Steering the Ship - Setting Your Intentions Blog Cover Photo

Like a ship without a rudder is a leader without a compelling goal.

Steer the Ship

Next week, I will be teaching a master’s level course in ethical leadership. I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing for lectures, reading, assignments, and everything that goes into making a class like this successful.

Honestly, I think I’m the most excited to hear from everyone in the class. What their goals are, what their vision for the world is, and how they see themselves developing into world-changing leaders.

It’s also forced me to reflect on my own life.

That led me to the thought that just as a boat without a rudder is unable to steer or navigate, so too will leaders be incapable of change without a clear or compelling goal.

It is pointless for a captain to steer the ship if the rudder is broken.

It is similarly pointless for a leader to expect change without a target goal in mind.

Working Hard

This has been a frequent musing of mine lately. Some days, if I’m honest, I struggle to stay engaged with my work. I love what I do and it meets many of my deepest core convictions and desires in life. Steering the Ship - Setting Your Intentions Blog Cover Photo

Other days, I wake up with a fire in my soul. I spend the day fanning that flame and watch the world around me light up.

What’s the difference?

For a long time, I wasn’t sure. Recently, over a load of dishes, I made a discovery. That particular day, I had a clear goal in mind. I knew exactly what I had to do to make that day a success. It was quite clearly going to be a ‘win’ or a ‘lose’ kind of day.

In contrast to that, I had also been struggling recently. One day, in particular, was a real drag. The only thing that sounded remotely interesting was over-consuming food and seeing how many games of Madden I could paly in 24 hours.

That day, as you may have guessed, was one without a clear goal. I had hopes. Expectations. Longings. Things that ‘would have been nice’ to get done. What I didn’t have, was a clear, concise, or compelling goal to draw me forward.

Ultimately, that’s the mission. I want to fill my life with a clear and compelling mission. A vision of what the world could be if I were fully awake and engage. My desire is to create a series of goals that better me, my family, our community, and ultimately the world.

We can, only do that if we set a clear and concise goal each day. Otherwise, we drift like a boat without a rudder. We chase every mildly exciting thing that ultimately distracts us from our true goals, identity, and ultimate sense of accomplishment.

Set The Intention

My goal for this class is to help them further that voice inside of them that is urging them forward. I want to equip them as leaders to continue to make a difference in the lives of those around them. 

To help you, here are three things you can do to set the intention for each day.

1.) Set long-term goals … then distill them into short term ones.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt and his Full Focus Planner.

(If this is your first post here, two things: 1.) Welcome and 2.) Now You Know)

One of the genius ideas behind his system is the goal breakdown. Yearly goals become quarterly goals become daily objectives.

Simple, but it works.

The point is to find something outside of yourself that allows you to wake up determined to reach a goal and hungry enough to get after it.

2.) Create an accountability system.

Hire a coach.

Find a mentor.

Seek accountability.

Join a group or mastermind.

Implement a system of rewards (or punishments) if goals aren’t met. I had a client once that kept neglecting an important task. I gave them a goal of completing it by our next session or paying me an additional $500. The ending? By our next session, their goal was completed. (And I was genuinely more excited for him to complete the goal than I would have been about the money).

3.) Keep a record of where you’ve been.

Just as important as looking forward, is reminding yourself where you’ve been. Just as a ship keeps logs and maps, we must do the same. Part of knowing where you’re going is to know where you’ve been.

What obstacles have you overcome? world map, cropped

How have your previous experiences been a blessing?

Where are there parts of your story that need to be retold or reexamined?

When was a time you felt most alive?

Conclusion

One of my wavering beliefs is that we have all been called to something great. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a client say, “You don’t doubt that I can do this?”

Never for a second.

You were called to something great, something world-changing. Don’t lose sight of that and miss your goal. Set your intentions and make them clear.

I believe in you.

KC Chiefs Logo

Last night, the Kansas City Chiefs were crowned the champions of the NFL season.

As a lifelong fan of the Chiefs, I beyond thrilled. I’ve been able to witness the postseason droughts end for both the Royals and the Chiefs in recent years.

As a sports fan, what a game last night! An even chess match in the first half, a good third quarter for the 49ers and a steller six minutes for Kansas City that saw them storm back from ten down to win.

We threw a party last night with several families and their kids coming over. We at tons of food and enjoyed some laughs at the commercials as well.

Celebrating Championship win
(c) Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

But enough of that, on this channel, we talk about mental performance and how to get better so I’ll keep my fanboy squeals to a minimum. Let’s analyze the game and use it to pursue our goals.

