Sunday, January 27, 2013

Without Comparison Everything Loses It’s Meaning
There is great joy that I experience whenever my granddaughter sits on my lap and we watch one of her movies together. She has not yet outgrown the bright eyed curiosity that goes with being four years old. Therefore I find myself regularly responding to an ample number of WHY questions. The latest question appeared as we watched a movie and she curiously asked why there are always good guys and bad guys. My answer was as philosophical as I could be with a four year old. It rang something like, “we need the bad guys in the world in order for us to know what a good guy looks like. If we had no bad guys we would never know how good a god guy was.” That answer brought a confused look from my granddaughter and an even more interesting look from my wife sitting on the other end of the couch.
I recently saw the quote – Without Comparison Everything Loses It’s Meaning, and it caught my attention enough that I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it where I would see it every day as I sat at my computer. I have noticed it many times and found that each time it caused me to pause, even for just an instant, to reflect on my own perspective about comparison. Recently the note has lost most of its stickiness and falls to the floor causing me to pick it up and spend more than a passing moment in reflection. I count it as coincidence that it happened again as I offered the bad guy, good guy explanation to Reese.
I grew up with the challenge of distain for comparison and a quiet, reserved desire for it. How was I doing in comparison to those around me? I recognize that I have spent most of my life running right down the middle with most everything. Never really standing out at either end of the bell curve. I clearly remember graduating from high school ranked number 202 out of a class of 404, a perfect example of being hidden in the middle of the curve. When I started this new year afresh and back on the treadmill at my gym I caught myself glancing at the guys on either side of me checking to make sure my screen was not advertising weak numbers. If it was I was ready to kick it up a few notches in case either of them were to notice and compare.
I wonder if the world is overly focused on comparing or that comparison may be the lifeblood of our existence. I believe I am moving slightly off the middle toward the end that suggests - that without comparison everything loses its meaning. How does comparing serve you? Is it serving the good or the evil in you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

 New Years Resolutions

As an executive coach, we work regularly with leaders and executives around goals. Often we finish a year with a review of the past year including both the successes and failures. With that review we then look forward and design the intentions for the coming year. It does not go unnoticed that we are looking forward to a new year at the same time that many are talking about New Years resolutions.
When a leader sets new goals for a coming year we find that success rates increase if many factors are considered in much the same way anyone should consider the annual ritual of New Years resolutions.
As a noun, a goal is defined as: the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and then (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it.  An ideal goal should be about a lifestyle change that is ongoing versus reached and then terminated irrespective of it being a leadership goal or a personal resolution.
Some tips we would have you consider when setting goals would include:
1. Specifics versus generalities are most important. Being nicer to people this year does not qualify. Spending less does not qualify. Losing weight does not qualify. These are doomed for failure due to the lack of specificity. Define any goal or resolution in a way that allows you to track and measure your progress.
2. If you have not had success in the past honoring resolutions you have made then pick one and stay focused. Trying to take on too many resolutions at once makes for difficulty staying focused. Break the goal down into smaller, more measureable and manageable bites. Make realistic resolutions – not grandiose change the world ones. Quitting cold turkey resolutions are the hardest to achieve. Maybe consider a decreasing target over the course of the year with smaller step targets along the way. A resolution should be a little scary but not crazy.
3. Write down your goal and have at least one accountability partner. Someone you declare your resolution with and ask them to help. Set check ins and calls whenever you are tempted to quit. A Stanford University study found that when people wrote down their goal, it increased the probability of them achieving it by over 70%. Resolutions are more sustainable when shared. Peer-support makes a difference in success rates with New Years resolutions.
4. Do a values exercise. For a resolution/goal to stick it has to be aligned with your core values. Without a deep connection to who you are and what really matters to you, failure is just around the corner. When you are truly passionate about the goals you set for yourself, success potential increases significantly. When your resolutions connect to a deeper sense of purpose, it drives you to think a much bigger game and run through any obstacles that might get tossed in front of you. New Years resolutions have shifted from their beginnings. It used to be we focused on good works and deeds like becoming less self-centered, more helpful, and improving character.  Today the focus is more on looking good, like body image, diet, and possessions. This may be another contributor to the high failure rate.
6. Stay with it – persist. Think of how overcrowded the gyms are for the month of January. Once the initial strength of a conviction is challenged by everyday life, the enthusiasm toward change takes a nose dive. What are you willing to do to stick with your intentions?