Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WHO'S IN CHARGE? SHOULDN'T IT BE YOU?

What do you want to be when you grow up? As a kid, this question stirred up dreams of being a doctor or an astronaut or a pilot. Maybe even a ballerina or a policeman or firefighter. That kid always had an amazing vision of what their career would look like. So … umm … what happened along the way?

Life happened … that’s what! And when it comes to the careers and motivations that you have you can either just “let it happen” or you can make a choice to take charge of the direction things are taking. Yep, I said make a choice.

See, here’s the thing. Regardless of what your boss and the HR department tell you, or what you want to believe, no one cares more about your career than you do. Do you get that? No one has the passion for your career and your destiny at any higher level than you do. Maybe there are those rare exceptions, but in general this is true. I repeat … no one cares more about your career … your advancement … your sense of challenge and self worth … than YOU do.

BAZINGA!

If there is a really cool project in the making, go ahead and dare to ask to be involved. Or maybe even ask to lead the project. I remember asking if I could lead a project one time in my career and it was pivotal!! Thanks Jim for believing in me on that project.

When you start feeling like you can contribute more or want to shift your focus, bring the subject up with you boss and coworkers. They can’t read your mind ya know!

If an opportunity is presented to you that sounds like it could be way cool, at least give yourself permission to explore it and discover how amazing it just might be for you.

There are no wrong answers here when it comes to talking about what you think you might want to do.

And guess what, in your role as a leader or as the head of a household, the same applies to the folks you serve. I encourage to push those around you to play the lead role in driving their careers and their dreams instead of them relying on you to wave your wand and make it all happen for them. Coach them through why they must have the initiative, how they can make that possible and what benefits they can expect when they take charge.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do half of the things I did in my corporate career if I didn’t believe I was the one who cared the most about my career. No doubt I was blessed by working for and with people who were willing to take risks on a guy who cheated to get out of college. The fact is when I asked if I could try something bold, I was always rewarded for my courage, my drive and my intensity.

And you can enjoy these same results as well. Do you believe that?

Be intentional … be curious … be stubborn … wonder … and then put one foot in front of the other because winning is all in front of you. What lies behind you is merely an input – the past doesn’t define who you are as a person, a parent, a leader, an employer, a coach or … a friend.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Sit in the driver’s seat and there is no telling where YOU might take YOU!

Your life (and your business) becomes amazing when you do. And your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing – I dare ya!


Monday, December 22, 2014

SEVEN AMAZING LESSONS FROM SANTA CLAUS


Santa and his team have been bringing Christmas cheer to billions of people every year for a long time. How does he make the whole thing work? And what lessons can we learn from him and the whole gang up North?
 
Well, I think I’ve got part of his magic figured out. At least I think I do …
 
See, here’s the thing. Sometimes the best lessons in life come from the most unusual of circumstances. And I think we can agree that everything that surrounds the fat man is unusual by our mortal standards. Giving yourself permission to explore the true magical takeaways from Santa could just change your life. 
 
So let’s explore seven lessons I have learned from Santa and the team at the workshop way up on top of the world.
 
You Must Have A Plan. The dude obviously has a plan to be able to achieve what he does every year for all of those children. Depending on luck is not how he ensures that every toy he needs is in the sleigh on Christmas night. The details must be incredible. There must be something to that whole “making a list and checking it twice” regalia that we sing about. I am certain Santa knows that HOPE is not a plan. Details boys … details!!
 
You’re Only As Good As The People Around You. Santa himself cannot even begin to tackle everything that’s required to pull off the monumental task he achieves every year on Christmas. He must depend on the elves to manufacture all of the toys and to assist him with every last administrative detail necessary for success. The engineer elves design all of the cool new toys each year. And, beautiful Mrs. Claus is always there to provide him support and love. Santa would easily be the Grinch without the support of those around him.
 
One Day Can Make Or Break You. Ole Saint Nick has one day a year to be a hero or a zero. And he knows it. Santa makes a promise every year to all of the boys and girls around the world that he will deliver toys and other goodies on Christmas night. By my calculations, he is batting 1,000%! Keeping his promise is what keeps the kids coming back year after year. And maintaining that promise allows everyone to have tremendous trust in him.
 
Manage and Document Performance. “He knows who is naughty and who is nice.” Hmmm. Never thought about how profound that statement is when put into the context of leadership and parenting. Santa is very clear on his expected behaviors – be good and helpful at home, at school and in all aspects of your life. He also has defined the rewards that go to those who behave in such a way – toys and goodies for the good ones and lumps of coal for the bad ones. And you find out every year how you performed!! Set expectations and reward proper behaviors – not just at work but also in all areas of your life.
 
