The Most Important Day of Your Life

If someone were to ask you what was the most important day of your life how would you answer?

If I’m asked that question I have a quick and definitive answer. Today! Today is the most important day of my life because today is the day I have some control over. I can’t change anything about yesterday. The best I can do for tomorrow is have a plan for how I want the day to go. 

But today, well today I can take action that could lead to the outcomes I want. Of all the days of my life, today is the only day I can say that. 

Your past is important to your education but it’s pretty hard to be good yesterday. The future provides you with vision but you can’t be good tomorrow either. Today is the day you get to make a difference in your life and the life of others. 

Many people with great potential have been sidetracked by a past that they can’t change and a future that they can’t see. In their attempt to control every day they end up controlling nothing. The only day you can truly control is today…so control it.

If you were to look on my calendar you would see 30 minutes each morning set aside for planning that day. I use 5:00 to 5:30am to determine exactly how I want my day to go and exactly what I’m willing to do to make that happen. 

When my day starts to collide with the events of the day I have some idea of how I’ll respond. Truth be told most days don’t go according to plan but the fact that I have a plan gives me a head start on almost everyone I come into contact with. I have control over my day. Their day has control over them. That’s the power of planning.

You’ll never have a more important day in your life than today…at least not until tomorrow becomes today. What you do today, the actions you take and the decisions you make TODAY can change all the todays in your future. 

So be thoughtful with your decisions. Be intentional in your actions. You’ll never have this day again, whatever you do, don’t waste one precious second of it. It’s the most important day of your life! 

Learning a Little Leads to Learning a Lot

People are busy. I hear people talking all the time about the things they don’t have time to do. Sacrifices must be made in the name of time, even though we wish we didn’t have to. 

People are really busy…but are they productive? 

I’m sorry to say that in too many cases the answer to that question is a great big NO. People get so busy that they can’t even find the time to question if what they are doing is getting them closer to their goals and objectives. (Assuming of course they invested time in actually setting goals) 

I’d suggest to you that if you didn’t do something yesterday to get closer to one of your goals then no matter how busy you were you were not productive.

One of the most productive things people can do is set aside a few minutes EVERY day to learn something new. With all the blogs and podcasts available these days that’s never been easier. If you’re selective with the blogs and podcasts you read and listen to you could even learn something true. 🙂

But again, people are really busy and don’t have time to feed their brain. That’s what learning is you know, literally feeding your brain. I’m pretty sure if you can find 15 minutes a day to feed your stomach then you can find the time to feed your brain as well. 

That’s all I’m suggesting here and not even 15 minutes a day, how about 15 minutes 3 or 4 days a week. For many of us that’s far more than we’re investing in our futures today. 

Read a book, even if it takes weeks and weeks to finish it. The most successful people are big time readers. They are never far from a book. They have made a habit out of reading which is not surprise. Successful people have developed the habits of doing the things that less successful people don’t like to do…or won’t invest the time to do.

I’ll bet you can’t tell me how you used all 10,080 minutes available to you last week. But I can tell you that it’s highly likely you frittered away a good many of them. Those are minutes you’ll never get back, you’ve lost them forever. If you had invested 45 of them in learning then you have at least 45 minutes that can never be taken away from you. 

A little learning, each and every week leads to a lot of learning before you know it. Make a habit of learning something new on a regular basis; you might be surprised at how much there is to learn. 

Do You Know the People You Lead?

I suppose the title of this post is silly because of course you know the people you lead. You know their name. You know their job description and you know…?

What more do you know? You make decisions regarding the people you lead on a daily basis and it’s very possible that when you really stop to think about it you don’t actually know that much about them. 

When was the last time you straight up asked the people you lead what they are passionate about? Have you ever asked them what work they would do for free if they could afford it? Have you ever, even once, asked them how you could honor them or recognize them. When was the last time you asked about their family? What about their hobbies and interests outside of work, when was the last time you asked about that?

Most people in leadership positions say they don’t have time to get to know their people at that level. What they actually mean is that it’s not a priority for them. Authentic Leaders make knowing their people, really knowing them, a top priority. 

They invest time each day, each and every day, to conduct an “innerview” with one or more of the people they lead. It might only be 5 or 10 minutes but they would tell you it’s the most important 5 or 10 minutes of their day. 

It is not an “interview,” that’s what you do when you’re hiring someone. An “innerview” is what you do when you want to know your people on a level that truly allows you to lead them. To know what motivates them. To understand their goals in life. To understand their thinking and their actions. 

Most people would say that their people are their organization’s greatest asset. Then they tell you they can’t spare 5 minutes to invest in that asset. Instead they spend their time on something they said was less important…that is not a recipe for successful leadership.

If knowing your people is not a priority then you may be a boss, you may be a manager, but I’m sorry to tell you it’s unlikely that you’re much of a leader. 

Invest time this very day and each day to get to know the people you lead. Until you do they are probably not really following you and this much is certain, if no one is following then you ain’t leading. 

Get to know your people and Lead Today!

