Street arrow with work on purpose text overlay

One of the most frequent phrases I tell myself is to, “Work With Purpose.”

Every day, I am given the chance to do something meaningful and make a difference for others. Through coaching and consulting, I help my clients break through their mental barriers and experience a real and lasting transformation.

But there’s more to it than that.

I remind myself that working with purpose affects every area of life.

The way I parent.

How I interact with my spouse.

The type of community member I am.

Where I spend my free time and volunteer hours. Street arrow with work on purpose text overlay

Each and every component of who I am gets run through the grid of what it means to work with purpose. To help me stay focused, I ask myself three primary questions.

Question One: Does it bring meaning and purpose?

Behind this question is the idea of joy in the work I do. It reminds me to engage with work that I deem as significant.

It eliminates distraction.

Gone are the days (mostly) where I feel like I did a lot of work without getting a lot done. Instead, now I make sure to plan my days and do fewer tasks, but each with intentionality that gives meaning and purpose to the work I do.

Question Two: Does it bring long-lasting consequences?

Want to live a wasted life? Think only in terms of short-term, instant-gratification results.

Want to work with purpose? Think long term. Now thing longer.

I’m not talking about six months or a year. I’m talking 10, 20, or 50 years from now. Some of the decisions I make today are because I’ve intentionally thought about the effect this may have on my grandkids when they are working.

My actions are filtered through an eternal perspective.

To work with purpose, I think less in terms of what feels good now, and instead how good discipline in the moment, however unwanted, produces long-term fruit that can be harvested for several generations.

Question Three: Does it help someone else?

This last question is about service. I don’t want to engage in work that is only (or even predominately) self-service. I want to help others. One of the clearest calls and commands in my life is that I am here for the benefit of others.

It’s why I coach, teach, consult, podcast, parent, write, speak, and volunteer.

I want my work to be filled with meaning and purpose.

I want it to bless those that come after me

And I want it to have an immediate impact on those around me.

That’s what it means to engage in work with purpose.

 

Attend the 2021 Building With Purpose Conference on April 1.

Lion Hunting in background with "The Lion and The Mouse" text overlay

In a telling story of our priorities, James Carville and Paul Begala share the story about the lion and the mouse.

As the story goes, the lion is more than capable of hunting the mouse. He possesses the required strength, agility, and intelligence. In fact, it requires very little effort on the part of the lion. The problem is that the energy received back from eating the mouse is not worth the lion’s effort.

This is why the lion hunts the zebra, antelope, and gazelle. Though it requires significantly more strength, agility, and cunning intelligence to do so, the energy the lion receives back is well worth the investment. Lion Hunting in background with "The Lion and The Mouse" text overlay

The story of the lion and the mouse reminds us to stay focused on chasing big goals.

The BIG Goals

One of the questions I ask myself every day is, “What can I do today that makes the biggest difference?”

  • When I’m feeling overwhelmed, that focuses my attention on the single biggest task that needs to be done.
  • Whenever I’m tired, this question reminds me that the best thing I can do might just be to take a nap or practice some extraself-care.
  • In those moments where I’m conflicted about how to invest my time, asking about difference-making forces me to look at my calendar. Typically what I find is that I’ve been too work-focused and not enough family focus.
  • When my anxiety creeps up, I can remind myself that doing one thing today to make progress on a goal of significance and meaning helps to lower it.

Then, I invest my energy into the needed area. That frees me up to then say, “What’s next.”

The story of the lion and the mouse reminds me to invest my energy in things that really make a difference. My focus and attention go to things that only I can do for myself and my business.

Business and Life in Balance

What about you? Have you asked those questions in your life?

As a business owner, do you work intently on areas that only you can invest in?

With your spouse and your kids, do you focus on being fully present and turning off your “work brain” or do you only give them the nutritional equivalent of a mouse?

As a leader or community member, do you invest in your projects with the same intensity and vigor you do in your sales and marketing?

One of the first things we do in coaching is to give your calendar a time analysis. We make sure that you spend your time hunting antelopes, not mice.

Far too often, what I see with leaders is that they spend time on the unimportant. The temptation is to become distracted by the urgent instead of the significant.

To counteract this, we work through a priority matrix to make sure you get the most return on your time, your energy, and your passion.

Right now, make sure you’re invested in the right areas. Ask yourself the above questions and spend time on the right priorities. Invest in areas that give you the greatest return on your investment. Ask questions. Quit bad habits. Keep growing. Seek help.

