One of my favorite movies is The Matrix (the first installment). There is a scene towards the end of the flick that is powerful. The character Neo is in a tough spot with a couple of not-so-nice people. As a matter of fact, he literally wakes from the dead after being shot. As the tension builds to a crescendo, he awakens to the destiny that is his. He begins to see things as they really are…he begins to embrace the “power” given to him. All of sudden his confidence and skill are crystallized. Neo must still fight, but a new day has dawned. Can you relate to this? I can…with gusto! This is the type of day you wouldn’t forget. You see most are sleepwalking, or are lost in the Matrix. If you miss your opportunity to awaken, then you’ll miss the life you were intended to live.
The day for me was about five years ago. I had been a follower of Jesus Christ for many years, but when I encountered His destiny I came alive. Not that I was dead, but I was on this great search. It was a process of awakening, and life has never been the same since. You need to come alive. The world is waiting for your epic story. Don’t reserve that story for the grave.
Go watch The Matrix and read the book The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson (he has a great site at www.thedreamgiver.com). Go ahead and come alive!
Why are we so afraid of the mystical things in life? If you were told that success chases you, would that make you uncomfortable? Would a statement like that cause you to “scratch your head?” Most people would say yes to both. We’ve been brainwashed into believing that practical reality is where it’s at. But we’re failing at that approach! Time to try a new brand?
What opportunities will we find in the “mystical?” For one, we’ll find our dreams and the passions that support. The most successful (you define it for yourself) people are those that seem to do what they do effortlessly. Sadly, we applaud and say “I wish I could be like him or her.” And that’s where the lie takes over. We think that only the “chosen ones” live out greatness.
If you decide today to discover and pursue your passions, then you’re on your way to being everything the “chosen ones” are. It is rare for most to choose the path of the mystical. More than likely because of the pain and struggle associated with it. My path certainly bears that out.
There is a life waiting for you. What will you pursue today?
In many corporate situations hierarchy is paramount. Some might say it’s needed for order and structure. The folks at “some” usually don’t mention fear and greed. Often hierarchy creates a cast system. You know the type; “I am the smartest guy or gal in the room because my title begins with “Senior….” Those of you with no title know this is a bunch of malarkey!
I’ve held a few senior level positions in my time, and growth has always been important. Part of growing up is learning that leadership is about responsibility, and not privilege. You may meet some senior leaders that would agree with my statement. However, don’t you wonder why their actions speak to something else? For now, we’ll leave it to the psychologists to figure out why this behavior persists. This is a big problem in Corporate America.
The following is a list of questions I’ve used to evaluate leaders…it will help you evaluate those who want to influence you:
1. What are their unique passions?
2. Can they cast vision around those passions?
3. Do they have a growth plan?
4. How much time do they dedicate to reflective/thinking time?
5. Do they have a mentor/advisor?
There may be more questions you could ask, but this list will reveal a lot about the leader’s core. You’ll want to know this before you entrust your working life to them. Don’t fall into the trap of motivation by fear and greed.
What happens when organization cannot live out its values and beliefs? More than likely employees begin to lose faith. Obviously, decay and death could also occur. What causes organizations to fall into the trap of mixed messages? Why does a CEO get it, but those closest to customer don’t? If you look to those “middle” influencers you’ll find the answer.
The middle is where insecurities and inexperience coexist. Since most organizations value conformity, these influencers don’t know anything about original thought. Let’s face it; our job is the “holy grail.” We don’t want to lose, fail or look bad. Sounds to me like a recipe for no risk taking. The only hope is to catch these individuals early (before they enter the organization) or when they realize that life is a limited time offer.
A great deal of responsibility for our situation lies at the feet of senior management. As well intentioned as they can be, corporate honchos don’t create environments for people to grow. They’re so burdened by this quarter’s numbers, or some Wall Street analyst’s opinion. Life is full of ironies, this is one of them.
Look around you, no innovative people equals no long term profit.
An old mentor of mind once told me that life is like Hebrew, you need to read it backwards to understand it. This is also known as, “connecting the dots.” Whichever version you prefer, the statements are true. One area that should be considered as well is the impact our choices (conscious choices) will have on the text we read. Our lives are very much like a book. Each of us having a beginning, middle and an end. All of the elements adding up to a legacy.