1.) Preparation is Key

There are two weeks between conference championships and the championship game. Each team spent time analyzing the other. Learning their tendencies. Scripting new plays. Figuring out weaknesses. They paid attention to detail.

We need to do the same thing. Life is a battle. There is a struggle going on inside of us. Preparation is key.

When I worked in the fitness industry, I did a lot of first day consultations for new gym members. I walked them through the gym, talk about equipment, and give them some tips and strategies for success.

One of the big ones was preparing food ahead of time. If you go shopping when you’re already hungry, it’s too late. You’ll make bad choices and not meet your fitness goals.

Life works in much the same way. Committing to self-improvement and success takes planning. We must look at the details of our life. Just like how the food we eat fuels us (good fuel equals good energy), our commitment to planning the details of our lives leads to breakthrough success.

2.) Unwavering Belief

Listening to the player interviews after the game is usually a fascinating experience. While some dislike their need for media appearances, most do it it willingly and provide great insight. One player, when asked about their fourth-quarter ten-point deficit how they handled it on the sideline. Their response? “We never lost hope or belief. We know what we are capable of.”

It worked. Multiple times in fact. The Chiefs were down ten points in all three of their postseason games. While nervewracking for a fan, it never was for them.

Their preparation (see point one) had given them one extra benefit: an unwavering belief in themselves. They were still positive. They knew how to handle this situation. The ultimate destination of the game was in their full control.

Confidence is key. But confidence comes from being ready.

When preparation and opportunity meet, success is bred.

3.) “Finish the Game!”

Late in the game, playing with the lead that would ultimately give them the win, the camera cut to the Chiefs sideline. Patrick Mahomes was imploring his teammates to, “Finish the Game!” The defense needed one more stop to all but ensure a victory. Though San Francisco had three timeouts, it was a two-possession game. One good stop could get the Chiefs the ball back where they could hopefully run out the clock.

Patrick Mahomes Scramble

(c) Al Bello | Getty Images

They did one better.

The defense did get the stop. Kansas City got the ball back with about ninety seconds left. I was on the phone with my dad and my brother at the time, anticipating the outcome.

“One first down,” I said, “That’s what we need to seal the deal.”

Instead, the Chiefs scored again on a run to the left side. Now, instead of a four-point lead, it was eleven.

From down by ten to up by eleven in six minutes.

Why?

Because they had a plan. They were committed, and they chose to finish the game.

Starting things is easy.

People start new years resolutions every year.

Very few complete them. I heard one report recently that suggested that 80% quit trying within the first month.

Combat that. With everything that you have.

Make An Action Plan

Pay attention to detail.

Have unwavering belief.

“Finish the game!”

That’s a recipe for success. For the Chiefs, and for us.

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.

Shift: Book Cover Title

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book Shift: 7 Essential Mindset Strategies For Today’s Elite Performers. To keep aware of the release date and other excellent training material, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Shift: 7 Essential Mindset Strategies For Today’s Elite Performers.

Shift is about achieving ultimate performance.

In my work with my high achieving clients, I’ve discovered one thread in common with almost everyone: the biggest obstacle they face to success and transformation is the three pounds of grey matter lodged between their ears.

Our brains play host to all sorts of inherited narratives that influence our everyday lives. Take, for example, your thoughts about money. While I’m sure on some level you like it and know you need it, many of us carry around deep-seated issues towards money.

Is it a tool to be used for our own benefit or for the service of others?

A resource to be hoarded or given away generously?

A worry that consumes our thoughts or a blessing of enormous magnitude?

Chances are, whatever you think, you inherited those thoughts from your parents, your peer group, and other close relationships.

If you grew up in a house without a lot of money, it’s probably a constant stress or worry, even if you make enough of it now. It’s even worse if you don’t make enough. If you regularly experience more month than money, most of your stress (and spousal arguments) probably revolve around needing more of it.

If you think money is a sign of power and control, it will influence the way you approach all human interaction. Feeling stressed and need to seize control of a situation? Throw money at the problem. Feeling inferior, stressed, or irrelevant? A little retail therapy should help… Want someone to do what you want? Generosity with some strings attached could solve the problem.

Thoughts About Life

Whether you’ve consciously thought about your relationship to money or not, your life is dictated by it. As a business, you can’t survive without it. As a family, you can’t pay your bills without enough of it.

What is true of money is true of other inherited narratives as well.

What do you think about marriage? How do you explain your stance on family dynamics and relationships? How do you decide who’s house to go to for the holidays?

