Goalless Drifter

After my college graduation, I had a conversation with my older brother about what was next in life. Everyone, it seemed, had a keen interest in me up to that point. They always wanted to know I wanted to be when I grew up, what college I was going to, and what I was going to major in.

But I never had one conversation about what happened after that. How do I start a successful marriage (I didn’t do that one well)? How do I grow in emotional health (took a lot of trips to the therapist’s office)? How do I pass on key values to my children (still figuring that one out…)?

The problem was that no one had taught me how to set goals for what came after graduation.

I wasted a lot of time (and hurt a lot of people) because I was a goalless drifter.

People without goals are people without a future.

Ready, Set, Goal!

One key to sustainable success is the daily habit of setting, reviewing, and reestablishing goals.

One of my practices is to use Michael Hyatt’sFull Focus Planner . I’ve used it for over a year now and absolutely love both the structure and order it gives me, while also allowing a great deal of freedom in the process.

I’ve also discovered the power of paper and what it means to write goals down. It’s easy to think, “My goal is…” because we often forget it. But by writing goals down, it not only gives us a visual reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish but cements it into our brain better.

 

By getting clear and specific on what we are aiming at, we gain a strategic advantage to sustainable success. The key discipline though is to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals

When you’re ready to say, “Ready, Set, Goal!” you must begin by making sure you have the right format.

S: Specific. Make sure the goals you set are clear on the intended destination. Don’t think, “Lose weight.” Instead write, “I want to lose twenty pounds.”

M: Measurable. Similar to specific, measurable makes sure that what you’re aiming for can actually be hit. Avoid using jargon or filler words in your goal-setting times. Don’t think, “Be more productive.” Instead, write that you want to, “Use my time wisely by spending no more than thirty minutes a day on social media.” Ouch. That one may hurt a bit, but it’s measurable. You can use apps or the integrated Apple Screen Time (if you’re an iPhone user) to track how you’re spending your time on your phone.

A: Actionable. Start your goals with action-oriented verbs (as opposed to “to-be” verbs). This focuses your attention on what needs to be accomplished. Don’t write, “Be better at date nights.” Instead, try, “Take my spouse on one date night every week.” Now you know how to take action to accomplish your goal.

R: Realistic. This one can be challenging, and we’ll talk about short and long term goals in a second. But realism is important in goal setting. Too often, goals fail because they either don’t inspire us or are unattainable. Realistic goals should do both. “Complete my ebook and submit to the publisher by the end of quarter three.” This goal meets the first three points and is entirely realistic (even if you’re not very far into your book). However creating a goal like, “Establish the first hotel chain on the moon by the end of the year” meets the first three steps in the process, but not the last one. To take action that inspires, your goal must be reasonable.

T: Timely. Put some hustle in it. This is where I work hard with my clients to push ourselves on our goals. Strive for greatness and see what you can do. If your goal is to gain three new speaking opportunities for your business, fantastic! But put yourself under a time constraint to reach that goal. “Acquire three new speaking opportunities by the end of August.” It’s clear, concise, and gives you a visible target to know if you’ve hit your goal. It also pushes you to keep working and avoid drifting from your goal. The end of August is coming up quick after all.

E: Exciting. Your goals should scare you a little bit. If not, you’ll never grow. This is honestly one of my big descriptors for the clients that I work with. We always work a little scared. If you’re making $50,000 a year and want to work with me, and your goal is to make $50,000 next year as well, we probably won’t be a good fit. You still might have some great goals, but I want my clients to push themselves. My clients are making $50,000 but want to make $125,000. They know they need to get serious about pursuing their dreams.

And it works in all areas of life too. Want a better marriage? Don’t take your spouse on four dates a year, take them on two a week. That shows me you’re serious about reprioritizing your schedule to thrive in your relationship.

R: Relevant. This one matters, but more in the daily habits of life. I regularly review my goals to make sure they are still what I want. Every year, I sit down and try to project out a year to set goals throughout. A number of times I’ve set a goal in January, gotten to May, and then realized it was no longer relevant. That’s not a bad thing! Those goals pushed me and stretched me in new ways that have forever changed me. But in that growth process, I realized that I needed to rechart my course and set a new destination.

Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals and start a new direction. That’s the fun part of goal setting.

Clear goals

+

Daily Habits

+

=

Lasting Success!

 

If you’re wanting to know where to start, I’m launching a Habit and Performance Mastermind Group. To find out more, set some goals in a supportive community, and take your life to the next level, click this link.

