Part 3: How can I do better?

by Sam on July 26, 2011

People expect leaders to be better human beings than those who chose them. ~H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Welcome to the final installment of a series dedicated to the belief that you and I have at least 24 options, opportunities, and openings to become better human beings. You’ll find the other 16 in the July archives on this website.

Which one of these eight will make the greatest difference in your life?

17. Play your game. Coach Herb Brooks gave this call to action from the bench as the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team was defeating the Russians. It neatly parallels the advice given to the jockey of superhorse, Secretariat: “Let him run his race.” Whichever encouragement resonates with you, the underlying two-fold wisdom is the same: (1) search for a perfect understanding of your deep-seated values and beliefs and (2) shape a life for yourself that faithfully applies those values and beliefs without compromise.

18. Convert lemons into lemonade. There is opportunity in every adversity—yes, in every adversity. How can this be? Because every adversity, by definition, reveals a change in the status quo. And every change in the existing state of affairs creates the prospect of shaping a new condition that you previously lacked the wisdom, insight, or courage to launch.

19. Find your 20%. Vilfredo Pareto defined his famous 80/20 rule as follows: “In any series of elements to be controlled, a selected small fraction, in terms of numbers of elements, always accounts for a large fraction in terms of effect.” In other words, leaders add 80% of their value to their teams with only 20% of what they do. Discover your 20% and consider delegating, automating, or eliminating the rest.

20. Work out. Weight training laced with aerobics can propel your body and your mind far beyond the capabilities of your DNA.

21. Deal in hope. In nearly every period of world and U.S. history, there has been compelling reason to be pessimistic about the future. When you’re in leadership, whether as a parent, manager, or public servant, lead with optimism not pessimism. Let the words of John Kenneth Galbraith ring in your ears. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the anxiety of the people of their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

22. Flip on your ear switch. You were born with two communication toggles: one connected to your mouth and the other to your ears. Guess which one should never be in the off position, but often is? Change the settings on those two switches! Listen to people so well that they feel your love, respect you in return, and yearn to follow you. Go into every situation determined to listen first and speak second. Your ears will tell you what to say.

23. End self-deception. There are two you’s—the one that you see and the one that others see. Don’t con yourself into believing that the first you is the real one. The closest thing to the real you is the one that others experience while in your presence. It determines the influence you have on them as well as the lasting effects of that influence. Have you ever met the person they know? Once you do, will you vow to improve that person’s behavior in order to shape a person more like the one you want to be?

24. Follow the Master. The historical Jesus of Nazareth is the greatest teacher who ever lived. Thomas Jefferson put it well. “I hold the precepts of Jesus as delivered by himself to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.” He is also perhaps the only teacher who ever lived who also fully practiced every precept he preached. Whatever your religious faith may be, there is no one better to learn from, imitate, and pursue.

“My group needs to hear this.” This three-part series is taken from Sam Deep’s newest motivational presentation: “How can I do better?” Depending on the number of items covered and the depth of treatment desired, the program ranges between one-hour and one-day. As my client you’ll be asked to choose the appropriate number from among the 24 precepts to fit the developmental goals you have and the time you have to devote to them.

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