Leaders Share about Dreams and Callings-A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our November Festival is all about Dreams and Callings.  Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Finding Our Dreams and Callings

“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?'” – Robert Kennedy

The call to lead sometimes whispers very softly or it can trick you when it’s really a desire for more money, power or position. Mary Jo Asmus  of Aspire Collaborative Services advises us to listen carefully.  Follow Mary Jo.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Managment Improvement has discovered the lasting impact of a particular person in his life, and carries on that dream and calling in his own. Follow John. 

Tom Eakin of BoomLife encourages us to make our big idea an experiment and start doing what it takes to rise above the confounding things that distract you from doing what it takes to live your dream. Follow Tom.

Examining Our Dreams and Callings

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

What if I told you that most people don’t even know what their true dreams are? You may have goals and aspirations, but do you know the things deep down inside that drive you? That’s what Matt McWilliams of Mattmcwilliams.com asks us. Follow Matt.

What makes you come alive? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce helps you take notice and find your leadership passion.   Follow Julie.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center  shares that if you’re not clear about what you really want, you are likely to set goals that will not be truly satisfying once accomplished. If you look below the surface of your dreams, you might find that what you thought you wanted is not exactly what you truly desire. Follow Jesse Lynn.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership challenges us that if you want to do even greater things with the rest of your life, there is one critical step you must take. You must CHOOSE. Follow Susan.

Jeff Harmon of Brilliance Within Coaching shares that the most important leadership practice to connect with your calling and the deepest part of yourself is solitude.  This is not only the place where you will meet your calling, but also a source of contentment.  Follow Jeff.

What is your life quest? What will you create and curate? How will you manage conflict? Key questions to answer for your life quest, according to Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

As we head into the New Year, use these questions to plan how you will transform your leadership, your workplace and your world. Thanks, Linda Fish Thornton of Leading in Context. Follow Linda.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents “It’s never too late” where she shares that when we give ourselves time to reflect on what we’ve always dreamed of, or what would make us our “best selves,” we allow ourselves to become who we want to be. Follow Lisa.

In this post, Mike Henry of the Lead Change Group opens up to his readers about how his personal calling has shifted in the past few years and reminds us that, “…our highest calling inflates or inspires us to rise to new heights and achieve great things.” Follow Mike.

Overcoming Challenges to Dreams and Callings

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters shares that somewhere along the line we stop dreaming so much…and we start turning into planners.   There’s great importance in planning, but constant planning takes us away from unconstrained dreaming. Follow Jeff.

When life gets tough, it’s hard to look truth in the eye according to LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center. We’ve all paid a heavy price to get where we are today, and we need mental toughness to keep this important promise to ourselves—that if we keep looking for positive alternatives in our life, we will find them.  Follow LaRae.

Life makes demands of us when we want to achieve something in life.  Here David Brown of Avis and Brown shares his learning from experiences on his journey towards his calling. Follow David.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame says there is one thing standing between this moment and what you most want to create...hard work. Follow Alli.

Sharing Our Dreams and Callings

“A dream you dream alone is a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” – Yoko Ono

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership reminds us that you can’t just persuade people to change. You have to share the dream. Follow Wally.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership takes a look at how our dreams serve as both the inspiration and drive necessary to fuel our organization’s growth and long-term prosperity. Follow Tanveer.

Michelle Pallas of Michelle Pallas, Inc. remind us that as leaders, it’s up to us to inspire others to hope; otherwise they never create the dreams that propel them forward. Follow Michelle.

Call for Submissions. January’s Frontline Festival is about Confidence. Please send your submissions no later than January 9th. New participants welcome.  Click here to join in!

Dreams & CallingsI’m so grateful for to Larry Coppenrath for creating this beautiful visual map of the the thinking in this month’s Festival.

 

 

 

Transitions: My First Week As An Entrepreneur

As my regulars know, I’ve recently left my job as a Verizon Wireless executive to pursue my entrepreneurial dream. I promise that my blog will continue to be about ways to support you.

With that said, I’ve received so many wonderful notes and lots of questions about what’s next as an entrepreneur, that I figured there were others who were curious, but not asking. I imagine my own angst can be helpful to others in the midst of such transitions. I would love to hear your stories.

Q&A On Early Transitions

Question: What’s your biggest surprise one week in?
Answer: My new boss is a handful.

Her heart’s in the right place, but she’s hard to keep up with. Her passion is contagious, but sometimes it just wears me out. I think sometimes she forgets we’re just a small team. I’ve tried to explain, but she’s got this new entrepreneurial spirit thing going. Not sure she’s listening. You see, the tricky part is, my new boss is me. I’ve become the boss I wish I had, and I’m swimming in imperfection.

