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Would you rather?  It’s a game we’ve probably all played – if you have kids, you surely play it often!  It‘s a great car game…

  • Would you rather eat potato chips or French fries?
  • Would you rather sky dive or scuba dive?
  • Would you rather be wealthy and sick or healthy and broke?

Today, I have a “would you rather” question for all of you: Would you rather be GREAT or would you rather be FAMOUS?

When we consider famous people, several descriptions come to mind:

  • They are well-known
  • They usually have money – lots of money!
  • People flock to them and want to be near them

Perhaps they are famous because of an ability – acting, or sports… 

Maybe they are famous because of their family – for example, the Kennedy family or the Kardashian family.

Sometimes people are famous because of their looks, their title, their position. People can be famous for many reasons, but what about GREAT people? What are the attributes and characteristics that make someone great?

Greatness is not performance-based. Greatness it is not what someone DOES, but rather what someone IS.

Greatness is an internal quality; it is a heart condition. Greatness is never self-focused, instead, it is always centered on the good of others. It’s very easy to become distracted by self-promotion and a desire to be elevated, but that is not the heart of greatness. This story spotlights that point.

Once upon a time there was a king who ruled over everything in the land. One day there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, “My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.”

The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, “Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I want to give a plot of land to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all.”

The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing. But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this, and he said, “My! If that is what you get for a carrot, what if you gave the king something better?”

The next day the nobleman came before the king, and he was leading a handsome black stallion.

He bowed low and said, “My lord, I breed horses, and this is the greatest horse I’ve ever bred or ever will; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.”

But the king discerned his heart and said, “Thank you,” and took the horse and simply dismissed him. The nobleman was perplexed, so the king said, “Let me explain. That gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse.”

Many times, we want a shortcut to greatness, but it is not a prize that is given or a position that can be awarded. Greatness is an internal quality that is developed throughout life. Let me give you three touchstones of greatness in a person:

1.     Great people have accomplished the purposes for which they were designed.

Every person is born with a seed of greatness. It’s your choice whether or not you will grow and develop that seed into a full, impactful life or chose an average existence.

Each of you can think of someone you knew when you were young that had great talent, or great opportunities, or great options and possibilities, but they never reached their potential. I remember a kid in my class in high school. He was smart, good-looking, athletic, funny – people loved being around Charles. But Charles never really had goals. He walked on a college football team, and walked back off. He went to the University for a couple of years, but never finished. He played around with a boating company, but never got it off the ground. The last I heard from Charles, he was working in California, making ends meet, and still waiting for his big break. He had the skills, he had the opportunity, and he’s had almost 30 years to set himself apart, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Now, some of you know a Charles, and some of you may relate very closely to Charles yourself. Hear me carefully. You were born with a seed of greatness and it is never too late to be great. Begin today – right now. 

  • Decide you want more for your life.
  • Discover what you were designed to do – what it is that makes you come alive.
  • Start doing it.

Great people accomplish the purpose they were designed to achieve.

2.     Great people have developed traits and qualities that distinguish and differentiate them from others.

I want to make a very important point here. The traits of greatness are not automatic. Great people pursue and develop these traits. It’s not that some people get them and others don’t. It’s not that some are lucky and others are unlucky. These traits are intentionally studied, integrated, groomed, and practiced in the lives of great people.

Among many others, these traits include determination, integrity, courage, persistence, passion, wisdom and generosity. We have discussed several of these qualities previously on this blog, and we can never hear them enough. Over the next few weeks, we will look at more of these traits of greatness, and we will see how our mindset about these qualities must be aligned as we pursue an uncommon life.

3.     The third touchstone of greatness is great people positively affect and impact the lives of other people.

Your first reaction may be, of course, great people will mentor, will employ, will influence, and will better the lives of those around them. This is true. Great people will certainly do all that, but great people will also lift up the people around them daily. Greatness is not some mountaintop goal; greatness is lived out in everyday relationships.

Life is not lived in a vacuum. We all interact with others, and all of our interactions will fall in one of three categories.

1.     People are uplifted and our time with them is remembered pleasantly and positively, even if it was just paying for a cup of coffee.

2.     The interaction was neutral, perhaps transactional or isolated. You may have been introduced to someone at a party and immediately their attention was pulled elsewhere. Neutral contact.

