Archive for September, 2007

Competence Makes the Difference

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I had the luxury today of watching a National Football League game between two great teams. One of the teams played two different quarterbacks during the game but ultimately reverted to their starting quarterback to finish off the game, which they ended up winning. As I thought about this game, it was easy to see that both quarterbacks were very competent. The starting quarterback was a first round pick in the National draft for the team while the second quarterback has been a pro-bowl selection for the league. The deciding difference in this game today was the competence of both quarterbacks.

An essential key to making a difference in life is competence. Competence is simply the possession of skill, knowledge and capacity with the ability to adequately apply that skill, knowledge and capacity. Competence is a person’s ability to carry out or execute a task efficiently and effectively. It is one thing to have the knowledge and skill but it is quite another to be able to execute based on that knowledge and skill. Competence simply means that a person knows what they are doing. The secret to being competent is to qualify yourself for the task at hand. Work at building up your competence and you will definitely make a mark.

Stimulating the Creativity Spark Within You

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

All human beings are born with the seeds of creative genius within them. Some manage to cultivate those seeds and allow them to prosper while others fail to ignite the spark. Different reasons have been given for this but one that I have heard mentioned a couple of times is the education system. I’ve heard a number of public speakers say that all children are usually creative geniuses but once they go to school, their creativity starts to dwindle. Walter Karp has defined the public school system by saying: “Usually a twelve year sentence of mind control. Crushing creativity, smashing individualism, encouraging collectivism and compromise, destroying the exercise of intellectual inquiry, twisting it instead into meek subservience to authority.”

If we are going to stimulate the creativity spark within us we have to find something that allows us to harness our minds and use our mental powers to discover new ways of seeing and doing things. The problem with the schooling system is that it encourages us to think how other people think (herd-think), learn how other people have done things (become cheap copies) and embrace what has already been developed in society (mindless acceptance). Stimulating the creative genius within you demands that you ask the question ‘Why?”. Why do what has always been done? Why think how others have always thought? Why embrace what has already been developed?

Stimulate your creativity spark. Having a solid vision of what you want is essential because it allows you to think big and think deeply. Do not shy from problems and challenges. Approach them with the confidence that you can solve them. Be inquisitive about life and the challenges before you. Follow your hunches. If you feel like theirs an answer, there definitely is one. Uncover it. Trust that you have what it takes to solve any issues that come your way. Master the tasks that you have at hand. In-depth knowledge of something unleashes the spirit of creativity. Stimulate the creativity spark within you.  

The Joy of Self-Discipline

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Nothing makes life more fun than discipline. The surprising thing though is that most of us hate discipline. Discipline has become a negative thing in many people’s lives because they associate discipline with punishment. There’s much more to discipline than punishment. Discipline, more so self-discipline, is about enjoyment more than it is about punishment. Discipline yourself to do what you know you need to do to be the very best in your field and you will find that you will happier and more excited about life than the average Joe (or Jane). 

Perhaps what’s needed is a redefinition of discipline. My definition of self discipline is this: “Self discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not, with the ultimate result of greater success and happiness in life.” It is easy to do something when you feel like it. I mean, every day we are doing things that we feel like doing. It’s when you don’t feel like it and you force yourself to do it anyway that you really set yourself up for lasting success and happiness in life. Doing the things that you feel like doing will give you short term success and happiness. It is when you discipline yourself to do the things that you don’t feel like doing that you secure long-term happiness. Learn to discipline yourself and you will be surprised at how happier and joyful you will be in life.

Living By Your Promises

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Yesterday I made a promise to a friend that I am in the process of ensuring that I will make good on. I have come to learn that the more seriously we treat our own commitments the more seriously others will treat them. I have also observed in society that it’s easier to not make any promises at all. For many people. the easiest way to enhance their reputation for credibility is to make few promises. It takes a special kind of person to take the more difficult step of making promises and keeping those promises.

