Hard Things

Life is hard. It doesn’t matter how you look at it, life throws hard things our way without any consideration of how we feel about it. Life can be ruthless, unforgiving, and at times, stone cold. Sometimes this is due to our own choices, but there are times when life throws us curve balls that we aren’t ready for. Besides death and taxes, there is one thing we can be guaranteed in life – hard things will come our way.

Life doesn’t get easier. As an educator, I have always heard students say, “When I get older, things won’t be so hard for me.” As an adult, I know that these students are in for a rude awakening. The truth is – life doesn’t get easier. We just get better at doing hard things. 

What was once hard for us in our younger years is seen as trifle compared to what we have to deal with as we get older. When we were learning how to ride a bike, most of us probably fell a lot. We probably scraped our knees, our hands, and got banged up. We probably thought, “I’ll never figure out how to ride a bike.” Years later, I am going to assume that you can probably ride a bike just fine. For those of us who didn’t quit, kept getting back on the bike after we fell, we learned how to do something hard. 

As adults, we are faced with hard things. They may not be anything like riding a bike, but we still find ourselves struggling, falling down, and getting beat up. This could be mental struggles, emotional struggles, habitual struggles, relationship struggles, spiritual struggles, or _________ (fill in the blank) struggles. The bottom line is that hard things mean we struggle. We get tired and fatigued, and we are faced with the choice of quitting and giving up or getting back up after we have been knocked to the ground. As Rocky Balboa once said, “It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”

Hard things will never cease coming for us. We must purpose within ourselves that we will get better at doing hard things. What does that mean? It means that you get back on the bike. It means you try again and again and again until you succeed. It means you make healthy changes to better your mental, physical, and emotional health. It means you don’t give up. We get better at hard things when we push ourselves to overcome the things in our life that are hard. Just remember, life doesn’t get easier. You get better at doing hard things, and the only way you get better at doing hard things is by pushing yourself through it.

There is a simple truth in life – the more you do it, the better you get. This applies to nearly everything in life. Sometimes we get better with one or two tries. Other times, it takes try after try after try. The moment we quit, we have allowed what we considered to be hard to beat us. I want to tell you right now that you are better and stronger than anything you are going through in your life. Yes, you can beat what is hard. Yes, you can get better at doing hard things. It takes will, perseverance, grit, determination, and most importantly, discipline. It’s never going to be easy. Don’t forget that.

In today’s society, people no longer rise up to face challenges like they used to. When something gets hard, people want it fixed for them, or they will quit and complain. Many times, people would rather play victim to hard things rather than overcome and conquer the hard things in their life. People have a tendency to see hardship as a personal attack on their character and abilities. In reality, something is hard because we haven’t learned how to do it, get through it, understand it, you name it. Instead of feeling defeated by hard things, we should have an attitude of, “Challenge accepted.” 

Here’s another example. In school, some of us struggled with some kind of subject. Most of the time it was math, and if it wasn’t math, it was probably reading. Either way, we struggled with it and said, “It was hard.” However, as we progressed through our education, what once was hard became less difficult and was replaced with “harder” things, and what we once thought was hard is easy. That is what the essence of learning is all about. People who quit stop learning. People who stop challenging themselves stop learning. People who are complacent stop learning. People who stop pushing themselves stop learning. In other words, if you’re not willing to put in the work, don’t expect anything in your life to get any easier.

Getting better at hard things comes down to one thing – having a particular mindset. After all, mindset is everything. If hardship is seen as a blockade or a wall that is standing in the way of progress, then we must ask ourselves how we will get through the blockade or get over the wall. Most people see hardship as a sign to quit and give up. Some see it as a personal reflection on themselves. Others see it as a challenge that needs to be overcome, and those who see hard things in this way are those who get better at doing hard things. 

