“If there is a single lesson…”

“If there is a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”

—Lev Grossman, Author and Journalist

Illustration from Flickr by Tom Simpson

Illustration from Flickr by Tom Simpson

Walt Disney World is a magical place that we have visited many times with our children and family. In the childhood classic, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket sang, “When you wish upon a star,” a song which says that anything your heart desires will come to you.

For most families, planning a six-nights/seven days vacation full of magic can cost anywhere from $1,000 per person to over $10,000 for a family of four. Given that money does not magically grow on trees, affording it takes considerable effort and sacrifice. This is especially true for the average family, whose median annual household income, according to the 2012 census data, is about $50,000.

EXERCISE:

To what extent are your most fervent hopes, desires, and wishes backed up with necessary efforts and actions, to make even more of your dreams come true?

“People change and forget…”

“People change and forget to tell each other.”

—Lillian Hellman, American dramatist and Broadway screenwriter

Photo from onthejob.45things.com

Photo from onthejob.45things.com

Coaching as a profession has been around for over 20 years, and is estimated as a two billion (or more) dollar industry. Fundamental to the coaching process is the desire for both individuals and organizations to change for the better.

Rooted in this change process is the strong desire for a better future, and in particular, a high level of social support by friends, family, colleagues, and of course, coaches.

Open communication and clarity around this desire, along with some description of what behaviors are to be expected, are critical for optimal success.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently trying to change something in either your professional or personal life? How can you communicate this intention to those around you to rally the social support necessary for this change to occur and be sustained?

“You can’t start the next…”

“You can’t start the next chapter if you keep re-reading the last one.”

—Author Unknown

Imagine a book based on  your life, with a Table of Contents that looks like this:

QC #826How likely would you be to keep reading the same chapter over and over again?

Although the answer seems obvious, many people live their lives this way, where “today” looks a great deal like many of their yesterdays.

EXERCISE:

If today’s scenario is even a bit familiar, consider telling a new life story by using Stephen Covey’s “Begin with the End in Mind” habit. Work your way backwards to write about the page-turning journey that got you there. I hope it is a best seller!

“Life is a lot like jazz…”

“Life is a lot like Jazz… it’s best when you improvise.”

-George Gershwin, American composer and pianist

Photo from Flickr by Renzo Ferrante

Photo from Flickr by Renzo Ferrante

As I drive to and from work each day, I listen to contemporary jazz on Sirius/XM radio. Over the years I have also attended numerous concerts by many of my favorite performers.

Quite often the songs and tunes with which I am familiar sound a bit different from those I hear on the radio. Perhaps the reason for the variations is the fact that “real jazz” played in “real life” must be an act of improvisation. Many famous performers utilize local musical talent, who need to adapt to the other’s style with little rehearsal, unlike the weeks and months it can take in the studio to record and get it right.

EXERCISE:

Where would your professional or personal life benefit most by being more flexible, and improvising with those around you to play beautiful music together?

“Each of us is born with…”

“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves.”

—Laura Esquivel, Mexican novelist, essayist, and screenwriter

Photo from changingmydestiny.wordpress.com

Photo from changingmydestiny.wordpress.com

I must admit that I watch reality TV shows. I enjoy those that involve living in remote areas of the world, where there are little or no creature comforts.

The fundamental necessities for survival include food, water, and shelter. Without exception, fire is another essential resource, needed to cook the food and sterilize the water. Achieving a successful fire is often a significant challenge and hardship for would-be reality show survivors. Almost always, success comes from the collective efforts of numerous individuals.

EXERCISE:

How can you spark and ignite the potential of others to more fully realize the fires that burn within them?

Who are the people in your personal or professional worlds that can and will play this valuable role for you?

“Excelling at any job is…”

“Excelling at any job is about doing the things you weren’t asked to do.”

—Mary Egan – founder of Gathering Table and Former Senior VP at Starbucks

Photo from www.soccer-daily.net

Photo from www.soccer-daily.net

What does it take these days to be extraordinary, exceptional, and remarkable? Notice how often you require events in your personal or professional world to meet those definitions in order to gain even a few moments of your valuable attention.