I suddenly have a new realization of what it must have been like to work on my teams all these years. I’m having flashbacks to what one of my leaders said after working with me in a new gig for a few weeks. Yikes, we’ve been running so hard, my watch is spinning around on my wrist from all the weight I’ve lost.

Back then, I took it as a joke and a compliment. We were having fun and had great momentum. But maybe, this sweet Southern gentleman was also kindly trying to tell me to slow down, that I was creating a cloud dust of deliverables that were hard to keep up with.

A week in to being my own boss, I’m experiencing what my own teams have felt from me passion, impatience, extreme focus on results, and lots of work.

It’s a humbling exercise to be the visionary and the one who must execute. I’ve got more to-dos than I can possibly do.

Question: Did you leave Verizon because you hit a glass ceiling?
Answer: No.

Verizon leadership goes out of their way to develop and promote women. I have been surrounded by amazing women and men mentors and examples over the years, and continue to have these supportive people in my life. I left from the right box on the grid.

If I hit a ceiling, it can better be described as an authenticity ceiling of my own making. I have very strong leadership values which I stick to. It became more important for me to lead in the way that I felt most compelled to lead than to organize my leadership around what would best position me for the next level.

Question: Aren’t you scared?
Answer: Of course.

Entrepreneurship is highly personal. There’s no one to blame but me. Every swing and a miss, makes me sad. But the base hits are worth it. But besides all that, it came to a point that I was more frightened of the consequences of not doing what I felt most called to do.

I don’t want to leave this world contributing less than I should. I resonate with Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on innovation. It’s starting to feel that I’m supposed to be responding to things happening through me. That’s hard to ignore.

Question: What are your first steps?
Answer: Head clearing, strategic planning, website/video development, building on partnerships, and book launching.

Honestly, I need some unwinding. I’m mixing in some yoga and kickboxing with the strategic planning and other work. I am resisting the urge to do too much doing until my priorities and strategy are solid. With that said, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the leadership media crowd in support of my book launch.

I’m spending a lot of time in interviews, podcasts, and other media responses. That’s been a BLAST. P.S. If you’ve enjoyed the book, I would love to have you write a short review on Amazon with all the media commotion, we could use some help in the basics.

I’m also delighted to be collaborating with a highly talented group of management consultants in a group called Agamie, each of us bringing different areas of expertise. We have some exciting possibilities brewing.

Question: What’s the focus of your new company?
Answer: Helping companies achieve transformational results by building rock-solid front-line leadership teams.

The new website coming in early May will share the whole story stay tuned.

Question: Do you have other books in the works?
Answer: Yes.

Overcoming An Imperfect Boss is tapas. It will be an exciting 2 years.

Question: Will Let’s Grow Leaders stay the same interactive community?
Answer: You bet!

Only stronger. We have many new subscribers, and more people joining the conversation. Amen. If you’ve never shared a comment, join the fun. It’s much more exciting to be involved.

5 Reasons I Quit My Day Job to Pursue My Dream

Yup, I really did quit my day job to purse my dream full time. No, this is not an April Fools joke. Although last year’s was fun in case you missed it. I will spend my days helping companies eliminate destructive, energy-sucking leadership practices and instead grow confident, competent and creative leaders at every level.

I’ve been engrossed in a 45 day transition to ensure my team doesn’t miss a beat. The true sign of leadership is what happens when the leader walks away. Although the “walking away” part is heartbreaking, the running toward is exhilarating. I will miss my magical team.

As news has spread through my teams at work and with the external strategic companies with whom I partner, nearly everyone has had a similar reaction curve.

  1. Shock – Are you kidding, no one walks away from a great gig like that. What about those long-term incentives you’re leaving on the table?
  2. Sadness – I’m blessed to have built deep connections with so many people whom I care about deeply. We will really miss one another and the outcomes of our collaboration.
  3. Stirring – Wow, look at your eyes when you talk about this. You really are following your calling. I know this your true passion. Good for you.
  4. Support – How can I best help you?

Thank you to all who have been on this curve with me through the last few weeks.

Building Momentum: From Dreaming to Doing

I’d like to say that the last few years of writing and speaking were all a deliberate strategic building towards this moment. But the truth is, I felt the pull and stayed open to possibilities. The exhilaration of the momentum became too hard to resist. I began waking up early and rushing to the computer to see what my email would bring. I felt alive and full of meaning with the growing connections of kindred spirits and leaders needing support.

