Woman with head in hands looking in the mirror dejected with text overlay the story we tell ourselves. Blog post cover art.

The story we tell ourselves, our internal narrative about the way we are, determines the trajectory of our story.

Understanding the Programming

Early on in life, we all start to acquire an internal narrative, programming, about the way we are. This identity-shaping story becomes one of the largest determining factors in who we end up becoming. From an early age, we all start to experience those labels.

We’ve all been called things like:

worthless

good for nothing

late

nerdy

oddly small

too short

freakishly tall

too big

ugly.

The words may start off as meaningless but slowly, after hearing them enough, they become an accepted part of our worldview.

We all know the person who heard, “You’ll never amount to anything” growing up. Pretty soon, they would be saying, “I’ll never amount to anything.” In the blink of an eye, they had given up on their dreams, settled for less than they were worth, and didn’t amount to anything compared to their true potential.

It’s a heartbreaking reality for many of us.

The good news is that not only can that destructive cycle be broken, but what is true of negative stories is also true of positive ones.

Telling a Better Story

If we want to reach our dreams, we have to be willing to rewrite the story we tell ourselves.

The hard work of personal growth happens internally. Putting in the time, effort, and energy into filling our minds with good things.

It involves telling yourself:

I am competent Woman with head in hands looking in the mirror dejected with text overlay the story we tell ourselves. Blog post cover art.

beautiful

loved

admirable

strong

hard-working

driven

successful

capable.

The story we tell ourselves influences the person we will ultimately become.

The Story We Tell Ourselves

I was working with a client recently on this idea and explained to him the three camps we can fall into.

1.) We have a negative story and believe it.

This is like the first example. The story we heard growing up is the story we believe. We are somehow not enough, unloved, unworthy, or pitiful. 

In coaching, I see this story all the time. It’s one of the main reasons people don’t achieve the goals they start out with.

Why would a lazy, good-for-nothing, unlovable, unworthy, pitiful person try something as grandiose as starting their own business?

It probably wouldn’t work anyway.

In reality, they have everything they need and are totally capable of amazing success. The problem is not they have believed the lies.

2.) We have a positive story and believe it.

These are the fun ones. The easy ones. They already believe the right things. These people know that they are strong, competent, and capable. They are able to set goals and achieve them because they believe in their ability to accomplish hard tasks.

3.) We don’t know what to believe.

This is the place where my client found himself. The bad news was that he didn’t have a positive story about himself. However, the good news, was that he didn’t have a negative view of himself.

He was somewhere in the middle. Drifting in the open ocean with no paddle, he didn’t know which way to go. I asked him to come up with five adjectives to describe himself he knew to be true.

He couldn’t give me any.

It should be no surprise then, that goals have been hard for him. Without the confidence and clear direction of knowing what to believe, he has trouble setting and staying accountable to goals. Without knowing the truth about himself, he doesn’t know what direction to pursue.

The story we tell ourselves matters.

Get clear on what you believe, not just about the world, but about yourself.

Give yourself positive imagery to believe about yourself and put it into practice. How would you, the strong, competent, capable person you are solve this problem? Once you believe that, you’ll crush any goal in your path.


Accountability is important. Want help reaching your goals and changing the trajectory of your life? Try coaching!

Reach out to me to schedule a complimentary session today.

Building With Purpose Conference 2021

 

sunset with hourglass in foreground and blog title overlay text that says 60 days

Happy November. We’ve got sixty days left this year to make a difference. What are your commitments?

Time Passes By

As my kids get older, time seems to be moving by more quickly. In what feels like an overnight change, we’ve left the diaper stage and are six months away from our first teenager. Even our children are starting to notice. Recently, my oldest son said, “Dad, I can’t believe it’s the end of July already. Kind of feel like summer’s over and we should start planning for Christmas.” 

Does anyone else feel like that? The passage of time marches on, whether or not we’re ready for it. More than seasons, dates, and calendars, I’m sure you also notice changes in your own life. All of a sudden you look up and realize that there are only sixty days left in this year.

2022 is knocking on the door. We all know how quickly the holiday season flies by so it will be here before you know it. What’s your plan?

60 Days

2021 only has 60 days left.

9 weeks. sunset with hourglass in foreground and blog title overlay text that says 60 days

1440 hours

86,400 minutes.

In an instant, it will all be over and you’ll be wanting to set new years goals.

Why wait?

You have 9 Monday’s left to make progress on your goals.

9 Mondays left to do something of significance.

9 Mondays left to radically shape and influence your future.

If you’re sitting around waiting for something, conisder this your wake up call.

Get after it.

Blog Post Cover Art: Two hands holding another in sympathy with blog overlay text "What's Your Kindness Quotient?"

