Archive for the ‘The Advances’ Category

Fundamental Optimism

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

No man demonstrated greater leadership in the 20th Century than Nelson Mandela – that icon of a man who was jailed for more than twenty years yet stayed focused and came out to break apartheid’s back, becoming his country’s first black president. In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela has a quote that I have always enjoyed reading. He says,

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature of nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death“. (p. 377)

Leaders face many unique situations. There are times when their vision is clouded by present circumstances and it is so easy to give up and throw in the towel. There are times when even driving the process of change becomes a weary task and their motives and judgements are brought into question. All leaders experience those times when they are surrounded by situations that don’t seem to align with their purposes and plans. It is in those situations that true leaders thrive. True leadership demands an optimistic attitude. If you are going to achieve that which you set out for, you must stay focused and continue to believe in the vision. That is the key to success as a leader. 

On Crossing Bridges

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Some wise sage once said, “We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have ‘crossed bridges’ in their imagination far ahead of the crowd.” I’m thinking of leaders like Martin Luther King Jnr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. 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. But 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’m at a point right now where I’m beginning to develop that 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. 

Climb out of the pile

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Human beings are so designed such that they move forward based on the quality of their thinking. If our thinking is stagnant then our growth will be stunted! One of the things that keeps many people at the same level is herdthink – they go with the masses instead of using their quality of thinking to chart out a path that is truly theirs. I like the trailblazer mentality. A trailblazer is not somebody who speeds up the highway in their thirty thousand dollar black 2007 Chevy trailblazer. While it might seem ‘cool’ to some people to do just that, they may not necessarily qualify to be real trailblazers. A true trailblazer is a pioneer – someone who helps to open up a new line of pursuit and purpose. The key to being a trailblazer is to be a good thinker.

A few years ago I really enjoyed reading John C. Maxwell’s book, Thinking for a Change. I had already been practicing some of the concepts he developed in the book but he added superb insight to my understaning of the essence of good thinking. Three of his ideas stood out:

1. Good Thinking Creates the Foundation for Good Results

What do you want to achieve in life? The key to that will be in developing a reservoir of good thoughts that are well implemented. Your progress in life is directly proportional to the quality of your thoughts. As I set the Better Life Company in motion I had to assess the integrity of my thinking. That provided me with the confidence of knowing that I could head into action.

2. Good Thinking Increases Your Potential

Many of the thought leaders I have come to respect have been great proponents of the need to understand and pursue one’s full potential in life. Potential is simply the capacity that a person has for effectiveness in life. We can all attain our potential as we begin to elevate our thinking. Good thinking increases the level of results one can expect in life.

3. Good Thinking Produces More Good Thinking IF . . . You Make It a Habit

Nothing dominates life more than a habit. As you practice good thinking, you develop a foundation from which you can continue to harvest even better thinking. Internationally respected leadership authority, Stephen Covey, explains that we cannot face the challenges of today with the responses of yesterday. We have to continually raise our response – it takes a habit of good thinking to do that.

Will you climb out of the pile or will you stay rooted in it? As you climb out of the pile, remember the story of the crabs in a bucket. As one tries to climb out, the others will, without question, try to pull it back in. But know this one thing, there are encouragers who will make themselves available to push you out of the pile and I’m one of them.

Action TNT

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

A few years ago I heard someone talk about the need for Action TNT, meaning action Today, Not Tomorrow. I think the tape was on procrastination and how to avoid it. Today I would like to talk about three strategies for taking action TNT:

Take initiative

Initiative is the first step towards achievement. Many people lag in life because of procrastination. In order to realize our true potential, we must learn to take initiative when it comes to pursuing personal goals and objectives. Initiative separates the committed from the pretenders, it is the link that connects dreams with results.

Navigate decisions

Many people freeze when it comes to decision-making. Making a clear-cut decision is one of the toughest things any one could do. Decision-making stems from embracing change. Knowing how to navigate change is therefore a core competence that should be grasped completely. Learn to make good decisions and you will accomplish great things in life.

Take risks

Risk-taking is one of the most feared competencies but it must be mastered because there can never be reward unless risks are taken. When it comes to risk-taking, our only fear should be the fear of not taking risks. Having an intuitive ability for stepping out and taking risks is the key to attaining results.

Let’s take action Today … Not Tomorrow!

The Power of a Good Hunch

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Earlier today, my wife and I were talking about how many times we get hunches to do something but fail to indulge in those hunches for one reason or another. Many hunches are treated as passing thoughts when in reality they can become powerful ideas with life changing implications. A good hunch, if acted on and carefully pursued, can lift one up from obscurity and into the limelight. A good hunch has the power of significantly altering the direction of one’s life. Hunches should therefore be taken seriously. Here’s an exercise:

Write down a list of all your past hunches you didn’t indulge in. Rate them on a scale of one to ten on possibility factor. Beside each, write down why you think the hunch has that rating. Now write down your present hunches. Rate them one to ten on a possibility factor. Now, act on those hunches that have high possibility rates.

