“It’s hard to see your own face without a mirror.”

“It’s hard to see your own face without a mirror.”

—Phil McGraw, American TV Personality “Dr. Phil”

Image from Unsplash by Laurenz Kleinheider

I recently facilitated a team-building workshop with one of my favorite clients. Half of the twelve participants had worked with me before. The other six were with me for the first time. The senior leader has been coaching each of them for more than a decade and he wanted to boost his efforts with this session.

We discussed a variety of topics, and did a strength/weakness exercise, which is fairly standard for such meetings. Surprisingly, the feedback and comments from their colleagues made an even bigger impression on the participants than most expected.

EXERCISE:

Where are or could you more fully use the people in your personal and professional communities as a mirror, to realize more of your fullest potential?

“Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

“Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

—David Maister, former Harvard Business School professor

If you say something positive about yourself, it is referred to as bragging. If others say similar things about you, it is considered the truth.

What do the people at work and in your career efforts have to say about you? How are you perceived and how do these perceptions compare and contrast from your own?

What would you like others to say and how do your words and deeds warrant such acknowledgment and praise?

EXERCISE:

Seek feedback from a small group of trusted colleagues. Let them reveal the unique abilities, superpowers, and best qualities they see in you. Ask them also about your weaknesses, and the limiting blind spots that may be holding you back from the professional levels you desire.

Thank them for their candid and generous perspective, and promise to act on their wise council.

For extra credit, consider a similar exercise with family and friends.

Feel free to reply to this post to let me know what you discover and how it impacts your life.

“To give of yourself is much more important than giving a gift you can buy.”

“To give of yourself is much more important than giving a gift you can buy.”

—Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple, Inc.


WARNING! There will be a test at the end of this post!

Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, has sold over 12 million copies and has been a #1 New York Times best seller for over 8 years. It has received over 14,000 reviews on Amazon, with 94% being 5 or 4 stars. And given its universal appeal to people around the world, it has been translated into 50 languages. The five languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Physical Touch
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Gifts
  5. Quality Time

Please note that only one out of the five languages is about gifts, and a subset are hand-made rather than bought.

EXERCISE:

How and in what additional ways can you more fully give of yourself to demonstrate your love of family, friends and others you care about?

Please consider taking the Five Love Languages test and share this expertise with those closest to you to discover their love preferences.

“Ask yourself: Does the job touch my heart and feed my soul?”

“Ask yourself: Does the job touch my heart and feed my soul? You will never be what you were meant to be if you aren’t having fun.”

—Suzy Welch, American Author, television commentator, and business journalist

Image from Unsplash by Atlas Green

If you light up on Friday and dread Monday, today’s quote is meant for you. Take heart in that 65-75% of the working world is in the same boat.

For dramatic purposes, that form of regret or stress can represent about 25 years of life, if you include a bit of traffic on your daily commute.

To what degree is this way too high a price to pay?

Beyond family and friends, how we spend our days and who we spend them with makes up far too much of our lives to have it not touch our hearts and feed our souls.

EXERCISE:

What significant, courageous, and of course, fun changes can and will you take to more fully realize that time is the coin of life?

“When people are like each other, they tend to like each other.”

“When people are like each other, they tend to like each other.”

—Tony Robbins, American author, philanthropist and life coach

Image of Jane Goodall and a chimp

Image from the Jane Goodall Collection

Did you know that humans and chimpanzees share about 96 percent of the same DNA? Perhaps this is why we enjoy documentaries on these special creatures. When we observe them, we see numerous ways we are alike, such as in the care and nurturing of baby chimps.

Regarding human-to-human interactions, we often operate out of the Birds of a Feather Flock Together idea. At the same time, we can be very focused on where and how we differ as reasons to avoid, dislike, and even hate one another.

EXERCISE:

How would looking for the similarities and common characteristics and traits of others be the source of more friendships and closer communities in your world?

“When someone asks for a glass of water, don’t hose them down.”

“When someone asks for a glass of water, don’t hose them down.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Manu Schwendener

Who doesn’t enjoy it when people take an interest in us? After all, we are being given a chance to talk about our favorite subject – ourselves.

Questions such as, How are you?, What’s going on?, and even What’s up? can sometimes lead to a torrent of information well beyond a quick update.

A little secret to fostering better relationships can be summaries in six simple words:

More of Others Less of You

EXERCISE:

To what degree do you hose people down when they ask you for your thoughts on a particular topic?

Consider using and sharing the code W.A.I.T. with those close to you – it stands for Why Am I Talking?

If you must speak ill of another

“If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it. Write it in the sand near the water’s edge.”

—Napoleon Hill, 20th Century American self-help Author

Image of "Time" written in the sand

Image from designtuts

Holding one’s tongue is pretty difficult to do, literally and figuratively. In both cases, it can be slippery and make you look bad, or at least silly.

Awareness of our inner voices can provide a few seconds of buffer time before we put those views or opinions on an external speaker. In many cases, prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

The same is often true for e-mail and especially texting, given the rapid turn-around on these forms of communication.

EXERCISE:

Where would waiting and allowing more time to pass before you speak or communicate through the written word enhance and improve your personal and professional relationships?

I’ve been afraid of people playing their life away with too many toys

“I’ve been afraid of people playing their life away with too many toys.”

—Ray Bradbury, late American author and screenwriter

Image of two toddlers playing with a computer

Image from Unsplash by Jelleke Vanooteghem

Take a trip down Memory Lane and look at the toys you played with as a child. For me, the top three were a used sled for winter, a banana-seat bike for the rest of the year, and of course, a pimple ball for all sorts of games we would invent.

I vividly recall that before the age when I could venture out with friends, my mom would give me a bucket of water and an old paint brush. I would express my artistic talents on the sidewalk before the summer sun erased all traces of my work. It was like an Etch-a-Sketch without the cost!

Fast forward to today and look at the toys you and your children or grandchildren play with. How many are digital? How many can be and are often used alone, instead of with friends or family?

EXERCISE:

Where would taking more of a “The Best Things in Life are not Things” approach help you lead a simpler and more satisfying life?

Don’t close the book when bad things happen

“Don’t close the book when bad things happen in your life. Just turn the page and begin a new chapter.”

—Author Unknown

Image of a page-turning book

Image from Unsplash by socialcut

Did you know that the average Social Security payout for retirees is just 29 months?

Although most of us think of retirement as our “Golden Years,” and while we continue to hear of all sorts of fantastic new medical breakthroughs to extend the quality and length of life, this statistic is shocking. But it improves considerably when three critical factors are present:

  • Friends, family, community
  • Financial stability – a nest egg
  • A future-oriented mindset

The level of engagement and overall life purpose can diminish with retirement. Retirees  often find much less meaning in life and a reason to get up in the morning when their vocational years are over.

EXERCISE:

What relational, financial, and mindset factors can and will you put in place to keep writing each new exciting chapter in your life for many more healthy, and happy years to come?

We are mere journeymen

“We are mere journeymen, planting seeds for someone else to harvest.”

—Wallace Thurman, 20th Century African-American Novelist

Image of two men in a wheat field

Image from Unsplash by Warren Wong

For virtually all people alive today, the standard of living and the quality of life has improved exponentially over the past few decades, and particularly in the last two centuries.

If you have ever interviewed your parents, grandparents, or even looked back over your own life, things have improved in countless ways.

Consider the idea that all the people known and unknown to you have been farmers planting and cultivating the seeds we all get to harvest each day.

EXERCISE:

Who in your world can and will you thank and acknowledge for all the abundance we experience today?

Where and how are you currently planting the seeds of a better world to benefit the lives of other’s for future generations?