Monday, March 19, 2012

Make Room for the Big Rocks!

Americans are guilty of either two extremes. One, they either fall into the despairing traps of laziness. Or, two, they become sucked into the wearisome rat-race of busyness! Both are guilty of failing to schedule their lives around what is truly important, or the "big rocks" of their lives.

Habit #3 of our study of the Covey's Habits of Highly Successful People is putting first things first. This basic idea is scheduling, planning and setting goals to accomplish what is truly most important to us. In addition, it's scheduling these "big rocks" first! I've always argued that we make time for what is truly important to us. Or, we don't forget about the things that are important to us. Also, another way to put it, "where you spend your time is clearly where your heart is" or what is really important to you.

Before you start planning your week around the "big rocks" of what is important, we must investigate what our current "rocks" are and what they should be. For the first investigation, ask yourself these questions:
  • How do I spend my mornings?
  • How do I handle daily responsibilities?
  • How do I spend my free time?
  • What is my attitude on homework?
  • When do I do chores and home responsibilities?
  • As I look at my week, where is the majority of my time spent?
An honest answer to these questions will help indicate what we are making time for. Second, answer the following questions to help establish what is truly important in life:
  • What activities have long-term value?
  • What would I want to be remembered for?
  • Rank the five most important ways you could spend your time.
  • What relationships are most important in life? Reasons?
  • What do you hope to leave for the next generation?
Answers to this last set of questions helps us identify where and how we should be spending our time. Identify your changes for this week and start scheduling your week around what is important and avoid falling prey to trying to keep up with what is urgent in our lives that suck our energy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making the Vision a Reality

So, you've thought through your vision, what you see yourself doing and accomplishing. And, you've identified HOW you will carry out this vision. Now what? How do we make this vision become a reality? Do I wait? When do I start?

The answer is simple: start today. I recently talked to a 42 year old gentleman who humbly stated it's taken him twenty years to start leaving out his personal vision. Why did he wait so long? His response was not quite so simple. His answer involved several hurdles, side-steps, mini-vacations, distractions and the list goes on. Before he realized it, he found himself trapped in a daily survival game of "living" rather than "succeeding." However, to his credit, many do not ever make the change and become stuck in their "rut" of life. To his credit, he is now redeeming the time and living out a powerful vision.

What is his vision? He shared how he is living out his vision of mentoring today's youth. A son of a coworker/mother spent the day with him recently working together on a service project for a youth camp. This son of a coworker needed some volunteer hours due to some recent trouble with the law. What's really cool is after several hours of working together, this 42 year old gentleman shared the tough lessons he has had to learn in life and encouraged this young son of the coworker to avoid making the same mistakes. The son verbally stated at the end of the day how much he enjoyed learning new skills through the service project but more importantly, he enjoyed the wisdom that he had learned. That's living out a powerful vision! Many adults live in discouragement and despair about their pasts. This 42 year old has instead used his past to mentor those of the future!

What's the key to living out the vision?
1. Commitment - You live out what you are committed to. Make a personal, heart-felt commitment to accomplish your vision!
2. Set DAILY Goals - S.M.A.R.T. Goals are the daily stepping stones that bring the vision to reality.
3. Alertness - Getting started on living out a vision causes some to miss opportunities because they are looking in the wrong places. This 42 year old listened to a distraught Mother (coworker) and he realized his opportunity to live out his vision and took advantage. Be alert for your opportunities!

What are you doing with your day TODAY? Make it count by living out your vision NOW.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Begin with a Vision

Vision. Every leader must start with the end in mind. Would you set out across the ocean with aim in site? No! What do you want your life to be about? How would you want your "dash" to be described when looked upon on your tombstone? The answers to these questions help define what you want to ultimately accomplish in life. Vision doesn't define life purpose in terms of money but in terms of life values. For example, rather than pursuing a certain dollar figure salary, a vision might include influencing others to live for a certain cause.

HOW do I live with vision? First, discovery what is important to you or what SHOULD be important to you. Align your life according to those ideals NOW. Second, make a personal resolution to have those ideals be true of you sixty or seventy years from now. Warning: Spend some time researching and reflecting on these ideals. This discovery process shouldn't be done flippantly. Third, create a personal motto or mission statement that outlines these ideals for your life. This motto becomes your purpose behind EVERY little mission you take on in life!

WHY is having vision so important? It clarifies to you WHY you are doing what you are doing. It provides reason or purpose for your life. What should your life live for?

Examine some of the following mission statements:

To Bring Inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible

Harley Davidson, Inc
We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.

Ford Motor Company
We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.

Dollar General:
Serving Others For Customers A Better Life For Shareholders A Superior Return For Employees Respect and Opportunity

Our goal for Citigroup is to be the most respected global financial services company. Like any other public company, we're obligated to deliver profits and growth to our shareholders. Of equal importance is to deliver those profits and generate growth responsibly.

To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.

Advanced Auto Parts:
It is the Mission of Advance Auto Parts to provide personal vehicle owners and enthusiasts with the vehicle related products and knowledge that fulfill their wants and needs at the right price. Our friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff will help inspire, educate and problem-solve for our customers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Be Proactive

Are you a product of nature or nurture? Stephen Covey would argue you are a product of choice. I would argue you are a product of all three. Each person has a personality, temperament and developed character. The character is a product of nature (genetics), nurture (surroundings' influence) and your choice of how you interact and respond to various stimuli. In other words, you DO have some control of WHO you will be and how successful you can be. BE PROACTIVE is a principle emphasizing that rather reacting to stimuli we should respond with principles and values in mind.

Identify what you would like to change in your life and BE PROACTIVE. Decide to choose differently. If you don't do things differently day to day, your results will never change. However, if you decide to get different results, it will require you to choose differently when interacting with your surroundings each day.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr stated, its always the right time to do what is right. Choose right values, right friends, right decisions, right actions, right words, right attitudes, etc. Don't be a passive victim of your surroundings. Choose to be someone successful! BE PROACTIVE!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Today Counts

Today Counts! In other words, today is full of opportunity. See TODAY as important. Too many people become stuck in a rut and simply spend their time going through the motions. Renew your perspective each morning so you'll treat your day like its your last.

What is so important about your day TODAY?
1. Reality - It COULD be your last. This is a sobering reality but a reality nonetheless. Make your life count by exercising leadership that influences. Live with a legacy in mind.
2. Necessary - Today is important in your progress. How you are developing as a person and leader is dependent upon the day to day decisions. The decisions you make today will strongly impact your progress.
3. Opportunity - Today is filled with opportunity. Many would define some of these moments as "difficulty" but see everything as opportunities for learning, growth and experience. The learning of wisdom is rooted in how we handle our daily stresses, or "opportunities."
4. Sustaining - Today is also a resource. You find your strength and inspiration in what you rely on EACH DAY. Don't leave out this important step in living each day to its fullest!

"It matters NOT how a man dies but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short of time." - Samuel Johnson