When you make a promise, it doesn’t matter whether it’s important or unimportant, you must find a way to keep that promise. A huge chunk of your success in life depends on how well you keep your promises. Yes it’s easier to make it in life without ever making any promises to anyone but if you want to make a significant mark, you will have to make some promises at one time or another. You become a more credible and believable person when you are able to make solid commitments and promises and fulfill them.

The key to strengthening this area of your life is to start with small promises that you can fulfill easily. As time goes on you will discover that as you become more successful in fulfilling the smaller promises, you gain tremendous capacity for making and fulfilling bigger promises. Learn to live by your promises and you will be surprised at the difference it will make in your life.

Outlook: How Your Outflow Determines Your Outcomes

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

One of the things that few people grasp is the power of outlook. Outlook may be defined as one’s mental attitude. I have come to learn that your outer world of results depends largely on your inner world of attitude. Your outcomes in life therefore are directly proportional to your outflow. In other words, your results depends on whether you look at the glass as half-empty or half-full. Half-empty means why try, it’s a lost cause. Half-full means go for it, we’re almost there. Your outcomes are really determined by your outflow. Outlook makes all the difference in getting results in life. Work on your outlook and your results will increase dramatically. 

Make A Mark By Smiling

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

As we advance in age, life tends to erode our joy and zest for living because of the many challenges we encounter along the way. Go to any park, school-yard or neighborhood and observe little kids. They are usually very happy as they play and have fun with their families and friends. Now go to any office building and observe adults. A majority of them are usually tired and worn out by the process of life. Rarely will you see a smile on their faces. We can make a huge mark in life if we will just smile. Sometimes it’s very little things that make a huge difference. Your smile is an indicator of your attitude about life. Smiling tells people that you have good will toward them. Your smile can brighten the lives of those around you and stir within them a new enjoyment of life. Choose to smile today. It may just be the difference that makes the day for someone.

Stumbling Blocks Can Be Stepping Stones

Monday, September 24th, 2007

In our quest to make a mark, we may not always do things right or do the right things. Sometimes our efforts are met with resistance and obstacles. Life is full of ups and downs. If we are going to make a mark, it will depend on how we handle those ups and downs.  These ups and downs, particularly the downs become stumbling blocks that can hinder us from achieving our objectives. There are two ways in which we react to stumbling blocks – we can give up or we can use them as stepping stones to get us to the next level in life. I’d like to encourage you to use stumbling blocks as stepping stones.

Stumbling blocks are a part of life. None of us ever have a smooth pathway to achieving our goals and dreams. The road to achievement is paved with mistakes and failures that could easily have ruined many a career. The difference between achievers and non-achievers is in how they handle those stumbling blocks. Achievers use the stumbling blocks as stepping stones. When life throws lemons at them, they make lemonade. When they end up in a mess, they make a message out of it. You can do the same. Use your stumbling blocks as stepping stones. 

Building Your Life On Proven Principles

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Every human being has what it takes to make a mark. We have all been equipped with the capability for setting, pursuing and achieving big things that make a huge difference in our lives and those of people around us. The key to making a mark is ensuring that our lives are governed by proven principles that can stand the challenges of modern society. We are so privileged to live in a day when we have so many examples of people that have lived excellent lives and whose lives can teach us so much that we need to know in our quest for success. If you want to be an Olympic champion, there are thousands of Olympic champions whose lives have been documented and you can learn from them. If you want to be a Whatever you want to be – teacher, millionaire, actor, actress, minister, businessman, social worker, etc – there are so many examples of people that we can learn from.

My intention today is to encourage you to learn from all these people who have already lived proven lives. The benefit of learning from those who have gone before you is that you get advance information on what works and what doesn’t. Such learning enables you to avoid the mistakes that have derailed many careers and lives and embrace the ideas and principles that have secured great futures for those who have made and continued to make a mark in society. Specific things you can do in order to build your life on proven principles include reading biographies of successful people, listening to recordings of speeches, seminars and talks by leaders and successful people that you admire and want to emulate, having a mentor who has been successful and has made a mark in society and interacting with other people who are making a difference.  

