What You Choose To Focus On Magnifies in Size

Distractions are a part of life. I see it all the time in working with my golfers. Creators of the best golf courses design the holes with distractions in mind. They put trees, sand, water, and other kinds of hazards in interesting places to channel your focus away from the target. Golf would be a much easier game if there was a wide open fairway with a flat, monster-sized green and a giant sign that read “Hit it here!” Instead, the sand, the water, and the trees call out for your attention, even if it is only to cause you to think, “I hope I don’t hit it there.”

Golf hole with sand traps

We use the following math equation in sports performance to help our athletes focus on the goal:

performance-equation

This is true in golf, and it is true in life. Life distractions come in many forms. These distractions are often things we cannot control like the weather, other people’s attitudes, traffic, a death in the family, an unforeseen illness, etc. Some distractions are things that we can control like how we use our time, our attitude and response to circumstances, and the choice we have to live in faith or in fear.

The key to using the equation above is to stay focused on the principles and activities that will enable you to maximize your potential while utilizing thoughts and techniques that will minimize the distractions in your life…or at least your focus on them. Maximizing your potential involves operating in your strength zone and doing things that advance the ball toward your goals.

In dealing with distractions, we have an axiom that says: “What you choose to focus on magnifies in size.” Going back to the golf example, if a golfer continues to think about the sand, it will become as big as a beach in Florida in their mind. If instead, he or she chooses to focus on the fairway or the hole, these objects will become bigger in his or her mind. It all comes down to choices and putting your mind in the best position to score by choosing to focus on your target.

In life, if you choose to focus on stress, fear of the unknown, the loss of a job, or your perceived inadequacies, these distractions will become an unbearable anchor around your life hindering you from being successful and living out your calling in life. You can, however, choose to focus on the things that will help you achieve your goals and make a positive impact within your sphere of influence including:

  • Things you are grateful for
  • Your strengths, talents, and gifts
  • Your family and positive relationships in your life
  • Mentors who are investing in you
  • Opportunities that you have
  • People who are counting on you to be a leader in their life
  • The fact that you are still alive

What is distracting you from becoming all that you can be and achieving your goals? Always remember that you do have a choice about what you think about and what you choose to focus on. Use this equation and axiom to pursue your potential and realize the opportunities in front of you. Don’t allow the distractions of this world to detour you from the destination of your life.

 

Question: In your daily life, do you focus more on distractions or your goals? What helps you to stay focused on achieving your goals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The 4th Quarter

While every quarter matters in a game or in a calendar year, the 4th quarter represents the moment when the pressure is on to finish what you started. Clutch performers always come through in the 4th quarter and show up when it matters most! The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about September being the new January – a time to assess where you are on your goals and recommit to the things and people that are most important in your life. It also provides an opportunity for you to get back to the discipline that you know you need to have in order to make your dreams a reality and be effective in your daily routine for the remaining months of the year.

scoreboard

Yet, we know both in sports and in life that the 4th quarter does not always show progress and a positive score in our favor. Many times, we survey the scoreboard of our lives and find ourselves down, distressed, discouraged, and possibly defeated. We examine the situation and don’t know how we will rebound with the time that we have left. Whether you are ahead of your goals for this year or discerning how you will make a prevailing comeback in the 4th quarter of this year, asking the right questions can often lead to the right answers and solutions to help you accomplish your goals and be successful in all areas of your life. Here are some questions that you might find helpful as you think about the 4th quarter of this year:

  • Where Am I On My Goals? – The first step is take a checkpoint on where you are in relationship to your goals. Many people set goals at the beginning of the year but fail to review progress during the year. In order to achieve your goals, you have to measure your progress. We recommend a monthly review of your goals in order to develop action plans that you can plan weekly and execute daily. We also recommend a personal quarterly retreat that involves taking a day away from your daily routine and physical work and personal environments to think deeply and strategically about where you are and where you are going in terms of your goals as they relate to your life plans.
  • What Course Corrections Do I Need To Make? – Another great question involves the consideration of changes that may allow you to make more progress in a certain area of your life. If you find yourself traveling down a path that is not yielding the results that you want or desire, asking a question that will help you “correct your course” and steer in a better direction is very helpful. Many people just continue to dig in and go harder and faster without ever recognizing that they may be in a situation where they don’t where they are going but they are making great time!
  • What Has Been Working For Me? – This often forgotten question allows you to journal about the things that have worked for you in order advance the ball towards goal achievement. Replicating excellence and being consistently great in your performance is what you want, and it begins with identifying, realizing, and leveraging the things that are working including ideas, actions, processes, and systems. This also involves becoming aware of your strengths and determining how you can continue to collaborate with and delegate to others who have strengths that complement and supplement your strengths effectively.

In addition to these questions, you can become even more focused in the 4th quarter as well as every other quarter of the year by doing the following things:

  • Be Present – physically, mentally, and emotionally in the moments that you have.
  • Be “Outcome-Driven and Process-Focused©” – driven by your goals but focused every day on the process to achieve them.
  • Review your goals and life plan on a regular basis.
  • Schedule your priorities in your weekly calendar versus just prioritizing your schedule and the daily things that try to distract you from what’s important.
  • Ensure that the things and people that you are investing in are the most important priorities in your life.

