Man with muscular shadow and superimposed text: Capacity to change the world

All of us have a superpower that when unleashed have the capacity to change the world. Think Marvel, but much more incredibly powerful (and totally real!).

Here are some of the amazing things that your superpower can do:

  • Increase Optimism.
  • Raise self-confidence.
  • Create greater levels of connection with others.
  • It provides the largest effect on trust. This is especially when it is tangible, personal, and public.
  • Activates your medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that experiences pleasure in things like drugs and alcohol. Meaning using this superpower gets you high like a drug. That’s right YOU feel better when using your superpower.
  • Using your superpower makes others more innovative, creative, collaborative, results, and productivity.
  • It increases longevity in the workforce. People stay longer where this superpower is used.

Any clue what it is? Man with muscular shadow and superimposed text: Capacity to change the world

Gratitude

Gratitude is your key superpower and it gives you the capacity to change the world. Expressing gratitude has been shown to not only bring value and service to others but to you as well. You get a chemical high, it blesses your employees and coworkers, increases your self-confidence, builds trust, and generates positivity.

Not bad, eh?

Expressing gratitude is a small thing that makes a big difference. Here are a few ways for you to express gratitude today:

  • Publicly praise a coworker or employee with words of affirmation and a job well done.
  • Write a note of thanks to a customer.
  • Create a social media post on your company page that honors an extraordinary effort or job well done by someone in your company.
  • Write a positive review of a business, server, or other public servant giving them praise and honor for their commitment.

Your Capacity To Change the World

There are thousands of ways to express gratitude. The important thing is to express it. Being thankful without expressing it is like not being thankful at all.

In our current world, this is important now more than ever. The world is longing for superheroes. You have the ability to be one. Your capacity to change the world lies in activating your superpower: gratitude.

Push Through Excuses and realize you can do it.

 

The measure of our success will always be determined by our ability to push through excuses.

A List of Popular Excuses

Tell me if you’ve heard (or used) any of these following excuses:

  • I’m Tired
  • The kids wouldn’t cooperate.
  • My boss was mean.
  • A bad economy.
  • No one listens to me.
  • My spouse doesn’t support me.
  • A team member (or business partner) didn’t work as hard as me.
  • I don’t have the time.

The list could keep going, couldn’t it? We’ve all been there. Longing for a vision of what could’ve been or should’ve been had things worked out differently.

They can work out differently. Things can always improve. We can always do better. Under no circumstances should we ever forego chasing our dreams.

Our success is limited only by our ability to overcome our circumstances.

Push Through Excuses

Early on in my coaching career, I had a not-so-good client. (That’s putting in nicely). I didn’t enjoy working with this person. They had a long list of dreams and desires and an even longer list of reasons why they couldn’t accomplish those dreams.

During one coaching call, he explained that he couldn’t send any resumes out because his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t have liked his resume format. Push Through Excuses and realize you can do it.

He didn’t apply for a job, because a former girlfriend wouldn’t have liked the formatting. Everyone else was getting to dictate the direction and circumstance except for him.

We worked on these issues for weeks. Stuck in a dead-end job, he wanted out badly (or so he said). Finally, after a month of inaction, I leveled with him. “Fix it this week or I’m sending your money back. I’m done working with you if you don’t want to change.”

After a few seconds of silence, he responded, “Yeah, I’m not gonna fix it this week. Thanks though.” Within thirty seconds of that sentence, we wrapped up our last call, I canceled his paperwork, and I never looked back.

I’m not sure what happened to him, but I learned a lot from him. I learned about my ideal client, staying motivated, having discipline, and the need to push through excuses.

Our ability to reach our dreams is directly related to our ability to push through excuses.

Determined At All Costs

High-achievers and success-oriented people have learned to push through excuses. Nelson Mandela remarked, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Leaders are determined at all costs to push through excuses. They choose to exercise courage instead of fear. Practicing commitment to their goals is paramount. They know how much is riding on it.

Here are three tips to give us courage as we pursue our goals and push through excuses:

1.) Create Clear Goals

Clarity breeds confidence. When we know exactly what we’re aiming for, and why it matters, we can muster up the strength to continue.

2.) Recall Your Track record

If no one has told you this yet: Good job. So far, you’ve made it through 100% of everything life has thrown you. Your strength, capabilities, and commitment have gotten you this far. You have no reason to think you can’t make it through the next obstacle, however daunting it may seem.

3.) Journey Together

Life is hard. It’s even harder to do it alone. Find a friend, mentor, peer, trusted advisor, or coach. Establish a relationship with the right people who are in your corner and push you towards greatness. The right people help you tell your story better. They are absolutely critical to your journey.

We’ve all been hurt. Everyone has been lied to. We all know the pain of fear, regret, pain, and failure. Successful people have learned to tell a different story. To rewrite their old history and chart a new path.

