Inspired Leaders Have GRIT

On October 10, 2014 I was blessed to be a host for L2:Learn-Lead, the new annual leadership simulcast produced by the John Maxwell Company.  In the last post, I shared the opening keynote by John C. Maxwell to initiate this series.  Today, I want to share some of the thoughts from Linda Kaplan Thaler.

About Linda

Linda Kaplan ThalerLinda is the co-founder and head of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, a marketing and advertising firm.  She is definitely a leader within her industry; creative and innovative.  She knows how to get things done.  Among the many claims to fame she has is the creation of the Kodak Moment, the AFLAC Duck, and the Toys R Us Kid jingle.  She is also co-author of a few books, including The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness.

GRIT Creates Extraordinary

Linda spoke on GRIT: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary.  GRIT is an acronym for Guts, Resilience, Industriousness, and Tenacity.  Here are some of Linda’s thoughts from her talk:
  • 98% of highly successful people were considered average.
    • Walt Disney was fired from his first job for being “uncreative”
    • General Colin Powell was a C- student
    • Michael Jordan wasn’t good enough to make his high school varsity basketball team
    • What makes the difference is their GRIT.
[snaptweet]Anyone with perseverance and pluck can go from ordinary to extraordinary. -Linda Kaplan Thaler[/snaptweet]
  • If you are brave enough, stop dreaming and start doing!
[snaptweet]I never spent one minute dreaming about success. I worked for it. -Estee Lauder[/snaptweet]
  • Overprepare and outwork everyone else
  • We get easily distracted and need to refocus on where we are going.

Four Keys to Help Stay on Track

  1. SOLVE SMALL PROBLEMS – when you resolve the small problems that pop up regularly, it prepares you to solve the big problems.
  2. MAKE YOUR BED – Military recruits are taught early on how to make their bed first thing every morning and to make it neat and precise.  Part of the reason is discipline but a good deal of it is that you accomplished something immediately.  If you accomplish nothing else that day, you made your bed.
  3. FINISH WHAT YOU START – With busy schedules and competing priorities, it’s easy to jump from one thing to another and not really finish anything.  Successful people finish.
  4. FORGET WILLPOWER – No one has enough willpower to stay the course consistently simply based on their will.  Develop habits and create situations that take willpower out of the equation.
Next post will cover Tim Sanders thoughts from L2:Learn-Lead.

Action Items:

  1. How will you apply this to your life?
  2. What do you need to change?
  3. What should you share or teach to others?

Labor Day Means No Work?

This week we celebrated Labor Day!  Our family went out in the boat and went to a little island on the Indian River for swimming and a picnic. (NOTE TO SELF:  When you put on the sunscreen, don’t forget your face!).  Overall, a great time!
I did a little research to see about the purpose of Labor Day. According to the Department of Labor, the purpose of Labor Day is a yearly national tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. In other words, it’s a chance for those who work hard throughout the year to sit back a little bit and celebrate the importance of the contribution they have made to making this country what it is today.

Work That Deserves It

There are some though that don’t put forth that effort all the time. They sit back and wait for things to come to them and wonder why they don’t get the success they want. I keep a poster up on my wall in my office to remind me of this. It’s a quote by Maya Angelou that simply says,

Nothing works unless you do
So if you want that success, you have to put forth that effort first.
Here’s some key things to remember to work towards achieving your success that are going to help you throughout the rest of the year.
  • BE IN THE MOMENT. When you are at work, be at work. When you are home, be at home. Focus on giving your best to the moment and you will be more productive and more effective in every situation.
  • REFUSE TO ASSIGN BLAME. Many people want to contribute their lack of success to the economy, the administration, any number of things. But ultimately you have to take responsibility for your own success. If you do that, you can overcome any obstacles in your way.
  • growth by 1% a dayWORK YOUR 1%. We have talked before being a one-percenter; you have grow yourself by 1% a day to be the person you want to be and achieving the success you want to achieve.
  • SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS THAN YOUR BESTHow you do anything is how you do everything! When you put forth your best effort in every situation, success is naturally going to follow.

What ways do you make sure your work is successful?  Comment below.


Find the Unique Sweet Spot

Stand out by being uniqueHow do you get to the point where you can truly embrace the weirdness, or uniqueness if you prefer, that is you?  This is a real solid challenge.  We know it is because you and I can look around us and see people who have no clue even that they are unique, let alone what that uniqueness is.  It is demonstrated in the way they jump on the latest fad as if they were missing the bus.  They line up for hours to buy the very latest iPhone or gadget, gotta wear the latest fashion, toss down the most recent popular drink, or try the latest adventure.

When I was in college I applied for a job as a bartender at a local bar.  When I told the manager I had no formal training, he waved aside with his hand in the air, and simply told me

read Playboy every month and learn the featured drinks.  That’s what these guys are gonna come in and ask for if they don’t want a beer!

That’s a great example of how the majority of people simply will allow themselves to be led around, told what to like, what to drink, what to feel, and what to do.  But you and I don’t desire to be that way; if you did you would have quit reading this several minutes ago.  So how do we escape the trap of being like everyone else and be who we really are?  Even more to the point, how do we do it in such a way that we add value to others and make a living and a life doing it?

