Life is all about growth. Every day we are faced with situations and circumstances that provide us with two choices – grow or go! Having a mentality of growth is the first step towards being able to maximize your life and live above the level of mediocrity that plagues most of society. If you don’t grow, you will go! No question about that. I call this “Life’s two constant choices”. What choice will you make today? Will you make every circumstance that comes your way an opportunity for personal growth or will you shrink away from growth and give in to mediocrity? Life’s two constant choices are right before you today. Make the better choice – a choice for better life!
The key to continued success in life is massive productivity. I would like to borrow some lessons from ball players and illustrate how we can be massively productive. Here are three keys to massive productivity that hopefully will elevate your results in life:
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
Your performance is very much dependent on what happens behind the scenes. Ball players don’t just walk off the streets and deliver a great performance. It takes years of practice to get to that level of playing. Same thing with you. In order to be an MP (Massive Producer), you have to act massively behind the scenes. It’s your behind the scenes work that brings you from obscurity and into the limelight.
2. Take immediate control of your mental state
The winner’s edge is in his mental attitude. You must approach every situation with a readiness to tackle it and win. You can’t shy away from displaying your skill when your moment of action comes. The moment a player steps onto the court, he is focused and ready to do battle. You can’t allow your mind to wander in hundreds of different directions. You’ve got to harness it.
3. Discover the power of team
No matter how good a player is, he cannot play alone against a team of five and expect to win. You’ve got to find those people who will elevate your performance. Teamwork makes the dream work. What’s your dream? Are you connected to people that can elevate your game? Discover the power of team and you will multiply your value. You can’t do it by yourself. The days of the lone ranger are over.
When I was six years old my parents took me from the city to the country where I had to undergo a traditional African circumcision ceremony. I learnt so much during that initiation and I share most of it through my speech, The Hero’s Journey. One of the things that happened was that the entire “class” of initiates was given a name to identify them. The name gave the entire class a sense of oneness and purpose. We, in a way, became a support team for one another.
In very much the same way, we need support teams for every day life. The age of the lone ranger is forever gone. Teaming up with others enables a shared sense of vision for the future. The team is able to develop goals that are bigger than individual goals and can easily be realized. Being part of a team builds confidence and spreads responsibility. It also allows people within the team to mentor each other.
Teamwork makes the future workable; it makes the dream work! Nothing generates more energy in an organization than a team that is cohesive. It’s true that there is no “I” in team but there is a “me” in team. Embrace your team and lift it to a higher level!
We all experience moments in life when obstacles seem to crowd out our goals and aspirations. Whether you are a leader of an organization, an employee in a department, a small-business owner, a student, the President or even just a regular guy, we have all experienced many barriers to our goals. I’ve seen so many people with great dreams that would add tremendous value to society but every time they try to plug into their dreams, they get knocked down by societal barriers.
Regardless of your situation or status in life, I want you to know that you can smash any barriers that hinder your life goals and your organization’s direction. I know this full well because my life has been about smashing barriers. I come from a community that is not well regarded in terms of access to higher positions in my country – Kenya. I was denied the opportunity to come to the United States four times before I finally got the Visa. I came to this country with a big dream and only $140 in my pocket. Imagine all the barriers I have had to surmount in order to get to where I am now. When I told people that I wanted to speak for a living, a lot of them said, “You are barking up the wrong tree, son. You’ve got a heavy African accent, no money, no contacts, ….how do you ever expect to do this?” Well, I didn’t have to know the “how” since I had a solid “why”. My passion has been one – to help people – and that is why barriers are getting smashed as I begin to slice the frontiers of developing people and empowering them to live a better life. Here are some ideas:
Three Core Hammers for Smashing Through Barriers
1. Generate a Solid Idea of Your Life Purpose
Purpose is the key to understanding the “why” of life. When you know what your purpose is, you will not lose heart in the face of obstacles and barriers. Understanding purpose enables you to stay committed and motivated towards pursuing your goals. Purpose produces passion and that is essential in overcoming challenges. Leaders in organizations need to have a clear picture of what the organization’s purpose is.
2. Develop an Enduring Vision
Lots of people have vision but very few stick to it when barriers come their way. If you will smash through barriers, you need to have an enduring vision. The United States as a country has come through many generations of challenges because of an enduring vision that was cast by the founding fathers. I succeeded in finally being able to come to the United States because I had an enduring vision.