Make “oooaaahhh!” a reality in your daily life

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Life is supposed to be fascinating. I experienced this a couple of days ago as I was chatting with a friend over lunch. We had a thrilling discussion that seemed to elicit lots of oooaaahhhs from both of us. The ideas we shared were so exciting and centered on our passions to us. It was an awesome moment for us. I always look forward to any conversation that focuses on bringing out the best in us because I find that I thrive in such conversations. My personal goal is to live my life at such a level that every activity I engage in elicits ooohhs and aaahhs. Making a mark means living a thrilling life full of excitement and passion. It means living a life full of oooaaahhhs. Make oooaaahhh a reality in your daily life.

Pursuing Personal and Group Purpose

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Too often people are so passionate about their own purpose, vision and direction in life that we forget that there are others around us who are also pursuing similar purposes to us. This realization came to me yesterday in the most powerful way as I was driving on the Interstate. I had an important event to get to and was running late, so I decided to bob-and-weave in between cars more than I’m used to. My rampant lane changing possibly saved me some time but I’m sure a couple of other road users were not happy with me given all the honking I heard.

As I was thinking about this later I realized that I may have achieved my purpose but I may have negatively affected other drivers who were also trying to achieve their purposes. Just like my selfish driving yesterday, I think many times we get consumed by our own plans that we fail to consider those of other people around us. If we will make a mark we have to remember that other people around us have purposes they are pursuing too and we can do well to accommodate them. Truly consider the people around you as you pursue your personal purpose. Do walk all over them in your quest to achieve your personal goals. Work with them and you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Making a mark means engaging and participating in society. When I was a kid there were many moments, particularly on weekends when we were at our country home, when my dad would find me just lazing around the house and, in an effort to inspire me to work around the house, would say, “Don’t just stand there son; do something”. This became a motto for me in my personal life. I’ve always enjoyed rolling up my sleeves and doing something that would make a difference for people around me.

Most people fail to make a mark because of an unwillingness to roll up their sleeves and jump into the action. Most people are standing at the corners of life’s intersections waiting for someone to come by and give them a free handout. If you will make a mark, a significant mark, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the game of life. Rolling up your sleeves means being ready to serve whenever called upon. The ultimate measure of humility is a person’s willingness to serve when there is no immediate personal payoff for the service. Life offers us many opportunities to serve daily. We must always be ready to roll up our sleeves and be of service.

DOCUMENT YOUR GREATNESS: Eight Keys to Achieving Success

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

All human beings desire to have success in life. The success desired may be defined in different ways by different people. To many, this may simply mean making a difference with their lives. I call this ‘greatness’ – the act of being able to make a difference with one’s life. There are eight steps to achieving this.

To make it easier for you to memorize the eight steps, I have developed them in the form of an acronym – DOCUMENT. Why document? To document is simply to make a mark. Documenting your greatness therefore means making a mark or providing evidence of your greatness. These eight steps are:

1. Define What Success Means to You
You have to define exactly what success means to you in each part of your life. This enables you to have a solid picture of what you want greatness to look like for you. Every single human being has a specific purpose and therefore success will mean different things to different people.

2. Outline What it Will Take to Achieve Greatness
Once you have defined what success and greatness mean to you, outline what it will take to achieve that. What skills will you need to develop? What must you give up in order to attain greatness? What kind of goals should you set? Who do you need to connect with? Where should you focus your energies? Outline what it will take to achieve greatness.

3. Create Targets that You Can Aim For
Develop some targets that you can aim for. These targets should be graduated in nature, such that once you have hit one target, it naturally leads you to start pursuing the next target. Having targets is very different from setting deadlines. I do not advocate for deadlines because I don’t find them to be motivating. Create specific targets.

4. Underline What You Need to Focus On
Underline what you will need to focus on. Not every target that you created can be pursued at the same time. You have to focus on one specific taget at a time. Focus is essential because it determines your level of productivity. You have to clearly underline what you will focus on. 