So the next time you are faced with hardship in your life, accept the challenge and do your best to learn, understand, grow, and become better. This way, you will get better at doing hard things.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Meet Them Where They’re At

I came home from work the other day, walked in the front door, looked at my wife, and I knew there was something off. To give you a little background information, we have been having issues with our septic tank on our property. Things haven’t been going well, and we were told that there was a good possibility that our leach field may be old and needing to be replaced. This is a $10,000 to $30,000 expense. We have only been in our house for just over 6 months, and we weren’t expecting this. 

My wife’s face was telling me a story. It said, “I’m overwhelmed, worried, concerned, and I don’t know how to handle it right now.” Now, at this moment, I should have seen it, recognized her needs, and met her where she was at. Sadly, because I’m flawed and don’t make the greatest decisions at times, I became guarded and cold. I said the things most men say, “There’s nothing to worry about. We’ll be just fine. It’s all part of the homeowner experience.” None of that was what she needed to hear or what she needed from me. She looked at me, with tears welling up in her eyes and told me, “I’m overwhelmed, and I don’t know how to handle it.” Again, I should have figured it out at this moment, but I didn’t. I looked at her with judgmental eyes and said, “Then I don’t know what to tell you.” And I walked away to get changed for the gym. 

Now, I know what your probably thinking, “What an @**hole!”, and you would be right. I was definitely not at my best, and I failed my wife miserably. While at the gym, I replayed everything in my head over and over. I knew how I acted and what I said was not what she needed. I knew that I had broken the relationship between her and I. I knew that I messed up and needed to make it right. When I got home, I walked up to her, threw my arms around her, and apologized for not being what she needed me to be in her moment of worry and concern. When I did that, she looked at me and said with a smile, “That’s all I needed.”

I have struggled with this for all of my life. I don’t know how to respond to peoples’ emotions. I am a very logical individual. I rely very little on my emotions. I always chalked it up to being a guy, but in reality, I have met very few guys that are like me. In reality, this is just who I am and how I operate. It has served me well in my decision making and stresses in life. Worry is not something I do, and when things get difficult, I put my head down and push on. This, however, is not what most people do, and because of that, it has hindered my ability to meet people where they are. 

I have had to work really hard to focus on meeting people where they are at, whether I understand their position and feelings or not. This has not been an easy feat, as I am bent on being a fixer and not much of an emotional person. My wife has not only been amazing and patient with me, she has also been my biggest helper in trying to understand how to meet others where they are at. 

I have learned that there are key elements to meeting people where they are at. First, we must get rid of “self” and enter the situation with a heart and mind willing to intentionally listen to the other person. It is only through listening to the other person that we can get to the next step – become what the other person needs. Most of the time, people just need to be heard. If you are like me, you might have a tendency to hear someone’s problems and immediately give ideas and suggestions on how to fix them. Even though the other person may need to fix their problems, what they are really needing is someone to hear them and sit with them in their time of need. 

There is a great scene in Pixar’s Inside Out that demonstrates the power and importance of sitting with people in their time of need. Warning: Spoiler alert. Inside Out is a movie about emotions inside our heads. The movie is about a 10 year old girl named Riley, who has to move to a new city with her parents, leaving her friends and her comfort behinder her. The emotions in her head – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Worry – have to work together to help Riley through this difficult process. As Joy and Sadness are trying desperately to get back to “headquarters”, they run into Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong. On their journey, they come across Bing Bong’s “rocketship”. However, a cleaning crew swept it up and pushed it over the cliff of the “Memory Dump”. Bing Bong watches as they push his rocketship over the edge. He runs to the cliff and begins to cry knowing that it is only a matter of time that Riley will start to forget about him. He sits at the edge of the cliff and starts talking about fond memories with Riley. Joy wants nothing more than to get back to headquarters, so she does everything in her power to offer advice and suggestions to help Bing Bong feel better so that they can get back on the road. However, nothing seems to be working. Sadness walks over to Bing Bong, sits next to him, and listens to what he has to say. She explains that she too has gone through painful situations. She doesn’t offer advice or suggestions on how he could feel better. She just sits with him in his time of need. After a few minutes of sitting, talking, and listening, Bing Bong says, “I think I will be okay,” and he gets up to continue the journey.