You only have one life to live made up of monthly, weekly, and daily moments that matter. Be present in the 4th quarter making the most of every opportunity!

We offer group and individual coaching and leadership training workshops and retreats that can help you and your team maximize your potential, achieve your goals, and make the most of the 4th quarter and every quarter of your life. Let us know how we can help you.

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Your Past Does Not Dictate Your Future

This disclaimer is usually tagged as a footnote to investment literature that touts how great a mutual fund’s returns and performance have been over the past year. I, however, am often called into situations where this quote plays a vital role in helping someone rebound from a period of underperforming below their elite talent level. It’s amazing to me how the past often haunts us as we dismiss the progress that we have made and selectively frame the pictures of poor performance.

For example, many of the golfers that I work with as a peak performance coach are haunted by the past. Past rounds, past holes, and past shots. They are seeking perfection, and when they do not hit the perfect shot, doubt often creeps in. If they are not careful, they begin a pattern of spiraling downward in performance allowing the past shot to dictate their future opportunities for success. In other words, a bad shot leads to a bad hole which leads to a bad round. This pattern can also happen to you in the roles you play in life. For example, how does a woman go from moments of incredible impact in the lives of her children to feeling that she is a horrible mother – just because of one imperfect moment?confused-signs

The key to breaking through this vicious downward spiral is what I call “Recovery Time©” defined as your ability to respond and rebound from moments you did not expect to happen and move into the next moment. Others might refer to this quality as “grit” or “resiliency,” and we believe that it can be developed and improved.  Using a golfer again as an example, I work with my athletes on thoughts, tools, and techniques that will help them play shot to shot, perform in the current moment, and respond when they miss shots they know they should have made. Part of this process involves developing “trigger/activating” phrases that help them to replace thoughts of fear and doubt with thoughts of trust and belief about them and their talent.

We must also learn from the past, not live in the past. The past must be an ally pushing us onward and forward, not an adversary rising up against us at every turn. Your past may not involve a missed 4-foot putt or a bad round of golf. Your past may include:

  • Being laid off at work
  • Feeling inadequate as a parent
  • Feeling disconnected to your spouse
  • Wondering if people even know you exist
  • Being rejected over and over again
  • Struggling to tap into your talent
  • Striving to pursue purpose and meaning in your life

Whatever you are going through today, know that you can recover from miserable moments. It begins with realizing that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Just because you have had a bad past doesn’t mean that you are destined to have a terrible future.

If we truly comprehend the meaning of this quote and conquer our doubts of past performance, we will learn to embrace the current moment with arms wide open. We will understand how opportunity and possibilities are waiting at the door if we will just relinquish the overwhelming memories of times where we did not perform at our best.

Strive today to “learn from the past, prepare for the future, and perform in the moment” (quote taken from my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most).

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Leadership Takes Courage

“She’s done a great job on all of her performance reviews, but there’s one issue that I still have a problem with. I don’t think she’s ready to be promoted.”

I still remember sitting through another annual promotion meeting where a manager stumbled through this declaration about a person that was working for him. There would be no promotion for someone who clearly had risen above the expectations of all that she had been asked and coached to do. In a group of about 50 people, I spoke up and asked, “And, did you confront her about the issue and coach her throughout the last year to improve on this “issue?” His answer: a sheepish, solemn, “No.”

In this situation, a high potential person was being penalized for the lack of leadership of her manager, who did not have the courage to deliver constructive feedback and coach her to become better in a certain area. How can you improve in an area when you don’t even know it’s a problem? Moreover, how do you trust that the positive feedback you are receiving is real and authentic when the leader you are working for does not have the courage to give you the whole picture about your performance and help you become better?

As a leader, you must communicate and connect with the people that have been entrusted to you. This point is true in business as well as in sports and life. A great coach must deliver both positive and constructive feedback to his or her team. An effective parent uses coaching and teaching techniques to help his or her children mature and develop into productive members of society who fulfill their purpose. Yelling all the time or giving a flippant response of “You’re doing fine” to the question of “How am I doing?” just won’t cut it. We all want and deserve feedback.

A Leader meeting with an employee

For some, giving feedback comes natural to them. For others, it is difficult. As Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline and senior lecturer at MIT, says, “This is new work for most experienced managers, many of whom rose to the top because of their decision-making and problem-solving skills, not their skills in mentoring, coaching, and helping others learn.”

