Preparing For Defining Moments – Podcast: S02E003

In today’s episode of Monday Morning Moments, I talk about the power of  a defining moment. You can’t always predict when a defining moment will happen in your life, but you can be prepared for it. The sad reality is that many people never realize the opportunities that they have to unleash their strengths, talents, and gifts in the midst of an opportunity to positively impact others. Defining moments provide that opportunity for us, and they also present an opportunity for us to get very clear about our calling  and purpose in life.

Episode Outline:

  • Defining moments allow you to unleash your strengths, talents, and gifts in the midst of an opportunity to positively impact others.
  • Defining moments provide clarity of your identity and calling.
  • You can’t always predict when a defining moment will happen, but you can be prepared for it.
  • Preparing for defining moments involves learning from the past.
  • The key to preparing for a defining moment in your life involves the following principle: “Focus on the Moment.”
  • To have focus in the moment, you have to “focus on the moment.”
  • Focusing on the Moment involves asking the following questions:
    • What’s at stake?
    • Who else is involved?
    • How can I make a difference?
  • Other questions to consider:
    • Why do you have the platform (i.e. title, role, sphere of influence) that you have?
    • What are you doing with that sphere of influence?
    • Who is being impacted by your platform?
    • How are they being impacted?
    • How are you preparing for the defining moments in your life?
    • When you think about your entire life as a “moment” in time, how have you prepared yourself to focus on the “moment?”

 

What Are You Afraid Of?

Is it death that makes us so afraid or the thought that we may not have lived a life of meaning and purpose? Or worse, the life that we lived did not fulfill the life that was imagined when God created us?

Through my work with athletes, I have seen many stories of celebration and conquest as well as disgust and defeat. Most athletes do not fear a clock that reads 0:00 – especially if they know they have given their all and played their best. What frightens them the most is reaching the end of a contest knowing they did not play to the best of their ability or potential.

Man on top of a mountain

We must play to win instead of playing not to lose. In other words, we need to appreciate the opportunities we have been given and use them to make an impact in the lives of other people. When the last second ticks off the clock of your life, what thought will you have? Will you triumphantly raise your hands in victory celebrating a fulfilling life? Or, will you hang your head haunted by the feeling that you could have been more and could have done more?

Begin today by asking these relevant and pertinent questions:

  • What roles do I play in life (e.g. student, athlete, friend, husband, wife, father, mother, business leader)?
  • What am I doing with the responsibility and opportunity of these roles?
  • Am I realizing my potential in all areas of my life?
  • Am I motivated by the joy of living or haunted by the fear of dying?
  • Do I see opportunities to make a positive impact and seize them?
  • At the end of this year, this decade, this life, will I cherish the memories that I made or fear the regrets that I have?

As Ken Blanchard so prophetically proclaims, “The legacy you live is the legacy you leave.” What are you afraid of? Every day, you can make a choice to positively impact the people within your sphere of influence by:

  • Encouraging them
  • Listening to them
  • Mentoring them
  • Learning from them
  • Leading them
  • Serving them

Also, true leaders in any walk of life are:

  • Purposeful with their time
  • Confident in their calling
  • Generous with their resources
  • Compassionate with their heart

Choose today to invest your time purposefully and wisely, and make your life count for what matters most! A life well lived leads to rejoicing, not regret!

Step Up As A Leader – Podcast: S02E002

Great leaders in sports, business, and life consistently rise to the occasion and lead in the moment! They assess the current situation or opportunity and consider how their past experiences have prepared them for this moment to make a positive impact in the lives of other people. The best part of this is that transformational leaders step up to serve others…not themselves!

In today’s podcast, I talk about how leaders do this by identifying 3 basic steps that help them truly lead in the moment:

  • Step Up – Learn From the Past
  • Step Out – Prepare For The Future
  • Step Forward – Perform in the Moment

I also offer and discuss 7 questions that can help you grow as a leader at work, at home, in sports, and in your community:

  1. How are you growing as a leader?
  2. What is your plan for personal growth?
  3. Do you invest time in learning from the past?
  4. How self aware are you?
  5. When the moment calls, do you respond?
  6. Even if you are not in a formal role of leadership, how can you influence the influencers based on your strengths, talents, gifts, and past experiences to respond in the right way?
  7. How can you make a positive difference at home, at work, and in your community?

Remember, there is no one right way to serve. Serving others is all about leveraging your strengths, passions, and opportunities to make a positive impact in the lives of other people within your sphere of influence.