There is great power in just sitting and listening to people without needing to offer advice or suggestions. The most important thing we can do for others is to listen to them and be with them in their time of need. This means we need to remove our selfishness from the situation and be present. It doesn’t matter how busy we are, how much advice we can offer, or thinking that we have all the answers. What matters is that we listen, be present, and sit with people in their pain, hurt, worry, or whatever it might be. We need to remember that it’s not about us and what we want. It’s about the other person and being present in their time of need. 

We are all works in progress. Let us not fail at working on ourselves. Let us see the areas we need to change and diligently work at becoming better. 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

The Dance

There is a dance that we all do in life. Some of us do it really well, others struggle to find the rhythm or the right steps in the dance. When we over complicate our life, the dance becomes muddled and unclear. When we simplify our life, our steps seem to flow with the rhythm of life. To be successful and mentally strong in life, we must learn the graceful dance of life.

The dance in which I am referring to is that of balance. We must learn how to balance our lives carefully. Balance is essential in life, and without it, we miss opportunities, ruin relationships, and live a life filled with chaos and mental anguish. Balance creates peace and understanding in life. It removes unneeded stress, and it allows us the opportunity to breathe freely. Life’s dance of balance is much needed in a world filled with chaos.

How do we live a life of balance in a world filled with chaos? We have this innate problem within us to say “Yes” more than we should say “No”. People say “Yes” because they want to please others, they may be afraid of conflict, they might have poor personal boundaries, or they want to be liked. The more we say yes to things, the more chaotic our life becomes, and the more unbalanced we become in the dance of life.

There is a phenomenal author by the name of Bob Goff. He has a book called “Love Does”. It’s a must read, and I highly recommend it. In his book, he discusses that we need to learn to quit things in our life. He calls it “Quit something Thursday.” It doesn’t matter what it is, if it doesn’t need to be a part of your life, quit it. Let it go. Quitting something doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means that you are learning to take control of your chaos and allowing yourself to become more balanced in the dance of life. Don’t keep filling your life with things you think you need to do, or with things you do not need to take responsibility for. Be okay with letting go of the chaos in your life.

Chaos comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be extra activities that you have said yes to, or extra work that you took responsibility for when you didn’t need to. It could also be personal choices that were made that jeopardize your physical and mental health. The more chaos we allow in our life, the more daunting the dance of life becomes. Life was never meant to be as taxing, stressful, and chaotic as we make it. Life was meant to be lived in joy, thanksgiving, and peace. We are the ones who have created the chaos we call life.

Our choices throughout life will determine the dance in which we choose to partake. The more chaos we allow in our life, the more rigid and unbalanced our dance will become. We may even get to a point in our life that our dance is more like a mosh pit –  a dance of survival rather than one of sweet rhythm and joy. The more chaotic our dance, the more we lose out on what really matters in our life. It is important that we take seriously the choices we make in our life and be aware of the chaotic imbalance that comes with some of those choices. 

Learn to say “No”. It’s okay to not be everything for everyone. Focus only on the “Yeses” that matter. Say yes to your mental health. Say yes to your physical health. Say yes to your children and your spouse. Beyond that, choose carefully what you say yes to. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying you shouldn’t look for ways to help others. I am saying, be aware of the burdens on which you place yourself. You don’t have to take on that extra curricular activity. You don’t have to have your children in EVERY sport. You don’t have to go to every function someone invites you to. It is perfectly okay to have a life where your heart and energy are wrapped up in what brings you joy and happiness. Allow balance back into your life and dance with great rhythm, grace, and peace.

Are You Still Growing?