Unique Awareness

Being unique, being weird, requires a special awareness of yourself that most others don’t have.  It means you need to spend time identifying and understanding your gifts, unlocking your passion behind them, and reflecting how to best use those gifts to add value to others.  See, we are all born with gifts that were bestowed upon us to be used to provide something unique in this world; something that only we can do.  That gift is designed to be used for a special purpose.  There is at least one someone waiting for us to come along and share that gift with them to make a difference in the world.  Some of us will directly influence a small number of people, maybe even one.  Some, like Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, or Tony Robbins may affect thousands or millions.  The point isn’t how many but how you will influence them.  So, identifying those gifts and learning to maximize them is the first step in preparing yourself to make that impact.  That’s your purpose.

Applying Your Purpose

Find your unique youOnce you have identified your gifts, it is imperative that you learn more about them and how to optimize them.  You also need to learn the various ways in which your gifts can be used.  The emphasis here needs to be on ways to use your gifts that benefit others.  God did not give you a gift to use only on yourself; he blessed you so you can be a blessing to others.  You must find that one way to use your gifts that allows you to provide maximum benefit.  It will based, at least partially, on background and life experiences.  We do not go through life randomly, even if we did not navigate it.  Every job, every experience, no matter how unrelated, prepared us for that one way that we will have the most influence.  Don’t de-value what you have done in the past just because it does not relate directly to what you want to do now.  It was preparation.  It was shaping you and molding you into what you are to become.

Now the real hard work begins.  You have to do the work of actually applying it.  You have to spend time EVERY DAY developing and honing those gifts. This is the start of a perpetual journey of growth.  It never stops until you have reached the point of not being able to learn anything anymore.  I mentioned in a previous post about Teddy Roosevelt that when he died they found under his pillow a self-improvement book he had been reading.  Teddy knew that your entire life is a growth journey to challenge yourself to become more than you were yesterday.

Be a 1%er

That sounds overwhelming, but you can break it down into an easily manageable system.  Focus simply on growing yourself by 1% a day.  Committing yourself to being a 1%er means that over time you grow exponentially one day building on the next and at the end one year you have grown yourself OVER 365%!  Remember that: become a 1%er.

No Weaknesses

And let’s make this a little easier:  STOP WORKING ON YOUR WEAKNESSES.  Conventional wisdom has always told us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and then work to improve our weaknesses.  It is non-productive to focus on our weaknesses because if we work hard we can at best become mediocre at them; while at the same time we neglect our strengths and won’t prepared to get the most out of them.  Focus instead on your strengths and your gifts.  Overcome your weaknesses by finding others whose have strength where you are weak and team up with them to meet your goals.

The I in Team

That leads to the last point of this, which is what John Maxwell always reminds us of

One is too small a number to accomplish anything!

We are meant to be dependent upon others and work together to achieve great things.  None of us is as smart as all of us.  So while building upon your gifts you should also be building your team.  Find people who have character you desire and are ready to buy into the vision of what you want to accomplish.  Walk the path together and share the journey and share the treasures.  Start it by being truly unique.

And remember, UNIQUE and UNITE both begin with UNI, meaning one.  By developing your uniqueness and finding unique others, you can UNITE together to have a singular impact on this world.

A journey like that is worth starting today!

Follow your passion, not your pension – Denis Waitley

Action Plan

  1. Start identifying your unique gifts.  There are lots of tools to help you here.  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and DISC are a good start, but look to other less scientific tools as well, such as Stand-Out by Marcus Buckingham and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  I am also a big fan of the Fascination Advantage Test by Sally Hogshead. I have tried them all and find these three to highly accurate and consistent.  You may have to purchase a book for the access code to some of these, but it is well worth it.
  2. Think back to ways you have used those gifts in the past.  Which times did you find yourself getting the greatest results?  The greatest joy?  When did you get lost in the moment while using your gifts?  This will help you identify how you should use them.
  3. Plan and schedule your daily growth of those gifts.  Remember the 1%.

Focus Requires Urgent Action

urgent focusAll week the topic has been focus; the importance of focus and where you place your focus, the difference between being productive vs just being busy (focus or flurry), and I shared my personal story of how I am learning to focus my efforts in specific areas instead of trying to be all things to all people.  I believe that personal growth is the first step in the process for everyone.  Without recognizing that intentional personal growth is critical to your success, you leave “money on the table” in terms of how much more of your potential you can realize.  You may even leave real money on the table by shorting yourself on growth.  So, my focus will be on helping you grow and part of that is focusing on what you really want to achieve.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Being willing is not enough, we must do.

Leonardo Da Vinci

What is Urgent to You?

