Thinking Possibilities

As leaders, one of the most important things we do is think.  We think about our followers, about mentoring and growing other leaders, about the future of our business or our team.
Our thinking becomes dangerous when we start thinking in terms of limitations. When we think in absolutes.  When we think with what’s called a “Lack Mentality”.
It’s been proven time and time again;  limited thinking leads to limited results.
When we think in possibilities however then answers and solutions come to us.
Ken Blanchard once said,
If you want to go places you have never gone before, you have to think in ways you have never thought before.
Possibility thinking leads to the creative.  It opens up new avenues and new solutions and allows you to be a more effective leader for your team.

Solutions Through Possibilities

Mr. Hollands Opus - Mr. Holland teaches musicIf you ever saw the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, starring Richard Dreyfus as music teacher Glenn Holland you would see an excellent example of this.  Mr. Holland is trying to write music and dreams of creating a world renown piece.  To pay the bills, he takes on a job as a high school music teacher and  faces challenge after challenge with the students and even his own child, who is born deaf.

Where others saw absolutes and insurmountable circumstances, Mr. Holland instead looked for possibilities.  His passion for music and his desire to share that passion with others led him to think of unique ways to make things happen and achieve success.  He finds creative ways to reach students and inspire them and even devises a way for his deaf son and other hearing impaired people to enjoy music through lights.
The end result was the lasting impact that Mr. Holland had on the people he influenced.  He led them places they didn’t think they could go.

How We Can

As a leader, the responsibility we have as well is to lead people where they don’t necessarily think they can go.  To do that, we have to be willing and prepared to explore possibilities and seek creative solutions in pursuit of our vision.
[snaptweet]When our vision and our passion join, we see hope.  But when we think HOW WE CAN instead of “CAN WE”, then we create possibilities to bring our vision to reality.[/snaptweet]

Here’s some things to help open you up to possibilities:

  1. Be a positive thinker –  Many think positive thinking is just sticking your head in the sand, but actually a positive thinker looks for possibilities.  They look for how they can get the best out of every situation.
  2. Remember WHY and HOW – Question things a lot.  Ask questions like “how can we be more effective?  How can we serve our customers more efficiently?  How can we improve our profitability?”
  3. Avoid the Impossible Thinkers – The consultants and experts that tell you it can’t be done, that its impossible to reach your goals or objectives.  There are always possibilities and we want to look for those instead of what we can’t do.
  4. Think “AND” instead of “OR” –  We limit our thinking by creating exclusionary choices.  We can do this or have that.  Why not look at how can we do this AND have that?  How can we improve customer service AND increase profitability?  Thinking that way helps us come up with creative solutions that are more effective for our organization.

What possibilities will you open yourself up to today?

What Are You Doing?

So exactly how are you pursuing that dream or that goal?
You know, that thing you have always wanted to get to?
If you have ever listened to anyone about personal growth or success, they talk about getting your plans down on paper and setting the definitive plan for achieving your goals.

It’s Not Enough

But there is another step.  You have to actually act upon that.
And this is where the plans fall apart for many people.
Brian Tracy says that many of us live on Someday Isle.
You’ve probably heard many people refer to it.
Someday, I’ll quit this job I hate.
Someday, I’ll begin that project I always wanted to do.
Someday, I’ll spend more time with the family.
Someday, I’ll volunteer with a non-profit.
Do you know people guilty of this?  
Are you guilty of this?
I know that there are times when I am.  I become so focused on the routine of the day or the fire of the moment, that I lose focus on the things I want to do and they get pushed to the back burner.
It’s kind of like the castaways from the television program, Gilligan’s Island.  They got stranded there and set about making themselves comfortable and never really got off the island.  Until cancellation that is.  Yes, they tried some things but they were random and not sustained.  But they kept saying, “Someday, we’ll get off this island!
I can relate to Gilligan and the castaways many times in so many ways.


The problem is that someday never comes and that’s not where our true success comes from.  In fact, you are going to get your best results not by saying someday but through what you do on a day to day basis.  John Maxwell said you will never change your life until you change something that you do daily.  I like to think of it in terms of what you do on a day to day basis makes a difference in your life.
That’s what personal growth is all about.

Intentional Daily Growth

So what we are talking about is embarking on an intentional personal growth plan so that on a day to day basis you are working towards your goals.  Set aside time on a day to day basis to work towards the goals that you have.
It ain’t easy, but nothing worth having is easy.  But you know that.
If you focus on doing something on a day to day basis to move a little closer to your goals then incrementally it gets better.
Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the end result.  Be a 1%er.  Focus just on that 1% growth you can achieve today.  Choose what you will do beforehand; don’t just pick anything.
Remember the goal here is to grow towards your goals, not grow randomly.
Schedule a specific block on your calendar every day.  It doesn’t have to be long; start with just 15 minutes.  Protect that time ruthlessly and commit yourself to it and its going to make a difference in your life.  

Not just in the future, but today.

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.


