Walking Your Talk

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“Well done is better than well said.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“There is no magic wand, my dear. In this world if you want to accomplish more, you need to do more.” Wise counsel from a mentor some 20 years ago. Her advice was good across the board, whether starting up a business, changing jobs or simply checking a few things off your bucket list.

I was somewhat of a talker then. Reasonably accomplished, I talked a lot about what I wanted to do. Yet, I found myself challenged when it came to fulfilling personal chores, completing deliverables, and planning for what I wanted to do. I was bluffing myself and others. And at some point I acknowledged I wasn’t a doer.

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These days I’m on the other side of that fence. I collaborate with people who choose to plan for their personal development; people who have specific, realistic, small, and manageable goals. In hindsight, what I now see clearly is that an individual’s success is often attributable to designing a living (meaning: breathing/flexible) working plan versus simply thinking and talking about their goals.

Early on I figured out that plans and outcomes are not built on good intentions alone. Positive perspectives help yet intentions lapse when the distractions and demands of the real world present. What I remind people about is that the real work is in making things happen. And for plans and intentions to bear fruit, they require diligence, hard work, vision, application, self-belief, energy and consistency. Plain and simple. Perseverance is essential even if you lapse or come up short on your plan.

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If being successful is an outcome to which you aspire, fairy dust and wishful thinking might make you feel good, but they’re not going to deliver results. I used be a great thinker. A dreamer, too. I am, still. What has changed though, is now seeing these matters through a time, experience and knowledge lens. And we all have this vantage! We simply need to recognize what is practical and applicable in our own frame.

Walking your talk is undeniably doable. In doing so consider these three foci, each which can strengthen and empower your walk:

  1. Banish distractions. Getting past distractions is one of the biggest obstacles to taking more action. It may not be challenging for people with enough willpower but for many, stopping procrastination and focusing requires a lot more effort. Turn off things like your TV and phone more regularly and scale back your usage of social media sites and Netflix. I know I am far more productive absent distractions. Perhaps you, too?
  2. Be a doer. Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. The longer an idea rests without being acted upon, the weaker it becomes. After a few days, details get hazy. After a week, ideas get relegated to a back burner. As a doer you get more done while stimulating new ideas in the process.
  3. Visualize success. This is a tried and true technique. People know the benefits of visualizing their goals. Elite athletes do this all the time. In a similar way, create an image of the outcomes you want and use that for inspiration.

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Quality of Life, Varies

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“The significance of a man is not in what he attains, but rather what he longs to attain.”  ~ Kahlil Gibran

Reference.com defines significance as, “importance; consequence; meaning.” I’ve previously posted about significance and given what I believe it means to many, I’m revisiting it.

Significance is not a subject on which people often dwell. Instead, many are focused on achieving success, however one defines success. When you ‘Google’ the word significance you find abundant reference to: statistics, physics, ethics, religion, history, locations, and significant others. But you need to dig deeper to find works that address it in the context of life meaning and the accumulation of moments that matter.

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It’s easy to feel like small acts of kindness are unimportant in the big scheme of things, especially in parts of our world that are captivated by fame, promotion and bravado. But small acts can be incredibly important. Life stories, even legacies, are not possible without a series of meaningful acts; with each moment adding on a quality to the next.

A person who is leading a significant life is unimpressed with him/herself.

Many of us are passionately engaged on the road towards success (I certainly once was), but if we are asked whether or not we are living a life of significance, some may not have an answer. It’s not easy. And it’s not for everyone. Creating a life of significance takes planning and awareness of your calling, values, and goals. And this is something that can become lost in day-to-day living. However, it is attainable.

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Copious choices exist if living a life of significance is an aspiration. Here are three possibilities to consider:

  1. There are opportunities every day to learn new things, meet new people, explore new ideas, and contribute to the betterment of yourself. Many only appear once. Don’t miss them. Or… maybe you’d rather create them!
  2. Contemplate telling your truth of the moment. (It evolves as you grow and change.) Be authentic by your definition, not what others cast upon you. When you become grounded in who you are, it becomes easier to push beyond limits and live more significantly.
  3. Opportunities for turning what you do into ‘what you give back’ are virtually limitless. If you’re itching to shift your focus towards doing things of greater value, what would you consider to be the most pressing issues of our time? How could you leverage your skills and interests to help solve a piece of those problems?

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Significance can be core to the overall quality of how you live your life. In part, it’s about ‘who you are’ and how your choices have a ripple effect on your family, community, and the wider world.

You As Yoda

Lucasfilm, LucasArts & ILM

“Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers.” ~ Richard Bach

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker discovers that he needs help on his journey to become a Jedi Knight. He recognizes that he cannot achieve his true potential without some guidance and training. He needs someone to provide direction and practical knowledge so he can acquire the understanding and skill to use The Force, the energy in the universe, wisely and effectively.

