Archive for December, 2007

Planning Ahead Trumps Making Resolutions

Friday, December 28th, 2007

It’s that time of the year again when people make new resolutions. I would like to suggest a different focus that I believe should also deliver tremendous results in 2007. How about learning to PLAN AHEAD. I have never made any new year resolutions since 1999 when I learnt about the need to PLAN AHEAD from the works of John Maxwell. Here are some thoughts on what has kepy me on track with my personal goals:

Pre-determine a course of action

This essentially means having a vision for your life. Visualizing that which you intend to attain is the first step towards being successful in pursuing it. You need to have a concise end for which you can measure your progress against. Develop a vision which will be your pre-determined course of action.

Layout your goals

Once you have pre-determined a course of action, the next step is to break it down into specific goals that can be realized. To empower your vision you need to write it down and define it clearly. Laying out your goals enables you to harness the power of visualization.

Adjust your priorities

You will need to make some changes in the new year if you hope to make it a different year from the past. This will mean being open to adjusting your priorities. Priorities are the pathway to success. Making adjustments is the key to reaching your goals.

Notify key people

We all have circles of support around us. In order to accomplish your goals you need to find those people who affirm your positive goals and share your goals with them. These people will encourage you, motivate you and keep you on the path towards success.

Allow time for your plans

Many times when we set goals we expect them to be realized within a certain time frame. While it is essential to set deadlines, we should never get married to the deadlines. Timelines should motivate us to work smartly towards our goals. If your goals are not attained within the timelines you set, don’t quit. Set new timelines and stay motivated.  

Head into action

Action is the first step towards achievement. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Head into action. Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Action must start now! The greatest enemy of success is procrastination. In order to achieve your dreams you must be action-oriented.

Expect problems

Every endeavor that has ever been worth pursuing has always had it’s problems and challenges. Problems are a sign that you are on the right track. The absence of problems is very likely a sign that something is wrong. Problems should never cause you to lose sight of your ultimate goals. They should be a call towards being more creative.

Always point to your successes

It is easy to lose motivation when failure sets in. The key to staying focused is in pointing to your already realized successes. Your track record of past successes is the springboard for your future achievements. When failure threatens your progress, embrace the confidence that comes from your record of past achievements.

Daily review your planning

Planning is a dynamic process. Plans should be reviewed on a daily basis to ensure that you are on the right track. You must be open to changing your plans daily. Flexibility is the key to success. You must be able to revisit your plans every day. Nothing ever dominates life unless it happens daily. It is the daily habit of reviewing your plans that will determine whether you realize them or not.

For 2008, make a quality decision that you will not make any resolutions, but you will PLAN AHEAD. I’m rooting for you!

Intentional Accidents: Serendipity and Synchronicity in Life

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Dr. Mark J. Chironna has a little booklet titled, Tripping Over Your Treasures, that I have always enjoyed reading. He starts off by explaining the meaning of the word serendipity, saying that dreams are arrived at quite accidentally yet when one is being intentional. It may seem like a contradiction but I find this to be extremely true. When I was planning on my coming to the United States in 2001, I was very intentional about the whole process but my actual leaving of Kenya came accidentally! I also find that there is one more thing that contributes to the realization of dreams: synchronicity. Synchronicity is the coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related. I met my wife because of synchronicity. We had both signed up for the same elective course in college. Who would have thought that an elective course in school would bring two people together! 

The word serendipity was created by Sir Horace Walpole in 1754 after having read a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. In this tale, three sons of a King were always on their way somewhere only to bump into things accidentally on purpose that helped them along the way to their next stop.  As I was thinking about this, I started seeing that in my own life I have ‘bumped’ into people and things who helped me along the way. I would never have learnt about the Honor Academy in Texas had I not volunteered to go with some American missionaries to a remote village in Northern Kenya. In Texas, I met a friend who introduced me to the family that helped me move to Colorado. While in Colorado and later in Massachussets I pursued a great friendship with a classmate at Regent University. This led to our marriage in 2004. That’s a lot of serendipity! 

The American College Dictionary defines serendipity as the faculty of making desirable but unsought-for discoveries by accident. Synchronicity on the other hand is meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained by cause and effect. Both of these words invite us to experiencing deeper lives full of meaning and richness. Let the old pass and welcome into the new. The best is yet to come! May 2008 be full of synchronicity and serendipity for you!  

