for instance led great lives. They worked hard, planned carefully, spent frugally, exercised consistently, ate impeccably, and served tirelessly. Theirs were happy, healthy, full lives…..in life they truly reaped what they sowed. You’d have thought they’d live forever! However, Dad, at a very young 69 years of age was consumed by a rare cancer in less than six weeks…..and Mom passed away just a few months laterfrom the same foe (cancer).

“So, why bother?” some would ask. “Why even try to plan, to work, and to improve?” It is true that any one of us could be removed from this life at any moment by causes beyond our control. BUT, while we live, while we are able to choose what it is we will sow in our lives, we can rest assured that while we live we will reap and receive in life what we put into it. Effort produces results, honesty builds trust, respect leads to cooperation, and healthy living improves the quality of life. As Montaigne so aptly wrote, “the value in life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them”.

Lead on……….. Cliff

April 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm 4 comments

“…I recommend pleasant.”

I received an anonymous email from an employee in one of our stores.  It was short and simple.  It read:

“I am an employee at the ——- location.  I have a few concerns.  There is absolutely no teamwork within the facility.  I’m concerned, because without teamwork, the store cannot function properly.  It would make the whole operation run smoother if we all helped each other out.  This is a great company and I just want the experience [of] working here [to be] a pleasant one. Thank you”

As a boy growing up from the 50’s to the 70’s one of my favorite movies was “Harvey” (1950), starring Jimmy Stewart in the role of Elwood P. Dowd.  If “Harvey” was ever on TV, the Woodbury house was tuned in!  I remember most clearly a scene toward the end of the movie, when Elwood is conversing with a doctor and nurse at a sanitarium…  Say’s Elwood:

“…In this world you have to be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.  For years I was smart.……..I recommend pleasant!”

Elwood, a wealthy eccentric, was by no means espousing ignorance-induced pleasance.  Instead, I think Elwood would advise: “work smart and be pleasant”…pleasant in your relationships and in your interaction with others.   It is important to be careful, focused, and thoughtful about one’s work, but when it comes to people, few things are more energizing, enjoyable, and unifying than an environment where people go out of their way to be kind, thoughtful, and tolerant…i.e., pleasant with each other.

If, on the other hand, we attempt to be “smart” rather than pleasant in our interaction with others, we automatically pit ourselves against them.  There is an implied position of superiority and one of inferiority, or of dominance and subservience…which leads quickly to distrust, distance, and ultimately…disdain.  Not exactly the environment of “teamwork” and productivity we are after…

So stop and take a look around you…what kind of an environment are you as a branch manager, sales, manager, or department manager fostering?  If you’re surrounded by positive energy, and pumped-up people,  don’t change a thing.  But if things could improve, begin right at “home” by…being pleasant…and then…….

Lead on……Cliff

March 4, 2010 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

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