Change of Mindset

Driving to a meeting this morning I was listening, as I usually do, to “Automobile University”.  If you haven’t done this, it’s a practice I highly recommend.  Instead of listening to local radio and hearing the same song five times in an hour or tuning in (bleah!) talk radio or the news, try instead taking advantage of that really nice CD player you have and pop in motivational stories or information.  I will alternately listen to audio with John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, and the CD that comes in every issue of Success Magazine.  This is especially great for those who don’t have the time to read constantly (that pretty much covers all of us).  Positive, inspirational, motivational, and informative.  Great way to start off!

Flight Path Change

plane-taking-off Anyway, I was listening to Zig Ziglar tell an old familiar story, which I’ll retell from my perspective.

I boarded a plane at Orlando International Airport that was bound for Seattle, Washington with no stops.  The plane took off and after being in the air for about a half hour, it was no longer heading directly for Seattle.  The earth rotates, winds blow, all kinds of physical forces work against the plane heading straight for Seattle.  Don’t know where we are going, but it ain’t Seattle.  

So the pilot, wise man that he is, turns the plane around and heads back to Orlando, lands and starts all over again.


Of course he doesn’t!  He and the co-pilot simply make navigational adjustments to re-direct the plane back towards Seattle in mid-flight.  It would be silly and waste of time to head back and start all over again.

That’s the story of you and me.  When we attempt to get somewhere in life and accomplish something a monkey wrench gets thrown into the works.  It is inevitable that things will not go according to plan.  Too many times, the way that a person will try to solve that problem is by tossing the whole plan out the window and making a new; starting all over again.  It tends to be either/or; a change in the plan doesn’t enter our mind.

Change Your Plan

change the path to get to your destinationStop!  Think!

It’s not necessarily the whole plan, just parts of it.  Sometimes even it’s not the plan at all, just outside forces that interfere and cause a problem.  Instead of throwing out the whole plan, just make adjustments.  Don’t change where you want to go, simply change the path you will follow to get there.  Keep yourself directed, don’t lose sight of where you want to be!  The rocky path in front of us can distract us, but you need tunnel vision so you don’t accept anything other than the goal you wish to accomplish.

Action Plan

  1. Take a look at your goals and think about one that recently had a setback.  Did you toss out the plan?  Have you made a new one or abandoned the goal altogether?
  2. Re-focus.  Do you still want that goal?  What can you do differently to get there?  Is there something you can try that no one has tried before?  This is especially good when conventional methods aren’t working.
  3. Take the first step NOW!  When we take an immediate action, no matter how small, we increase the likelihood of success.

A Summer of Fears

It’s a time of apprehensive moments for the entrepreneur.  Some many things happen during the summer that can cause the small businessman a lot of stress.  As people vacation, they may be buying less of what you have to offer; unless of course your business revolves around tourism.  You yourself may be contemplating time off.  Holidays like July 4th in the U.S. almost force you to take time off.  The stress from all of this for the entrepreneur is that so much of ourselves is wrapped up in our business that we hate to leave it for even one minute.  Taking a whole day off is almost unheard of.  And taking off a week?  Forget it!

On a side note, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am an entrepreneur.  I didn’t see it that way for a while, I think mostly because I don’t sell products as much as I do services.  The more I looked at it, however, the more I realized that I am still very much so in the entrepreneurial spirit.  So, like others, I stress during this time of year.

Off to Camp

Summer Camp Sign PostAs I am preparing for the July 4th holiday, I am also preparing to leave this Saturday to take 19 Boy Scouts to Summer Camp at Camp Raven Knob in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  Great camp!  So extremely well run that after visiting last year we immediately voted to go again this year.  As a leader within the troop, I must go to make sure there is appropriate adult supervision.  Who’s going to supervise me, I don’t know.  : )

This decision to go did not come easy.  I worry that I should be working, generating income, developing new programs; all kinds of things that keep my business going.  Lost productivity time.  The expense of making the trip, especially critical in the face of unforeseen expenses in other areas this year.  I toyed briefly with bowing out.

In the end, I decided to go.  I don’t know if my reasoning will help you in your decisions or not, but here’s what I came up with.  The value of what can come out of this camp for the boys and the influence I can have adding to that value in my opinion far outweigh potential losses.  These opportunities are rare, particularly with my own children growing older.  I also had my integrity to think of, both my integrity with others and with myself.  I had made a commitment that others were counting on.  It’s important, again both for myself and for what I teach the Scouts, to fulfill my commitment no matter the cost.  If you don’t have trust, you have nothing.  Even more so, I needed to trust myself.  As an entrepreneur I decided that I simply needed to trust in my ability to produce, trust in what I have to offer, and in my resolve to survive and even thrive no matter what.  It won’t be easy and it will mean a lot of hard work when I return, but I was planning to work hard and smart anyway.

So, breathe!  Take a few moments and re-charge!  Trust yourself and your abilities!  Enjoy the moment!

P.S.  I will confess that there is a Scoutmaster’s Hut there with wi-fi so I won’t be completely disconnected and I am going to take some time doing some necessary planning and working on my book; so the week won’t be a complete loss.

What about you?  What fears are you facing this summer?