5. Make A List of Priorities That You Will Pursue
Priorities are the pathways to success. I like the pareto principle and how it enables us to make the most of our goals. You have to organize all your goals into concrete priorities that you can pursue step by step. List all the targets that you intend to aim for then prioritize them so that you can make the most of your time. 

6. Expect to Succeed
Your exploits in life are directly related to your level of expectation. If you expect to succeed and achieve greatness, then you will succeed and achieve greatness. You have to firmly believe in yourself and your ability to do that which you need to in order to attain what you have defined as success.

7. Nurture A Passion For Helping Others
The truth is that we achieve greatness through serving and helping others. Within your definition of success there must be a clear guideline on what you will do to help others. None of us is an island. A famous quote that I like is: ‘You can have anything you want in this world if you will help enough other people get what they want’. Nurture a passion for helping others.

8. Take Action Daily
Lastly, do something every day that moves you in the direction of your most important priorities. You have to embrace the discipline of doing something every day of the year that is moving towards your greatness. You can accomplish so much if you utilize this formula in your life every single day. Take action daily.

DOCUMENT your greatness and you will definitely achieve success in life.

The Time Is Now

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Many times we fail to pursue some of our desires because of the false notion that the time is not right. Some of the time we set limits on our own potential because of feelings of inadequacy or thinking that we do not have the right training, experience, education or tools. This should not be. The time to act is now. When we pursue our dreams and goals, we will begin to gain all that we need to make them come to pass. The training will come through the pursuit. The resources will come. The time is now. Pursue your dreams.

Three Basic Questions To Becoming A Difference Maker

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Every human being wants to live a life that is meaningful but few know how to do so. We all want to achieve greatness but many times we get stuck on how to go about it. Many people ask the question, “How do I make a mark that will leave a lasting legacy for those coming after me?” Well, I think the answer is in three very basic questions:

First Question: WHAT DO I WANT TO BE?

The first question that is essential in developing our lives is defining what we want to be. This is a very basic question but many people struggle in being able to define what they want to be. Our upbringing, experiences or environment many times prevents us from clearly defining what we want to be. You have to clearly state what you want to be first in order to make a mark. Everything is possible but many times we are conditioned to think that some things are impossible.

Second Question: WHAT DO I WANT TO DO?

Who you want to be will largely determine what you will do but you have to answer this question clearly too. What do you want to do physically, mentally and spiritually? The answer to this question will enable you to develop a game plan for your daily life. What you do daily determines who you become permanently. It is important that you do only those things that will enable you to be the person you want to be. This question enables you to focus only on those things that are priority in your life.

Third question: WHAT DO I WANT TO HAVE?

The answer to this question will be determined by the answers to the first two questions. What do I want to have in life? You must outline this in terms of the physical, mental and spiritual goals you have in life. For example, some of the things I want to have are a healthy body, an intelligent mind and a heart that cares. Define what you want to have in life. Most people narrow their definitions to money and property but these should never be a goal because if you do the right things and be true to who you want to be, money and property will never be a problem. 

Clear answers to these questions are essential if you will make a mark. Go ahead and pursue your passions. You have to be and do before you can have. Make a mark.

Making A Mark Through Friendships

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Friends make life colorful. They add excitement and enjoyment to life. Having good friendships is therefore essential to making a mark. Here are three important things you can do to add depth to your life in the area of friendships:

1. Cultivate The Desire to Make Friends 

You must first have a desire to make friends if you are going to have any. I can’t count the many times I have approached people with a desire to make friends only to realize that these people did not have any desire to make any friends in life. It’s impossible to force a friendship. The journey to making friends is a two-way street. If an offer for friendship is met with a negative reaction, it will be impossible to plant any seeds of friendship.

2. Take Steps to Enhance Your Personal Growth 

The truth is that you must be a quality person if you expect to have quality friends. Friendships grow based on the personal growth of the ‘friends’. Your circle of friends will only grow in response to your own personal growth. Think of each new friend you make as a lifetime friend. Over the course of their lives, what do you expect to contribute to your friendship? It is your personal growth which will determine that.