A Prayer For Houston

My mom, an incredible woman of prayer and an excellent English teacher, sent me this poem by Robert Browning to share with you. I think it is appropriate for anyone who is dealing with some kind of trial in their life including everyone who has been affected by the damage and destruction of Hurricane Harvey. While there are many emotions that people are dealing with during this trying time in the greater Houston area, peace, strength, and perseverance can be found in God and the power of Jesus Christ! We are praying that you find peace in this moment and comfort in this prayer:

If I forget,
Yet God remembers! If these hands of mine
Cease from their clinging, yet the hands divine
Hold me so firmly that I cannot fall;
And if sometimes I am too tired to call
For Him to help me, then He reads the prayer
Unspoken in my heart, and lifts my care.

 

I dare not fear, since certainly I know
That I am in God’s keeping, shielded so
From all that else would harm, and in the hour
Of stern temptation strengthened by His power;

 

I tread no path in life to Him unknown;
I lift no burden, bear no pain, alone:
My soul a calm, sure hiding-place has found:
The everlasting arms my life surround. 

 

God, Thou art love! I build my faith on that.
I know Thee who has kept my path, and made
Light for me in the darkness, tempering sorrow
So that it reached me like a solemn joy;
It were too strange that I should doubt Thy love.

 

– “God, Thou Art Love” by Robert Browning

Houston Strong Photo

Leadership Lessons From Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey brought a disastrous situation to the greater Houston area. Historically, it is the most extreme rain event in U.S. history! Living in the Houston area, I have seen a lot of heartache, fear, and damage and destruction to people’s home and lives. I have also witnessed the heart of a city that is strong, resilient, gritty, and compassionate. In short, I have witnessed leadership in action!

Leadership Sign

Great leaders respond both in good times and in crisis situations. In fact, you often discover the character of people, communities, cities, and organizations and businesses when they are tested in the fire of a menacing trial. This has been one of those trials, and Houston has responded as Texans often do in big moments. They show up strong when it matters most!

The following are some leadership lessons that we can all learn from Hurricane Harvey and what great leaders do in challenging situations:

  • Assess the Situation – The best leaders always assess the situation and identiy key challenges, roadblocks, obstacles, and opportunities in order to develop the right strategy for success. They don’t act first and ask questions later. They seek context to inform their choices and key decisions, and they always define the core problem or problems, not just the symptoms.
  • Discern How They Can Help – Once they assess the situation, great leaders quickly and effectively discern how they can help. During this crisis in Houston, I have seen volunteer leaders respond in an incredible way by identifying the resources they have and putting them to use. Vehicles and bigger boats could not be used to get to the neighborhood houses to help people evacuate, so neighbors began to collaborate by bringing their rafts, kayaks, and canoes to rescue points. Neighbors showed up and asked “How can I help?” They also responded to messages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels and brought resources to provide rescue and relief to those in need.
  • Act in the Best Way Possible – Great leaders also act in the best way possible for the greater good of the people around them. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, volunteers did not just stand on the sidelines, they jumped in with both feet – literally – navigating and walking through flood waters to rescue families who were desperate for help. They set up makeshift command posts at schools and other local places on dry ground to organize the rescue effort that included sending kayaks and canoes to addresses that were sent through Facebook posts and text messages. Once people were aboard, they were taken to dry ground where vehicles could get them to schools, churches, and other relief shelters. Swift and effective action is needed in times of great crisis, and these leaders acted in a way that was inspirational and had a profound positive impact on the affected community!
  • Serve to Make a Positive Difference – While acting and affecting change, the best leaders also lead with a servant’s heart. They never do acts of kindness to receive a reward. They do it, because it is the right thing to do. They do it, because they must. They do it, because they are compelled to make a positive difference in the lives of other people. They show up in a big way, because it is who they are! They are leaders who care and have a bias for action within their sphere of influence.

Cal Neff Rescuing People During Hurricane Harvey

While there are many people who exemplified these qualities and habits during this time of crisis in Houston, I personally want to thank and recognize my friend Cal Neff who was an incredible leader to many people during the last few days. He was leading kayak recoveries, organizing command posts, reaching out to people through text messages and Facebook Live posts to help as many people as he could and inspire many other volunteers in the Katy area on the west side of Houston to act and serve. While the count of how many people he directly and indirectly helped over the last few days is hard to measure, I personally know that he helped rescue at least 600 people in one day through his leadership and organization of a great team of volunteers who rallied behind his efforts. All of this began with him and a friend on a kayak looking for people in need at the beginning of this epic disaster and turned into an incredible volunteer effort.

