Character Creates Opportunity® – Our Role: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Throughout history, our time and attention are drawn towards those who are out in front making the headlines, giving the speeches, and closing the big deal.  Many times, those exalted as innovators, brilliant, effective leaders, or the ones making things happen, are often seen as being larger than life compared to the rest of us.

Most of us are not in the spotlight, on the stage, being interviewed by the reporter, or standing in the ribbon cutting line.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, today’s note is about the important role most of us play, the role of assisting others to reach their full potential.

The history books that document mankind’s achievements or the scrapbook that documents the achievements made within our families may leave the “assistants” out of the biographies.  However, the reality is that the lives of those who have public or private impact are most often filled with others assisting them in their efforts.

We all know well the inventions and legacy of Thomas Edison.  However, we probably don’t know William Hammer who was Edison’s chief engineer responsible for most of the work at the Edison Lamp Company or Frank Sprague who was the mathematician behind critical steps in the electric lighting system.  These assistants helped Edison reach his full potential.

We can probably name the head coach of our favorite football team, but I bet we struggle to name the offensive line coach who is often responsible for building the group of linemen who clear the path for the running back to get on the cover of a sports magazine.

Behind every well performing leader in business, there is always an assistant who makes sure things get done.  Behind every sales position in an organization, there is usually a team of assistants making sure expectations are met.  These assistants most often do not take the stage at the Million Dollar Round Table banquet, but without them, top performance is not possible.

Truth be told, our most underappreciated examples of honorable, quiet assistants occur with those closest to us in our homes and extended family.  It is these assistants that form the backbone of health and safety in our communities and our nation.  The service of one spouse to another, of a parent to a child, siblings to each other, and the service of children reversing roles to assist elderly parents makes all the difference in building a strong family.

If it weren’t for the honorable and principled assistants, we would all be in a difficult position.  The history books and our discussions at family gatherings may leave them out, but they are a critical element to purpose and accomplishment.

An important reality to accept, sooner rather than later, is that a passionate, purposeful life is not about personal achievement, rather it is about helping others reach their full potential.

Our efforts to faithfully play our role, which most likely will not make the headlines, will help to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to assist others in helping them reach their full potential.

Character Creates Opportunity® – A Gateway to Growth: Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mistakes…We all make them. Spoiler alert…We will all continue to make them.

As kids, we make mistakes in the classroom and get red ink all over our assignments.  We make a mistake on the field and our opponent scores.  We certainly make mistakes with friends and family as we grow during those difficult adolescent years.

As adults, we continue to make mistakes.  We make mistakes at work and the business may lose money, manufacture a defective product, or lose a customer.  In relationships, we make some big mistakes around promises made and not kept.  We speak-up when we should shut-up and shut-up when we should speak-up.  We make mistakes with our use of time and money.

Whether we are a child or an adult, mistakes hurt.

For most of us, our mindset is to view mistakes as bad and something to avoid.  Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Mistakes are a necessary part of learning.  Psychologists and researchers would tell us that almost all of life’s learnings come from mistakes.

Mistakes are the gateway to personal growth.

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, learning to more effectively deal with mistakes will help us reach our full potential. 

If we are honest with ourselves, the majority of us gravitate towards ease and comfort when things are going well.  We only learn and grow through struggles and tough times. 

  • On the athletic field, we learn a great deal more when we lose, than when we win.
  • In school, we learn and grow more when we see red ink on our papers.
  • In business, we learn and grow a great deal more when we miss our objectives, than when we hit our numbers.
  • In relationships, we have a tendency to take things for granted when there is a sense of harmony and we are only open to learning and growth when doors get slammed, tempers flare, and we reach a breaking point.

When we view mistakes only as bad and something to avoid, we inhibit learning and experimentation, and suppress new ideas that could potentially trigger breakthroughs in the home, the workplace, and our communities.

Here are just a few thoughts on how we can build and strengthen our character through the unavoidable encounter with mistakes throughout our journey of life:

  1. Commit to Learn: When we make mistakes, take on the mindset of learning and growth vs. anger and regret.  We will make mistakes.  As long as we live, we will keep making mistakes.  Commit to learn something and keep moving forward.
  2. Commit to Encourage: When others close to us make mistakes, act to encourage learning and growth vs bringing additional pain.  They will most likely experience plenty of personal “pain and suffering” without us adding more salt to the wound.  Offering a word of encouragement to learn and grow through a mistake will build trust, avoid shame, and dismantle fear which will help to strengthen the relationship.

As we begin to view mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to improve relationships and achieve the results we desire.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Day by Day: Thursday, March 16, 2017

There comes a point in time in every long term relationship, every major work endeavor, every pursuit of a life-long dream, and each time we attempt to make a change in our own behavior, when quitting starts to look good.  When we question the original choice we made and we look for a way out.

The excitement surrounding the start of a new journey carries us for quite a while and then, when the really hard work begins, our internal voice starts to ask a few questions.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, making effective choices when our commitment begins to falter will help us in the journey to reach our full potential.

We all are very familiar with the motivational stories like Abraham Lincoln overcoming numerous personal, business, and political failures before finally becoming the President of the United States.  We probably all have a few motivational quotes either on a wall or stuffed in some drawer that help to serve as a reminder of what it takes to overcome struggles.  We all need good reminders.

Many times, we become enamored by the story and the ultimate outcome.  However, more important than the outcome, are the small acts done day by day.  The commitment to show up every day is the real strength of the story.

When we commit to a decision, we will have moments (maybe years of moments) when we don’t feel like doing it, when we may believe it was a poor choice.  But, when our commitment remains day in and day out, the opportunities to learn, grow, and overcome show up also.  Just showing up every day is the “wisdom” that gets lost in the popular stories about overcoming.    

As we learn and grow, goals will change over time.  The situation may require a different set of decisions as we navigate the journey, but what matters is that we climbed back into the ring each and every day, whether we felt like it or not.  Just showing up and staying in the game is often what makes all the difference in the world.

Here are just a few points to consider when our commitment begins to falter:

  1. We are all in the same boat. Anyone who has ever made a decision to commit to a goal worthy of effort has encountered a moment when quitting looks like an attractive option.
  2. Achieving the goal is not the only celebratory moment. What is worth celebrating is the day in and day out commitment to show up and do the work required.  Climbing back in the ring each day is worthy of recognition.
  3. Opportunity shows up, when we show up. So, more times than not, the most effective choice we can all make is to keep showing up each and every day.

There will be moments when our commitment begins to falter.  However, when we make the simple decision to keep showing up, we will gather momentum behind our commitment.  We will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and accomplish the worthy goals we set.