There is a quote that says, “The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday.” This quote is a good reminder of not falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. However, it is also a good reminder that we should always be in a state of growth and progress, and to never settle for the status quo or become apathetic in our thinking. As individuals, leaders, husbands, wives, bosses, employees, etc., we should always be looking for ways to better ourselves and keep growing.

The world can be a dark place at times, and I believe that is due to a stagnant mindset. When we begin to have the, “This is me, so deal with it” mindset, we alienate our potential and hold ourselves back from becoming more. That statement is apathy at its best. That statement says more about you and your character than it does anything else. 

Everybody wants to complain that, “The world is going to Hell in a handbasket.” Whether this is true or not, the reality is if we all learned to focus on our own problems and issues and work at becoming better human beings, the world would be a better place. Instead of pointing fingers and pushing blame, we would take ownership of our own faults and failures and work to be better. I know, this is not easy to do, but the right thing is rarely the easier thing to do. When we put our energy into becoming better, everybody else’s “issues” become less important. In other words, our focus needs to be on our own growth and becoming the best version of ourselves as possible.

We tend to care way too much about things we cannot control. We get irritated at our boss for the decisions they are making. We get frustrated with our spouse for the things he or she said or did. We get angry with a government that seems to be incompetent. We worry about what the media is saying and how the world seems to only be filled with negativity. To be completely honest, not a single one of those examples should matter to us. They are outside of our control. Meaning getting angry, frustrated, and worrisome is going to do nothing but create a negative mindset within us. If we can’t control it, we need to learn to let it go. This is part of the process of growing and becoming better.

Each of us has a three foot radius that is within our control. If something is outside of those three feet, it’s beyond our control, and we need not waste energy, emotions, or thought on it. Becoming better means we are able to detach ourselves from issues and problems that are beyond our locus of control. One of the best ways to start this process is to turn off the TV, limit time and access to social media, and start reading and journaling. By reading, we are able to focus on self-improvement. By journaling, we are able to write out our thoughts and ideas and keep a record of our improvements. 

Becoming better should be our goal on a daily basis. Some days we will hit the mark. Other days we will fall short. Either way, our push to become better should never wane. Discipline is key, and it will take intentional effort to disassociate ourselves from issues and problems that are beyond our control. When you find yourself caring more about others’ actions and words, detach yourself from the situation – take a physical step back – and focus only on that which is within your control. 

Be confident, but stay humble. Stand with conviction, but be willing to listen and learn. Be angry, but do not let the anger control you. Be passionate, but do not let that passion destroy the relationships around you. Be focused, but not self centered. In all things, be willing to grow and become better. The more we all do this, the better our world will become.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Will Life Ever Get Better?

I was walking out of work the other day, and I was thinking about my thinking. I know, that sounds weird, but let me explain. The awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes is called metacognition. It’s more than just thinking about something, but rather understanding why we think the things we do. Our thinking is what determines our state of mind, our mental health, our feelings and emotions, etc. Unless we stop and think about our thinking, we will always wonder, “Will life ever get better?”

Our thoughts have the power to either get us through the hardest times in our life, or dig us into a pit of depression and despair. To become a Navy Seal, you must go through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolitions Seal) Training. Those who have gone through the course and graduated will tell you that it doesn’t matter how physically fit or strong you are, the only thing that will get you through the course is your mindset. BUDS instructors put recruits through rigorous, painstaking intervals that are meant to push recruits to quit. In fact, instructors bring out a bell at every interval and encourage recruits to ring the bell and quit. 

The only way recruits survive the torturous intervals is by staying focused and having a winning mindset. When they allow themselves to be beaten by their thinking, they quit. Mark Owen, a former member of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six, said this about his time in BUDS:

“It’s six months long, it’s big, it’s overwhelming, but I broke everything down into one bite at a time. Because if you focused on, ‘Hey, look, how am I going to get through six months?, that would be much too overwhelming for me. So I broke everything down into one meal, one bite. So if I could make it to breakfast, awesome. If I could make it to lunch, even better. Dinner? OK, cool. Let’s see if I can do it again the next day. And I did that throughout my entire career.”