The recovery in Houston will take some time, but Houston has a great group of strong and resilient leaders who will come together to be better than before. Thanks for your prayers for us and for your pledge of support through organizations like the American Red Cross. I also hope that you can apply these lessons and tactics in your role as a leader at home, at work, and in your community to make a positive difference! Assess. Discern. Act. Serve. It’s the playbook of all great leaders!

 

The Blessings of Forgiveness – Podcast: S02E001

Welcome to Season 2 of Monday Morning Moments! We took a few weeks off to close out the summer and recharge and hope you have had an excellent summer with family and friends. We had over 2000 downloads in just a couple of months for Season 1, and I truly appreciate your support for this podcast! For this new season, we will continue to focus on topics that help you perform at your best in sports, business, and life including interviews with experts and colleagues and episodes that challenge you to think differently about maximizing your potential and achieving your goals.

In today’s episode, I share a talk that I recently gave to our Ranch Bible Study about the blessings of true and deep forgiveness. Grace is a wonderful thing when we receive it at a soul level and not just a surface level. Psalm 32 in the Bible gives us great insight and wisdom from King David who experienced the blessings of grace and forgiveness once he had confessed his sins. The big idea is that we must receive grace and forgiveness deeply, specifically, and completely in order to receive the blessings of peace, rest, and mercy.

 

Your Thoughts Matter

Do you see obstacles or opportunities? And, how do your thoughts shape the way you think, feel, and act in a given situation? Our thoughts do matter, and they play a very important role in how we see ourselves and the world.

Thoughts Image

In working with peak performers in sports, business, and life, the place we often begin in coaching our clients is with their thoughts and their mental approach to what they are doing. Their thoughts and mental models can help or hinder their performance based on how they rely and depend on them. Too many negative thoughts and old ways of thinking can often blind us from realizing the truth and seeing a clear path forward. As Dee Hock, the former CEO of Visa said: “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.”

Based upon the organizational behavior research and experience of Peter Senge at MIT and our own sports psychology experience, we know that mental models shape our thoughts and affect our actions. We all have “mental models,” as Senge refers to them, and we must carefully examine them to make sure they are valid. A key question that can be helpful is:

What assumption, mental model, bias, or perception am I making that is limiting my potential – that is limiting my possibilities?

We have used this question with athletes, teams, coaches, business leaders, and high performing companies and organizations as a way to uncover obstacles and discover possibilities. Some of the answers that we often hear include:

  • “I can’t hit my driver.”
  • “I can’t trust my team (or a certain employee) with responsibility?”
  • “I have to score a lot in order for us to win.”
  • “I am not sure if I am a leader or if I have influence.”
  • “This person doesn’t like me!”
  • “This situation is unsolvable.”
  • “We can’t change our culture.”
  • “I have reached a level where I don’t need to grow or learn.”

In many of these situations, these statements are formed based on misguided perceptions, unfounded truths, and a reluctant mentality. Upon further evaluation, these thoughts can be examined, reevaluated, and often removed and replaced with thoughts of truth, potential, and possibilities. The technique we use with athletes is the same one that you can use at work and in your personal life. It begins with asking these questions:

  • Is this thought really true based on evidence and facts?
  • Is this thought helpful and productive?
  • Do I recognize that I have a choice about what thoughts I dwell on?
  • What is the truth in this situation?
  • How can I focus on what I can control, influence what I can, and flush the rest?
  • Am I stuck in a bad mental model, and is there a better way of thinking about this situation that would lead to a different outcome?
  • Who is a trusted advisor or stakeholder that can I talk to who may offer a different perspective?
  • What are my strengths, gifts, talents, and opportunities?
  • What are the strengths, gifts, talents, and opportunities of my peers, teammates, employees, colleagues, organization, and family members?

Man Writing in a Journal

When you walk through some or all of these questions, you begin to identify possible solutions based on a different way of thinking. New and improved thoughts lead to better decisions and actions. But how do you get the old thoughts out? You can’t just press them down and try not to think about them. They will just come back up like trying to press a beach ball underneath the water. You have to replace the negative or limiting thoughts with your new thoughts of belief, trust, confidence, and possibilities. We call this technique Replace, Not Repress.

The key is making sure that your new thoughts are grounded in truth and shaped by potential and possibility. In certain situations, the new way of thinking may be aspirational and forward thinking. You may have never led a team of people before but the experiences that you have had have prepared you for this moment. Other times, you will have to look past the anguish of the current moment to rediscover a time when you have been successful. It is often hard to see through the cloud of doubt to rediscover the clarity of determination, but it is possible for those who dare to think differently and replace the old thoughts with new and innovative thoughts about the opportunity of today and the hope for tomorrow!