Ascending the Mountain

During my high school years, I went to a wonderful camp nestled in the mountains of Colorado. Full of whitewater rafting, ropes courses, mountain lake swimming, and nature hikes it was a time full of great memories.

Behind the camp was one notorious trail. At the end of it, near the peak of the mountain stood a little inlet that gave view to the most incredible sunrises. Looking over the valley below, you could watch the sun illuminate life all around you.

Because of how early the sun rose, you had to start the hike while it was still dark. But if you made it to the summit in time, it was worth the investment.

About halfway up (and technically at the edge of the camp’s property) stood one giant boulder. The first half of the hike was fairly easy, and the last third was full of steep climbs and loose rocks, but getting over this boulder was easily the most challenging part.

It required careful navigation, a leap off one rock as you jumped up to grab onto the top of the boulder. From there, it was a pullup and leg swing away from getting over. It took careful planning, sure feet, some upper body strength, and mental toughness.

I was with my fair share of people who hit that point in the journey and then decided to turn around and head back to camp.

The question about the boulder was whether or not it was an obstacle or an opportunity.

Opportunity or Obstacle?

Whether or not we see something as an obstacle or an opportunity comes down to our mindset. There was (quite literally) a boulder blocking my path on the way up the mountain.

In life, we will experience similar obstacles. Unexpected bills. Job loss. Sick family members. A late-night phone call beckoning us back to work. At various times and in various ways, we will experience boulders all around us.

Our mindset determines our outcome. The difference between opportunity and obstacle is not the size of the problem, the timing of the event, or the outcome.

It is firmly planted in our mindset. How we see the obstacle will determine how we traverse the landscape and overcome adversity.

If the current issues in your life are obstacles, you, like many of my friends on that hike, will quit. Choosing to give up instead of pushing through what may seem like a temporary relief to the heartache and struggle.

But I also know that when you don’t push through, you can’t ascend the mountain top and see the amazing views.

My friends who quit never made it above treeline. On your quest for success, if you don’t develop the daily grit and habit of pushing through, you’ll never get above the tree line in your life to get to the mountaintop. 

Three Things

Pushing through the hard things in life, and transforming circumstances into opportunities is a key characteristic of high achievers. Never settling for a second-best “Plan B”, they keep their mind engaged towards growth.

If you want to do the same, here are three things you can do to change your obstacles into opportunities:

  1. Ask: “How have I already been equipped to deal with this problem?” Too often, we think that each problem is insurmountable. Not true. Instead, look for ways you have already overcome similar situations and what you’ve learned and could implement here.
  2. Ask: “Who do I know?” You don’t have to do this journey alone. A trusted coach, friend, mentor, or loved one can help you navigate those areas and find forward momentum.
  3. Ask: “What’s at stake?” Many times, we lose hope because we aren’t clear on what’s at stake if we quit. Will you lose your job? Passion? Sense of purpose? Money? There are many potential motivations but the deepest failures are the ones where we lose a bit of ourselves. Get clear on what’s at stake at commit to act so you don’t lose it.

Bonus Tip: Ask: “If I overcome this circumstance, what else would be possible?” Don’t limit your thinking to the difficulty in front of you. Think long term. Overcoming one area of difficulty can lead to another, another, and another. Small wins lead to big wins. Big wins lead to transformation. Transformation leads to success. Success leads to lasting influence and legacy.

Comment below: What’s one brave choice you can commit to today to help overcome a difficult situation?

LeaderQuest Podcast – Episode 1

Welcome to Episode 1 of the LeaderQuest Podcast. For a full recording, please visit the #NextSteps Coaching page on Youtube. This contains the full recording, plus video. Each channel gets different content and in the full content, Justin and his family try some exciting new foods!

In this episode, Justin gives an overview of his call story to help you understand him better and find your own.

Other resources to help you:

 

Episode 1

 

Leadership's Secret Sauce

“I Have No Idea What I’m Doing!”

In April of 2009, I became a father for the first time.

My wife, more than a week past her expected due date, was ready to burst. We tried everything that was supposed to help induce labor: drank strange teas, ate spicy foods, gobbled down pineapple, applied special lotions. You name it, we had tried it.

In intense pain and ready to not be pregnant in the warm California spring, we started walking.

We walked.

And walked.

And walked.

