W.I.N.

maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question.

W.I.N. Wednesday: Success is........

People have many different definitions of success. Unfortunately in both the mainstream media and on social media success seems to be tied to titles, awards, promotions, and the amount of money you make. 

In the eyes of some in order to be successful you have to have a multimillion-dollar business, have the big house, the fancy new car, win the championship or the gold medal. 

It can be easy to doubt yourself, your success and your impact when you do not have any of those things. The reality is you do not need those to be successful and live a life of significance. 

I am a fan of former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden’s philosophies on life and on success.

"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."

John Wooden

This is about being Your Best, not The Best. It is about being the best version of you that you can be. It requires work and effort. It requires making the commitment to always be better tomorrow than you are today. Fulfilling that commitment requires you to do something every day in the area of personal growth and development. That means every day you need to read and or listen to something that will feed your mind. You also need to push yourself to improve in an area of your life, learn a new skill or enhance a skill you already have or have a deep conversation with someone who will challenge the way you think and help you to grow.  

In any endeavor and on every project you need to work hard and give it your best effort. When you get to the point where you are tempted to quit and tell yourself, “That is good enough.” keep going and do a little bit more so that at the end of the day you are proud of the work you did.

“What one can be, one must be.”

Abraham Maslow

What’s Important Now? – What you can be, you must be. Put in the work and the effort so that at the end of every day you can experience the self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

 Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Set knowledge on fire.

"In the development of wisdom, one must gather the firewood of knowledge and ignite it by striking the flint of courage against the rock of self-discipline, thus creating fires of understanding. Wisdom, therefore, is knowledge on fire!"

Unknown

Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is potential, the potential to empower yourself and others to action. Knowledge is the kindling to help ignite the fire of understanding and the wood that will keep the fire burning. 

Without the spark from striking the flint of courage against the rock that fire will never start. What does courage have to do with igniting that fire? It takes courage to say, “I don’t know. “ It takes courage to seek new knowledge. It takes courage to say, “Maybe what I believe is wrong. Maybe there is a better way. Let me seek the answer.” 

Self-discipline is the rock. It takes self-discipline to consistently read, study, listen, reflect, ask tough questions and accept feedback. It takes self-discipline to go beyond collecting dots and seek to connect the dots. It takes self-discipline to spend the time determining how this piece of knowledge connects to other pieces of knowledge. 

All those elements combined create the fire of understanding. Understanding how to apply the knowledge you have gained. Understanding how to make the connections. Understanding how to share that knowledge with others in a way that it makes sense to them so they can seek new ways to apply it. 

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.”

Margaret Fuller

The wood, the flint and the rock on their own will not start the fire. It takes action, effort and friction to gather the wood, create the spark and ignite those elements to create the fire of understanding within you and others. 

What’s Important Now? Do the work to start the fire. Keep stoking and feeding the fire. Keep learning. Keep questioning. Keep sharing. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: The Test of Leadership

“The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”

James Buchanan

Everyone has within them the seeds of greatness. Your job as a leader is to foster, develop and nurture those seeds. Get out of the way and let the sun shine on them. Create a weed free environment to allow they to flourish. Challenge them. Give them the nourishment, encouragement, and support they need to grow and develop their greatness. Teach them to find the lessons in failure. Help them learn to think critically, make good decisions, solve problems and take action.  

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

John Quincy Adams

Leadership is never about rank, position or title. Those put you in a formal leadership position; they do not make you a leader. Everyone is in a position to lead, if you choose to do so. 

What’s Important Now? Be a leader. Elicit greatness from yourself and others. Inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more through your actions and your words. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: That Sucks; Now Choose.

It sucks when you have a job that you hate. I get that. I have had some pretty crappy jobs in my life.

It sucks when your boss is an ass. I get that too. I have had some bad bosses.

It sucks when you work in a negative and emotionally toxic environment. Been there and done that too.

It sucks if you have to supervise a whining snivelling malcontent or toxic employee. I understand the challenge of that scenario. 

If you checked off any or all of the above boxes as identifying your current situation at work, that sucks. The reality however, is that you only have three choices when the Suck Factor strikes:

  1. Change your Attitude - Embrace the Suck, Look for the Good and Dare to Be Great.
  2. Change your Job.
  3. Choose to be Miserable. (Yes it is a choice.)

