Leading with Intention: Every Moment is a Choice

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Leading with Intention

When you meet someone, it doesn’t take long to know if they are living a life with intention, with purpose, with a design. Many people float through life waiting to see what will happen, going with the flow, and allowing others to decide the future. It’s the people who shape the future that stand out.

Living life with intention requires you to choose your actions and discipline your life in every moment. Mindy Hall, Ph.D. is the President and CEO of Peak Development Consulting, LLC. She has worked with clients around the world to strengthen leaders and help them live with intention. I had the opportunity to talk with her about her experience, her research, and her new book, Leading With Intention: Every Moment is a Choice.

 

“Every moment is a choice.” –Mindy Hall

 

 

The Importance of Being Intentional

Leading With Intention is a challenge for today’s leaders.  Why is intention critical to leading today?

Leading with IntentionLet me illustrate with a story from the book.  A vice president of human resources worked in a company where the corporate offices were set up with two entrances: the front door from the lobby, which visitors were encouraged to use, and a side entrance marked “Employees Only,” which staff were required to use. The company’s senior-most executives could choose either door, and it was about the same distance from their parking spaces to their offices no matter which route they chose. Going through the side door took them past many other offices and common areas, allowing them to interact with other people in the company. Many of the executives, however, used the front door of the building, as they felt it provided quicker access to their offices, and therefore made better use of their time. What they failed to realize, however, was the gap between their intent and their impact.

The perception the executives created among employees was that they thought of themselves as separate—that they didn’t care to interact with the employees and did not have to follow the same rules. This behavior, although seemingly innocent, contributed to an “us-versus-them” feeling that began to impact the organization in very real ways—lack of belief in the espoused values of the company, lack of trust in the executives, and lack of engagement—all of which impact performance: Unintended consequences, but ones that show how easily actions send messages and how small behaviors can have a tangible impact.

These kinds of stories play out thousands of times a day at companies around the world. So much of our organizations’ potential is tied to a completely controllable variable: a leader’s awareness of their impact and their ability to choose behavior that intentionally shapes that impact.

 

“A leader’s currency is in his interactions.” –Mindy Hall

 

How Others Perceive You Depends on How Present You Are

Compare and contrast with me two executives.  One is leading with intention and the other clearly isn’t.  What would you observe immediately that distinguishes the two?

You can see it most easily in how aware they are of their impact: the tone they set and how they are “showing up” to the organization.  The most tangible dimension of this awareness takes shape in their communication skills—how present they are with others. What verbal and non-verbal cues are they sending to signal their engagement or lack thereof?  Are they able to connect with their audiences in both informal and formal communications?

A leader’s currency is in his interactions, so the ability to inspire everyone from front line employees to senior executives and board members shouldn’t be taken for granted.

 

“Every action has an impact; choose wisely the impact you want to have.” –Mindy Hall

 

3 Phases to Become Consistently Intentional

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Peace of Mind wooden sign with a beach on background

How Mentally Strong Are You?

Amy Morin first appeared on my radar when her blog post 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do was published. The post went viral and was viewed over 10 million times. Behind the powerful advice was an equally powerful story, one mixed with tragedy but also with hope and resolve.

Using her expertise as a clinical social worker and therapist, Amy works to help people facing setbacks reach for happiness and success.  Whether you are depressed or doing well, studying these 13 ideas will make you mentally stronger.

After reading her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success I was so busy talking about it and giving copies to friends that I forgot to circle back and interview her.  I’m now pleased to share our conversation in the hopes it may help others going through tough times.

 

“When you become mentally strong, you will be your best self.” -Amy Morin

 

3 Parts of Mental Strength

How do you define mental strength?

Mental strength has three parts: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Building mental strength involves learning to regulate thoughts so they’re helpful and realistic, understanding how to control emotions so your emotions don’t control you, and discovering how to behave productively despite your circumstances.

 

“Don’t allow inaccurate beliefs about your abilities to hold you back from success.” -Amy Morin

 

From Grief to Mental Strength

What inspired you to first write about mental strength?

13-Things-Mentally-Strong-People-Dont-Do coverI’ve always been interested in psychology and resilience. Over the years as a therapist, I’ve really enjoyed helping other people learn how to increase their mental strength. But in 2003, my interest became personal.

I had been working as a therapist for about a year, and things were going well for me both professionally and personally. But my life changed in an instant when my mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm. She and I had been very close, and I certainly learned a lot about mental strength first-hand as I managed my grief.

