Tag Archives: Target

Number One Regret of the Dying

If you’ve ever heard me speak, you know I’m not a real Debbie Downer. But today’s post is a little more serious. It’s about dying with regrets. In the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, nurse Bronnie Ware discovered that the regrets of the dying boil down to five general attitudes. Over the next few posts I’d like to explore their regrets with you, in hopes that we all can avoid them.

This week I want to focus on just one—the Number 1 regret of the dying…

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

As a chronic people-pleaser, this regret hits uncomfortably close to home. How many times have I stifled my dreams, goals and even my identity in order to comply with others? How many times have I yielded to the beliefs and expectations of people around me—instead of pursuing the things that would have brought me the greatest fulfillment.

Here’s some of the “expectations” that I wrestled with for quite some time:

“Starting your own business in this economy is not a good idea. It’s better to stick with a job at a bigger, more stable corporation.”

“This is the way it’s always been done.”

“If you can’t do something perfectly the first time, why try it at all?”

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized something quite profound. The people with expectations of you are not living your life. Deep, right?

But seriously, if I had always yielded to the expectations of others, I would have missed out on the best experiences I’ve had in this life so far!

  • Falling in love with my bride Tina.
  • Starting my own company
  • Writing two books (and working on a third!)
  • Owning up to the fact that I hate eating green things.

In every one of the situations I mentioned, I’ve had some opposition. Sometimes people are jealous of your own dreams and ambitions. Even more often, they are afraid of change. Expect it. Better yet, embrace it! After all, the people you believe are putting down your ideas might actually be some of your greatest allies in your success. Consider their critiques. Let them force you to reexamine your dreams and your plans so that you can refine them and make them even better. I talk about this for an entire chapter in my book Leadership Redefined.

In Ware’s book, she notes that, “Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.” Don’t let the expectations of others hold you back—because one day your body will. Let go of people-pleasing today, and die without regrets.

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.

Extract a Dream

This is Part 2 of a 12 part series that I call the 12 X’s of Leadership

For the last 20 years, the shelves in bookstores have been filled with self-help books. Their titles vary from toilet training your kids to building an airplane in your garage to learning how to become a millionaire. While these books cover every imaginable topic they almost all have one common thread.

  • A goal.
  • A dream.
  • A target.

All these books play on the same driving force found within each of us…we want to get somewhere, become something, develop some aspect of our life…fulfill a dream.

Dreams/Goals/Targets are the motivators behind behavior. These are the things that cause us to stay later, push harder, work faster. They give our lives meaning, value, desire, and even hope…and hope is something we all desperately need.

As Oprah’s buddy, Maya Angelou, put it, “Hope in the future brings power to the present.”

It is the dream/hope of a championship season that gives a football player the power to get through two-a-days in the heat of August. It is the dream/hope of parenthood that helps an expecting mom have the power to get through the pain of childbirth. It is the dream/goal/target to get healthy and lose that extra weight that gives an individual the power to make certain sacrifices and changes in their life to get there.

What is your dream? What is your goal? What is your target? What are you shooting for? What is driving you?

American leadership guru Peter Drucker, puts it this way, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Or, as Stephen Covey would add, “Begin with the end in mind.”

If you feel like you have “stalled out” in life, it is time to reconnect with or Extract a Dream.