Archive for June, 2013

Legacy: Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor of the past. ~Merriam Webster

Your legacy is the impression that remains long after you are gone; it’s the story people tell of who you were, what you were made of, and what your character was.

What does it mean to leave a legacy? One must lead with the future in mind; taking a long-term perspective, focused on others rather than oneself.

This is a topic I teach on frequently, both formally and informally. You see, the potential for leaving a legacy lies within each of us, regardless of our job, our status, our career, or official “title.” Every single person has the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Like so many things about leadership, you get to choose who you will be and what you want to be remembered for when you are gone. Will you be remembered as the kind of person who led by example, managing yourself as a person of high integrity and character, one who worked his/her way through adversity with dignity and respect for others?

Will you be remembered as the person who gave up at the first sign of difficulty, who treated others poorly…as stepping stones on your path to obtain whatever goal you set for yourself?

There was a time when I had a gift bow stuck to the door of my office; it was there to remind me that I should be a ‘gift’ to the people whose lives I touched each day. I want this to be my legacy — that I added value to others any time I had (or could make) the opportunity; that I was a river (allowing my gifts to flow freely to others) rather than a reservoir (holding my knowledge and wisdom to myself). There are other things I want to be remembered for, of course. But these two thoughts may give you some idea of what I’m striving for.

This month, on our Intentional Leadership* journey, we will explore this concept of legacy — the lasting impression that lingers after a person is gone.

Before we get started, take out your journal and spend a little time pondering these questions:

What legacy do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered?

What can you do to build that legacy?

Where do you need to invest your energy and influence to achieve the greatest impact?

How can you share this concept of legacy with your team and your organization, as you develop them into leaders, as well?


*The Intentional Leadership journey is drawn from a handbook of the same name, developed by Giant Impact, purchased at Leadercast 2012.

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As a leader you are always on stage; someone is always watching you. And when you experience adversity, as you no doubt will, your people will be watching to see how you handle it. Will you react — instantly and from a place of emotion — or will you respond — from a place of thoughtfulness and intentionality?

Will you persevere or will you give up?

While we would all probably prefer to not go through the hard times, they are opportunities for growth and demonstration of what you’re really made of. They are opportunities to grow your influence. When you show you have what it takes to overcome obstacles, work through challenges, and succeed in your mission, you are   proving your worthiness to lead.

How you respond in these times will define your leadership more effectively than nearly anything else you do.

The key is, you get to decide.

Who will you be?

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It’s been an interesting week for me. I’m still working to change a “bad” habit I developed in Guatemala, which is staying up way later than I should. I know how much sleep I need, and I haven’t been doing the things that allow me to get enough. So, I’ve been fantasizing about sleeping in and taking naps all week!

I’ve also had the opportunity to connect with some new, interesting people…to reconnect with others I’ve known but haven’t seen or talked to in a while. And I’m working on some really important things that I’ve needed to get done, to drive myself forward. That feels good. I am in need of — and ready to — create some new habits that will help me come closer to the better version of me that I long for.

So, this weekend, I have some homework to do, but am going to limit it in favor of spending some much-needed “girl time” with a close friend, whom I don’t see often enough. It will be about leisure, deep connection, profound conversation, good food, and sleep!

And I will take time to plan out my next week, to set myself up for success.

What are you up to this weekend? What have you done to set yourself up for an enjoyable, intentional weekend?

What do you need to do to set yourself up for success in the coming weeks?

Who do you need to connect with this weekend?

Who can help you be more intentional about how you spend your time? Find that person and ask him or her to spend a little time with you to help you become the very best version of you that you can become!

Have an intentional, enjoyable weekend!

“See” you soon!

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Do you have your journal handy? Let’s spend some time today in reflection.

What are the three hardest aspects of your job? Write them down.

Next to each one, list the reason for the difficulty.

Then, imagine yourself persevering through each of the three areas, and write the rewards you will earn by enduring.

Now that you have greater clarity, what actions will you take to make them reality and move forward, intentionally and confidently, into your future?

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What challenging situation is your team facing right now? How can you lead them to persevere in the midst of these challenges?

Let’s develop a plan:

What’s the situation?

What are the challenges?

How will you lead them through this time?

What milestones will you celebrate?

How will you recognize and reinforce the behaviors your team needs to demonstrate in order to be successful?

What do you think you might learn about yourself and your team-mates through this experience?

What past principles have you learned that will serve to give you confidence going forward?

How will this make a difference for your team?