It was the mindset of one step after the other that got Mark through one of the toughest, most rigorous training of his life. When we focus on things outside of our control, life tends to become daunting; it becomes more than we can handle. This leads us to question if life will ever get better. All of that depends on us and our mindset.

However, our mindset is influenced by everything around us. This is why it is critical that we take heed in what we look at, read, observe, and dwell on. Right now, if I were to open any news source, I would probably think, “Life is hopeless.” With bombarding stories of war, political grandstanding, death, depression, divisiveness, etc., who would ever think that life is going to get better? We need to be diligent and guard our minds from those things that will create a defeated mindset.  

Everything on the news and social media are outside of our control. The only thing we can control is ourselves. Worrying about things beyond ourselves gives way to hopelessness and despair. Instead of allowing our thoughts to be tossed to and fro by the media, we must regain control and focus on the here and now. We must focus on our actions, our choices, our motives. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter. There will always be wars and rumors of wars. There will always be reports of death and despair. There will always be stories that will make us question life. None of that matters. What matters most is how well we live our own life. 

If you want to see life get better, it starts with you. It starts with your thoughts and actions. It starts with how you treat your neighbor and those around you. In the midst of all the darkness, light can be seen. Each of us has a light within us. When we allow our light to shine, the world gets better. When we pursue goodness and righteousness, the world becomes brighter. The question of whether or not the world is going to get better depends solely on each of us. We must guard our thoughts and think only on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Rather than worry about things outside of our control, we must focus on becoming the best versions of ourselves. When we do this, life will most definitely get better!

As always, stay humble and serve well!

The Choice Is Ours

We are creatures of habit, which means we easily find ourselves in ruts. Ruts are a curious thing. Have you ever seen an agricultural field? Have you seen the long sprinkler systems that traverse that field? Those sprinkler systems are called pivots, because they “pivot” to the left and right from one location. From a distance, these pivots are fascinating to see. However, if you walk a pivot line, you will find that the field is filled with deep ruts from the pivot moving back and forth. Some ruts from these pivots can be nearly knee deep. If you are not paying attention as you walk the field, you could easily fall into a rut and be in a world of hurt. These ruts also pose significant problems for farmers when the pivot gets stuck and is unable to move. When the pivot stops moving, the rest of the field is starved of water. Farmers must work quickly to get the pivot moving again. However, the area in which the pivot is stuck has been saturated with water and has created a deep, muddy crevice that they must work in to mitigate the issue.

Have you ever been on a backcountry, all dirt, two track road? These roads can be pretty brutal to drive on. Depending on the time of year, these roads could be moondust, hard, and crusty, or they can be bumpy, muddy, and deeply rutted. There have been many roads that I have questioned traveling down due to the deepness of the ruts. Some ruts can get so deep that a truck can get high centered between the ruts. There are three options when driving a road with deep ruts – turn around, push on hoping to not get stuck, or blaze a new trail. Either choice comes with risk, and these choices can also be applied to life.

You’re probably wondering what’s with my sudden obsession with ruts. Well, it’s because I have found myself in ruts multiple times in my life. I have learned many things while struggling my way through the ruts I have made for myself. As I mentioned before, we are creatures of habit, and habits create ruts in our life. Habits can consist of anything. Some habits can be good, like making it a habit to go to the gym and be healthy. Other habits can be debilitating and turn into addictions that can erode the very essence of who we are. Whichever habits we have in our life, we are deepening the ruts of those habits the more we live in them. 

I would like to think that most of us are living in healthy, positive ruts that are creating opportunities and a better way of life for ourselves. However, the reality is that healthy ruts usually don’t run that deep, because it takes discipline to stay in those ruts. It’s the easy choices that take very little effort and work that create the deepest of ruts, and these ruts are typically unhealthy, paralyzing, and draining. The problem is we allow ourselves to live in these ruts knowing the effects they have on our life, and the more we live in them the deeper they go. 

