What Is Your Contribution?

My father-in-law Dennis White is a master gardener. It is a hobby that he has taken and made into a real craft. Every week, he cuts a bouquet from his beautiful flower garden to take to church to display on the pulpit. It is his contribution, his way to use his talent for the benefit of others. It’s been said that we can’t all contribute in a grand way, but we can all contribute in our own way. If we take our strengths, our talents, what sets us apart and use them for the good of others, then we are making a grand contribution. My friend Jason Hewlett describes this as finding your signature move and he has helped me to realize that it is vital that we share them with the world. I loved this observation from Jason, “The secret is this: Share them. Don’t hide them! If you
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10 Tips for Being Nonjudgmental

We are all judgmental.  It’s just human nature.  Even though it’s in our nature to judge, it’s not always helpful and often turns into a hindrance. There is a definite difference between making judgments and being judgmental. Being judgmental can keep us from building relationships, harm those relationships we already have and keep us isolated.  As Walt Whitman said “Be curious, not judgmental”. These 10 tips for being nonjudgmental from Sheri Van Dijk can help make the distinction. Remember that being nonjudgmental isn’t about turning a positive into a negative; it’s about being neutral, neither positive nor negative.. Reducing your negative judgments will reduce your level of anger and other painful emotions. Keep in mind that judging is like adding fuel to the fire of your emotion; it only increases your painful emotions. You can often reduce a behavior just by counting how often you’re engaging in that behavior. If you get overwhelmed
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Authenticity Gives You Power

My friend, Sandra Joseph, is a big time Broadway star.  She played the part of Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for nearly a decade.  She is an incredible actress with an even more incredible voice, but what I think I love most is her story. Sandra was a struggling actress in New York City when she was given the opportunity to try out for the part of Christine.  She went into the audition so nervous that her mouth became dry and her lips stuck to her teeth.  Not exactly the best way to make a good impression.  She was offered a part in the chorus but not the lead. A few years later, she was given the opportunity to audition again.  This time she wasn’t going to let her nerves get to her, but she overcompensated and really over did it.  She was not offered any
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Plus, Minus and Equal

The four-time undefeated MMA champion now MMA trainer, Frank Shamrock, has developed a system for training would-be fighters. I’m not a huge MMA fan – but I think there is a lot of merit to his system. The system is called “+, -, =”. Shamrock’s theory is that in order to be the best, you need to work with someone better than you, someone equal to you and someone whom you can teach.  Shamrock believes this builds the best fighters.   We certainly don’t have to be an MMA fighter to benefit from this system. The same can be applied to us in any scenario. Training with someone better than us pushes us past our limits and helps us see greater possibilities. Training with our equal tests our skills and in the process they become a peer, allow us to create cooperation, shared learning and has a mastermind effect. Teaching allows
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Dream Big (But It’s Not What You Think)

The other day my friend Sandra Joseph, the amazingly talented Broadway star, quoted the poet and philosopher Mark Nepo. Nepo said “Often your dreams don’t come true but as we give our all in pursuit of our dreams sometimes we come true.” As children, we are taught to dream big and to go for our dreams. The reality of it is not everyone can become the professional athlete, the CEO or the Broadway star, but the fact is the growth we find in pursuit of the dream is more valuable than the actual dream. The hard work, the setbacks and triumphs, and the journey make us the person we are. We may not become the “best in the world”, but we certainly can become the best version of ourselves as we strive to be the “best in the world.” When we pursue our dreams, go the extra mile, put in
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The Most Important Questions Can’t Be Answered With Numbers

I recently listened to a great speaker named Jason Kotecki and he made a great point that the most important questions can’t be answered with numbers. Look at the questions we normally ask: How much money do you make? How many Facebook friends do you have? How many square feet make up your home?  What is it worth? What titles do you have or awards have you won? How many degrees have you earned?  How many letters are after your name?  How many hours do you work?  How big is your office?  How expensive is your car?  What is your kids’ GPA?  How many extracurricular activities are they involved in? How much money does that cost you?  What about the tuition?  How many boards do you serve on? What do they have in common? All can be answered with a number. But the most important questions cannot be easily quantified
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There Is No Substitute For Hard Work

When I was 8 years old, my brother (age 10) and I started a paper route. We had to get up everyday of the year, with no exceptions, at 5 am and deliver around 100 newspapers. Rain, snow, and exhaustion didn’t matter – the papers had to be delivered. So we did it everyday for four years. Having this responsibility at a young age taught me how to work hard, be consistent and follow through even when I didn’t feel like it. My Mom recently sent me this letter she found from one of our customers and it reminded me how much learning how to work hard with a paper route has served me throughout my life. Learning how to work is an invaluable lesson to learn.  I’ve been able to take the lessons I learned from that paper route and apply them to everything I’ve endeavored to do. It
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How Do I Add Value?

As a leader, your job is to add value. Your team, your people, your customers, your investors, your friends and your family. Your job is to add value. Here are three questions that will help you do just that.   Question 1: Is what I am creating/contributing distinct?   Is your contribution different in a significant way? Is it adding value in a way that no one else has done? Does it stand out? Does it look and feel esthetically unique? Is it something that will impress people because it is coming from an angle that others haven’t thought of?   It’s not crazy or out there, but it is distinct and stands out.   Question 2: Is this my most excellent contribution?   Did you just throw it together or did you do a good job? Did you put in the time to prepare and give it your best
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How Does A Person Become Legendary?

I have thought a lot about the word legendary. How would you describe it? When I think about legendary people – they come from all walks of life; they lead families, countries, businesses, movements & religions. They leave their mark. They are legendary. So I developed a set of 5 questions that I am asking myself & I want to invite you to ask yourself if you want to live legendary lives. Are you focused on being important or focused on doing important work? Are you focused on how much you make or are you focused on how much impact you make? Are you worried about fitting in or focused on standing out? Are you seeking popularity or are you seeking mastery? Do you concern yourself with being served or with serving others? Save
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Resume Virtues vs. Eulogy Virtues

How do you want to be remembered?  Would you rather be known for the business deals you brokered and the fame you amassed or the people you helped and relationships you had?   David Brooks, in an editorial titled “The Moral Bucket List,” developed the concept that there are “two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral.”   Both types of virtues are important and worth pursuing and honing, but only eulogy virtues have any lasting value and legacy.  Developing résumé virtues is fairly straightforward.  You read more books, you practice, you develop skills & you get more education.  But the development of eulogy virtues is not as clear-cut.  It involves a lifetime of making good decisions and prioritizing things of lasting value.
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