The Hopelessness of No Goals

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of goals. Goals that my wife and I set decades ago are still being achieved. Things we said would happen in 2021 are indeed happening, almost to the day we said they would years and years ago. Most of what we have and have achieved we owe to the power of setting goals and developing a plan to achieve them. Even though some of the plans spanned decades. 

So when I was invited recently to attend a full-day Goal Setting Seminar my instincts said to decline, especially considering the Seminar was being held on a Saturday. I figured I knew enough. But then I discovered that the day included 9 holes of golf and I was suddenly way more interested. 

I figured if nothing else I’d learn something I could add to the sessions I present on the subject of goal setting and play some golf too. So I signed up. 

The early session was about what you’d expect if you’ve ever taken a class on setting goals. Lots of talk about setting SMART goals and having goals for different parts of your life, career goals, financial goals, personal goals, health goals and the like. 

The second session was a little more unusual; it covered the motivational aspects of having goals and how we can actually lose interest in life without goals. It was okay but it was a little blah blah blah for me. No examples or evidence, only an instructor telling you goals were important. Duh! 

But then the best part of the day…a boxed lunch and off to the golf carts for some fun. The Golf Course was in the community were I live so I was very familiar with it. Something didn’t feel exactly right as we left the conference room and headed outside. It was a Saturday, and normally a busy golfing day. 

We were only playing nine holes. There should have been plenty of tee times available for other golfers. But the place was completely empty other than those of us participating in the seminar. 

I asked what was going on and was told the course was preparing for some renovation work.  We would be the last group playing before it closed for a couple of months. That’s not unusual in the Phoenix area for a course to do major work in the summer, golf actually slows down when the temps reach 100 degrees day after day. While that all turned out to be true it wasn’t the only reason there weren’t other people on the course. We’d discover the other reason soon enough. 

So off we went. My first drive was a little right on a hole that bends to the right, not ideal. I’d have to make a decision to either play back out into the fairway or take a shortcut over the trees to the green. I decided on the shortcut. The shot I hit felt pretty good but I couldn’t see the green so I’d have to wait until I got the the green to see how the shot turned out. I knew I made it over the trees and I knew I went in the general direction of the green so I was pretty hopeful.

As we approached the green I was focused on seeing whether my ball was on the green or not, so focused that I didn’t see what I normally would have. When I got right up by the green I noticed there was no flagstick. For those of you who don’t play golf the flagstick indicates the location of the hole on the green.

Then I discovered why there was no flagstick. It was because there was no hole. It was absolutely the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had. I hit balls on the range like I usually do. I studied my yardage, carefully selected my clubs and hit the best shot I could, all with the goal in mind of making par or better on the hole. 

But there was no hole. The would be no par, no birdie, not even a bogey. I would have been mad except I figured out almost instantly what was going on. The evidence that was missing from the second session was now staring me in the face. The goal of golf is to get the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes possible. With no hole for the ball to go into the rest of the game becomes pointless in a hurry. 

The roaming instructor showed up and told us to go ahead and pick up the ball and move to the next hole, maybe there would be a hole on that green…or maybe there wouldn’t. 

I couldn’t win at this game of golf, I couldn’t lose. I couldn’t measure my results against other rounds I’d played in the past. I couldn’t measure myself against the other players. I lost interest in the game before I got to the second green. It was no fun at all. And when I did get to the green there was no damn hole again. The roaming instructor said “maybe next time.”

It was hopeless. It was pointless. 

It was also the best example of what a life devoid of goals must be like. I suppose if you’ve never had real goals you wouldn’t know what you’re missing. If I’d never played golf I might not have known there was supposed to be a hole in the green. 

But I did indeed learn something that day. I learned a life without goals can get hopeless even quicker than I thought. I was disappointed, frustrated, confused, even mad when I reached a place where I should have been able to accomplish a goal. The only reason I couldn’t was because a goal didn’t exist. 

Are you disappointed, confused, even mad at the end of a day? Do you wonder what the point is of going to work day after day for a mere paycheck? Could it be that you don’t have clearly definable goals you’re working towards each day? 

Setting goals and developing a plan to achieve them will make everything in your life more meaningful. Goals give you purpose. Goals provide you with motivation, even on very difficult days. Goals become the roadmap to success, in your career, in your relationships, in every part of your life. 

Don’t go one more day without knowing exactly what you want out of life and exactly how you’re going to get it. Invest time to set goals and invest more to build a solid plan to achieve them. 

It will truly change your life. 

Um…You do Know it’s a Video Call, Right?

I’ve been told that one of the advantages of working from home is that you can dress as you please. Working from home has apparently done wonders for the sweatpants business. From my experience it would seem that the shift to working from home has had the opposite effect on any company selling razor blades. 

I’ve also noticed of late that t-shirts are becoming more common. I didn’t pay much attention to that until people starting using their t-shirts to clean around the house and then put them back on for the Zoom call. 

From what I’ve seen the hair care business would be another bad business to invest in. There is far less need for good grooming and hygiene on a Teams Call cause well after all, it’s not like “they” can smell you. 