Let’s go back to the choices we have when driving a backcountry road with deep ruts. We can either turn around, go through them and hope we don’t get stuck, or we blaze a new trail. These same choices apply to our life. Most of us keep on living in our ruts and get stuck. We then get an attitude of complacency and apathy. We begin to blame everyone else for our faults and failures. What we need to do is take ownership of our choices, be honest with ourselves, and make a different choice than the ones that keep us in our ruts. This is no easy task. This means we have to put in work – hard work – and stay focused on the mission. We must stay disciplined and make a deliberate effort to change course. 

When driving through deep ruts, the truck stays wherever the ruts lead. You can literally take your hands off of the steering wheel, and the truck will drive itself. In order to get out of those ruts, it takes power and a hard turn on the steering wheel. For us to get out of a negative, self-deceiving rut, we need to make a hard effort to change directions. However, just as the truck will find itself back in the ruts if we do not take care to watch where we are going, we will find ourselves in the same rut if we do not have discipline and make a conscious effort in our actions and choices.

A rut only dictates the path of a vehicle if the driver chooses not to change course. The same can be said about life. The ruts we find ourselves in only dictate our course if we choose them to. At any point, we can change course by changing our choices, actions, and mindset. Depending on the deepness of the ruts, a change of course may take multiple attempts. The tires of a truck fit nicely in well driven ruts, and to change direction, one might need to make multiple attempts to get out of the ruts from which the truck is driving. We tend to create deep ruts in our lives that lead to self destruction, emotional and mental pain, and a sense of loneliness. Some ruts run very deep, and to get out of them, one must work extremely hard, be disciplined, and make a sincere effort in changing course.

We must also remember that a rut does not determine our destination. The driver determines the overall destination, and as we are the drivers of our own life, we can determine where we go and the destination we end up. The choice is ours. Our success, our health, our progress is up to us. The only one holding us back is ourselves. To become better, we must be disciplined in our actions, choices, and intentions. We become what we consistently do. 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

The Power of Awareness

Book: How To Lead When You’re Not In Charge
Author: Clay Scroggins 
Quote: “Don’t underestimate the power of awareness; it’s the first aid for ignorance.”

How aware are you of your interactions with those around you? Do you ever consider how your actions and words might be perceived by others? I would wager that the majority of us walk around speaking and acting certain ways and express that it’s just “who we are.” To be an effective leader, we must learn to be aware of our words and our actions. We need to open our eyes and listen to those around us. We might be surprised to discover that “who we are” is establishing a negative mindset in others about us.

We must never forget that leadership is not a title or a position. Leadership is about influence. If you work or interact with people, you are a leader. Two of the most important characteristics of leadership are reflection and awareness. If we are not self-reflecting, then we are potentially damaging our influence and our ability to lead well. Reflection also keeps us aware of how our actions and words may be impacting those around us. 

Something I strongly encourage you to do is have frequent conversations with colleagues and people you know about how your actions and words are being perceived. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that most people shy away from confrontation and will withhold valuable, insightful knowledge that would help us become better individuals. In order to become better leaders, we must seek out the areas in our life that need work, and there is no better way to do that than to have crucial conversations about ourselves with others. 

If we do not take the time to consider how our actions and words may be perceived by others, we become ignorant to the negative impact we are having on those around us. If relationship is key to leadership, then we, as leaders, need to acknowledge that our behavior may be hindering the relationships around us. Most people will choose to be kind to our face and tell the truth behind our back. This doesn’t mean that all these people are lacking character, but rather they may not do well with confrontation. Personally, I’m the kind of guy that will tell you exactly how it is without sugar coating or blowing smoke. I would rather people know the truth at face value than walk around disillusioned. Overall, it is important that we invite others to share their thoughts and opinions about us in a safe, welcoming environment.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that everyone’s opinions of us are correct. Rather, I am suggesting that we learn to open ourselves up to critical feedback and then reflect on what we have been told. If there is a pattern from what people are saying, then maybe we need to do some self-evaluation and begin working on the areas that are keeping us from becoming better leaders. We need to start becoming aware of how our actions and words are being perceived by the people around us. It’s time that we first aid our ignorance with awareness.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Impact Over Platform

Book: The Mentor Leader
Author: Tony Dungy 
Quote: “Don’t worry about your platform; focus on your impact.”