3.     People are harmed or hurt or diminished in some way by our interface. This is very unfortunate, and very preventable. You control you. If you choose to blunder through life, expecting people to understand that you are busy, you are stressed, you are overwhelmed, you are needy, you are the one that should be getting the attention - then you have missed it, and you have missed out. Great people see others. Great people listen to others. Great people put others first. This quality is a touchstone of greatness.

Another facet of greatness is this: Great people inspire and motivate us to pursue greatness in our own lives.

When you are around someone who is great, you want more. You want more of that calmness, that certainty, that love for others, that focus, and that dependability. You want to be like them. Great people inspire us to do great things and to be better people.

Greatness is achievable. YOU can be great. You can accomplish your purpose, you can acquire and develop the traits of greatness, and you can lift up other people as you go through life. Great people live life differently, and great people do so intentionally.

So, would you rather be GREAT or would you rather be FAMOUS?

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 



What is the first response that comes to mind when I say, “Let’s talk about EXCELLENCE?” If you read this blog last week, I hope you have made an intentional effort to make your thoughts positive. So maybe your first thought was, “Fantastic! This is exactly what I have wanted!”

If you missed last week, I encourage you to go back and read that coaching on PERSPECTIVE. You will be glad you did. But, back to EXCELLENCE…maybe you were slightly less excited and you thought, “Excellence! That takes too much effort. How about ‘good enough’?”

I recently read a quote, “I thought I wanted a career. Turns out all I really wanted was a paycheck!”

Some days I think that describes many of us. We start out with great enthusiasm, but as time goes on, perhaps our reality is just not quite up to our initial expectations, so we become, frankly, lazy, and just begin to accept mediocrity in our lives and in our work. After a while, we are just marking time, instead of investing in a pursuit of excellence. When we stop to think about it, we tend to say, “Just let me sleep for a night, and I’ll throw something together in the morning.” And we go through life thinking, “I’ll do this better next time.” “Tomorrow, I’ll start over and get it right.” And ‘tomorrow’ rarely comes, so our lives turn into ‘good enough’, and we miss out on so many opportunities and experiences just because we settled.

Here’s an exercise that I believe you will find enlightening. Take a pen and paper and give yourself a few minutes to reflect on the following locations and situations:

1. Your last vacation – where did you go? What did you like most about your accommodations?
2. Your favorite restaurant – what do you notice first when you walk in?
3. The ‘dream’ house – you know the one that every time you drive by it, you really wish you lived there… what do you like about the house?
4. Think of the last time you saw a play, an opera, a show? What did you enjoy most? If you would prefer, think of the last sporting event you saw. What did you enjoy most?

Now, look back over your list, and let’s review it together, looking for a pattern. Did you like a particular hotel because it is always clean and beautiful and the staff is pleasant and helpful? What about your favorite restaurant? Is the food fresh and tasty? Is the restaurant clean, the wait staff cheerful and efficient? Is your dream house well-maintained? Does it have beautiful landscaping? What about the show or sporting event? Were the players well-trained? Did they know their lines or run their routes with perfection?

Is there a pattern of excellence in your choices of favorites? I would guess there is. We all appreciate the extra effort, the ‘step above’ that sets apart the hotel, the restaurant, the home, or the team. We want excellence. We choose excellence. But my question for you today, is “Do we practice excellence?”

Excellence is defined as “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” Excellence is about effort. It is an attitude that results in an action.

Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A writes in his blog the following description of what excellence means at his company:

Several years ago, Chick-fil-A introduced “Second Mile Service” to our employees. Going the second mile comes from the book of Matthew in the Bible. Jesus says, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:41). In business, as it is in life, there are certain expectations that people have: be nice, work hard, be ethical, say “please” and “thank you.” 

Those are things we should all do because it’s “just right.” It’s the ante. It’s expected. It’s obligatory and most times a compulsion that takes very little effort.

It’s the first mile.

The second mile “ups the ante.” It’s the above and beyond. It’s helping mothers with children to their tables, refilling drinks, engaging in conversation and opening doors for customers (at a fast food restaurant!) It’s an authentic smile, and it is absolutely “my pleasure.”

Going the second mile means living out the Golden Rule and putting others before ourselves in a world that is all too often about "me, me, me." When we look at each day as an opportunity to put others first, we are quite simply, but powerfully living out what God has called each of us to do.

No doubt, we have all experienced the customer service excellence that has become as much a trademark of Chick-fil-A as the chicken sandwich. It is a pleasure to go there, knowing that you will be greeted with a smile, treated with respect and served a tasty meal. We count on that at Chick-fil-A, and have come to expect the ‘second mile’ service.