3. When Knocked Down, Get Back Up!
I like reading biographies. One of the stories I have enjoyed so much was that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had a steady stream of barriers throughout his life and he smashed through all of them. Look at this:
In 1816 his family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them. In 1818 his mother died. In 1831 he failed in business. In 1832 he ran for state legislature and lost. In 1832 he lost his job and wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.In 1833 he borrowed money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the next year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt. In 1834 he ran for state legislature again and won. In 1835 he was engaged to be married. His sweetheart died and his heart was broken. In 1836 he had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months. In 1838 he sought to become speaker of the state legislature but was defeated. In 1840 he sought to become elector but was defeated. In 1843 he ran for congress and lost. In 1846 he ran for congress again. This time he won, went to Washington and did a good job.In 1848 he ran for reelection to congress and lost. In 1849 he sought the job of land officer in his home state and was rejected. In 1854 he ran for Senate of the United States but lost. In 1856 he sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s convention and got less that 100 votes. In 1858 he ran for US Senate again – again, he lost. In 1860 he was elected President of the United States.
My! That’s a long list of barriers for just one single guy! But you know what? He had purpose and vision plus he got back up each time he was knocked down. You can do it too! Let’s smash through barriers!
Here’s a helpful resource:
Battling for your Prophetic Destiny is packed with insight on how you can conquer every barrier as you pursue your purpose. Your destiny is secure!
There’s good leadership, then there’s great leadership. Good leadership takes people from point A to point B. Great leadership empowers people so that they can go from point A to point B. What do great leaders do?
First, they articulate a clear and compelling vision. They are visionary. They communicate a common vision that gives people a purpose and meaning. It outlines the priorities of the group and the direction that is is going in.
Second they act confidently and optimistically. The leader’s confidence, conviction and optimism is contagious. It rubs off on the followers. Lack of this weakens leadership of its potential.
Third, they express confidence in their followers. Great leaders have high confidence in people and make them feel good about themselves. They foster their confidence and optimism.
Lastly, they lead by example. One leadership proverb says, “Example is the main thing in influencing others.” Their example leverages the whole organization and enables people to come into their full potential.
One of the most important things that must be grasped in life is that growth is not permanent. Many times we set a goal for accomplishment and once that goal is attained we sort of settle into a feeling that we have arrived. Best example of this is the diploma mentality. Most people stop learning and growing once their degree, diploma or certificate in whatsoever they are pursuing. The end result of this is that they slowly start losing most of what they had learnt. The key to continuos improvement in life is a commitment to never-ending personal growth. Here are some growth keys for a better life:
Generate a passion for growth within yourself – Personal growth is not easy. It takes a special commitment to maintain consistent growth. The key to this is to make a personal decision for continuous growth. You have to decide that no matter what you will carve out time for your groth.
Read widely with a desire to expand your knowledge – Leaders are readers. In order to stay ahead of the pack, you must do what the pack doesn’t do. Few people read on a daily basis. What you do daily will decide who you become permanently. You have to read and listen to audio books daily.
Omit useless activities from your daily agenda – Personal growth goes hand-in-hand with time management. In order to develop yourself you must learn to discriminate wisely amongst activities. That’s the key to maintaining focus. Activity doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity.
Wear a whatever it takes attitude – I was watching Tiger Woods play golf on the final day of the 2007 Buick invitational which he won by two strokes for his seventh straight PGA tour win. Tiger has committed himself to continously improving his game. Nobody wears a whatever it takes attitude better than him.
Treasure the company of others that are growing – Who you become in five years depends a lot on who you associate with today. Find people that are growing and share in their growth. Your environment should consist of people that are going in the same direction in which you are headed. That is the key to achievement.
Hammer-out a lifestyle of growth – Developing a lifestyle of growth is not easy. Once you set your eyes on growing, all sorts of obstacles will try and prevent you from attaining that goal. You have to “chisel” out a pathway of growth in your life.
Embrace these keys to growth and you will definitely change your life!
Events and circumstances in our lives tend to elicit a desire to react to them. In order to be empowered we need to be able to see things differently. Many people see events and circumstances as barriers rather than opportunities for progress. A recent unfortunate incident in which my child was being mistreated by a babysitter and her daughter elicited in me a desire to react rather than be creative. The bulk of niceness prevented me from doing so, only to end up being falsely accused by the sitter in a strange twist of events. Despite this, I chose to be creative and glean lessons that would inspire me towards an elevated existence. A friend once told me that when an eagle is attacked by crows it does not fight back but soars higher and higher until it reaches a point where the hawks are completely unable to attack it anymore. That’s what I chose to do.
In our every day dealings, do we spend too much time on the horizontal that we fail to see our potential in the vertical? Is life all about what’s happening around us? Should events and circumstances govern our existence? Think about this. In a meeting, when you are horizontal you are sitting down but when you are vertical you are standing up. By getting vertical we can gain a bird’s eye view so that we have a bigger picture of what’s possible. In the vertical we have an opportunity to be creative while in the horizontal we are always reactive. Creativity comes when we can ’C’ things differently. Notice that the difference between creative and reactive is in where you place the ‘c’. In being creative you ‘c’ first and then develop a game plan. In being reactive you ‘c’ in the midst of the situation. How do you ’c’ (see)? Are you seated down wallowing in everyday events or are you standing up and doing something about your destiny? Are you creative or reactive? Choose to C first!
