Build Your Leaders

Archive for the ‘life choices’ Category

Getting Goals Wright

May 6th, 2013

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright liked to share a story from his childhood that he said helped shape his philosophy of life. When he was nine years old, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his rigid, reserved uncle. When the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him and pointed out their tracks in the snow. The uncle’s were straight as a line while young Frank’s tracks meandered all over the field.

“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle observed. “And see how mine aim directly at my goal.”

Years later Wright would say, with a twinkle in his eye, “I determined right then, not to miss most things in life as my uncle had.”

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How to Live Life with Purpose

February 3rd, 2013

In my work (and my book Engineer Your Career), I address four “Ps.” One of those “Ps” is Purpose. I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose. Identifying and  sharing my gifts–my special talents, skills, and attributes–is crucial if I want to live life on and with purpose. This summer, I found these two passages in Paul Ferrini’s book “Silence of the Heart.”

“You think the gift is ‘a doing,’ but it’s not. The gift is a ‘way of being’ that is effortless and exultant. It comes naturally to you. It immediately and palpably brings joy to others.”

“Whatever you do, you can express your gift. You don’t need a special role, a special platform.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been pondering how my life’s work can be more “a way of being” instead of “a doing.” I don’t have all the answers, but in Ferrini’s words I’ve got a direction.

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Just Do It!

November 8th, 2011

Several years ago, I was in New York sitting with a sick friend for seven days. I was staying in his apartment in Long Island City, yet spending as much time as possible in the Manhattan hospital while he underwent chemotherapy.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was anxious about the trip. What frightened me was using the subway to go between the apartment and hospital. As many times as I’ve been to New York, I used the subway rarely, and never alone.

My friend e-mailed detailed directions, and another friend coached me. “Take the Seven train to Grand Central Station, then change trains to the Four, Five, or Six to Union Square.” The directions seemed simple, yet I was still scared.

When praised for his bravery in battle, General George Patton once said, “Sir, I am not a brave man; the truth is I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands, but I have learned early in my life never to take counsel of my fears.”

Some of the best advice I’ve heard on overcoming fear is to just do it anyway. That’s bravery. There’s a wonderful quote from the 2000 movie Bounce, “It’s not brave if you aren’t scared.”

What frightens you, and how could you benefit by being brave and just doing it?

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Dualing Roles

September 19th, 2011

Befriending the roles in your life. Most of you know that I paint. In addition to being a leadership and communications trainer, coach and writer, I am a painter. All of us play a variety of roles in our lives, and two that are particularly prominent in mine at this time are the artist and the businessman.

A while back, I hired a coach, Alfred DuPew. Alfred is a big fan of journaling. In fact, he wrote a wonderful book on the subject, Wild and Woolly: A Journal Keeper’s Handbook. Like me, Alfred is an artist as well as a coach, trainer, and writer.

Alfred suggested that I journal about my inner businessman and artist. As I have, images have begun to emerge.

The artist and the businessman are in the car together. They are partners. I am not sure whether they are partners in business, life, or both. Regardless, the artist is driving; the businessman sits in the passenger seat.

I recently asked the businessman if he was okay being a passenger. He surprised me by saying he was delighted. It was nice to sit back and let someone else drive for a change. He is tired.

I asked them both where they were going. All they would say is that they had a common destination.

As I look out on the road, I see my life has shifted over the past months. Nothing dramatic, a subtle shift.

I am more comfortable with less activity and fewer accomplishments. I am spending more time painting. Just yesterday, I sat by the river outside my studio and watched the river flow by.

I am not sure where this shift is leading, but I am sure of this: life seems a little gentler than it did months before.

Questions to ask yourself:

What roles are most active in my life today?

What is the relationship between those roles?

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