The Joy Is In The Giving More Than The Receiving. The man gives and gives and gives and all he wants in return are a hug and a thank you. That is servant leadership if I have ever seen it. It is a great model to emulate in your lives. Ramp up the giving and you will receive more than you ever dreamed possible in return.
 
What Others See As Impossible Can Be Possible For Me. Fly around the world in a sleigh full of toys for billions of girls and boys. Land on rooftops. Flying reindeer. Slide down chimneys into houses. Eat 40 million cookies in one night. Elves … Enough said. The first step in achieving goals is believing that you can and will do it. Believing that once you take the first step towards the goal nothing can stop you. The moment Rudolph’s hooves lift off of the ground Santa knows it’s gonna be a good night. What or who is your Rudolph?
 
Lastly, It’s OK To Eat Cookies Everywhere You Go! I love cookies – more than most foods in my life. Santa has given me permission to eat cookies everywhere I go. Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that my favorite cookie is … the next one I will eat. Enjoy what you like is the message here. Allow yourself to be a kid when you can.
 
Santa Claus is more than a mystery – he is a great teacher of life and leadership. Every year on that fateful night he must dare to be amazing. And he is!!
 
I’ve strapped on the Santa suit dozens of times in my life for the enjoyment of thousands of children (yep, that's me in the picture above). And every time it is a special experience. I respect the role that I am playing and the responsibility that comes along with representing one of the greatest leaders of all time. What he stands for and how he does it is a model from which everyone can learn.
 
What has Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas taught you in your life? I would love to hear from all of you about your relationship with Santa.
 
Look around you this holiday season and notice the lessons to be learned. Embrace the true magic and miracles of Christmas and honor them in your life. And share those newfound joys with anyone who will listen. Santa is watching, so make him proud.

Your life (and your business) becomes amazing when you do. And your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing – I dare ya!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHOOSE RESULTS OVER EXCUSES

Happy Holidays my amazing friends and followers! Wishing you all calm, patience and amazing joy as you traverse through any chaos that falls upon you over the next week or so.
  
Do you ever find yourself too busy to be amazing? Do you have those times when finishing something – actually completing a task to your exacting satisfaction – seems just impossible? Has chaos become your middle name?

Because you are humans, you have physical limits regarding what you can tackle at one time. Makes sense, right? Somehow, though, too many commitments are made and the pressure gets heavy. And important things fall by the wayside. Not good.

Whoa – and what about those exciting New Year’s resolutions everyone is about to proclaim for 2015? Woohoo!! Or maybe … Oh No!

See, here’s the thing. I am all about continuously improving and setting goals to make yourself better – as a person, as a parent, as a friend, as a leader and as a spouse. That’s what Dare To Be Amazing is all about. The problem arises when you try and be amazing in everything for everybody at all times in all places. That just doesn’t work – ever!!

As you look toward the future and you move into 2015, I encourage you to choose results over excuses. And that will likely require you to narrow your focus on what you seek to achieve during 2015.

No one gains energy and inspiration when sharing excuses of why they failed at a goal. It sucks to have excuses, doesn’t it?

Remember the last time you achieved something amazing and how that made you feel? THAT is what you are looking for in your future. It’s chemistry, man. Your body’s design, driven by your brain, motivates you with “rewards” of dopamine when you achieve a goal. And it feels good.

So here is the challenge I have for you. Replace all of those New Year’s resolutions with one TAG – one Totally Amazing Goal. I want you to T-A-G 2015 as a year to remember. Replace excuses with results by agreeing to have one T-A-G that can, will and must be accomplished. One T-A-G describing how amazing you can be. One and only one focus to show amazing results.

And when you complete your T-A-G with the desired results, find another T-A-G and make it yours. One at a time … give chaos the year off!!

I’m begging you … just one, one, one, one, one T-A-G for 2015. Get the results!

Be intentional. Have a plan. Stop doing what you must. Share your T-A-G with others. Chart your progress. And celebrate along the way.

It is your choice what you T-A-G for 2015. Will it be for home, work, school, athletics, hobbies, relationships, money, volunteerism, or your spirit? It is your choice folks. And I applaud you for making a choice.

Be curious … be stubborn … wonder … and then put one foot in front of the other because winning is all in front of you. What lies behind you is merely an input – the past doesn’t define who you are as a person, a parent, a leader, an employer, a coach or … a friend.

T-A-G … you’re it!!

Your life (and your business) becomes amazing when you do. And your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing – I dare ya!

