Living Your Purpose

How do you define and live your personal purpose?
I think that you have to answer three main questions with crystal-clear clarity:

First, what are you currently doing that you believe in and are proud of? To prevent drifting, you have to know where you are. You have an unique set of skills. You have been trained and understand the demands and challenges of your role. Given your knowledge of your job, how does your role at work connect with your purpose?

The second question is: what positive difference do you make to those around you? Are you a positive influencer who lives your purpose? What do people say about you when you are not around? What if you did not show up at work for a week, would it matter?

The third question is: ‘Does your work contribute toward your personal purpose?’ You are at work a majority of the time. Your time at work should be an opportunity to help you become the person you want to be. If what you do at work does not add to your personal purpose in some way – like providing you the funds, knowledge, skills, time, or connections with others who can help guide you toward your purpose – then you may need to make adjustments. If you connect your personal purpose with your job, everything at work will be a lot easier and more fulfilling.

For example, one person’s purpose is to help the less fortunate in our area. His job provides him resources, skills, and knowledge to help hundreds of people every year. His job also provides him connections. Several of his co-workers, and their friends, invest their time and energy to help him fulfill his purpose thus he can help thousands of people every year. His job is not the end to fulfill his purpose, it is the means for him to become the person he wants to be. The more successful he is at his job, the more funds, knowledge, skills, time, and connections he has to live out his purpose.

Here are a few points to ponder as you coach your team from drifting to purpose:

  1. Do you come to work with your purpose of doing a task … or are you coming to work because your task will help you achieve your purpose?
  2. Have you fallen into a comfortable niche and drifted instead of pursuing your purpose?
  3. Do you believe in what you are doing?  If so, you will achieve your best and enjoy life to the fullest.

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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Moments of Impact

Throughout the years, I have taken my kids to Disney several times. They loved to go there. Everyone feels the magic at Disney.

Recently I read about someone whose job was to clean rooms in a Disney hotel. One day, while cleaning a guest’s room, she saw a newly purchased Mickey Mouse sitting in the corner. When the family returned to their room, Mickey was sitting on the edge of the bed watching Disney cartoons on the TV. The lady whose job it was to clean the room found a way to create magic for that customer. Was that magic? Of course not, but the exhausted kids who returned to the room that evening thought so. Her small act will be talked about for the rest of those kids’ lives. The individual in housekeeping could have left Mickey sitting in the corner, but she was looking for ways make a positive impact and create happiness. Her lesson to us is that, regardless of your role in our organization, you can deliver moments of impact if you pay attention and look for ways to make a difference with our customers.

One of the shifts in our new book, LeaderShift is the shift from duty to passion. Duty is an obligation or burden. Passion is a desire, hunger, craving, even obsession. If you are buying something, which type of person or organization would you rather deal with? Someone who considers you a burden or someone who is obsessed about your business?

Customer passion results in moments of impact. You have to be ready when that moment arrives – it may come and go in an instant. The moment could be exceeding your customers’ expectations. But, opportunities for moments of impact also appear internally. For instance, when a meeting gets sidetracked and someone intervenes in a positive way to refocus the meeting. Or, when your accounting group prepares a financial report in a new way that strategic decisions can be made more quickly. Or, when human resources expedites insurance paperwork so that a new associate can get the unexpected, rapid medical treatment they need.

Moments of impact are all around us if we keep our eyes open for them.

Here are a few points to ponder as you coach your team from duty to passion:

  1. Is your team delivering moments of impact or moments of apathy?
  2. People buy from people more than any other influence. Does your team exhibit passion for your customers?
  3. What can you do to reboot your passion?

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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Don’t Drift

Not long ago a couple were in Hawaii on vacation and decided to try snorkeling. Snorkeling is not exactly a dangerous sport, but they were responsible and took snorkeling lessons. Soon they were prepared to go out on their own and ventured into the Pacific ready to discover the beauty of the ocean.

They were having a great time. No one else was snorkeling in the area … in fact, there was no one within sight. The water was perfect – calm, gentle, and relaxing. As they snorkeled face down in the water, they were fascinated by the radiantly colored fish, spectacular plant life, and the coral reef. It was a remarkable experience, but it was about to become unforgettable.