If you need anything, I’m here for you.

 

Blog Post Cover with text overlay: "What Your Story?"

Over the weekend, my eight-year-old wrote a story. It centers on Kaid and Bob and their experience in a typhoon. Like any good story, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s conflict, dialogue, character progression, a climax, and resolution. In ten pages, all handwritten and illustrated, he took the reader on a pretty spectacular journey. 

He was so dedicated to it, he spent almost all day Sunday putting the finishing touches on it. After he read it to me, you could see the pride beaming from his face. He felt accomplished. He knew he had done something hard, and seen the positive results from it.

More than that, it was actually a really well-written story. He’s clearly got a good grasp of what makes a story compelling and has started the long process of mastering it ahead of him.

I’m extraordinarily proud of him.

It also reminded of something we often forget ourselves.

What’s Your Story?

You are in the midst of a story.

Blog Post Cover with text overlay: "What Your Story?"

Right here.

Right now.

You are telling the world something about you.

2020 has been hard. Devastating for many. A huge setback at best and the fear of final failure at worse.

But your story isn’t over yet.

You get to author the end.

It can feel daunting. I get it.

I know you feel overwhelmed. Totally understandable.

I know you wonder about your business, your relationships, your family. That’s what great leaders do.

But I also know …. you got this.

Reframing The Possibilities

Recently, I had several conversations with individuals exploring coaching before the end of the year. 

One, a young twenty-something female was worried about her kids. The other, a late-career professional staring at the end of his working career both began the same way: “Justin, 2020 really messed me up.”

One had their whole career in front of them. The other only had a few years left before retirement. Both were worried that 2020 proved to be the end.

It’s helpful in these moments to remember that you own the rights to your story. You are the star. In the main drama that unfolds over your life, you are the lead actor, executive producer, and director. You have an incredible amount of power to dictate where your life goes.

I hope you find that liberating. Far from being over, your story is only just beginning. 2020 is not the end, it is a new beginning.

In my son’s story, the friends were displaced from their homes by a natural disaster. By the end of the book, they were off trying to find a new place to live.

Your story may be similar. Your life, your business, your family, your income, your routine has been displaced. You are working from home where you balance kids, a spouse, work, Zoom, a distanced social life, walking the dog, chores, and some quality downtime. 

That’s why I firmly believe that now is the best time for you to seize this opportunity and do something great.

Do Something Great

So what’s your story going to be?

There are 13 weeks left in 2020.

87 days.

2,100 hours.

126,209 minutes.

7,572,500 seconds.

Each one of those is precious.

Embedded within each is the chance to reclaim your life. You now have the opportunity to seize this moment, do something great, and transform your life.

Your day is over.

This month has just begun.

Your story hasn’t ended.

The plot may have shifted, but greatness is still in front of you.

Rise up, warrior, and seize this day. Reclaim your story. Rewrite your legacy.

Do something great.

 

To celebrate the release of my new book, I’m giving away copies for a limited time. To receive your free copy, plus my free 5 day course on productivity, click this link.

Gettysburg Address

There are tales of a young Lincoln staying awake at night, sitting in his parent’s parlor, listening to adult’s converse. He would stay up past his bedtime listening intently to every word. At the end of the evening, he would go to his bedroom and replay the conversation in his head. Through his own admission, he would pace back and forth until he understood every word and perspective that was shared. Only then was he able to relax enough to go to sleep.

Dedicated To Mastery

This commitment to mastery shaped the success that Lincoln would experience throughout life. It gave him his great oratory skills. During the Gettysburg address, he captivated the crowd and it is largely regarded as one of the greatest speeches of all time.

Edward Everett, after the Gettysburg battle, remarked,

“I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Everett’s assessment is no exaggeration. He was a fellow speaker that day. He spoke right before Lincoln, for two hours, and yet I’m guessing you’ve never heard his speech. Instead, it was Lincoln’s two-minute address that became famous. His commitment to mastery gave him the oratory skills needed when the occasion arose. Abraham Lincoln Statue

Similarly, at the beginning of the war, Lincoln had zero understanding of military strategy and his chief officers let him know it. Lincoln, always dedicated to mastery, however, stayed up late studying every night. Reading books, pouring over history, evolving his own understanding, it wasn’t long before he had developed a plan and wanted to implement it. General McClellan laughed at it and dismissed it. Eventually, McClellan was replaced by Grant and put into effect. It was in fact, the strategy that won the war for the north. By the end of the war, Lincoln was widely regarded as a genius military strategist. His commitment to the mastery of any given subject or problem distinguished him from his peers.

