Category: Character

It’s All In Our Heads – The Grass Being Greener as a Concept

Have you ever been convinced about something so completely only to find out later, after more information is added or a greater context is given, that you were utterly mistaken?  It reminds of the subway commuter story in New York:

“Regulars” on this particular route had their routines clearly defined.  Some would rest.  Others would relax with their favorite beverage.  Still, others would read their books or the day’s paper.  A few stops in, a young father boarded the subway with his four small children.  They all settled into their seats as the train pulled away.  This, however, did not last long.  The kids began to fuss and fight as kids often do.  The tension in the regulars began to rise.  Soon the kids were running up and down the car with the regulars looking on with disdain upon this unruly bunch.  Things hit a climax however when the kids began pulling books, newspapers and other items out of the regulars’ hands as they ran.  This was simply too much.  One “regular” who gripped his paper ever so tightly, turned to face this father whose disrespectful children were disrupting an entire car of hard-working, tired commuters.  “Sir, I would ask you to please control your children!”  The man looked up and spoke a weak apology.  “I’m sorry.  Kids, come here.”  As he gathered his brood, he went further with this.  “I do apologize.  We’ve just left the hospital where their mother died and we don’t what to do.”  With that, the “regular’s” heart broke and he was filled with overwhelming compassion for this young father and his children.  He was now the one apologizing and gathered the children around him and began to tell them stories and fairy tales for the remainder of their journey.

A new bit of information or a new perspective can change our thinking in an instant.  It is with this backdrop that I write.

Too many people take their next job or position with the hope or belief that things will be better.  More money, greater benefits, a more flexible schedule.  All good things.  You take the job and now you look for evidence to support your decision to join.  In the “honeymoon” period, you find a lot of good.  For the most part, people are nice and for a few weeks or months, things go well.  But then a few things crop up.  There’s one particular person you just don’t get along with.  And then you’re criticized for your work on a particular project.  And then someone takes credit for your work.  The doubts and fears begin to fly.  You’re uncomfortable and you start to question your decision-making.  “Did I make a mistake?”  “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?”  “Why am I putting up with this stuff?

Without greater context or insight, we will ask these questions and probably come to the same conclusions…it’s time to move on.

So let’s add some greater context or insight.  What if you’re supposed to be here?  What if this is exactly the right position for you to be in?  Just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t make it a bad thing.  I think folks tend to take a “destination” approach to life rather than a “journey”.  What I mean is they want to arrive.  They want to be comfortable and confident and have peace that everything is going to work all right.  But that’s not how it works.  And not meeting those expectations is filled with anger, cowardice, boredom, and worry.

Your path and everything on it is meant to help you become who you’re capable of becoming.  It has a purpose.  It has meaning.  And if you can see it for what it is, you will develop the faith, courage, and peace that comes from forging your particular path.

When you joined our team, we were very intentional about it.  We talked a lot about our collective competence, chemistry, and character.  That’s what we saw in you.  We asked you to join our team and you were thoughtful on your side to make sure this was right for you, too.  We made a commitment to work together to help each other succeed and accomplish something very cool.  The decision then is not whether or not we’re supposed to be together.  We’re together, now how do we make it all count?  How do we take our strengths and build on them and our challenges and make them work for us?

As Tom Hanks said in “A League of Their Own,” “it’s supposed to be hard, that’s what makes it great!”.  You want it to be challenging, inspiring, difficult and different.  You want it to bring out the best in you and tap your true potential!

Let’s look at the four key motivators that Dan Pink and Dr. Chap Clark have worked with:

Identity What is my purpose?  What is my mission?  Why am I here?

You’re supposed to be here.  And working together, over time, we’ll help define your purpose.  Everyone here is meant to make a difference and make a real contribution.  There is no one else in the world who can bring what you bring.  Take comfort in the fact that you are fulfilling and defining your purpose every day.

Voice What are my gifts and talents and how do I use them in fulfilling my mission?

Too often we downplay our gifts and talents because they are natural to us.  Don’t do that.  You have worked hard to get here.  Now is the time to trust in your gifts and talents and be willing to draw on them in ever greater challenges and accomplishments.

Belonging Do I belong to a group or team that cares about me?

We are committed to living the Ultimate Success Principle.  That assuring the success of others, assures our success.  The thing that keeps that from happening the most is when people get afraid.  Fear makes us selfish.  Purpose/Love makes us selfless.  Let’s allow ourselves to become vulnerable in order to pursue our purpose.

MasteryCan I learn, grow and progress along my path?

