Compass and Map with overlay text, "Compelled by something greater."

The best leaders are always compelled by something greater. Something that is beyond them. Driven by something just out of reach, they are striving for new growth and new opportunities.

Great leaders, in short, are driven by a vision.

Guided By Vision

Vision drives great leaders.

Vision also drives great business. 

It’s popular in the business world to talk about three closely related things: mission, vision, and values.

And while similar, they are distinctly diCompass and Map with overlay text, "Compelled by something greater."fferent. All are needed and all are necessary. However, they should not be equated to the same thing.

Michael Hyatt, in his book The Vision Driven Leader, makes the following distinction:

“Both mission and vision inform strategy but in different ways. Mission provides day-to-day clarity by defining the identity and scope of the business. Without a clear mission, you can easily drift off target and head into either too many directions, or the wrong direction…A proper Vision Script is…a robust document, written in the present tense, that describes your future reality as if it were today.”

This is a helpful distinction and provides clarity for where we’re headed.

Values – The moral and ethical code the leader or the business operates by. This is integrity in the personal and business sphere. A list of words (usually 5-10) that are non-negotiable.

Mission – The identity of the leader or business, defined by the practice and day-to-day operations. This is usually a sentence or two that provides strategy and action principles for the organizational culture.

Vision – The future destination of the leader or business. A full, robust manuscript that has actualized success and invites the readers into a compelling narrative of what could be as if it has already happened. This is usually much longer, much larger, and much more integrated.

Make It Compelling

Truly great leaders are able to draw people into their vision of the future. Their vision of the future is compelling, motivating, inspiring, and equipping. It guides other people into proper ways of thinking and doing.

Think of a vision board on steroids.

It’s large, comprehensive, and transformative. Vision creates the principles by which the mission is executed and the values are maintained.

A compelling vision removes any doubt about the direction we’re going and as well as irradicating the opportunity for settling or stopping short of the goal.

A vision statement covers all aspects of personhood or business to make sure that nothing is missed or left to chance.

3 Steps For Creating A Compelling Vision

1.) Take the Necessary Time

This is not a quick process. A compelling vision doesn’t happen overnight. It may not even happen in a weekend. It’s an intentional time of focus, reflection, integration, and prospecting.

Creating a compelling vision means carefully crafting words, feelings, and desires into a language that motivates, inspires, and equips.

2.) Suspend Doubt and Judgment

Too often, we are our own worst critics. We want to achieve great things but are plagued by doubt and fear.

Great leaders with a compelling vision have been able to squelch that voice.

Don’t be limited in your imagining of the future. Your current reality or availability does not determine your final destination. In the future vision, you have unlimited resources, ability, people, and technology to meet your goals.

Avoid limiting language and limiting belief. Hold space that all things are possible. Ignore the voice that tells you to play small or live in fear.

3.) Firmly Believe The Best Is Yet To Come

To craft a truly compelling and transforming vision, we must hold firmly to the belief that the best is yet to come. The products we create, the people we help, the influence we have, the legacy we leave. All of that grows and expands over time. Unleashing a force of good, we continually reach new heights, meet new expectations, and bless new people.

We must remain certain that the best is yet to come. We embrace the challenge of leaving the world a better place and know that by fulfilling the vision we are writing we will do so.

Where Are You Going?

Ultimately, the question for everyone is, “Where are you going?” For leaders, this is especially important.

No one drifts towards greatness. If we don’t pursue it intentionally, we will never reach it.

Failure to clearly articulate our desired vision of the future means we will never have it.

If we can’t firmly affix our steps to a larger purpose, we will never have one.

 

Person Rock Climbing with Overlay text "Do Hard Things"

One of the common phrases in our house is, “Do hard things!”

It’s a call. A challenge. To our kids, but also to the adults. Life requires, necessitates difficulty. We should rise to the occasion.

Do Hard Things

Life is full of the difficult.

Taking our first steps requires doing hard things.

When we’re young, learning to walk is hard. Yet without knowing any better, our natural instinct is to persevere. We fall, we rise again, and we take another step.