What are the achievements that have your focus right now?  Do they feel urgent?  If not, you may want to re-evaluate them or their importance.  The problem for most of us is a lack of urgency driving us.  There is always tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.  As Brian Tracy and others put it, so many of us live on Someday Isle.  We talk about our dreams and say, “Someday I’ll…..”  We rationalize away with reasons we can’t start now.  When the economy gets better, when I have a little bit more money, when the administration changes.  It’s not the right time.  The holidays are coming up and nobody cares about this stuff during the holidays.  Wait until after the holidays and come January I will get started.  Then it’s recovering from the holidays.  Then it’s too cold.  Then it’s spring break for the kids.  Then it’s Spring and we should spend some time outdoors before it gets too hot.  Wait until the kids get out of school.  Well, the kids are out of school and underfoot all the time.  Wait until they go back to school.  Then school starts and things are hectic and the school football team is winning and we must go to the games and then the holidays are coming and….there we are all over again.

Urgent Demise

The Law of Diminishing Returns, while originally an economic concept, also applies here in a different way.  The law says that the greater the time span between when you get an idea or come up with a dream and the when you take action on it, the less likely you are to ever do anything at all.  In other words, the longer you wait exponentially increases the chances that you never will.  The longer you wait, the more it becomes just a dream.  It’s hold on you diminishes with each passing day.  That alone should create a sense of urgency for you.

Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.

Jim Rohn

Urgent Action

So, how do we avoid this?  Mel Robbins, author of Stop Saying You’re Fine, tells people to apply the five-second rule.  No, the not the one having to do with food dropped on the floor.  In this case, the five second rule mandates that you must take action on an idea within five seconds of having the idea.

urgent act nowIt doesn’t have to be necessarily massive action.

In fact, most of the time it is simply writing down on paper the first step you have to take to move forward and then set a deadline date.

Just that simple action, executed within five seconds after conceiving the idea, greatly increases your chances of doing that first action.

Many say that are waiting for inspiration or until they “feel motivated”.

It will never happen.  Motivator and Success Trainer Frank Tibolt says

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing.  Action always generates inspiration.  Inspiration almost never generates action.

Decide to take action.  Little bits add up as long as you keep it up.  Start now.  Make it urgent.

Action Plan

  • What is the one thing you have always wanted to do?  What is one thing you can do right away to move closer to it?

Three Years of Focus AND Flurry

failure - lack of focus purposeAlmost three years ago I began this journey to have my own business.  I felt it was my purpose to help others learn to become better leaders and better team members.  I joined a program to be certified by John Maxwell (one of my mentors) as a leadership coach and become a Founding Partner of the John Maxwell Team of independent coaches.  While I have seen some victories, it has not become the overnight, overwhelming success I imagined it to be.  Which doesn’t mean it won’t be, just not necessarily on the timetable I originally envisioned.

It’s my own fault; every bit of it.  Lack of real focus and a flurry of activity in multiple directions.  Friends and family who mean well try to give me an out and mention that the economy is down, small businesses all over are struggling.  It’s not your fault.  But it is.

Not Giving Up

Let me be clear:  I am not calling it quits.  I still firmly believe I was meant to do this and will continue to try to do it until I am physically or mentally unable to.  However, it’s important to recognize where you have failed and even more importantly, how you can learn from that failure.  My two biggest failures have been lack of real focus and lack of strong purpose.

There have been other failures as well.  Lack of a real solid plan for getting and keeping clients, lack of a comprehensive marketing plan, poor money management, etc.  Passion sometimes blinds us to the realities of life.  Just because I have something to say that can help others doesn’t necessarily mean they will beat down the door.

Choose Growth to Find Purpose and Focus

Reading John Maxwell’s latest book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn has helped me put this in perspective.  I can mope and whine about my great failures or I can learn my lessons from it and move forward and do better.

I choose to learn and grow and get better.  So my purpose of sharing all this with you today isn’t to bemoan my failures and give up; in fact, quite the opposite.  I will grow stronger and become more effective and that will equip me even more to add value to you going forward.

failure - focus purposeSo what are my lesson learned and what am I doing about it?  Here’s a brief summary:

  • Enrolled in a marketing training program to become a better marketer of my services.  I am using and highly recommend Robert Middleton as he makes this easy to understand and has excellent hands-on experiences.
  • Narrowing my focus and defining my purpose.  There are thousands of leadership coaches out there.  What can I do that is unique and provides value?  After blogging every day now for over a month, I am finding myself focusing a great deal on personal growth qualities and most of my work going forward will focus on that.
  • Re-structuring of systems I use to acquire contacts and maintain communication with them

The biggest lesson which I really had to wrap my head around:  IT IS OKAY TO FAIL AND EVEN TO FAIL REPEATEDLY as long as you learn.  Thomas Edison while trying to invent the lightbulb failed almost 100o times before he achieved success.  Someone asked him how it felt to fail so many times and Edison replied

I didn’t fail 999 times, I simply learned 999 ways to NOT make a lightbulb!

Let’s move forward together and look forward to our failures!  Let’s learn and grow and succeed together!

Action Plan

  • Where you have failed big recently?  What have your learned from it?  Spend some time thinking on the lessons you could or should learn.
  • Who can you team up with to help you see perspective and gain accountability for growing?  If you can’t think of anyone, call me at 321-355-2442.