Yoda, who Luke meets on an isolated planet in the galaxy, initially appears to be an unlikely guide for such a momentous journey. Yet Yoda puts up with Luke’s initial insolence and arrogance, takes him under his pointed ears and manages to bring out the Knight that is within him. Yoda demonstrates, as the mentor to mentors, how to give support to a promising individual, how to offer challenges that permit one to learn and grow, and how to provide vision so that the “mentee” gains confidence and, eventually, independence.

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Have you ever been a Yoda to someone? Or perhaps, thought about being a Yoda? There are many ways to support someone who is exploring and willing to discover their true potential: there are teachers, trainers, coaches, guides, and obviously, mentors. These roles are not mutually exclusive.

So what makes a mentor unique? A mentor is an individual willing to become part of a supportive and diverse community of learners, open to sharing experiences, vulnerability, and expertise. A mentor is a person who models the need to continue learning as a life-long adventure. S/he is a person who has learned through success as well as challenge. A mentor realizes that respect is always an earned commodity. And a mentor accepts others in humanity.

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I have been blessed to have had several mentors; individuals who were as honored to support my growth (and at times arrogance), just as I was privileged to receive their tutelage. I’ve also been on the giving side of this relationship. As a mentor, I get to model the professional values and behaviors to those with and for whom I serve. It’s a win-win proposition.

There are many ways to be an effective mentor. If contributing in this capacity is something you might be good at and interested in, here are three ways to consider serving:

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  1. Guide and Counsel. You can serve as a confidant, sounding-board, or personal adviser to your mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. You may help your mentee understand conflict or explore ways to deal with problems.
  2. Share rather than teach. Mentoring is not about overtly teaching someone everything they need to know. It’s more about building relationships. Sharing from your heart bypasses any resistance and helps a mentee forge their own direction. This ensures they gain the right knowledge within the appropriate context of life lessons like persistence, self-awareness, and diligence
  3. Follow-up. If you’re going to start the process, make sure to be consistent and follow-up. Make arrangements to meet for coffee, phone calls, etc., every couple of months or at a frequency that works for both schedules. Mentoring only works if you do!

Even Better than Success

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

According to the American Heart Association, the majority of heart attacks occur around nine o’clock on Monday mornings. In a presentation, author Gregg Levoy noted that this is when many people are going back to work they don’t like, work that doesn’t match their spirits, work that will literally break their hearts. Yet they are driven.

In a recent AgeWave/Harris Interactive survey, results uncovered a renewed focus on what’s important across multiple generations and an optimistic outlook on the possibilities for retirees’ new roles in American life. I recognize this blog is read by a global audience, yet these findings may hold true in other countries.

  1. A majority of respondents (58%) said that loving family and relationships are at the heart of what is held most dearly today – twice as important as being wealthy (33%) and twenty times more important than wielding power and influence (3%).
  2. Three-quarters of all respondents think the U.S. would benefit if retirees were more involved in contributing their valuable skills and experience to our communities.

People want more. They want to contribute more. Yet many are frustrated, disappointed, and needy. And unfortunately, they focus on what is missing or lacking in their lives, careers, or relationships. Getting what they believe they need or want rarely fulfills their sense of lack and longing. And often, they just continue their wanting to something else.

While desired by many, perhaps success isn’t the best thing to aim for. It’s a tricky target because it has so many meanings. How do you define success? Fame? Fortune? Everyone sees it differently. However, there is one thing possibly better than success — and that is significance.

Many people make the mistake of aiming for classic success. Once acquired, they may go on to lead a full and happy life. But success isn’t what allows your conscience to rest easy and it won’t satisfy your hunger for the feeling of accomplishment that significance will. The difference between the two is the application and the effect on those around you.

A successful person may achieve many things but significance is about relationships and significant people serve others. Here are five (of many) characteristics which are consistently practiced by a significant person. How embedded are these traits in you?

  • Intently listens
  • Empathy
  • Heightened awareness
  • Positive persuasion
  • Foresight

To live a life of increased significance, consider these three challenges:

  1. Embrace the idea of delayed gratification now. Don’t live for the credit of what you’ve done. Think legacy potential.
  2. Be open to letting go of your comfortable lifestyle or mindset to achieve something greater. (Thus, the opening Campbell quote; one of my favorites.)
  3. This sacrifice is ongoing. You have to believe it and trust that you will reap rewards in due time.

Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not about you.” ~ Peter Stark

People once thought a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) would guarantee that an individual would rise above everyone else. As a stand-alone measure, that outcome is no longer the case. Enter EQ (Emotional Intelligence), an array of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.

EQ is about being aware of your own feelings in yourself and those of others, regulating those feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships. Another way to contrast the two: IQ defines how smart you are, EQ determines how well you use your gift of intelligence. People with high EQ’s are better equipped to make use of their cognitive abilities.

