May you and your family have a truly blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
The MMM will take off next week for the holidays and return on Monday, January 3rd of 2022.
There are some things in my life that I need to change, and I struggle with actually making that happen. It is just too easy to stay the way we are. Change is hard, and it has to start with some specific action, because if nothing changes then nothing will change. We must start somewhere. Life is a process, not a destination. It is largely about change and adaptation to circumstances. It is about how we improve ourselves over our lifetime. Change is difficult, and it is not required, but it is advised. As this year draws to close, what change will you make happen in 2022?
When I hear
somebody say that life is hard, I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to
--Sydney J. Harris
This is a very thought-provoking quote. Life may be hard. I don’t think we have any real right to complain about that. We are not promised otherwise, but it is not always hard. Actually, most of us are incredibly blessed. When we think life is too hard what exactly would we like it to be? I know, there a lot of easy answers to that... trouble free, healthy, stable, happy, comfortable, and less challenging. But that is not life, is it?
Cities are known for certain things, food, culture, and architecture. Celebrities and politicians are often famous for specific good deeds, or maybe more often, certain indiscretions. Even years in history are known for what happened during them. What are you know for?
It is a question often discussed in real time about public figures, but for a lot of us it does not come up until someone leaves this earth. We tend to discuss legacies only once some passes away. But we are known for who we are now, and what we do while we are alive! Our regular daily behavior leads us to have a certain reputation. Our legacy is being built as we speak. It can be changed before we die!
How will you be remembered for “the dash” of your life? What will you be known for during the years between your birth and death? If you don’t like the answer, get to work on how to change it while you still can!
Happy Thanksgiving week! It is the time we designate each year to give thanks, to be grateful for all that we have. Shouldn’t we be doing that all the time? I had a conversation just last week with some friends about the things we take for granted, food and shelter, hot running water, a coat to wear when it cools down. If you are reading this, you are likely blessed well beyond most people on this planet. Be thankful for that! Be thankful for that all year long!
These days there seems to be a lot written about gratitude, and the role that it plays in a positive outlook and happiness. Expressing your thanks can really improve your overall sense of well-being. Studies show that grateful people are more agreeable, more open, and less neurotic. There are many ways to remind ourselves of our blessings and encourage gratitude. I know people who maintain a gratitude journal. Another friend recently reached a milestone birthday and created a list equal to his age of things he is thankful for. Don’t take your blessings for granted, Willie Nelson doesn’t.
"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."
- Willie Nelson
Be intentional about your gratitude. You will feel better, I promise.
If someone were to ask if you feel like you have grown over time, how would you answer? Are you different than you were six months ago or even a year ago? Most of us would answer with a resounding, “Yes”! I believe we improve with age, much like wine. Perhaps we become wiser, calmer or even more generous. So why do we look at others and judge, or assume, the person they are today is who they will always be? We do not know who they will become or what they are capable of doing in the future. We also do not know what they may have been in the past. Maybe instead of being skeptical because we do not like what we see, we should have faith knowing they too will learn and grow in time.
How are you improving overtime? Better yet, how much grace are you showing others going through the same growth process?
How about this thought to start your week….
You would never invite a thief into your house. So why would you allow thoughts that steal your joy to make themselves at home in your mind?
Think about it!
― J.D. Rockefeller
The great guitarist Bo Diddley once said, “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your butt can’t cash.” Others must believe in you before they are going to follow you. They need to know that you are going to do what you say you are going to do. They need to believe that you are honest and can be trusted. They need to know that your check is not going to bounce! Honesty and trust go hand in hand with great leadership. People must experience the leader as believable, credible and most of all, trustworthy. Trust and honesty are established when words and actions match up. You don’t build trust by talking about it. You build it by achieving results, always with integrity and in a manner that shows real personal regard for the people with whom you work. Honesty is a key to integrity and the trust building process. Trust is what other people invest in you, based on your integrity and honesty. Trust is their absolute confidence that you are truthful and reliable. Great leaders are honest and trustworthy!