“Leadership is about influence.” This statement has been stated by Brad Lomenick, Jocko Willink, John C. Maxwell, Tony Dungy, and many others. If leadership is about influence, then it is not about titles or positions. So many people, my previous self included, feel that leadership can only happen in positions with leadership titles. The truth is that leadership happens wherever we influence those around us. The platform doesn’t matter. Your impact is what matters most.

In the past, I had been worried about my platform and my position when it came to leadership and influence. I always thought that my platform mattered, and I needed to be in certain positions to have the greatest impact. I always thought that my words would have more meaning and influence if I held a “leadership position.” I cared more about my platform than I did my impact. Through time, however, I have learned the value of focusing my attention and energy on the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. 

You see, a platform is nothing more than a title or position. You could have the greatest title or the highest ranking position, and still have little to no impact on the people around you. I have personally found that when we care more about our platform, we miss opportunities to  encourage, support, and help those around us. In other words, we miss opportunities to have a real impact on others. Focusing more on our platform than our impact makes it easier to alienate others and focus only on people who can benefit us. We tend to become selfish and self-centered when our platform is more important than our impact.

Imagine the possibilities when our focus changes from platform to impact. All people become important, and we focus on having positive actions and words toward others. We start to realize that our impact means much more than our platform. You see, our impact reflects our character and our intentions. People are one of the most valuable elements we have in our life. Without people, life is meaningless. We need to consider our words and actions as we work with our team. We need to speak life and encouragement and support those on our team. People will remember you for how you treated them, not for the position you held.

There is an old saying – I’m pretty sure you have heard it, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” We can state this phrase with ease, but how often do we stop and consider what this statement means? Have you ever reflected on the actions, words, and thoughts you have towards others and determine if you would appreciate the same actions, words, and thoughts made towards you? It’s easy to say “Yes”, but in reality, I guarantee that there are some things you do to others that you would NOT appreciate done to you. Again, your impact is much more valuable than the platform you hold. 

Always remember, how you act toward others holds more power and value than the platform you think you have. People will remember your actions before they remember your platform. 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Hungry and Motivated

Book: H3 Leadership 
Author: Brad Lomenick
Quote: “Stay hungry and motivated, not arrogant and entitled.”

H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick is in my top 5 reads. Just like Extreme Ownership, H3 Leadership is packed full of great ideas and thoughts that can relate to anyone no matter their title or position. I believe the quote stated above sums up how we should all look at life and the current position we find ourselves in.

“Stay hungry.” No, this doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself of sustenance. Hungry refers to the desire to push yourself to become better; to be more than what you currently are. Too often we start hungry and become complacent or apathetic, which lends to excuse making and lack of growth. It’s hard to always want to be improving, but it’s essential for our personal and professional growth. The only way we can stay hungry is through discipline. Discipline changes our attitude from, “I’m too tired to do that,” to, “Even though I’m really tired, I’m going to do it anyway.” Don’t allow apathy and excuses to keep you from staying hungry.

“Stay motivated.” Motivation is fickle. It is never guaranteed and can be lost for a long time. However, motivation can be found, but we need to be willing to look for it. The other day, I was listening to a short Jocko video. He was discussing a comment that someone tweeted to him. The comment said, “Jocko, can you yell at me to get me more motivated?” Jocko simply said, “No. Yelling is not a motivator. In Navy Seal training instructors yell at you to get you to quit, not to motivate you.” Motivation is about personal will and choice. Again, however, motivation is fickle and can be lost. This is why having discipline is crucial to personal and professional growth and success.