Right now some of you are thinking (or screaming out loud), “Brian. You don’t understand.”

I get that response a lot and actually I do understand.

Remember Simple versus Easy. Simple is lack of complexity. Easy is lack of effort. Your choices are Simple, not Easy.

As nice as it would be for everyone in the world to, “Find a job you love so you never have to work another day in your life.”, that is not the reality for most people. Until you find a job that you love, try finding things to love about your job. Stop whining, complaining and making excuses and look for the good in the job, the pay, the benefits, the people you work with or the people you serve. Look for how you can contribute to the organization or to some part of the world through what you do. The job exists for a reason. You provide some type of service or benefit to someone. What is that? Find a way to contribute and make a difference in the organization. If you cannot do that, go back and decide on option #2 or #3.

You cannot change your boss. If your boss is an ass, that sucks. Find a way to Embrace the Suck. Start by reading The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton PhD. Then read his follow-up book The Asshole Survival Guide. Take time to reflect on what you love about your job and your work. Choose not to let the boss take that from you. Instead of battling your boss, try asking what you can do to help him or her. Let them know that you understand he or she is under a lot of pressure and has a lot of demands that you are likely unaware of and ask what you can do to help them and better serve them. If you cannot do that, go back and decide on option #2 or #3.

It is tough working with energy vampires, dream stealers and whining, snivelling malcontents.  It can suck the life out of you, if you let it. Start by stepping back and asking: 

·      What piece of this do I own? 

·      How am I contributing to the negativity in the workplace? 

·      Am I someone whose attitude others complain about?  

Go on the offensive and work to change the culture. Start to talk about what’s right with the workplace and the world instead of what’s wrong. Start looking for the good in others and acknowledge what they do well. Praise others for effort and process, not outcome. Focus on shifting from being a problem identifier to becoming a problem solver. Find one other positive person and start going for coffee or lunch with them. Then recruit a 3rd for your coffee / lunch group and build from there. Go for a walk on your breaks or go find a quiet place to read a good book.  If you cannot do that, go back and decide on option #2 or #3.

Supervising toxic employees is not easy. Make sure they are clear on the performance expectations. Make sure they understand the Mission, Vision and Values of the organization and how those apply to everyone in your work area. Make sure they have the tools, training and resources they need to succeed. Focus on the issues, behaviours and performance and not the person. This is not personal. Document. Make sure they understand the impact their behaviour is having on the workplace. Remember: 

·      Ignored behaviour is condoned behaviour. 

·      It not what you preach, it is what you tolerate. 

If you ignore, condone and tolerate inappropriate behaviour you only complicate your problems. Be prepared for them to lash out and respond with a personal attack on your character and leadership abilities. When they do, take a breath and a realize this is not about you. It is about them and their insecurities. They likely got their way as a child, and as an adult by throwing a tantrum. Be calm, be professional, be firm and focus on What’s Important Now. If you cannot do that, go back and decide on option #2 or #3.

Life is not fair. You are going to run into the suck factor on a regular basis. 

What’s Important Now? Realize you have choices. Find a way to Embrace the Suck, Look for the Good and Dare to Be Great, which may include choosing option #2. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: When you screw up, and you will screw up……

You are human. You are going to screw up. You are going to make mistakes. It is not a matter of ‘if’, it is a matter of ‘when’. And, when you do, you have a choice: 

1.   You can stand up and man up / woman up and own up, or

2.   You can deny, demand proof and point the finger of blame at someone, or everyone, else.

Standing up and owning up takes courage and humility. Standing up and owning up allows you to maintain your integrity. People will forgive you for screwing up, if you own up to it. 

Refusing to accept responsibility for your choices, decisions, actions and mistakes demonstrates a lack of courage, humility and integrity. People will forgive you for screwing up; they will never forgive you for covering up. 

As the late John Wooden said, “A mistake is valuable if you do four things with it: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” 

You need to be self aware enough to know you screwed up and made a mistake. You then need to step up, acknowledge the mistake and own it. Once you take those two steps you need to reflect and pull the lessons from the mistake, learn from it and determine what you need to do moving forward to ensure you do not make the same mistake again. You then need to let it go and stop beating yourself up about it. Accept that making mistakes is part of being human and part of the pursuit of excellence and move forward better off for the experience and the self reflection. 

If you are striving for more, for better, for growth, for excellence you are going to screw up along the way. It is an inevitable, and important part of the journey. 

What’s Important Now? Stand up. Own up. Learn. Grow. Move forward. Keep striving. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: When bad things happen.

Last week I talked about the reality that you are not a product of your circumstances; you are a product of your decisions. It is inevitable that in life bad things are going to happen to you. When those bad things happen you have a choice as to how you respond.

Jason Schechterle is a former Phoenix police officer who was badly burned when his police vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle travelling over 100 mph. Jason was trapped inside his patrol vehicle, which burst into flames. He suffered severe burns to over 40% of his body and has undergone 50 surgeries since the collision. Despite his severe injuries and ongoing medical issues Jason describes himself as “The luckiest man alive.” He says that when something bad happens you have three choices:

1.    Let it define you.

2.    Let it destroy you.

3.    Let it strengthen you.

Jason has chosen to let the events and challenges in his life strengthen him and his wife Susie had made the same choice.

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved."

Helen Keller

I had the privilege of listening to Jason in September of 2017 at the National Tactical Officers Association conference where he was the opening keynote speaker and I was teaching some breakout sessions. He told the audience, “Adversity does not stop. Life is going to try to kick your ass every day.”  He talked about having to take an Uber to the event location as he is losing his eyesight due to complications from the burns. He shared the stories of his father dying the year before and that just two months prior to the conference he spoke at the funeral of the doctor who was instrumental in saving his life following the collision and who had become a close friend who died at age 52.

“Resilience is not about bouncing back, it is about moving through. Through hardship to happiness. Through pain to wisdom. Through suffering to strength. What happens to us becomes part of us. Resilient people do not bounce back from hard experiences; they find healthy ways to integrate them into their lives.”

Eric Greitens, Resilience

Few of us will face the kind of challenges and hardships that Jason faced and continues to face. Some of you will face greater challenges and hardship. But, you will all face challenges and hardships as life tries to kick your ass every day. When you feel life trying to kick your ass remember W.I.N., and remember that you have a choice as to how you respond.

What’s Important Now? -  When bad things happen let it strengthen you,  continue to move through and remember these words from Jason Schechterle “Don’t let the pain of today blind you from the promise of tomorrow.”  

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Circumstances vs Decisions

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

Stephen R. Covey

It is easy to blame circumstances for where you are in your life. If you need examples of that simply watch the six o’clock news or read any newspaper. You will see all kinds of people screaming and yelling about how bad their circumstances are. Many however, do nothing to change their circumstances. They simply blame others and want someone else to do something to change those circumstances.

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance."

Bruce Barton

What you seldom see on the six o’clock news are the countless stories of people who grew up in, or were faced with the same circumstances but chose to do something about it. They found something inside of them that was superior to circumstance and took action to change their circumstances, and in doing so changed their life.

They used their circumstances as a source of motivation and inspiration to move forward. They made the decision not to be a victim, and not to get caught up in the blame game.  They chose to take responsibility for their life, for their choices and for their own success.

“Others can make you a target. Only you can choose to be a victim.”

Gavin de Becker

They accept that this is not an easy path, but it is worth the effort. They accept that in striving for more, for better, to improve themselves and their lives there will be failures. When they do fail they use that failure as an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience and choose to move forward wiser and stronger.

What choices are you making in life? Are you choosing to blame circumstances and others? Are you choosing to be a victim? Or, are you choosing to find something inside of you that is superior to circumstance, and choosing to rise above and strive for more, for better, for significance in your life?

What’s Important Now? Choose well.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Study, Strive, Learn, Be and Grow

Study successful people, people who have accomplished what you are striving to achieve. Study the habits and rituals they have developed to help them be productive. Study how they think, what they read, and whom they listen to. Study their work ethic and their commitment to learning. Study how they seek to be of service to others. Study how they deal with setbacks and obstacles. Study how they deal with the skeptics, cynics and critics.

