When people ask: “how are you?” my wife Judy is fond of saying “We’re having a good moment.” It’s not that Judy is negative, if you’ve ever met her you know she is quite the contrary. But she knows that there will be times when we face difficulties and challenges. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how successful you are, you will have trials.
If I visited your workplace would I see consistency or chaos? Would I observe structure or fire-fighting? Would I first notice the processes, or the ad-hoc activities? If chaos, fire-fighting, and ad-hoc activities describe parts of your business, you may need better systems.
Sometimes the biggest barrier to achieving what you are capable of in life, is your own fear. It might be a fear of failing, a fear of rejection, a fear of criticism, even a fear of embarrassment; the list of possible fears in endless. Too often, fear paralyzes and derails good intentions, and keeps you from moving ahead and creating the life you truly desire.
Often success is the results of staying in the game and playing one more play, when everything in you feels like stopping. It’s natural to get discouraged when you’re working to reach the next level to create breakthrough, and progress seems glacial. Not everything you do will meet with success. In fact, much of what you do will likely have limited impact initially. The key word is initially.
In the chapter on Intentionality in our book The 12 Week Year, Mike and I argue, that “to realize your potential, you must be mindful about how you spend your time.” This is because everything that you accomplish in life is heavily influenced by the way you allocate time. To be intentional about your results is to first be intentional with your time. The supply of time is inelastic, perishable, and limited, and that’s what makes it the most valuable resource that you possess.
Henry Ford once famously said "If you think you can, or if you think you can't; you're right." He knew that your belief in your capability determined what you would achieve. Not your skill, talents, education, or opportunities; your beliefs determine your future!
Expectations are powerful. We tend to perform according to expectations. Research has shown that expectations of an event can actually cause it to happen. Over fifty years ago Robert K. Merten, a sociologist at Columbia University, first documented the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The essence of the self-fulfilling prophecy starts with a belief that is not necessarily true at the time it is held. But, when the belief is acted on it tends to produce a situation that becomes true. Beliefs create reality.
Are you one of the over 130 million Americans that set New Year’s Resolutions? If so, it’s likely that you’ve failed with them in the past. How do I know this? Because 92% of those that set resolutions, fail. And, by-the-way, that same statistic holds true for goal setting in general.
The end of the year is a great time to take stock and determine the areas that we would like to improve. January rolls around and millions make commitments to lose weight, be a better spouse or parent, to quit smoking, get a new job, stick to the budget, the list goes on.
I remember back when I was a young boy in fifth grade and how I yearned for a new ten-speed bicycle. Boy, was it a beauty; metal-flake green paint with racing tires and a black leather saddle. The problem was it was a hundred bucks, which was a lot of money for a 10-year old kid back then. But that didn’t stop me. I had to have that bike. I did anything and everything I could to earn money.
There was no way I was not going to own that bike. There were times when I thought about quitting, and sometimes those thoughts almost won-out. Work, or go the movies with my friends, play baseball, or just watch Saturday morning cartoons? What kept me going was a mental picture of that bike beneath me as I was riding around the neighborhood – the ultimate definition of freedom for a 10-year old! I’ll never forget how excited I was buying the bike and bringing it home, and how proud I was as I rode it down my street.
I recently returned from a fabulous trip to San Diego. I was invited to speak at one of my client’s conferences: their Leader’s Forum. The purpose of this Leader’s Forum was to bring people together to celebrate their success, and build their capabilities to achieve even more. I love meetings like this! The whole notion of leaders and leadership is at the heart of why the 12 Week Year exists.
With all the books and articles written about leadership and the characteristics of effective leaders it becomes almost overwhelming trying to keep up with the “habits” and “laws” of what makes for good leaders. And yet, two characteristics that I’ve seen that are fairly consistent across all levels of leadership are celebration and development.