Somewhere along the way, however, we get talked out of that mindset. We learn to shrink back, play small, give in, and give up. Ultimately, we end up missing out on some of the greatest aspects of life.

Because everything we’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. Our ability to push through, rise to the occasion, and achieve the difficult things, determines how far we get in life.

 

Don’t Run From Hardship

One writer from the early church history penned the idea of difficulty this way:

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking. (The Voice)

We were warned thousands of years ago about the necessity of doing difficult things in life. From cleaning our rooms to forgiving someone who offends us, the message is the same: do hard things!

Got a side-hustle you want to be your full-time gig? Do Hard Things. 

Looking to advance in your career and get a promotion? Do Hard Things.

 

Discovering the need to be a better parent, spouse, or lover? Do Hard Things.

Trying to lose ten, fifteen, for fifty pounds? Do Hard Things.

Convicted to swallow your pride and ask for forgiveness? Do Hard Things.

A Call For Growth

Ultimately, this is a call for growth. For all of us. We are presented each and every day with the chance to grow and get better.

For my son, it’s cleaning his room, engaging in his math homework, and being nice. (Even when his little brother is legitimately being annoying).

 

For me, it’s putting in the focused effort on the right action items every day. Ignoring distraction, feeding my quest for self-improvement, and growing a business.

For you, it might be something different. Maybe it’s to put the phone down and engage with the family. Perhaps your growth point is to finally start that business venture that has you so scared (I can help). Maybe there’s that small voice that is urging you to show up, to speak up, and to act for justice.

Whatever it is. Embrace the call. Press into that feeling. Rise to the occasion.

Do Hard Things.

The Death of Kobe Bryant

The world is dealing this week with the death of Kobe Bryant.

I’ve spent hours this week watching the news and scrolling through social media. I wanted to wake up today and have it all be a dream.

It’s not.

The Death of Kobe Bryant

In a tragic accident, Kobe, his daughter, and seven others are dead after a helicopter crash in southern California. While we wait for details to emerge, we mourn and grieve. For him, his wife, his daughters, the Lakers family, and NBA fans around the world.

I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I’m not a Lakers fan.

I do recognize and understand greatness though, and Kobe was one of the best. His attitude, consistent commitment to excellence, and drive led him to be among the greatest players of all time, in any sport.

I spent time yesterday engaging in conversations around how to handle this tragic death.

Mourn.

Weep.

Cry.

Grieve.

Pray.

Those are all valid answers.

I also have a feeling that Kobe would want us to do more. While I don’t know him personally, his life is well chronicled. He cares about excellence. He demanded it from himself, and from others.

In a celebration of life, here are three things we can do to honor the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant.

1.) Commitment to the Details

Tim Grover recounts the story of training Kobe. In part, he writes:

Each of Kobe’s workouts takes around ninety minutes, and a half hour of that is spent just working on his wrists, fingers, ankles . . . all the details. That’s how the best get better—they sweat the details … It all comes back to this, no matter what you do in life: Are you willing to make the decision to succeed? Are you going to stand by that decision or quit when it gets hard? Will you choose to keep working when everyone else tells you to quit? Pain comes in all sorts of disguises—physical, mental, emotional. Do you need to be pain-free? Or can you push past it and stand by your commitment and decision to go further? It’s your choice. The outcome is on you.”

Later, Grover reflects:

The Death of Kobe Bryant
In memory of Kobe Bryant. Photo Credit: WPMT Fox43

That’s Kobe: everything he does is all about excellence. Everything. Nothing else matters. You hear people say that all the time, “I’ll do whatever it takes!”—but he truly lives it. Every detail of his life, every hour of his day, the lonely time he spends in the gym, the people he seeks out to help him maintain that excellence, everything revolves around being on top and staying there.

Grover, Tim S. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Pursuing Excellence

What can we learn from that? Quite a bit.

Make the comparison of a 90-minute workout to your day. What are the details of your job? Do you, as the analogy goes, spend ninety minutes a day exercising your fingers, wrists, and ankles.

How does an accountant practice that? A math teacher? The stay at home parent? A busy executive. Each one has that calling, each one needs to learn to sweat the details.

If we can learn to pay attention to the details in pursuit of greatness, we too can become unstoppable.