Late at night, on the campus of my master’s program, we created a half mile loop from our tiny apartment to the fountain at the center of campus. Over three miles into we finally collapsed into bed. The night was warm. The air was muggy, and after a full day of school and labor-inducing hacks, we were tired.

We got ready for bed, drank some water and tried to lay down. Roughly thirty seconds after I fell asleep she woke me: “It’s time!”

We hurried to the hospital, got admitted, and eight hours later had the joy of seeing my daughter born into this world.

Newborn Baby
First-time fatherhood is scary.

After the doctors were done running all of their tests, one of the nurses turned to me and asked, “Do you want to hold her?”

Call it naivete but that thought had never actually crossed my mind.

I stared at the nurse with a panicked expression on my face and said something along the lines of, “Uhhh….But she’s so little, what if I break her?”

Leadership’s “Secret Sauce”

As a first time father, I was overwhelmed at all of the things I was “supposed to know.” I’ll be honest: I didn’t know any of them.

I felt overwhelmed, under-prepared, emotionally fragile, and unsure of myself.

Thankfully, a decade and three additional kids later…..I’m still all those things (but with many more chances to doubt myself and screw it up).

Leadership, as it turns out, is often the same.

We have these grandiose ideas about our favorite leaders and how they make it look “easy.” The truth is that they have had to learn about leadership under pressure.

Great leadership happens, not because people are innately born with super-human capacity but because they committed themselves to show up, admit their inexperience, learn, try, fail, and try again.

Leadership's Secret Sauce
Leadership’s Secret Sauce

Growing as a leader has a fairly simple (not easy) formula:

Show up.

Commit to learning.

Progressively challenge yourself.

Fail.

Try again.

That is the secret sauce to leadership. It is about showing up, every day, in all situations, with our full selves, to be fully present in service to others.

 

What are you committed to learning as a leader? Chime in below!

Leaky Pipe - Leaky Leadership

Leaky Leadership

We bought our current house two years ago knowing that it was, in every sense of the word, a “fixer-upper.” Unpruned trees, poor fencing, drafty windows, cracked tiles, and leaky faucets were the things that we could see.

Leaky Pipes cause water damage.
Leaky pipes, like leaky leadership, can cause great internal damage.

There were also the cabinets that we weren’t a fan of, the flooring that was cracked and uneven, and the floral wallpaper in the bedroom that screamed 1960’s. These were things that weren’t our ideal, but wouldn’t prohibit us from inhabiting the place temporarily.

Two years into the remodel process and we have discovered something far more dangerous than any of those things: all of the issues we couldn’t see under the surface.

This last spring we both had a roof leak that flooded our den and a shower pan leak that flooded our master bathroom. The den, thankfully covered by insurance, now looks amazing. The bathroom wasn’t covered. According to them, the extent of the damage was so great that it had been going on for a long time. (Even longer than we had lived in the home). This “normal wear and tear” is not covered by insurance.

I’ve now spent the last two months renovating a bathroom down to the studs.

The Leaky Leadership Analogy

Underneath the walls, behind the paint, and hidden in the frame of the house are all sorts of potential dangers we never think about. Leaky pipes and arcing wires can ruin a home quickly.

So too in our own lives, we are often undone by the hidden areas of our lives. This “leaky leadership” is what causes leaders to stumble, quit, fail, and burnout.

No one in a position of prominence wakes up one morning and says, “I’m going to embezzle a million dollars today.” Instead, it’s a slow erosion of values and habits over time. It starts by missing a workout (because missing one can’t hurt).  Then it’s going to the office early. Then staying late. Then stopping by the bar after work a few months later. Then making a poor sales decision. One day, a few months or years later, you find yourself so twisted and turned around that the only logical choice is to embezzle your way out.

Instead, it’s a slow erosion of values and habits over time.

Staying Firm

Great leaders know the slow erosion that leads to death and decay. They counter this by staying firm in their leadership habits.

  • Getting enough exercise, sleep, hydration, and nutrition.
  • Reading every day.
  • Developing hobbies and outside interests.
  • Significant relationships.
  • Supportive feedback and coaching.
  • Developing and living in calling.
  • Service to others.

While each of these activities will look different from one leader to the next, it is these consistent activities that create a strong leader and lessen the change of leaky leadership.

Knowing how to combat the slow leak and constant wear of leadership pressure and cultivating these habits will lead to sustained success.

If you can’t definitively answer how you would do each of the above bullet points, reach out to me and don’t let leaky leadership ruin your great calling in this world.