Lao Tzu wrote: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Choose to live a joyous, learning-filled life of continuing renewal of mind, heart, and soul. Remove what is holding you back to create the freedom and excitement to explore as you become what you might be. May you remember the wise counsel of Brian Tracy: “You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights.”
Imagine, we are holding a lit and unlit candle. We light the unlit candle with the lit one. What we see is that the lighted one has not lost its original glow. It has simply passed its light to the other candle. So it is in our journey of selfless caring and serving of others. Our light is our passion and love of life and all that we do. It is the radiant glow of our enthusiasm, energy, and excitement that brings happiness, hope, possibility, encouragement to fade the darkness in the lives of those we touch and serve.
Buddha wrote: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” May you radiate and share the beauty and joy of your light being always mindful of Francis of Assisi’s wise counsel: “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” Be that beautiful and magnificent candle that brings its fire to the many unlighted candles awaiting and searching to be set ablaze.
Mitchell C. Beinhaker, Esq., hosts a podcast titled “The Accidental Entrepreneur,” which is geared towards small and closely-held business owners who want to “learn how to achieve success on purpose, not by accident.” On June 17th, I joined Mitch for a discussion, which you can hear below:
In their book, Servant Leadership in Action, Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell have collected an incredible collection of essays by prominent writers on the subject of servant leadership. Simon Sinek, in his essay, The Evolution of Servant Leadership, suggests that the origins of servant leadership can be found in anthropology. Some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, he writes, people lived in populations of 150. Tension existed between the stronger and weaker. To deal with this, we evolved into “hierarchical animals” who constantly assessed who were in dominant roles: “We tried to figure out who was the alpha…. If we assessed that others were more senior in the social hierarchy, we would voluntarily step back and allow the alpha to eat first.”
Sinek believes that today we continue this assessment in search of the alpha, or leader. Yet, that position comes with a price. He writes: “A deep-seated social contract is hardwired into all human beings. There is an expectation that, when danger threatens, the alpha… will rush forward toward the danger to protect the tribe.” It is in this that he finds the anthropological roots of servant leadership: “Leadership, it turns out, is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” He relates this to the responsibility of parents who, while in authority, would do anything to protect and serve their children “to benefit the life of another human being.” They put aside their interest in the well-being and life of others.
Sinek concludes writing that servant leadership “is not based on a series of transactions, but on the promise of being there when someone needs you most…. A few scattered, well-intentioned actions by a leader can’t hurt, but they won’t breed loyalty…. It is the accumulation of a lot of little things that make all the difference.” May we take care of those whom we serve. Yes, we will hold them accountable and responsible. We will grow, develop, and guide them. We may push them to their limits to achieve their greatest potential. We will do all these things because we deeply care for those in our charge, those whom we serve.
Every once in awhile, we need a gentle reminder of things that we all know are important in our life, yet sometimes forget. In a posthumous blog, A Good Life Contains These Six Essentials., Jim Rohn’s thoughts are beautifully captured:
1. Productivity – You won’t be happy if you don’t feel productive. The game of life is not rest. Yes, we must rest, but only long enough to gather strength to get back to productivity.
2. Good friends – Friendship is probably the greatest support system in the world, so don’t deny yourself the time to develop it. Nothing can match it. It’s extraordinary in its benefit.
3. Your culture – Language, music, ceremonies, traditions, dress. All of that is so vitally important that you must keep it alive. The uniqueness of all of us, when blended together, brings vitality, energy, power, influence, and rightness to the world.
4. Spirituality – It helps to form the foundation of the family that builds the nation. And make sure you study, practice and teach—don’t be careless about the spiritual part of your nature because it’s what makes us who we are,
5. Don’t miss anything. Go to everything you possibly can. Buy a ticket to everything you possibly can. Go see everything and experience all you possibly can. Live a vibrant life. If you live well, it will show in your face; it will show in the texture of your voice. There will be something unique and magical about you if you live well. It will infuse not only your personal life but also your business life. And it will give you a vitality nothing else can give.
6. Your family and the inner circle. Invest in them, and they’ll invest in you. Inspire them, and they’ll inspire you. Take care of the details with your inner circle.
During these challenging times, may we pause periodically and remember Rohn’s words: “The ultimate expression of life is living a good life.” As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen always said: “Life is worth living.” Let’s choose to live it to its fullest… with passion, unconditional love and deep caring, and never miss one precious moment.
An unknown author wrote: “The distance between your dreams and reality is called discipline.”