In 2009, I became certified to administer, interpret results, and debrief respondents of the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), a premier tool used to measure emotional intelligence. When considered in tandem, IQ and EQ are important factors in determining one’s ability to succeed in life. Case in point: people with high IQ’s but low EQ’s sometime sabotage themselves because they are unable to relate to their peers, cannot handle stress constructively, and find emotional connections difficult to maintain.

There are many ways in which to heighten awareness of your emotional intelligence. If you’re interested in embracing your uniqueness and the uniqueness of others, here are four ways in which to:

  1. Become more self-aware. This involves paying attention to yourself and your surroundings in a positive manner. Knowing who you are comes in big here. If you don’t know who you are how can you expect to know others? Ask yourself: “Why do I act like that?” “Why do I have certain beliefs?” “Why do I find it so confronting to have my beliefs challenged?”
  2. Be more flexible. Being emotionally intelligent involves knowing when to stick to and when to switch your emotional attachments. When it’s time to move on, people high in emotional intelligence can make that adjustment. If you find change difficult, look at the possible consequences. What might happen if you stay with the status quo? On the other hand, where might you be if you go with the flow? Change is part of growth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Tune into your reactions. In a given situation, when your voice begins to rise or you find yourself getting impatient, pause and name that emotion and then try to determine which of your core values is being challenged and thus, resulting in your emotional response. This begins to move you out of reaction and into a more considered response.
  4. If you don’t know how you’re feeling, ask someone else. People seldom realize that others are able to judge how they are feeling. Ask someone who knows you (and whom you trust) how you are coming across. You may find the answer both surprising and interesting.

Failure Yields Great Outcomes

“If you are not failing, you are not moving fast enough, close enough, towards your fullest potential.” ~ Larry Broughton

You’ve heard the expression, “The Real Deal,” right? It is frequently used when describing authentic people; those with character. I had the privilege of having a real deal on this week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show. If you were unable to catch the show ‘live’ you can download the podcast and my guest’s full bio, here.

Larry Broughton has lived one of those classic, humble beginnings to award-winning entrepreneur and CEO, stories. And on this show he shared a bit about his unconventional journey to success. Founder and CEO of Broughton Hotels, a leader in the boutique hotel industry; as well as Co-Founder and CEO of Broughton Advisory, Larry is a man who believes in his vision and walks his talk, personally and professionally.

One hour is barely enough time to scratch the surface of anyone’s story. Yet Larry shared valuable insights into what he believes makes each one of us successful. Having presented to, coached, and mentored thousands of current and aspiring veteran entrepreneurs across the U.S., Larry spoke about the importance of mindset, how it is essential to embrace failure and, how fear and failure are actually healthy as they nurture learning and growth.

Larry cited several abilities/qualities that are necessary to be successful entrepreneurs (and individuals!) including:

  • Having a sense of adventure, as did the early explorers who knew there was something else out there;
  • Being crystal clear about what you intend to accomplish and how to achieve desired results;
  • Possessing a strong belief in your vision;
  • Tapping your competence and confidence;
  • Banishing negativity and the “energy vampires” from your life; 
  • Surrounding yourself with brighter, bolder people and having mentors or accountability partners;
  • Undying resolve and;
  • The ability and sense to ask questions. Ask questions!

Larry’s upbeat, creative approach to business and life have been featured in countless newspaper and magazine articles and he’s been a guest on news and TV programs on every major network, including multiple appearances on CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. In his grounded, inspiring ways, Larry emphasized for listeners: the importance of using one’s strengths; being authentic and transparent and; doing what it is you are great at, to yield clarity and live a successfully integrated, holistic life.

So much wisdom… so little time (on this show) with Larry. While he offered much on which to reflect, my three simple take-aways were:

  1. Get comfortable with the “panic zone”… embrace failure.
  2. “Do good things.”
  3. “Don’t let guilt of the past define you; let it refine you.”

Consider listening to the podcast (linked above). It was a good show!

In Six Hours!

                        Larry Broughton

Larry Broughton

Veterans, boomers, leaders, and entrepreneurs, tonight’s Awakening to Awareness radio show is for you! My guest will be Larry Broughton. His journey from the Battlefield to the Boardroom is amazingly inspiring. Named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Larry is CEO of Broughton Advisory Group, industry trendsetting Broughton Hotels, and Broughton Philanthropy. His accomplished bio is linked below.

Join us live at 5:00pm Pacific time and learn invaluable lessons about fear, failure, potential, and energy vampires – as well as what it takes to create personal and professional success.

Here’s a link to the show with Larry’s full bio. You can listen simply by clicking the “Live on Air” button. If you’re interested in calling in with a question for Larry, the studio number (in the U.S.) is 866-404-6519.

This will be an enlightening and informative conversation!

Is It Really Important?

