It's very easy to forget the significance of something the further you are removed from its reality. It used to be that war touched the majority of Americans directly, but now many of us only feel the consequences indirectly. Our nation has been at war for more than 10 years now and our troops (and those of our allies) continue to risk their life on a daily basis. Thankfully, we seem to be scaling back the required sacrifice, but the loss of even one soldier is a tragedy let alone the 4,977 that have given their life in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. This is a heavy emotional burden that will be felt by families for generations. We also shouldn't also forget the life altering injuries that tens of thousand of our troops have suffered and the devastating psychological consequences of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Anyone can manipulate words and stretch the facts to suit their short term objective. However, it is difficult long-term to fake behavior and eventually your words will catch up with you.
A mother is a very special person in a child's life and if you are lucky, a lingering positive presence throughout your adult life. Much of what we first learn comes from our mom. She is often the calm in the midst of the many storms we encounter. She is there for you no matter what. I am blessed that my mom had so much to offer. The following lessons are just a small sampling of her overall impact on my life:
Leaders have far too many tools to distract them these days. It's easy to default to hyper-activity mode where action and movement trumps everything else. For example, it's impossible to properly listen to someone or fully understand a situation if you are constantly checking-in and out of the conversation or thinking about what else you could/should be doing. It worries me that as business and life gets increasingly complex our leaders are losing their capacity to focus and think. More often than not, there isn't a simple answer or quick fix to issues that end up on the desk of the chief decision maker. While it has become popular these days to espouse the benefits of learning by failing, some failures are hard to recover from (and completely unnecessary). You can't just plough forward and believe that courage, confidence, speed and resilience are the primary secrets to success. The quality of your thinking, application of your experience, soundness of your judgment, and consistency of your effort are equally important.
In less than two months we will have a presidential election here in the United States. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to influence voters to lean one way or another. Interestingly enough a majority of people will simply vote their party line and put very little effort into understanding the position of the other candidate or their leadership abilities. As a result, a comparatively small number of swing voters in an equally small number of states will end up deterring the final outcome. As someone who certainly has a strong sense of party loyalty but has crossed party lines on many occasions this has always frustrated me. No one party has the market cornered on good ideas or is the sole wellspring of capable leaders - the history of our nation has proven this. I have spent considerable time studying leadership and observing leaders. I also enjoy reading about the presidency and the 43 occupants of the oval office. In my humble opinion, the most successful presidents have exhibited the following traits:
Regrettably, I am in a profession where there are minimal barriers to entry and just about anyone (within reason) can claim to do what I do. Just about every week, I meet another person who is billing themselves as a business coach or executive coach and charging a considerable amount of money for something they have no business doing in the first place. More often than not, it is someone who has been downsized from an existing position or exiting a failed business endeavor, an individual who has hit a career brick wall themselves, an academic with free time on his/her hands, an independent consultant looking to supplement their income, or a psychotherapist who has figured out they can charge more money if they change the title of what they do. I shutter sometimes when I think about the bad advice which is regularly disseminated to executives and business owner by often well-intentioned, but under-skilled or poorly trained business coaches. Here are a few questions I recommend you ask before working with someone in this capacity:
Donald T. Phillips in his wonderful book, Martin Luther King on Leadership, does a nice job providing significant detail as to why Martin Luther King (MLK) was a great leader. We often focus on the rhetoric and powerful speeches that he gave, but there is so much more substance to the man than just what he had to say.
Life can be a roller coaster at times. There will be highs and there will be lows. The important thing is not to overreact or think that everything has to be perfect all the time. Perspective is important. There is no silver bullet. There is nothing you can buy or pill you can take that will make you happy for any extended period.
I've always looked forward to Thanksgiving Day. It is one of my favorite holidays of the year. The combination of the food, the parade, football and most importantly family makes it a special day. It begins the countdown to Christmas and marks the start of celebrating the end of another year. I certainly have alot to be thankful for and feel blessed to be so fortunate.
In business and in life it's very important to know who you truly are before you attempt anything dramatic. There are so many messages out there telling us who we ought to be that we sometimes get caught up in a web of self-deceit because that's what we think we should be doing.