I have read that over 66,000 thoughts flow through our minds every day. I’m not sure if that is factual, but if it is anywhere near that many it is staggering. No wonder I can’t focus. That also explains the fact that I can talk myself into believing almost anything. The real challenge is what we do with all that thought power. Too often those thoughts are negative. Thoughts like the devil tempting us and thoughts like our own self-doubt. We can be our own worst enemy with negative thoughts. Clearly the preference is to use those thoughts to bolster confidence, to instill a positive attitude. Remember the MMM a few weeks ago, "Choose Your Me”. Our thoughts are incredibly powerful. The mind can push our bodies beyond perceived limits. It can strengthen us in times of loss and encourage us in times of doubt. Controlling all of our thoughts is probably not possible, but controlling our thoughts when we need them to be positive is a great skill.
Life is largely a mental game. How we handle tens of thousands of thoughts per day plays impacts us significantly. Our thoughts need to be positive, supportive, encouraging, and challenging, not negative. What kind of games is your mind playing on you?
“Vision without execution is a hallucination.” - Joe Calloway, Author and Performance Consultant.
This quote comes from something Calloway wrote entitled, "Work like you're showing off!" What a simple but profound statement about execution. He goes on to say that an employer will trade ten "idea guys" for one person who can get things done. You have all heard the statement, "Ideas are a dime a dozen." Generally, leaders do not want to hear what you are going to do, plan to do, or think you will do. They want to know what you have done, have completed, and implemented. As leaders, the challenge is to channel ideas into action. Encourage and direct people to implement ideas and reach completion. There is nothing wrong with great ideas. The world is full of them, and we need the people who come up with them. The real test of any good idea can only come once it is executed.
Any discussion of adversity is not complete without addressing the faith opportunity that adversity presents. The only appropriate response to the challenges of life is a faithful reliance on God. Adversity is part of God’s plan for us and the “Why” is usually something we do not understand. Suffering is often a part of life. Obviously, the degree of suffering may vary, but we do suffer, and that too is a part of God’s plan. A true dependence upon God should be our focus when facing adversity, suffering and pain. God’s blessing will see us through, and we will be stronger and wiser because of the experience.
When we suffer, we can easily get bogged down with the “why” question. Why is this happening? But we may never know the why. God has not promised to tell us the why. We can ask Him but He may not tell us. He is more concerned with our future than our past, with our response to the suffering rather than the cause of our suffering.
Pastor, WoodsEdge Community Church
As leaders we should be concerned with what is right, not being right. What a great world it would be if we were all more concerned with what is right than who is right. We spend a lot of time defending our position, arguing our viewpoint, and building our own individual case. Is our position always what is right? That seems doubtful. There are times we may be arguing for what is right, but often we are just concerned with being right. Sometimes we even know that we are not right, but we just cannot bring ourselves to admit that we are wrong. It should not be about being wrong; It should be about what is right. This is a tough one for many leaders. Oftentimes, leaders think they are supposed to be right and always have the answers.
Leadership is not about being focused on oneself and always being right. Leadership is about thinking about the big picture, and what the right answer is for the situation. Think about what is right, not being right.
Twenty years ago, this past Saturday, our country was changed forever. Those old enough, will remember exactly where they were that morning. The attack, now known simply by the date of its occurrence, was nothing like this country had ever seen before, and hopefully will never again. The images were, and still are, horrifying and unforgettable. We were unified as a country, and we rallied together in the subsequent days, weeks and months. Unfortunately, that unity has faded away, but that is a story for a different day.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. It is a fascinating collection of stories and memorabilia located at the base of the Twin Towers. I found it to be incredibly well done, powerful, but somber and reverent. My granddaughter, who was not even born at the time of the attacks, was riveted. She came home with an understanding, and true feel for that tragedy that she will never get from a textbook. I encourage you to visit if you have the chance.
Don’t ever forget!
It is not just about football season starting…
Labor Day: What it Means
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
We are all leaders. Some are formal leaders with titles, others are informal leaders with influence. We lead at home, church, in our community and at work. We lead our children, our peers, and our employees. If you do not consider yourself a leader you are ignoring an opportunity, even a responsibility, to positively influence those around you. Below are characteristics that are keys to great leadership. Embrace these and be a great leader!
Do you live intentionally? Do you act with intention? Do you plan your day with intentionality? Often, I find myself just allowing the day to come to me. My business discussions may have a hopeful direction, but maybe not an intended goal. Conversations with family are not always the teaching moments they should be or result in firm decisions. I know people who are very intentional about what they do. Those that are good at being intentional are thoughtful and purposeful about every action they take and every decision they make. Intentionality is powerful. It increases our influence as leaders. It leads to greater productivity. It can lead to a healthy lifestyle and better personal habits. Be intentional. Influence what happens to you and around you.
