The 2020 Covid 19 crisis has us living in unprecedented times. Everything from our economy to our education has been disrupted. We have endured community wide shut downs, added masks to our daily attire, and learned to keep a respectful 6 ft distance in all our social interactions.
Most leaders are living in decision fatigue. Instead of creating yearly plans and following the steps to attain those goals we have been forced to make new decisions on a daily basis. The carefully cultivated yearly calendar has been decimated and we are now “flying by the seat of our pants” in our weekly and daily planning. Many have seen their businesses disrupted as events that were sold, planned for, and advertised have been forced to either reschedule or cancel all together.
Such system wide disruption leads to discouragement. It’s hard to be stuck in the “in between” while you watch your business suffer. The experts say that someday this crisis will be over and we’ll return to a “new normal,” but many wonder if their business will still be around to see it.
One of the causalities of this kind of forced inertia is the loss of excitement to pursue new goals. Uncertainty breeds conservative thinking which may be safer but it is definitely more boring. I have been struggling to dream big and find myself reluctant to follow through on opportunities that six months ago I would have jumped on.
A friend challenged me with the phrase, “don’t lose your brave.” It is basically a way to say, stay courageous, but I like the way he said better. He helped me to remember that I not only need to stay full of faith, but I need to actively grapple with the thoughts that fill me with fear. It’s important for leaders not to “lose their brave.” People depend on us to dream the dreams that push our organizations out of their comfort zones.
What are the dangers of “losing our brave?”
- If we lose our brave we could miss out on life changing experiences.
- If we “lose our brave” those we lead may lose faith in us.
- If we “lose our brave” when things return to normal we will regret the lost opportunities to grow.
I challenge you fellow leader, “don’t lose your brave!” You believed big in the past. Dream big again. Refuse to cower to uncertainty and push yourself to take on new challenges.
An exceptional life must be a life of courage. People who impact the world for good must be courageous. We often think of the bravery that is needed when we read a quote like this one:
“First responders are the people who when a crisis situation occurs can be seen running toward the danger when everyone else is running the other way.”
So we say, “yep, you have to be brave to be in law enforcement.”
But there are many areas where courage is needed that are not as dramatic, but just as demanding. For instance:
- Having the courage to speak up when everyone else is staying silent.
- Having the courage to bear being misunderstood without needing to explain.
- Having the courage to accept innovation and with a positive attitude rather than operating out of the fear of the untested and new.
- Having the courage to endure a painful situation or injury week after week and month after month.
- Having the courage to lead when others are content to simply follow the crowd
You won’t see these acts of courage written up on the front page of the newspaper, but they are just as demanding and sometimes even more so, than running toward the sound of gunfire.
How do you develop courage?
Courage is a heart issue. In fact, the word courage comes from the Latin word for heart – “Cor.”
So we develop courage by developing our heart, or by increasing our love.
- Deepen your love for others.
- Focus on loving integrity and doing right.
- Seek to love adventure over safety.
- Keep your attention on staying calm, not being loved by everyone.
These are things anyone can work on. Each one of them will build up our heart which will naturally grow your courage.(credit to Dr. Brene Brown)
Running toward danger is courageous and I’m sure everyone reading this is willing do exactly that. But, to be truly courageous you must work on demonstrating courage in the areas others may never see. For that you must grow your love. Learn to love big and become fearless.
Leaders are people who see ahead. The good ones are praised for being visionary, and taking action before others even see problems on the horizon. But, like every other gift, your strength can become your weakness when it is taken to the extreme. This is readily apparent in the area of vision. To have vision you need a rich interior life. You need an active imagination. You need curiosity that leads to information gathering. In normal times these traits are helpful to every leader, but in times of unprecedented crisis like we face with the coronavirus, they can lead to depression, discouragement, and mental fatigue. This is because we sometimes misuse our gift of imagination and let it run away with our minds creating catastrophic fears that paralyze us. We see worldwide collapse when the truth is we are only facing a temporary crisis.
Here’s what I do when my imagination tries to push me down a path of fear. I ask myself three questions to bring my mind under control.
- What do I actually know for certain? Versus what am I imagining.
- What is actually happening right now in my life? Versus what I fear may be coming.
- What can I actually do right now? Versus what do I want to do?
The key word is actually. It is the time-tested strategy of remaining in the present.
- You must discipline yourself to only think about what you know to be true in the moment, not what you fear will appear.
- Jesus Christ said that we must live in the present day, that its troubles were enough to deal with.
So lead with what you know, not what you fear. When we stay with what we know, it’s almost always manageable.
Please reach out to me if I can help you with your leadership or coaching needs. firstname.lastname@example.org
Confidence. What does it look like? It is professional boxer, Muhammad Ali declaring that he is the greatest boxer of all time , and then going out to prove it by beating opponents no one thought he could. It is sprinter, Usain Bolt declaring himself to be the fastest in the world and then going out and setting a world record of by running 100 meters in just 9.58 seconds. What does it look like? It is women’s professional soccer legend, Abby Wambach calling for the ball in tied match when the time is running out then putting it in the net. The have the power of presence.
