Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

We all know someone who is currently having a hard time with some aspect of their life. Spend some time today thinking about someone specific who is in this situation…discouraged due to difficulties they face.

Ask them how they are doing. Spend some time and energy in encouraging them in their areas of strength, giftedness, and passion.

If you have the opportunity, encourage them by sharing one of your stories about a tough time you went through and the lessons you learned as a result.

I know, it makes us feel better to share stories of our successes, but the truth is, we learn more from others when they share stories about the times they have stumbled and how they worked through whatever it was. Those are the times we discover what we are truly made of, what we are capable of, and learn the lessons that will help us move forward.

Afterwards, spend some time with your journal and write down some thoughts from your conversation. Write down how it felt before, during, and after.

Write about the impact you were able to have on the other person.

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Today, we’re going to spend a little more time on the topic we jumped into yesterday. Get out your journal, and list three benefits or lessons you learned from the two experiences you thought about yesterday.

First, what was the failure in your personal life?

Benefits or Lessons Learned:




What was the failure in your professional life?

Benefits or Lessons Learned:




Now that you are clear on the lessons in each of those situations, what can you (or maybe you already are) do differently going forward to face similar situations differently, and to realize a better outcome?

How does your attitude play into what will happen in the future?

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This last week of month 9, we are going to focus on the power of your attitude. As Thomas Jefferson once observed,

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

Are you familiar with the story of Christopher Gardner? If you’ve seen the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, you will recognize it. Gardner lost it all — his wife, his home, and family savings in a bad business investment. He was living on the streets with his son when he entered a competitive stock broker internship program, which, by the way, offered no pay for six months. Determined to prove himself and provide his son a good quality of life, we went on to become  a top performer for Bear Stearns, and eventually opened his own firm with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. He also has become a motivational speaker and philanthropist who has received numerous humanitarian awards.

Imagine what would have happened to him and his son if he had given up when he found himself on the street. We read the stories every day, and there are numerous possible outcomes to this kind of story, and few of them are good. Had he adopted a negative attitude, not only would his and his son’s lives be very different, but so would the lives of the many people he’s helped since he dusted himself off and got to work.*

I know we don’t like to spend a lot of time in consideration of the times when we’ve failed, but they are gems in terms of lessons learned. Spend some time today considering a failure you’ve experienced in your personal life and in your professional life. Describe them.

What attitude did you take in response to these failures?

What happened as a result?

Looking back on it now, how would you say your attitude served you?


*From Intentional Leadership by Giant Impact. 

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Let’s focus on others for a bit. Take some time today to notice others who demonstrate a positive attitude and acknowledge it. At the end of the day, send a personal note (hand-written would be much more powerful, but email would suffice, if you must!) to the one person whose attitude stood out the most.

At the end of the day, answer these questions:

How did it make you feel when you went the extra mile to recognize people with a positive attitude?

How do you think it made them feel, especially the person who received your note?

Do you think they will be more likely to display the same kind of attitude more often around you and others? Why?

When you are int he midst of difficult circumstances, do you think making small positive choices such as recognizing others’ attitudes will make a difference in your own life?

I’m certainly not perfect in this area; like most people, there are times when life gets to me, and it’s reflected in my attitude and demeanor. I try to catch myself and make an adjustment quickly, as I know it’s my choice. I try to be mindful throughout the day that my attitude has the potential of making or crashing someone else’s day, and I’d much prefer to be well thought of when I’ve taken my leave…which means to me I need to focus on and demonstrate a positive attitude. I have to say, that on those occasions I grudgingly have pushed myself to adjust and do or say something nice, I’ve immediately felt better for the effort.

Let me know how it works for you.

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If you’ve been in any kind of leadership role, and I suspect you have — or aspire to, since you’re reading this blog — you know what it feels like to be doubted, assaulted, ridiculed. You’ve likely faced embarrassing moments, ridicule…had your decisions and judgment questioned by others.

The question is, how do you respond? And, I do me an”respond” — meaning thoughtfully, intentionally choosing what you will do or say, rather than reacting, which is immediate, emotional, and usually thoughtless. The point is, you get to choose your attitude during these trying times.

Consider one who has gone before us…

President Truman faced his share of doubt, rejection, and failure…let’s consider his story for a few moments:

When he first proposed to his girlfriend, Bess, Wallace, she rejected him. He pursued her, anyway, and eight years later they married.

He was rejected when he tried to join the Army because his eyesight was poor. Refusing to be kept from serving his country, he memorized the eye chart so he could pass the test! He later won distinction for courageous leadership in battle.

After WWI, his business failed. He moved into a career in public service, as a judge and later was elected to the US Senate.

