I am often asked, “how did you become successful?” Until recently, I had not articulated it, but 2020 has compelled me to reflect on this topic more.
While there are many paths to success, I recently spent some time defining what has worked for me. Over my next several blog posts, I will do a bit of reflecting forward, sharing my experiences and efforts in hopes of inspiring you to take the next step in your success journey.
Go the Extra Mile
“One of the most important principles of success is developing the habit of going the extra mile.” - Napoleon Hill
I have never been afraid to work hard. I held my first job when I was twelve years old, and I worked three jobs while attending Colorado School of Mines while playing Division II softball. Every day, I wake up at 4am to work out so I can start my day ready to accomplish all that I set out to do. I volunteer for leadership roles and put energy into producing high-quality work. I am determined to make an impact, and it compels me to put effort into everything I choose to do. Simply put, I am willing to go the extra mile.
Going the extra mile is the first step in truly becoming successful. You must exhibit a can-do attitude and embrace solving tough challenges with positivity and resolve. You must be willing to work harder and smarter than everyone else. You must hold yourself accountable and never make excuses. You must put yourself out there, volunteer to take on leadership roles, and help others when they need it most.
By going the extra mile, you will make a more significant impact. Not only will you affect change, but you will also inspire others to put in the extra effort. Showing up with commitment, diligence, determination, and the ability to get things done will compel others to follow in your footsteps.
Pro tip: being generous and easy to work with while you are going the extra mile will catapult you to the next level. Why? Because we all want to work with people who make our lives a little bit easier and a little bit happier.
Sometimes the extra mile can be lonely because not everyone is willing to put in the effort required. Not everyone has the same dreams and goals; they can’t fully comprehend why you are working so hard, practicing so much, caring so deeply. Very few people get up at 4 am. But greatness requires sacrifice and a bit of suffering. Ok, more than a bit. The extra mile is lonely because many people don’t want to make the necessary sacrifice or fear suffering. But if you embrace the challenge and go the extra mile repeatedly, you will find reward and, eventually, success.
Step one on your path to success: go the extra mile.
“A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” - Colin Powell, former U.S. Defense Secretary
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Remarkable leaders know that they must consistently align their decisions and actions with their values and beliefs. In doing so, they show they have integrity and walk the walk, so to speak. Exhibiting this type of alignment is also the only way to build credibility, trust, and respect with those they lead.
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get sucked into the fire drill of the day. There are a million decisions to make, dozens of conversations to have, and many directions to be pulled. The pressures leaders feel today make it easy for them to lose sight of why they wanted to lead in the first place. This slippery slope is how great leaders go astray and make decisions that go against their values and worse, get them in trouble.
That’s why you should create a leadership credo. A leadership credo is a simple framework that articulates your personal and professional beliefs and what’s important to you as a leader. It combines your values, purpose, leadership style, and vision into a statement that you can refer to and reflect upon when the days are flying by and you find that you need to ground yourself, remembering why it’s essential to lead authentically and intentionally.
A leadership credo can be as simple as your company values. For example, at StoneAge, our credo is called the “OWN IT Mindset.” It’s straightforward yet inspiring: to be successful at StoneAge, each of us must emulate and share the OWN IT Mindset; it’s our passion and purpose. This mindset inspires and guides how we show up each day, how we treat each other, how we serve our customers, and how we value our suppliers and business partners. The OWN IT Mindset is made up of three key elements: Be a Great Teammate, Practice Self-Leadership, and Deliver on the StoneAge Assurance Promise (which means we do everything we can to solve our customers’ problems).
But as a leader, it’s also worthwhile to develop a personal leadership credo. It will help remind you what’s important, especially when times are tough and your leadership grit is challenged. Here is a short excerpt from mine:
“First and foremost, I am a mother. My number one priority is to raise my son to be a kind, compassionate, hardworking, accountable man who can articulately express himself and who will positively impact the world. This takes intentional effort and must always come first.
I believe in working hard and creating value. I want to be known as an inspirational leader who knows how to build an extraordinary company, culture and team. I want to impact my industry, leading change with courage, hard work, and fortitude.