Have you seen the Zillow commercial with the woman looking to buy a home talking to the multiple versions of herself? It ran frequently during the Olympics. The ad is named “Susan’s” and you can see the company name in the background, Susan & Susan. What a great depiction of the voices we all have in our heads. Susan has her negative me and her stressed me. She also has a helpful me and a spontaneous me, along with gullible, anti-social, paranoid and stressed versions of herself?
Don’t invite negative me to your table!
I am a good ______________.
What comes to mind when you consider how to complete the above sentence? Are your first thoughts about your career? Maybe, they are about a hobby or a sport. I believe that we are all basically good. It is important for us to remind ourselves of that, and to remind ourselves to strive to be good in the different roles in our life. What if you had to complete the sentence and it could not be about your profession, a sport or hobby? Think introspectively about yourself as a person. What about things like friend, listener, and advocate? Or what about family roles like parent, daughter or sibling? What does it mean to you to be good in these roles? What about just using the word person?
Think about it. Fill in the blank about yourself and strive to live out that statement!
Life is made up of a lot of opportunities. Many of those opportunities come in the form of our interactions with other people. They may be obvious and significant or subtle. Often, we react quickly, without much consideration for the viewpoint of the other person(s). Remember that you never know what another person may be dealing with in their life. You never know what pressure they may be under at work, what struggles they may have at home or what illness someone in their family may be fighting. A kind word, an out of the way effort, a smile, a compliment, or a thank you can make a world of difference in a person's day. It is amazing how big the little things can be...
Make a positive impact in someone’s life today!
I have had a chance to do some pondering lately. It is not something I do well, or often. None of these thoughts are new or different, but they are great reminders of maintaining perspective. Make sure your life includes a healthy mix of the following…
As you are reading this, I am on one! Vacations don’t have to be in the summer, but many are, and summer is here! What a great idea, vacations, time to get away, relax, visit family, friends and new places. Given the pandemic and shutdowns of the last 15 months, we all need a vacation. They provide us an opportunity to see and do things we don’t get to do every day. We feel revitalized and rested after some time off. Vacations do not have to be far away, exotic or elaborate, however, they should include family time, a good book, unplugged time, a great meal, time outdoors, relaxation and maybe an unplanned adventure. We live in a big, beautiful state in a large and diverse country on an incredible planet. There is a lot to see both near and far. Make it point to take a break from your daily grind and take in some of this great world with your loved ones.
We are truly blessed in this country with incredible freedoms. Unfortunately, we often take those freedoms or granted. We should not. These freedoms are not found in many countries. What we do with these freedoms make us who we are…
· The freedom to live, love and laugh.
· The freedom to work hard and succeed.
· The freedom to challenge ourselves mentally and physically.
· The freedom to fail, and to recover.
· The freedom to approach each day with a smile.
· The freedom to make choices, some wise, some not.
· The freedom to educate ourselves.
· The freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
· The freedom to honor and support those who protect these freedoms
…and those who lost their lives doing so.
· The freedom to positively impact the lives of others.
· The freedom to tell those that we love that we do!
What are you doing with your freedoms?
An athletic department staff member at The University of Texas tells a story about his son sharing his fears with Darrell Royal some years ago. Apparently, the young man told Royal he was afraid of graduating and finding a job in the “real” world. Royal apparently replied, “Never be afraid. Be concerned. There is a difference.” He went on to explain, “The difference is that fear is paralyzing. Concern brings awareness.”
I have always thought that fear was a normal and even important part of life and in fact I still believe that. However, Royal’s perspective is good one. When facing challenges, we do not want to be paralyzed but concerned. We want to be cautious and aware and responsive but not frozen in fear. There is a place for fear. Certainly, we should fear consequences of our actions and ramifications of our decisions. Our laws and authorities relay to some degree on fear and that is appropriate, but when facing change or obstacles in life fear should not dictate our lives. Caution yes, fear no.
I lost my dad way too early,
Who am I to doubt it was part of God’s plan?
His mother lived to age 98, why couldn’t he?
Who am I to question God’s timing?
He loved my mom and all of us so dearly,
Who am I to ask God why we don’t have him anymore?
He was married for 50 years, had nine grandchildren and a great grandchild,
Who am I to not thank God for the time we did have?
He had wood to carve, golf to play and trips to take,
Who am I to ask God why not?
