FIVE WAYS TO HAVE A GREAT DAY

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How many times have you had someone ask, “How was your day?”? Does this happen to you almost every day? For some of us, we are asked multiple times, and we start to give pat answers. “It was fine.” “It was good.” “It was OK.” And sometimes, that’s all we say out loud. But what do you say to yourself? Remember, your words to yourself are important.

When you look back over the day, how do you rate it? Was it a rough day? Did something happen to derail you? Was it really a great day? I want to give you five things that you can do every day that will make it a great day. If you do these five things consistently, every day, they will start to become a habit, and pretty soon you’ll look back over your weeks and months and realize that you have changed.

So here we go:

How to make it a great day - #1
Wake up with gratitude.

When you wake up in the morning, I encourage you to develop the habit of being grateful. I call this the attitude of gratitude, and the way it works for me is to use the two by four method. I divide my life into two categories – people and things – and I name four people who I appreciate and I name four things that make me grateful. I try to do this before I even get out of bed. If you forget, then post a note on your bathroom mirror that just says ‘2 x 4’ You’ll know what it means – two categories, then four names and four things.

Most days, I try to be creative and come up with different people, because I have hundreds of people who have impacted my life for years. There’s my fifth grade teacher who made me learn all the states and their capitals – and how to spell them! It wasn’t fun then, but I have used that knowledge for the last three decades. Who knew that I would be traveling to all those states? There’s the guy at the bank who set up an account for me and has even stayed late for me when I was coming in from the airport on a quick overnight. There’s the person I call when I need a phone number, and the one I call when I need wise counsel. There’s the person who always is happy to see me, the one who supports me, and the one who helped me start a business when I was twenty-four. There are so many people I appreciate and naming four each day makes me see that my life is much more rich with friends than I realized.

Then I name four things – four blessings in my life. And the list is endless. I am blessed to be able to walk, to have a voice, and to have an audience. I am blessed to have transportation. I am blessed to know how to read. I am blessed to be able to smell bacon cooking! I am blessed to be able to travel the world, and I am blessed to have running water.

What happens every day, is that I start thinking of people that I appreciate and the many ways I am blessed, and then it’s very easy to begin my day looking up. When you start with gratitude, you are focused for a great day.

How to make it a great day - #2
Do something good for your body.

Every day, do something that will promote health in your body. It’s the only body you have, and you should take care of it. Here are a few ideas. Take a walk, eat a healthy meal, spend a few minutes quietly relaxing. If you are not accustomed to doing something to take care of yourself, then start now. Take vitamins, stretch, get moving, drink half your body weight in ounces of water, and get a good night’s sleep!

I’m very serious about this. You want your body to last for many more years. If you wanted a car to last for even 20 years, you would take great care of it. You would have the oil changed, keep it clean, give it regular check-ups, and treat it well. Don’t do any less for your body! Do something good for your health every day.

How to make it a great day - #3
Give something away

Yes, that’s right. Give something away. Stretch your generosity muscle. Perhaps you could buy a cup of coffee for someone. Maybe you could give a sincere compliment. Maybe you could send a thank you note – that is huge. I recently received a handwritten note from the VP of a company where I had spoken. He did not have to do that, in fact, they paid me to come, but he went above and wrote a personal note of appreciation. Maybe it stood out because it is rare to get real thank you notes. But they are a meaningful gift.

Maybe you could give someone your time – a phone call or a visit. Time is your most valuable commodity, and to give someone the gift of your time shows great love and appreciation.

Whatever you decide to do each day, and whatever you give away, do it quietly, and let it keep you mindful of generosity. I believe you will find generosity addictive, and giving away something every day will develop a habit that will become a trademark of your life. Try it!

How to make it a great day - #4
Encourage someone and talk to someone who encourages you

We live in community, and building each other up is one of the best ways we can make our world stronger. Seek out that person who always has a smile and a good word for you. Look for the one who make your day brighter just by saying hello. You need those people in your life. You need to hear that you are appreciated and that your contribution is valued. You need to know that what you are doing is making a difference, so go find those people who affirm you and who make you happy. Talk to them, or communicate with them and let those minutes re-align you if your day has gotten off track, or let it expand you, as you are moving forward.

Then reciprocate. Yes, give that encouragement back. Don’t be the one who always takes the encouragement and the appreciation without returning it. You need to give just as you need to receive. And the other person needs to hear from you as well. Hearing and speaking encouragement will bring sunshine into your day.

How to make it a great day - #5
Do something that moves you toward your goals

To thrive, you must be growing. And growing requires consistent action and dedication. Your day would not be complete without doing something that brings you closer to your goals. It may be a project, a phone call, research, a conference, or anything that propels you forward toward the life goal that you have in front of you. We were not created just to live for a few decades then pass on. We were created for a purpose, and your purpose will push you into action. To make your day a great one, and one that is productive and pleasing, doing something every day that moves you toward your goals.