Designed for Accomplishment; Engineered for Greatness

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Christmas is fun time. Every Christmas I always get at least one card that stands out from the rest. A couple of days ago I got a unique card from a friend who is really into personal development. What caught my attention first was it’s title: Follow Your Destiny, Wherever It Leads You! This title was powerful to me because I have always believed every human being has a special destiny. What a coincidence that I would receive a card along these same lines on the same day! This act of providence sent me a great message which was solidified even more when I read some of the words on the inside. Here’s part of what it said:

“There comes a time in your life when you realize that if you stand still, you will remain at this point forever. You realize that if you fall and stay down, life will pass you by.”

The card went on to say:

“Rather than wondering about or questioning the direction your life has taken, accept the fact that there is a path before you now. Shake off the “why’s” and “what if’s” and rid yourself of confusion. Whatever was – is in the past. Whatever is – is what’s important. The past is a brief reflection. The future is yet to be realized. Today is here.”

What a beautiful message! This card cemented for me the truth that we are engineered for greatness. We were born for accomplishment. The key to greatness is in being able to seize every single day and utlizing every single opportunity life offers you to live up to your full potential. Don’t settle for less when you can have more. You were designed for accomplishment and engineered for greatness!  

Make Your Dreams Come True

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Six years ago I left my birth country of Kenya in pursuit of the dream of a better life in America. I won’t ever forget my younger brother’s words as he hugged me and bid me farewell at the Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. He said, “Don’t let your best dreams become your worst nightmares”. These words left a powerful imprint in my heart. Throughout my entire 17 hour flight from Nairobi to Dallas, TX, I kept on mulling over these words. In the process of mulling over the words I started developing for myself a strategy for actualizing my best dreams. My strategy is captured in my first book, The Road to Arrival: Ten Empowering Principles for Actualizing Your Dreams. In this book I focused on ten power-packed principles that are essential for making dreams come true. If dreams are not pursued with massive action, they can easily become nightmares.What’s your dream? What’s that one thing you absolutely believe you were born to do? What keeps you up at night and keeps you dreaming during the day? What’s your greatest desire in terms of accomplishments? Each of us have been created with a desire for greatness. There is no human being who does not have the capability to dream big dreams. Greatness does not necessarily mean being rich and famous. Greatness is simply understanding what you were born to do and doing it to your utmost potential. All human beings have the potential to dream great dreams and achieve them. T.E. Lawrence, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, said, “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” Don’t let your dreams become nightmares. Back them up with massive action and sound strategies. May your resolution for 2008 be simply: to make your dreams come true. Go for it!

The Anatomy of Leadership

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

A coupole of months ago I found myself stuck in traffic really close to a bakery in my neighborhood. I wasn’t thinking of anything specific and allowed myself the pleasure of having my eyes roam about the neighborhood. Within a short time I learnt what had caused the traffic to build up. A bunch of people were standing in front of the bakery getting free bread for the holiday season. I could hear from the noise that they were excited. The smell of baked bread filled the area. I could easily see a crowd in the area right in front of the bakery and my gut feeling was that the bread was being given for free. Right at that moment I decided to be creative and use my time in traffic in developing some thoughts on leadership, based on what I was seeing in front of me. I was able to come up with the following four things that leaders should follow:

1. Follow your ear (I heard the noise)

Learn to act on what you hear your followers whisper. If you can act on the whispers, you won’t have to react to the screams later on. Sensitize your ear to the imperceptible cries of your people. Your ear should be able to vibrate with what is resounding from the lives of your followers. A leader should always have his ear on the ground but not all the time because if you are always bent on the ground and listening you can’t be able to see ahead. There must be a balance. The leaders ear must ring with the voices of the people. 
 
2. Follow your nose (Oh the smell of bread!)

Strive to perfect your ability to smell what is coming. I learnt this from watching leopards hunt back home in the plains of Kenya. Their main advantage is that they can smell their prey from very far. Let us endeavor to smell the future before it arrives. The better your leadership smell buds, the more accurate you will be in anticipating inevitable happenings. The leadership nose is able to determine what is good and what is bad. We like what smells good isn’t it? Leaders should be able to sense the flavor before serving their followers. That’s the key to winning their hearts. 
 
3. Follow your eyes (I saw the crowd)

This is where many leaders lose it. They leap before they look. In more adverse situations, they think before they look. I would like to change a very popular saying. They say “Look before you leap” but I say, “Look before you think and then think before you leap.” As a leader, you must be able to first analyse a situation, synthesise it and then pounce on it. Because leaders possess the big picture and see the whole view before their followers, they can easily be enticed by what looks appealing. Leaders should be able to see, then use their minds and determine the right course of action.

4. Follow your gut (I sensed they were getting free bread)

Intution is a leader’s best friend. This is something that many leaders have yet to fully grasp. You can’t teach anyone how to listen to the gut. It’s something that is cultivated personally. Just a little wisdom to help you as you do this: THE GUT SIGNAL is like red lights flashing within you. Leaders should be able to sense things so that they are not caught unawares.

Ear, nose, eyes and gut – the anatomy of leadership!

Imagination – The Key to Crossing Bridges Ahead Before Getting to Them

Monday, December 17th, 2007

We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it. But look at the lives of men like Martin Luther King Jnr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. This world is owned by men who have ‘crossed bridges’ in their imagination far ahead of the crowd. These men crossed bridges way ahead of the societies and times they lived in. Life demands of us to be prepared for our time when it comes. Nothing is more beautiful than the site of a human being fully engaged in purpose when the timing is just right for that purpose. The truth is that in order to be prepared we must be able to cross bridges before we get to them. Crossing bridges before we get to them means having a healthy imagination full of ideas on how we can solve the challenges of today and avoid the obstacles of tomorrow.

I’ve always challenged myself to continually develop the capacity to block out time in my day where I can get into my creative space and do nothing but cross bridges in my imagination. Any thinker should be able to do this. That’s the key to leadership – being able to see farther than everyone else and then communicating the dynamics to those around you. I think that we can all develop that capacity to cross bridges before we come to them. Putting in that extra effort in the beginning will save us from lots of trouble and heart-ache in the latter part of our various missions in life.

Friday, December 14th, 2007

I’m inspired by the stories of innovators like Andrew Carnegie. Andy surrounded himself with big thinking resourceful people. How he got them is a secret that is open to all of us. Mr. Carnegie went on to become the greatest philanthropist of his generation because he knew how to get the right people and empower them for broad-based action. In other words, he had eagles around him. Eagles in this sense represent leaders of the highest calibre. The tricky thing about eagles is that they don’t flock; you have to find them one at a time. Most organizations end up with turkeys instead of eagles because they are position conscious and take whoever shows up. Eagles don’t show up. You have to go and look for them. Here are six marks of an eagle:

1. Eagles are catalysts of experiences – Eagles make things happen based on their skills and abilities. They walk the road less traveled, defying models in order to blaze new trails.

2. Eagles possess great vision and execution – Eagles don’t perch on a tree and wait for manna to fall from heaven. They go out and look for opportunities. They are not risk averse.

3. Eagles are change agents – Eagles influences others in positive ways. They are 360° influencers. Their influence is not restricted by attributes like age or profession.

4. Eagles are multipliers of value – Growing organizations have people who bring added value to the company but great organizations have people who multiply value. The average organization has people who subtract value while the mediocre organization has people who divide value.

5. Eagles empower eagles to lead – Birds of a feather flock together because only they have an uncanny ability to bring out the best in each other. Eagles don’t hang out with hawks.

6. Eagles are sources of creativity – Eagles hunt for ideas that result in quantum growth for the organization. Because of this, an organization with eagles will always be a leader of the pack.

Trade-Offs Worth Making in 2008

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

The truth is that in order to go up you must give up. Our over-arching goal in life should be to continously move from good to great. Successful people understand that life is a journey. Any journey has intersections and those who win are the ones who make good trade-offs at the intersections of life. The New Year is a great intersection worth making good trade-offs. Bob Buford once said, “None of us know when we will die, but all of us, if we wish, can select our own epitaph”. We select our own epitaph based on the kind of life we live. Are you pursuing a better life? If not, here are ten trade-offs worth making that can qualitatively improve your life and a question after each to prompt your decision-making as you approach year 2008.1. Affirmation for accomplishment – Are you going to be one of the boys and get the affirmation of mediocrity or will you step out of the herd and blaze a trail of accomplishment?

2. Financial gain for future potential – Will you be enticed by the promises of wealth or will you live for a life of significance based on your true capacity?

3. Immediate pleasure for personal growth – Are you tempted by the life of ease and play now, or are you motivated by the desire for living your best life possible?

4. Security for significance – Do you want to live a comfortable life of comfort and convenience or will you soar towards a better life in which you make an even greater difference?

5. Acceptance for excellence – Are you going to settle for the acceptance of your peers and friends or will you aim for the excellence that comes from the pursuit of your dreams?

6. Addition for multiplication – Are you satisfied with adding value to your community or will you go for the more rewarding joy of multiplying value to the world?