People of presence always do four things:
- Own the room
- Speak to be heard
- Dress the part
- Project energy
Simple things you can do to project confidence.
- Stand up straight
- Look people in the eye
- Put down your phone
- Have firm grip when you shake hands
- Choose a seat near the front of the room
- If there is discussion, raise your hand and ask a question
- Sit in a relaxed manner
It’s time for people to think of you when they hear the phrase, she “owns the room.”
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” Mark Twain
Sailing is immensely easier when the captain catches the wind in the sails. It means breaking out of the still waters and surging forward with seemingly endless power. To stand on a sailing vessel, when the wind is filling and straining the canvas sails to their full capacity is exhilarating and exciting. You can hear the sound of the ocean giving way to the force of your ship’s prow slicing through its waves.
Every life has times when you catch the wind in your sails. Those times when you fill unstoppable. When the obstacles of your life fall before you and your projects cut through life’s bureaucracy like a ship’s prow under full sail. Not only do you make progress, but your success seems almost effortless. You chart new dreams as you achieve old ones like a captain plotting new coordinates as his ship passes familiar points of call.
We don’t always call it “wind in the sails.” Sometimes we call it “being in the flow.” Sometimes we refer to it as “being in the groove.” As a man of faith, I call it having the favor of God on my life.If you’ve never been there, you’re missing out on one of life’s great joys.
Can we prompt the wind in sails effect? It appears that the phenomena has something to do with timing and that’s limiting, but there are things we can do.
- Relentlessly prepare yourself for success.
- Never surrender your passion for your dreams.
- Prune your life of behaviors that lower your integrity.
- Surround yourself with dreamers and goal achievers.
- Deepen your faith.
- Go further in your disciplines of faith.
- Clean the junk out of your life.
- Ask God to make you useful.
You never know when the wind will show up, but the above points will have you prepared and ready to take advantage when it does.
Twenty years will pass before you know it. When that day comes, will you be disappointed by your habit of playing it safe. Throw off your bowlines of your life, quit paddling around in the safe harbors. Let’s go sailing and feel wind in our sails and the hand of God on our lives.
God has some adventures waiting for you.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest songs of all time, “Rolling in the Deep” was acclaimed by music critics and represented a commercial breakthrough for the artist Adele, propelling her to international success. The song reached number one in 11 countries and the top five in many more regions. It was Adele’s first number-one song in the United States, reaching the top spot on many Billboard charts, including the Billboard Hot 100, where it was number one for seven weeks. By February 2012, “Rolling in the Deep” had sold over 8.7 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling digital song by a female artist in the US. From Wikipedia website
Although the song is about a troubling romantic breakup, it contains a powerful thought for success.
Throw your soul through every open door.
Count your blessings to find what you look for.
- To succeed in life, you must learn how to give yourself wholeheartedly to new adventures.
- To find staying power in crisis, you must learn to count your blessings to find your contentment.
- To offer the world something unique, you must learn to turn your sorrowful experiences into golden insights.
Is there something you are interested in that you think if you engaged, it would help you move forward? Stop waiting to join. Stop testing the waters of involvement. Quit paddling around in the shallows of your dream. “Throw your soul through the open door.”
Half-hearted efforts will never lead you to success.
Determine today that you are going to throw your soul through the next door that opens for you.
I loved the study of mythology when I was a kid. Those ancient tales were full of gods, centaurs, one-eyed giants, dashing heroes, and massive sea creatures.
The word myth- is defined as : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone. For instance, in the picture above, ancient sailors believed in the myths of a giant octopus that could swallow up their ships if they sailed too far into uncharted territories.
These myths passed down from older and supposedly wiser seamen kept many from achieving their dreams of finding new routes to new markets. Instead, they remained stuck in the old and poorly designed routes followed by generations of sailing ships. Of course, some bold navigators, scoffed at the myths and they charted new routes to immensely profitable new markets.
They refused to believe the myths.
If you are going to become the person you were intended to be, you must confront the myths of personal inadequacy.
Here some of the most popular ones:
- Teachers and parents are always right
- Job descriptions are inclusive and accurate
- Academic degrees are barometers of success
- Past failures are character definitions
- Experience trumps creativity
Which of these myths has kept you from reaching for your dream? Recognize them for the limiting beliefs that they are. Whichever one you choose, there are plenty of people who succeeded in spite of facing that very challenge.
I love the story of Albert Einstein. His early childhood teachers thought him to be ignorant and sent him home from school with a note to his mother telling her not to send him back. When the boy asked his mother what the note said she replied, “They wrote… you are too intelligent and creative to attend our limited school and I should keep you home to allow you to blossom at a quicker rate.” She did keep him home and his genius eventually changed the world. Those teachers were wrong! Are you letting the opinion of a long-ago teacher or parent limit you today? Recognize it for the myth it is and get started achieving your dream.
It’s time to quit living in the haze of mythology and move forward in full confidence that you have what it takes to succeed.
