50 Things to Drop Before the New Year

Eliminated Red Square Grungy Stamp Isolated On White Background

The Eliminate List

There are some things that we just need to eliminate.  Don’t take them into next year.  Here’s a few in random order of what we can all drop:

  1. Grudges
  2. Anger
  3. Toxic habits
  4. Clutter
  5. Negative thoughts
  6. People who drag you down
  7. Limiting language
  8. Bitterness
  9. Extra weight
  10. Unrealistic expectations
  11. Self righteousness
  12. Meanness
  13. Rudeness
  14. Partially hydrogenated anything
  15. Hatred
  16. Swearing
  17. Excuses
  18. Distractions
  19. Blind spots
  20. Frivolous spending
  21. Busywork
  22. Being cheap
  23. Drags
  24. Texting while driving
  25. Lateness
  26. Limiting beliefs
  27. Road rage
  28. Time wasters
  29. Doing it all alone
  30. Too much screen time
  31. Laziness
  32. Jealousy
  33. Stress
  34. Old clothes
  35. Gossip
  36. Debt
  37. Correcting others
  38. Perfectionism
  39. Self-sabotage
  40. Roadblocks
  41. Procrastination
  42. “Um” and other filler words
  43. Junk food
  44. Worry
  45. Sense of entitlement
  46. Thinking the worst about people
  47. High blood pressure
  48. Empty and false promises
  49. Seeking the approval of others
  50. Some money in an envelope and send it to your favorite charity.

How to Live a Life of Thankfulness

Freedom Woman On Sunset Sky

A Way of Life

Thankfulness, gratitude, and gratefulness:  three words to describe a characteristic, a personality trait, and a way of living.

People who live with an attitude of gratitude are known to live longer, sleep better, and have increased productivity and happier lives.

For much of my life, I would have told you that people are thankful when they are happy, things are going well, and life is good.

But then I met people who seemingly unraveled a mystery:

  • The elderly woman in a nursing home who was in a great deal of pain. But you wouldn’t know it.  She couldn’t stop smiling and thanking me for the visit.
  • The middle-aged man who recently lost his job, his home and his family. Instead of bitterness, he was focused on thanking the people who offered him food and a place to stay.
  • The up-and-coming leader I hired who thanked me again and again for the job. Instead of an egotistical response, knowing his qualifications, he must have thanked me a dozen times for the opportunity.

As we think about gratitude, I think of the spirit inside these people.  I realized that I could not predict someone’s attitude based on circumstances.  I would meet someone who was wealthy beyond belief, but that person was miserable.  Someone else would win a major award and shrug off compliments, grumbling that it was not good enough.

Did thankfulness allow the woman to live longer?

Did the middle-aged man end up more successful based on his attitude?

Did the up-and-coming leader create success in his life because of his thankfulness?

Does gratitude help fuel success?  My opinion is that it does.  It seems to play a major role in happiness, health, and prosperity.  The order is more often gratitude first, then success and not success first, then gratitude.

 

“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas and goals.” -Skip Prichard

 

Here are a few tips I have learned from those who are truly grateful.  These people are thankful:

 

Always.

That means in the morning and during bad weather.  It seems that losing our health makes us more grateful if we get it back.  Losing money makes us thankful for a small savings account.  The death of a family member causes us to savor the sweetness of the surviving members.

“In everything, give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

With small things.

It’s not the major accomplishments; it’s the smallest, almost unnoticeable daily events.  It’s being thankful for the smell of a flower or when your football team wins a point.

Leading Culture Change Starts At Home

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It Starts at Home

We talk about corporate and organizational culture every day.  The culture of an organization can make or break a company.  “Culture trumps strategy” is a quote attributed to different people, but the idea is clear.

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” -Confucius

 

If success at work is rooted in culture, why do we ignore it at home?  All homes have unwritten rules, social mores, and patterns of behavior.  In fact, the behavior at home may be much more difficult to change than at work.

How would you define the culture of your home?  Safe, encouraging, and positive?  Or critical, tense, and exhausting?

Take the time to think about your environment at home and whether it is contributing to your family’s success.  And think about how your culture at home impacts your work.

 

“Culture trumps strategy.” -Unknown

 

Assess it.

Sit down with your family or roommates and define the present culture.  This may not be easy.  It requires listening.  In many cases, a third party may be required to gain an objective view.  If it is too challenging, skip this step and focus on what you want it to be.  If you live alone, you’re not excused.  You still have a culture to describe.

Determine what you want it to be.

What type of culture you want to create requires thoughtful planning.  Define it together.  This should be a positive exercise.

Develop plans to close the gap. 

You will immediately see where there are gaps between the current and desired cultures.  Spend time thinking about ways that will move you in the direction you want to go.

Set rules.