3. Take Your Friendships to the Next Level

Friendships that stagnate at one level will never last for a lifetime. If you will keep friends for a long time, you have to discover new ways to reach out to your friends. Take steps to improve the experiences you have with your friends. Consider their needs. The best way to do this is to just ask. Ask your friends if there is anything you can do to improve your friendship. Ask them why they enjoy being friends with you.

Passion: The Great Difference-Maker

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

For a long time in my life almost all my heroes have been individuals in the world of sports. I’ve long admired certain athletes who have exhibited excellence and achievement in their various sports. Having grown up in Africa, the main sport I was exposed to was soccer and I remember admiring the best players in a club I rooted for, the best players in my country and the best players in the world. As I grew up and got exposed to many other sports, I enjoyed following the careers of spectacular athletes from basketball, rugby, golf, tennis, American football and many other sports. As I look back over all these many years of following different sports and their athletes, I find that the winners all had one thing in common that separated them from the ordinary athletes. They had a passion for their sport.

Passion is the great difference maker in life. If we are going to make a mark we must unleash our passion for that which is dear to us. You can express your passion in any way you want. You can be a passionate student. You can be a passionate writer. You can be a passionate speaker. Passion is the spice that enhances all the other ingredients of life with flavor. Some people express their passion in sport, others express it in business, some may express it in their religious pursuits and others in their professions.

Passion fuels action. You cannot give your best effort unless you are very passionate about the task at hand. It has been said that if you take two runners, one with an incredible physique and the other with passion, the second one will win even if it kills him. Passion determines output. Even more than that, passion determines the quality of work that a person does. Passion is the great difference maker.

Creating A Feed-Forward System for Your Personal Development

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Many of us live our lives based on the feedback that we receive from the situations, circumstances and people in our lives. While feedback is good as it helps us to make corrective changes, I’d like us to consider the power of feed-forward. The difference between feed-back and feed-forward is huge. Feed-back enables us to make changes based on the benefit of hind-sight. We went through the event or did something and now we can look back and make the changes we need to make. Feed-forward, on the other hand, enables us to make changes based on foresight. We anticipate what is going to happen and make changes that will enable us to thrive or succeed should anything happen that would go against our plans.

One great illustration of this is the operation of cruise control in a car. Cruise control enables a car to maintain steady road speed. With a feedback system, when an uphill stretch of road is encountered, the car slows down below the set speed. This speed error causes the engine throttle to be opened further, bringing the car back to its original speed. With a feed-forward system, on the other hand, the car would, in some way, ‘predict’ the slowing down due to the uphill stretch. For example it could measure the slope of the road and, upon encountering a hill, would open up the throttle by a certain amount, anticipating the extra load. The car does not have to slow down at all for the correction to come into play. That’s a big difference!

Think about your life. Would you prefer to have a system that allows you to continually develop yourself, without having to slow down every now and then in order to make corrections; or would you prefer a system that allows you to anticipate what is going to happen and make changes without having to slow down your development? Most people, I believe, would prefer one that allows them to develop themselves without having to slow down to make corrections. Go ahead and embrace feed-forward. Develop a system that will allow you to anticipate what will happen and prepare accordingly.

Becoming A Go-To Person

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Most people have a deep desire to be sources of information for those around them. The best example of this are the many people who are always eager to give me directions whenever I stop by a gas station or the roadside. If you will make a mark you have to develop the skills and competencies that make you a go-to person. A go-to person is simply someone who delivers consistently and makes things happen. There are five things that you can do in order to become a go-to person:

1. Increase your knowledge

A go-to person usually has some form of expertise that others rely on. Increasing your knowledge through study is perhaps the most basic way that you can elevate your expertise. You must also find a way to communicate your expertise to people around you. This can be through publishing your work, giving talks and many other ways.