When I was in high school there was a beautiful girl I had a crush on. I never tried to date her, because I felt she was out of my league. Every day, I sat by her in class and we became good friends, but I secretly wanted more. I never told her. I watched someone else date her and eventually marry her. Many years later, I learned that she was secretly hoping I would ask her out on a date. I was devasted. I could have asked her out, but I never did. I missed the opportunity to see what might have become of our relationship. Luckily for me, I asked out the next beautiful girl I got interested in and she’s now my wife.
Are you limiting your life because you feel inadequate? Have you accepted a lessor role in life and business because you decided in advance that you are not up to the challenge of a new opportunity? Did you fail to submit your name for consideration when that higher-level position opened up at work? Do you “chicken out” of asking that attractive person on a date? Did you fail to sign up for the courses you really want to take in college, because you didn’t think you were smart enough? These are all habits found in the lives of unsuccessful and unfulfilled people. They don’t do the things mentioned, because they fear they won’t succeed, and even worse, they fear they don’t have what it takes to succeed. The tragedy is that such feelings are lies. You don’t know what you can do until you try. There are powers and skills within you that you haven’t even discovered yet.
Reasons why we feel inadequate:
- We doubt our training.
- We doubt our skills.
- We doubt our experience.
- We doubt our worthiness.
- We doubt our vision.
- We doubt our connections.
- We doubt ourselves.
It’s time to change all that “stinking thinking” right here and now. Decide there is more in you than you have manifested up to now. Decide to go for whatever and whoever you want in life. Start assuming that who you are is enough. Let the people you want to impress make their own decisions about you. Let potential new employers or new girlfriends make up their own minds about you, instead of rejecting yourself before they get the chance. Stop limiting yourself.
In my next blog, I’ll tackle some of the myths of inadequacy, but for now, stop your doubting and start going after who and what you want.
So I did this thing.
I went to Africa. I was invited last year to speak at a conference in Tanzania, Africa and I agreed to go, but, a year later, when it got real that I was scheduled to make this trip, my dark side started working on my confidence.
- It’s 8,811 miles away!
- What if you get in an accident?
- There have been terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
- You are getting too old for 15-hour plane rides.
- What if you get sick while you’re there?
You have to understand that I’ve been on such trips before. In fact, I have made over 20 trips to other countries to speak and minister. I’ve even been to Africa before.
None the less, I was feeling fear… not full-blown panic, but anxiety on a minor level.
I am writing this post from the conference in Arusha, Tanzania, and I’m delighted that I came. I’ve once again filled my life with sights, smells, and the people of Africa. It is amazing! Why did I ignore my fears and take this trip? I did it because of some core mental distinctions I have around fear. These distinctions are:
- You are only as young as the new experiences you are having. Don’t let fear make you old before your time by limiting your adventures.
- You will die eventually, why not fill the time doing things that excite and expand you?
- You must force your imagination to serve you by creating new dreams, not worries that shrink your world.
- You have a limited “shelf-life.” Don’t wait too late to take some chances in life.
I constantly encounter people who have allowed fear to limit their lives. Not justifiable fear, like avoiding dangerous places and people, but imagined fears blown out of proportion. These are the people who die long before they are buried.
Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a long life, full of many dangers, most of which never happened.”
What’s the thing you need to do? Force your fear into submission and get busy living a life that inspires you and others. Oh, and send me a response in the contact line. I want to know what fear you conquered.
Kwa Heri – (goodbye in Swahili)
Unhappiness is not only unpleasant, but it can have a negative impact on our success. In my last blog, we looked at how a lack of gratitude can create emotional cancer in our lives. Today, I want to look at the drain of anger on our emotional health.
Anger is one of the most destructive emotions we can let into our heart. It is a reacting emotion that is meant to be experienced short term. In short bursts, it is reasonable. The trouble comes when we allow it to settle in for a long stay in the hotel of our mind. Are you booking an emotional vacation when you should be pulling in for a rest stop?
Anger has powerful effects on our bodies. It activates hormones for fighting that trigger our muscles for battle, but battles are only meant to last a few minutes. If we stay in battle mode long term, those hormones begin to wear down our immune defenses and over stimulate our cardiovascular system. In short, we get sick. Have you ever met anyone who was sick with anger?
Anger can become a habit. Some people make it their default emotional setting.
They have been upset for so long, they have forgotten what peace feels like. Rage becomes their calling card.
Side effects of an anger life:
- Loneliness – sensible people will cut you out of their life
- Career stagnation- businesses cannot afford the messes angry people make
- Financial stress – it costs money to get out of jail, get divorced, etc.
- Reputation damage – you will be known as storm waiting to happen
Ditch the destructive emotion of anger:
- Lower your expectations of others – people are weak, get used to it.
- Raise what it takes to offend you – don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Hold tightly to peace – you can choose to keep cool.
- Release offenses – if someone offends you, let it go.
“You don’t have to attend every argument to which you’re invited.” Author Unknown
Life is short and people’s memories are long. Don’t let the emotional of cancer anger continue to limit your success.
Ancient wisdom from a timeless book says:
“And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT