See the End

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Vision is the leader’s greatest tool for unification. Take a team that is fragmented, disassociated, and disillusioned, and you will most often find at it’s core a lack or loss of vision. Fundamentally, a lack of vision is the easiest problem to solve. The group that has never been brought together for the sake of a common goal finds itself inspired and quickened when presented with a clear and focused purpose. Like people thirsty for water, they will spill themselves into the current of a vision for what they can accomplish together.

Altogether different is the body of individuals who have had at one time or another enjoyed the soul-inspiring motivation of a clear vision for their future. When that vision shatters or melts away into broken promises and failed commitments, reigniting this team can be one of the most difficult challenges a leader can face. Motivating this group will take determined leadership and focus.

1.) The Vision must have a clear goal.

See the End. You, as the leader, must be able to clearly and plainly see in your mind’s eye what the culmination of the team’s vision will be. See the finish line. See the final score. Know without doubt what success looks like. Your team will need to understand the purpose in their efforts and it will be your responsibility to show it to them. You’ll need to give them a clear picture of what the end looks like for the team, the value in the group’s arrival at the destination, and the motivating force drawing them as a group toward that end. Leader, you must also be able to paint a picture individually for each member of your organization. Be able to communicate why it is vital that EACH of them be a part of the success, and be able to share what success will look like uniquely for each of them.

2.) Don’t Force the Journey

Seeing the End will ensure that you are constantly moving in the right direction, but the road will be fraught with obstacles. The visionary leader is able to focus not on the obstacle immediately delaying progress, but on the goal that the team is moving towards. In finding your way above the fray to see clearly into the distance and maintain your hold on the End, you can guide your team around the unknowable journey. If you plan each and every step, and give yourself no room for flexibility, knowing that the End remains the priority, you’ll be hopelessly delayed and bogged down.

3.) Remain ABSOLUTELY Confident in Success

Know in your deepest heart that you will reach the End. Before you can lead, before you can challenge, and before you can motivate, you must find that place within yourself where you are completely convinced of your team’s ability to reach the End, and you must live there every day. Find confidence in the skill and ability of your people, be strong in the success of your systems and challenge the status quo daily, but in all, remain steadfast in your personal knowledge that at the conclusion of the journey, after every obstacle, you and your team will arrive at the End. Communicate this confidence every day. Make it part of your vocabulary, shape every thought around that piece of absolute truth – we will succeed.

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Say these things. Today.

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Lessons in Positive Thinking – Be Intentional

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Lessons in Positive Thinking

Purpose is the stuff of action. Any meaningful endeavor is powered and pushed by some motivating force, some intentional process that desires a specific end.

Everyone has bad days. I tell my employees that everyone has “stuff” – things in life that make us mad or hurt or frustrated, people and relationships that confuse us or distract us, circumstances that we can’t control or can’t find a way to change. Stuff. Outside the the associate entrance to our building, there is a bench with some brightly colored cushions. I tell my employees that when they show for work everyday, that bench is for them to put their “stuff” on while they get busy doing their jobs. It’ll be there for them all day, and they can take it home with them when they want. They can even visit it for ten or fifteen minutes during the day. But they have to leave it on the bench.

A positive outlook on life, and mental approach to the daily grind that sees the opportunity in situations rather than the potential for failure – this doesn’t happen accidentally, and it doesn’t happen naturally. Life gets busy reminding us of our “stuff” and taking our focus off of the good things around us. If we don’t make a point of changing our perspective from the “stuff” that frustrates us and confuses us and hurts us to the good things in our lives, then we lose the ability to stay consistently positive throughout life’s changes and challenges.

Pick a happy word for yourself. Mine is “wonderful.” People ask me how I’m doing all the time. At work, at the store, when I talk to my kids, when I get home after a long day – “How are you?” is the most loaded question in the world. Why? Because every time it gets asked, we have to choose whether to answer honestly and spill all of the “stuff” or to smile and say, “Wonderful!” So I decided to pick a happy word. It’s my fail safe – I’ve trained myself to answer the same way every time I hear the question. No matter what’s going on, no matter how I’m actually feeling, when I get asked, I answer, “Wonderful!”

I know you’re questioning my sincerity. I don’t blame you – on the surface this seems disingenuous. But the more I tell people how well I’m doing, the better I actually feel. And that happens on purpose. It’s not an accident, it’s not a state of mind, it’s a decision. A decision to think, act, and talk positively.

How do you stay positive day-in and day-out? What’s your positive thinking secret?

Making Your Own Difference

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Amanda Gore did a great job this weekend explaining why successful people don’t become successful on accident.

Attitude is everything in life – it’s an indisputable, undeniable fact. And, the great thing about attitude is that it is and remains the one thing in life that you always maintain absolute control over. Attitude is a choice. That perspective and personality that you bring to your tasks every day are the result of a decision that you made – today, yesterday, or a year ago – about your attitude toward those objectives.

Success is the result of positive attitude, intense personal commitment, and consistent effort. How are you going to make yourself successful today?

 

Lessons in Positive Thinking – Be Sincere

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Lessons in Positive Thinking

It’s one of the easiest cliché’s to throw out when you’re trying to motivate a group, generate some participation, or hold an audience’s interest. The power of positive thinking is a force that can’t be denied, but, perhaps stronger still, the power of the idea of positive thinking.

The benefit of positive thinking is the impact that it has on your attitude and perspective on circumstances and relationships. It’s a game-changer. Often, those who bring a sincere attitude of positive thinking to the table are in the minority and it will set them apart from the skepticism and second-guessing that plagues mediocre leadership.

Most important, however, to the success of an attitude of positive thinking is that it spring from a place of true sincerity. As a leader, your positive attitude toward the circumstances your organization faces must be honest and legitimate. Difficult situations have an erosive effect on the mindset of a group of individuals. If your leadership is simply paying lip-service to the culture of positive thinking you’re trying to cultivate, a few bumps in the road will quickly undermine your facade.

Massive damage is done to an organization when the leadership preaches positive thinking in word only, and not in truth, and when negative circumstances reveal the charade. Hypocrisy comes at a high price to those in leadership, and it’s supremely difficult to regain the relationship equity with your team once the lack of sincerity has been brought to light.

More good can not be done for your team, however, than when they see you, in the midst of a storm, standing firm and consistent on the principles of positive thinking. No great speech in the world can act as effectively a catalyst for your organization as for them to see their leader, true to his word, positive and undaunted in the face of the greatest adversity.

Sincerity, in this as in all things, is the backbone of principle. For until the principle has been tested and proven, it is only a notion. Be a leader. Be positive. Be sincere.