Why do a thing? Or Not?

Why? Not? Why do it?

Seriously. Why do it? Why invest the time? Or why do you not invest the time?  Why “waste the time?” Why do you return to a habit that you regret or detest? And what keeps you doing it?

All interesting. Very interesting indeed.

After all why am I reading this? Why am I writing this?  What motivates me to do something different or follow the same path? And which is better?

And now that I have all these thoughts of motivation written out, what now do I do? And again, why? Or why not?

Motivation. What motivates me to do that which I do?  And what motivates me to do what I think is good versus bad? What is good for me?  What’s the “point?”

Me? I find that I am motivated much by the impact or rather potential impact on the world I live in. The ecosystem I’m in. My family. My children. My wife. My own time. My own health. My friends. My community I live in. The things that I care most about and why do I care about them?

Discerning what I should do and when? And why should I at all and how it will potentially impact these things.

I say potential impact because much of what motivates me is avoiding negatives. Take my health for example.  I diet to  avoid the possibility of putting back on those 50lb’s that I lost.  I diet because I didn’t like the way I looked or felt with those extra 50lbs.  The potential impact of that weight gain is what keeps me from indulging in a diet of chocolate bars and cheesecake everyday of the week.  Disciplining myself on my diet has helped me potentially impact my health in what I hope is potentially a positive impact. I stay disciplined because I don’t want the negative impact. I don’t know for certain if I’d be healthier at one weight or the other, but I believe in the potential that the lower weight is better.

So probably a bit like you, I have to make choices every day on how I spend my time. And what I find personally most fascinating is the impact that previous decisions I have made have on how I spend my time today. And what will be the impact tomorrow based on what I spend my time on today? Is it a pattern? Since I started something, do I continue on?

Is it debt? Is it obligation?  Is it that a path was started and now it must be finished? But why? Why finish at all?

Is it financial gain? Is it a desire for recognition?  Do I feel better about myself? Do I make someone I care about feel better?  

The more I think about this, the more I realize there isn’t necessarily a quick answer, at least for me. And in more things than I care to admit there may not be a clear answer.

More importantly, if I start doing something, should I stop? For my best interest or for the best interest of the person I would rather I turned out to be?  Maybe it’s not the “me” of today? Maybe it’s the “me” of the future?

Well, this much is certain. Time spent by “me” cannot be gained back. Once spent it is gone. That minute is past, and this minute is over. Yet another minute and another investment spent on something.

It’s early in the morning as I write this. And why I am writing this is because I have been thinking a lot about why do I do what I do?  And whether or not I want to keep doing certain things? And why ask the question at all?  I have a big deadline at work. It makes me ask the question, “why?”

Again?

So much of what motivates me to do things I need to do is my wife and kids. There are fiscal motives. Things I do because of the need to pay for things with money. And then there is the personal desires. The things that are in my heart and soul and I cannot escape.

How connected am I? Between the time I spend and where my desires and motivations are? How lined up am I? Am I on track in this path?

And concerning those that I love, am I the best example and teacher for them? Am I the best friend for them? Am I the best son? Brother? Do I care if I am or not? And how do I pick and choose? I can’t do every thing or execute on every idea, so now what?

I have to think about this some more.

Do you find yourself saying, “I shouldn’t do this?”  Or “I should do that?”

Why? And how will you decide whether you will follow through?

If I suddenly become self aware of something I am doing or about to do, and if I cannot clearly determine why I am doing it, maybe I shouldn’t do it anymore?  Maybe it’s time to pick something else to do that helps me become the person I’d rather be?  And if I don’t know who that is?  Maybe I should invest the time in thinking about that so I can make some better decisions?

Then again, maybe there is nothing wrong with not having such a plan or a desire. Having no plan could be the plan that is right for you?  Or me?  Maybe I have no more plans?  

Perhaps the question “why do something” boils down to another question of “what do I care about and why”; then “what am I prepared to do about what I care about”? Or “am I okay with doing nothing”?

As for me?  Years ago I put on the headline of my blog “I do what I do because I believe I should do it…”  So what “should” I do?  

More on that later…

or not.

What Makes Someone Great?

What makes someone great? What creates greatness? Do leaders ask to be great? Do they desire to be great? Or do they come from ordinary stalk and somehow make the decision that something has to be done. Do they wake up and realize that if they don’t act, things will get worse?

I venture to guess that most great leaders in history rose up out of dire circumstances. It was out of the trials and fires and ugliness of their circumstances they grew strong. They did not choose to be great, but in tough times they chose to do something great.

Granted that a case can be made for those that plot a course to be great, but it’s those that did not start out that way that we truly hold up as great. Whether by accidental invention or by incidental responses, the stories we read of great leaders are interesting to us because of what they have gone through. And yet, many of us; no most of us would not choose their path for ourselves. Who would chose economic suffering for themselves? Or disease or oppression? But here is where the furnace refines those who become great.

Look at the great depression, out of that came the greatest generation. Following worst economic times come the best economic times. Following oppression comes liberty? Why?

Greatness is in you. You have the capacity to be great. You may not know it and you may not feel it. And you probably don’t recognize it. For those that do great things, rarely do they recognize it as great. Their tasks are as minor as yours to start. Dr. King’s first speech was not the crowds on the steps in DC, and Washington didn’t start out as a General, and the list would continue on as we look upon the stories of those we now call great.

