A fascinating aspect of our human existence is that despite what happens to us, in most cases life simply goes on. The world stops for no one regardless of the challenge or tragedy they are confronting. Of course, we all know how the journey ultimately ends but until that point we are forced to be resilient and navigate whatever twists and turns come our way. No matter how far you climb the ladder of life there will always be some things beyond your capacity to control. Sometimes all we can do is accept our circumstances and react in the best way we can.
Several years ago one of my Vistage groups was lucky enough to have Dr. Randy Peeters come speak to us about personal core purpose. Few people have accomplished what this very humble and understated man has done in his life. In his presence you get the sense that you are around a man at peace with his human existence and not victim to the same self-imposed boundaries that most of us put up in our own lives. He is a textbook example of pushing the envelope on what’s possible and using your time here on earth effectively. I was very affected by my time with him and share my own core purpose and personal priorities developed because of his presentation. Hopefully this example with stimulate similar activity on your end:
Growth and improvement as a leader doesn’t always involve heavy lifting or hard work. Here are 15 relatively easy things you can do right away to improve your performance and results
Naturally, so much of what we read about leadership and personal development is focused on us and how we can improve as an individual. There is no shortage of resources or ideas that one can adopt and apply to their own lives. I’m happy that for anyone who is interested in living a meaningful life that there is a bevy of material at their disposal. What I sometimes find missing in this quest for self-improvement is a focus on the other people in your life. We can spend so much time looking inward that if we are not careful we will miss opportunities to reach outside of ourselves to make a real difference. It is never just about you.
Bottom line is that we all have assets and liabilities as individuals. There is a school of thought that given this we should focus just on what we are good at (leveraging the assets) and minimize everything else. I believe this mindset has the danger of being short-sighted and self-limiting. Too much of anything is never a good thing. The only way we evolve is through learning and experience. Personal growth happens with time as we stretch our perspectives and challenge individual conceits and preconceptions. If we narrowly focus our growth opportunities, we aren’t fully living. Weaknesses also exist and must be dealt with, not just circumvented or fortified with self protective behaviors. Adversity and challenge are a regular part of life and require some level of personal vulnerability if they are to be successfully navigated
It’s important never to get too full of yourself or expect good times and success to be never-ending. The laws of gravity apply in all aspects of life: what goes up must come down. No one lives at the peak for too long. I’ve always believed that it’s not just what happens when you are on top that matters, but also the grace with how you manage the inevitable changes and decline. Life is about cycles and reinvention. It is not a continuous upward sloping straight line.
Believe it or not I often feel sorry for people who achieve success too easily. If you don’t have to work for something, you tend not to appreciate it as fully as someone else who has struggled to get where they are. It’s a fact of life that we often take those things for granted that come with minimal effort. Luck may have a place in life but it shouldn’t be a personal or professional strategy. Individual character is usually best forged in the fires of adversity and defined by a person’s ability to navigate whatever obstacles are strewn in their path of achieving those things that are meaningful to them.
There will be instances in any person’s life where they will run smack into their fears. It could be in either significant or insignificant matters, but in all cases the fear will be real to the person experiencing it. Overcoming fear takes courage and being courageous always build character.
I’ve sat through a large number of seminars with many leaders and one thing always sticks out. The most successful business people I know don’t just listen to and absorb information, they act on it. This doesn’t mean they act on everything they hear, but when something does resonate with them, they tend to move quickly to make changes.
We all reach a point where we have to make decisions based on imperfect and sometimes even contradictory information. There is no “perfect” decision. Whether it is who we hire, when we enter new markets, how much to invest in new products and technologies, when to expand or contract a business relationship, or any other number of issues, leadership ultimately comes down to judgment. In addition, in our personal lives we will all hit crossroads, where the decisions we make will literally have an impact on the rest of our lives. There is always the risk you may make the wrong decision, but you try to mitigate this risk through sound judgment.
I continue to be fascinated and a bit troubled by people who claim an unwillingness to grow or change. They seem to live by the Popeye motto, “I am what I am” and assume everyone else will simply accept this point of view whether they like it or not. Our actions and behaviors will always have consequences both good and bad. The goal should be to maximize the good and limit the bad.
It’s easy to get comfortable with who we are and what we know. Building new relationships can seem like hard work in an already busy life. However, people can be a bridge to your future happiness. They can help you see the world in new and different ways. They can offer you a perspective of who you are that is unfiltered by past experience.
The most successful people I know don’t create long lists of goals they want to accomplish. As the saying goes, “if everything is important, than nothing really is.” Instead, they focus on a handful of objectives that will clearly advance the end results they are trying achieve in their work and personal life.
I do believe we all have a purpose and something to share in this world regardless of the time we may or may not have. In fact, the lives of those who are unfortunately cut short can be even more instructive.