Tag Archives: Goals

Do You Like What You Do?

Such a simple question, but the ramifications of your answer have a lot to do with your enjoyment of life. Whether you are the CEO of a company or the CEO of a home, you spend most of your time “doing” it. So, do you enjoy it?

Well according to the Gallup organization only 20% of people can answer that simple question with a resounding “Yes!”

Here is what is so interesting…built into the DNA of each and every one of us is the need to do something—and in a perfect world, to enjoy doing it. It is great to have something to look forward to every day. Not only that, but what we do often contributes directly to our identity.

When people are first getting to know each other, what is one of the first questions asked: “So, what do you do?” If your answer to that question is something you find fulfilling and meaningful, you feel so much better about yourself than if your answer leaves you flat and uninspired.

Believe it or not, enjoying what you do has a major impact on many of the other areas of your life: relationships, physical health, and financial security for example.

Think about it this way, if you have wonderful relationships, stable financial security, and good physical health—but you don’t like what you do every day…chances are pretty good that much of your social time is spent complaining about your lousy job (not very fun as it pulls everyone else around you down).  You also spend a great deal of your time away from work worrying about having to go back to it (which ruins your time away from it). And all that worry, dread, and anxiety about work can have a negative impact on your health.

Many have fallen into the trap that work is just a necessary evil and it is certainly not something to be enjoyed. But that’s not true. One of the essentials to having fun at work and enjoying what you do is getting the opportunity to use your strengths every day.  According to the Gallup organization people who have the opportunity to use their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.

What do you enjoy about your job? What are you good at? Figure out how to do more of it. Get creative. Swap tasks with some of your colleagues. Talk to your boss about it. Enjoying what you do is a “win” for everyone.

The Power of Hope

One of my favorite sayings is “Hope in the future brings power to the present.” You see the truth in that saying played out all the time.

It is the hope of a championship season gives a football player the will to get through two-a-days in the heat of August. The hope of becoming a positive influence on a child’s life drives teachers and educators. The hope of getting healthy and losing weight gives a person the motivation to skip the cheesecake and spend an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill. The hope of a normal life gives an addict the push through rehab and the drive to make the conscious decision not to use. The Bible is filled with Scriptures that relate to the power of hope. The casino industry, and state lotteries, too, are entire industries that play upon people’s hopes of striking it big.

And science even suggests that hope can heal. Think about the well-documented placebo effect: Study after study reports that patients who are given a sugar pill or other form of inactive substance in place of real medication often report feeling better.

A story in The Light, a book by author and journalist Mike Evans, illustrates the power of hope. Evans describes a group of scientists who performed an experiment using rats, aiming to uncover how outside factors affected their will to live.

One rat was placed in a large tub of water with sides high enough to prevent it from getting out. In addition, the room was pitch black. The researchers timed how long the rat would keep swimming before it gave up. The creature struggled for a little more than three minutes before giving up.

In the next part of the experiment, the researchers placed another rat in the same tub of water. But this time, they placed a bright light into the room. The second rat swam for more than 36 hours – that’s 700 times longer than the rat with no light.

The reason for that determination? The second rat literally saw the light at the end of the tub. In other words, it had hope, a reason to keep swimming.

It’s the same with humans. Without hope, without a light to move toward and focus on, we flail about in the tub of life like, well, a drowning rat in the darkness. Reconnect with what gives you hope, focus on it, and move toward it.

Barriers Can Make You Better

I am writing these words on March 27th. For basketball fans across the country and around the world, March Madness is in full bloom. And with the field shrinking down to Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four, this year’s tournament has been filled with surprises.

As it happens every year, there have been a number of great games go down to final shots. There have also been plenty of great story lines filled with upsets, bracket busters, and Cinderellas. On one end of the spectrum there has been lots of second-guessing, hand-wringing, and head-hanging. On the other end standing ovations, celebrations, and jubilation.

As each college basketball season comes to a close I am always reminded of the amazing feat accomplished by the UCLA Bruins during their unprecedented 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships in 12 seasons from 1963 to 1975.

During that amazing run, UCLA had a number of truly great players but, arguably, the greatest was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). His athleticism and ability to dunk the basketball made him stand out like a man among boys on the court.

But between his sophomore and junior years at UCLA, the NCAA Rules Committee made a rule change that outlawed the dunk shot. It was widely believed that the committee had instituted this change with the single goal of lessening Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance during games.

