Partner with your Strengths. They Are Ready to Serve You

Without our strengths, we would not be able to dispel threats, dangers and alarms. We would not be able to demonstrate skill, or show off, or be able to intercede when necessary.  Strengths are like breathing. We need to use them and often do, without thinking. The problem is like breathing, if we don’t know how to use them in various conditions, they may not be able to serve us when we need them most.

If you were in a smoke-filled house, wouldn’t it be important to know how to hold your breath as you got past the smoke; the smoke that kills more people than fire?  Your strengths are also how you show yourself to the world around you. When you want to impress, when you want to show off, when you want to make a statement or add value to a situation, you call on your strengths to “introduce” you. Your strengths are how people see you. They are a tangible representation of who you are.  We use them to perform and most people judge us by our performances.

Researchers in positive psychology have discovered that when we identify and regularly use our signature character strengths, life becomes more satisfying and meaningful.

Strengths are what I call your “Outer Cloak.” They are what you “wear” when you are out in the world expressing yourself, when you want to make an impression, when you need to accomplish a task or serious endeavor. You use your strengths. For example, you might express your strength in generosity when you are out with friends, your ability to organize in accomplishing a task, or your ability to persevere when undertaking serious endeavor.

Most of the time, however, you are unaware of the strengths you are applying. Most of the time you are unaware of how others see these strengths in you.

How do your top three strengths add meaning to your life? Let me know as I would like to hear what you say.

The Importance of Living a Meaningful Life Through Your Values

Values provide us a compass by which we live our lives. Although values are always present, we rarely give them much thought. Much like a compass we use on an unfamiliar hike, values provide us the platform from which we direct our lives. We judge based on the consistency of values utilized by someone.

 

The Barrett Values Center, in 2010, found, in researching more than two thousand private and public institutions in more than sixty countries, that: “Values-driven organizations are the most successful organizations on the planet. They found that values drive the culture as well as contribute to the employees’ fulfillment. In the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, the noted the same outcome in companies they observed over several decades.

 

Martin Seligman, a leader in the positive psychology movement, found, through his questionnaire, that signature strengths and values fundamentally contribute to a meaningful life.

 

I remember, many years ago, thinking that emotions were fleeting and mercurial. They seemed to be missing a key ingredient to living fully.  When I was first introduced to the concept of values I thought they were a wonderful state to aspire to.  Years later, when I identified my core values, I felt a strong resonance and connection to my life. I realized that I could live from my values and when I did, life was clearer and more satisfying, with richer meaning and depth. I realized that they were my compass, the one I had been missing and to which my emotions could not relate.

 

What are your values? How cognizant are you of them on a daily basis?

Being “The Greatest” Lets You Shine

Remember the phrase: “I am the greatest!”? It was a statement proclaimed repeatedly, in different ways, by the great boxer Muhammed Ali to reporters and to his opponent. He believed it and he became it. Which came first, his belief or his statement? I do not know. I do understand it was one of the tools he used to become the icon he became.

 

You may not be a boxer who needs to pump yourself up before the fight, however, you are someone who I would like to consider the phrase “I am the greatest!” for a moment and say it to yourself, for you are the greatest. You are unique and the greatest in something you do, how you do it or in who you are. The question is: How are you the greatest?

 

To find out the answer to this question, ask yourself: “What are the values you hold dearest to your heart?” and then list your top three. These are the values that identify your greatness. So, take the time to identify and define them. Then, use them to guide your decisions, your actions and your movements.

 

You are the greatest. Now, let that part of you shine.

The First Step to Living a Significant, Relevant, and Connected Retirement

The 2016 professional tennis season is winding down. The final Masters 1000 tournament is underway and will determine the final two singles players and final doubles team who will gain admission in the prestigious world tour final tournament in London later this month.  Sampras, Agassi, Becker, Lendl and McEnroe may be familiar names of a few retired players who have won this tournament more than once. But I want to draw our attention to Agassi, who won this year end tournament once, and what he had to say about retiring, because for some, the thought of retiring is daunting.

Preparing for retirement filled Andre Agassi with dread. As he said: “It’s like preparing for death. Nobody knows what it’s going to feel like and nobody knows when it is going to happen and when it does, it’s your time.”  Agassi was not ready to retire.

I hear a similar thought of dread from those I talk to nearing retirement. They do not want to satisfy someone else’s “to do” list, they do not want to become recluse travelers. They do not want to be the default baby sitters for their grandchildren. They want to be engaged with their children and grandchildren. They want to travel and pick up dormant hobbies. They do not want to a life directed by someone else. They want to live relevant, significant and connected lives. But how?