Absolutely!  That’s why we don’t want this to be easy.  Every person who has paid their price has earned their accomplishments.  And because that price has been paid it can never be taken away from them!

There’s a lot of talk about today being uncomfortable.  And how when you’re uncomfortable that something outside of you has to be changed.  Don’t ever give away that incredible power!  When it comes to becoming who you are, discomfort is an indicator. It tells you that you’re being challenged.  You’re being asked to have faith.  You’re being asked to be courageous.  It means you’re seeing your circumstances correctly and you’re being asked to tap your potential. You have the right and the opportunity to change your circumstances any time you want or need by merely seeing things differently and changing how you think.  Let being uncomfortable be a measure of how great your life really is.

A great decision is a decision that is hard and difficult to make, but at the same time brings us peace when we think about making it.

Let’s all commit to running to something together rather than running away from something.

Running into Danger

There’s been much written and much discussed about those who “run into danger.”  Over and over again we hear of brave men and women who set aside what would protect themselves to face danger in the service of others.  And when we hear these stories each one of us is humbled, encouraged and deeply moved.  We are humbled because we hope that we, facing similar circumstances, would do the same thing. We are encouraged, because this courage, these acts of bravery, helps us believe that we can make a difference for the better in our world. And we are deeply moved because that’s the only possible response when we see the power of love demonstrated so clearly in the lives of others.

So why is this so important? Because this reflects the way in which we are called to live our lives! This is how it really works! This doesn’t mean that we are to run out like storm chasers to find danger and run into it. No! But it does mean that we are supposed to live our lives in such a way as to be a service to others. Imagine going out every day with a single focus; to help others succeed first. You’d be on the front lines of fulfilling the Ultimate Success Principle! You’d be making a difference in the lives of others and contributing to making our world a better place. Will it be hard? Probably. Will you have to sacrifice? Sure. But anything worthwhile has a price to pay. So what’s the alternative? It’s much of what we see today: It’s all about serving ourselves, making sure we’re covered, making sure we’re safe. That’s the real danger: living with low expectations, settling for less and making it all about me. These are some of the real tragedies today.

So, let’s risk it! Let’s “run into danger” and choose to hold ourselves to high expectations, to not settle and to make it about serving others. It’ll take bravery and courage and, in the end, we will leave others humbled, encouraged and deeply moved! It’ll be a great story!

The “Why” Behind the “What”

There’s a tremendous amount of focus on what we do and not so much on why we do it.  And that is, by far, the most important part. The Ultimate Success Principle states: “if I help you succeed, I’ll succeed. If we help others succeed, we’ll succeed.”  It’s pretty simply, not always easy. What determines whether or not we’re helping others succeed? It’s not “what” we do for them, it’s “why” we do it. The “why” makes all the difference in the world!

Allow me to illustrate: let’s say that I go out and buy you a very nice gift. It’s something you most definitely want. And when I present it to you it’s wrapped very nicely with very appropriate bow. When you open the gift and you see what’s inside, you’re absolutely thrilled to have received it. Now, here’s the real question:  what really makes it a gift? It’s not the gift itself. If that were the case we could stop right here. No, it’s deeper than that. It’s the reason, the motive, my “why” for getting you this gift. If I did it just because I wanted you to have it and I knew you would thoroughly enjoy it, that’s a good “why” and one that serves you.  I have fulfilled the Ultimate Success Principle. If, however, I gave it to you so that you would buy me a gift (a nice one!) or that you would think well of me or that you would owe me a favor then this is no longer a gift. At the very least it’s a bribe and at the worst it’s extortion. And this applies to all those things we do with and for others. If our motives are pure and all about serving others, it’s all good, it all works. If are motives are selfish, serving ourselves, then we are violating the Ultimate Success Principle. As I said simple, not easy. This applies to every single thing we do with and for others. Only we know deep down inside what are true motivation is but others can see the “fruit” or result of our motives.  Inward focus, serving self, bad “fruit.” Outward focus, serving others, good “fruit.” What do I mean? If someone tells you that they’re doing all the right things and yet most things never really work out, the problem is their motivation, their inward focus. If someone, for the most part, let’s their actions speak louder than their words and they produce good results in many different ways, they’re serving others. They have an outward focus.

What drives an inward or outward focus? Here comes the real why! One makes us selfish, is the worst of us and is a lie. The others make us selfless, is the best of us and is the truth. An inward focus is born out of fear. An outward focus is born out of love. We are here to serve God and others, to love and not be afraid.  Next time I’ll share about the power of love and the power of fear.