Tag Archives: Goals

Who is Your Person?

Have you ever had a day when it felt like the universe had conspired against you? Or like you were the statue the pigeons were using for target practice?

You know what I’m talking about. You were late to work, there were staff issues you didn’t have time to deal with at the office, your flight was delayed and then you presented to several hundred people without realizing your fly was open? (Ok, maybe that last one only happens to me.) But we all have days where catastrophe seems to follow us around like the paparazzi surrounding Lindsay Lohan on her first day out of rehab.

On days like that, I call my Person.

Just about everyone has a Person. The one you know won’t care that you’re angry or frustrated or upset. The one you don’t have to pretend with. Your person might be the only one who knows you’re having a bad day, or they’re the only one who knows why you’re having a bad day. It could be a co-worker, a dear friend, parent, spouse or supervisor. Mine is my wife, Tina.

Tina has the amazing ability to patiently listen to all my worrying, griping about my day, and woe-is-me-style statements, before gently reminding me that the sky is actually not falling just because I had a rough day. She acknowledges my perspective, but also challenges me to question my assumptions, and reframe my view of a situation. She keeps me in reality and in the present moment. I call that feeling  “being centered.” She’s a pro at it. After talking to her I usually feel better, calmer, and not a victim of my circumstances.

As you pursue big goals and tackle huge obstacles, it’s critical to have a Person who centers and encourages you like Tina. Your Person is more than someone you vent to, your Person is someone who is unafraid to shift your focus and give you a not-always-gentle shove in the direction of your goals.

Some of the most successful people in the world have a Person. You may not have heard of Don Graham, Ed Roberts or Gopal Krishna Gokhale, but you might be familiar with their “mentees” Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, and Mahatma Gandhi. A Person understands the challenges of your day-to-day and the best ones will encourage you to create solutions instead of focusing on problems.

Sharing your goals and struggles with a Person can help you make huge strides towards achieving those goals.

When considering who might be a good person for you, outline what it is you really want from them—Stress management tips? Encouragement for a new idea? Insight on parenting? Spiritual growth? This will help you narrow down which people in your circles might make a great Person. Don’t restrict yourself to people in your school, company, or circle of friends. Your Person might be a CEO in another industry that you know from church, a neighbor who is very involved in a social project that inspires you or—gasp!—a family member.

Unsure if one of the people in your life is your Person? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I be authentic about what I am thinking and feeling with this person?
  • Do they listen to my point of view?
  • Does this person challenge me to think about a situation from a different perspective?
  • Does this person suggest taking steps forward, and celebrate when I do?

If you can answer YES to these questions, perhaps you have found your Person.

The only resolution you should make this year

The presents have been unwrapped, the turkey’s been devoured, the crazy relatives have been pushed out the door, and we are all sick and tired of eggnog and Christmas music. It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. While losing weight, hitting your sales goals, or quitting smoking are great goals for next year, I’d like to challenge you to make only one resolution in 2014—and unlike the resolutions mentioned earlier, this one has the potential to transform every aspect of your life—your career, your relationships, your dreams and your health. Are you ready for it??

This year, resolve to keep the main thing the main thing.

Whatever the main thing is for you—a career goal, a desire to invest in certain relationships, or a dream you’re chasing—keeping the main thing the main thing will minimize your distractions and focus your actions with the precision of a laser pointer.

For example, if my “main thing” is to be the best husband and father that I can be, I will be working hard to be a great provider for my family—but I’ll also be curbing my late nights at the office so that I can take my wife on a date or catch a movie with one of the kids. I will learn that talking to my daughter about her day might be more exciting than whatever’s being covered on SportsCenter, or that walking our two energetic dogs with my wife transforms a mundane task into an opportunity to spend time with her. Wanting to live a long, full life with my family motivates me to eat a little better and move a little more. It makes me a better listener, a more productive employee, and a more generous giver.

So as you think about your own resolutions, I hope you identify your main thing, and perhaps a few action steps that you can take in order to keep the main thing the main thing.  May your 2014 be an exciting, successful year—but most of all, may it be the year when you begin to make progress on purpose.

Albert Einstein vs. Billy Graham: Who’s the Smartest?

