How To Change The World

Can you imagine if there was a college course called “How to change the world“? I’m sure it would be PACKED!  Afterall, who hasn’t thought about changing the world at some point, especially during our college years.

But what happened along the way to those ideas? It seems like at some point we stopped dreaming, got distracted, or didn’t believe we could make an impact.

Or maybe some of us experienced what the great heavyweight champ turned philosopher Mike Tyson described when he said,

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Somewhere in between paying student loans, getting married, and paying a mortgage many of us settled for a different reality.  It’s a reality based more on false limitations we created or that accepted from other people. This situation reminds of Les Brown‘s quote when he said,

“Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”

Whatever the reason, I could write a long post filled with bullet points on how to change the world based on stuff great leaders have done.

But instead, let’s keep it short and sweet because it’s  7:30AM and my kids are about to wake up.  I’ll leave you with this poem I recently found that captures the essence of my upcoming book and this idea of “How to change the world.”

 I first heard this quote from Dan Miller on his 48 Days podcast.  He said he saw it written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey in London, England.

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But, it too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. 

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.”

Create Something That Matters

It’s so easy to be a critic.

It’s so easy to sit in the stands and comment on sports or movies.

It’s so easy to criticize.

It’s tempting to be a critic, but do we really need more? When was the last time a critic or commentator created something that mattered?

Instead, the world needs more people willing to push themselves in order to create stuff that matters.

But creating stuff that matters means you’ll have to take risks. It means you might fail, be embarrassed, make mistakes or all three AT THE SAME TIME.

I realized, though, that the reason why so few of us want to create stuff that matters is not because of the possibility of failure, embarrassment, or choking.

It’s connected to public speaking.

Say what?

Let me explain…

When reviewing lists of top fears people have, public speaking is always on the list.   It’s even scarier than zombies, the dark, and scary clowns!  But seriously,  it’s not the speaking we’re scared of, it’s the fear of failing publicly or getting our ego hurt that we’re scared of the most.

But why do we care so much about what others think?

I was speaking Amanda Truscott from Creative Unblocking about creativity recently. And one of the things I explained was that I’m motivated to create by fact that I am going to die one day. Knowing that my death can come at any minute motivates me to create stuff that matters to me without worrying too much about what people think.

Why should you care about what critics think? The people that matter the most to me are those who will go to my funeral or cry when I die.

You were born to be a creator and not a consumer. Create something that matters to you regardless of how big, scary, or challenging it is. It’s your mission and no one else’s. It’s not supposed to make sense to others; it’s yours.

Create a great family.

Create a great company.

Create a great working environment.

Create a charity. 

Create beautiful art.

It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it matters to you and it makes a positive impact. 

Just create.

The only thing you have to focus on now is the next step. What would you create if you couldn’t fail and didn’t have to worry about protecting your ego?

Simple But Hard Advice I Received From A CEO

Asking for advice is a great tool, but you have to know how and when to do it. Once I was at a party and decided to start a conversation with a guy sitting next to me. It turns out he’s the CEO for a major airport.

I didn’t even know airports had CEOs, so I learned something right from the beginning of this conversation!

Anyways, so we chatted for a bit but before leaving, I asked him if he could share one piece of advice. I said,

“You’ve obviously been successful in your career. What’s one piece of career advice you can share with me that has helped you get to where you are today?”

I love asking this question because most people are eager to share what they’ve learned and it makes people stop to reflect for a few seconds and that’s when you make a connection.

That question also makes people feel special, which is crucial in the connection process. But for some reason, I was expecting him to say something really deep and profound. Instead, he said,

“Always do the right thing because you’ll never have to worry about what you did. And you’ll always be able to sleep well at night.”

Most of the time we expect that the biggest life changing stuff will come from radically new ways of doing things or new information that will completely blow our mind, but leadership is based on small principles that build up like a snowball when practiced constantly. 

What I love about principles is that they are timeless and create a level playing field because they’re available to anyone willing to implement them. You don’t need a degree, wealth, or connections to do the right thing. But it means that you have to be willing to do hard things like having integrity.