While the word discipline may bring to mind feelings of rigidity, structured harshness, limitations, and even discomfort, the real living with discipline creates a different actuality. it brings comfort, order, and control in its exercise. Abraham Lincoln said: “Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most.” It is doing what is right and important in the now. Through a new discipline, daily habits and routines will be adjusted to continue to find the fulfillment that was theirs. Priorities will be revisited and reshaped to meet the new circumstances. Mindsets will be attuned that positivity plays even a greater role in their servant leadership of others. Discipline will serve to bring a normalcy back from a perceived chaos.
In his recent blog post, Daily Discipline, Brian Kight speaks to great leaders about perception versus intention.
People can’t measure intentions.
Good intentions are an excellent start and a terrible excuse. Intentions are a private, internal choice. No one else really knows. No one else really cares. Only you know. When there is misalignment between your intentions and what people experience, the impact of your behavior says more than the quality of your intentions.
People know what you say, what you do, and how it makes them feel. They care about the experience you deliver, the value you provide, and the impact it has.
Nothing replaces quality execution, refined skill, and committed resolve. Set your intentions to that standard and align your behavior to match. Discipline is the shortcut. Do the work.
Another unknown author wrote: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” People only know us by the words, behaviors, attitudes and actions we have chosen and how these make them feel. They know nothing of the beautiful intentions behind them. It is the great leaders’ responsibility and ownership to set their intentions to the highest standards of their personal values and align their behaviors to match. In doing so, they will change the image above to one in which both individuals will be standing side-by-side looking down and seeing the same number… and intention and perception will be one.
As my teacher, Michael M Reuter teaches: “Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” wrote Albert Einstein. Great leaders know that their life is the reflection and consequence of the choices they make each day on their magnificent journey. John Wooden poetically captures this reality: “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that, in the end, the choice you make makes you.”
Each choice adds a touch of paint to the exquisite mosaic of who they are and what their living represents. Many are their choices: personal priorities, health, financial situation, learning, friends, character, career and service and the myriad of choices in their business and professional life requiring attention and focus. Each choice is a moment of preparation, a stepping stone… forward, backward or sideways… defining who they are and the direction of their life ahead.
Robert Louis Stevenson tells great leaders: “There will come a time when we will sit down to the banquet of our consequences.” May your banquet be extraordinary in the depth and breadth of its rich contributions, in the lives you have changed in your caring and servant leadership, in the joy, beauty and value of the legacy of your life’s purpose and meaning. May you remember that each word, action, behavior, look, attitude is a choice that will have its consequences. Choose wisely, and choose well, realizing always that “the choice you make, makes you.”
In his blog post, The Trap of Insightful Selection, Seth Godin reminds great leaders of the value of experience in decision-making.
“Which one do you want?” There were 100 quarts of strawberries at the farmer’s market yesterday. In answer to the farmer’s question, the person ahead of me in line spent a full minute looking them all over before picking one. The thing is: 90% of the strawberries in a quart are hidden from view. They’re beneath the top layer. There’s no strategy to tell which quart is better than the other.
If all you’re seeing is the top layer, you’ve learned nothing. Maybe less than nothing. Con men are particularly good at seeming trustworthy, and the outfit worn to a job interview tells you nothing about someone’s dedication, work ethic or honesty. The real information comes from experience. If the farmer is the sort of person who won’t put the clinkers on the bottom, she’s earned our trust.
Our decisions require a moment of pause to inquire beyond what is seen, heard or presented. Experience or exposure adds another dimension and qualifier that brings value to a decision. Knowing is expanded by reality, and even one step beyond… feelings. May your eyes, heart and experience help you better know the 90% of those hidden strawberries of life and people.
From my teacher:
In his recent blog post, But Are You Doing Your Work? Seth Godin reminds great leaders that their work is more than simply achieving a goal. He writes: “A doctor might think her job is to cure diseases. But, in fact, that’s not what gets and keeps patients. The cure is a goal, and it’s important, but it’s not sufficient.” There is much more to the work than simply accomplishing the cure. That is their job. The caring and personal attention to their patients, the development and growth of their staff, and involvement in the community are all part of a bigger picture of their “work.” From a performance evaluation metaphor, doing the job and simply meeting its specific, minimal deliverables can be equated to just “meeting objectives.” Doing their “work” is, in reality, to exceed objectives. It is that magical elixir of going above-and-beyond, incorporating all that “soft stuff”, in which the total work package is delivered, sustained and grown.
It is much more than focusing only on quantitative deliverables. Godin tells great leaders: “Doing your job is not always the same as doing the work. The “soft stuff” might matter more than you think. Doing the work is the ticket you buy for the privilege of doing the other part.” It is this mindfulness, this mindset, that differentiates the good from the great leader.
Ernest Hemingway captures the essence of Godin’s message in his words: “It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Great leaders know that many people can achieve great results, but the truly great ones differentiate themselves with the magic and caring of their “soft stuff.” May your “soft stuff” be your winning ticket. Its payout is inestimable!