Often, we find a lot of traffic on the first mile of any journey. A lot of people are willing to go the first mile. But the moment you get to the second mile, there’s hardly anyone on the highway. That’s what sets apart those willing to excel and to make the extra effort, and that’s why they make an impression that is remembered.

Now, let’s move a bit closer to home. What about in your own life? Starting with where you spend many of your daylight hours – at work. Are you an employee of excellence? Do the people at your office know you are the one that does not settle for mediocrity, but puts dedicated effort into both the small tasks and the large projects?

People with a mindset of excellence will stand out. They are the best businessmen, the best teachers, the best musicians, the best cooks, and the best soldiers. They are model citizens, drive the cleanest cars, and have the best-kept lawns. They show up on time, they follow up on tasks, and they exhibit the best attitude while doing all these things! Because that is what a mindset of excellence creates. It produces an unwillingness to settle for second best or just getting by, and drives a person to put in the extra effort required to excel.

Excellence is a mindset that can be seen in everything you do. I recently read the story of a German who once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor creating an image of Adam. Looking around, he saw a similar image lying nearby.

Surprised, he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statues of the same man?”

“No” said the sculptor without looking up, “We need only one, but the first one
got damaged at the last stage”.

The gentleman examined the discarded image but did not find any obvious blemish.

“Where is the damage?” he asked.

“There is a scratch on the nose of the man”, said the sculptor still busy with his work.

“Where are you going to install this statue?”

The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar 20 feet high.

“If the image is that far up who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked.

The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said, “I will know it!"

Excellence is a drive from the inside. It is a personal mindset that brings the satisfaction and the knowledge that you have done well. It is not done for the praise of others, yet when you are a person of excellence, people will notice. Excellence will propel you forward and set you apart.

I encourage you to make a self assessment. Are you a person of excellence? Are you on the second mile?

If you are not, do not delay. Begin now to make the extra effort and to develop the attitude that what you do – both big and small – creates the type of person you are. Reaching your goals and achieving success requires you to have a mindset of excellence. The actions that follow this focused mindset will put you on the path to become one of the greats.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 



If you can change your thinking, you can change your life. How you think is the number one key to determining your life. Your perspective will control whether or not you will be happy and content. Your outlook will establish if you will be wealthy and if you will have a healthy body. Your mindset will determine if you will have a life of success and leave a legacy of significance. It is critical that you hear me on this. Your thinking controls your life. That is easy to say, but do we really believe it? Do we work to change our thinking? Do we study, read, listen to coaching, and daily make the necessary efforts to direct and manage our thoughts? If you don’t work to create a success mindset, your life will be controlled by a “get by” or a negative mindset. You are in control. You decide. You choose what your life will become.

Today I want to discuss PERSPECTIVE and why your perspective is vital to your success. I just returned from a trip to Indonesia. On my last day there, I needed to travel from my hotel to the airport, and traffic was at a standstill. From where I was sitting, the prospect of getting to the airport on time was dismal. However, during my time in Indonesia, I had spoken at several business and church events and one of the businessmen I met owns a service that provides dignitaries with a police escort though traffic. He declared that I was an ambassador for the King, and ordered a police escort for my trip to the airport. From his perspective, a timely trip to the airport did not seem difficult at all. In fact, the ride was tremendous! The motorcycle police cleared a path, and our car drove smoothly through the gridlock.

When we pulled up to the airport behind the police lights, people turned to stare. As I watched them, I wondered, “What are they thinking” Did they think there was a bad situation requiring police attention? Did they see a medical crisis needing assistance? Did they believe I had the international status that required a personal bodyguard and police escort? I don’t know what they thought, but I do know this. Their thoughts and their beliefs were created by their own
perspectives. If they had prior experience with the police from an unlawful event, then their view would be negative, or perhaps sympathetic! If they had the mindset that the police are helpful, their view would be one of curious interest, and it would be positive. Your view always depends on your mindset.

Your whole life will be colored by the way you chose to look at the people and circumstances around you. Have you ever noticed that two people can look at a situation and see it entirely differently? One will see the opportunity and the other will see the problems. Now, let’s get a little more personal. Have you ever noticed that two people can look at another person and see him entirely differently? One will focus on his good traits, and the other will say something
negative. One will build up; one will criticize. I recently read the following story, and it made this idea very clear.