What I’ve noticed in my leadership journey is that doing the hard thing is a theme that keeps coming up. It’s a simple choice, but impact shows if you’re leading or not.

Are you doing the right thing when you have the chance?

That Moment When You Wake Up

Major props for Akon for reaching this milestone in life and for using his platform for social good. 

Akon talks about giving up his Lamborghinis and flashy jewelry, and helping villages in Africa get electricity.

Posted by Virgin Radio Dubai on Saturday, November 5, 2016

20 Favorite Leadership Quotes From Martin Luther King, Jr

Once I heard the Rev. Jesse Jackson speak when visited our office.  At the end of his talk, there was a  short Q&A so I asked, ‘What’s one thing about leadership that you learned from Dr. King that we can apply in our lives?’

Without wasting a second, he said, “Dr. King led from the front.”   

 On Martin Luther King, Jr day, it’s common to see his image and quotes all over the web and TV.  But as I see his image I’m reminded of what leading from the front means.

One of the common themes throughout his photos and talks is that in nearly all of them, he’s leading a protest, he inspiring an audience, or he’s the first to get arrested.  Dr. King was a servant leader who never asked his followers do something he was unwilling to go through first.

Below are my favorite quotes by Dr. King. Initially, my goal was to stick with a top ten, but it was impossible to leave out so many great quotes. 

  1.   I have a dream.
  2.  There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.
  3.  Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way. 
  4. A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. 
  5. Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
  6. Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
     
  7. Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others. 
  8. Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  9. We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
  10. People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.
  11. No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.
  12. If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
  13. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  14. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?
  15. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
  16. All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
  17. Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.
  18. Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
  19. Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service… You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.
  20. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

One of the things that I love about leadership is that regardless of how much times passes by or regardless of the latest advances in technology these principles will always apply.  I wonder what the world would be like if more of our world leaders lived by these principles.

Do you have a favorite quote?

How I Overcame My Creative Self-Doubt

self-doubt

In January of 2015, based on an idea I got from my career coach at the time, I decided that writing a book would be my big scary goal for the year. I actually thought I could finish writing and publishing my first book in one year.  

I WAS WRONG!

I was too optimistic and under-prepared. Aside from a few blog posts, I don’t have any experience with formal writing. Of course, I write at work, but authoring a book is a different beast. It’s a massive project, especially for anyone who has never considered himself a writer or doesn’t even enjoy writing.

I heard one of my favorite authors, Kary Oberbrunner   say that 82% of people who want to write a book either never start or never finish. Few start and even fewer finish. 

Why is that?

I think Thomas Edison explained one possible explanation when he said,

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

I’ve learned that writing a book is not about how smart you are or how much you know. It’s about doing one thing; sitting your butt down and WRITING. That’s the perspiration part.

I’m not saying writing a book is easy, but the difficulty is not where I was expecting. One of the areas where I messed up was during the preparation phase. I wasn’t prepared enough when I started and that’s one of the reasons why I’m so behind schedule.

But my biggest battle has been against self-doubt every step of the way. And I’m not alone. I suspect this is where the majority of us (the 82%) get stuck.

Steven Pressfield describes this very real mental blocker as the “resistance” a universal force that’s only mission is to stop people from creating stuff that matters.

Even after a year of writing, I’m still hit with the occasional quiet visit from Mr. resistance whispering stuff like:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • Your book is going fail.
  • Please don’t talk about your book to minimize your embarrassment when it flops.
  • You don’t know what you’re doing. 

In his book, The War of Art, Pressfield provides the best advice and mentoring to aspiring writers and creatives I’ve read. These are 3 of my favorite quotes:

  1.  “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”

2.     “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” 

3.     “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” 

The most powerful thing I’ve learned from Pressfield and through my own writing experience is that fear and self-doubt is normal for all creatives and can be overcome with daily persistent action– perspiration.

 The remedy, at least for me, is to do it scared. I’d rather fight in the ring of life than sit safely in the stands. The world has enough critics and consumers. We need more creators.