Want Impact? Focus on these Two Elements of Life

 

Maybe you have heard the phrase, “if everything matters, then nothing matters.” The reality is, every area of our life does not have the same impact on outcomes. This is true for leaders as well.

When we look at the life of a leader, we tend to gauge success by external things. We look at the size of their company, how much income they have, what type of home they live in and other such elements of life that become the Mendoza line for what may be considered a great leader.

But we’ve also seen a number of leaders who appeared to have great “success,” — all the external things in place — but based on a poor decision now face a life that is crumbling around them.

Why?

Recently, I have come up with a term to consider how far a leader will go. I call it ” The Slingshot Effect”. The premise is that which is closest to you will determine how far your life and leadership will go. Let’s explore this.

 

1. Inner Life

What is going on the inside of you will eventually make its way to the outside of you.  If you are falling apart on the inside, the outside of your life will eventually do the same.

Our inner life is about connecting to things that are near to us and the parts of our life that are bigger and beyond us. This includes our faith, our motivators, and attitudes.

You have to take time out of your life to invest in your inner life. For me, investing time in prayer, meditating, reading the bible, and reflection is a game changer.

Taking the time in your schedule to do these will also help deter you from making poor decisions based on a bad condition of your soul and spirit. While it may seem to cost you valuable time, it’s really an investment that will pay off long term. Whatever you invest in this season, you will be able to pull from the next. The best investment you can make is investing in your inner life.

2. Inner Circle

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he shares a study conducted by Dr. Robin Dunbar. In the study, Dr. Dunbar created an equation to figure out the number of relationships primates can have, including humans. According to Dunbar, you can have 150 casual friends, 50 close friends, 15 friends you can confide in, and a support group of five.

The one that will have the biggest impact on your life is the closest five. Jim Rohn is known for saying you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This means that those you are spending the most time with today, are shaping who you are becoming tomorrow.

If you don’t like who you are becoming, you may want to take a look at your short list for your inner circle. I want to challenge you to make sure that your inner circle is made up of people of these three shared attributes.

  •  Mutual values

Except for family, those in your inner circle should have values that align with yours. Our value system is the foundation of all that we say and do.

You can be friends with anyone you choose, but those closest to you should share values. It’s even more important than having similar interests. Having similar interests may make the relationship more interesting, but having the same values will make it more enduring.

  • Mutual Direction

If you are leading others, you need to make sure that your closest friends are people who are going in a similar direction as you. If you want to be a person of strong faith, lead a family well, and/or have a good work ethic, you don’t want to be spending the most time with those whose lives are going the opposite direction as yours.

You want people who will encourage and challenge you to reach your God-given potential in the areas that you deem to be most important.

  •  Mutual Trust

Relationships are built on trust. If you can’t trust people in the present you can’t trust them with your future.

Apart from similar values, the most important characteristic I was looking for in a wife was that she was trustworthy. The same is true for friendships.

Someone being trustworthy is simply a fruit of a person who lives a life of integrity.

I challenge you to take some time and reflect on your inner life and circle. Here are some questions for reflection.

  • Do I like what is going on in my inner life? Do I like who I am becoming?
  • Do I have mutual values, direction, and trust with my inner circle?

If you want to go far in leadership, you have to monitor what you allow closest to you. That which is closest to you will determine how far your life and leadership goes.

What is one area you could improve in in your inner life or circle?

Years ago, I began to focus on time management, productivity and living a priority driven life. It was during this season that adopted the process of making a life, organization, and time plan. As a result of implementing these three plans, I have seen results in all areas.
One of the keys to the life, organizational, and time plan is a periodic review. In fact, a quarterly review and revision of each of these plans are essential. It helps to give you the focus you need for the next quarter.
Recently, I have looked at my whole process slightly different. One of the biggest changes would be the way I try to revise the plans. Typically, you would make sure you are making time for your predetermined priorities.
While I still do this, there has been some slight change of perspectives. One of the best ways to open your heart and mind up to future direction is by asking yourself some questions.
1. What is this season for?
What was important six months ago may not be as important today. In light of changing priorities, this is a good question to lead with as you are revising these plans.
Your highest priorities, likely relationship based, should always be at the top of your list. What you focus on in each season with your priorities can change.
Keep in mind, If you are in a season of huge transition or something new is happening, such as having a baby, launching a new initiative, or helping an elderly parent who is recovering from injury, the way you spend your discretionary time will vary from last season.
2. What do I need to say yes to in this season?
Because each season is different, there will be things that you will need to say yes to in order to focus on priorities. You may have a spouse, parent, or child who needs extra attention and cares this season.  Your marriage may be struggling and you may need to find a small group to learn how to love your spouse more effectively.
The goal once you decide what the season is for is to decide what do you need to do to make sure you are caring and investing in your priorities. So what are your priorities?

3. What do I need to say no to in this season?

Even more important than the ability to say yes, is the ability to say no. Remember, you can do anything, but you can’t-do everything.
I am still a recovering people pleaser. I want to say yes to almost everyone, but I can’t, and neither can you. If you say yes to everyone, you will end up having to neglect your priorities at some point.
Here is a list of a few things you may say not to: working late every night, watching television late every night, putting purchases on credit cards, spending hours a day on social media. All of these add stress to your life or consume a good amount of time while taking away from more important priorities.
I would love to learn which one of these questions are most beneficial, or what other ways have you found helpful to give yourself a healthy perspective for a new season.

