Is it a Rut or a groove?

My teacher Michael Reuter sent this to me:

The paths of great leaders are etched with the marks of the ruts and grooves that arise on their life’s journey. The ruts and grooves appear similar at times, but the journey that accompanies them is vastly different. Herein lies a challenge of knowing in which one they are at the time.

Jack Beach suggests that a key question leaders must answer when all is going well is: “Are you in a rut or a groove?” He writes: “It is also probably the most difficult question to answer since all that is in us wants to see the groove and not the rut. But ruts and grooves can be very different. Ruts are smooth and allow us to speed comfortably across the plains. Grooves can be jolting at times but progressively move us over the bumps and rough patches we encounter as we unremittingly ascend the mountains. So, we need to determine if the path we are on is taking us straight forward or up. If we are not better today than we were yesterday, we are probably in a rut.”

Zig Ziglar writes: “Little men with little minds and little imaginations go through life in little ruts, smugly resisting all changes which would jar their little worlds.” Great leaders chose not the ruts but, as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, they choose “… the ringing grooves of change.” As the Beastie Boys remind great leaders: “Life ain’t nothing but a good groove.”

Which end of the telescope are you using?

My teacher Michael M. Reuter shared this with me:

To the Great Leaders Who Have the Passion for Continuous Learning.

In his book, Be All You Can Be, John Maxwell shares a great leadership learning through a story about a boy and his telescope.

“One day little Bobby’s father came into the front room and saw the boy looking out on the street through the big end of a telescope. He said, ‘Son, that’s not the way you look through a telescope. If you look through it that way, you make the objects look much smaller. A telescope is to make things look bigger.’ But Bobby smiled and said, ‘Daddy, the bully who’s always beating me up is out on the street. I turned the telescope around because he’s my main problem, and I want to see him smaller than he really is.’”

The story’s message reminds great leaders to pause and reflect on how they choose to see the world and address situations. Are they over-magnified? Under-magnified? Maxwell suggests: “Most of us, instead of taking the big end of the telescope and reducing our problems, take the small end of the telescope and magnify our problems so that they look much bigger than they really are.” Problems, the out-of-the-ordinary, the exceptions by their nature, draw attention and are magnified. One of the great leaders’ responsibilities is to ask of themselves and the people whom they serve: “Are we looking through the correct end of the telescope?” Find the lens that best fits the situation or problem.

Rumi writes: “The world exists as you perceive it. It is not what you see… but how you see it… it’s not what you hear… but how you hear it. It is not what your feel… but how you feel it.” How we choose to see the world is a choice. Which end do you choose to use as you look through your telescope? Choose wisely; may you choose well.

Screw it, just get on and do it, what you have now is enough to start.

As my mentor sent me today:

In his article, Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready, entrepreneur James Clear tells the story of Sir Richard Branson, English businessman and investor, best known as the founder of Virgin Group. Dyslectic and a high school dropout, at 16 he started a small magazine, went on to selling mail order records and then opened a recording studio at age 22. His record label grew, and 50 years later he had more than 400 companies. Today he is a billionaire. Clear shares his insights on Branson’s success. He tells Branson’s story of how he started Virgin Airlines which Clear says captures “his entire approach to business and life.”

I was in my late twenties, so I had a business, but nobody knew who I was at the time. I was headed to the Virgin Islands and I had a very pretty girl waiting for me, so I was, umm, determined to get there on time. At the airport, my final flight to the Virgin Islands was canceled because of maintenance or something. It was the last flight out that night. I thought this was ridiculous, so I went and chartered a private airplane to take me to the Virgin Islands which I did not have the money to do.

Then, I picked up a small blackboard, wrote “Virgin Airlines. $29.” on it, and went over to the group of people who had been on the flight that was canceled. I sold tickets for the rest of the seats on the plane, used their money to pay for the chartered plane, and we all went to the Virgin Islands that night.

Branson captured his own leadership style saying: “Screw it, just get on and do it.” Clear writes that Branson’s life is a self-portrait of his words: “He actually lives his life that way. He drops out of school and starts a business. He signs the Sex Pistols to his record label when everyone else says they are too controversial. He charters a plane when he doesn’t have the money.” It is about starting now, just doing it. In a beautiful summary Clear writes:

“You’re bound to feel uncertain, unprepared, and unqualified. But let me assure you of this: what you have right now is enough. You can plan, delay, and revise all you want, but trust me, what you have now is enough to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to start a business, lose weight, write a book, or achieve any number of goals… who you are, what you have, and what you know right now is good enough to get going. We all start in the same place: no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience. The difference is that some people — the winners — choose to start anyway.”