These five actions are designed to make you better from the inside out. Gratitude, health, generosity, encouragement, and goal oriented action will make it a great day. And once you have the formula for a great day, you can make great weeks, great months, great years, and you can 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. 

A GAME PLAN FOR LIFE: PART 1

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Today I want to talk to you about something I believe we all need, and that is a life plan. Nothing in life that is done well is accomplished without planning.

As I travel around the world, I’m seeing a trend that I think is very interesting. I have the opportunity to talk to a lot of people, and I am always interested in people’s outlook on life. What I have observed are some common thought patterns. This does not describe everyone, but it is the tendency of a lot of people….

We plan our food, but we don’t plan our finances.
We plan our weekends, but we don’t plan our will.
We plan our kid’s college, but not their character.
We make time for games, but not for goals.
We take luxury vacations, but we don’t have a life vision.

As I think about this, I truly believe it comes back to planning. Planning is critical to a fulfilled life. If you want to be able to one day look back over your life and know you have accomplished what you were put on earth to do, then you must have a plan.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.”

Planning is the way to help control your future. Do you plan to live beyond this year? Beyond when your kids leave for college? Beyond when you retire? What are you going to do? How will you manage? When you look back over your life, what will you have done that is of significance? You desperately need a life plan.

Some of you have thought about these milestones and maybe you are worried, or at least a little concerned. One of my favorites, Winston Churchill says this: “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” I believe he knew what he was talking about! He was a master planner and history honors him for that. We, too, need to be master planners of our own lives. Otherwise, life happens TO us, and it happens AROUND us.

I recently read an article in Forbes magazine about why people feel lost in their lives. Look at the first reason this article listed:

Drift Syndrome.

When we can’t figure out why we’re doing what we’re doing, or how we ended up working the job we’re working, a sense of “drift”; settles in.  It seems that instead of planning out our career, we just drifted along the tides and eventually found ourselves here. Or perhaps we had a plan, but lack of follow-through and/or a few of life’s hard knocks changed it, and we just drifted along. The truth is, most of us drifted to some extent into whatever it is we're doing. Feeling The “drift” is an emotional trigger for feeling lost.

I want to briefly share 5 REASONS YOU NEED A GAME PLAN FOR LIFE. I believe it is critical that we understand the importance of a plan and that we make planning a part of our thinking. (This week we will look at the first two, and next week will cover the remaining three.)

#1. Planning is motivational.

This is the beginning. Whether we are talking about a team, a company, a work group, a family, or yourself, if there is no motivation, there is no success.

Having a plan in place can be extremely motivating. Consider waking up every morning, not knowing what you were doing, where you were going, who you were meeting, or even why? That sounds quite de-motivating!

As the great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

That’s where a life plan comes in. If you know your destination and have mapped out how you are getting there, each day becomes challenging and is one to be anticipated as your work toward your goals. You need that plan!

Plans motivate us to stay on course. Has anyone ever been on a diet? Did you have a plan that included a ‘free day’ or as some people call it a ‘cheat day’?

If you have every dieted, you know that having a plan is what makes it work. The plan provides the momentum and knowing the plan works provides the motivation. Some people use the Keto plan (they eat a lot of bacon and cheese!). I saw a sign that said, ‘If KETO stands for Keep Eating Take Out, then I’m doing it right.’ Some people use the calorie counting plan (they use their calculators a lot and get mad!)

You all know someone who has lost a significant amount of weight, and what is the very first question they are asked? “How did you do it?” We all want to know their plan. And I guarantee you, they had one. I talked with someone just last week who lost 40 lbs, just by cutting everything in half and eating half now and the other half for the next meal. She had a plan.

There is always a plan, and knowing the plan and seeing the results will keep you motivated and give you momentum to achieve your goals.

#2. Planning will put you in a better position.

Whenever you plan, you plan to succeed. Thus, it is not a surprise that planning will eventually lead you to have better success and achieve a better position in the market, be it brand or a product. Any of your goals can have more chances of success with proper planning.

CEO’s of thriving companies know this. I read where the CEO of a major corporation invested the first hour of each day in meticulous planning of that 24 hour day. He wrote out his plans in detail on paper.

Lee Iacocca, the legendary former head of Chrysler, said that one of his greatest mentors insisted that any ideas he had be written out in detail on paper before he would consider them. You see, anyone can get carried away in the climate of conversation. But when you are required to write out a detailed plan on paper, facts arise that were previously hidden. Truths are much easier to see. Problem areas emerge. Weaknesses become obvious. Anything cloudy becomes clear. Questions are answered. And then, with your clarified plan, you are positioned to succeed. Planning puts you in a better position.