Leaving a business you built or a career you designed can be a tough proposition.  How can you transition out of your company to a new chapter of life where you can keep the feelings that matter to you-significance, relevance, and meaningful connection alive?

The first step to take is to look at the footprint you want to make that you will then leave behind. Find the outline of that footprint by reconnecting with what is most important to you, your values, and finding a way to express yourself through them. Take the time to look at the meaning of your values to you and build a personal mission statement that reflects these profound meanings you have for them.

Remember, retirer merely means to draw again. So, now, draw that outline of a footprint you want to have and to leave behind as your legacy.

Agassi focused on the outline of his footprint, his values, and then created the footprint he is now developing and building. You can too.

For more tools, click here: http://www.focusandsustain.com/life-focus to see what would be wise for you to focus on so you can live a rich and meaningful retirement.

Tell me what you have observed as you engage with those reluctant to or avoiding retiring.  I would love to read your comment.  \

 

Reflecting

 

 

The 2nd Most Important Day in Your Life Is…

Millennials, currently under the microscope of researchers and data collectors, have been found to want to be involved in something that matters. Studies say that 87% of Millennials take into account a company’s commitment to social and environmental causes as they decide where to work.  That’s a big percentage of people looking to plug in to what matters.

 

Baby boomers, moving into retirement in huge numbers fear that retirement means retreating into irrelevancy. Shell Oil and independently the University of Zurich, found that there is a strong correlation between a rudderless retirement and early death. They each found that there is an 89% chance of death within 10 years for those without a purpose than those who have one.

 

As Mark Twain brilliantly stated: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born…and the day you find out why.”

 

Having a purpose provides a foundation for motivation and for developing the meaning in our lives that one day becomes our legacy.

 

How have you found a purpose in your life benefit you? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Even a Family Tree Needs Nourished Roots to Flourish.

I know where my roots are because I read the last name of my great, great, great, great grandfather on a dividend check I receive from the family every quarter. My last name is not the same as the ‘founding father’ as I come from one of the branches, not the trunk of the family tree.” That was the beginning of a recent encounter with a Gen Y member of a family that continues to build and develop its legacy now into its sixth generation.

He continued: “I’ve Googled the man we see pictures of at the family reunions because I needed to know more about our origins. I felt isolated from the roots.  I needed to know who he was and find out what we had in common. Although it was weird to have to research him online, I discovered something in my research.”   And this is where his matter of fact tone became excited like he had just found out where the hidden treasure he had been seeking was buried.

“I discovered that, although I have a different last name than he, I am a lot like him; an entrepreneur who really enjoys the challenges and payoffs of risk in business, someone who enjoys building businesses. In fact, one of my uncles recognized the commonality between me and 5 times great grandfather. This uncle has the same last name as our ancestor. He told me that I hold the spirit of our ancestor and wanted to nourish that in me.”

What stunned this Millennial family member was, even with their annual meetings and reunion, how removed from the family tree some family members felt.  This Millennial noticed how comfortable his generation was in receiving dividends from the family fortune and not asking any questions about its origin, its continuation, its purpose, or how they could impact its amount. The family no longer even talked about the meaning of the money or where it came from. They just wanted it to feed their lifestyles without contributing to its growth or its maintenance.

This Gen Yer asked and was given the opportunity to make a presentation at a recent family reunion. He titled it: ‘Don’t Kill the Tree.’ He talked about the value of the roots, his great, great, great, great grandfather had set to sustain their family for generations. He said he felt uncomfortable with receiving a check every quarter for doing nothing.  He introduced an idea to the family, a new tradition of mentoring. New family members would be coached by an established member in understanding the history of their family’s financial success and tie it to the principles the family was founded on.  He wanted and wanted others to know the value of the money they were receiving.

This young man earns my applause.  He understands that the dividends, while providing income, will not, in itself, keep the family together. As this young man noted about his family, the continuing dividend made his family quiet, complacent and uninvolved. He wanted to bring the heart and heartbeat back to the family tree, restore the essence of his family and the values expressed by the ‘roots’, his great, great, great, great, grandfather set. All it takes is nourishing the root of the tree.

What is your family doing to nourish its roots for generations to come? What do you see other families doing to sustain their roots?  Leave a comment.

