Eliminating the Gap Between Good Intentions and Follow Through

As Thomas Jefferson said: “If you want something that you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” 
The gap between getting from point A to B is one of personal fortitude.  A key attribute between meeting your intentions by following through is related to how much ownership you possess.  

Jefferson appears to imply that getting a result is inherent on how much you desire to follow through.  

Sadly, good intentions miss the mark when our desire is based on something other than having clear ownership for the goal.

Closing the Saying and Doing Gap

What are the qualities needed to follow through? 

  1. Explore how much you want something.  Know what it means to you, and why.  Failure to answer the why…you need to question whether you have the right objective.
  2. Does your heart (beliefs, feelings) tell you that you’re on the right track?
  3. Make a ‘graded task assignment’ – break the follow through into manageable chunks. 
  4. Create an accountability structure.  Who is going to keep you accountable for getting there. Set up reporting periods.
  5. Examine what failing would be like.  What are the consequences of inaction?  What are the costs and benefits?
  6. What do successes look like?  What is the payoff to follow through?

Develop the spirit to stretch beyond what you think is your capability.  Do something you’ve never done.

Leading and the Act of Loyalty

  
The act of leading is more than being the visionary, or acting thoughtfully for others.  It is predicated also on how loyal and unconditionally helpful you are to others.

In many ways people cannot follow you if they can’t trust where you’re coming from.  

Great ideas are best acted on when others in the room know where you stand with them.  Teams stall when they don’t know what to expect from you.

Ways loyalty drives others

  1. When others feel you truly respect them.
  2. When you create a clear vision.
  3. Going out of your way to help.
  4. Taking interest in what people want to do.
  5. Being consistent

Servant Leadership, unconditional positive regard, and thoughtful patience are all specific behaviors that can engage your loyalty to others.  

Each time you consider the little things with others, you amplify your influence, and enlarge your leadership footprint.  

Getting More Clarity in Our Lives

 
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The idea that we can do more in less time is an alluring idea.  Multi-tasking is often the instant fix we crave to deal with the real feelings of being overwhelmed and overcommitted.  If we take a deeper look, the feelings we have are more a part of misguided priorities and moving away from better clarity in our lives.

The Multi-tasking Myth: Clarifying your vision and values

Starting out with a clear definition of what you are (your role), and what you want to do (your values), is the beginnings of real clarification.  

The reasons we feel we need to multi-task is that others have defined our roles and values, and we have let them.  

The reasons multi-tasking doesn’t work is because it isn’t aligned with a clear vision, and tasks are not grouped in a way where energy expended maximizes getting things done. 

Creating your Clarity – Learning to Say No

Another reason that clarity is lost, is that reasonable boundaries in our lives and work are not developed.  

In order to create more clarity, you have to decide on the reasonable limits needed to really succeed in your roles.

 The ‘being everything to everyone’ idea is another example of going down the wrong direction faster.

Developing and Maintaining Real Clarity

  1. Define who you are and what contributions you want to make.
  2. Define the ways you want to serve others.  Clarity without service, is like having empty goals.
  3. Reinforce and reflect daily on whether you are staying on track.  You know that you’re off track when you’ve fallen into many things that don’t get closure in your life.
  4. Keep clarity by evaluating things you do.  Are you allowing yourself to say no?

Having clarity means we are focused on things that have a defined beginning and end.  

Energy is focused, and distractions are minimized.

Quick Ways to Reestablish Focus

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These days, focus can be quickly swept away in the flurry of demands and people issues that present.    The more roles you participate in, the more you know how to do, and the more effective you are, there are corresponding demands on your time.

This doesn’t have to be the result.  Reestablishing focus, is about managing what happens around you, either on a prevention level, or in the ways you take future steps to decrease the problem from happening again.  The way you maintain your focus is about making sure that your “overload” doesn’t hamper taking the next step.  The ways you maintain your focus, or reestablish it, may surprise you, because they are normally things we have within our direct control.

5 Ways to Reestablish Focus:

Maintain good sleep hygiene: This means good rising and retiring times.  It also means not burning the candle at both ends. Stress creation is often a function of poor sleep, disrupted sleep, or habits of staying up too late.  Poor sleep is a major contributor and byproduct of mental health issues.  Addressing sleep is often the first step taken in treatment – obtaining better sleep, builds an individual’s ability to deal with real situations in their lives with more strength.

Watching what you eat: Although this is not an article on dietary issues and weight loss, the food choices we make, can contribute to the ways we handle emotional issues.  Poor decisions with eating – inconsistent times, eating the wrong kinds of foods, and over-eating, can all impact how we mentally handle decisions around us.  Eating heavier foods, and too much food, can lead to insensitivity, and a tendency to internalize problems, rather than working them through.