We live in a world that is increasingly becoming faster and faster and noisier and noisier. This is evidenced in many areas of life ranging from business to family and social events. Business is now being conducted “at the speed of thought”. Politicians are becoming noisier and noisier in their clamor for air-time. People are striving to out-smart and out-think one another. Basically, there have been many voices calling for faster processes, faster thinking, faster living and faster everything.
This quest for faster and faster and louder and louder has in many ways ended up hurting society. Stress levels have increased and a lot of damage has been done to people, organizations and institutions in society. We have a saying back home that ”we operate on African time”. In America people say that time is money. These two sayings depict two different paradigms on the idea of time. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paradigms but I believe there is a lot that the West can learn from “African time” in terms of time management and slowing down the pace of life. I am in the process of writing down some thoughts, but of course I’m working on “African time”.
Perhaps there is a kind of life that embraces the slow and subtracts from the noise. If we are going to be achieve lives of significance and purpose, we will have to slow down and shut out most of the noise from today’s society. Life is designed to be a journey that is enjoyable but we have made it an excruciatingly painful experience. Modernization, with it’s many advantages, also has demerits. Gone are the days when life was an interaction with nature. Today life is an interaction with machines and gadgets. Let us go back to a slower and quieter way of life.
Richard Carlson contributed immensely to de-stressing the human race in his masterpiece, Don’t sweat the small stuff. I personally have benefited immensely from his work. There have been many situations when I would get close to allowing small stuff to ruin my attitude. In those moments I’ve thought of his work and the potential of stress always ended up dissipating.
But then I would also like us to consider getting serious about the little things that, if not properly handled, can derail our purposes, marriages and organizations. As I advocate for getting serious about small stuff, I’m not saying that you should sweat the small stuff. Sweat is a waste of energy (mere rearrangement of the letters) while getting serious is conservation of energy.
Think about your home, your job or your schooling. Supposing you decided not to be serious about the little things, what would happen? Would your home be successful? Would you continue working at your job for long? Would you do well in school and graduate? Little things do matter. Small stuff may not matter but little things can become big things.
Think of the nanotechnology industry. Something extremely small is rapidly becoming a big thing. Nanotechnology is simply the manipulation of atoms and molecules. The particles that are produced are a thousand times smaller than the width of hair, a hundred times smaller than a red blood cell – small stuff, huh!? Yet in the next few years nanotechnology will be driving almost everything – from computer chips to fuel cells. When the entire process of manipulating this small particles is fully undertood we might have robots creating things out of nothing. Picture a car or a hamburger appear out of thin air as the molecules are arranged by nano-scale robots!
Let’s get serious about the little things. Little things become big things. Don’t sweat the small stuff but get serious about the little things.
It has been fascinating to watch the development of Lebron James since he left the Cleveland Cavaliers and joined the Miami Heat. I want to uncover a leadership principle that can tremendously boost any team, be it in sports, business, at school or even in the home. I’d like to suggest that with the Cavaliers Lebron was more of an “i” player and failed to grasp the full essence of being part of a winning team. It is likely that the Heat will win the NBA championship this year but there are still major obstacles ahead.
Intermission Disclaimer: Winning in this article (and in my personal philosophy) is simply pursuing your personal potential and measuring yourself against what you could do. It is not about beating your competition, coming out first or measuring yourself against other people.
Let’s find our leadership principle – “There are two ‘i’s in winning”. Michael Jordan once said that “there’s no ‘i’ in team but there is in win”. I want to take it a notch further. It takes more than one ‘i’ for a team to win. A team with one ‘i’ can win every now and then, but for a team to continue winning, there must be at least two ‘i’s. For you to win as a leader you need to align yourself to other ‘i’s who will enable you to leverage your potential. Rather than aim to win, you need to produce a winning combination. Look at the combination of Lebron, Wade, and Bosh. Egos have to be set aside.
No single initiative, quality, person, idea or other factor will bring you the ultimate level of success you are destined for. You’ve got to find the winning combinations that will guarantee you victory. Start thinking outside the box. You’ve got to find a way of aligning any competing ideas, people or resources into one unit that fits and works together.
The key to winning therefore is in having an arsenal of ideas, initiatives, strategies and resources and then knowing when to use which. You’ve got to have a bag of tricks up your sleeve, so to speak. You have to build your organization or business around a solid vision (your ultimate goal), have a driving mission (winning) and execute both the vision and the mission flawlessly (aligning with great ‘i’s). There’s no ‘i’ in ‘Team’, but there are two in ‘Winning’!