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How to Live a Life With Fewer Regrets

That sounds good doesn’t it? It’s hard to live a life with no regrets, but we can certainly live in ways that significantly reduce the number.
In today’s video I talk about one key to coming to the end of your life with fewer regrets.
A lot of us don’t think about the end. That’s why Stephen Covey challenged us to start with the end in mind. So, here’s one thing to start with in your thinking.
Watch now and give me some feedback.



If you have any trouble viewing the video with the link above, watch it on my YouTube channel.
Question: What is one unrealistic expectation of others that you are currently allowing to shape your priorities? Share your answer in the comment section below

 

Personal Development

How to Achieve Greatness as a Leader

Whether you’re a top level executive at a global company or the owner of a small business, if you’ve been successful in the early years of your career, you likely did it the same way. You were extremely good at what you did.

 

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You had (and may still possess) a strong technical ability in some area.

 

I have a client who was a great roofer. I have another client who was great at fixing computers and setting up networks. I have yet another client who was an outstanding estimator and project manager. And because of these qualities their companies grew. I’ve experienced the same thing in building my business.

 

But at some point, your greatness hits a wall. You’re only one person and you can only do so much. It’s called capacity. One person can only produce so much work in 40-50 hours, no matter how good they are and no matter what efficiencies they may gain.

 

Oh I guess you could work 60-80 hours per week. That would increase your capacity…or would it? At some point a person reaches the place of diminishing returns, not to mention the need for some level of work-life balance.

 

After all that, let’s face it; being a great leader is not determined by how much work you produce. It comes from something else entirely.

 

So, what makes a leader great? There are two things.

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Personal Development

Do You Have What it Takes to Be Truly Successful?

Have you ever wondered why there are some people who are wonderfully talented and possess solid skills, but just can’t seem to find a way to succeed, especially over the long haul?

 

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Usually we associate hard work and great skills, or competence, with big success. But you and I both know people that work hard and are incredibly talented, but who always seem to fall short of their full potential. Why is that?

 

It’s because there’s something else that is truly the lynchpin of great, long lasting success. There’s something even more important that prevents people from tripping up or fizzling out, but it’s missing in their case.

 

Here are some questions that will help us move closer to the answer:

  • How do you respond when things around you are falling apart?
  • How do you handle it when others give you feedback on how you can improve your performance?
  • When was the last time you made a significant personal sacrifice for the good of the team?

 

All of these questions speak to the issue of character. In last week’s post I began sharing with you the qualities of people who possess a fully integrated character. In other words, these qualities represent what it means to truly be a person of integrity.

 

We typically associate honesty and follow-through with the word integrity. But it’s much more than that. Last week I shared with you the first three qualities from Dr. Henry Cloud’s best-selling book, “Integrity.” This week I’m going to share the other three.

 

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Personal Development

Are You Really A Person of Integrity?

It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, and typically means slightly different things to different people.  
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  A lot of people use it as a synonym for honesty. Many others look at it more in terms of follow-through – does a person do what they say they’re going to do. Both meanings are common and closely related.   I’ve worked with a lot of CEO’s and leadership teams to identify their core values. I’ve also interviewed hundreds and hundreds of candidates in the hiring process and have consistently asked them what values guide the decisions they make and how they live their lives.   Integrity is the one word I hear more than any other from these exercises. There’s rarely a leadership team or an interviewee that leaves it off their list. After all, who wouldn’t want to be known and recognized for this quality?   But, the word integrity means much more than just honest or good with follow-through. If we go back to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary neither of these words is even mentioned. What is mentioned is:  
  • wholeness, entireness, unbroken state, and
  • the entire, unimpaired state of any thing; sound
  Henry Cloud, in his book, “Integrity” states, “When we are talking about integrity, we are talking about being a whole person, an integrated person, with all of our different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver.”   We’re not talking about perfection. Nobody’s perfect. What we are talking about is character. Ultimately your character will determine whether or not you have what it takes to become truly successful. There are plenty of talented people who’ve never achieved true, lasting success because their character was flawed and did them in.   Let’s take a quick look at three qualities that define a whole, sound, integrated person of character.

Being a Fully Integrated Leader

Henry Cloud went on his book to list six aspects of character that define a person of true integrity. Here are the first three, with my brief explanation. I’ll follow up next week with the other three.   1. The ability to connect authentically. This is about connecting with people at a heart level. You can be a nice person, even a caring person, and still not be able to connect.   The popular term today to describe this is “emotional intelligence” (or EQ). Another word might be empathy. It describes a person’s ability to understand how others are feeling and what they are experiencing. In other words, they get it.   When people feel understood they are more likely to trust. When people perceive that you care but don’t understand, they won’t feel as though you truly have their best interest in mind, that you have their back. They’ll feel the need to look out for themselves and that creates a barrier in the relationship.   Without being able to connect at a heart level, people may like you, but they won’t fully trust you.   2. The ability to be oriented toward the truth. The basic part of this aspect is what we all associate with integrity, which is honesty. The ability to trust what someone is saying is the “cost of entry” in any relationship. Without trust, there is no relationship.   But this goes beyond that basic aspect of truth, to something deeper. It’s also about a person’s willingness and ability to see and acknowledge reality. Some people believe only what they want to be true. People of integrated character are willing to see and face even the hard or disappointing realities.   For example, there have been many leaders over the years who were unwilling to see and adjust to cultural or technological changes. Think Kodak. Others have been unwilling to listen to managers, peers, or subordinates about their blind spots, winding up losing the majority, if not all, of their influence within the organization.   And all-too-many people have ignored family, friends, or coworkers who’ve tried to help them see the self-destructive behaviors in which they were trapped, only to be ruined by them.   3. The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well. A lot of people think that working hard is a huge key to success. But there are a lot of people who work hard that fall far short of big, long-term success. That’s because too many people focus on the “what” of the work (the technical or process side) instead of “who” is doing the work.   Unfortunately, this has too many components to cover in this one blog post, so I’ll pick my personal favorite. Have a clear grasp on your identity, i.e who you are and who you are not.  
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  Be humble yet confident about what you do well and be just as willing to admit and stay away from what you do not do well. Invest your time, energy, and other resources heavily into your areas of talent, gift, and strength.   According to Gallup, it’s important to figure out, and find a way to do, what you do best every day. It’s one of the most important keys to the high levels of competence and fulfillment that will enable you to produce great results on a recurring basis.  
Being a person of integrity goes far beyond telling the truth.