 … The other day, I was listening to the radio, and the host began the segment by asking, “What’s your KQ?” After a few seconds of silence, she went on to explain that KQ is Kindness Quotient. Understanding, and cultivating kindness is a growing trend. I’m 100% in.

Understanding KQ

For years, in the business world, we’ve heard about terms about our IQ (Intelligence) and EQ (Emotional) resilience. We’ve examined grit. Studies have been done on leadership capacity. You can get a degree in change management.

But recently, I came across the idea of KQ (Kindness Quotient) while listening to the radio, and I’m 100% in favor of this.

… being kind is linked to being happy. In her research, Sonya Lyubomirsky, a University of California-Riverside psychologist, found that practicing acts of kindness (as well as expressing thankfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness ) was common among happy people. Kindness seems to have a rebound effect, creating an endless loop of positivity …

(Source) Blog Post Cover Art: Two hands holding another in sympathy with blog overlay text "What's Your Kindness Quotient?"

I’m a huge fan of gratitude and think that consciously expressing thankfulness creates and generates more to be thankful for.

Apparently, kindness works the same way.

Intentionally expressing an act of kindness to someone generates more kindness in the world.

Random Acts of Kindness

As a child, I remember the call of a well-intentioned teacher urging me to “Go RAK someone today.” That is, engage in a random act of kindness. Their belief was that if I could do that, I would feel good, someone else would benefit, and the world would be a better place.

We even kept a RAK chart so we could see who RAK’d the most people in a given week.

Maybe she was on to something …

And now more than ever, the world seems to need a little bit of kindness.

Societal unrest.

Political Turmoil

COVID Pandemic

Fear-Filled News Cycles

Natural Disasters

The world appears to be in trouble.

And while I’m not entirely sure what kindness could do to stop a hurricane, I know kindness could help solve the rest of the problems on the list … and go a long way in recovering from a hurricane.

What’s Your Kindness Quotient (KQ)

So, what’s your KQ level?

Can you tell?

I’d like to think I’m a kind person, and show generosity, compassion, grace, and positivity in the world, but do I?

How can I tell?

In coaching, we talk a lot about investing our time and energy into the right pursuits. During one activity, we look at ways to analyze our calendar and our task list to see if our values and our time are lining up.

In many ways, we can measure kindness in the same way. Can you look back on your time, and just like you scheduled time to exercise, have dinner, return emails, and attend your kid’s practice, did you schedule a time to be kind?

Did you keep it front of mind?

Do you challenge yourself to grow and expand your capabilities?

In a world focused on division, dis-unity, and discord, focus instead on being kind, generous, compassionate, and proactively positive.

So, what’s your kindness quotient?

Life in the garden blog post cover image. A row of vegetables planted in dirt.

I have spent much of my life in the garden. What I have discovered in the soil holds true in my soul: the time spent pruning, watering, and nurturing is never wasted.

Life in the Garden

As a kid growing up on the plains of central Kansas, I spent much of my time in the garden. My family grew a fair amount of our own food, and it was usually one of my daily tasks to spend a certain amount of time clearing the weeds from the produce.

Strawberries.

Rhubarb.

Tomatoes.

Carrots.

Beans

Cucumbers.

Peas

Corn.

We grew a whole variety of food. However, it wouldn’t take long in the humid days of summer to see weeds grow up right along with the crops.

So for thirty minutes every day, I’d be out there making sure only the good stuff grew.

As I got older, I started to hate it more. As a teenager, there were thousands of other places I’d rather be than in the garden doing work. Life in the garden blog post cover image. A row of vegetables planted in dirt.

Now, as an adult, I wish I had more time to devote to my own garden. The thirty minutes a week are far too few.

However, my time in the garden has made me realize the many ways I want to cultivate a fruitful and bountiful personal life.

Here are three takeaways from my life in the garden.

1.) Remove the bad, harmful, and damaging weeds.

I’ve already mentioned my disdain for gardening as a child. Part of it was my allergies. They were so bad growing up, my eyes would swell shut and I found it difficult to breathe. There were many days where a family member would have to escort me around the house because I couldn’t see, my eyes crusted over with goop.

If it were like that inside the house, you can imagine how bad actually having my face near the plants.

However, in those brief moments where I could concentrate and focus on getting something accomplished on a row of cucumbers, I always took satisfaction in seeing progress.

Weeding gave two primary benefits: clear signs of work done, and better yields.

In our own lives as leaders, we see the same benefit. When we weed out the poor, distracting, bad, harmful, and damaging ‘weeds’ of our lives, we see clear progress and get better yields.

Our souls are full of many bad weeds.

Pride.