Strive for more. Strive for better. Strive to be a little better every day. Strive to learn. Strive to continually be a better version of yourself. Strive to be your best, not the best. Strive to be of service to others and to a cause greater than yourself. Strive to set a positive example for others. Strive for significance.

Learn from your successes. Learn from your failures. Learn from your experiences, both good and bad. Learn from the challenges and obstacles. Learn from others. Learn from great books. Learn from self-reflection. Learn by talking less and listening more. Learn by asking more questions and better questions of yourself and others.

Be authentic. Be humble. Be a man or woman of integrity. Be of service. Be yourself. 

If you do all these things you will grow. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you do know and this will help you to continue to grow. The more you grow the better equipped you are to lead, to follow and to be of service.

What’s Important Now? Study, Strive, Learn, Be and Grow

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Be Yourself

Last week I talked about the Dr. Seuss quote, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” I want to build on that theme with a quote from Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

To truly stand out you have you be yourself. You have a unique set of strengths and talents. Celebrate those strengths and talents. Build on those strengths and talents. Strive to continually be the best version of yourself by committing to always be a little bit better tomorrow than you are today.

What one can be, one must be.”

Abraham Maslow

You have a unique perspective and way in which you view the world. You have a unique voice and way of expressing your thoughts and ideas. Be proud of that. Build on that. Share that.  Read, study, learn and grow to continually evolve, develop and refine your ideas, perspective and voice.

It is easy to succumb to the pressure to be like everyone else, to try and fit in to someone else’s mold of what you should be like, what you should study, what career you should pursue and how you should think.

It is easy to get tricked by television, the movies and the mass marketing version of all the beautiful, perfect people. There is pressure to buy into the myth of the perfect spouse, the perfect parent, the perfect family or the perfect body. Television and movies seldom depicts the reality of human nature. We are all human; we are all flawed. Allow yourself to be human.

Seek significance in your life by using your unique skills, talents and voice to make a difference in your piece of the world.  Significance is not about being wealthy, or being famous. It is about being yourself and making an impact through your unique contributions to the people you come in contact with.

Focus on being your best, not the best. The Best means you are always trying to be better than someone else. Strive to be your best, the best version of yourself that you can be.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man;

true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway

What’s Important Now? Be yourself. Be proud of who you are. Be at peace with who you are. You were born to stand out.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Why fit in?

It had been a long time since I read or thought about any of Dr. Seuss’ books as my two sons are both in their 30’s. A couple of years ago I was speaking at a 5 day leadership event in Las Vegas and had the opportunity to meet and listen to Bob Kuehl speak on Seussonian Leadership Principles. Bob is a Deputy Chief with Kansas City PD in Missouri and uses the principles of Dr. Seuss to teach leadership and risk management. Since that time I have had the opportunity to become friends with Bob, interview him for The Excellence in Training Academy and listen to his talk at the WINx event Roy Bethge and I ran in Appleton, WI in October of 2017. (Check out Bob’s WINx talk). In one of his talks I heard Bob use the following quote from Dr. Seuss: "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

It struck me that in one sentence Dr. Seuss embodied the Dare to Be Great and Pursuit of Personal Excellence philosophies I speak and write about.

Unfortunately many people are brought up being told:

  • “Don’t rock the boat.”
  • “Don’t make waves.”
  • “It is important to fit in.”
  • “Go along so you can get along.”

Being able to work together with others in a team is important. However, if you feel like you have to go along just to get along and are afraid of rocking the boat you will often make compromises to your values and principles.

If you reflect for a minute on the great leaders, innovators and change agents they were all willing to challenge the status quo and ‘best practices’ and were willing to stand out in order to change the game and make a significant impact.

What’s Important Now? Embrace the Pursuit of Excellence. Dare to be Great. Chose to Stand Out.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Celebrate the effort, the journey and the process, not just the outcome.

The 2018 Winter Olympic games have now come to a close. For some of you it means getting back to life without being glued to the television every day watching the hours of Olympic coverage.

For the athletes and coaches it means getting back to work to prepare for their next competition.

If you think about all the people in the world, very few will ever earn the opportunity to represent their country at the Olympics. Of the athletes who make it to the Olympics many will compete in one Olympic games in their life and very few will ever win a medal.