2.) He engaged in something beyond himself.

Kobe’s Mamba mentality went beyond the game of basketball. In a GQ interview, he explained how it was his mentality in life.

“I’m not going to say our marriage is perfect, by any stretch of the imagination,” Kobe says. “We still fight, just like every married couple. But you know, my reputation as an athlete is that I’m extremely determined, and that I will work my ass off. How could I do that in my professional life if I wasn’t like that in my personal life, when it affects my kids? It wouldn’t make any sense.” The logic is weirdly airtight: If we concede that Kobe would kill himself to beat the Celtics, we must assume he’d be equally insane about keeping his family together. And he knows that we know this about him, so he uses that to his advantage.

This was due to his Catholic faith. He was very open about it and cared about it deeply. As a husband and father, he was called to something beyond himself. He threw himself into his projects deeply. Basketball, marriage, parenting, and philanthropy all got the best of him rooted in a transformative faith.

3.) Mindset Is Everything

Kobe’s book The Mamba Mentality is his reflection on the game. His game. The preparation he would make to be the best. It’s what he expected of himself … and what he expects of everyone else. 

The mindset isn’t about seeking a result—it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality.

Bryant, Kobe. The Mamba Mentality. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

He knew what part to play to get the objective done. His reflections on offense, defense, the Olympic teams, and seeking intentional mentoring proves his commitment.

Whatever it takes, all the time.

We should be inspired by this. I often have to remind my kids that we do hard things.

We especially need to do hard things.

In a culture and a society where excuses are praised, commitment to the details, passion and purpose, and a commitment to a positive mindset sets us apart.

It gives us an unprecedented opportunity, for life, growth, transformation, and happiness.

Woman doing Yoga in sunset with blog title superimposed

We’re one day into the new year.

Be honest: how are those resolutions going?

I had a conversation with someone yesterday who was committed to being healthy in the new year but was already leery of how close Valentine’s Day was.

On new years day, they were worried about how a holiday 45 days in the future, was going to effect today.

Less than one day.

That’s exactly how long it took to waiver on their commitment.

Don’t Be A Statistic

According to some research, upwards of80 percent of us will fail at our new year resolutions by February. Our commitments to eat better, sleep more, focus on the right things, exercise, and spend more time with loved ones are often token words.

We know the right answer, but we fail to experience the transformation we long for.

Why?

First, there is a lack of clarity. “Losing weight” is pretty vague. Instead, plan on losing “ten pounds by March 1.” It’s clear, definable, and action-oriented.Woman doing Yoga in sunset with blog title superimposed

Second, it’s an arbitrary date. While January 1 looks nice, it’s no more an effective date July 7 or September 10. In fact, based on the (usually) poor weather conditions and limited sunlight, it may actually be a worse time to start your goals.

Third, those committed to self-improvement do it as soon as they discover a weakness. In my work with high-performers, I can always tell the level of seriousness in a potential client by how they treat their self-improvement. Those who are ready usually take little to no prompting from me. We’ll talk about a subject, figure out an action plan, and they are off and running. In contrast, those that take a while to decide, need to spend some time “thinking about it” or “will get back to me” never actually make real change. They like the idea of change, they know they should change, but they rarely (if ever) do.

Think Different

In August of 1997, Steve Jobs urged us to “Think Different.” 

It worked for Apple. It works for us too.

If you want to be someone that breaks the trend of failed new years resolutions, here are my top three tips to “Think Different” and experience success.

1.) Set clear, definable goals.

2.) Do one thing every day to get better.

3.) Get clear on your why, not just your what.

While it may have taken my friend one day to falter, that doesn’t have to be the case with you. 

Be the exception.

Be different.

Think different.

Do different.

Experience Success.

 

Blog Post Title, "Even if it's hard" and Man Contemplating

Even If It’s Hard

How do we accomplish a big task, even if it’s hard?

Over the weekend, I was having a conversation with my son about completing one of his tasks for the day. He was supposed to be emptying the dishwasher by himself, and it happened to be particularly full this time.

He didn’t want to because it was hard.

Later that day, he had the same problem with math.

The next day, it was laundry.