Discovering Your Purpose leads to Discovering Your Principles

John Stuart Mill was a 19th century British philosopher and economist who championed the importance of creating and living a purposeful life. He came upon his meaningful life from astonishing circumstances.

When he was a small child he was merely an experiment for his father’s obsessive exploration. The young Mills was fed a steady and unbending diet of natural sciences, classical literature and classical music. All else was considered folly and not permitted around or in in John’s presence.  As Mills later accounted, “My emotions were starved while my mind was violently over-developed.”

By the age of twelve, Mills was as erudite as a thirty-year old. His father was pleased and the experiment continued. Finally, in early adulthood, John suffered a mental breakdown. Although he was an elite intellectually, he felt empty.  Like a muscle that breaks down and atrophies from disuse, this young man found his emotions were unhealthy from lack of use for his entire life.  He had no idea how to even access them. This breakdown led him to a story by the nearly forgotten French writer, Marmontel. The story, about the death of a father, moved Mills to tears, and beyond that, it planted seeds of emotions in him: emotions of sadness, guilt, shame, love and fear. This, as you can imagine, changed his life. Not only was this world of emotions overwhelming and accompanied by feelings of being out of control, he also felt drawn to exploring and understanding these emotions that were stronger than his mental ability to shut them down.

Once starved of a mighty element to life, the magnetism and effect of emotions, Mills now decided to dedicate his life to exploring the true meaning of life. From his explorations, Mills brought to the public a keen insight and understanding of two mighty principles, the principles of liberty and justice. If you would like to read further into his insights into these principles, his 1821 book: On Liberty and The Utilitarianism will provide you with more insight and information.

Whether you find it in the writings of John Stuart Mills, through my work in guiding people to live their purposeful life or if you find it through the neuro-scientific discoveries, it can’t be stated emphatically strongly enough: finding, developing and sharpening your purpose in life gives you more of a feeling of your own sense of happiness and value in life.

Does your life have purpose and as a result, meaningful direction? Let me know your thoughts, challenges or breakthroughs on living a life of meaning and significance.

My 2015 Favs: Books, Movies, Music and Photos

In the spirit of year end Favs, for my final blog of the year I will share with you an assortment of my FAV books, movies, music and photos of 2015. I hope you enjoy the list.

 

Movies:

I don’t watch very much TV. Instead, on a weekend evening and when I have the time, I enjoy watching a movie. I’ve seen some clunkers and some spellbinders. A few spellbinders I saw this year were:

 

To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck. This 1962 movie is set in the rural south where a widowed lawyer chooses to defend a black man on trial for fabricated rape charges. This was a compelling movie as it brought to light the banality of racism and stereotyping. If you haven’t seen it, it is considered one of the top 100 films of all time.

 

Whiplash co-starring Golden Globe winner J.K. Simmons for his unrelenting role as the jazz ensemble’s ruthless director. This 2014 movie brought up a lot of questions for me, like: How far is too far to go in pursuing a dream? How far is too far in pushing others to their best/success? How do we disconnect from that magnetic yet harmful personality of a ruthless leader? It was a very haunting movie focused on the relationship between the director and the aspiring and talented jazz drummer played by Miles Teller. When I watched the trailers earlier in the year I thought it might be too manipulative but it wasn’t. It was haunting.

 

Inside Out, a 2015 Disney animation which surprisingly worked. When I first realized we were inside someone’s brain and watching their key emotions, from the inside out, I thought it was going to quickly resolve into simple and safe clichés. It didn’t. This story inside the mind of 11 year-old Ripley worked…very well. Kudos to Pete Docter, the writer, who took 4 years grappling with which emotions to develop and which to drop to get the story down just right.  I think it will be an Oscar nominee.

 

Books:

I have been a prolific reader for the past 7 years as I search for the books that reveal to me direction, strategy, support and information to benefit me, my work and those I serve.

 

Shame: The Power of Caring by Gershan Kaufman is a book about shame, how it occurs, develops and as importantly how one can disengage from it. Kaufman provided a lot of in depth descriptions and examples of how shame manifests and affects people’s lives. I found it to be an insightful and easy read.  I appreciated the depth of understanding the author had of shame. He wrote that to live with shame is to feel alienated and defeated, never quite good enough to belong. “The result of such differential shaming on identity is striking: women are left to seek their identity through relatedness and identification whereas men must continually seek their identity through power and differentiation.”