Greatness and the Great Pumpkin

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Creating Greatness

Every year there are giant pumpkin contests where a fierce competition ensues to show who has grown the biggest fruit.  Only a few months ago, the new world record was set at 2,032 pounds.  My wife enjoys baking pumpkin bread, and I cannot imagine how many loaves that monster pumpkin would help create.

In reading about the creation of these giant pumpkins, I noticed that the growers credit good seed, good soil, and good luck.

You cannot grow a champion pumpkin without the right seed.  The little seeds are specifically developed to yield amazingly large pumpkins.

 

“Spend the majority of your time developing your own unique gifts.” -Skip Prichard

 

In addition to the seeds, you must have the right soil.  Scientists study the soil of the winners, developing hypotheses about everything from the correct pH balance to how much potassium and other minerals are needed.

The luck part is less predictable, but the weather is important.  Lots of sun is important, moderate rain and protection from extensive wind or too much heat.

Reading about these gargantuan pumpkins, I thought about achieving results.  It’s the special mixture of seed, soil, and weather (luck) that makes it possible to create great things.

 

THE RIGHT SEED

Like the pumpkins, we need to start with the right seed.  If you want to create great results, it starts here.  Your ideas, your talents, and your abilities are where it all starts.  The right seed is a mixture of discipline and innate talent.  Much of our lives is spent investing in our education and skill in order to develop the best seed.

If you feel like you didn’t spend enough time creating the right seed, here is the good news:  you can start today.  No matter your age or present circumstances, you can begin the journey of personal development today.

Spend the majority of your time developing your own unique gifts.

 

“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.” -Harry Golden

 

THE RIGHT SOIL

3 Smartcuts to Accelerate Your Success

Maze Shortcut

Are you looking for a shortcut?  Or the secret that will unlock your career?

Why do some companies launch to huge public success while others are never discovered?  Is the secret of success hard work and determination?

Or is there something else at work?

 

Take A Smartcut

Entrepreneur, cofounder and chief creative officer of media technology company Contently, Shane Snow, has just authored a book called Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.  Every week, I’m asked by executives for the most recent, most thoughtful book I have read.

I now have the answer:

Smartcuts.  It is an extraordinarily interesting read, full of insights and yet entertaining.  The book was just released.

Let me introduce three of Shane’s smartcuts that will make you think about success differently.

Your book is full of hacks, ways to become successful much faster than average.  As I read your book, I noticed that you often upended traditional thinking over and over.  We can’t begin to hit them all, so let’s talk about just three of them:

 

The secret to success is not hard work and persistence.

 

Hard work.  Persistence.  Put in your dues.  You throw all the commonsense wisdom out and instead offer “Smartcuts.”  What is a smartcut?  Would you share an example of one?

Smartcuts are a smarter way of doing things.  Essentially, it’s the mindset that the conventional path everyone else takes in business (or any career) is by definition average.  To beat the average, you have to think differently.  Shortcuts, or cheating, tend not to be sustainable; Smartcuts are a faster, often counter-intuitive way that manages to speed success while providing value.  For example, it turns out that some of the most successful U.S. presidents, CEOs, and entertainers manage to get to the top and make game-changing breakthroughs without having paid as many dues as their counterparts.  They do incredible things and change lives but without having slogged it out in Congress for 30 years, etc.  This demonstrates what we humans are good at doing: correlating the wrong things.  Time spent, it turns out, does not equal merit.  The danger, of course, is that no time spent does not equal merit either.  There’s something about these “ladder hacking” success stories that makes the difference, and there’s something about their nontraditional journeys that lead them to be good leaders and players without having to go the needlessly slow route.  I get into the nuances of how they “hack the ladder” in the first three chapters of the book.

 

Time spent does not equal merit.

 

 

Positive feedback is not always the best way to improve performance.

 

“You did really well!” says the parent, thinking that positive motivation is the way to build self-esteem.  Instead, you say that negative feedback is a better route to success.  Why?

SmartcutsResearch shows that negative feedback helps us learn and grow more quickly than positive feedback.  Muscles build when you test their limits.  However, negative feedback only works if we’re in the right mindset, otherwise it can be catastrophic.  You see experts in many fields accelerate their growth by craving negative feedback, and that’s because they’ve managed to de-personalize feedback—make it about the thing they did and not about them.  That depersonalization is hard to do, and it’s why our bowling game gets worse when our friends tell us everything we’re doing wrong (and we start to get in our heads about it).  You have to be really secure to feel good about yourself if all you’re getting is critiqued.

So really, the key is to build up your kids’ self-esteem muscles by showing them that they are ok when things go wrong, and that feedback is about what they’re doing and not who they are. De-couple the performance from the self-esteem.  When you can do that, you can push them like the Karate Kid, and they’ll grow much more quickly.

In the book, I talk about how The Second City comedy school puts this principle into practice, to take frightened students and turn them into stars in a short time.