Break Through All Your Plans: How to Out-do Your To-Do List

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Henry Ford once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. While that was great wisdom, it is ironic that Ford stuck so much to his plans that he refused to make adjustments when he was told that people would like cars in colors other than black. Henry Ford is commonly reputed to have made the statement “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” This rigidity of thought cost him dearly, as other companies like Chrysler came in made significant progress at his expense.

Plans are great. We’ve got to have them. I have a couple. However, we need to be open to doing things that are outside our current plans in order for us to attain significant progress. Outstanding progress comes from doing things that are outside our to-do list. If your desire to stay average then I would understand your need to stick to your plans and do only what is on your to-do list. So, how do we break through our plans?

a). Be open to Feedback – The execution process allows us to learn so much about ourselves and what we are doing. The feedback that we get from the execution process is the main avenue through which we can break through our plans. Success and significant progress comes from implementing that feedback. 

b). Review your Plans Daily – Planning is supposed to be a dynamic process. Plans should be flexible. Plans are not supposed to be rigid statue-like blueprints but dynamic changeable tools that support our desires. We are not to serve the plan but the plan is there to serve us. A daily review of our plans allows for this.

c). Experiment Beyond Your Plans – It’s perfectly okay to veer off and experiment beyond your plans every once. How else shall we discover new lands if we don’t march off the map? Maps are good tools to give us direction but we live in a vast world that has boundless opportunity.

 

Go for it. Break through all your plans!

See the Possibilities

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Everything that we ever attain and accomplish in life begins as a thought. The thought is developed as an image in our minds. The key to attaining a richer experience of life this month then is to see bigger possibilities in store for you. Seeing is the first step in the process of attaining your objectives. Stretch yourself this month and begin to access the bigger things ahead for you. Set aside time just for seeing that which is possible in your life. This time set aside is the greatest investment you can make in your growth and development.

The Sweetness of Risk

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Great achievements have always required some form of risk-taking. Most people don’t achieve those great things because they are risk-averse. In order to experience the fulness of all that life has for us we must possess a healthy attitude toward risk. People fear risk-taking because of a fear of failure (or loss). But risk is sweet. Carefully calculated risk can mean all the difference when you are trying to achieve/accomplish something. Embrace the sweetness of risk today and you may just surprise yourself!

Generate Enthusiasm

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Ralph Waldo Emerson, that great essayist and poet whose been quoted so many times, once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm is the bedrock of passion and the key to maximizing one’s personal potential. Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation. In other words, they do not have a passion for anything. They have nothing to stand for, so they fall for anything that comes their way. How then, can we break through and find something worth standing for?

The key is in having a desire to make a difference. Making a difference could mean changing the way things are or simply contributing to a social condition or situation. Desire is the ignition key, so to speak, of passion. You cannot pursue something unless you really have a desire for it. We generate enthusiasm by having positive desires that will contribute towards a better life and society. Let’s work on generating greater enthusiasm.

Migrating from Outdated to Innovative

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The other day I went to visit a speaking club in the heart of my city. It’s a nice part of town and I knew I was in for a great time since this is a marvelous organization. As I walked towards the building from my car, I whistled happily in anticipation of an excellent meeting. However, as I walked towards the stairway, I was taken aback to find that this nice building had a very old model of elevator. It seemed to me that this was part of a design but the fact that the new building was coupled with an old kind of elevator was startling.

It is from this experience that I’m writing about migrating from the old to the new. Since time immemorial, mankind’s progress has always been on the basis of putting behind that which is outdated in favor of new methods of doing things. There are times when the old and the new will interact. That’s understandable. But there must be a deliberate effort to embrace the new and move forward. Let me encourage you to embrace the new today. Unless you are in the antiques business it makes little sense to stick with the old.

Understanding Community

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

The 21st Century continues to bring amazing technological revolutions that are altering man’s life in many ways. Society is benefitting in many ways from these innovations and inventions. One area that I am particularly delighted about is the human connection to technology. Technology has helped in developing community and enhancing connectedness within the human race. Organizations and businesses will therefore do well if they understand the concept of community and cultivate it within their people.

People want to be connected to others. We’ve seen the explosion of social websites like myspace, xanga, facebook, youtube and so many others. These technological revolutions are offering people the chance to build friendships and enhance community in many different ways. Blogs are a prime tool through which ideas are being shared globally through many different platforms. The commercial about employees at a company working on their myspace accounts or blogs are understable because community is essential to our existence as human beings.