You are that winner. Remember and internalize Clear’s words: “What you have now is enough to start.” Start before you are ready! Be more than you ever dreamed you could be. And have fun doing it. Life is so very good.

How to start your day

From my good friend and Teacher Michael Reuter of SHU

It is the great leaders’ daily ritual in the quiet of the morning – their mind goes through the day ahead: family responsibilities to take care of, personal to-do’s, business schedule, evening commitments (a late night ahead?), then home again. With a smile of their face, they look into the mirror and jubilantly say, “This will be a magnificent day, the best yet.” Another day begins, and they know that the day will be filled with challenges.

Philip Humbert in his blog, Trouble and Triumph, writes about these great leaders, and shares his thoughts on a successful strategy that they can use in dealing with these challenges. He states: “High achievers expect challenges. They know that, as they move forward, problems will occur. Unexpected things will happen, and they maintain an attitude of optimism, humor, strength and resolve in the face of difficulties. They know that, as they become ever more successful, the size and complexity of their problems will only grow.” He suggests some solutions for solving the problems.

Expect difficulty! This is no surprise. It is not unfair or unusual. Life is complicated. Get good at it.
Keep a buffer around the edges of your life. Maintain a reserve of extra time, savings in the bank, and a bit of energy to handle the unexpected.
Attitudes of optimism and enthusiasm are essential.
View difficulties as challenges or learning opportunities rather than as problems. How we talk about our difficulties makes a huge difference in how we handle them.Words matter!
Have a team of cheerleaders, experts and colleagues on stand-by to help you overcome any challenge. “We get by with a little help from our friends.”
Be proactive. Take care of difficulties while they are small. Preventive maintenance is good for your car, your relationships and your heart.
Learn from every experience and (try) not to have the same problem twice. Learn from difficulties, make changes, and move on. Never repeat the same life-lesson!

Setting expectations, maintaining a positive attitude and seeing what life presents as opportunities to learn establish a powerful growth mindset. The morning ritual, far from being dreaded, becomes one of joy and excitement… the excitement that this beautiful and magnificent day we are given will be the best yet, because we choose it to be.
Fill every minute of your day with all the greatness and possibilities that only you can give. Return home each night knowing that you lived every minute of your magnificent life that day. May you remember and hold close the words of Henry David Thoreau that we “must find your eternity in each moment.” May you find your eternity in every moment. Life is so very, very good.

____________

It’s all perspective

As sent my friend and teacher Michael M. Reuter of SHU

Henry David Thoreau writes: “It is not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” These words provide great leaders a beautiful moment of reflection. They think of how wonderfully unique each of us is. We see life differently, not “right” or “wrong,” but with a rich abundance of diversity that brings new insights and meaning to everything we touch. They muse about how these words speak to the creativity that spawned from that different set of eyes, a creativity so beautifully captured by George Bernard Shaw in his words: “Some men see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not.” They recognize also the caution given in these words: to be vigilant in their understanding that they don’t know what they don’t know – that there may be more possibilities in something that they are not seeing. As Anais Nin tells us: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Like Riding a bike

In his recent blog post, Like Riding a Bike, Seth Godin provides great leaders a powerful insight and reminder of their journey of leadership growth and development – experiential learning… learning through doing.

Like Riding a Bike
People talk about bike riding when they want to remind us that some things, once learned, are not forgotten.
What they don’t mention is how we learned. No one learns to ride a bike from a book, or even a video.
You learn by doing it.
Actually, by not doing it. You learn by doing it wrong, by falling off, by getting back on, by doing it again.
PS this approach works for lots of things, not just bikes. Most things, in fact.

It is in the experience of something that learning is at its deepest and richest. It is real, hands-on, the sleeves rolled-up and the hands get dirty. Retention of the learning is most enduring because the experience becomes one of the memorable stories of our life’s journey, remembered in its finest, most riveting detail.

May you enjoy the full joy, excitement and beauty of your leadership ride – with all its turns, bumps, ups and downs and its detours onto life-changing new paths that deepen and broaden your leadership learnings. May you apply and share them as you change the world and serve others in their leadership journey. In doing this, may you remember always that life is a journey, with problems to solve, lessons to learn, and most of all, experiences to enjoy. As Tony Robbins tells great leaders: “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” Get on your bike and have the ride of your life!

Commit to Lifelong learning

From my friend and Mentor Michael Reuter, Leadership Chair at Seton Hall University:

Brian Tracy tells great leaders: “Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.” The great leader’s life is one of continuous learning filled with experiences that have been internalized to make them who and what they are. It is their beautiful life learnings that brings depth, richness, love and joy to their magnificent journey.
A friend shared with me learnings from Andy Rooney, former CBS 60 Minutes television writer, who had a magical gift for saying so much with so few words. May you enjoy their wisdom and beautiful humanity for your own learning.

