Thursday, October 27, 2011

Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Part III

On my dresser in my bedroom is a little 3x5 card from my six year old that reads, "Dear Daddy, I love you. I miss you. Are you coming home tonight? When are you coming home tonight? I'm ready to play." While she can read, those words were penned by my wife so that I could actually read the note! While cute, this is actually a very sobering reminder to me every day that it's really important I live by this principle of, "Make the first things first." Or, simply put, make sure the main things in life are the main things.

Many people give "lip service" to what's really important to them but their verbal communication is not an accurate story teller. How a person spends their time really reveals what is truly important to them. I'm reminded of what I often say, "You do and say what you really believe." Time is the more accurate story teller. If my family is truly number one on my list of most important things in life, my time with them will be the evidence of how truthful I am about this.

With teens, this principle is no different. I remember a "speech" I gave my sophomore basketball players one morning as a small number of them "forgot" about the weight lifting practice the day before. I reminded them we don't forget about those things that are important to us.

The challenge for teens is establishing disciplines and habits that truly reflect what is really important. Researchers say habits can be created in a small amount of time, a few weeks even. This principle of keeping first things first challenges teens to evaluate, "What is really important in those teen years?" Before you give lip service like so many do, take inventory. Where do you spend the majority of your time? If it doesn't line up with what you think should be most important, changes are needed.

Finding teens who truly live by principles and plan their weeks around what is truly important are not easily found. Take the challenge. MAKE first things first in your life!

Monday, October 24, 2011

7 Habit of Effective Teens, Part II

Do you want to go to college? Graduate school?
What will be your worldview in life?
Are you considering joining a new team or program?
What type of friends do you want to have?
Who do you want to marry?
What will you stand for?

Finding the answers to these questions can be initiated by first considering what you want your end destination to be! Why is it important to have an end in mind? First, you will be faced with many difficult decisions as previously mentioned that will be answered for you if you don't take direct intervention on "navigating" your life.

Before starting each new day, each new project, each new season, each new relationship, consider, "What is my main purpose in this? What do I ULTIMATELY want to accomplish?" When you can answer what your end goal is, then you are ready to embark on the new journey.

Taking an inventory of your values, goals and dreams help define what you are ultimately trying to get out of life. Consider the following questions:
1. Who has made a significant impact on your life? What qualities would you like to mimic?
2. Fifteen years from now, you are surrounded by the most important people in life, who are they? What are you doing together?
3. What or who would you be willing to lose your greatest possession for?
4. If you could spend one full day in the National Library of Congress studying something, what would it be?
5. What do you love to do?
6. Explain a situation or time when you became deeply inspired.
7. What three things would you want your closest people to tell a local news casting crew about you?
8. Describe one thing that represents you and explain how it represents you.
9. If you could spend one day living the life of another, who would it be and why?
10. What are your talents?

Answering these ten questions will help you discover hidden goals and values that ultimately shape your major goal or purpose you are trying to accomplish in life.

Today has already begun...have you started in the right direction?

Monday, October 17, 2011

7 Habits of Effective Teens, Part I

Sean Covey's book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" is an excellent resource in changing teens' paradigms of how to be successful in the present and future life. The next serious of blogs will focus on these seven habits and how they relate to Raider life.

First, one must be willing to change. Our "will" is arguably the most important aspect of our "hidden" person that determines how we will. In other words, the "will" is responsible for transferring the "what we know" to the "what we do." Our "will" is what allows our lives to change if we subject our "will" to NEW ways of thinking. Will you yield to new ways of thinking?

Second, we must address the concept of "habit." Habits are regular patterns of behavior that become a product of our subconscious. In other words, habits are behaviors that do not require active intervention to implement but are natural behaviors as a result of repeated, previous training.

In order to experience transformation, we must form new habits. This takes time, work and patience. Change can be more difficult for some and require patience on everyone's part. Success in the change process doesn't arrive in UPS type shipments but over several weeks of deliberate intervention.

Are any of the following areas in your life needing changed or lacking success?
  • Relationships with peers
  • Relationships with family
  • Relationships with teachers, coaches and advisors
  • Work relationships
  • Work conditions
  • Academic progress
  • Personal confidence
  • Communication
  • Addictions
Start the journey of implementing these seven habits by first taking inventory. What would you like to change? It starts with the "will" submitting to the laborious, but profitable process of change!

Good Luck! Habit 1, BE PROACTIVE....(more to come next week)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Need for Integrity

Often leaders feel like this little structure that will be subject to Henry's destruction when opposition gives criticism for new ideas, plans or goals. What reduces the opposition's criticism? What gives followers confidence to follow the leader's plan despite the criticism? What enables a leader to move forward with confidence in his or her plan?

The answer to all three questions is found in integrity! Integrity, as I like to define it, is the consistency in one's character. A person may be patient but when that person demonstrates patience continually, this reveals there is integrity in this character quality. Long term demonstration of qualities reveals strength or integrity of the person's character.

Dwight Eisenhower said, "In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose."

Integrity gives a leader the following:

1. TRUST - If a leader gains an ear of a follower, the leader has a voice but if a follower trusts a leader, the leader can expect action and devotion. Integrity, or consistency, gives a leader the platform to be trusted.

2. INFLUENCE - If a leader leads with integrity, people trust the leader and opens himself up to being influenced. Leaders need more than attention to carry out a vision. Leaders need to pass this vision on to the followers which is influence!

3. CLEAR CONSCIENCE - With integrity, a leader avoids harmful, offensive mistakes. This in turn keeps a clear conscience, one void of guilt and embarrassment. With a clear conscience, the leader has freedom to lead knowing others are more likely to follow.

Integrity, I believe, may be the most important quality can develop. Without integrity, all the other aspects of leadership will be leaning on broken crutches!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Become a "Connector"

This cartoon humorously reveals how a particular generation may not understand technology "lingo" but it also reminds me of a valuable truth. Leaders "connect" with people. Like this elderly gentleman, there are many who do not understand this level of connection that makes leaders effective at what they do.

What does it mean to "connect?" Connection exists in a relationship that extends beyond acquaintances, small talk or even "working together with someone." Connection is a criteria leaders can use to measure their success as leaders. A leader who loses his or her connection to those following will soon lose his influence. What does this connection look like?

Connection can be seen when individuals mutually agree on a deeper level, not just through consensus. Connection exists when an emotional bond forms that unites the leader and the other team members. I recently read by John Maxwell that the average person receives around 35,000 messages a day! Many of these messages will not resonate with the soul of a person like a leader can connect with team members. This type of connection gives the leaders influence!

How does a leader "connect?"

1. Sincere communication - A leader must make genuine eye contact with genuine listening where the communication can safely go beyond just "surface talk." Sincere communication develops from one who has sincere empathy.

2. Enthusiasm - People are drawn to those who demonstrate "positive energy" or enthusiasm. People like to connect with those who demonstrate passion, energy and feed great about a worthy cause. Leaders must be energetic in how they interact with people. Warning: Too much energy and, well, we all know those individuals who take this to the extreme and scare people away! Don't overdo it!

3. "Others Oriented" - When a leader goes the extra mile to learn about another person, this person is more likely to open up and develop a rapport with the leader. What makes this happen is a quality all leaders must possess and that is initiative. Leaders must take the first step towards developing relationships so "connection" exists in a team.

Connection is what makes good leaders great. Everyone has the ability to connect! Connection is not dependent upon position! Without connection, you will be like this powerful electric generator that is detached from any power grid or something needing energy. What a waste! Connection is not difficult to develop, leaders need to be courageous to change!