Then, on the three year anniversary of my mother’s death, my 26-year-old husband died from a heart attack. Dealing with such a sudden and major loss in my life was incredibly painful. I was able to take a little time off work, but I eventually had to return to my job as a therapist. Helping other people address their problems in my therapy office while privately dealing with my own grief taught me a lot about mental strength.

A few years later, just as life was looking pretty good again, I experienced another major loss. I had just gotten remarried when my father-in-law, whom I had grown incredibly close to, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Unlike my previous two losses which were both sudden and unexpected, this time I knew what was coming.

As my father-in-law’s health deteriorated I wrote my original list, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.” It was meant to serve as a reminder of all the things I needed to avoid if I wanted to face the future with courage and strength. About two weeks after I wrote the article – in the midst of it going viral – he passed away.

 

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” -John Powell

 

Train Your Brain for Happiness

You’ve been through so much grief. Your pain is now benefiting many who are learning lessons from your experience. Part of the subtitle of your book is Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success. How do you train your brain?

Training your brain for happiness and success is not the same as chasing happiness.  When people chase happiness, they give in to instant gratification, and it leaves them feeling unhappier than ever. Building mental strength is about working toward your goals and living according to your values, both of which lead to happiness over the long haul. Training your brain for happiness involves paying close attention to all the choices you make each day and examining how those choices impact your mental strength.

Building mental strength is very similar to building physical strength. If you wanted to become physically stronger, you’d need good habits – like going to the gym. But you’d also need to get rid of bad habits – like eating too much junk food. Training our brains is similar. We need good habits – like thinking positively, but we also need to get rid of bad habits – like shying away from change.

 

“Mental strength is built by regulating thoughts, managing emotions, and behaving productively.” -Amy Morin

Why Leaders Need An Orbital Perspective

Planet Earth - North America

The Orbital Perspective

Live on this planet long enough and you will have an experience that changes your life perspective. Whether its watching someone heroically battle a disease or your own near-death experience, these moments linger in our memories and impact our future.

Ron Garan also had a life-altering experience, but not one on planet Earth and not one most of us will personally experience. Col. Ron Garan is an astronaut who has logged 71 million miles in orbit. On the International Space Station, Ron was struck by the fact that 15 nationalities collaborated on creating an engineering feat in space. His perspective shifted as he gazed back at our planet, realizing that we needed to apply the same creativity to working together for the good of our world.

Garan, Ron

I had the opportunity to ask Col. Garan questions about his work, his experience, and his new perspective. His recent book, The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles, gives us the opportunity to glimpse into a new view of our potential.

 

“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, only crewmates.” -Ron Garan

 

What is the “Orbital Perspective”? 

The Orbital Perspective is a call to action to shift our perspective from looking at things as they affect us locally, in the short term, to how they affect us globally over the long-term. It’s a shift from looking at the next election campaign or quarterly report to looking at the 20-year plan and beyond. It’s the acknowledgement that each and every one of us is riding through the universe together on this spaceship that we call Earth, that we are all interconnected and family. It’s the understanding that there are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, only crewmates and as crewmates we have a responsibility to mind the ship and take care of our fellow crewmates. It’s the acknowledgment of the sobering contradiction we see when we view our planet from space between the amazing beauty of our Earth and the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for a significant number of its inhabitants. It’s the firm belief that nothing is impossible — that it is within our power to eliminate the suffering and conflict that exist on our planet and that we do not have to accept the status quo. Above all else, the orbital perspective is the acknowledgement that we need each other. The days are long gone where we can effect the type of change that’s required by adhering to the old way of doing things or having a go it alone attitude.

 

“The orbital perspective is the acknowledgement that we need each other.” -Ron Garan

 

Journey into Space

It’s May 31, 2008. You are about to journey into space. You say you were surprised at how calm you felt as you were “strapped to four and a half million pounds of explosives.” How did that feel?STS-124 Launch White Room

I did say that in the book, but then I go on to say, “Sitting there, I felt some apprehension, of course. But I was also reassured by the idea that what we were about to do would make a contribution to humanity and, at this point, that the outcome of the launch was largely out of our hands.” To me, it was a risk-benefit tradeoff. In this case the benefits greatly outweighed the risk. I also wondered what I was getting myself into.

Describe the first time you looked down at Earth. Was it different than you expected?

The thing that really struck me when I looked at the Earth for the first time from space was how thin our atmosphere is. It was very sobering to think that the paper-thin layer of our atmosphere is keeping every living thing on our planet alive. But also the overwhelming emotion was intense gratitude. Gratitude for being given the opportunity to experience that perspective and gratitude for the gift of our indescribably beautiful fragile oasis we call home. The view was basically what I expected; the emotion that is caused was not.