A less than belligerent commitment is a curse.
~ Eric Maisal<?div>

The long hours and travel to do my leadership role well and the time needed to serve the LGL pursuits became too much to sustain. I had to choose. It was time to do what I felt most called to do. And so I offer some of the behind the scenes decisions that helped turned the dream into reality.

  1. Building A Financial Foundation – When I was in my late twenties with a small baby and a big mortgage, my husband lost his job. My salary could not cover the mortage payment, let alone the other expenses, and our entire savings had gone to the down payment. We ate a lot of noodles. That early experience taught me to never let my lifestyle outgrow my savings. I vowed to save enough that my bags could be “packed,” and not be overly dependent on any company. I shared this philosophy anonymously on Greg Marcus’, Idol Buster blog, in my 2012 post, Bags Packed & Ready To Lead.
  2. Building Genuine Relationships – The most exhilarating part of this journey has been the amazing kindred spirits I’ve met along the way. I have strong leadership values which sometimes leave me swimming upstream. It’s been awesome to connect with other schools of like-minded fish fighting the same battle.
  3. Building On The Basics – For the last 3 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with some amazing human beings in other companies as I’ve led our Strategic Partnership Channel. For the first time, more of my time was spent thinking about other companies and the leaders inside them, than at my own company, and it was FUN!  With an incubator of over 25 call centers and 10,000 human beings, I can now absolutely prove that the centers that are led with fear and pressure can’t sustain results, and some have collapsed.  But when leaders empowere their people, built great cultures, and lead with transparency, the results all trend upward, the scorecards become balanced, and employees care about their work. Great frontline leaders and the systems to support them is the foundation of real success. I’m humbled to have been a part of some amazing turnarounds. I feel called to share these gifts more broadly.
  4. Building Bridges – Read any book on graceful exits and they’ll tell you not to “burn bridges.” What this experience has taught me that the real secret is to build and care for strong bridges throughout your career. Help as many people as you can. Treat everyone you meet with deep respect. Care about the whole person and their scene. I’ve been amazed at how people are surfacing from every stage in my career with offers of help and support. “Let me introduce you to…”, “I can help you build your business plan…”, “My wife and I would be delighted to take vacation and come sell books in the back of your conference.”  Cheerleaders are everywhere with open arms.
  5. Building Confidence – It’s never going to feel like exactly the right time. If I wanted to have been talked out of this, there were plenty offering to do that. The “have you thought about” and “what if” questions could easily have scared me back to security. I finally realized that the real risk would be to not offer the world what I now feel I must give.
We must be willing to be shaken up, to submit ourselves to the dark blossomings of chaos, in order to reap the blessings of growth.
~ -Gregg Levoy, Callings<?div>

Amen. Thank you to my wonderful LGL community who have been a large part of this journey so far. Game on. Stay tuned for more updates on what’s next in the coming weeks. Namaste.

How To Start A Start-Up: Podcast With Sqwiggle Co-Founder Matt Boyd

Got a great start-up idea, but don’t know where to start? Take some advice from Sqwiggle co-founder Matt Boyd. Sqwiggle is new online workroom for remote teams. Listen to our interview by clicking on the podcast.

Matt Boyd Interview

How to Start a Start-Up Podcast Highlights

Find others who share your passion: “We’ve all been nerds since we were younger. Tom was a co-founder of an app called Buffer.. I worked at company called Zillow. We’ve all worked remotely and found it a lonely experience. It just kind-of sucked.”

Spend your time well: “If you wake up every single day and think where can the things, I’m doing today lead me in 5 years, you really start to prioritize what you’re going to do today.”

Network fearlessly: “It’s crazy because I’ve been sending emails to people who I thought would never,ever, ever respond to me. But they do. People read email. People care.”

Work hard: “It’s probably the hardest thing you’re ever going to do.”

Invest yourself: “Sleep on some couches. Be scrappy.”

Even if you’re not ready to start a start-up Matt’s story will inspire you to start what you’ve been putting off, today.

Who Says You're Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.

 

Who Says You’re Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.

 

How to Have a More Powerful Development Conversation

For a variety of reasons, many manager/employee relationships stay formal, cordial, and don’t realize their full potential. The conversation stays focused on the work at hand, and hopefully there is some discussion of strengths and development needs, along with a plan to improve on them. There is often real reluctance to go deeper.

Why?

Choices, fear, time, professional boundaries. I’ll give you a minute to complete the list____, ____, _____, _____. Real can be scary.

And yet, some relationships seem to bust past the normal conversational fare. The query goes deeper and the outcome is amazing. Real can be vital.