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside and says to her husband, “That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly.
Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband,
“Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”
The husband replies, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.

What we see depends on our perspective and our point of view. How we see situations or circumstances is determined by our own mindset.

You must create a mindset of success for yourself. Instead of looking at the negative, choose to focus on the positive. Instead of expecting something bad, choose to look for the good. Choose to think of how to win instead of reasons you could lose.

At the beginning of this blog, I said your mindset, your outlook, and your perspective will control whether or not you will be happy, content, wealthy, healthy, successful, and significant. That is a far-reaching statement, so I want to look closely at this for a minute, because you must understand this principle on a very foundational level if you are going to change your thinking.

How does your thinking affect your happiness? Let’s explore your mind…if your husband sends you flowers, what is the first thing you think? Do you think he is thoughtful and kind? Do you think he must have done something wrong and is trying to get on your good side? Do you think he wasted money? Whatever thought you choose is what will color your mind and your perspective of both the gift and the giver!

Does your thinking control your contentment level? Are you pleased for your neighbor when he gets another new Mercedes? Do you believe your friend has a better body and is more attractive than you? Do you think the vacations your co- workers take are twice as nice as what you have planned? Whatever thought you choose will determine how content you are with your own circumstances.

Does your thinking control your health? Do you think you were born with bad genes and can’t change your body type? Do you think you just have a slow metabolism? Do you think exercise is important to living longer? Do you think eating healthy is too expensive? Whatever thought you choose will determine how you treat your body and whether or not you will have a healthy life.

We could keep going through many situations and circumstances, but I’m sure you get the picture. The thoughts you choose are the thoughts that control your mind, and thereby control your actions. But you may say, “Sometimes, I can’t help what I think. It just comes to my mind.” I understand that, and that is where coaching comes in. I want you to have the tools you need to make this transformational change.

Here are three ways for you to change your mindset and shift your thoughts:

You know when your thoughts are negative, but you may have become so accustomed to negative thoughts that you are no longer even aware of how your mind is tracking. You must recognize that you are in a mental rut, then move out of that rut by replacing your negative thoughts with ones that are positive. Perhaps every time your mother-in- law’s name is
mentioned, you mentally shudder. Or maybe whenever your spouse asks for money, you throw up a wall. Or it could be as simple as when you hear the doorbell ring, you think someone is waiting to sell you something else you don’t need. Recognize these as the negative thoughts they are, then immediately replace them with positive thoughts. Maybe your mother-in- law makes a great chocolate cake. Maybe she loves her grandchildren tremendously. When her name comes up again, redirect your thinking to those good things instead. Maybe your spouse has a creative plan for the money. Maybe someone new and interesting is at the door. Move away from dark, negative thoughts by intentionally making the effort to exchange them for positive thoughts.

Never verbalize negative thinking. Our mind responds to the words we say.
It’s so easy to toss out words that are ugly and destructive. Those words are
heavy and dark, often hurtful, and they take no effort. Don’t take the lazy way. Instead, look at the situation and think of the best outcome. Make your words encouraging. When your words are ‘gold,’ they are intentional responses that have value and worth. You will find the more often you do this, the more naturally it will come. Your own mindset will begin to shift as you place importance on speaking positive words. You will also see a change in the people around you, and you will be able to look back at your conversations and be pleased, rather than regret what you said. Speak words of gold.

The third tool I want you to use in changing your mindset is training yourself to look for the win. This is a personal mindset. I don’t mean that you have to be the designated office morale booster or the family cheerleader. I mean that within your own mind, use every situation to propel yourself forward. Even when times are tough, look for how it makes you grow or for what you may have learned. If you are in financial stress, find the positive. As you recover, you will know firsthand how to coach others through that minefield. If you have a difficult relationship, realize that you are becoming a stronger person and more resolute in creating personal boundaries. There is always a win, and you must train your mind to look for it.

Your life is determined by your thoughts and your perspective. Use these tools to create a life of success and significance. Choose to make the daily effort to manage your mindset. It will make the rest of your life the best of your life.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

Life is a Contact Sport

There’s a lot of pushing and shoving in the game of life, and there are a lot of wounds
that result from conflict. You cannot move through life, with your eyes on a goal, and
avoid contact. To have a successful life, you must have the mindset that the conflicts
you encounter can have results that are beneficial, rather than damaging.

