Yesterday was rather busy for me as my schedule was packed with meetings. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, the first meeting of the day got off to a bad start.
By the time we took a mid morning break I was tense, nervous and could feel a very negative attitude coming on. In fact I did something that was not very exemplary of a leader. I joined the crowd in blaming others for not reaching some of our goals.
Thankfully, I’ve been molding my leadership abilities long enough that I could hear that little voice saying you better step back and asses the situation and find a way to turn the tide of negativism. When I hear that voice I know it’s time for coffee and contemplation.
Upon returning to the meeting I first apologized for pinning the blame on another. After this a quote by Coach Bill McCartney came to mind and I decided to write it on the dry erase board. “We are not here to compete with each other, we are here to complete each other.” I asked the meeting group to read it and think about the words of the quote for the next sixty seconds.
What happened after that was truly amazing. You could feel the energy return, the winds of negativity die down and ideas begin to fill the room. For the next three hours we were able to identify some obstacles keeping us from our goals and began to work on them as a team.
Anyone in that room could have turned those meetings from negative to positive. I just happened to be the one who has learned to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I’m living proof that anyone can be a leader when they so choose.
I hope many of you had the chance to view the ABC special last night about the leadership academy Oprah Winfrey founded in South Africa. Oprah has spent millions of dollars to open this academy for aspiring young girls who are under difficult circumstances and have the dream to become leaders. The personal heartaches and triumphs these young ladies have endured are unimaginable. One girl walks to school and back each day under the constant threat of being kidnapped, raped or murdered. Another girl and her sister watched as their dad shot and killed their mother then turned the gun on himself.
Several things came to mind while viewing the show. One was the myth that your societal status determines our leadership ability. Several of these girls were orphans, poor, homes had no running water, and they were at the bottom of society’s ladder. They had every excuse not to become leaders.
Another was the fact that although these girls were broken by the situations affecting their lives, they refused to let what some would call failures become the last chapter of the book. These girls applied to Oprah’s school, Oprah didn’t go out recruiting them. In their brokenness these girls saw an opportunity to stop the cycle of poverty and crime that had impacted their lives. They reminded me that perseverance leads to prosperity. It also reminded me of what Coach John Wooden says, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
At the end of the show Oprah told the girls that she came to South Africa to give them a school but she felt they had given her so much more. Giving is contagious, especially when you receive far more than you give. Oprah is a living testimony that giving leads to gaining. I firmly believe that you can’t out give God and that may be the most formidable reason Oprah’s empire continues to grow.
For a few years of my life I roamed around looking for the next disaster to happen. I had defeated cancer once and just when my life was getting back to normal the disease returned. During those first couple of years after my second battle with cancer I walked through life with a hard hat on expecting something bad to happen. Outwardly, I was very optimistic and positive with family and friends but inwardly I was expecting the worst. I believed that my dreams would never come to pass. My inwardly attitude cemented my life into a period of status quo. I didn’t grow personally, spiritually or professionally during this time.
Thankfully, I read an article from Pat Williams in which he asked, “What’s keeping you from your dreams?” In the article Pat asked the reader to identify any obstacles that are currently keeping us from the life we dream of. For me it was no problem in identifying the obstacle. All I had to do was look in the mirror. The only thing that was keeping me back was my negative, gloom and doom attitude. It took some time but as I developed the new me something extraordinary began to take shape. No longer did I see obstacles, I saw opportunities. No longer did I see trouble, I saw testing. No longer did I see failure, I saw faith. When I began to see my obstacles from above as God sees them they no longer kept me from achieving my goals. When I understood that failure is a process that refines the gold within each of us I began to see my dreams come to fruition.
I’m still a work in progress. I’m not where I need to be personally, spiritually or professionally. I haven’t achieved all my dreams yet but I’m working on them. In order to accomplish those dreams I must constantly identify obstacles or opportunities for achievement.
So, what’s keeping you from achieving your dreams? Take the time today to not only list the dreams for you personally, but those of your family, your professional life and most importantly, your spiritual life. After you complete your list, identify any obstacles that are keeping you from those dreams and look for ways to turn them into opportunity.