Monday, December 15, 2014

BE YOUR OWN HERO

When I was a young man growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I had two people in my life that I looked up to and idolized – my father Tom and my godfather Uncle Gene. To me, they were the coolest guys on the planet and I wanted to be just like them. In a word, they were my heroes.

I suspect everyone has had those people in their lives that have influenced the person they have become. Maybe even you have had a hero or two in your day.

The official definition of a hero is “a person that is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.” Seems like pretty big shoes to fill when it is put that way! Super Heroes, Astronauts, Athletes, Famous People, Performers are all seen as heroes in modern society. Is that really how it should be?

See, here’s the thing. I get the fact that we need external influences in our lives and careers to be our best. New ideas, encouragement, love, patience, mentoring: these all contribute. It is how we learn and make decisions. However, I believe that the person with the most power over your courage, your achievements and your noble qualities is … drum roll please … YOU.

There … I said it. It’s okay – no, recommended – that YOU be your own hero. Won’t that be simply amazing?!

BE YOUR OWN HERO!

Throughout my life, I have often said, “When I grow up, I wanna be just like me.” And I believe in that still today. If you don’t believe in yourself … if you don’t see in yourself the YOU that makes you feel invincible, then I guess you have some work to do.

Why try to be like someone else? They are already filling that role!

Why can’t you be the one achieving new outcomes in your life or career? What is holding you back from being the best YOU that is possible?

Danica Patrick, female NASCAR driver in the Sprint Cup Series, described it really well when she first entered the top ranks of stock car racing: “I don’t want to be the next them. I want to be the first me!” BAZINGA!!

You can achieve. You can have courage. You can have qualities that stand out. YOU can BE YOUR OWN HERO!

And it all starts when you make the decision that it is time to get on with the doin’. One goal at a time … one step at a time … and one victory celebration at a time.

I used to just watch NASCAR and then I became a racecar driver. I used to admire the Ironman Triathletes and then I decided to do a triathlon of my own. I used to wonder what it would be like to be a leader and I worked hard at being one that made a difference. And I used to wonder what life as an entrepreneur would be like and here I am!

It is a mindset and a perspective that when adopted will give you permission to be bold with your goals and to let the world know who you are about to become.

There is always room in your life for people who you admire and those that influence your actions and outcomes. Collectively they are your pool of knowledge and your guiding light. And know that you can be a hero, too!

Say GO instead of I Don’t Know
Be BOLD instead of Ice Cold
Be a TRIER as opposed to a Stand Byer

BE YOUR OWN HERO!


And, BTW, to this day, I still hold my dad and Uncle Gene as my heroes. And because of their lasting influence on my life and who I have become, they have shown me that I can also be my own hero. Thanks guys!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

AMAZING LESSONS LEARNED DURING MY FIRST TRIATHLON

Recently I made the choice – yep, a choice – to train for and participate in my first ever triathlon. The race consisted of three efforts right in a row - a 7-mile kayak paddle down the Conemaugh river, a 14-mile bike ride (some of which was up and down steep dirt trails) and a 3.1-mile run. WHY you might ask? Not really sure except that I have always wanted to attempt something this epic to push myself beyond my present capabilities. To see if I could do it! To strive to be amazing…

So while on training rides with my training partners Dave, Dale and Susan, I was reminded that our lives are really so much like a long bike ride. Do you see that, too? Just as on the road or trail, our lives have up hill climbs, down hill glides and long stretches of flat road. How we choose to handle these three types of “roads” on our life’s journey is really what makes all the difference in the world. But for me, no matter what the road looks like, I always tell myself to just keep pedaling.

Most of your life is spent living each day one day at a time without too much fanfare or challenge. These are the kind of days that when someone asks you how your day went, you tell them it was GOOD. These are your flat road days, in bicycling terms. You pedal just fast enough to stay moving and to keep from falling over. Don’t want to be like Artie Johnson on the tricycle from the show Laugh In (dear God, how old do you have to be to remember that!?!). Pedaling fast enough to stay aloft keeps moving you forward, allows you to reach new places and keeps you moving along the path to your goals. On these days, just make sure you keep pedaling. Coasting is your enemy. Coasting makes you slow down on a flat road. Coasting makes it harder to start pedaling again, to start working on your goals again. When you cease pedaling, stopping becomes a possible option. So don’t coast – ever! Just keep pedaling.

On great days, things are going your way and life feels a little easier. You hit every green light, you found everything on sale, you got a promotion, and your presentation to the big boss went off fantastically. Woohoo! What a great day! So how about you just coast down that hill that day and take it easy. Well, that’s one option. But coasting won’t build muscle or stamina or drive in your mind and your heart. Coasting won’t make you stronger; it will only tend to make you feel better for a short while. As crazy as it sounds, you need to pedal hard on these great days even though you are going down hill. If you pedal going down hill, you will separate yourself from the pack and make it increasingly harder for them to catch you. Can you think of one or two ways you could just keep pedaling on the days or times that things are just going great for you? Ya just gotta keep pedaling.