I want to be remembered for always helping others and bringing joy into every interaction…even if the conversation is difficult or emotional. Building relationships is my top priority and I always strive to find a connection in every conversation.”
I have refined this over the years and I refer to it when I need a reminder of why the pain and hard work is worth it. It’s helped me stay grounded and focused when I find myself getting off track. And it re-inspires me when I feel like I am losing steam.
How do you create your credo?
Start by writing down what you believe in. What relationships are important to you? How do you want to be remembered? What are your greatest strengths? What do you believe is the key to your success? How do you want others to experience you? What are your core values?
While your credo should be focused on what you believe, I suggest spending a few minutes thinking about what you don’t believe in and what you don’t want to be remembered for. Take this list and positively restate them to refine your credo.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, take a hard look at each word or phrase. It’s essential to be as precise as possible and exclude items that aren’t really you. Your credo should be an authentic reflection of who you want to be and how you want to show up.
Next, decide what’s the best way to express your credo. It may be in a list of beliefs, value and behaviors. Or it could be a statement like mine or a combination of both. It doesn’t matter as long as it resonates with you.
Finally, put your credo someplace handy, so you can easily refer to it. Share it with people close to you, asking them to hold you accountable to it. Refine it over time and commit to living it every day. There is no doubt you will be a better leader for it.
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Every leader around the globe has faced significant challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainly is almost unbearable, decisions never more consequential, and the call for leadership louder than ever. Like so many others, I cycle through feelings of positivity and excitement for the future and then slump into feelings of exhaustion and dread. One day, I jump out of bed certain that I can accomplish anything and then next, I want to hide under the covers. While feelings of ebb and flow are common, they seem to be more amplified these days.
Reflecting on the past six months, I am struck by how much I have learned as a leader and I’d like to share a few of these insights for your consideration and feedback.
1. Sometimes there is no wrong or right answer; there is a high likelihood that some of my decisions will be both at the same time
The dichotomy of leadership is real and never more present in decision making today. I have come to accept and embrace that seemingly opposing truths can exist at the same time. The uncertainty around what the future might bring requires good decision making but doing so is incredibly difficult. I have gotten comfortable that each decision I make may be right for some reasons and wrong for others and that no matter what, I can pivot if needed.
2. A strong team and a solid culture can survive just about anything
This year has been incredibly challenging. In the first half of 2020, StoneAge went through a significant company-wide reorganization, an encryption attack that took down our IT systems for a month, the COVID-19 pandemic, acquiring a company, layoffs and pay cuts, and more. And we are knocking it out of the park.
Sure, we are still dealing with the challenges that a broken healthcare system and economic shutdown have brought, but we have bounced back from every single roadblock with resilience, grit, and teamwork. Has it always been pretty? No. Has morale taken a hit? Yes. But our team shows up day in and day out, working together to support each other and exceed our customers' expectations. And each day, we realize that we aren’t just surviving, but in many ways, thriving. This would be impossible if it weren’t for a solid culture and strong teammates at every level of the organization. I am incredibly grateful for my amazing team.
3. Bold moves won’t always be understood or appreciated but making them is imperative to come out the other side stronger
At the beginning of the pandemic, we made the weighty decision to go through with an acquisition. Countless nights were spent wondering if I was making the right call. In the end, I trusted my instincts.
Based on our due diligence, we knew the company was healthy and that we could absorb the hit if our projections didn’t play out. Our vision for StoneAge was crystal clear and there was no doubt that this acquisition fit strategically and would help us reach our goals faster. These data points, combined with my instincts telling me to make this bold move, compelled us forward. And six months later, there is no doubt it will pay off.
But not everyone understands the decision; some wonder why we chose to spend money on an acquisition when we are cutting expenses and forecasting conservatively. Some are asking why we aren’t hunkering down. My response is one of dichotomy: you must conserve and invest at the same time. Just do it in the right places. Making smart, well thought out bold moves will set you apart when this is all said and done.