He was kind, loved and respected,
Who am I to ask God why him?
For his disease there were no more options,
Who am I to ask God why no cure?
There were things I had not done or said,
Who am I to ask God for more time with him?
I never heard a bad word spoken towards him,
Who am I to ask God why not someone else?
He deserved so much more,
Who am I to question that God knows what he truly deserved?
I lost my dad far too soon,
Who am I to question God’s plan?
Barry D. Blanton
In loving memory of Don Blanton
January 6, 1935 – June 23, 2007
This MMM was originally issued 07.02.07. I will repeat it as long as I write MMM’s on a Monday near the anniversary of the passing of my father.
Many of you know that leadership is one of my favorite discussion topics. Here is another interesting quote regarding the challenge of leadership.
He who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk.
That statement places leadership in a little different perspective to me. Leadership is not leadership without followers. What is a leader without followers? Well, they likely are not a leader at all. In our different leadership roles, we should think about “Being a person that others will want to follow.” We are not leaders in all the roles in our lives, we are followers in some and leaders in others. The key is that when we are in our leadership roles to not forget the viewpoint of the follower. I don’t know about you, but I would like to think that I am here for more than just a walk!
How powerful is the tone and delivery of your words when you speak? You probably don’t realize the impact your expression has on others. It is not what you say, but how you say it that counts. Have you ever met someone that can deliver the worst possible news, but does it in a way that you feel okay about it? On the other hand, what about someone who communicates great news, but does so in a way that seems to ruin the good news itself. Those are the extreme examples of the impact of how you say something. Be mindful of the impact of tone and delivery on your message.
I hesitate to use the word “normal”, but this weekend feels good! It is our first real holiday since New Year’s Day of 2020.
Yes, it is about the start of the summer, with beer, BBQ and upcoming coming trips to the beach. There is baseball, watermelon and the kids being out of school. Many of these things are happening live and in person this year. But, please do not forget the true meaning of the holiday. People have died serving our country and defending the freedoms we enjoy. This day is set aside to remember and honor those sacrifices. Take a minute to think about that. Make sure your children or grandchildren understand the price of freedom and the reason for the holiday. It is great to see things normalizing. Just make sure that acknowledging the meaning of the holiday is part of your “normal”.
Have a blessed and happy Memorial Day!
Have you ever heard of something called an energy leak? It is a feeling, behavior or attitude that drains you of energy. Energy leaks are wasteful, they drain people of positive energy for no good reason. Some examples of potential energy leaks...
- Judging others
- Holding grudges
- Petty bickering
- The blame game
There are many, maybe hundreds more. Everybody has these, they may be different from those listed, but we all have them. The interesting thing is, we know it. For some reason we think these thoughts and feelings might make us feel better. The truth is, that energy spent on these feelings and behaviors is a waste. It produces no positive outcome and sucks the energy right out of you. Use your energy on positive thoughts, feeling and behaviors and stop wasting time on energy leaks! Enjoy the quote below..
- Warren Buffett
Stagnation should not be an option in life, but it is. As humans we must change, grow, develop, and mature. Failure to do so leads to stagnation, which in turn leads to boredom, failure, and frustration. The world constantly changes around us. The last fifteen months of the pandemic has led to even more change than normal, drastic, and unprecedented change. If we do not adapt to change, we will be left behind. That is true as much in our work world as it is in our home life. The business world of instant communications, corporate transparency and the world-wide economy is drastically different than it was just a few short years ago. In the same way, raising kids is not what it was just 5 years ago, never mind 25 years ago.
It is important that we embrace change in order to keep up with the ever-changing world, but more importantly to grow personally. We cannot control the change that takes place around us but changing ourselves is a choice. We can choose to change for the good. Below is a great quote on the topic of change and why it is so important in our lives.
"Change is the Law of Life. Those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
- John F. Kennedy
I do not consider myself to be much of a risk taker. Maybe that is not totally true since I am a small business owner. Unfortunately, not much in life can be accomplished without risk. A risk-free life might feel safe and comfortable, but it may also feel empty and lacking purpose or direction. I cannot think of anybody that I consider successful who has not taken risks. In fact, most have failed multiple times on their path to success. Risk taking is even more important to leaders. As leaders, we must often take the risks that others are not willing to take. We take the risk for the team. Consider these quotes…
"Progress involves risk. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."