The woman lifted her head from the water and looked around. She quickly realized that they had drifted. She could barely see their hotel off in the distance. Her husband was only a couple of yards from her. When she got his attention, without saying a word, they could read each other’s thoughts: ‘Yikes! What are we going to do?’

There was only one option. They began swimming for their lives. They swam for quite a while before getting to where they could stand up in the water and return to the beach. Once they reached the beach, they collapsed in the sand, exhausted.

When they woke up that morning, they had no idea what was in store for them. They had come close to disaster while enjoying what they thought was a peaceful and relaxing time. They had drifted. They did not realize what was happening to them until they looked up. Then they were shocked to find they were not where they began and certainly not where they intended to go.

Many people drift. In fact, I think the majority of people drift at least occasionally. They drift in their professional careers and they drift in their personal lives. Then, one day they look up and discover that they are far away from where they thought they would be.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to be a drifter and or choose to live and work with meaning and purpose.

Purpose is not just a goal; it is purposefulness, a higher purpose that only you can define. Purpose powers everything. Your purpose does not change based on temporary events that come and go. Purpose has permanence. It defines how you approach your job, handle an issue, react to surprises, and deal with things that may seem unfair. People who understand how their job fits into a broader purpose are engaged and creative. And, they make better decisions.

Do you come to work with your purpose of doing a task … or are you coming to work because your task will help you achieve your purpose? Think about it. If you come to work because your work ultimately helps you accomplish your purpose, you will enjoy your work more and be more productive as well.

Here are a few points to ponder as you coach your team from drifting to purpose:

  1. Without purpose, you drift.  There is no reason to work just to get tired.
  2. Write your purpose down on paper.  You will clarify where you want to go and then you can ask others to come with you.
  3. Identifying your purpose is not just a nice to do.  It is essential to your success.

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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Not many people would say that they want to be described as an average Jane or Joe. But, there are a lot of average people.  In fact, every day polling firms study the average person: how much they earn, what they wear, what they eat, how many hours they work, how much TV they watch, how much money they have in the bank, etc. Everything is studied to discover the behaviors of Mr. or Ms. Average – the common, everyday, usual, just plain ordinary person.

Average people accomplish average things.  They are average learners.  They are average givers.  They are average enthusiasts.  They are average thankful. They are average average.

You do not need to be average. In fact, you have to allow yourself to be average. You control your ambition and future. You do not have to accept and settle for the status quo. You need not succumb to being a victim of circumstances. You set the bar for yourself; don’t be average.

Take authority over your life. You can become a champion encourager and bring happiness to those around you. You can become a ‘can-do person’ rather than a ‘gloom and doom’ average person.

What if you counted 10 things every day for which you were grateful instead of worrying about what you don’t have? What if you told the significant people in your life that you loved them? What if you told a few people today that you were proud of them? Their day would change and your day would change, as well. You would not be average.

What if you said that excuses were done – no more? What if you proclaimed that anxiety, and insecurity are not the boss of you? What if you did not allow any individual to influence you to compromise your values? What if you established goals and zealously set a path to achieve them? You would not be average.

Require the best of yourself. Keep learning and growing. This is your life, your time, your watch. Take control. The next move is always yours.

Be unaverage.  Move forward.  When you get to where you are trying to go, you will know where to go next.

Here are a few points to ponder to not be average:

  1. What can you do today that will be extraordinary?
  2. You control whether you are average or not.  Look around.  What do average people do? How do they spend their time?  Can you do better?
  3. Are there people in your circle who could use some encouragement from you right now? Encouragement could be your best gift of the day.

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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Look Forward … Think Disruptively

The best way to grow and create a successful future is for you to take an active part in guiding it. It is healthy for you to continually evaluate what you are doing and the results you are getting. Regardless if you are in a slump or things are going well, challenge yourself and ask, ‘How can I guide a change that will help me improve?’

Try thinking disruptively. That may sound odd, but thinking disruptively helps you challenge the status quo. Don’t confuse thinking disruptively with acting disruptively. They are not the same.