Today, we faced it again with a math test.

Each and every time he was tasked with something difficult, he was tasked with the necessity to push through, overcome, and do it, even if it’s hard.

Ironically, he’s not the only one struggling with that. A year ago, I wanted to quit doctoral school because of the same reason.

Recently, I was talking to a client about implementing change. She gave the same reason why she couldn’t.

“Hard” and its close relatives, “difficult”, “demanding”, and “challenging” all seem to elicit a desire to quit. Blog Post Title and Man Contemplating

That’s true whether you are seven (like my son) or seventy (like my client). Throughout life, we will be tasked with the hard and difficult things. Doubly so in a leadership position.

My guess is, you’ve uttered that phrase once or twice before in your life.

When you’re ready to break through barriers, experience growth, or even if you just have to do it anyway, I want to help.

Three Ways To Accomplish A Task, Even If It’s Hard

Realize All You’ve Done Before

You’ve literally made it through 100% of the difficult things in your life up to this point. You’ve got a mound of evidence proving that you can do difficult things.

You came into this world unable to bathe, clothe, or feed yourself. You also couldn’t walk, talk, or read. The fact that you’re here, visiting this blog (my sincerest thanks for that one too) means you can probably accomplish most — if not all — of those tasks by yourself.

Less than three months from graduating from doctoral school, I told my wife I wanted to quit. It was legitimately the hardest thing I had ever done. Faced with a growing business and other leadership responsibilities, I was overwhelmed. Deep down, I also knew I had to do it if for no other reason than to set an example for my kids. They will someday be faced with “the hardest thing” that they ever need to do, and I don’t want to set the precedent that we quit when things get hard.

I looked at my track record for completing hard tasks, realized I had a 100% batting average, and stuck it out. Three months later, we celebrated the hard work and sacrifice we all put into my graduation weekend.

Practice Grit

Angela Duckworth, in her stellar book Grit, defines grit as, “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” We’ve all got passion when we start a project. That’s rarely the place we fail.

Instead, it’s the perseverance we struggle with. Having to overcome obstacles, develop creative solutions, and grow in resiliency kills more dreams than a lack of passion.

Once a long-term goal has been identified, strategize key ways to grow in both passion and perseverance. For our son and his need to fold laundry, it’s about the long-term goal of adulthood. My wife and I have always been very open (with them and with others) that our primary objective is not to raise kids. Instead, we are in the process of raising adults. Guess what? Adults take responsibility, own their shit, and do their laundry. Even when it’s hard.

Make it Manageable

Tasks, especially meaningful and significant ones, can feel overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to eat that elephant in one bite.

Distill big dreams and goals into smaller chunks. Then, take those chunks and make them into daily, manageable tasks. Even if it’s hard, you’ll experience growth.

When I was starting out in coaching, I didn’t have an email list. I fretted over that. Every internet expert tells you the secret to growth is an email list. Because I didn’t have one, especially a large one, I delayed even attempting to start one.  

Guess how big my list got? It stayed at zero. For a long time. Until I got over the fact that I needed one hundred thousand people to subscribe. I also didn’t need a webpage, a Facebook page, or a book on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Instead, I focused on getting one. Then another.

Along the way, daily tasks became, “write a blog post” and “Hold a Facebook Live.” Along the way, and at each step, my email list grew.

Now? I’m regularly adding people. While I’m not to my goal yet, I’m closer than I was when I felt compelled to have everything together first.

Plus, the best part? You can totally join this list for FREE. I call it my High-Performers List and it’s full of weekly updates, insights, and the key tools I use with my clients. Just click here to join.

Set goals. Make them actionable. Make them relevant. Make them engaging. Then, make progress. (Because we never knock progress).

Wrapping Up

While that’s certainly not everything we could talk about, it’s a great start. The next time you (or someone you know) utters the phrase, “But it’s hard” here is how you make progress. Stop the negative self-talk and assess the situation.

1.) You’ve already won 100% of life’s previously difficult battles and you’re stronger because of it.

2.) You have an amazing chance to practice grit.

3.) Distill the goal down to manageable tasks and take action.

You got this. I believe in you. Even if it’s hard.