Think about the following when you’re making those conscious choices:
1. All choices have consequences, good or bad. This reality should help you understand how important our decisions are.
2. Get a mentor/advisor…they will give you clarity.
3. Don’t have more than five priorities in life. Limited priorities will reduce stress and confusion.
4. Know yourself, and then follow your gut.
5. Wisdom from God is the best wisdom of all.
Do you realize that most organizations can’t love you back? OK, maybe their not supposed to. But have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of being the “jilted lover?” I have…more than I care to remember. You give, which is reasonable, then the organization says goodbye or so long.
I think the answer to the riddle is to love your work, and not your workplace. It took me a long time to realize this, but a very liberating paradigm indeed. Does this make you squirm a little? Probably not, especially if you’ve been in Corporate America in the most recent past. Listen, the issue is loving what you do. We’ve confused the organizations we work for and the thing that makes us come alive. If you plan on working for 30 years doing something, it better excite you. If you haven’t given up on making a difference, then you should examine who, or what you love. The answer will astound you. I offer the following for the aftermath:
1. Find out what you truly have a passion for.
2. Start loving what you do, and if you don’t go find something that ignites your passions.
3. Get out of financial debt (creates freedom of choice).
4. Get a mentor/advisor.
5. Significance is more important than success.
I told my bride last week that there are only about five things to be concerned with. Every other obsession, distraction, action item is a waste of our limited time offer. There is a chapter in my book (Waking the Working Dead) that is called “Beware of the Evil Number Seventeen.” Number seventeen represents that number on our list of priorities. I wrote that chapter because number seventeen seeks a lot of our attention, as well as our devotion. We should take a nuclear bomb to number seventeen on our list. It ain’t important!
Since we all are terminal (life is a limited time offer, no matter what you’ve read in Fortune), why not focus on a few things. Yes, I know Stephen Covey wrote about this. But Jesus spoke about it way before him. A life well lived is wrapped in about five things…not seventeen.
When you hit the half-way point in life, you’ll value only a few precious things. Life on this side of eternity goes fast. Don’t think you’ve got time. The statistics are not on your side. Besides, your passions are inside of those few precious things. Go live!
Here’s a test, how much time do you spend thinking about yourself? Most of us would say a lot. We’re human…right? Now’s the time to be super human. Move your thoughts to leadership…specifically servant leadership. I’ve found that the more you think about others, the better life gets. Leaders that serve themselves are not living. The people you lead are the ones that will define the success.
I’ve met too many leaders that find the mirror to be their best friend. A close associate once told me that most corporate leaders are narcissists. I agree with him on that. There’s an epidemic of self-absorbed leaders. They use their career (and other people) to further their agenda. Have you ever noticed that you can’t have a real conversation with these folks? Yes, a REAL conversation where we might talk about things we would rather forget. You can’t communicate when everything is about “positioning.” When will they realize that careers are to be led, and not managed?
Look at the following tips:
1. Start taking more risk (thought-through), and yes you might get in trouble. Ask an elderly person if they wish they had taken more risk, I bet they’ll say yes. Don’t wait until you’re in the ninth inning.
2. Discover your passions…you’ll find it liberating.
3. Get a mentor.
4. Serve people.
5. Make sure you have a growth plan, and make sure it’s a plan for growth.
I’m looking at two young children right now. I am struck by their innocence and wonder. It’s a shame that we lose that as we become adults. We strive to be so sophisticated…so together. Here’s to reconnecting to the “wonder.”
Have you noticed the slogans used by Corporate America? Most of these slogans are over done, and very wordy. Do the ad folks realize the power behind words? No way! Don’t get me wrong, there are some creative folks that do “get it.” But more often it’s just another boring use of space.
The next time you look your lover in the eyes, and tell them you love them, watch the body language…it will tell you a lot. Ever listen to the lyrical content of most popular music today? If you listen, you might be shocked at the lack of respect for the written word. Now factor that in with the messages in Corporate America. It not just the “weird” guys like me that pay attention. The receptionist is paying attention as well. Some of this is mystical, but when we start to give words our respect, we’re on our way to becoming master (and truthful) communicators.