We all carry a question around with us every day. It’s a persistent question that doesn’t have a singular answer. We may not verbalize this question, but it always presents itself anew each and every day. Am I making an impact?
Who do any of us know, including ourselves, that doesn’t want what we do to matter? We can’t suppress our desire to make a difference because it is embedded in our DNA.
It happens over half of the time. It may be happening right now. Sometimes we don’t even realize it is going on. Then we catch ourselves and wonder how our minds got sidetracked.
It is easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. We all lose focus. The question is not whether we are going to lose focus—we are! When we employ clarifying personal filters it enables us to focus on the people and outcomes that are most important to us.
It is easy to miss. We rub up against it from time to time but may never truly grasp the magnitude of the moment. Let alone embrace the depth of its impact. But in those brief “ah-ha” moments we can’t help but think, “I need to employ the power of compassion more often!”
I was speaking at a conference in Texas earlier this year. During the break before I was going to be introduced a gentleman urgently approached me. It was clear he had something he wanted me to hear.
One of the first books I remember that truly changed how I lived and worked was Seeds Of Greatness by Denis Waitley. I loved this book! It exposed me to think about many things I could do to increase my personal and professional impact.
“Knowledge is the frontier of tomorrow,” Waitley wrote. He suggested “one of the most important aptitudes for success is also a mystery to 95% of the world’s population.”
It’s not rocket science! This is a bold declaration of hope for those of us who scraped by chemistry class with only a vague recollection of the details. I don’t remember a lot (okay very little) from my chemistry classes. But I do remember the power, importance and potential of a catalyst.
In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction. It creates, speeds up and ignites a specific change but is not consumed by the reaction. In life, the catalyst is a purpose or mission that truly motivates.
Do you ever think about excellence? It may not command your daily thought but you most certainly have dreamt of what it would be like to be truly great at something. I think about achieving and producing mastery all the time.
No one (absolutely no one) works at anything thinking, “I sure hope I can achieve mediocrity!” But breaking through mediocrity and producing excellence presents a tough challenge. I hear people say all the time, “I love a challenge.” We’ve all said it, but our love for challenges has its limits.
They’ve got it! It’s noticeable and drips of something you dream of spilling over to you. You can’t put your finger on precisely what it is. But they’ve got it! It’s compelling, captivating and amazingly genuine. Swagger comes to mind, but it’s different. It’s a cool quiet confidence.
Our first thought may be they possess something that is a secret to be discovered. As a result, we might believe it is untouchable and unattainable because it is a byproduct of elite talent or status. But elite talent does not guarantee it and status only borrows it.
Monday is a big day. It’s a day of significant personal importance—my 12,775th wedding anniversary. For those of you who count in years that would be 35 years. There is something of immense importance in measuring the marriage race in days?
Leading up to our wedding, we both had just turned 23 and were fresh out of college. I was living in Southern California and Kristi was still living in our home state of Washington. We would get married on June 26, drive to California and launch into this race of marriage.
It took me awhile to understand being a father is easy but becoming a great dad is difficult. You don’t need a degree or license to become a father. Fatherhood rarely begins as you expect it to or unfolds as you plan. It is indiscriminate in its ability to reveal and demonstrate how ill equipped you are to run this race.
Fatherhood is a strange paradox—testing your resolve and commitment like few things can and providing joy like nothing else can. It may be the essence of clinging to the obligation and responsibility of being a father long enough to understand how becoming a dad creates a lasting and rippling impact on our kids.
Sometimes I get distracted and discouraged. Maybe you do to—most of us do. Call it intellectual drifting where we lose sight of where and how we intend to create and sustain meaningful impact with the people we love and teams we lead.
Summer is the drifting season. The “lazy days of summer” invite us to take it easy. Planning for relaxation to reenergize is vital to sustained impact and is much different from intellectual drifting. Drifting is losing touch with our most important roles.