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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Leadership & Love

My favorite leadership quote is “You can love people without leading them but you cannot lead people without loving them.” I share this quote often with leaders because at the heart of how we treat our people, how we see our people & how we communicate with our people is how we feel about our people. Below are some thoughts on love and leadership from one of my favorite authors Bob Goff. I hope these quotes make you stop & think. The more beauty we find in someone else’s journey, the less we’ll want to compare it to our own. When loving people is a strategy, it isn’t love anymore. Give away love like you’re made of it. It won’t be our message that wows people, it will be our love. Love cares more about who’s hurting than who’s watching. The best advice I’ve been given when I’d failed –
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101 Ways to Relieve Stress

We all have stress. Too much, or prolonged stress in not healthy. It often leads to both behavioral and physical ailments. You first must be conscious of your stress level, then make a concerted effort to deal with it. Add some of these to your defense mechanism against stress – you’ll be happier for it!   Get up 15 minutes earlier Prepare for morning the night before Avoid tight fitting clothes Set appointments ahead Don’t rely on memory Write it down Practice preventative maintenance Make duplicate keys Say “no” more often Set priorities Avoid negative people Use time wisely Simplify meal times Always make copies of important papers Anticipate your needs Repair things that don’t work properly Ask for help with the jobs you dislike Break large tasks into bite-size portions Look at problems as challenges Un-clutter your life Smile Be prepared for rain Tickle a baby Pet a friendly
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One of The Pitfalls of Success

After hours, weeks and years of hard work, it is amazing when that hard work starts to pay off and you start to see success and your goals coming to fruition.  But so many fall into a similar trap as they begin to experience some success: a lack of humility.  These words from Wynton Marsalis, the Pulitzer-prize winning musician and composer, serve as a necessary reminder when you begin to experience success: “You can tell when someone is truly humble, because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’ Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves.”   You can be at the top of your field, the most successful person in the room, the all star, but arrogance never looks good on anyone.  There is a great danger
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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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5 Powerfully Simple Presentation Tips

1. Get Rid of Pleasantries – There is no need to talk about the weather, how grateful you are to be there, to apologize, or reintroduce yourself. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention so start with a question or jump into your content. 2. Make it Conversational – Act like you are speaking to one person. Make it conversational. Ask questions. If it is a small group you might create dialogue, with a large audience ask questions and give a pause for people to think about the question. Keep them engaged in the conversation. 3. Tell Stories – People love stories. Stories inspire, stories motivate—stories evoke emotion in people that causes them to respond, to take action, to adopt your ideas, and buy your products. Robert McKee put it well when he said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
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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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Do You Possess Neotony?

I was recently introduced to the word Neotony.  It was in context of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searching for the Fountain of Youth, said to cure the effects of aging for those lucky enough to drink of it’s waters. Business has it’s own fountain of youth, neotony. Neotony refers to childlike qualities retained in adulthood, qualities like love, creativity and curiosity. These are all qualities that are essential to influential leaders.  Leaders who love generate support from their people.  Leaders who are creative bring better ideas in better ways.  Leaders who are curious have limitless potential for growth. So how do leaders retain, or in some cases regain, these childlike qualities? – Love is built through serving your people – Creativity is built as we develop the habit of studying and constantly learning – Curiosity is built by learning to eliminate bias, question everything, and avoid routine Neotony is an amazing attribute that
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