I saw a small amount of the Olympic coverage while I was on the road last week (we do not have TV at home). It struck me with the coverage and the highlights that I did see that we might have lost sight of the true meaning of the Olympics; to compete at the highest level and give your best in each event and on each day.

Getting to the Olympics is a result of thousands of hours of purposefully and deliberate practice by every athlete. It is a result of countless sacrifices by the athlete, their parents, their coaches and their family. The dream of competing in the Olympics can be shattered by a boycott, a bad day at the Olympic trials, or by a serious injury weeks or months before the games.

For many athletes the Olympic journey has meant struggling to secure funding or sponsors or working to support themselves while training before and after work. It is an honour to represent your country on the world stage, yet for most, they will not make the highlight reels or be interviewed after winning a Gold medal. Some will accomplish a personal best in their event and still never make it into the top ten on that day in their event.

Of course we should celebrate the medal wins, but more importantly we should celebrate the work, the commitment to the process and the journey. We should celebrate the spirit, the commitment to excellence, the effort and the competition. We should talk about winning a silver medal, not about losing the gold.

With the Olympics, as with life, learn to focus on the effort and the process. Those are what you control. You never control the outcome. Focusing on effort and process however, give you the greatest opportunity for a positive outcome.

What’s Important Now? Focus on what you control - effort, process and attitude. Celebrate the journey.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: It does make a difference

In last week’s W.I.N. Wednesday blog post we looked at the power of “acting as if”.  I started that post off with a quote from William James. We are going to look at a different application of ‘As If’ from James.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."

William James

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day pressures, demands, complaints and routines of work and life.

It is easy to get drawn into the negative. After all, the media pounds you with negativity non-stop.

It is easy to get caught up thinking, acting and feeling like a victim of circumstances.

It is easy to get drawn into the whining, complaining and blaming.

It is easy to think that what you do does not make a difference and that nobody really cares anyway so why bother to put in the extra effort. This mentality leads to you just going through the motions and embracing mediocrity.

What you do is important. What you do makes a difference. What you do impacts others. What you do reflects on you, your peers and your organization. You represent not only yourself but, everyone who has gone before you in your organization, everyone who is currently part of your organization and everyone who will be part of that organization, and that profession in the future.

Even if you think no one is watch, no one cares and no one else is impact, they are watching, they do care and they are impacted. They just may not express it.

What you do is important. What you do makes a difference.

What’s Important Now? Act as if what you do makes a difference. Strive for excellence. Dare to be great at what you do. Every day commit to be the best version of yourself and a little better than you were yesterday.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: As If

In Principles of Psychology (published in 1890), William James, who some describe as the father of modern psychology, wrote about the importance of ‘acting as if’. James said, “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”

Philosopher, self help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer echoes these sentiments when he encouraged and challenged people with these words:

“Imagine your ideal self. Your greatest most magnificent version of yourself. Then imagine how that ideal version of you would be thinking and acting at this moment. Act as if you are that person.”

In his book The Power of Positive Deviance, Jerry Sternin reminds us that it's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.

And in his powerful book Resilience Eric Greitens (Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian, former Navy Seal and current Governor of Missouri) gives his friend who is battling PTSD this advice:

“Remember these three words: Identity, Action and Feelings.

If you want to feel differently, act differently.”

Richard Wiseman, a Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, covers the wide body of research which supports this philosophy in his book The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life.

So.

What qualities are you striving for?

Who do you want to become?

How do you want to feel?

How would the ideal version of you be thinking and acting?

What’s Important Now? Act As If.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: The Caution With Best Practices

In his book Up, Down and Sideways, author, trainer and thought leader Mark Sanborn cautions us about Best Practices. He says best practices always have three qualifiers:

  1. Best practices for now.
  2. Best practices we know of.
  3. Best practices given the circumstances.

He suggests you seek Better Practices and Next Practices. He defines them as:

  • Better Practices – How can you do what everyone else is doing, but do it better?
  • Next Practices – How can you change the game?

The goal is Next Practices.