Lastly, you have your up hill days. You are late for work, behind on a project, a supplier misses a shipment, car breaks down, budget gets cut – you can imagine what these days feel like, right? Going up hill sucks and it really takes it out of you. But the up hill days and up hill sections of the road are the times that make us stronger, more confident and ready to take on more. When you perform well on the up hill days, this is also when you can break away from the pack. Pedaling up hill requires you to dig down deep, often times deeper than you thought you were capable. Its hard, you sweat, you’re tired. But man, does it feel good when you reach the top, especially when you reach the top ahead of everyone else. Doesn’t it feel good for you? That’s when you throw your arms in the air in victory like Lance Armstrong. You have won! And you won because you just kept pedaling hard.

You have control over more things in your life than you give yourself credit for. Choosing your attitude each and every day is critical to success. And selecting an attitude that inspires you to just keep pedaling – no matter what – makes you pull away from the pack. And you can’t win if you are mired back in the pack. So I encourage you to just keep pedaling.

So, what is your hill to climb? What do you want to overcome so that you can just keep pedaling? What goals are you ready to make yours and publicly commit to today? I would love to partner with you on this ride to make your journey successful. I will be your drafting partner helping along the whole race. We can make it the Tour de You!

And see here’s the thing, I finished that triathlon at my target time because I just kept paddling, pedaling and running without ever stopping and by using the goal as my motivation. In fact, my pedaling time was in the top 20% of all competitors and overall I finished 42nd out of 93 participants. I know where I can pedal harder next time, and that is the beauty of trying – not only do you achieve great things but you also learn valuable lessons.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

You Did That On Purpose, Didn’t You?

Do you remember those times as a kid when someone would wrong you in some way and you would say: “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” You knew they did, but unlikely they would ever admit to hitting you, touching your food, talking badly about you, pushing you or whatever. The thing is they did it on purpose even if they said they didn’t.

See, here’s the thing. Doing something on purpose means there was intention. With intention there is a drive to do something specific. And when you set out to do something very specific and with a purpose – a motivation – you are more likely to achieve the goal. Hmmm … interesting.

So whether it is for good or for evil, setting a goal to do something on purpose – to be intentional – is a key ingredient to being successful at what you desire to achieve. It is happening all around you, every day. Even you are doing it. You just might not know it or even know the power of thinking and acting with a purpose. Pay attention and you will see what I mean.

Success at trying something new is enabled by diving in with a committed and clear mindset that is moving towards a defined target. Meandering along hoping for – wishing for – the good things to happen is simply a gamble. Expecting what you want either out of yourself or those that are around you (family, employees, teammates) to “just happen” … well, it ain’t gonna “just happen”. Not with any predictability or control, that is. Hope is not a plan!

It is my belief that you begin to become amazing - you begin to make progress - precisely and specifically at the point that you cross over the boundaries of your comfort zone. If you are in your comfort zone it isn’t progress – it is repeating what you already know. And that is old news!

Be curious! Dangle your toes over the edge a little! Plan, act and lead with a purpose! And inspire those around you to play along with you. I guarantee you it will feel really amazing and you are going to have fun like never before. Maybe scary fun at first, but it is oh so worth it.

By way of example of acting with intention, I am on a three-day work retreat of sorts this week. A retreat with and for myself. I am working remotely in our motorhome, parked on the shore of the Youghiogheny river near Pittsburgh. I am here for a purpose and with a TO DO list of both strategic and tactical things to achieve in these three days. I am not here relaxing (ok, maybe just a little). I intentionally left home for a few days to allow my mind to be singly focused without distractions and I arrived with goals defined. On day one, I knocked out nine of my sixteen goals. On day two, I have two really large objectives to achieve. Day three will complete the remaining items. And I know if I were in my office at home I wouldn’t be this productive or focused.

Planning and acting with a purpose. Being intentional with not only the WHAT but also the WHY of things. Sharing your goals with others – so they know what you want and maybe so they can even help you get there. And making an amazingly meaningful connection with … yourself. The outcomes are yours to keep!

One final thought to leave you with today. At the National Speakers Association annual convention that I attended last week, Mike Rayburn said this: “Have you resolved to be the best? Or are you coasting? Just remember, coasting only happens when you are going downhill.”  

Your life (and your business) becomes amazing when you do. And your life is happening right here, right now. Make it amazing – I dare ya!