The call for community is a call for involvement in society too. Volunteering to engage in one’s community is perhaps one of the best ways someone can be fulfilled in society. Finding that time to go out of your way and do something that serves a larger purpose than yourself is the greatest single act of selflessness one can engage in. Nothing really brings more joy and satisfaction than volunteering for a cause bigger than oneself. Let us enhance our communities and also build communities that bring about a better life.

Genuine Heroes

Friday, March 9th, 2007

In my reading over the past few days I have been inspired by the call for genuine heroes in the material I have read. T.D. Jakes, in his book, Naked And Not Ashamed, says “We need heroes today. We need someone to believe in and look up to.  We need someone who has accomplished something to give us the courage to believe in the invisible and feel the intangible.” This reminds me of the quote from Thomas Jefferson who said, “God grant that men of principle shall be our principal men.” The earnest cry of society today is for heroes to emerge. Men and women of priciple who will not be swayed by the currents of today’s social problems. Charles Swindoll in his book, Living Above The Level of Mediocrity, has said, “We need heroes. I mean genuine heroes, authentic men and women who are admired for their achievements, noble qualities and courage…. The kind who model excellence when no one is looking or for that matter, when half the world is looking.” That’s the need of the hour. That we may have leaders arise who will take socity to a whole new level. Let us put aside personal ambition and develop the qualities that will make us noble leaders for a generation that dearly needs good leadership.

Transitions and The Skill of Moving On

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Life is full of transitions. We all experience moments in life when we have to make transitional changes. Right from birth to our final resting, it’s all about transition. It’s the transition from the womb to the world, from the bassinet to the crib, from home to school, from high school to college, college to career and so on. The successful navigation of transitions is a tough thing. Transitions can either lead to an abyss or bliss. It all depends on how you handle it.

Earlier today I watched a show on ESPN in which former Broncos quarterback, John Elway, talked about the difficulty he had in making the decision to leave the NFL. He struggled with the decision and even after he made it, he went into the most trying time of his life. After listening to him, I now understand why Packers quarterback, Brett Favre, has had a hard time walking away from the game. It’s tough making that decision to move on.

Transitions are difficult. Understanding the three elements of trnsition is the key to moving on. These are closure, limbo and advancement. Closure signifies the end of one stage. It is the point at which we have to let go of the former. Many people have a hard time handling closures but it is important to understand that everything changes. That knowledge itself guarantees you two-thirds of the victory during transitions. The other third is found in understanding the other two elements. The second element is limbo. This is a trying time because you haven’t quite moved out of closure and are yet to experience the new thing. The most important skill here is that of letting go of the former. New attitudes have to be shaped. New concepts need to be grasped. If this is done well, then your progress to the third element of transition – advancement – is secure. Advancement is when you have completely put behind the old and have successfully navigated your way to a better life. At this stage, you can look back and say, “Wow! I’m glad I made that change!” May your transitions be fruitful! 

Meaningful Specifity

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

One of the quotes that had great impact on my life when I was in college was Zig Ziglar’s famous question, “Are you a meaningful specific or a wandering generality?” This quote came to mind as I was thinking about the ingredients that make a life of purpose, direction and productivity. A keen study of the lives of people who excel will reveal that the main ingredient for their success is usually one thing: passion. Their dedication to a cause, belief in people and commitment to living their best life come from their passion. They find the one thing they really enjoy doing, then do it with passion. Passion is the key ingredient to success. 

Where does passion come from? How can we use it to become meaningful specifics? Passion is born out of desire – having a dream, vision or longing to see something different from a current situation. What do you see in your future? What’s your dream? Martin Luther King Jnr. was a very passionate man because he had a dream for racial equality. Princess Diana had a passion for charity work because she wanted to see a better world. Your passion will enable you to soar from obscurity and into the limelight. Your passion will enable you to realize something greater than yourself. Your passion will enable you to be a meaningful specific. 

Passion is effective when it is birthed from the inside. You must be motivated intrinsically. You cannot exhibit passion on the outside when deep down you are shallow. You’ve got to cultivate it deep within yourself. That comes by immersing yourself wholeheartedly into pursuing your vision or dream. More on this tomorrow….

How to Breed Success

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

This morning I’ve been thinking about keys to success and what the real secret to success is. Of late, all the talk show hosts have been talking about this new DVD, The Secret, and how it contains the one thing that will make whoever watches it achieve anything they want in life. In today’s blog I’d like to share my idea of what the key to success really is.  The key to success is simply one thing: action. Successful people act – and when they fail, they don’t quit. They act on something else that will bring them the results they desire: a new methodology, a new strategy, a new idea. Thomas Edison was a great inventor because he acted on his imagination. Florence Nightingale etched her mark on history because she acted to remedy a social situation. When darkness surrounded her, she lit a lamp and kept on working, earning the name of The Lady With The Lamp. Lance Armstrong is great because he acted on his dreams. Oprah Winfrey is loved because she is acting on her dreams. Massive action is the key to greatness. Greatness does not mean being famous. It simply means realizing your personal potential.   