4. Mental toughness is key; I’ve never been tougher
To be highly successful, a leader must be mentally tough; it’s what separates those who are good from those who are great. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve worked hard to overcome setbacks, mistakes, burnout, and stress. I have pushed aside doubt and banished negative self-talk. Sure, there have been a few meltdowns, but when they pass, I realize how therapeutic they were. I know I will be stronger because of the challenges, not despite them. This is the definition of mental toughness.
5. That being said, it’s okay to feel scared, overwhelmed and to say, “I don’t know”
I have said “I don’t know” more in the past six months than I have in all my years of leading combined. This is uncomfortable; leaders are supposed to have all the answers, right? While deep down, I’ve always known this isn’t true, it’s hard to stand in front of your team and tell them that you don’t have answers to all their questions. That I am muddling along, just like they are, trying to do the best I can while feeling overloaded, fearful and worried. I’ve cried on my husband’s shoulder, overcome with the weight of the responsibility I feel for my family, employees and company...and all of humanity.
And it’s okay. In fact, it’s normal.
We all are going through this together, sharing emotions of pain and grief, hope and optimism. We are all human, not that different from one another. I’ve learned to embrace the insecurities that these challenges have brought out in me, aiming to move through them with grace, gratitude, and resolve.
It takes serous fortitude to lead in times like these and it’s an honor to have the trust of my team, family, industry and community. This trust is something I don’t take lightly. Being able to honestly reflect upon and share experiences is what allows us to come out of crises like these stronger. Thanks for allowing me to share mine. Now I’d like to hear from you. What have you learned about yourself over the past six months?
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I recently found myself in a situation where I needed to apologize to someone I hurt. I was conflicted, my thoughts filled with self-justifying righteousness, “I am right, and I am hurt, too!” Yet at the same time, I was filled with regret, choking on unfinished words and self-reproach. “This isn’t turning out the way I want it to,” I said to myself. Ugh…the only way to get myself out of my self-inflected situation was to say, “I’m sorry.”
Apologizing is difficult, especially when the stakes are high and the hurt runs deep. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook, blaming the other person and minimizing your role in the situation. When you finally bring yourself to say the words, stress hormones flood the body creating fight or flight responses. Your brain screams, “Don’t do it! Run!” or “Get mad! Don’t go down without a fight!” It’s takes everything in your power to go through with it. Your mind spins as you think of the million ways to express yourself. But in the end, it’s worth it. When you apologize, it allows space for both you and the other person to move forward, to let go, to forgive. It will make you and the other person feel better.
So how do you apologize the right way?
Write Down the Outcomes You Want
Before you go into a high stress situation, know what you want to get out of it. Write down your desired outcomes and keep them handy during the conversation; it will help you stay on track if the person responds emotionally and you can review them if you find yourself getting emotional or making excuses. Examples of outcomes might be to repair a damaged relationship, defuse an emotional situation, or simply to own your part in a conflict.
Check Your Emotions. Choose How You Want to Feel
Emotions don’t have to dictate your feelings and reactions. Even when they are strong, you can still choose how you want to feel. You can choose to feel compassion, relief, or ownership. Or you can also choose to feel angry, justified, or shameful. It’s up to you to determine your outlook on the situation, so check your emotions and choose to see the bright side of apologizing.
Apologize. Own it. Don’t Over Explain Your Actions
It’s best to just say, “I am sorry; I own what I did.” Most people don’t want to hear excuses because they water down the apology and make it feel insincere. Sometimes though, it may be appropriate to explain your side, but only do it to help the person forgive, not to minimize your role in what happened. Over explaining sounds like excuse making.
Express Regret, Be Specific
In addition to saying, “I’m sorry,” you should express regret for hurting the other person. For example, “I regret hurting you; it was wrong of me to blame you and it damaged our relationship. Our relationship is important to me and I understand that I have to earn your trust back.” This validates the person’s feelings which is what most people want out of an apology. Being specific brings a tone of sincerity and it shows you understand how your actions affected the person.