Arguably, these two names represent two of the most respected men in American history: Einstein for his amazing brain and discoveries and Graham for his amazing wisdom and integrity.

About 10 years ago, community leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their city’s “Favorite Son” to a luncheon honoring him. Battling the effects of Parkinson’s disease, the 81-year-old Graham, who never liked to chase the spotlight, was hesitant to accept, but he finally agreed.

After lunch and a series of speakers praising him, Graham humbly stepped to the podium, looked at the crowd and said, “I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time Magazine as the Man of the Century.”

He continued with a well-known anecdote about Einstein:

As the wild-haired astrophysicist was once traveling by train from Princeton, New Jersey, the conductor came down the aisle, punching passengers’ tickets. When he came to Einstein, the great man reached into his vest and trouser pockets, but he pulled out no ticket. He then looked in his briefcase – still, no ticket. It wasn’t in the seat beside him, either.

The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued punching tickets down the aisle, and as he was about to move to the next car, he noticed Einstein down on his hands and knees, searching under his seat.

The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, please don’t worry, I know who you are. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”

Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”

Always the master of timing, Graham paused as the audience chuckled at that final line. Then Graham continued his story:

See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand-new suit. My children and grandchildren tell me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion.

You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear the news that I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am, I also know where I’m going.



Focus On Your Strengths

An exhausted and jet-lagged dad had just walked in from a brutal week of working and traveling across the country. As he was unpacking, his son burst into his bedroom carrying a baseball bat and ball and excitedly announced, “Dad, you have to see what a great baseball player I am now!”

“All right, son,” the dad replied. “Just let me change my clothes first.”

“Ok, but hurry! You are not going to believe your eyes! I am the greatest baseball player in the world!”

Baseball-kidA few minutes later, the father followed his son into the backyard, where the little boy proceeded to rest the bat on his shoulder, throw the ball up in the air with his left hand, and then quickly grab the bat with both hands and swing as the ball came back down.

On his first attempt, the little boy completely missed the ball. Undaunted, he retrieved the ball, tossed it back up in the air, and swung again, missing. His dad was starting to get a little embarrassed for him and moved in to help.

“No, Dad!” his son said with a huge grin spread across his face. “One more time.”

With a firm resolution he gripped the bat harder, tossed the ball up, and for the third time, swung the bat – and completely missed the ball.

His father’s heart was breaking for his son when the little boy turned and excitedly pronounced, “Do you see what I mean?! I am a great pitcher! Unhittable!”

Sadly, rather than focusing on what we are good at and enjoying life, we tend to focus on our own weaknesses and shortcomings and that tends to drag us down. Choose to focus on your strengths and figure out how to do “those things” more often.

“No” Does Not Mean Game Over

As I travel in airplanes across this great nation of ours, I have the opportunity to meet many different people. Since I am energized by others, me and my seatmate (or, as my wife would tease me, my new best friend) usually end up having a great conversation. I love to hear about people’s dreams and goals and learn what inspires them. Recently though I have begun to see a pattern… folks who have given up on their dream because they have run into opposition.

From the bank not loaning them the money, to a partner backing out, to the deal falling through, to the economy in general—many are throwing up their hands and saying, “Oh well…I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Phooey! Life is full of opposition. And just because you may have run into a stop sign or brick wall, that does not mean the journey is over!  Here is what I mean:

When the Decca Recording Company rejected the Beatles in 1962, the company said it didn’t like the young British group’s sound, claiming that guitar music was on the way out of mainstream popularity.

When Debbi Fields went to a potential investor for her idea of a cookie store, she was told that it was “a bad idea” and that market research indicated that “America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” Fields went on to found Mrs. Fields’ Cookies (and probably added to America’s obesity epidemic in the process. But I digress.)

A Yale University professor similarly labeled Fred Smith’s paper proposing the idea of reliable overnight delivery service “unfeasible.” Smith went on to found Federal Express Corporation, known these days as FedEx.

It’s no secret that every one of the people behind those “bad” or unfeasible ideas created something that has become a household name. Right from the start, they experienced opposition, but they didn’t let it stop them from persevering and taking their idea from dream to reality.

Opposition is a normal part of life. Don’t let it throw you off course or cause you to give up on the dream. Pause, rethink, reevaluate, adjust, and keep moving forward!