It starts with little things. And it’s these little things that compound and are refined. And not doing things is as important to greatness, by not choosing the easy path, not resting when there is work to do. There is plenty to not do from giving up to selling out.

I’m not one who can speak of greatness personally. I am just an ordinary person who has fought some challenging battles. I wonder an I think about what I do and am supposed to do. I’m probably a lot like you. And I know a lot of you who will read this are doing so when you are discouraged.

So today, remember this one thing; if you aspire to greatness or if you just aspire to be a little more – there is no difference. That is greatness. That inspiration is a gift; and you must act on it. Whether in business, in family, in love, in music, in art, in politics and in faith; do the thing and do it well. Don’t be satisfied with less than you are called to do. For some, you are called to act out in greatness; it’s your turn to do something about it. And the rest of you, stay on the couch and change the channel. Maybe it’s best if you just stay where you are at.

-d

Leadership is Difficult – If you think you can’t do it, you are right… and?

Leadership is difficult.  The burden of doing what is right with what is trusted to you is heavy.  And it’s certain you will stumble and you will fall.  You will make mistakes and you will make missteps. The longer you lead, the more burdens you will bear and the heavier it can seem.  

And if you are in a position of leadership and you are pursuing big goals and big dreams one day you will say to yourself “I can’t do this anymore.” And you will be right. You can’t.  But is that a bad thing? I maintain that its good news. You have come to the end of your skills and you are now dependent on others to succeed.

If you are in a leadership role facing a project that is bigger than your skills can handle – you need others.  The larger the vision the more dependent you are on others and the more certain it is that you will face days where you say to yourself, “I can’t do this”.

I’m not sure you are getting my point.  You can’t do it.  That’s right, you can’t do it.  Let that sink in.  And as a leader you are not supposed to do it.  You need others to help you.  And your new role is in service to finding that team and helping them achieve their goals.  To quote Rick Warren, “It’s not about you”.  In this case, it’s about them.

So about this burden of leadership and about the weight of responsibility; is it possible to lighten the load?

I’ve found personally that you can lighten the load by accepting what you can do and finding others to do the rest.  You transfer the weight of doing things, but not the weight of responsibility.  And certainly not the pressure of getting things done.  A good leader doesn’t blame the team if in the end the task is not done. Don’t pass the buck.  Don’t pass the blame. It’s still the leaders responsibility.

When your team makes a mistake the best thing you can do for them is to take the blame.  Cover the responsibility.  Do what you have to do to protect them.  This helps your team trust you more.  It helps them want to work harder because of your loyalty for them.  Take the arrows – that’s part of serving the team when you are the leader.

Help others create their ownership and help others have a win.  Design for them to be successful. Make plans for their success.  Don’t focus on you.  Focus on them.  Service is key.

That’s right.  Leadership is really service.  As a leader you must serve your team, your customers, your shareholders.  Serve serve serve.  You need more than yourself and when you focus on yourself the burden can seem too hard to carry. When you focus on how you can help your team, your customers, your shareholders – strangely the weight shifts.  It’s as if by magic.

Leadership is about service to others.  Remember that you can’t do it alone and you need others and your burden will lighten up.  Keep it that simple.

Spoken from experience.  😉

-d

Chasing the Clouds Away

I’m watching the sun chase the clouds away. It’s as if the weather doesn’t remember how cruel it was a few hours ago. The camera on my smartphone really doesn’t do my picture justice – I’m amazed at how beautiful it is.  It’s so bright and refreshing and energizing, and yet it was really ugly, dark and dim just a few hours ago.  

A few hours ago I said something I regret saying and I can never take it back.  I have apologized but I still feel horrible.  I let myself overreact.  No, I didn’t curse or insult or say anything demeaning; but I definitely showed my anger.  I took offense to what someone said in an email and I ranted.  I screamed in ALL CAPS and for me that’s a big deal. It’s way out of character for me.

I know better. I know not to loose my patience and I know not to rant.  I still did it. And I know that I hurt whom I threw my words at.  I really didn’t want it to be hurtful, but it doesn’t matter.  It hurt them.  Unintended consequences, damage done.  

I wish I could be like the weather and let the storm blow over.  I wish I could chase the clouds away and let the sun warm the ground below.  It’s so amazing how quickly the weather can turn. And for me it’s harder to forgive myself than it is for me to forgive others.  Meanwhile, damage done, time wasted, and for what purpose?

I cannot think of a valid reason to say hurtful things to anyone you care about.  And more often than not, I am sure what we say is not meant to be hurtful.  Regardless, ideas expressed whether out of defensiveness or aggressiveness – if they are expressed in anger, they hurt.

It’s very unwise when you are angry to take quick action.  It’s most certainly unwise to rant and show your anger.  What good does it create in the end?  Better to hold back your wrath and see if the storm passes.  Better to wait and see.  Better to look at their intentions and not rush to judgment and worse; express condemnation on anyone else in anger.

If you must attack an idea; do it with intelligence and do it with tact and resourcefulness. Do it with planning.  Express your concerns and ideas in a way that is articulate and constructive towards a positive end.  If you need to tear down an idea, even more so – do it on the basis of solid expression of ideas.  No reason to devalue your concerns by acting out in anger.  

Put your words to better use than shouting. Remember to construct them carefully; there are more important things that need to be done.

I’ll endeavor to do the same.

-d