The journey to success is not a straight line, but it is one that must be made intentionally. Lean into those goals. Pursue them with passion. Give it your all. Don’t stop. In order to reach your full potential, you must push through excuses.

Start today.

 

Picture of Lincoln Statue memorial with superimposed text, "Unquestionable Commitment"

Even as a young child, Abraham Lincoln was a person of unquestionable commitment.

As the story goes, he would sit in his parent’s parlor late at night listening to the conversation the adults were having. At the conclusion of the evening, he would go upstairs to his room. Instead of getting going to bed, he would instead pace his bedroom replaying the conversation. It bothered him that there were parts of the conversation he didn’t understand.

So he would replay it in his head. Over and over. Analyzing every detail until it made sense. Finally content, he could go to bed.

That was a skill that would serve him his entire life.

He became a lawyer because he understood the facts of the case better than anyone else, analyzing the details meticulously.

Widely regarded as one of the great orators of all time, he acquired that skill through his commitment to understand and effectively use words.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was no tactician. His peers included highly regarded West Point graduates and brilliant generals of considerable experience. Yet by the end of the Civil War, he was on par with any them when it came to military strategy. In fact, it was his policy that eventually won the war when adopted by Ulysses Grant.

In all matters of importance, Lincoln dedicated himself to study, master, and unquestionable commitment.

Our Own Leadership

Much could be said about this level of commitment to our own leadership. At least one report acknowledges that upwards of 49% of employees are disengaged, while another eighteen percent are “actively disengaged.”

Our people, those we have been called to lead, are showing up work in larger and larger numbers disengaged from the work they have been given.

The trend is troubling.

It needs to change.

Change starts with us.

What does our own leadership journey look like? Are we actively engaged in personal our own growth? Do we display the same level of unquestionable commitment that Lincoln did? Picture of Lincoln Statue memorial with superimposed text, "Unquestionable Commitment"

Lincoln spent time preparing. Whatever the circumstance or situation, he gave it his full attention. He committed himself to personal mastery and improving the outcome.

Change, personally and organizationally, starts in the mind of the leader. Our mindset, the way we approach not just our day but our every task will determine our ultimate outcome in life.

Those that watch us: family, friends, co-workers, direct reports, all will observe our actions and level of engagement and respond accordingly.

When our words and our actions don’t line up, they will always follow our actions.

Part of what we work on in the coaching relationship is showing up fully present. All areas of our lives must be accounted for. This means we pay attention to the following areas of health: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, relational, and financial. When we show up, fully present, fully engaged, and unquestionably committed, we see great things happen.

Three Tips For Leaders

When you’re ready to bring an unquestionable commitment to all aspects of life, it can feel like a daunting task. To help you on that journey, here are things to do today that can start you on that journey.

1.) Eliminate Distraction

One of the greatest wastes of time and energy is mental distraction. Emails. Phone calls. Text message. Phone notifications. We live in a world that prides itself on distraction. Eliminate them. Close your email application. Silence your phone. Turn off notifications. Better yet, put your phone in another room for a full sixty minutes. Give the task at hand 100 percent of your focus. High-achievers always operate by this principle and it’s what allows them to get so much done in so little time.

2.) Focus On Strength.

When interacting with fellow employees or direct reports, focus on their strengths. As Don Clifton revealed in his StrengthsFinder book, the chances of being ‘actively disengaged’ in work drops to 1% when we focus on our strengths. Eliminate distraction. Then, focus on strengths. This is true for your own, and those of your employees. Improve performance and by focusing on strengths.

3.) Expect Mastery

Expecting mastery is different than expecting perfection. We don’t expect perfection. We do expect progress. From ourselves, our employees, and from those we lead. Create a plan for intentional growth. Make it clear and compelling. Then make it inspiring and motivating. Expect to master a subject. In short, you gain unquestionable commitment by practicing unquestionable commitment.

 

Girls running in a field with superimposed text: the importance of play

On our journey to productivity, we must recognize the lighter side of leadership.

The Lighter Side of Leadership

The lighter side of leadership encompasses the play that we need to do as leaders. Unfortunately, this is often something that we forget to do.

Play in children has been shown to, “to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development.”

In fact, play is so important to children that it has been declared a basic human right.

However, what we fail to realize is that play is just as necessary, just as vital, and just as beneficial to adults. Somewhere along the way, we forget to play.

Benefits of Play

“Play” as leaders extend the same benefits. Through play, we develop resilience, learn emotional intelligence, group dynamics, and practice grit. Most importantly, as leaders, we discover the benefits of laughing. Laughing lowers blood pressure and pain levels, calms tension, relieves stress, promotes creativity, and aids in the fight against depression. As it turns out, laughter really is the best medicine.