“In 20 years you will be more disappointed by what you didn’t do than by what you did.” ~ Mark Twain

You may have heard this story…

A U.S. businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican fishing village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while, senor.” The American asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish. The Mexican said that he had enough to supply his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Alaria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American smiled, “I am a Harvard MBA – that’s a degree in business studies – I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet. Then instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution.”

“You would, of course, need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, senor, how long will all this take?”

The American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you sell your stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? But then what?”

“Then you would retire, move to a small coastal fishing village, where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, Maria, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

With just a hint of a twinkle in his eye, the fisherman said, “Senor – are these business degrees hard to get?”

As someone with a MBA degree, two things struck me as I was retyping this story: 1) The U.S. businessman’s use of the word “should” and; 2) His getting the fisherman’s wife’s name wrong.

I spent the majority of my career running several sizable business units. There was no greater feeling than when productivity and profitability reports came out and quantitative goals where achieved or exceeded. Life was good!

That was success – at least as defined by traditional, Western measures. Darren Hardy, Editorial Director of SUCCESS magazine once said, “You can be successful but not significant, but you cannot be significant without being successful.” Hardy goes on to say, “As a society, I think we often misunderstand the word success. Our society celebrates those who obtain fame, wealth, power, and celebrity no matter the means – ethical or not – and we call them successful. Success is often equated to an achieved status, rather than to a measure of value of contribution.”

Among several definitions, significance is defined as “having the quality of being significant – meaningful and important.” Significance starts with the word sign for a reason. An item’s significance is a sign of its importance. Unlike my former P&L reports which quickly faded because of the next targets, the story of the Mexican fisherman has stayed with me and illuminated meaning and importance.

When tomorrow never comes, my hope is that I gave back more than I took, and lead a life of significance in my community and the world. This is an achievable feat; it merely requires awareness, passion, and focused action.

And you?

Choosing the Right Words

“Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn.” ~ Unknown

You have unlimited power. You can choose what to do with your life, and with your day. You have influence over the people around you, over your daily schedule and daily activities. You can control many things in life – not all things by any means, but many things. Whether you take charge, choose a direction and move forward or not, is largely a choice. Remember the saying, “use it or lose it?”

Do you use negative, limiting, and critical words to talk to yourself, especially when you make mistakes or are frustrated? Most people do and if you do you probably have the same old feelings and make the same old responses. Words matter and if you want different results, new responses and especially more positive feelings, you will have to choose power words rather than limiting words.

Whatever you aspire to in business, health, fitness, family, spirituality or other areas of your life, you get to choose and unleash the words that will power you! And the best quality of power words is that you don’t have to believe them or be confident of their truth. All you have to do is keep using them and through repetition you will believe them, confidence will increase and most importantly, you will set-up more success. Think of power words as words that:

  1. Focus responses by directing your mind to the present task and how to complete it. These include words such as: how, commit, and yes.
  2. Lower anxiety by keeping responses and choices in the present where actions occur. Anxiety is always about the future, so words about the present reduce or prevent anxiety. These words include: calm, now and present.
  3. Increase confidence by keeping the task within the framework of what can be done right now. Confidence comes from doing, not hoping or wishing to do. Confidence feeling words include: done/do, happen, and can.

In your ongoing self-talk you make a choice. You can use limiting words that never are helpful and supportive of getting you what you desire, want or dream about, or you can use power words that are always supportive. When you choose power words you expect and continually set-up success.

Is it Ever the Right Time?

“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

~ Seth Godin

Here’s a $64,000 question: How do you know it is time to quit? Have you ever reached a point where something isn’t working, frustration is mounting, and you’re wondering if it is time to quit? Typically, this point is reached after repeated moments of indecision and internal conversations.

The times you have thought about quitting is probably greater than the total number of your fingers and toes combined. And what most often causes us to pause when making a good decision about quitting – is feeling guilty and thinking we will let ourselves or others down. This comes from believing that if something isn’t working, it is because you have not put in the effort, time, or energy for it to work. While this may have contributed to reaching this decision, there are other aspects of the situation more important to making a decision now. These aspects can be brought into focus by answering four questions:

  1. What would have to change in the situation for me to continue and succeed?
  2. What information, skills, experience, and resources would I need to continue my efforts and be successful?
  3. Is there another direction, task or situation that would better match my current goals, skills, and interests? What is it?
  4. What are the benefits of continuing on and what will be the costs? Possible costs include time, energy, money, emotions, relationships, and future opportunities.

Answer these four questions truthfully and you will know if it is time to quit or refocus your efforts. Consider writing out the questions and your answers to allow your mind more clarity. Then, read your answers and consider your possible actions.

Often people quit when they are emotional, especially angry and frustrated. Instead, using these questions creates a more logical and reasonable decision-making process about quitting that can get good results for you and everyone involved.

Try it. You might like it!