I recently saw a film titled “Dope,” which involved an ambitious, intelligent, and creative main character living in an undesirable Los Angeles neighborhood. He was pursuing his dream of attending Harvard, where straight “A’s” and top SAT/ACT scores are the bare minimum to even be considered.

The audience was taken on an amusing romp in which the character clearly demonstrated his capacity, creativity, and courage to do what was extraordinary, exceptional, and remarkable, and to excel and stand out.

EXERCISE:

How can you and the organization with which you associate foster an environment where people do the things they were not asked to do, to explore new levels of excellence?

“It is better to prevent than to cure.”

“It is better to prevent than to cure.”

—Peruvian Proverb

Photo from Flickr by Phossil

Photo from Flickr by Phossil

Many years ago, there was a TV commercial for Fram oil filters, using the marketing slogan, “you can pay me now, or pay me later.” The premise of this campaign was to garner the support of auto mechanics. The mechanics, in turn, would suggest that you could do one of two things:

Invest a small sum in protecting your car’s engine with a new Fram oil filter right now, or pay for an expensive engine repair or replacement down the road.

EXERCISE:

Where would an ounce of prevention be worth more than a pound of cure in your professional or personal life? What actions will you take today to invest a little, for far greater value or savings in the future?

“People are like tea bags…”

“People are like tea bags. You find out how strong they are when you put them in hot water.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States of America

Photo from Flickr by Eric Jusino

Photo from Flickr by Eric Jusino

Other than water, tea is the most popular drink in the world—so popular that its consumption is equal to that of coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol, combined!

Most of us have experienced pouring a cup of hot water over a bag or two, and watching it release its flavor within a few minutes. If you are a bit impatient, you may have even tried dunking the tea bag up and down to release its flavor even faster.

EXERCISE:

Consider the challenges, obstacles, and barriers you are facing today in either your personal or professional life. See them as hot water that brings out your greatest strengths, and your capacity for personal excellence.

How will you share your cup of life tea with others? How might you offer a little “hot water” to others, to help them discover their own inner strength?

“Figure out what it is…”

“Figure out what it is in life you don’t do well, and then don’t do it.”

—Doug Copeland, former president and publisher of the Triad Business Journal

QC #820

As I observe individuals and organizations pursuing success in our increasingly dynamic world, I see a great deal of frustration and stress.

Our collective drive, intelligence, and creativity has never been greater, yet it still feels as if something is missing.

Our efforts to have it all, do it all, and be it all seem possible when we look to the media.  In the real world, this formula for the perfect balance is elusive, if not improbable.

Navigating today’s world requires more filters and focus, to design our own imbalanced yet more workable, satisfying, and fulfilling lives.

EXERCISE:

Take a personal inventory of all the things you don’t like doing or that you don’t do well. Stop doing them as soon as possible. This should make more room in your world to focus on your strengths, so you can do the thing you are good at and love to do.

Consider reading Marcus Buckingham’s “The One Thing You Need to Know” for more insights into great leading, great managing, and sustained individual success.

“When nothing goes right, go left.”

“When nothing goes right, go left.”

—Author Unknown

Image from www.picturequotes.com

Image from www.picturequotes.com

Not long ago, I attended two separate conferences with almost 500 coaches from around the world. One common quality among many, if not most coaches, is a positive attitude and the ability to influence their world for the better.

Common to many coaching sessions are situations where the client’s professional and/or personal worlds are off track, or headed that way. Many times a shift of perspective or a view through a more useful lens is all it takes to make things right again. Other times we must choose a more dramatic course of action by going outside our usual “go to” strategies.

EXERCISE:

Select a single area in your professional or personal life that is not going right at this time. Consider some alternative, “left turn” strategies or actions that you can—and will—take to set things right.

Consider posting one of my favorite quotes in a place where you will see it frequently, to remind you of this concept:

“When patterns are broken, new worlds will emerge.” (Tuli Kupferberg)