I’ve learned….That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I’ve learned….That when you’re in love, it shows.
I’ve learned ….That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.
I’ve learned….That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned….That being kind is more important than being right.
I’ve learned….That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I’ve learned….That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in any other way.
I’ve learned….That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I’ve learned….That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I’ve learned….That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I’ve learned….That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I’ve learned … That money doesn’t buy class.
I’ve learned … That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I’ve learned … That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I’ve learned … That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I’ve learned … That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I’ve learned … That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I’ve learned … That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I’ve learned … That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I’ve learned … That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I’ve learned … That life is tough, but I’m tougher.
I’ve learned … That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I’ve learned … That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I’ve learned … That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
I’ve learned … That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I’ve learned … That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I’ve learned … That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you’re hooked for life.
I’ve learned … That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
I’ve learned … That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

The learnings touch our life with their wisdom in all its elegant simplicity – about self-knowledge, aspirations and relationships, the learned realities of living life. These are among the learnings of great leaders. Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Capture and embrace every precious moment in life. Learn from them. May it be said of you that you lived every day of your life. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week

Remembering Zig Zigler

My friend and mentor writes:

The glass is not half-full, it is overflowing in every moment in the lives of great leaders. John Baldoni, in his Forbes article, Zig Ziglar: Encouraging Others to Believe in Themselves, writes:
“The success of Ziglar perhaps is not so much in what he said or wrote, but in how he challenged people to think differently about themselves and their lives. He also pushed the idea of taking personal responsibility and working with others rather than against them. ‘You can get everything in life you want,’ said Ziglar, ‘if you will just help other people get what they want.’ That moment of introspection, coupled with an awareness of what I might do differently, is the secret to personal renewal.”

Ziglar’s life and teachings are beautifully captured in his words:
“Desire is what takes the hot water of mediocrity and turns it into the steam of outstanding success.””
“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”
“We cannot start over, but we can begin now and make a new ending.”
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
“If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”
“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you.”

Greatness begins from within and works itself outward in our doing. In fitting tribute to Ziglar’s life, the Washington Post chose to close his obituary with words that reflected and honored his life’s teaching – “Yesterday ended last night. Today is a brand-new day and it’s yours.” – a loving message to those who follow him that each day is ours to be lived in the joyful, beautiful magnificence that we choose to make of it. Yes, get in the rowboat, and bring the tartar sauce. It will be one heck of a day. Life is so very good.

Are you an Eagle?

To: The Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning

My friend and Mentor Michael Reuter Leadership Professor at SHU shared this

Allegories are those beautiful stories and poems that capture our imagination and open our eyes to new insight and meaning about ideas, concepts and realities. Great leaders enjoy the richness that they offer. The allegory of the eagle invites great leaders to reflect on the meaning of change.

The Eagle has the longest life span of its species. It can live up to 70 years but, to reach this age, the eagle must make a very difficult decision. In its 40th year, its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. The feathers become old, thick and heavy. The thick and heavy feathers stick to its chest and makes it difficult to fly. Then, the eagle is left with two options: die or go through a painful process of change. The process lasts for 150 days (5 months).

The change process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. Then, the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. Then, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its talons. When the new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its heavy and thick feathers. And after this….. the eagle takes its famous flight of re-birth and lives for another 30 years. Why is the change needed? To survive and live.

The allegory is powerful and dramatic in its message fervently captured in the words of W. Edwards Deming: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Great leaders have a deep realization of the world around them. They know and feel the weight of their own feathers and the sharpness of their beaks – their approaches, tools, beliefs and visions. They continuously reassess what is and will be needed to achieve their life’s purpose. They know that change is a choice, and also a necessity. They understand and have internalized the words of Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” In their life they have chosen to be, as Mahatma Ghandi said, the change they want to see in the world.

Be the One

BE THE ONE…
§ Who doesn’t blame others before gaining engagement from the team to resolve the crisis… and then asking what could have been done differently
§ Who doesn’t define success through the eyes of others
§ Who is humbled by accomplishment and understands that leaders give credit far more than take it
§ Who doesn’t accept the status quo… just because things have been done this way a long time
§ Who has the courage to ask… whatever the question should be
§ Who chooses to embrace failure to let you get better
§ Who leaves a mark on everyone you connect with and who is a catalyst for change
§ Who seeks to make a difference each and every day you walk this earth
§ Who doesn’t give up… who perseveres
§ Who always walks the truth
§ Who always encourages honesty, inspires passion and lives with integrity…