This will be the absolutely first and last time I touch the subject of Anna Nicole Smith. What has transpired after her untimely death has got to be one of the most sickening displays of greed, selfishness and a judicial system that is a muck. We’ve got people with upwards of 18 lawyers working to claim the body and ultimately estate of Ms. Smith. And if that’s not enough, you’ve got a lame duck judge who seems to be auditioning to replace Judge Judy. I’ve seen several replays of his emotional judgment yesterday and none show actual tears in or coming from his eyes. These proceedings have turned out to be an outright fraud.
If these same people who are fighting for her body and estate had put as much money and time into Anna Nicole before she died who knows, she could still be with us? It’s very apparent that Anna was looking to fill a void in her life. A void that could have been filled by a friend giving her direction, a family member sharing their spiritual life with her, or even someone just taking the time to tell her they love her just because she’s Anna Nicole and for no other reason. Yet, in death as in life, it seems the only thing those closest to her are interested in is cashing in. Unfortunately, there’s a child that has been forgotten in this entire mess. Let’s hope someone gives little Dannielynn a chance her mother and brother never had.
Yesterday I posted about taking the time to think about your daily agenda and life goals. For those of us that have practiced taking time to think it has provided us an avenue to dive deeper into our very being. By daily listing the goals for our life, career, family and faith we see picture emerge that depicts our very being.
Another important thing happens when we take the time to think, peace. It’s much like the seas during a hurricane. While they may be churning at the surface, the seas 25 feet below are always serene. Like those seas, if we have depth it will provide serenity during storms and tough times. No matter how tough the obstacles are in life if we dig deeper into our very being we can remain at peace.
Continue to dig deeper into your life by taking the time to think, for it’s at these depths the waters calm.
One of the toughest things for me to accomplish is taking the time to think. We max out our schedules with meetings and tasks and fail to give ourselves time to think. Personally, I had to schedule my thinking time and treat it like a meeting by putting it in my PDA. Like leadership expert Mark Sanborn, I spend most of my thinking or pondering time at a Starbuck’s. My daily agenda, setting short and long term goals all get their genesis at the coffee shop. I not only set personal goals, but family, career, community service, faith and impact goals.
Whether it’s at a Starbuck’s, in your study, office or some other quite place; take the time each day to get alone with yourself and think about what you want to accomplish during the day. Make sure that your daily agenda brings you a step closer to fulfilling your short and long term goals. Don’t do like some folks I’ve met who have some pretty good goals for their life, career and family, yet construct a daily agenda that has them going in a different direction.
As John Maxwell puts it, “a minute of thought is greater than an hour of talk.” When you really think about it, not planning your day, your goals and your life is pretty scary. When we plan our day and have a list of set goals we take the power of outside interference away. When we don’t take the time to set our agenda any little obstacle can take us off course. We can’t let the expectations of others determine the course of your life.
When we die it will be our name that is engraved on the tombstone above our resting place. Not our friends, not our co-workers, not even our mom or dad’s, but ours. To author a life that is rewarding we must take the time to think.
Despite their evil appearance, scientists have found that mosquitoes are very advanced creatures. They tell us that when a mosquito bites you it injects several things into your body including an anti-coagulant and an anesthetic. So, when the mosquito sucks the blood out of you it doesn’t have to worry about clotting and you don’t have to worry about it hurting. Mosquitoes are smart, by the time the anesthetic wears off and you feel the pain, the blood sucking flyers are long gone.
Unfortunately, I’ve come across some people that are like mosquitoes. These people can suck almost every ounce of blood, sweat and energy from your very being without you feeling the first bit of pain. By the time you’ve refreshed and re-energized, the life suckers are long gone. You want to slap them but you can’t find them.
It may not be a person sucking the blood, sweat and energy out of your life. It could be your job, a bad habit, or mental/physical illness. If you feel something or someone is zapping you of the life you long for, the important thing is to identify it and refuse to allow the sting to continue to impact your life in a negative way.
This is your life are you who YOU want to be?