Joe Denner

   

Pressing On

We are all a work-in-progress. The need for development in one or more of these areas is normal and natural. What’s important is the willingness to admit where your shortcomings exist and embracing the changes needed to grow in your character.   Be looking for next week’s post where we’ll cover the last three critical components of fully integrated character.   Question: Which aspect would you like to develop further? [question]person-of-integrity[/question]  
Seize the day!
Personal Development

What Kind Of Wake Are You Leaving?

We have certainly entered the “dog days of summer” here in northern Illinois. Last week you could cut the air with a knife it was so humid. Thankfully, this week has seen some minor relief.  
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  Water sports are definitely a good call for anyone wanting to stay cool. Water skiing and tubing are a couple of my favorites, although I don’t get to do them very often. However, some of you may remember last year when I cracked four ribs trying to barefoot water ski for the very first time. I prefer to forget.   No water skiing or tubing this year, at least not so far. Not even a boat ride. Maybe next week! But that does remind me of an important leadership concept.   What kind of a wake are you leaving?   As you move the through the waters of other people’s lives in your family, community and workplace, what kind of wake are you leaving? Here are a few questions to consider as you look behind you:
  • Are people smiling and laughing? Are people skiing and tubing? Or are there bodies strewn about or floating in the water?
  • Is there a growing string of maturing leaders gliding along, or are there medics and chaplains tending to the wounded and dying?
  Another way to look at it might be to ask, “What is your personal leadership brand?” When people hear your name, what images or emotions emerge? Whatever the answer, as with the earlier mentioned items, it has a powerful and defining impact on your ability to truly lead others.   Some people use fear and intimidation to get what they want from others. In my experience those kind of folks are only likely to get short-term results, if any. Especially as the millennial generation becomes a larger and larger part of the labor force, that kind of behavior will become increasingly ineffective.   There are four things that people want from those they choose to follow.
 

Four Essential Qualities

Leadership requires followership. If nobody is following, then you’re not leading. Following is not something that happens by coercion, but by others choosing.   1. People choose to follow people who know how to follow. I wish I could take credit for coming up with that, but I have to give credit to my friend, Dr. Jeff Myers. But, it rings as true to me today as it did the day I first heard it.   I have interviewed hundreds of candidates for my clients over the years, and I often ask, “What are the leadership qualities that you have come to admire?” While no one has used this specific phrase, they have described it to a tee.   The number one way people describe it is: someone who won’t ask anyone else to do something they aren’t willing to do themselves. Or, they are very willing to get in the trenches with us and get their hands dirty.   The best way I know how to describe it is by using the word “humility.” They aren’t arrogant nor do they think themselves above others. Jim Collins’ research bore this out as told in his bestselling book, “Good to Great.” This was the #1 quality of the leaders of the “great” companies.   2. People choose to follow people who care about them. John Maxwell is famous for saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring opens the door to following because when people sense that you genuinely care they feel safe.   When you are confident that someone has your best interest in mind, you don’t feel the need to protect yourself from them. You are much more inclined to entrust yourself to them. That’s ultimately what following is about.   That feels too mushy for some. All I have to say is, “too bad.” That’s the way it is and if you ignore it you’ll be the one who loses in the end. It’s not about being emotional, it’s about having and demonstrating a genuine concern for the needs of others.   One of my favorite books is called, “Leadership and Self-Deception.” It sums it up this way. Do you think about people as people, or objects? Before you answer too quickly, think about it again.   Other people have needs, wants, hopes, dreams just like you do. Objects are to be used for your own ends. I challenge you to be blisteringly honest about how you really view the other people in your family and at work.  
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  3. People choose to follow those who provide stability. People want a smooth ride. They know there’s turbulence ahead, somewhere, sometime. But they are looking for those who are able to ride out the storm and wind up still floating.   There are two things that I think are key here, both about which I have written previously. The first one is leading with a stable set of core values. Values drive behavior. Consistency in this area means that people know what to expect from you.   The second one is leading with transparency. In the absence of information, people tend to assume the negative. That is human nature. You need to supply the storyline or others will write it for you, and it won’t be pretty. Just think “soap opera,” and you’ll get the idea.   4. People choose to follow those who give them hope. A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Whoever provides the most hope wins the heart.”   Giving people hope is about showing them the possibilities, painting a picture of a desirable future, and instilling confidence in our ability to get there together.   Read my previous blog about how Brooks, Lewis & Clark, Churchill and King Jr., all who faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, inspired people to follow them all the way to victory.  
Following is not something that happens by coercion, but by others choosing.

Joe Denner

   

What Will It Be?

So, what kind of wake are you leaving? When they hear your name, what images and emotions emerge?   You are ultimately in control of how others will consistently answer those questions about you. Decide right now what you want the answers to be and then live and lead like you mean it.   Question: What is one thing you can do today to begin creating the wake you want? [question]leaving-wake[/question]  
Seize the day!
Personal Development

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