White Space: What type of time do you set aside to do what you need to do? Often a source of poor focus is being over committed, and over-scheduled.  In other words, we bite off more than we can choose, and think we are wonder-people. Building ‘white space’, or time spaces in your schedule, gives you the leverage you need to do other things that feed your ability to focus.  This may include reading, journalling, reflection, listening to music, specific project planning, or prioritizing a project.

Keeping Active: This can be anything from walking to your car, taking the steps, playing with your kids, or planned exercise. The intention and follow through with some type of physical activity (not the amount) is what clears the cobwebs from your mind.  It allows our minds to filter through what’s important, and choose your next focus.

Recording What you Do: If you have a problem you want to address, or need to ‘Get Focused’, start naming it, recording it, and measuring it.  This is how you find the patterns. Keep your productivity tools to a few essentials, and don’t get over focused on using technology.  You can have a lot of ‘tools’ that never get used in effective ways, because there are too many of them. Choose the tools that feel most comfortable and go with those, record your accomplishments, and what you are doing.  It will create a better awareness of where you need to go.

The key to better focus, is about centering on things that change your body’s response to its environment.  It is about recording what you want, finding patterns, and then locating where you need to go.

Recognizing Personal “Drift” In Our Lives

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Like the constant pounding of the surf, we may find ourselves being “pounded”.  Numerous demands, and pressures may take their toll.  For many, the solution is to engage in “personal drift.”  The results of this can lead to more problems than the original pressures that created it.

The precursors to “drift” – 

  1. Overcommitment
  2. We’re too over-involved in things that don’t really matter
  3. We’re being confronted by things that overwhelm us, or scare us emotionally (we’re in over our heads)
  4. Lack of skill – we don’t know what we’re doing
  5. We have lost our passion

The “drift” – What happens:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Engaging in easy, but inconsequential activities or projects
  3. Falling short on our requirements of our job
  4. Engaging in destructive personal behaviors
  5. “Emotional Amnesia” – we disconnect

The drift is subtle, slow and happens without much fanfare or notice.  Co-workers, family members, and others around us notice our tendency to be distant, irritable, insensitive, and not at our best.  Our workplace may notice a slow drift away from the standards of practice that we were accustomed.  Our emotional amnesia becomes a constant defense against the outside world of the pounding surf.  It is hard to extract ourselves from this pattern.

With many the results are:

  • Poor health, constant illness, and emotional resentment
  • Missed opportunities in life

Ways of recognizing when you’re drifting: Ongoing self assessment.  There are countless ways to self assess, and many of them are basic.  Journaling, using a Moleskine, obtaining regular feedback, and exercise are just the common approaches.  Others can include the following simple self assessment:

  • What standards do I subscribe to?
  • How do I feel?
  • Where am I, in respect to where I want to be?

In other words, the solution is right in front of you.  Pulling up the blinders periodically is a great place to start.  The questions are really internal.  We already have the answers inside us, but are sometimes too afraid to ask them.

The Silent Factors Behind Organizational Success

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Sustaining organizational momentum is a result of three key attributes. This doesn’t mean that human resources and capital are not important.  

The intrinsic qualities that make an organization succeed are the things that are not readily seen, but silently there.

The silent factors to organizational success

The Skill that is imbedded in human resources is an area that separates the mediocre from the spectacular organization.  The most critical decision is how each part of your teams are assembled and implemented.  Less skilled individuals can silently weaken the best strategy and effort.  

Everyone says they have skills, but when the rubber meets the road, those with the intrinsic skill carries the organization.

Clarity in thinking or Awareness of the organization, its beliefs, and purpose is a silent driver that helps the different imperatives move or stall.  Those that drive projects, need to be very conscientious and possess great personal awareness.  

Talk is great, but those with the ability to think ahead exponentially drive progress and sustainability. 

Authenticity is making things real and being real.  There are a lot of charlatans out there trying to show something, but with little depth beyond a personal agenda.

Authenticity is present when a person’s skill, and awareness all line up

Many leaders in organizations lack the skill and awareness, and end up acting as if they have no substance. 

Sustaining is about keeping these factors present

When the leader keeps these factors lined up, and makes decisions according to these factors, sustaining the organization occurs more readily.  When the leader takes their eye off of any one of these silent factors, the organization may face weaknesses.

