2 Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself Each Day

 What questions cause you to pause? What questions lead to helpful reflection? Today I share two questions I find helpful What questions do you use to guide your daily leadership?

Q1: How can I be most helpful?

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

This is a great “first thing in the morning” question.

  • Review your calendar can you proactively plan some helps? 
  • Are you using your gifts in the most helpful way?
  • Who haven’t you checked in on in a while? What do they most need?
  • How’s the balance? Has your helping titled too much toward work, home or somewhere else?
  • Who needs some cheerleading?
  • Who can you connect with whom?
  • As you go through the day, what can you do to surprise people with random acts of helping?
  • ?

Of course a great follow-up question for the end of the day is: How was I helpful today?

Q2: How would they feel about working with me again?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This one is tricky. It takes stepping back and having an objective view. Sure what you accomplished is important, but how did you make people feel along the way?

  • Did you treat them with respect?
  • Can they count on you to do what you say?
  • Are you the go-to guy?
  • Did you add creative value?
  • Were your meetings or projects well-organized?
  • Did you ensure everyone had a voice?
  • Do your peers feel you have their back?
  • Do you bring positive energy to the scene?
  • Do you share credit?
  • ?

Namaste.

How Personal Challenges Motivate Success: A Guest Post from Sara Parrish

Going through life we sometimes run into road blocks, challenges and uninvited detours. Bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce, and serious illness are just the beginning of a long line of challenges that distract us from our career goals. These challenges can, and often do, create upheavals in our personal and professional life. As we build our image becoming spouses, parents, college graduates, and home owners, it is easy to let “things” define who we are instead of our talents. Our true nature as leaders can never be taken away. Natural leaders don’t sit on the sidelines long. They are naturally driven and motivated to get back in the game.

“Sara has been working in Telecom for the last 15 years. She holds a BA in Communications and Public Relations and an MBA in Global Management. She is extremely active in her community volunteering for HIV/AIDS, Hospice, American Lung Association, and Domestic Violence. She is a Leader Athlete and loves snowboarding, scuba diving and other outdoor adventures.”

We grow up with the images of happily ever after all around us. In most of the world’s greatest and most memorable stories there are some common factors:

  • There is always a hero
  • The hero is on a journey
  • The hero meets the villain
  • The hero overcomes the villain

These commonalities play out many times throughout our lives, as we are the hero of our journey. The “villain” encountered is often uncertainty, change, and unwillingness to be flexible. How we prepare and react to major life changing events and challenges determines our long-term potential for success. Detaching from the things that we can’t control and focusing on the things we can, help minimize the impact of negative cycles in our lives. As people sometimes say, “the times change and we change with them”.

I have been inspired by the role model of my father, who grew up underprivileged, and despite the obstacles and challenges went on to be a very successful executive. His story has led me to pay close attention to other success stories despite the obstacles and to look for patterns from which to learn and teach.

Some Role Models

One thing the following people have in common is they all encountered tremendous challenges and turned their unfortunate circumstances into true success stories.

Neale Donald Walsh (short video on facing fear) Neil went through years of hardships including divorce and a horrible car accident that left him homeless and unemployed. He lived in a tent city gathering cans to pay for his next meal. He later landed on the international best seller list with, Conversations with God. He openly discusses with audiences how he was inspired to write the series during his darkest days.

Wayne Dyer(short video on changing from within) Dr. Dyer started life off in an orphanage and is a fine example of a self-made man. He regularly talks about how events in his life motivated him to live to his full potential. Dr. Dyer teaches the importance of positive thinking to overcome challenges in life.

Louise Hay  (short video on positive affirmations) was diagnosed with cervical cancer and claims that treatment through self-forgiveness and combined therapies cured her. She is the successful author of “You Can Heal Your Life” and created Hay House publishing.

Having a small amount of ongoing stress keeps one focused and alert to subtle changes in the environment, allowing smarter and more creative reactions. In environments completely absent of stress it is easy to become unmotivated and complacent. We must avoid the temptation to feel defeated after a fail and try again. The key is understanding our limits, not embracing them.

How do life challenges affect your work life balance and what do you do to overcome them?

Is Fitness a Leadership Competency?

As a yogi, I believe in the connection between body, mind and spirit. I also know that my fitness routine is a vital aspect of who I am as a leader. For me, time spent on fitness is time to think, to clear my head and to become mentally and physically stronger. When I am exercising more and eating right, I feel better.

I lead better.

Would I go as far to say that fitness is a leadership competency?

I have been reluctant to write directly about this question.

Why?

Because I also see great leaders for whom this regimen does not seem necessary. Different leaders with different bodies, dispositions, ways of managing stress and processing techniques seem to be doing just fine–great actually.

And so, I share my recent thinking and writing to start the conversation. I invite your thinking and ask you to share your opinion.

Leader Athletes: Training For the Long Run (this week’s post on Lead Change Group). I am grateful to all the wonderful leader athletes who read, retweeted and offered their insights via their comments. I also amazed by the distances some of these leaders have gone in their athletic and leadership lives. It’s worth reading through the comments. I am also delighted with the support and friendship I am finding through The Lead Change Group. I am finding many kindred spirits.

Road Warrior Wisdom: 3 Ways to Health and Fitness on the Road (A recent post on 3 Plus International). A great group of women leaders mentoring and supporting one another.

And then I invite your thoughts on any of the following questions or other comments.

  • Do some need it more than others?
  • Is it important for you?
  • Why?

Please let me know your thoughts.

The Power of Yes

“Yes-let’s said Tigger, bouncing a little, even though he had no idea what was to be begun. He liked to be asked to do things, and he liked to be asked to do them first, and he always said “yes,” because it is much more interesting when you do.”

-David Benedictus, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

As leaders (or community members, parents, friends), deciding where to spend our physical and emotional energy can be daunting. So much of the self-help literature seems to be teaching us how to say “no” to the wrong things so we have more time to say “yes” to the “right” things.

That makes sense.

What can be more difficult is knowing the difference. Sometimes the most illogical opportunities can provide the most fascinating experiences. Sometimes the growth comes precisely because the opportunity is out of our comfort zone, or because we have to completely rearrange our lives to make room for it.

Yes can be scary. 

Yes leads to opportunity.

A Story of Yes

I recently got involved in writing and directing a children’s musical for our church. An out of the box “yes” project for me for sure. On the surface, there was absolutely no room in my life for this, but it was an amazing experience. The kids and volunteers were fantastic. I must say, we put on a heck of a show.

But then, came the real “yes” or “no” question. We had performed the show one evening, deconstructed (and thrown away) most of the set, and a few weeks had gone by when I got a call from my minister. “Would we reprise the show for a church service?”

Everyone who knows me well and cares about me had the same reaction, “say no.” They saw how the show consumed me the first time. On the surface it did not make sense, the logistics of pulling this off again, with the kids out of practice, many of the volunteers gone, limited set. Something made me say, “yes.”

What happened next was one of the most magical moments of my year. We found enough of the set to make it look fun, the kids all stepped up to practice like crazy on their own, they managed themselves backstage without a lot of parent volunteers, the congregation was absolutely packed and the kids had a blast and received a standing ovation. As I was standing there after the service, I had tears in my eyes and thought, “I almost said, no.”

Sometimes saying no can prevent us from stretching ourselves or working past the surface difficulties. I will surely still say “no” to many things, but I have learned the value of thinking well and deep before I do.