Human interaction and contact can quickly escalate to conflict, and so much trouble is
born in those moments when people lose control. We see this too often. In sports,
teams lose control and the benches are cleared for an all-out brawl. Then players get
ejected. On the highway, angry drivers lose control and exhibit road rage. Then
accidents happen. In relationships one person loses control and abuse occurs. Then
someone gets hurt. At this point, normal contact has exceeded proper boundaries.
These are situations that need intervention, and in some cases, significant help. When
conflict goes too far, things are said and done that will be regretted for a lifetime.

Often in everyday life, we are so stressed, pressured, and rushed that hostility simmers
just below the surface and can erupt at the slightest offense or inconvenience.
Sometimes we find ourselves on a full collision path with those around us. I believe it is
critical to have a plan in place for those times of collision - those inevitable times when
you do not agree, when there is dissension, or even when you find yourself in the midst
of an outright controversy.

I have a mental checklist that I run though when circumstances begin to heat up, and
this plan has helped me many times to slow down and make a wise choice rather than
to rush headlong into a situation where my initial reactions or words could be very
damaging. I use the acrostic ‘SLOW’ for conflict resolution, and the word itself is a
reminder that to rush is often to stumble.

Just stop right where you are. If you are in a location that is creating immediate tension,
remove yourself immediately. You need a few minutes, or perhaps longer, to make sure
you have a handle on yourself and your own emotions before proceeding. Get away
from the source of trouble.
Go to another room, go outside, or, if none of these options
are available, at least shut down – no talking – and take several moments to compose
yourself. It is essential that you are in control of your own thoughts, actions and
reactions. You are responsible for yourself. Don’t let someone goad you into rash action.
Stop and regroup.

Very often conflict and collisions arise because of miscommunication. Don’t let that be
the case for you. Go back to the person with whom you are disagreeing and start the
conversation over. This time, don’t interrupt, don’t interpret and don’t infer. Just listen
to them. Hear them out. Sometimes people just want to be heard. No matter if this
resolves the situation or not, you will be miles ahead because you have taken the time
to hear their side. Then you will know if perhaps they misunderstood or got bad
information. You will at least know their position. Listen carefully and intentionally.

The biggest skill in conflict resolution is to be able to reach a compromise through
options that are acceptable to both sides. If you can work with the other party to create
a plan where both of you leave knowing you are better off, you will win. This means you
must have options. Your way may not be the right way, and is certainly not the only
way. You must treat the other person with the same respect that you wish to receive,
and come up with a plan. Come up with more than one alternative, if possible, and
even include a few innovative ideas to make the resolution better. Don’t have the
attitude of ‘my way or the highway.’ Be creative with options.

A small disagreement may be over just as quickly as it started, but very often, conflict
has been brewing for a long time and will not be resolved with one conversation. You
must be committed to working out the option that was chosen.
You must also work on
your attitude. It’s quite easy to look with a jaded eye at someone with whom you have
disagreed. You may expect the same situation to repeat, or at the very least, you would
not be surprised if it did. This attitude is very detrimental to long term resolution. It
takes concentrated effort to rebuild a relationship. Prepare yourself for hard work.

Conflict is inevitable, but resolution is possible, and the result can be infinitely
rewarding. So SLOW yourself down, and do not let the collisions of life master you.

By having a plan to deal with conflict, you will be much less disappointed when life
throws you a curveball. Life is problematic and competitive, and this is not a bad thing.
This is not evil. It’s the way things ought to be, because honest competition makes us
better. Competition forces us to provide better products and better services at a faster
pace and a lower price. Pure competition is good, and conflict is the natural
consequence of competition.

With no opposition and no challenges, life would be dull indeed. Do not wish for an easy
life. You will never grow if you stay in your comfort zone. Embrace the contact and the
conflict. Know that through the struggle comes the satisfaction of winning.

Conflict and competition sharpen us. They refine us, and they keep us on our toes.
There is nothing wrong with competition, but there is everything wrong with animosity.
There is nothing wrong with conflict, but there is everything wrong with hurting other
people or damaging their reputations. You need to learn that competition is the name of
the game and that conflict is a way of life. Don’t let the fear of these things hold you
back. Take a moment, S.L.O.W. and resolve the issues.

Have the mindset to accept the competitive nature of life, and have a plan to deal with
inevitable friction. Keep your head up, and know that competition makes you better.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here.