Sunday, December 30, 2012

Today is a Good Day to Die

What do you say to yourself when you wake up every morning? Sioux leader Crazy Horse was quoted as saying to his warriors - "Today is a good day to die!" - he expected his warriors to live a life full of passion and fighting for the right cause - they will not blink an eyelid in the face of death because they would have lived their life in the fullest possible way for the best possible cause.

In other words, there is no regrets.

It seemed like a paradox - it is only when I am prepared to die then I am prepared to really live. Why is this so? There are three reasons :
  1. If I am prepared to die, it means I have figured out my life purpose and the cause I am fighting for. The saying is true - if I have nothing worth dying for, then I have nothing worth living for.
  2. If I am prepared to die, it means that I have made peace on a daily basis with people who matter to me and I will be quick to seek forgiveness, get rid of all bitterness to ensure that I walk with a clear conscience.
  3. If I am prepared to die, it means that I have been living my life according to truth-based principles which do not waver with the shifting opinions of the majority. I have spent time to figure out what is right from what is wrong and am willing to stand alone for what I believe in.
There you have it - the three "P"s of what it takes for you to look in the mirror every morning and say - "Today is a good day to die". Purpose. Peace. Principle.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Self-Discovery vs Introspection

With the year end approaching, we tend to be more reflective as we take time to unwind and refocus our life for the new season ahead. However, this reflective process can be quite depressing unless we distinguish the difference between the act of self-discovery with the tendency towards introspection.

Introspection is a reflective exercise that looks within ourselves to find the answers. Here's the danger of introspection - I will end up doing what is right in my own eyes. This is due to the fundamental premise that introspection does not include the counsel and advice from others (especially advice I do not like to hear but I know it's true!).

Self-Discovery, on the other hand, is a reflective experience which incorporates the elements of feedback, assessment and validation which is role-focused. Self-Discovery is about finding out how I can be a better husband, father, friend, etc. And the outcome of my reflective process is validated not by my own standards but by the standards of my audience - my wife, my children, my colleagues, etc.

It is important that as we pause during this time of the year to take stock, be careful not to do in isolation of your life roles. Life is measured more by the effectiveness of your roles rather than the measurement of bottom-line results.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Warning Label for Emotions

According to studies by Mayo Clinic, those who experienced more positive emotions lived, on average, about 10 years longer. To put this in perspective, consider that cigarette smoking has been shown to reduce life expectancy by 5.5 years for males and 7 years for females.

Maybe there should be a health warning label for those who are negative and pessimistic about life.

Consider another pioneering research on marriages by John Gottman. 700 recently married couples were interviewed 15 minutes each. Then based on a ratio of 5 to 1 (5 positive remarks to 1 negative remark), they predicted whether each couple would stay together or divorce. Ten years later - the results were stunning - they had predicted divorce with 94% accuracy - based on scoring the couples' interactions for 15 minutes.
So - watch the negativity of your tongue - it could be a better indicator of your quality of life than you think. Think about it - what comes out of your mouth could be more detrimental than what goes into it.

(Source : How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Clarity Above All Else

"Effective leaders don't have to be passionate. They don't have to be charming. They don't have to be brilliant. They don't have to bosses the common touch. They don't have to be great speakers. What they must be is clear." - Marcus Buckingham.

There are four points of clarity :
1. Who do we serve?
2. What is our core strength?
3. What is our core score?
4. What actions can we take today?

Followers are looking for clarity in a complex, complicated and chaotic world. If you are able to be crystal clear in your leadership direction, you are like a beacon of hope for those under your care and authority.