I have debated this with leaders from across a variety of organizations and contexts. My leadership choice is err on the side of going deeper, unless I pick up real signals to the contrary.

5 Real Conversations Worth Having

So you want to go deeper, but you don’t want to cross any inappropriate boundaries. Where do you start? Here are a few topics that open up the door for deeper trust and broader development.

My Big Dream

Most development conversations focus on potential next steps, or the 5 year plan. What other big dreams are your employees holding in their hearts? What do they want to become? What’s on their bucket list? Is there any way to build some related work or skills into their current job? It’s motivating to be working on your big dream, even in baby steps.

What Motivates Me

Just asking is a good start. However, you can also learn a lot through observation. Paying attention can give you insights that will serve as excellent fodder for a deeper dialogue. When do you see them “skipping to work?” A starter “you seem really excited about this project what aspects make it most meaningful for you?”

What Scares Me

This one’s more tricky. And, it’s not on the short list for new relationships. However, as your relationship deepens, getting underneath fear and uncertainty can go a long way in helping someone to grow. Facing fears leads to confidence and competence.

What I Really Need from You

An important one to ask from the beginning of a new relationship. The trick is to keep asking as the relationship matures.You will likely get a more real answer as the trust increases.

What Matters To Me More Than This Job?

Really? Yup. I wouldn’t ask it just that way but what do they care deeply about their children? their church? their hobbies? their aging parents? their health? Knowing what really matters is vital. A little knowledge can go a long way in making you a more supportive leader.

These conversations evolve over time and won’t work best in one sitting, but bringing them in gently as the relationship evolves can go a long way to building trust, development and inspiring best work.

Missy Franklin: The Cincinnatus of the Olympics (a guest post from Greg Marcus)

My favorite character from Latin class was Cincinnatus – he was a farmer who became Dictator to lead the Roman army against invaders, and then returned to his farming life after the war. The fame and glory did not prevent him from continuing to be who he wanted to be, and he willingly gave up almost absolute power to return to a simple life. Cincinnatus was revered as an exemplar of civic virtue, someone willing to work for the greater good without accumulating personal wealth and power.

“I am pleased to present a guest post from Greg Marcus.

After ten years as a scientist, and ten years as a marketer, Greg Marcus, Ph.D. is a stay-at-home dad and author. If you are interested in more of his writing you can find it by clicking here, or you can find him on linked in.  Greg reminds us of the constant choices we make as we pursue our dreams, and balance them with the rest of our lives”

Missy Franklin is not a general, but a swimmer on the US Olympic team. Unlike many Olympians, she elected not to leave home and move to a training center to work with a high-powered coach. She stayed with her childhood coach, and in fact turned down endorsement deals to maintain eligibility for her high school swim team.

I think its safe to say along the way, some thought her crazy for not making the most of her talent by moving to California, swimming full-time, and getting the best coach available. But Franklin showed that a move to the next level of achievement does not require sacrificing who we are, or the people in our life. And I strongly suspect that without her family, Franklin could not have achieved what she achieved.

Franklin won four gold medals and one bronze, in London, second only to Michael Phelps in total medals. Now, Franklin is faced with a choice – does she go back to the life she had, swimming for her high school team and then on to college, or does she take advantage of the millions of dollars in endorsement deals that she could get as an Olympic Champion? For now, she is leaning towards college because she says that is what will make her a happy girl, but she will consider all the options. It’s a real dilemma.

One of these choices represents a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Maximize Your Potential:It's Never Too Late to Grow Great

Over a year ago I had a debate with a friend that just keeps staying with me. His premise, “by the time we are in our 40s our path is set your potential is channeled, you are just not going to accomplish anything significant you haven’t already started” For some reason that comment from a friendly conversation infuriated me, and I keep trying to decide why.

“I wish I could show you a picture of yourself with your potential intact.”
~John Maxwell, Beyond Talent

He and I both have great spouses, awesome kids, interesting lives, important work. Both paths, even if they were truly “set” are good. And for some reason, I have to know there is more. There are still many areas where “great” is an option, and I can’t imagine not opening my heart to new possibilities.

We all know people with incredible talent at all stages of life, who for one reason or another are not maximizing their potential. Many of these folks are in our families, neighborhoods, churches, and workplaces. Sometimes they remain good (rather than great) because they are not investing the time and energy in the arena in which they could become great. There is also the crowd that seem to be in the right field, but for lots of “reasons,” don’t take it to the level they could. The athlete who doesn’t properly train, the musician who doesn’t practice, the leader that does not hone her skills. There are usually lots of “reasons” for the settling, often beginning with the words, “not enough” money, time, energy, network, support.