Although he was considered unfit to be a US President, he successfully led us through the end of WWI; he is now regarded as one of the greatest presidents!

Expected to lose the 1948 election, newspaper printed that his opponent, Thomas Dewey, had won! Imagined Truman’s delight in their misprint the next morning!

If you stay the course, and I hope you do, you will go through these trying times, over and over. You will have to filter and choose the messages you will listen to and the stories you believe. You will have the opportunity, several times a day, to choose your attitude. I hope you choose well.

Spend some time in reflection today: How do you deal with assaults on your attitude?

Describe a time when you felt as if your attitude was under attack. How did you respond?

What did you learn?

What would you do differently today, as a result?

How can your choices influence your attitude?

How can your attitude influence your choices?

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Let’s spend some time on a personal inventory today. Get out your journal and list three people in your personal and professional lives that have impacted you; include both positive and negative influences.

Make two columns on a page, one headed Personal Life, one headed Professional Life.

List three people in each column and place a – (minus) or a + (plus) next to each name, based on their influence on your life. Then answer the following questions:

What common threads do you see among those who were positive influences?

What common threads do you see among those who were negative influences?

When you evaluate your current circumstances, in both your personal and professional lives, is your attitude the same, or different, in each aspect? Describe your current attitude in both areas of your life.

As we’ve discussed, there are times when the only thing we can control is our attitude. When you look at the areas above that you marked as negative, wht choices can you make to be more positive in those circumstances?

One of the more positive influences in my life was Mac Bledsoe (if you’re a football fan, you might know him as Drew Bledsoe’s dad). Mac was a teacher when I was in high school, as well as the football coach. He taught a few classes, but the one that made the most impact on me was a class he called “I Can” and it was based on the philosophies and teachings of Zig Ziglar. It’s been 30 years since I was in school, but I can still remember Mac and the many lessons he taught me, as if they were just last year. Thank you, Mac!

I look forward to hearing what you’ve come up with through this exercise.

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Over the course of your life, you will experience a variety of things that will have the power to influence your outlook in both positive and negative ways. As I suggested last week, as we started this month-long focus on attitude, each of us gets to choose how we interpret and react or respond to each of those events.

When I was in high school, I was active in student government, wrote for and eventually became editor of the school newspaper, and was very active in planning school events, like homecoming week. We also had a program called Jr. Miss. This was a national program, and while it might appear to be a pageant program, it is based on scholarship, personality, and talent — not on beauty, and there was no swimsuit competition!  Girls were invited to participate in the program during their Junior year of high school; the winner would spend the year representing her community at other pageants, in parades, county fairs, local events, at a variety of speaking engagements, and competing at the state level pageant (the winner of which would compete at the national competition that was held, at that time, in Mobile, Alabama).

My perspective on Jr. Miss was that it was something the popular, wealthy girls won. I had my share of friends, to be sure, and was included in a lot of things, but was never in the “in” crowd, and certainly was not from a wealthy family. But, when I received the invitation to get involved, I said, “What the heck! This looks like fun!” Of course, I never expected to win.

In fact, at the time, I was also running for student body president for my senior year of school. That was truly where my attention and energy was focused. And for a while, I was the front runner. My opponent was a girl who rubbed a lot of students the wrong way. Part way through the campaign, she switched places with the person who would have been VP, had she won, and he was much more liked by most of the school.  So, with him in the President position, and her in the VP position, the vote was much closer, and I lost by a few votes.

I was crushed! I really wanted the position. And yet, the Jr. Miss pageant process was still on-going. Because I was participating in this on a lark, as they say, you can imagine my surprise — and delight — when I actually won the Jr. Miss position!  Remember, it wasn’t what I most wanted, but I determined to make the best of it.  I choose my attitude, deciding to learn what I could, represent my community well, and sharpen some skills that I knew would serve me well later in life.

It offered me the opportunity to travel around certain regions in my state, visiting with a lot of people I never would have been in contact with in other circumstances: Community leaders, local legislators, other students, and people younger than me. I had the opportunity to speak at fairs, other pageants, in front of civic organizations, at schools, parades, and at community events. I was able to influence other young girls who were interested in growing and taking on bigger challenges. And I received scholarship funding for college, and who wouldn’t be thankful for that?!

All of these skills and experiences have served me well ever since. And I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to participate, and for all of the opportunities I’ve had since then. Had I chosen to wallow in self-pity over my defeat during the student body elections, I would have stunted my growth, at least for a while. I could have become angry, bitter, etc…I’m so thankful I didn’t.

What experiences have you had that have influenced your life and your attitude? Write them down.

Outline whether they were negative or positive and what you did or didn’t do as a result?

