A Moment With Words

I just finished reading “The Noticer Returns” by Andy Andrews.  This was a book I could not put down.  Here are a few thought-provoking excerpts:

  • “Most folks look for their car keys with more energy than they search for wisdom that can change their lives.”
  • “At some level everyone understands that good parenting is just life coaching at a high and very critical level.
  • “Everybody wants to make a difference, but nobody wants to be different. And you simply cannot have one without the other.”
  • What a person thinks is determined by how a person thinks.”
  • “… you should work hardest on yourself in order that you become more valuable.  Not for yourself, of course, or as an exercise in ego, but that one day you might find yourself valuable enough to possess the power to lead others to an understanding of the true value of their own lives.”
  • …the quality of our answers is always determined by the quality of our questions.”
  • …it is relatively easy to beat the competition. We do this by playing at a level at which most people are not even aware there is a game going on.”
  • “It can take a long time to prepare to change or to decide to change or even to want to change. Change itself, however, happens in a heartbeat.”

The Importance of “Important”

The late Stephen Covey was well-know for his classic book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”  Habit #3 is entitled, “Put First Things First.”  It’s all about knowing what is important and honoring it by our actions.  Looking at the culture, it would seem that defining importance is more difficult than one would think.  People seem to be confused by this.  What happens?  Confusion becomes a barricade to any action, much less the right action.

Newton’s first law of motion says that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.  This is a great metaphor for human behavior.  A person will move from inaction to action only when motivated by something sufficiently important.  Most barricade-busting motivation fits into the following categories: Wants, Needs, and Responsibilities.

  • Emptiness Chooses Wants. — People fill voids with something they want.
  • Pain Chooses Needs. — People relieve pain with something they believe they need.
  • Conscience Chooses Responsibilities. — People choose right actions in obedience to their consciences.

Importance is established when one or more of these motivators takes center stage in the person’s mind and heart.  Sometimes people coincidentally choose Right Actions when Responsibility does not play a significant role.  That is, we sometimes do the right thing for the wrong reason.

Admittedly, the formula is not quite so straightforward.  The strength of the motivators is constantly rising and falling because of emotional fluctuations, changes in personal perspectives and changes in external circumstances.  It’s a dynamic environment.

Here’s what I am certain about.  When an opportunity intersects with importance, we give it the red carpet treatment.  Which means, we mark the calendar.  We rearrange appointments.  We set aside funds.  We post reminders. We tell people.  We tweet.  We follow through.

It doesn’t matter whether the opportunity is one you created or a gift from someone else.  Importance is still the motivation necessary to cause action.  Until then, the opportunity is just another competing option in our busy lives.  Only what we perceive to be truly important finds its way onto our calendars, into our budgets and into our conversations.

What’s on your calendar?  What’s in your budget?  What are you talking about?

Movies, Rednecks and Leadership

Picture yourself at a lunch-and-learn gathering entitled “Leadership Lessons in the Movies.”  Now imagine the facilitator beginning the session with the following challenge:

“I have two objectives for this session. The first is to use movie clips to identify and discuss qualities of leadership. The second is to change the way you watch movies, FOREVER!”

What do you see?  Are there nods of approval or puzzled looks?  Maybe you see expressions of disappointment or amusement.

As one who has introduced such an event using these exact words, I can attest that they are more prophetic than amusing.  Hollywood has produced a large body of work filled with leadership examples, metaphors and lessons.  When people discover movies through leadership lenses, their cinematic experiences are never quite the same again.

“Houston We Have a Problem”

John C. Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”  One of my favorite movies, Apollo 13, demonstrates that this is most important in matters of life and death.  An on-going theme throughout the film is how effective leadership inspired and empowered the team to rescue three astronauts from a precarious life-and-death situation.

The heroic mission of Apollo 13 occurred over 40 years ago.  Today, I look around and am concerned about what I see — a serious lack of leadership at every level, in every sector of our society.  Would it be facetious to suggest that the solution should include watching more movies?

Redneck Inspiration

While watching an episode of Duck Dynasty, I was reminded that I am the product of my lunch-and-learn challenge.  I see life lessons everywhere I look, including movies and so-called “reality television.”  The male characters proudly describe themselves as rednecks and their behaviors confirm the stereotype.  The purpose for watching this show is to be entertained, not educated.  I was not seeking wisdom and material for my next blog post.  But, my values and perspectives are such that my antenna is always up and connected to my brain.  Here’s what I heard…

“It’s all about teaching my son: you got a goal or a target in life  … in this world today anything is possible.  You go for it.”
— Jase Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Episode 12.

Today, 26 words from an unexpected source triggered my leadership awareness and sparked my sense of responsibility.  Thanks to a scruffy television guy with a bushy beard I am reviewing my goals and opportunities and encouraging you to do the same.