Among other things, leadership always involves decision making. Many of the decisions we make in our roles at work have little to no impact on our personal lives, but not all are work decisions.

A few years back, I was at a church leadership conference, led by two top leaders in that industry. The first main session had to do with family life and was led by Andy Stanley.

The opening session suggested many goals that a family should have. Here are a few:

  1. Be in love even after the kids are out of the home.
  2. When the kids are old enough not to have to be together, they will still choose to be together.
  3. Pray together at every stage.
  4. Prioritize your marriage on your calendar, not just your heart.

While these were great goals to have, the thing that stood out to me the most was a statement he made; “Don’t give up what is unique to you for something someone else will do.”

Another way he has said it is. “Don’t trade something that is unique to you for something that is not permanent.”

Leaders, this is the one trade you must never make! Never trade what is unique to you, for something that is not permanent.

Your company, job, softball team, social media, and a fantasy football league can all be done by someone else. There are things you should never trade for the previous list.

1. Relationships.

These would include your relationship with God, spouse, children, and family. You should never trade in these relationships or the priority thereof over a career or anything else that is not unique to you.

We may not even recognize that we are investing more of our time and energy in people, activities, and engagements that are less important.

2. Values

If you are in leadership long enough there will be a deal, phone call, request that will cause you to stare your values straight in the face, and you will have to decide whether to give up your values or not. I encourage you that nothing is worth the price of your values.

Most recently, I had to choose between something I wanted and something that was unique to me. There was a leadership conference that I was planning on attending for some time.

As the conference was approaching, I needed to decide to pull the trigger on purchasing the ticket, airfare, and hotel. After recognizing what was going on in my family, I realized that this was a time that I needed to be home.

Just a few days after I made the decision, I got an email from the company hosting the conference that they were going to comp the conference for me. The free ticket would have cut the financial investment of going to the conference down considerably.  So there I was again staring down the priority barrel of my life.

I contacted the company and thanked them for the offer, but explained that I felt I needed to be home with my family during this time. They emailed me back and told me they believed I was making the right decision. That company has some very strong values as do their employees.

I wish I always hit a home run in this area, but I am learning as I go.

I want to challenge you to look at your life and ask if you are saying yes to the wrong thing. I have found one of the greatest tools for staying on track in your life is to create a life plan.

Remember, the one trade a leader must never make is trading something that is unique to you, for something that is not permanent.

 

 

 

 

 

Most people have goals, but not everyone knows the essentials needed to accomplish them.

This week I spent some time on a coaching call with a team from a private lender’s office. Less than a month ago, I had shared with them the knowledge of how to create plans for their personal and professional lives.

In our most recent call, I went over some of the potential pitfalls they may face in trying to make their plans. These are the things that could prevent them from moving forward to achieve their desired outcomes.

While preparing for this call I thought about three things necessary to achieve a goal.

1. Your What.

What are you trying to accomplish with this goal? I am not talking about a shot in the dark; like just wanting to become a better person. Your goals should be more specific than that.

Here are some examples of specific goals:

  • Pay off all my credit cards by Christmas.
  • Go on a date night every other Friday night with my spouse.
  • Workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6-7 am.
  • Lose twenty pounds in the next 90 days.

2. Your Why.

This is just as important as knowing the what. Once you know what you want to do, you need to ask yourself the reason for wanting to accomplish this; the real purpose behind it. It may be that paying off that credit card debt will enable you to have a vacation next spring. Or maybe you feel that having a date night every other week will bring the passion back into your marriage.

It’s important to know and understand your purpose for setting that goal. It will be the driving force helping you accomplish what you have set out to do. If you are struggling to figure out the why, I can recommend an exercise I learned from Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It is called, Complete the Sentence.

You take what you are wanting to accomplish and then fill in a benefit. You keep doing the exercise until you get right down to your real purpose. The more you do it, the more you get away from generic answers to the heart of the matter.

Let me give you an example. Let’s take the date-night goal. The complete sentence exercise would look like this: When I start going on a date night every other Friday with my spouse, I will_________. You fill in the blank. Now the first time you answer, you may write something like, “she will stop complaining that I never take her out.” Then, when you do the exercise again you may write, “she will be more interested in the things I am into.” You keep on doing it until you reach the real heart of the matter. The fifth time you fill in the blank you may write, “so we pursue each other like we did before we were married!”

3. Your Way.

You only set yourself up for success if you give yourself an avenue for accomplishing your goals. If you don’t give yourself a path to take, inertia will take over and you will go back to your old habits quickly.

For instance, if you want to pay off all your credit cards by Christmas you will need to lay some tracks to help you get there. Perhaps you decide that the way you are going to do it is by working out a budget for each month and begin using a cash envelope system. That is, you put cash in envelopes for gas, groceries, and entertainment. When the money is gone, you’re done till the next budget period. By doing this you are providing a way for you to make your goals actually happen.

You can begin to accomplish your goals by knowing the What, Why, and Way that suits you most. Take a look at your most current goals and see if any of these three are missing.