“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.

A Strong Foe

“A strong foe is better than a weak friend.”

—Edward Dahlberg, 20th Century American Novelist

Image of The Joker from Batman

Image from tomztoyz.blogspot.com

Most of us have heard the idea that we are a product of the five people with which we associate the most.

If these individuals happen to be weak friends, we may wish to make a few adjustments.

Unfortunately, weakness in those around us often causes us to become complacent and even a bit lazy, given that the bar of success is relatively low.

Strong foes and even adversaries challenge us to rise to compete with ourselves, if not them, to become a far better version of ourselves.

EXERCISE:

How can you use the example of your most challenging foe to thrive and grow, professionally and personally? How can and will you surround yourself with a much stronger set of friends to support your efforts?

Our antagonist is our helper

“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper.”

Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish Statesman

Image of wrestling competition

Image from Flickr by Christopher Paquette

My dad was a physical education teacher and coach for multiple sports, one of which was wrestling. Young men of equal weight would compete in one of the most challenging and physically exhausting sports I’ve ever experienced.

In a matter of minutes, while engaged with your adversary, you would likely find yourself gasping for air and having already worked up quite a sweat.

Not surprisingly, wrestlers are some of the most fit athletes because of the struggles they face in competing at a high level.

EXERCISE:

Who are the antagonists/adversaries that strengthen your nerve and build your personal or professional skills? How can you appreciate and perhaps seek even greater challenges to further your personal excellence journey?

Friday Review Strength

FRIDAY REVIEW:  STRENGTH

Leadership requires inner strength. Here are a few strength-related posts you may have missed. Click on the Quote to read the full message:

QC #1045a

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”

 

 

 

QC #1045b

 

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

 

 

 

QC #1045c

 

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

 

 

 

A Strong Person

“A strong person looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”

-Adapted from Gina Carey, musical artist

Image from shopwood.com

Image from shopwood.com

If you are a fan of old John Wayne movies, you may have seen the 1969 film, True Grit. The word “grit” is used a good deal these days, to point out the value and need for greater courage, bravery, determination, and personal fortitude in a world many believe is getting soft.

Far too many people want to take an elevator to the top rather than climbing the stairs to reach their most cherished and valued goals.

EXERCISE:

Where  is it appropriate—or better yet, necessary—to demonstrate your personal strength and grit, by winking at the challenges you face?

Choices Reflect Your Hopes

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

-Nelson Mandela

image from www.cbc.ca

image from www.cbc.ca

There are two primary schools of thought regarding what spurs people into action. The first is what I call the “avoiding pain” strategy, in which people examine the bad things that may occur if they don’t take action. Some sales methods take advantage of this approach by turning up the level of pain in order to compel people to buy a product or service.

The alternative strategy, suggested in Nelson Mandela’s statement, could be called the “pleasure strategy.” Here, a compelling and hopeful objective mobilizes us to choose certain actions and behaviors that will help us realize our desirable future.

EXERCISE:

What will you do to make the majority of your life choices—personally and professionally—from a more hopeful perspective?

“Sometimes, you just have to…”

“Sometimes, you just have to bow your head, say a prayer, and weather the storm.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Flickr by Melinda Swinford

Image from Flickr by Melinda Swinford

In recent weeks, I’ve met a number of people experiencing significant challenges in their professional and personal worlds. They were knocked down and kept down by death, illness, accidents, and other major life events. For some, many of these things were happening at the same time.

Those who weather the storms the best all mentioned that it was their faith, family, and friends that made these disturbing and often tragic life events bearable.

EXERCISE:

Where can you seek for yourself—or offer to others—a level of support to more successfully weather the storms of life?

“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?

“Be strong enough to stand alone…”

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”

—Author Unknown

Photo from Flickr by stollerdos

Photo from Flickr by stollerdos

Most people would acknowledge that strength, intelligence and bravery are all admirable qualities. The beauty of today’s quote is in the delicate balance between the three, based on the situations and circumstances we face.

Knowing the right amount of each is critical to optimal success. Too much of one or the other can sometimes backfire.

EXERCISE:

Examine some of your highest priority commitments and projects to see whether success is dependent on your strength to stand your ground or the wisdom and bravery to invite others along to achieve a collective victory. Perhaps some blending of all three in various amounts would be even more optimal.

grow with ease

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”

– J. Willard Marriott, entrepreneur and businessman

Image fro Flickr by Breezy Luik

Image fro Flickr by Breezy Luik

I go to the gym in the morning to help stay fit. It cleans out my mental and physical cobwebs and gets my day off to an energized start.

A key component of my fitness journey is to push myself in areas of strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility. When we push the limits a bit beyond our comfort, we come back the next day stronger and more capable.

The personal growth and development efforts that make the biggest difference are the ones which test and challenge our “timber.”

Exercise

Where in your personal and professional life can you lean into the wind and find yourself better off through the process?