 

The Meaning Of A Moment

Michael had just won the biggest race of his life, shattering his own world record by a third of a second and winning the gold medal in the Olympics. He thought about all of the training he had endured. He was thrilled that the discipline, hard work, and focus had paid off and given him a quiet confidence to achieve his goals. Most people would have thought Michael had just completed the perfect race. Yet, there was a brief moment during the race that he wished he could have replayed. A brief stumble the third step out of the block made him question how much faster he could have gone.

Michael Johnson

Moments have meaning. The word moment is derived from the Latin word momentum defined as “movement or moving power.” If you research the word moment, you will find that this powerful word has a diverse set of synonyms:

  • A split second
  • The blink of an eye
  • An instant
  • A minute
  • An hour
  • A day
  • A chapter in your life
  • A season of life
  • A phase
  • A decade
  • A generation
  • An age
  • A millennium
  • An era
  • An epoch

All of these words can be used to describe the word moment –  everything from a split second to an epoch. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there is a very wide gap between a split second and an epoch. How could one word represent so many meanings? As I reflected on this question and the meaning of a moment, I pondered how a split second moment could impact an epoch. Or closer to home, it made me aware of how an instant in my life could affect generations to come.

Every one of us has a deep longing for moments. Moments in the spotlight. Moments of expression. Moments of meaning and purpose. Moments of impact. Moments where we provide value to those we love the most. Moments filled with potential and promise. Some people have more of these moments than others.

Why do we crave, desire, and remember moments so much? I believe it is because moments comprise everything. Our time. Our choices. Our decisions. Our thoughts. Our relationships. Moments encapsulate all of these components. When we think of a moment, we rejoice over how we invested our time wisely, or we lament the fact that we let the moment slip away.

Moments are filled with issues to be resolved, opportunities to be realized, and challenges to be met. For Michael Johnson, the 1996 Olympics was a defining moment – a moment that determined his place in history. Defining moments can also be moments that help us clarify our calling and give us meaning and direction in our lives. Have you ever had a defining moment? Most people have several defining moments in their lives. The trouble with defining moments is that you cannot predict the exact second that a defining moment will happen. You can, however, prepare for defining moments in your life. Michael had endured countless hours of sprints and time in the weight room for a moment that lasted less than 20 seconds. He had spent 10 years of his life to reduce his time by 1.5 seconds – the difference between mediocrity and excellence. How are you preparing for defining moments in your life?

The 1996 Olympics also represented a lost moment – the stumble out of the starting block he wished he could have gotten back. Have you ever had a lost moment? A moment you didn’t make the most of? Most of us have had at least one lost moment in our lives. The challenge is not to dwell on the moment that was lost but make the most of the moment that you have now. Michael persevered through this lost moment and made the most of the bigger moment.

In his book, Slaying the Dragon, Michael Johnson compares our experiences in life to those of a sprinter:

Success is found in much smaller portions than most people realize, achieved through the tiniest gradations, not unlike the split-second progress of a sprinter….  Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter: long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best.”

May you always realize the meaning and power of moments in your life and fully engage in the life you have been given!

This blog post was adapted from my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most.

 

Overcoming Fear

Coach, that guy’s huge!” There have been a few times in coaching my 5 boys and their teammates in different sports that I have heard this comment or some variation of it. Sometimes, it was a feeling that I sensed was in the hearts and minds of some of my players based on what I saw in their eyes and how they were looking at the other team. Other times, it was an actual verbalization of what they were thinking before game time. Comments like “That team is really big/good/nationally ranked, etc.,” do not help in moments like these, and fear becomes a major distraction keeping us from performing at our best.

No Fear Sign

In his excellent book, Goliath Must Fall, my friend Louie Giglio uses the story of David vs. Goliath to share how we must face the giants in our lives. Whether the giant be fear of an opponent or other things like rejection, anger, comfort, and addiction, he implores the reader to not lose sight of the promise and purpose that God has for our life…in anything you do! Based on advice that he received during a moment of frustration about something that was said about him, he offers this wisdom to us: “Don’t give the enemy a seat at your table.”

When we fear an actual enemy or opponent or the pressure of a big moment, we are giving a seat to that enemy at our table. Our focus becomes misguided by fear, and we become paralyzed from performing at our best. The table that is reserved for us with the invitation of an opportunity that we are uniquely designed to discover, embrace, and seize in that moment, and we get to choose who we invite to the table. I understand that ultimately we may have to face that giant through competition or perseverance, but we should not invite the giant to sit at our table or in our huddle or in our minds haunting and taunting us with comments that we do not have what it takes to accomplish the goal. This kind of thinking leads to defeat before we have even had the chance to compete.