Ask Questions and Listen
Remember, the person you are apologizing to isn’t there to only hear you out. Give him or her the opportunity to respond. Ask questions to draw out meaningful dialogue, listen carefully and don’t get defensive.
Make Commitments and Keep Them
After you’ve apologized and expressed regret, make a commitment to change your behavior. Outline what you are going to do differently and follow through. Everyone makes mistakes but there is nothing worse than repeating it because you didn’t change your behavior. Trust can be rebuilt quickly if you demonstrate that you’ve learned from what happened.
Smile, Say Thank You and Leave
At the end of your apology, smile. Smiling makes everyone feel better and it releases tension. Thank the person for listening and then leave. Most people need time to process and hanging around afterwards doesn’t allow the space required to do so.
Following these steps will help you deliver a sincere, meaningful apology and will start the process of forgiveness. As famous cartoonist Lynn Johnson famously wrote, “An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.”
Thanks for reading and as always, I appreciate comments, likes and shares!
Deflection: How to NOT Shrug off Responsibility and Pin Poor Performance and Decision Making on Someone Else
Accountability is the cornerstone of authentic and inspirational leadership. True accountability means you understand and accept that you and only you are responsible for your attitude, actions, decisions, communication, and health of your relationships. It’s hard work, requiring vulnerability, humility, integrity, and a willingness to put your ego aside. It’s uncommon to find this kind of accountability; for some reason these qualities are labeled as signs of weakness. I believe they are just the opposite.
Rather than hold oneself truly accountable, many people use deflection to shrug off responsibility and pin poor performance and decision making on someone or something else.
Deflection may sound something like this:
We shouldn’t tolerate this type of behavior from ourselves and from those around us.
So how do you stop yourself from being a deflector?
It starts with awareness. Think back on the times you were given tough feedback. Did you own it or did you blame someone or something else? Did you say thank you for the feedback or did you minimize your role in the situation? Be honest; you can’t make changes unless you embrace the hard truths about yourself. It may seem like silly advice but the only way to be accountable is to start being accountable. The only way to stop deflecting is to stop deflecting. When you hear yourself saying things like, “yeah, but” or “you always do XYZ” or “it’s not my fault” stop immediately and instead say, “I was just about to deflect blame and I don’t want to do that. Thank you for this feedback.” Then listen.
Next, take ownership and focus on the things you can control. Sure, there could be many reasons why something happened; it’s natural to want to look for causes outside of yourself, but the only way to improve a situation is to own your part. Don’t let yourself off the hook. And really, if everything is everyone else’s fault, then what part do you play in your own life? Do your actions not have any consequences? Are you truly powerless over the decisions you make and the outcomes that are a result of your decisions? I didn’t think so.
Now it’s time to create a new habit; an accountability habit. Ask someone to call you out when you start to deflect. Look for opportunities to take more ownership when things aren’t going perfectly. Pay attention to what triggers your “blame something else” mechanism so you can gain more insight around when you start to deflect. Apologize when you slip up and blame someone else.
Now how do you deal with a person who deflects all the time?
When dealing with deflection in the moment, the best technique I have found is to bring the focus back to the person by saying something like this:
Handling deflections in such a way does two things; first, it acknowledges that there are extenuating circumstances to every situation which may deserve digging into and second, it shifts the conversation towards accountability which is where solutions can be derived.
I also suggest giving honest and direct feedback. The deflector may not realize how often he or she does it and with a little coaching, could change the habit. Have a few concrete examples prepared and say something like this, “I want to share some feedback with you, if that’s okay. I’ve noticed that anytime we discuss the issues with this project, you shift the blame to someone else. For example, when you say things like “this project was handed to make like this” or “I wasn’t part of the team when that happened’ it makes you sound unaccountable and undermines your credibility as a leader and team player. I know that this is not how you want to be perceived so that’s why I wanted to bring it up. Were you aware that you’ve been doing this? Is there something going on that you want to get off your chest?” Show you care by courageously giving feedback.