 

You breed success by being successful in small actions. Think of a sport like boxing. It’s easy to see in boxing that the key to the knock-out is the consitent jabs. Short consistent jabs could easily open up an opportunity for landing the upper-cut. If you want to be successful you must tuck many small wins under your belt by acting consistently on your dreams. You do that by staying active. If you fail you don’t quit, you stay flexible and continue engaging in massive action. Constant action will provide you with opportunities that you never saw coming. Go on. Breed success.  

Failure isn’t final

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

One of the things that would greatly improve our performance in life is an understanding of the fact that failure is never final. Many people never “start something” (yesterday’s blog) because of the fear of failure. A few years ago while at the University of Nairobi, I wrote an article in a newsletter that I used to publish for fellow students on campus. The crux of my message was that failure was part of the journey of life. What causes us to quit in the face of failure is our attitude. Your attitude determines your altitude. Failure does not mean that it is over.

While reading through some of my material I came across a poem that I think would be worthwhile to share.  

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a fellow turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
And that’s worth thinking about.

Friends, develop a success attitude. That will be the key for prevailing over the arrows of failure. Failure isn’t final!!

Strongly Desired Goals

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

We live in a day when many people are being inspired to reach for the greatness that is within them. A lot of credit goes to the self-improvement industry which has done a lot to expose people to their true potential. People are dreaming more and dreaming often. But still there are many who have not come to the point of making their dreams come true. How can dreams be pursued and realized?

In my book, The Road to Arrival, I have defined a dream as a strongly desired goal. Dreams can easily be realized when they are broken down into specific achievable goals. In The Road to Arrival, I discussed ten empowering principles for actualizing dreams: faith, associations, detachment, perseverance, faithfulness, character and integrity, diligence, the tongue, puruit and connection. In addition to this, I outlined nine key principles that identified the steps, levels, conditions, essentials, keys, phases, rules, laws and stages of actualization.

What’s your dream? Are you pursuing it? We are all waiting for your arrival in the land of your dreams. Capture your dreams and let your vision soar!

Creating opportunities

Friday, January 19th, 2007

We arrived in Cincinnati safe and sound yesterday. It’s so surreal for me because the city is located right in the middle of so many hills. The first thing that came to mind as I drove into teh city was Nelson Mandela’s quote, “After climbing one hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. This move to Ohio is a step towards the creation of new opportunity. It’s an opportunity for allowing what pumps blood through my veins to come to the fore. I know it’s going to take a while. Opportunities seldom grow on trees! We create our own opportunities by finding our own hills and climbing them, rather than climbing other people’s hills.

Times of rapid change

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Today we are setting off for Ohio. There’s so much I’ve been doing and will continue to do throughout the day to make this happen. This is a huge move and I’m excited. One thing that I’ve been thinking of throughout the day is the idea of succeeding through rapid changes. Moving from Omaha to Cincinnati in such short notice is a rapid change for my family. I think what’s been very helpful for me is them being able to see my passion for this. Approaching times of rapid change with passion and dedication is the key to rallying others to buy into your vision. It doesn’t hurt if your people see you sweat – that in itself might be the blessing of gaining commitment from them. Rapid changes are not easy and people need to see the passion and energy of their leader.

Learning from Tom Brady

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

It’s football season and all eyes are on the teams that are battling it out for the 2007 Super Bowl Ring. Around this time a few notables always emerge with great plays. However, one name has been very consistent over the past five to six years when it comes to post-season football. That’s none other than Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback. Brady normally has the same challenges that any quarterback experiences during the regular season but when it comes to playoff time, he calls it his ‘favorite season’. The other day he said, “You look over the course of the 16-game season, and you come to this week, and you’re so fatigued from 16 games, but you definitely get a second wind. It’s just a different feeling, a different approach”.

What a beautiful summation of what our attitude should be as we start the New Year! Yes, 2006 was rough in many ways. We may have been beat and fatigued by the end of the year. But this is a new beginning and we need a new approach. It’s all about mentality and we can change that! You may have had some successes in 2006 but it’s time to look at things differently because what worked yesterday may not necessarily work today. When asked about his approach, Tom Brady said, “It’s the playoffs. You have to play your best or you won’t be working next week. So, I think you look at it … how we played eight weeks ago has zero bearing on this game. I can’t overstate that enough. It has so little to do… we’re a totally different team at this point.” That’s the attitude of a champion!

Our success in 2007 will hinge on our ability to embrace a superior mode of thinking. The thoughts that brought us to this point will not take us to the next level. We have to see things differently and approach them from new angles. We must embrace new strategies that will yield even better results than what we’ve had before. We need to approach every situation with the understanding that it has the potential to bring huge rewards to us. Do this, and I will definitely see you with a Better Life Ring at the end of the year!