What is your view on loyalty in the workplace? Have you worked in the same place for more than five years? Ten? Twenty-five?

What about your own mindset? Why do you think the way you do? What story do you believe? Is it even true?

Mindset

The reality is that we all have preconceived notions of how the world should work, look, and feel. My son once asked me if I was the boss of mommy. How would you respond in that situation? Shift: Book Cover Title

Shift is about creating a new mindset around the narrative that we tell ourselves. It is about rewriting the script on your own life from two primary perspectives.

First, is about the habits of success. There are fundamental practices that you need to engage in to create success. While I don’t believe that there is a “secret formula” for success, if there was, this would be it. I’m going to peel back the curtain on today’s top performers, elite accomplishers, and world-changing leaders to reveal what they do to be successful. This formula can be boiled down to one overriding principle: working smarter, not harder.

Make no mistake, it will take hard work. But, at the end of the day, hard work will never be enough. If you’re not working on the right projects, at the right time, with the right frame of mind, you’ll never get the right goals accomplished.

My coaching practice is built on this. My focus, quite intentionally, is Empowering leaders to get the RIGHT things done.

Why?

Because I’ve never met a leader who was looking for more things to do. In my five-plus years of experience coaching pastors, entrepreneurs, executives, business owners, and various levels of employees, I’ve never once heard it. Quite the opposite is true. We’re all overworked, overbooked, overstressed, and overcommitted.

Over It.

To be honest, I’m over it.

Instead, I decided to take back control of my life and help others along the way. Don’t just get more things done. Get the right things done.

This is a chance for you to examine your life.

Make changes.

Adapt.

Overcome.

Succeed.

Now it’s time to dive in so you can get the right things done.

Blog Post Title: Leadership Health and Integrity Part 2

I learned the necessity of emotional intelligence like a child learning to walk. There was lots of hand-holding, many more tremendous crashes (often public),  and more than a few bumps and bruises. 

The Leader’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is like playing the piano. The greater the range, the greater the player.

As a pianist, my musical accomplishment is limited to chopsticks. On a good day, I might be able to find middle C.

For my wife, after some tinkering, she can learn to play fairly complex songs. She can tune her guitar, sing along as she plays, and is good enough to teach our children.

A world-class pianist can play amazing complex songs. The piano seems to come alive in their hands. Every technique is mastered. Each hammering of the kBlog Post Title: Leadership Health and Integrity Part 2eys is intentional. Everything ringing with a divine sound. 

Emotional Intelligence works the same way. Emotionally immature people have a very limited range of keys to play from. Usually, they are the basic emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. A situation arises, and their keystrokes are limited. Everything triggers them to respond in simplistic ways. 

I knew a man like this once. Though physically mature, the emotional range was limited. Within a split-second, he could go from happiness to anger. Worse than that (as someone who claimed to be a leader), there was little desire to change.

“I’m just this way. I’ve always been this way, I’ll always be this way. “

This limiting belief and limited emotional capacity will limit his leadership capacity.

Expanding The Emotional Range

Expanding emotional range happens with practice. Like each new key on the keyboard that a pianist can play, emotional range equips the leader for more situations.

Think of a strong emotion like anger. Those with limited emotional capacity experience lots of anger. The lack of self-awareness leads to them repeatedly pounding the same key over and over again.

They get cut off in traffic and are angry.

The restaurant takes too long to cook their food and they are angry.

Their child leaves their shoes in the middle of the floor and they are angry.

They are passed over for a promotion and are angry.

Their favorite team loses in the championship game and they are angry.

Bothered by the amount of trash in the local park, they are angry.

Like a new piano player, they keep hitting the same note. Always angry, always looking for a reason to explode, always at the ready to let everyone know how they feel.

In contrast to this, there are ranges of anger: annoyance, frustration, furious, exasperated, and bitter are a few examples. Each is a different key to more adequately express the current emotion.

Do your child’s shoes in the middle of the floor really make you angry or are you annoyed because you tripped over them?

Does the missed promotion make you exasperated because you worked hard and thought you earned it?

The more keys that are available to us as leaders, the better we can navigate the situations around us.

Continual Growth

The thing about leadership is that it is never a finished journey. New experiences and new insights lead to new emotional experiences.

This means new words.

New emotional keys we get to play.

And our viewpoint determines our destination.

Are these obstacles, or opportunities?

Join us next week as we continue our look at the seven areas of leadership health.

 

Looking to grow your Emotional Intelligence? Take the Test.