Who do you want them to experience about your leadership through this time?

Once you’ve taken the time to thoughtfully answer these questions, step forward and lead your team confidently to success!

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They say experience is the best teacher. I beg to differ…Experience is the best teacher when we choose to reflect on our experience and learn the lessons inherent in them. This is when we gain wisdom. If we don’t do the reflection, then we have merely lived through a string of experiences.

Sometimes, we don’t recognize the lesson until much later, following an experience; it may be days, weeks, months, even years later before we can see the positive impact a challenging time had on us.

Think back to a difficult season in your life. What was it and how did you face it?

Looking back, what benefits were there for you as a result of that difficult time, that you weren’t able to see then? (Did the situation redirect your path in life? Did it bring you closer to family, friends, co-workers? Did it prepare you in some way for your current work or some other challenge you’ve faced since then?)

How does your new perspective motivate you to persevere as a leader in your current situation, know that there are unforeseen rewards on the other side?

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Perseverance offers a number of rewards, some of them may even be sweet!

Think about Milton Hershey. Yes, THE Milton Hershey of Hershey’s chocolates fame. He was fired from his first job as a printer’s apprentice, for lack of attention to detail. Next, working in a candy store, he discovered his passion and opened his own shop in Philadelphia. Although he had plenty of financial support, he went bankrupt. He moved to Denver to work in his father’s mining venture, but missed the opportunity.

Again, he went to work in a candy store. Learned some new things, and moved east, again. He opened another candy store in NYC; again, he went broke!

No one would have been surprised or would blame him had he given up and gone to work, again, for someone else. But he didn’t. He summoned his courage and tried, again. (There’s that word, again — “AGAIN”!) And aren’t we all thankful he did? Personally, I’m partial to the semi-sweet variety of his chocolate and am enjoying some now, as I write!

The key is, he was persistent. And his name is synonymous with chocolate.

And what about Walt Disney? I believe he went bankrupt seven times before his dreams for Disneyland were realized. I’m sure we could all think of several other similar stories of passion, adversity, perseverance, and eventual success.

Leadership and failure are inseparably linked. When you attempt to bring your vision to life, you will experience bumps in the road, you will find you have fallen into a pot hole or even a giant sink hole along your journey…or you may be blazing an entirely new trail, with all kinds of unforeseen obstacles ahead. The trick is to learn from these setbacks, grow through them, and move beyond them. You will feel the amazing sensation of satisfaction — along with your success — when you do. And my friends, there’s not much like true satisfaction in knowing you stuck to it and accomplished what you set out to do.

Spend a little time today thinking about your greatest setback in your life to-date. What was it?

How did you get through it?

What was the bittersweet reward?

What did you learn from it that you have carried forward and use in other situations?

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Perception = Reality.


This beautiful bird spent the better part of four weeks fluttering up and down this window. You see, it thought it was flying into a tree. And it was persistent! It literally fluttered up and down this window most of the day; occasionally flying off into the trees you can see beyond it. The window has reflective film on it, to keep the heat of the sun out of the office. If you look at the window from the outside, you see the trees and bushes (which you can see as you look beyond the bird in this photo) reflected in the glass — pretty clearly, too. No wonder the bird thought it was flying into a tree…and behaved in a frustrated manner that it couldn’t get into the tree. It’s perception was that the window was a tree, and so it continued to try to find a way into the tree, because that was its reality.

Clearly…it wasn’t a tree and the bird was unsuccessful!

This is one of the key concepts I teach when I’m teaching communication skills. It fits in nicely with my two key lessons — self-awareness and intentionality are key to your success.

Understanding the power of perception is important because someone is always watching you, especially when you are a leader. And they make up stories about what’s going on based on snippets of information — often incomplete — combined with their beliefs, values, past experiences, and rumors. What they come up with may be accurate, close to accurate, or a million miles away from the truth, but because they don’t have access to the whole story, the one they create makes sense to them, and they move forward based on it.

My question to you is, how is someone’s else’s perception of you affecting your performance and chances of success? How is it impacting  your relationships?

What about your own perception about yourself? About your abilities, skills, and talents?

Whether you believe you can or your can’t, you’re right. ~Henry Ford

This quote says it all. What you believe to be true about yourself will determine your future. Knowing that, it’s important to examine how you perceive yourself and understand why it is so. Then, what can you do to make it different, if you need to make some changes to move forward into your potential?

And, what perceptions do you have about others that may be affecting your path forward?