Think about this for a moment. How often has your organization spent months researching ‘Best Practices’? After months of reaching out to who you think might be using Best Practices you spend another month writing the report and citing all your research. The report then sits on the boss’ desk or in their In Box for another month before they make time to read it. By the time you start to implement these “Best Practices” they are old practices and those organizations you studied have likely moved on to something different.

The key is to be continually aware of what is going on in your industry and then strive for Next Practices by asking yourself, “How can I / we change the game?”

That is what leading organization do all the time. Apple, Nike, Amazon, and Zappos didn’t ask, “What is everyone else doing?” and then say, “Ok, Lets do that.” Or “lets do that better than them.” They set out to change the game, and maybe even change the world.

You don’t have to change the world, but you can strive to change the game.

When you change the game you set a new benchmark for everyone else to look at as ‘Best Practices”. While they are striving to catch up to you, you are asking, “What’s Next?”

What’s Important Now? Strive for Next Practices. Strive to change the game. Keep on striving.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Learn to sail in high winds.

"We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds."

Aristotle Onassis

How often do you find yourself waiting? Waiting for the economy to improve. Waiting for the conflict at work to settle down. Waiting for the bad boss to leave. Waiting for that promotion or that raise. Waiting for things to slow down. Waiting for things to get better before you get started. Waiting for the sea to rest.

There is always going to be something, something that will cause the rough seas. Some issue. Some conflict. A toxic employee or boss in the workplace. A slow down in the economy.  Another project. Another deadline.

The reality however, is that it is those very “somethings”, which allow you to grow and improve. Challenges can be reframed into opportunities. Opportunities to take action, to get started, to move forward, to learn and to grow. Opportunities can be reframed into obligations. Obligations to yourself, your family, your organization, your community to rise above and serve in times of turbulence and uncertainty.

What’s Important Now? Strive for excellence and significance. Embrace the challenges, obstacles and rough waters. Learn to sail in high winds.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: The Purpose of Life

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happiness is an elusive goal. People who are continually chasing happiness never seem to be happy.

People who are striving to be useful, honorable, compassionate and make a difference however, seem to be far happier.

In my seminar The Heroes Path to Excellence in Law Enforcement I talk about the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks regarding The Hero. They believed that everyone had it within them to be The Hero. A Hero was a protector. Someone willing to protect others as well as themselves. Heroes had the physical abilities, the knowledge and the desire to serve. The core strengths of the hero were:

  • Compassion,
  • Love,
  • Commitment to something bigger than themselves.

What about you? What are you striving for?  Are you chasing happiness, or striving for a heroic life of service and significance?

What’s Important Now?  Strive to live well and be useful, honorable, and compassionate. Make a commitment to live the heroic life and be part of something bigger than yourself.

You may just find happiness in the journey.  

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Act As If

What’s Important Now as you move into 2018 striving to achieve new goals and achieve significance in your life is to “Act As If”.

Act As If is not, “Fake it until you make it”. It is, “Believe it until you achieve it”.

A quote I have heard from a number of sources is, “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.”

When it comes to behavioral change Wayne Dyer recommended the following strategy: “Imagine your ideal self. Your greatest most magnificent version of yourself. Then imagine how that ideal version of you would be thinking and acting at this moment. Act as if you are that person.”

When it comes to the work that you do philosopher William James says, “ Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”  Regardless of your chosen line of work you bring value and make a difference in the lives of others. It can be hard for all of us to realize that some days.

What’s Important Now? Decide what you want to accomplish. Be proud of what you do. Then Act As If. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Start

It is January 3. You have come down from the high of the excitement of a new year and the inspiration that comes from imagining the possibilities for 2018.

You have come up from the low of too much food and alcohol and too little sleep on New Years Eve.

If you are a Georgia Bulldogs fan you are still on the high after they won the Rose Bowl in double overtime and if you are an Alabama Crimson Tide fan you are still on a high after they beat Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Those highs will last at least until the National Championship game January 8.

New Years is always a time for resolutions and while it is only day 3 of 2018 many people have already broken or given up on some of their 2018 New Year’s Resolutions.

Relax. Take a breath. It is only January 3. You still have 362 days left to achieve significance in 2018.

Here are two quotes and a question to keep in mind as you move into, and through this year.