“Not arrogant.” Arrogant is defined as: “Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.” Arrogance is the poison that decays good character. When we think we are more important than what we really are, we tend to have an inflated sense of self that alienates everyone around us. We start to see others as less than what their worth and put more emphasis on OUR gain and OUR position. Instead of encouraging others and walking with others on their professional and personal journeys, we tend to look at ourselves and complain when others don’t give us the attention we think we deserve. We must defy the urge of being arrogant and strive for humility. Let us think more highly of others and less of ourselves.

“Not entitled.” This seems to be a pandemic in today’s society. There is this blatant lie sweeping our country that people are deserving of special treatment or should be given special privileges. No one is entitled to anything. We came into this world naked, and there is nothing that says we deserve anything. We are blessed with life. What we do with it is our choice. We don’t have a say in the cards we are dealt in the life we are given. We need to make the best opportunity with the cards we are dealt. Nobody owes us a thing, and neither of us deserves special treatment. It is our responsibility to take the life we have been given and make it the best life possible. Just remember, you are not entitled to anything. If you want it, get after it. 

The quote for this blog is a good reminder of how we should be living our lives: “Stay hungry and motivated, not arrogant and entitled.” Work hard, be disciplined, and respect everyone. 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Intimidated

Book: Extreme Ownership
Authors: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Quote: “A true leader is never intimidated when others step up and take charge.”

This is the first blog of my new Book Highlights Series. In this series, I will be going back through many of the books I have read in the past few years and reflecting on the thoughts and ideas that I have highlighted. My first quote comes from Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s Extreme Ownership. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it to everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life, or whether or not you hold a special title or position. Extreme Ownership is a book for everyone. I will probably be referencing the highlights from this book multiple times in this series, as there are so many great reminders. So, without further ado, let’s get this started.

Intimidation is something many people struggle with. Whenever someone with more confidence or more self assurance steps up within a team, there seems to be this awkward moment between the team and leadership. Leadership has two options, take a step forward, assert dominance, and take control, or take a step back, be willing to listen, and allow this team member to step up and take charge. For many leaders, it is difficult to allow others within their team to lead. However, I believe it is the responsibility of the leader to train up team members to lead alongside them. Being intimidated by confident team members is a downfall of leadership, and it will ultimately cost the company/organization, as people will be stifled and not allowed to explore their strengths and ideas. 

We need to learn to humble ourselves and allow others the opportunity to lead. This is difficult for those of us with “A type” personalities. Relinquishing control can be difficult, but when we want to force control, or keep the control to ourselves, we might possibly miss out on potential opportunities and hinder the progress of our team, our company/organization, and most of all, ourselves. Being intimidated is a sign of insecurities, and insecurities can manipulate us into making irrational decisions. As leaders, these irrational decisions can be our downfall and hinder progress for ourselves and our team.

We must never forget that the primary job of any leader is to bring up future leaders to one day take our place. This means we must learn to let go of control and allow others the opportunity to rise to the occasion. The health and maturity of our team is strengthened by giving members within our team the opportunity to take charge. However, it is the leader’s responsibility to praise their team when things go right, and take ownership when things go wrong. If the team member that stepped up to the challenge falls flat on their face, it is because leadership failed them. 

We as leaders need to become less “sage on the stage” and more “guide on the side.” We need to be attentive, but not controlling. We need to be engaged, but not overbearing. There is a special balance that leaders must maintain when leading. Jocko and Leif call this the Dichotomy of Leadership – this is the book that follows Extreme Ownership. We need to learn to let go of control and allow members of our team to take charge.

Remember, leadership is not about you. It’s about those you lead. Don’t be intimidated when people in your team want to step up to take on leadership roles. If individuals in your team want to take charge, let them. If they make mistakes, guide them. Help them become the best leaders they can be by letting go of control and letting them step up to the challenges.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

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