Planning is the difference maker in your success and in your life.

Look for Part 2 of A GAME PLAN FOR LIFE next week.

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. 

TALK TO ME

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As a leader, it is critically important that you have vision. You must know your direction and your destination so you can effectively lead your employees. It is also vital that you are able to communicate that vision. Having a vision and not communicating it is like having oil on your property, but not putting in an oil well to get it out of the ground. It’s there, but it does you no good and makes you no money until you take action. It is the same with communicating your vision. It may be there in your mind, but it does you no good and makes you no money unless you take action. You must get your vision out and put it before the people who will work with you achieve your dream.

So, let’s talk about HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR VISION.

If you can communicate, you can win. The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.

There are several components to good communication, and you need to become a master of these. I cannot tell you how many times I hear of a business failure or a relationship loss and the first explanation someone gives is, “He just wasn’t a good communicator.” Don’t let that be you.

I want to give you four communication keys. Write them down. Make yourself a checklist. When you are communicating and you believe you have covered all these areas, do it again. Over communicating is rarely a problem!

First, you must truly believe that communicating the vision is important. If you don’t believe it, you will never do it. If you don’t do it, you will not have the support of the people around you for your vision because they will not know. It is vital to communicate your vision and it is critical to communicate it often. How many times in the past 30 years have you heard Nike’s “Just do it” slogan? That’s how long they have been communicating that idea, and we get it.

What about “Think outside the bun”? Taco Bell has used that for 19 years. Repeated communication makes an idea become part of a culture. If you want your employees to grasp your vision and throw themselves into making it happen, then you must believe that repeatedly communicating that vision to them is important.

Secondly, you must communicate so people can understand. Here are the rules:

 Be clear.

 Be concise.

 Be correct.

Be clear – say exactly what you mean and don’t leave it open to interpretation. Many times, people translate words differently, or they hear what they want to hear. You should repeat the critical message and perhaps provide a way for people to have their questions answered. Often it is helpful to put the message in a written format—an e-mail, a letter, or a handout. Do what is necessary to communicate clearly.

Be concise – The best ad slogans are short one-liners, because people remember them. Do you know the name Edward Everett? He was one of the most popular orators back in the mid 1800’s and a guest speaker at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He spoke for two hours that day. Then he was followed by Abraham Lincoln who spoke for two minutes and delivered what we now know as the famous Gettysburg Address. It is interesting to note that nothing from the two hour speech survived, yet Lincoln’s short Gettysburg Address became one of the most memorable speeches in U.S. history.

Be correct – please be correct. Do your homework. Do your research. When you communicate, be prepared and be accurate.

The third component of importance in communication is HOW you deliver your message. You must convey optimism, hope and inspiration. You are the one responsible for sharing the vision. If you offer an optimistic outlook with hope for the future, and if you can inspire people to catch your dream, you have done well.

And finally, you must communicate publicly. Public speaking is listed as the number one fear of humans! Jay Leno says, “I guess we’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.” No matter, the vision must be communicated and it must be communicated by you. You cannot speak by proxy.

Let me tell you this: people want to hear from you. They want to know that you have a vision and that you believe in it. So, when you have a vision burning within you, just talk about it! Your own passion and dedication to that vision will show, and people will know they are following a leader with a purpose.

So leaders, hold your vision. Let it empower you and keep you focused. Then communicate that vision to your people and voice it clearly and publicly, with hope and optimism.

American businessman Joel Barker said it well:

Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.

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. 

PRUNING FOR PROGRESS: PART 2

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Pruning is the selective removal of certain parts of a plant. Reasons to prune can be for deadwood removal, for shaping, or for increasing the yield and quality of fruits or flowers. Pruning is a necessary part of gardening, and I believe that often it is also a necessary action in life. Today I want to look at the benefits of pruning in our lives. Pruning, or cutting away, some areas can be life-changing.

There are three reasons for pruning. Pruning is done for heath, for shape, and for focused productivity.

1. When you prune for health, you clear away the unnecessary and the detrimental so that what remains can flourish. You remove the activities and the people who are keeping you from growing.

Sometimes we get caught up in other people’s plans. When that happens, we find ourselves spending more time and resources on other people’s goals and dreams than we do our own. That’s when it becomes necessary to prune. Ask yourself, “Is this activity producing anything positive in my life? Is it moving me toward my own goals?”

Start today by making a list of all your activities. Make two columns. Title the first column, MY GOALS &RESPONSIBILITIES and the second column EVERYTHING ELSE. Now list your activities. If you really want to see a clear picture, write down how much time each week you spend doing each activity. Now, look over your list. Did you find that you are spending a lot of your time working on other people’s dreams or are you spending time in areas that don’t matter at all? Are these areas you can prune?