 

The Dhando Investor: The Low Risk Value Method to High Returns by Mohnish Pabrai. He tells us: “We have all been taught that earning high rates of return requires taking on greater risks. Dhando flips this concept around. Dhando is all about the minimization of risk while maximizing the reward.” It may sound easy but it the analysis it takes to find the investments worthy of succeeding with this strategy takes discipline, fortitude and courage. His examples were clear and relevant. He brought both the passion and the experience to back up his perspective. I like the logic in this style of investing.

 

Where the Red Fern Grows: The Story of Two Dogs and a Boy by Wilson Rawls. I was told this book was a great book…for 8-14 year olds. I thought, “Let me see if I can relate.” And sure enough… As I shared with others how much I enjoyed this book, I was amazed at how many adults had already read this 1961 novel and loved it. It is a story about a boy who finally is able to save the money he needs to buy himself a coon. Set in the Ozarks, Rawl takes his readers through a journey of relationships between the boy and his dogs, his grandfather, other kids, his parents, his sister and himself. It was a book about facing challenges, building confidence, and most of all a story of a boy’s love for and life with his dogs sharing adversity, triumph, life and death. This was my favorite book of the year.

 

Music:

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 with Van Cliburn at the piano. When I play this concerto, I can’t help but play it over and over again. I love the time changes, I love the beginning, I love the end. I love the 15 minutes in between with its power, its softness, and its majesty.

 

I love melody and I love a strong female voice. When I put the two together, the genre where I find artists, because melody lives there, is country. Because I am drawn to a strong voice, I really liked Carrie Underwood’s “Something’s in the Water.” I felt she nailed that song.

 

I have written some tunes and one that returned to my playlist and live performances was Road to Liberation, a song I wrote in the 1980s. A line that jumps out early and I love is: “There is no forest that is too rough to clear, there is no torment that cannot be healed.”

 

What is on your list? Let me know. I would love to hear from you.

And as a bonus, I give you these two photos as fav photos I took this year:

raindrops at practice2013.06.02.Kirkland.Juanita Bay Park.duck042 final bvt

Happy 2016!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You for Being Part of My Fulfilling Year

Reflecting

 

Thank you for who you are to me—people of grace and profound commitment to bringing a richer weave to the fabric of life-your own and the world around you.

 

When I reflect on you,

You who have deliberately chosen to direct your lives

Purposefully and with great meaning

I see shimmering stars lighting my path

I see the beauty of persistence and determination in you.

 

As I think of you

I feel the essence of the freedom you feel

When enduring strength and power replace your initial fears and doubt.

I am touched by your commitment to being your best

With your Legacy, your Life and your Money

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

We welcome your comments

What is so Cool about Having a Mission Statement?

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily routines and activities. They only lead you so far. Eventually you get bored, move on to the next one or look for something else to fill your time. Meanwhile your core self is left out of expressing yourself and your mission can give you that extra reason for being. It begins to yearn to be known. A great way to express your core self is by declaring your mission. What exactly are you here to be and do? It is a reason for being.  Read what others have said about the value to having your own mission statement.

 

“Perhaps there are those who are able to go about their lives unfettered by such concerns. But for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans, chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents. There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end, as best we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm.” Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans

 

Mission and purpose, well understood and implemented, often provides the vest of internal audit” controls.” C. William Pollard, The Soul of the Firm

 

“With purpose and mission, with your behavioral goals in place, when you have your plan in place to solve the real problem, you don’t need to bring in the roller coaster of emotions.” Jim Camp, Starting with NO

 

“Has your soul a special mission? Yes. Your mission is in the inmost recesses of your heart, and you have to find and fulfil it there. There can be no external way for you to fulfil your mission. The deer grows musk in his own body. He smells it and becomes enchanted, and tries to locate its source. He runs and runs, but he cannot find the source. In his endless search, he loses all his energy and finally he dies. But the source he was so desperately searching for was within himself. How could he find it elsewhere? Such is the case with you. Your special mission- which is the fulfilment of your divinity- is not outside you, but within you.   Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life; The Journey Of India’s Soul

 

Starbucks mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” “It is our mission to make sure the world sees us through those lenses.” Their Mission Statement is found on their website. Their original mission statement was: “Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow. The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions.”  Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing its Soul

 

“What do we value? What is our family all about? What do we stand for? What is our essential mission, our reason for being?Stephen R. Covey, Principle Centered Leadership

“Vision is the what, purpose (mission) is the why and core values answers the question: ‘How do we want to act, consistent with our mission, along the path toward achieving our vision.” Peter M. Senge,

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

 

Do you have a mission statement? If so, let us know what your mission statement has given you.