Thinking disruptively is taking a sincere look inside what you are currently doing. Ask yourself ‘What would happen if?’ That simple question exposes possibilities. If you look at some traditional industries, you will find many of the current leaders in those industries were not even considered to be in the business in which they now flourish. Uber and Lyft are huge transportation companies that do not own vehicles. Airbnb is a leader in the hospitality sector and they do not own hotels. Facebook is a media leader that does not utilize any traditional media outlets. Before those new leading companies began, someone had to think disruptively and ask, ‘What would happen if?’

After you think disruptively, then you can examine the possibilities to lead the change required to move forward. Look around. Listen. Think. Ask. You will discover that there are possibilities to improve relationships, processes, behaviors, if you pay attention. When you are actively guiding change, you will find that you have improvement opportunities surrounding you. Then you will be able to develop some viable options to consider changing.

Every great idea for improvement has come from someone just like you. Every one. Think disruptively, examine the possibilities, and then take actions that will help you improve.

Here are a few points to ponder as you move from fighting change to guiding change:

  1. Are you guiding positive change by asking “what if?”
  2. The next move is always yours.
  3. You have to exit the comfortable before you can enter into something greater.

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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Lead Where You Are

Once there was a farmer who was searching for someone to help him take care of his farm. Three qualified and experienced ranch hands applied for the job. He asked all three the same question: ‘Tell me, how long can you work with a stone in your shoe?’

The first person answered: ‘Half a day!’ The farmer thanked him and sent him on his way.  “The farmer asked the second person and he proudly replied, ‘All day long!’ The farmer sent the second helper on his way.

The third man was asked, ‘How long can you work with a stone in your shoe?’ Without hesitating, he replied ‘Not a minute. As soon as I get a stone in my shoe, I take it out.’ The farmer hired him on the spot.

The third worker was not waiting for a better time, or for someone else to take care of his problem. He was not willing to suffer with it for even a minute. The farmer knew that the worker could be depended upon to take charge, solve problems, and create a more comfortable and productive day.

Maybe it is time to shift from waiting to be led to leading where you are. If you have any ‘stone in your shoe,’ take charge and get rid of the stone. Many people who work days and sometimes years with stones in their shoes, stones such as inaccurate information, confusing direction, contradictions, or simply their ideas being ignored. The stones rub and rub and rub. For a while, they irritate you. Then, they create a callous on your foot, and you may not even remember that there is a stone in your shoe. You are still receiving bad information, confused, torn by contradictions, or ignored, but you rationalize the situation with ‘This is just the way it is.’

I have also seen people wait until they have more than one stone in their shoe before getting rid of their first stone. They wait until there are multiple problems and then present a list of problems to fix all at once. That is pretty absurd. Don’t wait. Take the stone out as soon as it gets in your shoe; even the little ones could become a crisis while you are waiting for the right time to get rid of them. That does not help anyone. When you have a stone irritating you, address the issue right away so you can begin moving forward.

Here are a few points to ponder as you coach your team to lead where they are:

  1. When someone on your team has a “rock in their shoes” do they have the permission and the authority to remove it?
  2. Does your team know they can lead their own performance?
  3. Have you created a “lead where you are” environment for your team?

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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It is not fair when things are not fair. Don’t you hate it when things are going along smoothly, and “Unfair” arrives and consumes your thoughts, actions, and enthusiasm. It tests your ability to move forward. “Unfair” is not fair, so why does it show up? I don’t know, but you have a choice when “Unfair” arrives – fight the change or guide the change.

In a recent meeting, the topic of adversity was discussed. Within that group, people had faced a major crisis that was unfair.  Major events like cancer, suicide, divorce, loss of children, drug abuse, loss of spouse, significant health issues, loss of jobs, and bankruptcy. Remarkably, every person agreed that overcoming their unfair adversity was a critical turning point toward their future success. Think about that. “Unfair” guided them toward success. Regardless of how or why “Unfair” arrived, those successful people took action, attacked, and learned from the event that “Unfair” struck them. In fact, “Unfair” polished them up to become better people.

Erik Weihenmayer is one of the most amazing people in our lifetime. He is a mountain climber who has climbed the highest peak on every continent. You may think that is impressive but not a big deal. You may rationalize that anyone who has the time and money could accomplish that feat … although very few have. The big deal is that Erik is blind. His vision was gone at age 13. If anyone could bow to “Unfair” and justify feeling sorry for himself, Erik could. But he doesn’t. He says, ‘What is within you is stronger than what is in your way.’ That is a great lesson from someone who faces “Unfair” every day.