Sometimes though, it may be best to ignore the “blame game” and focus on finding a solution. While shifting gears without addressing the deflection doesn’t solve the issue, it can be more productive than getting the other person to accept responsibility. There are times when you just need to move past the “what happened and who did it” phase to the “how are we going to fix it” phase. But even in those times where giving feedback in the moment doesn’t make sense, I always recommend circling back and having the conversation. No one can improve without candid feedback and we shouldn’t be fearful of giving it in a kind and helpful way.
My only other advice is to not take things the blamer says personally and don’t get defensive; I know dealing with deflectors can be frustrating but remember, their blaming isn’t about you, even if it feels like it. I also suggest trying to limit your interaction; habitual blaming can be a form of narcissism and most narcissists (at least the ones I know) have no interest in changing because they don’t think they are doing anything wrong.
There is nothing more honorable than accepting responsibility for your actions and decisions. Don’t be afraid to admit your role in tough situations. Show gratitude and compassion when others admit their own faults, too. We should encourage and applaud each other when we show up with sincere, honest accountability.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from American writer Ralph Marston:
Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.
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We all screw up. Finding a person who hasn’t made a big mistake is like finding a purple unicorn bathing in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; it won’t happen. And if you have yet to royally screw up, don’t worry, you will. It’s bound to happen; you haven’t fully lived life until you’ve done so.
While making a massive mistake can cause you to want to crawl under a rock and never show your face again, it can also teach you a profound lesson. Screwing up can dramatically change your life for the better…if you choose to embrace the painful experience, for better or worse.
So let’s say you’ve really stepped in it. Now what? How can you embrace your screw up and move forward?
Don’t Dig a Deeper Hole
It’s easy to allow one bad decision to lead to another. You don’t have to keep digging yourself a deeper hole. From this moment on, stop the cycle, climb out of the hole, and commit to doing whatever it takes to fix the mistake.
Don’t Make Saving Face Your Priority
It’s natural to want to save face and minimize the reasons why you made the mistake. Remember, justifying is just a way of making excuses. Don’t defend, downplay, or omit parts of the truth. Truthful accountability is the only option and it’s far more honorable to fully own your screw up than to try to diminish it. Instead of trying to save face, make repairing the damage you’ve done your top priority.
Say You’re Sorry and Mean It
A heartfelt and authentic apology can go a long way to fixing the damage that occurs after a big mistake. While it doesn’t make the situation go away, showing honest regret gives people more space to forgive you. When offering an apology, be specific and ask for feedback. There is nothing worse than apologizing for the wrong thing. But remember, no one wants you to apologize incessantly; he or she only wants to see results, so apologize once (maybe twice) and then prove your remorse by taking action.
Make and Execute an Action Plan
Don’t let yourself off the hook after an apology. If there is no action…no notable change…then your apology is moot. Before putting a plan of action into place, dig deep as to why you screwed up; understanding your motivations, fears, and decisions is the key to not making the same mistake twice. Once you have a deeper understanding of what went wrong you can develop a plan to repair the damage. A good plan should address the root cause, not the symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; sometimes a path forward isn’t clear and seeking advice, counseling, and/or coaching can shorten your bounce-back time.
Keep Your Commitments
Do what you say you are going to do; hold yourself accountable to your action plan. The only way to revive your reputation and to bounce back is to follow through and keep your commitments.
Let it Go
Nothing good comes from beating yourself up over and over again. Negative self-talk keeps you stuck in the shame spiral. Embrace your screw up. Learn from it. Vow to never let it happen again. But let it go. The only way to move on is to allow yourself to move on.
Let Your Mistake Make You a Better Person
Making mistakes will keep you humble and will teach you all kinds of ways not do things in the future. Screw ups keep you grounded and (hopefully) cause you to be more forgiving of others because face it, none of us are perfect. Overcoming a face plant makes you stronger and more resilient. Embrace your screw up so that someday you can look back on it with gratitude; trust that what you learn from it will make you a better person.
While following this plan won’t take the embarrassment of making a mistake away, it will allow you to hold your head high as you gracefully and authentically handle the aftermath. Remember, you are not alone in screwing up; we’ve all done it and we will all do it again. The real growth comes from what you do after the damage is done.