When we as leaders engage in play, both privately and with our teams, we are modeling what holistically healthy leadership looks like. We set the standard that while we take our work seriously, we don’t have to take ourselves seriously.  Girls running in a field with superimposed text: the importance of play

More than that, I’ve also become a firm believer that a team’s ability to play together is one of the easiest tests of true team dynamics and strength. One group was notoriously good at working together … or so they thought. Their meetings were very structured, a lot of agenda items were discussed, and everyone left with a list of tasks to accomplish. 

One day, I suggested that we go out together, as a group, and do something fun. Bowling, laser tag, board games, it didn’t really matter. The point was to do something together as a group that didn’t involve work. What I wanted was this group to play, to experience fun together, to find a lighter side to leadership.

It was rebuffed.

Instantly.

By all of them.

The excuses varied. Some were “too busy.” Some “couldn’t see the point.” The result was the same. This group continued to experience a slow decline in productivity, trust, and goal achievement.

Leaders without play produce leadership without vision.

Bringing in Play

All of the team-consulting activities I bring in involve play. Leadership personality assessments, team-building, corporate revisioning, sales and marketing, all of it requires an element of play. Along the way, we’re going to talk growth strategies and productivity, but not of it happens without play. 

The ability to laugh at ourselves.

To open up and be vulnerable.

A grand discovery that we don’t have all the answers. (One of my personal favorites is team-building from an escape room, if you want to know what that looks like, you can email me here).

In our leadership journey, never forget the importance of play. It keeps us grounded, builds trust with our teammates, and builds the character and grit we need to succeed.

If you want to enjoy a bit of the lighter side of leadership, watch the video below. In this installment of, “The Lighter Side of Leadership” we taste mystery cupcakes and talk about surviving life in quarantine.

Smiling employees with overlay text, "Service with a smile"

In a world increasingly divided and hostile, the best thing we can offer is service with a smile.

The Benefits of Smiling

It’s not something we think about often, but there are benefits associated with smiling. In addition to providing a warm, welcoming demeanor, smiling has other benefits, like:

  • Increased mood
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Aid digestion
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Decrease pain
  • Stronger immune system Smiling employees with overlay text, "Service with a smile"
  • Create a positive mindset
  • And more!

But here’s the crazy thing. Smiling, scientists have discovered, is contagious. This means that when you smile (and get these benefits), others will too!

Service With A Smile

I remember a conflict I was in with one former employer. He wanted to know why I never smiled at him when he walked into the office. Convinced something was wrong between us, he began to harbor feelings of anger and resentment. It carried into other spheres of working together, and eventually, I was almost written up over it!

The sad truth? My desk faced the doors and I’d often look up, lost in thought. If they walked by, it wasn’t that I was upset, angry, or dismissive of them. I was simply thinking too hard!

But this did cause me to become more aware of my facial expressions towards others. Instead of dismissing those claims, I took them to heart. I want everything I do to be a warm, welcoming place for people to be around.

I made a conscious effort to work on smiling when engaging others. For someone used to being accused of RBF, this was no small challenge. It has been, however, entirely worth it. The effort to put more work into smiling and engaging others has proved useful for business and personal reasons.

Engaging Leadership

One of the great things that smiling does for us as leaders are that it engages others. It marks us as warm, approachable, open, affirming, and in control.

Smiling communicates that we are calm and steadfast.

Providing service with a smile is more than plastering on a fake veneer, it is training our brain, and those around us, to look for the good in all situations.

It demonstrates our ability to work under pressure.

Service with a smile provides reassuring calm in the midst of surrounding storms.

One area I’ve seen this work is in parenting. When I need to have difficult conversations with my children, I make sure to put on a smile. Not to dismiss wrong or correctable behavior, but to let them know that it is okay. Everything is going to work out fine. Sometimes, I even let them know, “I’m not bad, but I do want to talk about what happened.”

This works in the workplace as well. Really, in all areas where we feel called to lead. 

Service with a smile lets others know that we will all get through this together.

Take An Inventory

The easiest way to get started experiencing the benefits of smiling is to smile. The quickest way to get there is to take an inventory.

Where are the moments we struggle with the most? How have we responded? What would we like to do differently?

Start by planning your day, based on how you want to engage the world and what you hope to accomplish with a smile.

Then, think about the common places where you’re interacting with people and write down intentional things you will do to smile and engage them.

One area where I had to work hard (and to be honest, I’m still working at) is to smile when I produce online content. It’s not that I’m unhappy or grump. Instead, it’s that I take seriously my calling to make great content that I get so focused on that that I can forget to enjoy myself.

I’ve started to write down physical notes when I record (or speak live) to smile. It’s actually in my notes, BE SURE TO SMILE HERE.

It engages the audience and creates rapport.

Smiling communicates value.

It demonstrates appreciation.

As leaders, everything we do is monitored. To be at our best, one simple way is to smile.

Creating opportunities for service with a smile transforms our thinking, influences our actions, transforms conflict, creates opportunity, and advances the mission.

Smile on!