2. Develop your people skills

Go-to people get along well with others. People will not go along with you unless they can get along with you. Your people skills are essential in your development as a go-to person. People have to find you like-able and pleasant in order to develop long-term relationships with you. Most people would rather work by themselves than work with an unfriendly person.

3. Unleash your creativity

A go-to person is a resourceful person. Your creativity is the key to your resourcefulness. It enables you to add value to others. You can unleash your creativity by developing new processes or systems of doing things, writing for publications, sharing your ideas with others and many other ways. Your creativity enables you to become a contributor to life.

4. Offer a helping hand

Nothing attracts people to you more than a good reputation. If you will make a mark and become a go-to person, offer a helping hand to those around you. You can achieve way beyond your personal goals if you will just help enough other people get what they want. What goes around comes around. Offer a helping hand and you will become a go-to person. 

5. Embrace selfless sharing

One of the sweetest ironies of life is that you get more by sharing what you have. For instance, when you share what you know you will learn more and people will come to you for advice and information. When you share ideas and resources with others, they will spread word around to others who will also come to you for help.

The Essence of Winning

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

One of the most rewarding things you will ever learn in life is how to be a winner. Over the past couple of years, tons of materials have been produced on the subject of winning that have helped millions of people become winners in life. The good thing about winning is that there is no one strategy that works in all fields of pursuit but there are certain principles that are common to all winners and can be applied to any field of pursuit. Here are four principles of winning that apply to any area of life:

1. Have well-defined intentions

The beginning of all success is having a clear purpose. Purpose is inspiring and births the energy that enables you to pursue your dreams. What are your intentions? What do you hope to achieve? What end-result would you like to attain? Understanding that is the key to stepping onto the first rung that leads to winning.

2. Apply sincere selfless effort

Nothing brings results in life more than effort. Sincere selfless effort is essential if you are going to be a winner. Nothing comes easy in life. You have to apply yourself. There can be no output without input. Your input must be sincere if it’s going to make any difference. You can’t cheat your way into becoming a true winner. True winning comes from a selfless attitude.

3. Proceed in an intelligent direction

The pursuit of achievement in life is a journey that has so many twists, turns and changes. We must have a well thought out direction that guides our path. There will be many obstacles that come our way. There will be distractions and diversions. What keeps us focused is having intelligent direction. This is the key to living with vision.

4. Be a skillful doer of things

Winning is impossible without execution and implementation – the art of skillful doing of things. Massive productivity that focuses on specific activities which are aligned to your intentions in life is the key to winning. Developing skill means becoming a learner with a passion for that which fulfills your purpose in life.

You were born to win but in order to win you must have well-defined intentions, apply sincere selfless effort, proceed in an intelligent direction and become a skillful doer of things.  

Deployment vs. Employment

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

For hundreds of years employment has been the main avenue through which many people have earned a living. The majority of human beings make ends meet by working as employees in their various fields of service. According to wikipedia, an employee is “A person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, where the employer has the power or right to control and direct the employee in the material details of how the work is to be performed.” From this definition, employment is characterised by two key things: being hired and being directed. As an employee, you have to do exactly as you are asked to do. This limits your ability to make a significant mark in society.

If we are going to make a solid mark we have to go beyond employment to deploying ourselves in society. I define deployment simply as strategically developing and positioning yourself in your field of service so as to utilize your talents in a way that makes the greatest difference. Deployment means understanding that your career and legacy are in your hands. Speaker Brian Tracy says, “The biggest mistake we could ever make in our lives is to think we work for anybody but ourselves.” Granted, we may be employed but we must understand that our ultimate goal should be to deploy ourselves.

Making a mark begins with finding your unique talents and your special role and purpose in the world. The key to deployment is self-knowledge. It is essential to know yourself before you decide what work you want to do. Most people blindly seek employment without first taking the time to know themselves. The Greek philosophy, “Know yourself, control yourself, give yourself” perfectly captures the essence of deployment. Your talents are the foundation for the mark that you will make in society.