Instead of fearing our giants, here are 3 reminders that you can apply from our work with elite athletes, entrepreneurs, and business leaders to overcome fear:

  • Confidence Comes From Within – Many athletes try to derive their confidence from external things or forces. It is an “outside-in” approach to confidence, and it hinges on the word “If.” “If I win this match, I will feel good about myself.” “If I make this shot, I will feel confident about my abilities.” “If my coach says I did well, I will feel good about my identity as a player.” Confidence should be based on an “inside-out” approach and center on the word “Because.” “Because of the preparation I have done, I will feel confident about my abilities and the opportunity before me.” “I will compete and feel confident about this game because of my strengths, gifts, and talents and the hard work I have put in.” And for me, it all begins with the confidence that I have because of the life I have in Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus and what He has done for me, I will feel confident about my purpose in life and the opportunities I have before me. Faith provides the foundation for my focus.
  • Focus on What You Can Control – I always tell the teams that I coach, the athletes that I work with, and the business leaders and entrepreneurs that I coach to focus on what they can control. Many people spend so much mental and emotional energy worrying about things they cannot control. My 7th grade basketball team just completed their AAU season, and we faced many teams that outnumbered us and were bigger than us. Literally, we faced a lot of giants, but we took them down, because we focused on what we could control which was dictating a fast pace, playing an aggressive defense, and moving the ball and trusting our teammates. At the end of the day, we had an excellent season winning many games, because we remained focussed on process-oriented things that we could control and trusting those factors to facilitate playing our best basketball. In any area of life, it is important to identify if you are worrying about things you cannot control and to invest your mental and emotional energy in the things you can control based on your strengths, gifts, opportunities, and people around you that can help you maximize your potential and achieve your goals trusting God in the process.
  • Be Present and Compete – If you have read my blog or heard me speak, you are probably familiar with this quote from Fulton Oursler: “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” It is so true when it comes to competition or achieving goals in any arena of life. Regret for past moments and fear of future moments can paralyze us from being engaged in the current moment and performing at our best. The key is to Be Present – physically, mentally, and emotionally – and Compete – bring your best to the occasion whether it be sports, business, or life.

Katy Raptors Picture - 2017

Never let fear decide your future. The best leaders don’t shy away from the moment, even when that moment requires them overcoming the obstacle of fear, facing literal giants, and fully engaging in what brought them to this moment in the first place. As you think about your roles in life and the opportunities before you, don’t back down from being the best version of yourself. Others are counting on you and the impact that you can have when you overcome fear and exhibit faith.

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Enjoy The Moment – Podcast: S01E013

Sometimes, we don’t enjoy the moments in our lives. Now, I know not every moment was meant to be enjoyed, especially when it comes to trials in our lives. But, there are times when we are not fully present in moments that were meant to experienced and appreciated! When I wrote my book, Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most, one of the 6 principles that I highlighted was Enjoy The Moment. In today’s podcast, you will learn why enjoying the moments in your life is important and 3 concepts for how to do this effectively.

Episode Outline:

To enjoy the moment, I have found three key supporting concepts that can make this principle come alive in your life:

  1. The journey is as important as the goal
    • Consider the following questions when pondering the concept of the journey:
      • What did it take for you to reach your goal?
      • Who has helped you along the way?
      • Who has been impacted by your journey?
      • How did your journey affect your growth as a person?
  2. Love who you are
    • Do you love who you are and who you are becoming?
    • Do you let feelings affect your acceptance of core truths about your life?
    • If you let negative feelings affect your thoughts and ultimately your actions, you will never reach the mountaintops that are prepared just for you.
    • Consider the following equation: A = T2 + F
    • Unpacking the equation: Our attitude (A) equals thoughts based on truth (T2) plus or minus our feelings (F). We must maintain a foundation of truth in our lives, and our thoughts must reflect these truths. You have a choice in whether to believe what is true about your life, but your decision does not determine its truth. As Dr. Barry Landrum, my father-in-law and former pastor, says, “The truth is still the truth even if no one believes it. And a lie is still a lie no matter how many people believe it.”
    • What truth is God trying to communicate to you about Himself and about your life?
  3. Love what you do
    • Do I love my work?
    • What are my strengths and talents?
    • What do those who know me best say my strengths and talents are?
    • What am I really passionate about?
    • Do my strengths, talents, and passions line up with what I am currently doing?
    • Am I fully engaged in my work?
    • On Monday morning, do I have a yearning that I MUST be there?
    • Do I make a positive impact?