"Quit waiting to get picked; quit waiting for someone to give you permission; quit waiting for someone to say you are officially qualified and pick yourself."
Oh, and read the rest. Right now.
In an interview, the author Walter Mosley described the situation surrounding a character he created:
"Oh, I like Leonid very much. He represents to me the 21st century. He's the guy where everything has changed in the world. Like, living in Los Angeles is a great example. You might say, 'I'm not going to move from place to place like everybody else.' But even if you stay in the same place, everybody around you moves. So you become nomadic, even if you stay in the same place. The 21st century is like that. The world we knew is gone, and we're living in a new world even though we didn't go anywhere."
As soon as you read this, you recognized the truth of it. We are surrounded by change, even though we sometimes resist it. The key, in my mind, is to swim with the current to harness the power of its momentum.
Here's something you might have missed. In order to bring this wisdom to life, Mosley had to observe life, ponder, work though his thoughts, and put them to words. Do you want to be wise? Give yourself time to think. Dive deeply into a topic. Talk about it with other people. Give yourself room to breathe. In so many aspect of life, you look to produce something, to get return on your effort. ROI can wait. Capital markets want return; humans crave wisdom.
I am fortunate to have many insightful friends who inspire me to be a YES! to the things that matter in my life. They are generous with their vision and support. It's my pleasure to connect you with Susan Koening, who has served as my coach in addition to being a friend.
Like so many people who love accomplishments, I developed the habit of saying yes to countless opportunities that came my way. I struggled to find time for my encore career in coaching while juggling an already full life.
This took a dramatic turn when my coach asked, "What have you done to grow your business this month?"
"Nothing" I confessed. I defended myself (being a lawyer I had the skills) with a litany of how busy I was writing my book, teaching law, running the firm, and dealing with family dramas.
"Just how important is your coaching to you?" she asked. "Oh, it means everything to me, Coach!" I proclaimed in my typical enthusiasm.
Coach was silent. She allowed me to stare into the face of the disconcerting truth that I had chosen to put other meaningful activities before my passion. She didn't judge me. She simply let me observe that I alone was responsible for the choices I made.
We so want to make a difference. We keep saying yes. We keep doing more. We long to do even more, but we don't have the time. We add to our responsibilities but rarely take anything off. Life gets busier and busier.
Successful people are often shocked to learn that creating a "Stop Doing" list might be their most important "To Do" ever.
The thought of no longer doing much of what I had done for years was hard to face. I made an impressive argument for holding on to everything on my agenda. Eventually I faced the truth. There were not enough hours in the day for me to add one more initiative to my rich life. Like it or not, I had to choose. In that moment, I had to be willing to choose to let go of something good to make room for something great.
I started small. I found others to take my place. I surrendered to the reality that ego had tied me to many of my past choices. Little by little I eased out of the many "Yeses" I had spoken over the years. I mourned as I said good-bye to the parts of my life that I had enjoyed for many seasons.
Eventually I was able to spend more time doing what I loved most of all. The feelings of frustration about not having enough time to do what was most important diminished. My good life was now even better than ever.
Rather than waiting for the universe to bring you enough time, money, and energy for creating the life you want, start today by making your "Stop Doing List." You might delight to discover that the key to having more of what you want is by doing less, not more.
Susan Ann Koenig, JD, Executive Coach is an attorney turned speaker, author, and coach. She inspires and empowers successful people to make their greatest contribution.
Visit Susan's website www.coachkoenig.com to learn more.
Admit it. You know you're a genius. If you don't recognize this by now, pick up a copy of Practical Genius by Gina Rudan. In it, Gina guides readers to identify their personal genius and bring it to life.
Recently, Gina published an article called Ten Things I Learned in 2011. Now, if you're a curious person, you know that another person's insight is a great tool to spark your own improvement. A term she used in lesson #8 jumped out at me: competing agendas.
One of the key elements of success is the ability to focus and decline involvement in things that are not mission-critical. In an earlier article, I referenced this same topic from Derek Sivers (Hell Yeah or No). When Gina called it "competing agendas," I recognized a deeper meaning. You're not just splitting your time, you compete for brain space. Your concentration is compromised. And, what's worse, your ability to dive deeply into the things you really love... gone.
Now - right now - is the perfect time to pare competing agendas from your view.
Conventional wisdom screams "Set goals!" For most people, that is the theater of disaster. What happens when you work hard and miss your goals? Or worse, what happens when you meet those goals but have the nagging feeling that you could have achieved more? It's demoralizing, and a demoralized person can't be creative.
In a conversation with Keith Ferrazzi, author Christine Comaford offers a different perspective: focus on moving the needle.
"Needle movers are actions that will truly move the needle forward in your business or personal life – essentially goals that change your life fundamentally. While a goal is binary and can leave you feeling great or defeated, a needle mover ends with you either reaching your target (what you want), the minimum (what you are willing to accept), or a mind blowing result (beyond your wildest dreams!). You won't always get the exact result you want but you will have moved the needle forward."
Share your needle movers with me on Facebook.
Change can confront us in unexpected ways, but it also affords us opportunities to move forward. Our attitude makes all the difference. Does change batter you or inspire you to adjust?
One of my personal crusades is to help people move away from the word "sustainable." Sustainability is a myth. It assumes that we can maintain situations and hold on to stability. False. Nothing ever stays the same. I'm personally interested in adaptability. People who can manage in the face of change are the ones who survive. Basic Darwin.
In the Harvard Business Review, author John Coleman supplies us with tools to change and grow. His article, To Grow, Leave What You Know Behind, is a short but powerful read that should spark a few ideas for you and support your growth.
Temple Granding has an amazing mind. You can learn a lot about thinking - and how to appreciate other people - from her.
Watch Gary spill his passion all over the stage. This guy knows how to tap into a dream.
Do you believe that you are strong? You might find it difficult to admit, especially during a period of struggle. It's easy to focus on what's going wrong, but does that get you anywhere? It's time to dig out and get your attitude adjusted.
Every one of us has innate talents that we can develop into strengths. There are tasks we do well, just because there are things that come naturally to us. What would life be like if you could just focus on the things you do best? Could you clear the obstacles from your life and minimize your struggles?
The first step to making your strengths work is to identify them. You need to find out how to frame your thoughts so you can make a difference in your life. For me, one of the most powerful tools is the StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Tom Rath at Gallup. In it, you get familiar with the concept of strength and how it makes a difference in your life. Then, the online assessment helps identify your "themes of talent." This is your personal Top 5 list.
This is where the fun starts.
In Part 2, I'll show you how a friend used his strengths to make a career transition after 22 years in the same industry.
In case you're curious, my themes are Maximizer, Input, Activator, Connectedness, Communication.