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“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.” - Neil Gaiman
There is only one thing that’s certain in life and that is that things will change. No matter how much you deny, resist, or ignore it, the unfolding of life brings new challenges and experiences that you must adapt to, one way or another.
Each of us experience change constantly yet react to it in many different ways. While some of us embrace change and even drive it, most fall into the “change resistant” category. Our brains expect certain things to stay the same and when they don’t, the information we trusted breaks down causing us fear over what comes next. What we don’t know tends to scare us and change creates a lot of unknowns. Even positive change comes with challenges and discomfort. Change. Is. Hard.
In today’s fast-paced, quickly-evolving world, it’s important to develop your ability to handle change effectively. While it’s never easy, here are somethings you can do to adapt to change with a bit more grace.
Freak Out For a Minute, Privately
There’s nothing wrong with being scared of change, especially when it blindsides you, so go ahead and freak out for a minute. Just do it privately. Negative reactions on public display almost never produce good outcomes. Go for a walk alone, vent to someone you trust, write in your journal, scream into your pillow…let it out in a private place to release pent up emotions and then start focusing on how to deal with the change.
Give Yourself Time to Process
When change hits hard and fast, it can feel overwhelming. Your brain starts racing, making up a story which usually concludes with the world as you know it ending. But if you think back on all the times you freaked out over change, how often did the story end the way you first imagined it? Probably never, if you are like me. That’s why it’s good to give yourself time to process the change. I can promise that tomorrow, it won’t seem nearly as bad as it did today, so think it through and come up with a plan after sleeping on it.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
It’s easy to focus on the situation or person, blaming and barraging the bringer of change or the change itself. Don’t do this. Be accountable and own your fears and other feelings. Look inside to understand your resistance so you can clearly articulate why you have such strong feelings. Put words to your feelings by asking yourself questions and answering truthfully. Why do I feel this way? What am I afraid of? Why am I resisting? If I embrace this change, what’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?
Get More Information
Don’t assume the story you told yourself about why the change is happening is true. It’s probably not. Ask questions and do more research so you understand why something is changing. The deeper your awareness, the faster you can settle your mind, fine tune your response, and adjust to the change.
Give Your Opinion
It’s okay to want to influence the outcome, especially if you feel passionately about something. Consider what you want to achieve, be conscience of your tone, listen to others, and then give your opinion. Always look for a positive solution; a win-win may not be possible, but you’ll feel better once you’ve expressed yourself.
Accept the Change
Life is so much easier when you stop resisting every little change, so pick your battles carefully. Sometimes change is worth resisting and sometimes you just have to accept things as they are. Resisting can make you miserable and you risk damaging relationships and your overall happiness. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to surrender every now and then. Stop complaining about it to others. Look for the positive and give it some time. Before you know it, you’ll have adapted to the change and it’ll be a distant memory that doesn’t seem all that bad.
Change is what makes life interesting and amazing. It teaches us profound lessons and promotes growth and wisdom. It can take us to faraway places or deep within ourselves. It creates exciting opportunities and yes, sometimes it breaks our hearts. It’s what weaves the tapestry of our lives together, creating a colorful patchwork of experiences, emotions, thoughts, and relationships that make up our existence. Embrace it and do your best to enjoy the ride; if properly harnessed, change can inspire you to be the greatest version of yourself.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan Watts
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One of most important attributes to becoming successful is self-discipline. It’s almost impossible to achieve excellence without it. Self-discipline helps you stay focused; it gives you the gumption to stick with something even when it’s difficult. It helps you choose winning the long game over short term gratification. Self-discipline allows you to overcome obstacles and deal with the discomfort of pushing yourself to new heights. With enough self-discipline, you can form life-long, positive habits; once you form a habit, it no longer requires discipline and you propel yourself towards success because it’s what you do day in and day out.
What is self-discipline? Essentially, it’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s the ability to forego short term gratification in favor of long term satisfaction and gain. It’s basically saying no when you really want to say yes.