Spending your energy complaining, justifying, and blaming others changes nothing and allows “Unfair” to take over your life. A tendency while facing “Unfair” is to shift into neutral and stop moving forward – a power that “Unfair” can have over you. You become paralyzed and fight the reality of the change instead of facing and guiding the change toward a positive direction. Regardless of how bleak your situation appears, you can keep moving.

Years ago, I heard someone say, ‘Something can be done, and there is something I can do.’ Something can be done; whatever hole you are in is not permanent, something can be done right now. And, there is something you can do; the next move is always yours.

Life is not fair, so don’t expect it to be. It doesn’t do any good to blame a bad economy, bad boss, bad luck, or poor choices. “Unfair” is temporary. The next move is yours to take. You can navigate a positive path through it and move forward with your life.

Here are a few points to ponder as you shift from fighting change to guiding change:

  1. What will your response be when “Unfair” hits you?
  2. No matter how bleak your situation may seem, the next move is yours.
  3. Are there people in your circle who could use some encouragement from you right now? Encouragement could be your best gift of the day.

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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Oh, those millennials

“The children now love luxury.  They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

That quote accurately describes today’s millennials, doesn’t it? What is wrong with them… why don’t they grow up … spoiled rotten … high maintenance …selfish … are some common attacks on today’s youth. Of course, there are some millennial goof balls, but have you seen some of the ‘mature’ people on the news?  There are plenty of goofballs representing every generation, but the most popular ride is to jump on the millennial bash wagon.

Regardless of age, we are all more similar than dissimilar.  We are real people who have the same basic fears, hopes and desires even though we have different talents.  Of course, the Boomers may never completely catch up on the millennial’s technology savvy, and the millennials do not have the callous hands of experience yet.  So, there will always be some talent gaps but we share many of the same basic needs.

Why don’t we quit bashing and reach out a hand?  We could help each other.

Oh, by the way.  The quote at the beginning of this blog was from Socrates describing the youth of his day in 469 to 399 B.C.  Ummmm.

Fake News

Were those two words ever mentioned together until a year or so ago? Some fake news has probably always existed, but it seems that every news story today is considered fake until proven true. How do you know what to believe?

Discerning fake news (fiction) from truth has been one of leadership’s greatest challenge since Moses. Politics – imagine that -, power, pride, and personal agendas are notorious for blocking the truth from being told within an organization. Even a sincere, intense, passionate desire to want something else to be the truth prevents the truth from being exposed.

The first shift recommended in the new book LeaderShift is the conscious need to shift from fiction to truth.  You will probably receive about 35,000 messages today. Some are indirect messages but every one of those messages are targeted to influence your thinking and actions.  Unfortunately, many – maybe even a majority of those messages – will contain less than the full truth.

How can you tell truth from fiction inside your organization?  Are the truth and “hoped for truth” lines blurred? More importantly, do the messages you send and the words you speak contain the full truth – no matter what?

Here are a few points to ponder as you coach your team to shift to total truth:

  1. Truth is faster, eliminates rework, and results in more profit.
  2. Without truth, there is no trust. Without trust soon you will have no one to lead.
  3. Bad news seldom improves with age. The ultimate pain of a “slow reveal”  is greater than the pain of swallowing your pride and allowing others the opportunity to help you address any issue you may be facing.
  4. Are you rewarding fiction by looking for only what you want to see and hearing only what you want to hear?

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

LeaderShift … Making Leadership Everyone’s Business

Today my friend and colleague Ken Carnes and I launch our latest book: LeaderShift …. Making Leadership Everyone’s Business. LeaderShift is brief – you can read it in about 75 minutes – and engaging. It is an inspirational story that allows you to eaves drop on a conversation regarding many of the challenges that you frequently face.

Our hope is that the book will inspire you shift your thinking, begin implementing some new ideas, and help you propel your team to achieve the results that you want.

Check it out at CornerStoneLeadership or Amazon. It will be worth your time and investment.