At first, Kareem was devastated. He perceived this as a huge barrier to his success. A giant obstacle thrown in his path. But his coach challenged his perspective and told him to look at this barrier as a way to raise his game to a higher level. As he later wrote in his autobiography, Kareem:

“At the time, Coach Wooden told me it would only make me a better player, helping me develop a softer touch around the basket. This I could use to good advantage in the pros, where I could also, once again, use the dunk shot. He was right. It didn’t hurt me. I worked twice as hard at banking my shots off the glass, on turn-around jump shots, and on my hook. [This barrier] made me a better all-around player.”

Just as the “no dunk rule” barrier caused Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to develop more of his potential by forcing him to focus on other skills and abilities so too can barriers have the same impact on our lives.

Whether the barrier you face is new technology, a new competitor, a challenging student or an economic downturn, remember barriers can truly help us to become even better than we were before.

Focus on the Right Things

On August 13, 2004, US Olympic athlete, Matthew Emmons won a gold medal in Rifle shooting in the 2004 Summer Olympic games in Athens and he was set to win his second gold medal of the games in another event. He had a commanding lead as the competition came to an end and was hoping to bury the field with a bull’s eye on his final shot.

He concentrated, exhaled, and squeezed the shot off…PERFECTION!  But there was something wrong…Matt hit the bull’s eye, all right, but it was on the wrong target! His focus had been on the wrong thing.  That error dropped him from standing atop the podium at the medal ceremony to eighth place and it cost him the gold medal.

While news of his mistake raced through the Olympic Village, many could not believe Emmons had done something like that. I probably would have gotten caught up in some “Emmons Joking” of my own if I had been there…but then again, I have been there…and I have missed targets of my own.

Haven’t you?

Like the time I lost my temper and blasted one of my direct reports in front of others…that is not “hitting the target” of how I want to be as a leader.  Or how about the time I was so focused on completing a project at work that I completely missed my daughter’s championship soccer game. Talk about missing the target?!  And you know what, I can’t even tell you today what I was working on that was so important back then…I have no recollection of it. But I still remember missing her game.

There are times when we can get “tunnel vision” and become so focused on a target that we lose sight of the target.

Take a moment and reflect on what is the target for today…stay focused on the right thing.

Exhibit an Attitude of Optimistic Confidence

This is part 11 of a 12 part series that I call the 12 X’s of Leadership.

Leaders see themselves succeeding. They have the ability to look into the future and literally see themselves obtaining their goal. Hitting their target.

Positive visualization is a crucial element in becoming a great leader and it is a powerful tool to help you accomplish any goal you set.

I saw this dramatically played out as my daughter Lindsey prepared for her first Equestrian event as a “show jumper” many years ago. In a nut shell, for me, show jumping was watching my little wisp of a daughter, 10 years old, climb up on the back of a 700 pound wild animal she called Yoo Hoo and ride around in an arena surrounded by hundreds of people and leap over small buildings. (Ok, that’s what it looked like to me anyway.) It scared me.

We got Lindsey an amazing trainer to help her learn how to compete in this sport (honestly, all I knew about horses was which end the food went in and which end it came out and to stay away from both ends).

I was more than a little worried when “my baby” climbed up upon this 700 lb “wild beast”. They trained for months with Lindsey progressing rapidly in her learning. She was a natural.

Then one day her trainer, Jason, proclaimed her ready to compete and signed her up for a huge show. We had one week to get ready. Jason informed us that the week before a show was critical and that he wanted to work with Lindsey every afternoon with her completely dressed in her “competition outfit”.

We arrived for the first pre-competition practice and Yoo Hoo was nowhere to be seen. Jason said Yoo Hoo was ready but Lindsey was not. He proceeded to sit her on top of the fence that surrounded the riding area at the stable and they rode the course over and over in Lindsey’s mind.

Jason taught her that she had to “see” herself succeeding, that she had to visualize herself flawlessly running the course: elbows in, thumbs up, heels down, change leads, lean into the jump. Time and time again they ran the course in Lindsey’s head. She knew it. She saw herself conquering it. She exhibited an attitude of optimistic confidence

The following Saturday I watched my girl win her first blue ribbon and learn a lifelong lesson: Rather than focus on the obstacles in the course of life, focus on getting over them, beating them, and achieving your goal.