How does self-discipline lead to forming habits? If you do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit and once something a habit, life gets easier; you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, last year one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes every day for 30 days. I felt so much better that I continued for another 30 days which turned in 6 months, etc. Now I get up an hour earlier to start my day off with 60 minutes of yoga. I don’t have to set my alarm anymore and I do it EVERY day. If you would like more insight on how to use discipline to form habits, read the Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book.
The word self-discipline makes most people shudder just uttering it but being self-disciplined isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life and I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should use self-discipline to focus your energies on what’s most important to you. Let it help you make the tradeoff between the short and long term so that you make better choices. In the long run, you’ll be happier when you have formed habits that make your life better.
So how do you become more self-disciplined? Here are my tricks:
You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look, be and feel a certain way, then you have to develop the discipline to form habits. Vigorous habits will help you get to where you want to be. While it seems counter intuitive, I have found that I am happier and healthier the more self-disciplined I become. I think you will find the same thing, too.
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You are a collection of all the stories you’ve told yourself. That’s right, your life is a work of fiction and you are the main character.
We all tell ourselves stories about the things that happen to us, the decisions we make, and why other people do the things they do. You make assumptions and then act upon those assumptions. That’s how you create your life; your stories become your reality. You wear your stories like a warm winter sweater because they give you comfort that you actually understand what’s happening around you. You do this because your brain can’t stand not understanding why something is happening. It is constantly looking for patterns, assigning cause and effect, then creating a narrative that you subsequently believe, even if you have no access to the actual truth. Psychologists and scientists call this the narrative bias. We couldn’t survive without it.
There’s good and bad news to consider when pondering your narrative.
First the bad news. If you create a story that is negative, inaccurate, or based on a lie you’ve been told or that you’ve told yourself, you could send yourself down a path that might lead to poor decisions, low self-esteem and needless suffering.
The good news is that you can create a different story. You can challenge your assumptions. You can think about the way you think. You can break down belief systems that hold you back. You can build upon the positive things that happen in your life. You can choose to let go and move on.
Even though your story might feel real and unchangeable, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re living a charmed life or one of struggle and despair. Your story isn’t real and it isn’t permanent.
So pick the one thing in your life you want to change or make happen and tell yourself a different story. One where you are progressing, succeeding and winning. Then start taking action to create that story. It doesn’t mean it’s easy; it just means it’s possible. Be willing to do the hard work.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street. I am not saying you want his story (or maybe you do; he is very wealthy and everyone loves a comeback story) but it’s a statement worth keeping in mind.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
Thanks for reading,
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It’s hard to believe that another year is in the books; 2016 flew by and it will go down as one of the most intense years in history. I for one am glad it’s over, as I imagine many of you are, for a plethora of reasons that really need no explanation.
Now, 2017 is here and as with any New Year, we will be filled with the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. Perhaps we mistake this magical feeling for the deep sense of relief of having made it through the year; another trip around the sun and we are still here! Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate! We are sure that when the clock strikes midnight, our lives will change for the better. This year will be different, we just know it. We make resolutions to ensure that we will become the future versions of ourselves we so long to be. And then January passes and we realize that it’s just another day, week, and year. Sigh.
But it doesn’t have to be that way….
I think that in 2017 we all should throw caution to the wind. We should make a bold, courageous resolution and pursue it with gusto: we should commit to becoming really great at something that makes the world a better place or that brings great joy to our lives. Can you imagine how much better we would all feel if we pursued something that brought about real, positive change to our lives?
Sure, it may seem like a chasm to get from here to there, but it’s all in how you look at it. There is almost always a path; you just have to create the steps to get there. And you have to being willing to do the hard work. The first step is overcoming inertia; once you have momentum, it gets easier.
If you need some inspiration (or a good kick in the butt), I suggest these books to help overcome inertia and create a plan of action.
“The Compound Effect,” by Darren Hardy
“The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller
"The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure," by Grant Cardone
Remember, your dreams won’t happen to you unless you make them happen. Go for it.
Happy New Year,
A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.