But they most certainly can see you on a Video call…I’m pretty sure that’s why they call it Video. If it’s a work call then your appearance matters. (Actually it kinda matters all the time but more so in a professional setting)

Right or wrong people form opinions of you based at least partially on your appearance. When your face is the last to pop up on the screen as the meeting is beginning and you’re wearing a t-shirt with holes in it, with grease spots, and you didn’t take the time to even run a comb through your hair then you should know that you are severely damaging your credibility. 

That might not be fair, it might not be right but it is absolutely true. Your colleagues are likely talking about you behind your back…and not in a good way. Worse, your organization’s leadership team are forming long lasting opinions of you. They will last well after you’re back to being in the office and looking all spiffed up. 

Each day dress exactly as if you were going into the office, because you virtually are going into the office, even if you have no calls on your calendar. You will feel more confident, the quality of your work will be higher and perhaps the quantity too. 

If dressing for work even when you’re working from home seems pointless to you then you’re missing the point. The point of dressing professionally even when working in the room down the hall is to maintain your credibility and the respect of the people you interact with. 

Don’t give people anything to talk about other than your excellent work. If they are talking how poorly you look on those calls they won’t be talking about what you said, no matter how insightful you may have been.

That’s today’s reality. Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking your appearance doesn’t matter cause they can only see you on a screen. They can see you…and what they see matters. 

Procrastination and It’s Cousin Fear

Procrastination hardly ever enters a person’s life by force. It’s most often invited in by it’s close cousin fear. That being the case perhaps the most effective way to end procrastination in your life is to stop being afraid. 

I’ve had lots of good excuses for procrastinating in my life. Didn’t know where to start. Didn’t have time to get started. Wasn’t going to have time to finish so why start at all. Had more important things to do. “Somebody” would be unhappy if I did it. Didn’t have money to do it. Didn’t know how to do it.

Most procrastinators have great excuses for not taking action. But they will seldom tell you the real reason. They won’t even tell themselves. 

The real reason is fear. The biggest reason I suppose is fear of failure. I can tell you that pretty much every time I’ve failed to take action that would have led to success it was because fear held me back. 

Every time I missed a sales goal it was because fear held me back. Fear of prospecting, fear of asking for the order, even fear of asking a customer basic questions. It probably never looked like fear to someone else, it most likely looked like your run of the mill procrastination. 

But fear was driving the procrastination. 

It was the same for trying new things, attempting something new. “Tomorrow” became a shield against the fear of not knowing how to start, not knowing how to avoid looking like a fool if something went wrong. 

I never really overcame procrastination, I kinda outlasted it. I’ve had enough success now that I don’t have to worry about failing. If I fail I can just shrug and move on. But here’s what I have learned through my success and failures…I could have always shrugged off the failures. I didn’t need a base of success to do that. 

And neither do you. Failure is a part of success and the sooner you get some failures under your belt the sooner you can stop worrying about it. Procrastination quickly loses it’s interest in people who don’t fear failure. 

Now yes, as some of you will point out, sometimes plain laziness leads to procrastination too. That is true but when compared to fear laziness is a distant relative. Fear and procrastination grew up together, they are inseparable, they can finish each other’s sentences. 

Eliminate fear and procrastination has no place to live in your life. You can do it, you only need to begin the focus on the potential for success rather than the unlikely failure. 

The sooner you try the sooner you’ll wonder why you ever procrastinated in the first place.

Try today! 

Catch 22 and The Kobayashi Maru

The term Catch 22 is broadly used to describe a tricky problem or a no win, or even an absurd situation. You have a couple of choices for solving a problem but neither of them actually solve it and likely make the problem worse.

If you were, or are, a fan of the Star Trek television series or movies then you know that The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. It’s a Catch 22 on steroids. 

With the Kobayashi Maru cadets were put in a situation where they had two options and neither of them were good. But the test required that they select one the two available options. When they picked one they discovered just how bad their choices were. Both choices resulted in the loss of their ship and the entire crew. 

No cadet had ever “survived” the Kobayashi Maru until James T. Kirk arrived at Starfleet Academy. He was given the same two terrible choices and told he must pick one. Yet both his ship and crew came through intact. 

So how did this Kirk guy do it? Well when presented with two horrible options he declined to pick either one. He manufactured a third. 

All the other cadets stayed within the guidelines given to them, even knowing the likely outcome. Kirk refused to be limited to choices that would lead to his destruction. So he created a third option, seemingly out of thin air. 

Some people would say he cheated. Some would say he was very creative. I would say he merely broke the rule that needed to be broken in order to survive. 

Many of the things we take for granted today were at one time thought impossible. The people who overcame the impossible didn’t do it with conventional wisdom. They didn’t do it by applying the same limited thinking that made whatever it was impossible in the first place. They also didn’t meekly follow every direction that was given. 

They took a risk by breaking a rule or two that apparently didn’t need to be a rule to begin with. They colored outside the lines a bit to determine what was possible. They pushed the widely accepted limits.

People don’t often create new things with old thinking. People don’t change their lives and the lives of others by doing what they have always done. No one overcomes the impossible by asking for permission to do it. 

When they run out of options they do what James T. Kirk did, they manufacture another option. 

They don’t quit and they don’t accept options that will lead to failure. They beat the Kobayashi Maru. 

Can you beat it too?