7. Many things for one thing – Will you be a jack of all trades and master of none or will you stand out from the pack and be a master of one thing?

8. Quantity for quality – Are you going to fill up your life with things and events or will you go for the right things and events?

9. Stability for success – Is your prime desire to have a stable life or are you willing to tap into the success of knowing and realizing your true passion?

10. Work for family – Are you laboring at your work at the expense of your family or are you creating a legacy for those whom you love?

Only through the wise use of trade-offs can we truly reach our potential.

Four Keys to Living Your Very Best Life

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Let’s face it – life is not always easy. In fact, if you’re like most people, every day you are thinking of what you can do to take yourself to the next level in life. While success looks differently for every human being, there are some general things that everyone can do to set themselves up for success. Here are four easy keys that can unlock tremendous success in life:

Create a powerful picture of your destiny

Success and greatness come to those who anticipate it. It is impossible to anticipate that which you have not visualized. Creating a powerful picture of your destiny is essential to having purpose and focus in life. The world will stand aside and let pass the man who knows where he is going. Winners start of with a powerful picture of their destiny. When you know what you would like to accomplish, very little will stand in the way of you getting there. Create a powerful picture of your destiny and you will add more power to your life.  

Leverage your potential by playing to win

Some people play not to lose. That is the prime recipe for failure. You have to play to win, not play to avoid losing. Your attitude in approaching life’s challenges and opportunities is the key to either winning or losing. When you approach a situation or opportunity with the belief that you will win, more often than not, you will end up winning. Even outcomes that would seem to be failures, will be a success to you because it’s your attitude that counts. Mentality is the key to winning, perspective is the hand that turns the key. Play to win!

Adjust your goals using proven technique

The key to continued success in life is making constant adjustments. Many of us fear making adjustments. We have an unhealthy attitude about changing anything and that affects the quality of success we can have in life. Change is not your enemy – change is your greatest friend. If you get stuck in one mode of doing things the same way you’ve always done them, you will always get the same results. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results. The willingness to adjust goals is a sign of maturity and confidence in yourself.

Widen your vision by developing a BHAG

You need to have Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) if you are going to live your very best life. The quality of your vision depends on the magnitude of your BHAG. People who live their very best lives, learn to think beyond their daily sustenance. They consistently develop and work on goals that propel them toward a desired future. I encourage you to do the same. Have a goal that will continuously pull you into the future. A goal is simply a dream given substance, direction and timing. Set deadlines to your dreams and endeavor to make them a reality.

You can live your very best life!

Understanding the Vertical and the Horizontal Planes of Life

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

There are two planes in life – the vertical and the horizontal plane. The vertical plane allows us to peek into possibilities and use hindsight to make it a reality. The horizontal plane only allows us to see what’s happening in our lives at that particular moment. In our every day dealings, do we spend too much time on the horizontal that we fail to see our potential in the vertical? Is life all about what’s happening around us?

By getting vertical we can gain a bird’s eye view so that we have a bigger picture of what’s possible. Isn’t it instructive that surgeons are always vertical when operating on their patients? In order to perform their task with precision they need an elevated view of their subject. In the vertical we have an opportunity to be creative while in the horizontal we are always reactive. Creativity comes when we can ’C’ things differently. Notice that the difference between creative and reactive is in where you place the ‘c’. In being creative you ‘c’ first and then develop a game plan. In being reactive you ‘c’ in the midst of the situation. How do you ’c’ (see)? Do you use foresight or hindsight? Get vertical. C first! 

Practical Vision: How Daily Action Sharpens Your Mission and Focus

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I have seen lots of people claim to have a vision for life but do very little in trying to make it come to pass. Having a vision is not a licence for thoughtless belief that everything’s going to be okay no matter what. Having a vision is just the first step towards achievement. It is actually a licence for action! People who go around thinking that having a vision is the be all and end all of success are misguided. It takes daily action to make vision come to pass. That is what I refer to as practical vision. Every day becomes an opportunity to make that vision come to pass. Daily action makes the possibility of vision coming to pass real.

Living and Experiencing the Better Life

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

All human beings want to live and experience a better life. We all have within us an intangible vision of the possibilities that life can offer us. However, we all have a tendency of thinking that living a better life is based on one’s status in society. This is not correct. Living and experiencing a better life is more a matter of disposition than position. Our outlook on life is usually the key to the quality of our lives. We can all achieve a better life. The best is yet to come. I want to encourage you to develop a mental disposition that will enable you to continually live and experience a better life.