Learning To Reach Farther Than You Expect

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Knowing you can reach farther, requires higher expectations.  Those with mediocre aspirations, never really find out how far they can succeed.  Being scripted to expect less, gets less.   Early experiences, negative messages, and unhealthy relationships can all contribute to thinking that you deserve less, which means that you pursue less.

Having higher expectations imply that you believe you deserve more.  Believing you are worth more, opens up your awareness of more opportunity, and the desire and willingness to reach farther.

Believing you are worth more, opens up your awareness of more opportunity, and the desire and willingness to reach farther.

Developing your way to reach farther – The basic building blocks:

  1. Examine the scripts (beliefs and values) that you experienced through your life.  Do those scripts have a tendency to expand or limit what you are, and what you have become up to this point?  Were they negative, or did they empower you to become more than you thought you could do?
  2. Awareness: Are you aware of your capacities?  Knowing as much as you can about you, precedes your next steps to take next steps.  Those that do not know themselves, lack the ability to know how far they can go.
  3. Skill: Any prerequisite in knowing what path to take, will be influenced by existing skill.
  4. Determination: Having a ‘stubborn determination’ means you have the resiliency and the courage to take the next steps, going farther and higher than you have before.

Those that do not know themselves, lack the ability to know how far they can go

Knowing you deserve better – is a script for success.  When you know you deserve more, can do more, or want to do more, you are positioned to find out how far you can go.

Taking Action: If you want more, then you know you will have to stretch.  Personal leadership requires the willingness to –

  • Fail – knowing that there is a risk for failure.
  • Taking incremental steps – Doing something more, creates momentum toward larger things.
  • Keeping at it: Change and growth is not an overnight process.  Keeping the momentum and action going – will make your reach potentially more possible.

Doing something more, creates momentum toward larger things.

4 Ways to Recognize Your Mistakes



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The saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know…” means that people don’t have enough awareness to know how they are making mistakes.  This may be true in some instances, but many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do.  Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

Many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do. 

Pattern Recognition – Many mistakes are repeated cycles or patterns of problem behavior. The problem behavior often happens over and over as if it is a sequence of actions made up of faulty thinking.  We can’t help ourselves, we use the same faulty logic, and repeat the same behaviors – hoping things will change.

Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

The solution lies in recognition – Much like the patchwork of buildings in the photo above, there is a pattern.  Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  Obviously, if we can begin to realize we’re not getting the results we want, then we begin the journey of correcting our mistakes.

Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  

The ‘pain’ of mistakes increases your ability to recognize a different path can lie ahead.

4 Ways to recognize your mistakes

  • Self-Reflection: Write or journal about the ‘repeated’ sequences and poor outcomes you’re receiving – there is purpose and a reason behind the mistakes.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are given to us to learn from. 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

  • Exercise Humility: Ask someone close to you if they see a problem pattern – what do they see?
  • Ask Yourself: What am I doing repeatedly to get the same result?
  • What do others do to get different results?

Repeated sequences create similar results.  What behaviors in your life may be repeated mistakes?


5 Ways Being An ‘Expert’ Can Cause Failure

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Being an “expert” implies that one has reached a certain level of competency. Having reached a stature of ‘expertise’ requires a good dose of humility to prevent failure in social and business endeavors. Being an authority at what you do can be hollow without the corresponding character that is needed to make it successful.

A Title, But Not Always Reality
Titles are easy to come by, but knowledge + character is a much harder combination to acquire. There are sure paths to failure for experts that avoid acknowledging their weak spots…still more ways to fail when our confidence squelches out important messages that we receive from those that seek our assistance.

5 Paths To Failure As An Expert
1. We stop listening to those we are supposed to help.
When we focus only on knowing we will lose our credibility to help. We need to work hard to continuously understand, and understand needs, rather than jump to predetermined conclusions.

2. Our Agendas are Stronger than Meeting A Need.
Humility is absent, and we fail to understand the client’s need clearly and adequately. We can’t move past our own autobiography.

3. Being an Expert Can Lead to Missing Out on Other’s Ideas
Chances are, the more we espouse our own expertise, we have the potential to miss out on important lessons our clients teach us.

4. Having ‘Expertise’ Is A Privilege and Part of the Journey, Not A Final Destination.
Having expertise is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing development and constant learning. If we feel we have “arrived”, we really haven’t.

5. Without Character, Our Expertise, Has Less Meaning.
Arrogance and having disregard for others creates the perception you really don’t know what you’re doing. Talking a good story, without the personal character that goes with it, will eventually degrade your effectiveness.

Evaluate
Think about whether your expertise is going in the right direction, or is set for potential failure. Being good at what you do is only half the requirement. Being mindful that you don’t know everything is an important attribute to building competency and confidence with others around you.