- Frederick Wilcox
"Leaders take risks. That's not to say that they are reckless, because good leaders aren't. But they don't always take the safest route. Rarely can a person break ground and play it safe at the same time."
- John C. Maxwell - The Right to Lead
Humans are meant to live in community. We are not built to tackle life alone. Our lives are a series of unique relationships with those around us. Unfortunately, in this social media driven world, those relationships can be shallow and meaningless as they are measured in likes, follows and heart emojis. There are a lot of different types of relationships, they all play different roles in our lives, but we need at least a few truly meaningful people in our lives. Those are the people you can sit in silence with, not feeling the need to speak. You can call on them any time of the day or night. They are more than friends.
Here is the key to great relationships. You have to understand that they are never fifty-fifty. True relationships are often sixty-forty, sometimes eighty-twenty. Sometimes, you will be the twenty and at other times you will be the eighty! The key is to accept and be okay with that. If you expect a relationship to be fifty-fifty all the time, you will be greatly disappointed. If you try to keep score for when you are the sixty verses when you are the forty, you will be frustrated. Relationships are as much about giving as they are receiving. They require hard work.
Life is all about relationships. Understand that they are not fifty-fifty and make sure you are investing in the relationships that are important to you.
Numbers impact our lives in so many ways every day, especially us accounting types. Where would we be without numbers, math, and the ability to calculate? Numbers track prices, times, markets, returns, currencies, blood pressure, dates, profits, the temperature and so much more.
…then there are age numbers. We use numbers to track the years we have spent on this earth. For some reason, the numbers associated with our age seem to stir our emotions. They also draw varying reactions from those around us. We tend to make a big deal out of birthday numbers. The type of big deal varies with age and personal preference, but birthdays seldom pass without some comments and cards, if not a full-blown celebration. Even a bigger deal is made of certain milestones, often those numbers ending in zeros. What is it with numbers that end in zero? After all, they are just numbers like all the other numbers we encounter every day. They just represent another year like the other nine in a decade. Why do we let age numbers, especially the milestone ones bother us? Sure, the larger ones indicate that we are getting older. They also mean that we have more experiences, more good times, more challenges we have overcome. We have had more tears but more smiles as well. They mean we have more to be thankful for. We have had more years to make us who we are. Hopefully, that means we are wiser possibly more seasoned. It is not that I am suggesting that we stop counting, although some might prefer that. I just think we need to step back and think about the numbers associated with age. They are just numbers and larger ones are not necessarily a bad thing!
Personal growth occurs only when we are challenged. It is in those moments that we have the best opportunity to grow. We don’t grow when our lives are trouble free, and things are taken care of for us. We likely won’t grow when all is well at work and home. Difficult times give us the life experiences from which we cultivate change. If we take those opportunities and use those situations to learn, we become better people. We must choose to tackle the challenge and grow from it. The pandemic has been challenging, but it has also provided us with an opportunity to grow in how we lead at work and at home. We can choose to grow in how we positively influence others. We can choose to grow in our faith and trust in God. We can choose to mature in our leadership roles. We can choose to grow our life’s perspective.
Now as much as ever, we can choose to grow. Enjoy the quote below…
- Morgan Freeman
Misunderstandings in communication take place when intent differs from interpretation. Good communicators strive to clarify their point to avoid misunderstandings. It is easy to assume that our intended message was understood. Since we understand what we are saying, we believe that others will understand as well. That is just not the case. Our individual minds work differently, and we all listen and interpret differently. Never assume that your message has been properly understood. The first step in resolving any misunderstanding should be to clarify the message. To avoid misunderstandings all together, strive for clear communications without room for misinterpretation.
As leaders and managers, as well as parents and spouses, it is critical that we communicate clearly. Doing so can eliminate conflict before it ever gets started. Just put yourself in the shoes of your intended listener, who does not have the benefit of knowing how you are thinking. Would you understand the message being delivered? Avoid misunderstandings by clarifying your message. Consider the quote below.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
What does it mean to have integrity? How would you describe people that you believe have integrity? The first thought that comes to my mind about integrity is... Do the right thing even when nobody is looking. Integrity is not about doing the right thing for someone else. It is about doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do!
What is the right thing? Two things to consider when making decision about the right thing to do...
- What would your mother think if you told her your decision?
- Make your decision as if it will be on the front-page news tomorrow.
Keep those thoughts in mind and you will know the right thing to do. Strive to do the right thing all the time, especially when nobody is looking.