“Start small, start now. This is much better than, ‘start big, start later’."

Seth Godin

The key is to start, to take action. It is too easy to get caught up in the excuse of, “I will start tomorrow. I am just not in the mood / too tired / too busy today.”  Start small. Start now.

“Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?"

Dr. Robert Cooper

Many times we get frustrated and give up because we are trying to change the world, or at least our world, all at once. Pick that one small change, the one that if you committed to that action it would have a ripple effect into many other areas of your life and kick start you on the road to success. Start small. Start now.

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

Arthur Ashe

We often delay by using the excuse that we just need that one more piece of information or one more ________ (fill in the blank), and once we have that we will get started. Months later we are still waiting for something and have done nothing to move our lives, and ourselves forward. Start small. Start now.

What’s Important Now? Start where you are at, with what you have. Choose the smallest change that will make the biggest difference and start now.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Let us dare...

As you prepare to head into 2018 and work on your goals for the coming year, keep in mind this quote from John Adams:

"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."

John Adams

For many people their goals at the start of the year have to do with losing weight, working out regularly, eating healthier, making more money, saving more money, and paying down debt.

These are all worthwhile goals, but what about learning, growing, gaining and sharing knowledge?  Are these on your list of goals? Is learning and growing a priority for you in the coming year?

When you are thinking about your financial investments are you also thinking about investing in your learning and growth?

Be cautious of the old saying, “Knowledge is Power.” Knowledge is not power; it is potential. Knowledge is the potential to inspire others, inspire new connections, inspire new ways of thinking and inspire creative solutions to problems.  That is why I believe John Adams dares us to, “read, think, speak and write”. You need to think about what you are reading and learning and seek to connect the dots to your existing knowledge and experiences. You then need to speak and write about your thoughts and ideas.

Speaking does not mean you have to become a professional speaker and give formal presentations on these ideas. Speaking can mean speaking with your family, friends and colleagues over a meal, a cup of dark roast coffee or a glass of full bodied red wine. It can mean speaking up at a meeting and sharing thoughts, ideas and solutions inspired by your learning.

Writing can be using your social media channels to share what you are learning and engage others in a discussion and debate about the ideas, the connections and the applications. It can be contributing to your company newsletter by sharing ideas and challenging others to think differently. It can mean putting your ideas and potential solutions in writing and submitting them to your boss or to the appropriate committees in your organization.

What’s Important Now? Make 2018 the year where you become intentional about reading, thinking, speaking, and writing.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Why you should get up.

"Mentoring is why you should get up every day - to teach and be taught."

John Wooden

Dictionary.com defines a Mentor as:

  • A wise and trusted counsellor or teacher.

A mentor can be someone who has taken you under their wing at work, or in life, and is willing to share their experiences and the wisdom gained from the many mistakes that have made. They are willing to listen to you, be present for you and be patient with you. They are someone who is interested in your hopes, dreams and desires and will serve as a sounding board and a guide on your journey to attain those. 

"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves." 

Steven Spielberg 

A mentor however, is not necessarily some who is older than you. Two of the most influential mentors in my life are my sons Jesse and Cody. At the time of this post Jesse is 34 and Cody is 31. Both are very successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. They have strengths, talents and experience I do not. They both possess a growth mindset and are continually learning and growing. They both understand the importance of relationships and they are both willing to give me honest feedback and call me out when necessary. Those are all great traits in a mentor.

A mentor can be someone new in your organization who is a couple of generations younger than you. They have a lot to teach you, if you are willing to listen and learn. They can teach you about how they like to learn, what is important to them in a workplace, a peer and a boss. They can help you to learn how best to communicate with them. If you are willing to learn from them, chances are pretty good they will also be willing to learn from you, "to teach and be taught" as John Wooden said. 

A mentor does not have to be someone you know personally. It can be someone from history who you admire and seek to emulate. It can be someone whose books you read and whose work, principles and philosophies you have studied and have had a great influence on you, but whom you have never met.  

What's Important Now?

  1. Take time to reflect on the mentors in your life and the important lessons they have taught you.
  2. Become intentional about mentoring others. You will learn and grow in the process.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

If you found value in this post please share this with your friends, family and co-workers.

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