 

“Working together multiplies cost effectiveness while reducing duplication of effort.” -Ron Garan

 

The Importance of the Worm’s Eye View

How the Next 48 Days Can Transform Your Life

No More Mondays

Several years ago, I met Dan Miller, the author of 48 Days To The Work You LoveNo More Mondays and When Wisdom Meets Passion. Dan specializes in helping people find meaningful work, creative thinking, and achieving success. You may have seen him on The Early Show on CBS, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox Business News, or the Dave Ramsey Show. Or maybe you didn’t catch any of those traditional media appearances, but know Dan from his books, his weekly newsletter or his widely popular podcast.

If you meet Dan, you will notice an unassuming, humble man who seems just as comfortable standing alone as engaging in a conversation with a group. He radiates a knowing, a wisdom that is easily perceived if you are looking for it.

Not too long ago, I sat down with Dan to seek some of that wisdom to share it with you.

Don’t Settle for Comfortable

Did you know that on Monday mornings there is a 33% greater chance of having a heart attack? Researchers speculate it is due to the stress of returning to work. Dan and I talk about his book No More Mondays.

Why do most people settle for jobs that make them miserable? Dan shares why we often stay in what he calls “comfortable misery.”

How do you develop and pursue your passion? Dan explains that many people use a lost job as a wake-up call and opportunity.

Finally, since Dan has built one of the most successful platforms in the industry, I ask Dan how others can build a personal brand.

Here are just a few of my favorite Dan Miller quotes:

 

“Passion is more developed than discovered.” –Dan Miller

 

“Continual learning is the key to continual living.” –Dan Miller

 

“If we have no identity apart from our jobs, we are truly vulnerable.” –Dan Miller

 

“In today’s work arena, creativity may be more of an asset than competence.” –Dan Miller

 

“The loss of a job may be the wake up-call needed to redeem the fire of your genius.” –Dan Miller

 

“Choosing to associate with positive, optimistic people will accelerate our positive growth.” –Dan Miller

 

“Don’t wait on perfect conditions for success to happen; just go ahead and do something.” –Dan Miller

 

“Have you ever noticed that even if God allows you to have a dream, you’re expected to work to make it happen?” –Dan Miller

 

“Unfounded fears about your competence and abilities can cripple your unique talents and gifts, which are waiting to be released.” –Dan Miller

 

“The key to success is to be true to who you really are.” –Dan Miller

 

“No individual can achieve worthy goals without accepting accountability for his or her own actions.” –Dan Miller

The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Dog Sleeping With Alarm Clock And Sleeping Mask

For most of my life, I have struggled with getting enough sleep. When I tell people how little I sleep, they are complimentary. They generally see that it is the reason I am able to be a CEO and still read so many books. I consider myself a high-functioning insomniac because most people are not able to tell when I am tired.

So all good, right?

Not so fast.

I would gladly give all of that up for solid sleep, every single night. Getting little sleep is not a badge of honor. It is not something to brag about.

Not getting enough sleep can range from an occasional annoyance to a serious issue requiring medical help.  Sleep better and you increase your productivity, your odds of success, and your ability to lead.

Success Factor: Getting Enough Sleep

Do you get enough sleep?

 

 

“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.” –Leonardo da Vinci

 

There are numerous ways to improve your sleep habits, but recognizing whether you have a sleep issue is the first step.

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Here are a few of the dangers of not getting enough sleep:

  1. Increased chance of injury
  2. Decreased performance
  3. Impaired brain and heart function
  4. Likelihood of gaining weight
  5. Impaired memory
  6. Shorter life!
  7. Decreased immunity
  8. Increased stress
  9. Increased anxiety
  10. Lowered productivity
  11. Troubled relationships
  12. Mood swings
  13. Diminished response time
  14. Increased chance of blurting something out at a meeting that you regret or mumbling incoherently to yourself (no, really, I have no experience with this)
  15. Difficulty focusing or listening
  16. Decreased effectiveness
  17. Increased chance of getting sick

That’s quite a list. And you could easily add more in the comments.

 

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.” –W.C. Fields

 

So how about you? Do you sleep well or struggle? Do you think it is a leadership and performance issue?

Do you have sleep problems?

 

So, what to do?  There are numerous ways to get more sleep.  I have plenty of experience with most of them.  Before I share my list, I wanted to learn from you.  Help me out.  Share your tips on how to get a good night’s rest in the comments or send me an email, tweet, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn comment.