What about the people in your life? Ask yourself this question, “Does this person encourage and promote me? Does he add to my life? Does she make me better?”

Your relationships will make or break you. I know that right now some of you are thinking of family members you would like to prune! Before you are too hasty, make sure that your pruning plans line up with your core values and make sure that YOU are positioned correctly. Do you add to their lives? Do you make them better? It’s never a one-way street. Don’t get caught up in the self-centered vortex—it’s not all about you. But it is vitally important that you do have people standing beside you who are FOR you. If you are spending a lot of your time with people who bring you down, who create problems, and who are not encouraging you and promoting you, think about pruning. Cut back on the time you give to people who drain you.

Aside from personal relationships, what about the people in your organization or business? Are they producing? Are they beneficial? Or have they become deadwood that is taking up resources that would be better spent elsewhere?

2. When you prune for shape, you take away the areas that do not fit the picture of your vision for your life. You may be spending a lot of time on social media or playing video games. Perhaps you prefer talking on the phone or watching TV. These are not wrong, but some of this time may need to be pruned to create a life shape that matches your vision.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you won’t reach your goals by gaming all night. If your vision is for a great relationship, you will need to let go of some TV time and spend that time in conversation and working together toward something you both want. You must prune and cut away the areas of your life that do not fit your picture, so you can create the life of your dreams.

3. When you prune for focused productivity, you are cutting away good things so that your resources can be spent on the best things. Good is the enemy of great. Decide what is great in your life, then prune your other activities and people, even though they may be good, so that your focus, your time, your money, and your energy is spent on the great. This is the key to a successful life.

Pruning is not easy, but it is necessary. Pruning lightens your load. It directs you. It makes you more focused, and it makes you much more effective, profitable, and valuable.

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. 

PRUNING FOR PROGRESS: PART 1

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Do you have a green thumb? Are you able to grow lovely flowers, or do you have a garden where you plant your own fruits and vegetables? If you do, my hat is off to you! You have a special talent, and I know it takes a lot of work! I must confess, growing any kind of plant has never been one of my strengths, but I am interested in how it is done. Some people are able to grow incredible flowers and plants. Have you ever wondered how they get those large, award-winning vegetables and the grand, beautiful blooms? Why are some so fruits so much bigger than other ones of the same variety? I understand that the secret to getting outstanding results is pruning the vines and the trees.

Pruning is the selective removal of certain parts of a plant. Reasons to prune can be for deadwood removal, for shaping, or for increasing the yield and quality of fruits or flowers. Pruning is a necessary part of gardening, and I believe that often it is also a necessary action in life. Today I want to look at the benefits of pruning in our lives. Pruning, or cutting away, some areas can be life-changing.

There are three reasons for pruning. Pruning is done for heath, for shape, and for focused productivity.

1. Pruning for health is cutting away the dead or diseased branches. It is clearing away the unnecessary and the detrimental so that what remains can flourish.

2. Pruning for shape is removing everything that does not fit into the picture of what that tree or shrub should be. I saw a shrubbery at Disney that was shaped like Mickey Mouse. It was a incredible display of how a bush can be pruned to a specific form, and it was done by cutting away all the branches and twigs that didn’t look like Mickey. This is exactly what Michelangelo meant when he said, ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’

3. Pruning for focused productivity is cutting back branches, even though they are healthy, so all the resources of the tree to be concentrated toward what remains. Pruning a fruit tree is a great example of this. Let’s look at a peach tree. There is a limited amount of energy that each tree has for producing fruit. This is based on the size of the tree and the amount of sunlight, water, and fertilizer available to that tree. If a tree is not pruned, its energy will be equally divided among the hundreds of buds the tree produces and it will grow hundreds of very small peaches. When a peach tree is pruned, many branches with healthy buds are cut off. This reduction causes the tree to concentrate all of its energy on the buds that remain, and it then produces dozens of large, juicy peaches.

Pruning can be very helpful in life as well. You already prune in many areas. Think about cleaning out your house or your office. You evaluate. You reduce. You cut. I love the quote by William Morris: ‘Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ Prune away everything else.

We even prune our words. Imagine the hundreds of small unnecessary statements that come to your head, but you prudently do not say out loud! This conventional wisdom on culling our speech is my favorite: ‘If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?’ Prune away everything else.

Here’s the primary factor required for effective pruning: you must have a vision of what you want your life to be. You must have goals and a plan. Otherwise, how will you know what is an obstacle and what is beneficial? So, let’s move forward with the understanding that you have a life vision.

Check back next week for part 2 of this series…

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.