Please, don’t waste your time and energy fluttering up against a window that is NOT a tree, and expect it to magically become what you want it to be! Make the effort to have clear vision and understanding about who you are and what’s going on in your life…and then move forward with confidence!

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I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now. Originally, my thought was “are you hitchhiking through your life?” But as I thought about hitchhiking, it didn’t make as much sense.

You see, hitchhikers often have a specific destination in mind, as they step out onto the road and stick out their thumbs, or hold up their sign about where they want to go. And they accept rides with folks, usually headed in the same direction…getting at least a few miles closer to their chosen destination. But, truly, they are pretty much at the mercy (in more ways than one) of whomever’s car/truck they climb into when they accept a ride. Meaning, they may get closer to where they want to go, or they may just get farther away from where they want to get away from…and may simply end up wherever the driver happens to be heading.

What spurred this line of thinking was a number of conversations with people in recent weeks — some of whom I work with in coaching or mentoring relationships — about where they are headed in their careers. One conversation with a young woman about 3 weeks ago, really brought this idea into the front of my thinking. I worked with her, planning an event, and asked her how long she thought she would stay in event planning. (As an aside, if you’ve never been in this line of work, it’s very stressful — being responsible for a lot of details to pull events together, when often times you have little to no control over many of the pieces required for your event to be a success. And event planners often do not allow themselves to actually enjoy the event they have exchanged so much of their life energy to plan!)

She shared some thoughts on things going on in the organization she works with, and hopes to have the opportunity to move up, as her manager will be retiring in the next 12-18 months. She talked about her education and previous work experience and then said the thing that raised my alarms!

She said, there might be some opportunities in other departments of her organization, but that she would probably wait to see what the others above her thought she would be good at and what positions they might consider her for.

I said that was well and good, but wondered what she thought she was good at and what she was interested in…what was she striving to accomplish in her career? She seemed surprised by the question and it was obvious she’d not given it any thought, but said she probably should think about it.

I’m not sure why this particular conversation struck me so, as I have similar conversations with many people at a frighteningly frequent rate. I’m astonished by the people who give very little thought to what they want to do in life and are so willing to just go along for the ride, allowing someone else to define who they are, what they are good at, and what they should be doing with their time and life energy!

So, my question to you this evening is this: Are you the driver and navigator on your life’s journey, or are you just going along for the ride?

If you aren’t clear about what you long to do, are called to do, are passionate about doing, find satisfaction in doing…someone else will plan your life for you, but he’s the scary part: What they plan for you will be more focused on meeting their needs, not yours, and while you may be capable of doing certain things, and may even be quite good at doing them…they may leave you feeling empty, dissatisfied…Just because you “can” doesn’t always mean you “should.”

Clearly, the choice is yours. I encourage you to make this decision thoughtfully and intentionally. The answer is really the difference between choosing to be a victim or victorious, choosing to live your passion or just passing time helping someone else live theirs.

I look forward to hearing what you decide.

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Wow! It’s hard to believe it’s Friday, again, so fast! I don’t know about you, but the last two weeks feel like they’ve just flown past.

As you know, last week, I was in Guatemala with the John Maxwell Team, teaching a new transformational leadership process, and it was a lot of fun! It was also an all-consuming week. You know what it feels like to be fully engaged — emotionally, spiritually, and mentally — right? Well, when I’m with this group of people, that’s how I feel, and it’s energizing and stimulating…and when I come back home, the environment is completely different. It’s like disconnecting from a power source — an extremely powerful energy source. And, so, all week, I have been really tired! Good tired…I spent a week doing something significant tired!

So, I am looking forward to getting a little extra sleep this weekend. But it won’t be a totally leisurely weekend — I have lots to do! I’m working with a new coach, and we had our initial call today. I committed to drafting the base of a strategic actions plan for the next five weeks to really accelerate my studies, content preparation, and client interaction. I have a lot to do, and I’m very much excited about being to dedicate almost the entire weekend to this important work.

I’ll go for at least one long walk, weed my flower beds, and maybe even take a nap!

Looking ahead, I’m planning a couple of trips, so need to spend some time on the details.

Finally, I have some letter to write. I love getting handwritten correspondence, so I try to send some to others on a regular basis.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Who will benefit from some time with you?

What do you have going on in the coming weeks?

What could you be doing now to prepare for those things, that will save you some time and anxiety later?

Whatever you do with your weekend, I hope you make it an intentional one!

“See” you Monday!

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