I worry what they really lack is belief in their ability to pull it off.

In his book, Beyond Talent: Become Someone Who Achieves Extraordinary Results, John Maxwell identifies 13 choices we make that can amplify our talent. A good read, and all focus areas to consider. He begins with a chapter called “Belief Lifts Your Talent.”

“Its one thing to believe that you possess remarkable potential. It’s another thing to have enough faith in yourself that you think you can fulfill it. When it comes to believing in themselves, some people are agnostic.”

Maxwell offers several “Talent and Belief” application exercises, designed to get people thinking about their opportunities for greatness.

As many writers do, he starts with a strength inventory (identifying top skills and talents) and moves on to thinking about what activities arouse your passion. What I like about his approach is that he then asks the reader to consider what opportunities might be presenting themselves, and to create picture to bring it all together.

“Take some time to consider what kind of picture emerges based on these talents, interests and opportunities. How might they come together for someone other than you, someone with fewer obstacles or limitations– someone who is in the right place at the right time? Dream big– no idea is outrageous. Brainstorm what someone in that situation might be able to do, and what he or she could become.”

Ever since that conversation with my friend, I believe I am dreaming a bit bigger, and looking for opportunities in more arenas.

What is your picture of greatness?

Maximize Your Potential:It’s Never Too Late to Grow Great

Over a year ago I had a debate with a friend that just keeps staying with me. His premise, “by the time we are in our 40s our path is set your potential is channeled, you are just not going to accomplish anything significant you haven’t already started” For some reason that comment from a friendly conversation infuriated me, and I keep trying to decide why.

“I wish I could show you a picture of yourself with your potential intact.”
~John Maxwell, Beyond Talent

He and I both have great spouses, awesome kids, interesting lives, important work. Both paths, even if they were truly “set” are good. And for some reason, I have to know there is more. There are still many areas where “great” is an option, and I can’t imagine not opening my heart to new possibilities.

We all know people with incredible talent at all stages of life, who for one reason or another are not maximizing their potential. Many of these folks are in our families, neighborhoods, churches, and workplaces. Sometimes they remain good (rather than great) because they are not investing the time and energy in the arena in which they could become great. There is also the crowd that seem to be in the right field, but for lots of “reasons,” don’t take it to the level they could. The athlete who doesn’t properly train, the musician who doesn’t practice, the leader that does not hone her skills. There are usually lots of “reasons” for the settling, often beginning with the words, “not enough” money, time, energy, network, support.

I worry what they really lack is belief in their ability to pull it off.

In his book, Beyond Talent: Become Someone Who Achieves Extraordinary Results, John Maxwell identifies 13 choices we make that can amplify our talent. A good read, and all focus areas to consider. He begins with a chapter called “Belief Lifts Your Talent.”

“Its one thing to believe that you possess remarkable potential. It’s another thing to have enough faith in yourself that you think you can fulfill it. When it comes to believing in themselves, some people are agnostic.”

Maxwell offers several “Talent and Belief” application exercises, designed to get people thinking about their opportunities for greatness.

As many writers do, he starts with a strength inventory (identifying top skills and talents) and moves on to thinking about what activities arouse your passion. What I like about his approach is that he then asks the reader to consider what opportunities might be presenting themselves, and to create picture to bring it all together.

“Take some time to consider what kind of picture emerges based on these talents, interests and opportunities. How might they come together for someone other than you, someone with fewer obstacles or limitations– someone who is in the right place at the right time? Dream big– no idea is outrageous. Brainstorm what someone in that situation might be able to do, and what he or she could become.”

Ever since that conversation with my friend, I believe I am dreaming a bit bigger, and looking for opportunities in more arenas.

What is your picture of greatness?

Saturday Salutations: Dream Gates

It had been a long night. The plane was delayed and delayed some more. The awaiting passengers were tired and the ground crew was weary of answering questions and rerouting. The rest of the airport was dark, we were the last gate in action. Finally the door opened and we were “ready to board.”

Then the gate attendant got on the microphone with the energy and excitement of an announcer at Camden Yards. And then the magic. Turns out one of the weary passengers was an agent looking for voice-over talent. He handed our cheerful gate attendant his card. The cheerful gate attendant was overwhelmed. He stopped everything for a moment, looked at me and said, “I have been doing everything I can to get into the recording industry, including announcing like this for years hoping to get discovered.” I can’t believe it finally worked. Amen.

Energetic pursuits do pay off. You never know when your dream gates will open.