Arrogance

Destructive relationships.

Bad habits.

False mental beliefs.

Spending time in coaching, counseling, mentorship, business alliances, and other thought-provoking and challenging ideas weeds out these self-perceived limits and gives the good, nurturing fruit of leadership space to grow.

2.) Prune and nurture the good.

As you clear out the weeds, you give the good fruit space to grow. At the same time, this good stuff needs to be pruned, fed, and watered. Carefully cutting off areas of less productivity and overgrowth gives the main plant more time to thrive.

In the garden, watering and fertilizing your plants also leads to bigger yields.

For the garden of your soul, the same beneficial steps need to be taken.

Limit the amount of ‘good’ in your life to pursue the ‘great.’

Take control of your calendar to get more of the right things done (and not just more things).

Limit (and eliminate) time with people who drain you, your time, and your resources.

Spend time with people who bring your more life, vitality, abundance, and joy.

3.) Cultivate beneficial species together.

A lesson I learned early from my life in the garden is the power of beneficial and antagonistic plants. In my raised beds, I made the mistake of planting tomatoes and cabbage too close together.

While it seems like no big deal, in terms of plant production, it was a very big deal.

My main tomato plants, living next to beneficial plants, grew and thrived. I was harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers on a regular basis.

The tomatoes that were planted near the cabbage resulted in both plant species struggling. The cabbage never had more than a few leaves, and the tomatoes stopped growing after a foot and never produced fruit.

Thankfully, I was able to transplant the cabbage, and now both are thriving (well away from each other).

Plants need the right environment to survive. This includes their relationships with other plants.

In our own lives, we have the same problems. When we are too near negative thinking, small-mindedness, hypocrisy, anger, judgment, fear, and limiting beliefs, we start to adapt to the same. Just like in my garden, there is a general failure to thrive when we are in the wrong environments.

Removing that negativity from your life and exposing yourself to like-minded people and beneficial thoughts results in more of the same.

Expose yourself to positive and be positive.

What about you? How have you seen one of your hobbies benefit you in your professional life?

A shadow cast on a brick wall of a giant in armor with overlay text slay your giants while you're young. Blog post cover art.

That’s why it’s so important to slay your giants while you’re young.

Her words hit me like a ton of bricks.

Not only is she incredibly beautiful and funny, she’s also really, really smart.

I’m lucky she’s my wife.

We were talking about the importance of marked leadership growth and reflecting on the life of King David in the Bible.

Setting the Stage

I was walking her through a talk I was getting ready to give, and we were reflecting on what David’s life might have been like as he neared the end of his life.

A Forgotten boy to a ruler.

From shepherd to king.

Giant-slayer to sage. A shadow cast on a brick wall of a giant in armor with overlay text slay your giants while you're young. Blog post cover art.

Desert dweller to palace ruler.

As he neared the end of his life, he had to spend time reflecting on all that had transpired. A surprising amount is written about David in the Bible. We see his faith and folly as he is featured across the pages of Scripture.

Someone described as “a man after God’s own heart” has killed giants, led a country, been to war, stolen another man’s wife, committed murder, written songs, and experienced rebellion and treason from his own family.

Throughout it all, he remained committed to God and in trying to understand how to lead well.

And as my wife and I were discussing this, we were talking about the many ways in which his experiences of God may have changed, but the need behind them hadn’t.

That was true throughout the Israelite story.

It’s true for us as well.

Having Experiences

We all have a quest and desire to connect with God.

Unfortunately, we also want to keep having that same experience.

When the Israelites that saw God in the pillar of fire still wanted to see him like that. The problem is that as circumstances change, so do the experiences.

That’s why it’s important to slay your giants while you’re young.

David experienced God when he slew the giant Goliath. But he was never supposed to become a perpetual giant killer. Once he accomplished that mission, it was time for a new one.

Slay Your Giants While You’re Young

As leaders, we are all called to progress.

Grow.

Adapt.

Change.

Overcome.

In new ways, every day.

Far too many of us, however, take pride in slaying the same giants over and over.

Battling with addiction instead of getting help.

Hiding behind our fears and weaknesses instead of soliciting a mentor to overcome.

Engaging in the same pointless battles again and again.

I’m reminded of a story I heard once. An elderly leader was being interviewed about his life and influence. Having just passed 80 years old, he had a lot of wisdom to share with the crowd.

The interviewer asked him, “What’s one battle you regret not winning?”

Immediately, the 80-year old replied, “Porn.”

At 80, he was still trying to slay the same giant as his teenage self.

Instead of being able to be a person of wisdom to his community, he was stuck in a cycle of shame.

Don’t fall victim.

Slay your giants while you’re young.