Our Own Commitment

What does our own commitment look like? Can we say that we are dedicated to mastery? Not proficiency. Avoid average. Not “slightly better” than the competition. Mastery. Excellence. The desire to be the best. Are we unwaveringly committed to that? Do we pace our bedrooms and night, committed to mastering the problems and opportunities before us?

In business?

In our marriages?

With friendships?

Towards our customers?

Pick any area of life and become committed to mastery. Then pick a new area. Repeat. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself successful.

 

This is an excerpt from a recent talk I gave to business leaders and has been adapted for the blog. For any coaching inquiries related to developing your leadership capacity, please email me.

 

The Gettysburg Address:

Gettysburg Address

Becoming a Legacy Leader

Introduction

Between 1861 and 1865, America engaged in the bloodiest wartime moment in its history. The American Civil War, primarily about the state’s rights and the federal government’s role in daily life, dramatically shaped American belief, political life, economic positioning, and future trajectory.

I have found myself increasingly fascinated by this time and the people involved. There are the often-recognized men involved. None is more famous Abraham Lincoln. Widely recognized as one of the greatest presidents in American history, he radically shaped America’s future. He lived as a man committed to a vision of what it meant for people to be free. Abraham Lincoln

Other names play an important role during this time. Ulysses S. Grant became a close friend of Lincoln. After a series of failed generals, he became a man Lincoln could trust to accomplish the mission given to him. Other names like William Tecumseh Sherman and his famous march to the sea that divided the Confederacy gave much-needed victories and morale boosts to the North. Then there’s George Custer, who long before his last stand was a widely respected cavalry hero of the Civil War.

Finally, there are the less famous, but no less significant names that appear. People like George McClellan dubbed the Young Napoleon, who despite his great military genius and insight, was almost solely responsible for the North’s struggles early on. He struggled with taking action when it was demanded. Accounts suggest that had he advanced after an early northern victory the war would have lasted less than two years. Timely action would have saved many of the lives lost during the Civil War. Perpetually struggling with doubt and fear, he inflated enemy numbers as a way to avoid taking action and it cost the North dearly. George McClellan

Becoming a Legacy Leader

My study of these men has not only shaped much of my worldview but fueled the burning desire in me to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a legacy leader?” We remember Lincoln for many outstanding qualities. However, an even more important question is why? He’s not the only one with the qualities we praise in him, he’s not even the only president with those qualities. We could identify many presidents as competent leaders, effective communicators, and strong visionaries. So, what has set him apart? What made him a legacy leader? Well, that’s part of what we want to examine today.

As we emerge from the isolation of COVID and we hope to return to normal, we need legacy leaders now more than ever. So, my goal in this series is to help you understand the world of the Civil War a bit better, what we can learn from these men, and how we can apply it to our businesses today to meet the real needs of our employees, customers, and communities to shape a strong and compelling future.

When we examine questions like, “What made Lincoln the right man for the job?” we discover the qualities and characteristics that we can apply to ourselves that will grow us and our companies. When we understand how Grant seized the opportunity to go from a washed-up drunken, failure of a realtor to commanding general and future president, we discover that these same techniques apply to our world and the opportunity before us. Ulysses S. Grant

Similarly, understanding McClellan and his unmatched genius are necessary for us. Great wisdom and insight alone won’t bring victory. We must act. That is where McClellan failed and where we must prevail.

A Nation Divided

What we see emerge in the time leading up to the Civil War is in many ways a divided America.

Urban vs rural.

North vs south.

Free vs slave.

Industrial vs agricultural.

Prior to the Civil War, the concept of “American” was somewhat loose. States weren’t united and there was a greater degree of autonomy. That will change after the Civil War, and those four years will prove to be extremely transformative for the men involved and for the country.

We also see that today. America is divided and in need of legacy leaders who can unite it, transform it, and create a compelling future for it. Your presence here today tells me you care about that as well. You want to lead well. You, your staff, your business, your clients, your community. They are all counting on you to rise to the occasion and be a legacy leader and I hope, at least in part, to inspire and equip you on that journey in our time together.

 

Additional Notes:

This is an excerpt from a recent talk I gave to business leaders and has been adapted for the blog. For any coaching inquiries related to developing your leadership capacity, please email me.

 

The free Building With Purpose Conference is only available for a little while longer. To enroll, go here.