What gratitude do you have, or what regrets do you carry, as a result?

How do these experiences influence who you are today?

Whom are you influencing with your attitude and how you respond to the events in your life, both good and bad?

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Today, I encourage you to step outside yourself and spend some time with someone you know who demonstrates a consistently positive attitude. Ask them the following questions:

How has your attitude affected your success in life?

How do you prevent obstacles from discouraging you?

Have you always been so positive, or have you had specific experiences that shaped you into the person I see today?

When you have listened to the person’s responses, smile and thank him or her for taking the time to share with you. Then take some time to reflect on what they shared that might be of value to you as you move through your life.

Take some time with this exercise…jot down the highlights of your conversation, make note of the behaviors and actions you might apply in your life, and set forth a plan to do just that.

For a long time, I had a note on my daily calendar that said, simply: Choose your attitude! It was the first thing I saw every day, and after looking at it first thing in the morning, every day for several years, I no longer need the calendar reminder. This is not to say I am glowingly positive every second of every day, but that awareness is fresh in my mind, and I am much more mindful of the power I have to choose.

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Dear Faithful readers: Please forgive me for missing my usual blog post on Friday, which would have been D5 of W4, of this 8th month of our Intentional Leadership journey, focused on change. Something that one couldn’t have anticipated happened early Friday morning that demanded my attention and kept me otherwise fully engaged all day. I apologize for missing a step in our process.

However, I’m confident that by now, at the end of our 8th month on this journey, that you are in the swing of our Friday routine and would likely be on track with taking  a proactive approach to planning your weekend, without my weekly reminder.

My Friday was supposed to be spent immersed in a full-day off-site team-building and vision-defining meeting. Again, something unexpected happened to derail that plan. Saturday required some follow-up to the Friday events, and some quality time, alone, with my husband. It was delightful!

Today, I spent some time with my son and mother-in-law at the WV State Honey Festival! Now, I am catching up with you and preparing for the week ahead. I will be traveling, again (have had a lot of opportunities to travel these past six weeks) this week, to The Greenbrier Resort for the WV State Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit. This is a great event each year, as it allows me to catch up with friends and associates from around the state whom I don’t have the opportunity to see very often, and to meet new people I’m not yet aware of. It will be a time of reminiscing, learning, and divine appointments. Have to say, I had some amazing meetings, conversations, and connections with a few folks last year; I trust this year will be just as rewarding.

I also need to prepare for this week’s Empowerment Mentoring lesson on Comfort Zone — and how being in our comfort zone isn’t always a good thing.

I hope you don’t mind my taking this space to do my usual month-end wrap-up on Change.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the only constant in today’s world is change; it is an unavoidable reality of life. As a leader, we must take responsibility for anticipating change, understanding its implications, and guiding our people through it. This requires a blend of qualities and skills…bravery, flexibility, determination, casting a clear vision, providing frequent communication, and consistent behavior.

As you know — and maybe you feel this way, as well — many people abhor change, would rather go through all kinds of other unpleasantries, or even give up on their potential to avoid it. You will be tested in this arena, needing to put forth all of your abilities and talents to overcome the resistance of the status quo. This can be a grueling, thankless journey, but if you are driven to be a leader, it’s the path you have chosen.

Change and growth go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t going anywhere. If you stay the same, you will become stagnant, and we all know, nothing grows in stagnant pools.

I encourage you to embrace change. Plunge forward with courage. Help others see the possibilities in the future, through the path of change. Remember, if you are going through change and you have some level of confusion, it’s a good thing! Yes, a good thing. If you are going through change and you aren’t confused, it means you already know what you need to or have given up trying to understand it. If you are confused, it means you are going through a growth process.

Embrace change! If you don’t, won’t, or can’t…give up on leadership — you can’t lead if you can’t navigate change.

Now, having said that, I trust that since you’ve made it through this 8th month of our journey so far, you won’t give in to complacency. So, I’ll “see” you on Monday, as we move into our 9th month, focused on Attitude.

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As we come to the end of this month focused on Change, spend some time reflecting on your past…what is your history when dealing with change?

Write down two of the biggest changes in your life. Spend some time with your journal, exploring how you recognized the need for change, how you handled it, what lessons you learned, and what you would do differently if you had the opportunity to do it over.

What can you learn from these previous experiences that will allow you to recognize the need for change sooner, and navigate your way through change more smoothly in the future.

Remember, experience is NOT the best teacher! In fact, experience alone will not teach you anything. The wisdom is gained by reflecting on our experiences, so we can glean some lessons and apply them to other situations in the future.

Courage doesn’t always ROAR! Sometimes, courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try, again, tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher

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