Regardless where you fall within this spectrum, it is your responsibility as a leader to communicate with your team and connect in an effective way to help them maximize their potential. As I recently said to a group of athletes who were leaders on their respective teams, “C is for Captain; L is for Leader. Don’t sign up for the position if you can’t handle the pressure!” Be courageous as a leader and utilize the following tips when it comes to giving someone feedback:

  • Be Timely – Some people delay speaking to another person about an issue, because they don’t have the courage to talk to them about it. If you really care about the people you lead, you will deliver constructive feedback as well as positive feedback in a timely manner so that they will always know how they are doing and can work to improve on the areas that need attention.
  • Be Specific – People don’t want vague praise like “You are doing great!” or general performance advice like “Do better!” They want to know details. This is especially true of the millennials who are entering the workplace. As a leader, you cannot assume that people know how they are doing. Catch people doing things right and reaffirm it. For example, giving feedback such as “You did a great job of asking critical follow-up questions in our client meeting” is better than “That was a great meeting.”
  • Be Engaged in the Process – Great leaders are fully engaged and committed to helping the people they lead become the best version of themselves. In order to do this, you must observe their work and communicate with the people you lead. They also must know that you care about them in order to fully receive the feedback that you communicate to them.

Whether it’s your son or daughter, your teammate, or a member of the team you lead, don’t let words go unspoken that would help them become all that they can be. You don’t want to be in a position where they come back to you somewhere down the road and ask: “Why didn’t you tell me about this and help me try to become my best?”

 

Question: Do you find it easy to give both positive and constructive feedback to others? What is the best advice you have ever received from a mentor? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

A Relentless Architect of Possibilities

Great leaders look for opportunities to invest in others. Whether you are a parent, athlete, business leader, or student, you have an opportunity every day to influence and impact others. Yet, I often wonder if we seize those moments to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Are we truly “relentless” in the process of helping another person pursue their potential even in the face of adversity and setbacks?

Riding a bike

As I look at my own life and into the lives of people that I coach and converse with, I think people can become frozen by fear with thoughts and questions such as:

  • “What if my kids don’t turn out to be perfect?”
  • “I don’t have time to lead other people.”
  • “I don’t have the skills to be the parent they need.”
  • “They won’t listen to me. I know how to motivate my sales team, but I can’t motivate my own children.”
  • “I don’t know if I’m getting through to them. Am I making any kind of difference at all?”

When we are distraught because of distractions, we fail to capitalize on the opportunity to impact and lead others. Distractions take us off course and lead us on a detour to a destination we did not intend to visit. If we truly want to lead our families, businesses, and communities, we must become relentless in our pursuit of mentoring others.

I have always loved Benjamin Zander’s quote about leadership and the possibilities that exist for leaders. As a conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Zander understood his role as a leader and facilitator of remarkable performances. His role was to bring out the best in others, which began with a belief that each person had talent to be discovered and something of value to be offered. He made himself a “relentless architect of the possibilities” of that person’s potential.

Picture of a Great Leader

As you consider your roles in life, think about the opportunities that you have every day to positively impact and influence people. Don’t become distracted and discouraged, aimlessly wondering whether you are making a difference. Make it a goal every day to be a relentless architect in your pursuit of the possibilities of human beings by:

  • Identifying and recognizing the strengths of others
  • Looking for ways to cultivate and nurture their potential
  • Focusing on the possibilities of what they could become (versus solely dwelling on the problems that will prevent them from never reaching their potential)
  • Coaching and giving constructive feedback in areas where they need to improve and keeping them accountable in their growth journey
  • Recognizing the difference between “your dreams” versus their dreams and working with them to create a shared vision of the future
  • Initiating conversation and listening to both verbal and non-verbal cues on what is important to them

Be relentless, holding on to the hope of your role in helping someone develop his or her full potential. They will be so glad you did!

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Break Out Of The Box

I sat patiently as the student athlete in front on me desperately tried to figure out the solution to this puzzle. Using his competitive spirit, he worked through every scenario in his mind striving to accomplish the goal. Yet, with each possible course of action, he reached a dead end. He could connect most of the dots but not all. It was almost like an imaginary wall was keeping him from reaching an answer.

Dots Puzzle

Do you ever feel like this in your own life? Desperate to break through, but dogged by doubts and self-imposed limitations that keep you from reaching your potential and accomplishing your goals. In my work with high potential and high performing entrepreneurs, business leaders, and amateur and professional athletes, I find that they sometimes get locked into a certain way of thinking that restricts them from reaching the next level of performance. Many times, the walls that contain them are self-imposed and self-constructed in the form of limiting beliefs. A limiting belief is anything that limits you from reaching your potential or accomplishing your goal. Many times it comes in the form of negative thoughts, fear, and doubt such as:

  • “I’m can’t hit my 5 iron.”
  • “I’m not a good parent.”
  • “I always play bad in April.”
  • “January is always a slow sales month for me.”
  • “My best days are behind me.”
  • “I can do it in practice but not in the games.”

Limiting beliefs can also be a strength that becomes a liability. We think it is a positive thing, but it becomes negative when it limits our capacity to develop in our leadership and self-growth. These limiting beliefs take the form of statements such as:

  • “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!”
  • “If we are going to beat this team, I am going to have score almost all of the points tonight!”
  • “I’m the only one who can do this task.”
  • “I never trust anyone.”

Limiting beliefs act as “definitive” statements that lock us into a certain way of thinking, which then translate into a pre-determined pattern of acting. The thoughts take root in our lives and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is like a cage that keeps us contained from ever breaking out to unleash our potential. The key question to ask yourself is this:

Once you have pondered this question and identified the “iron bar” limiting beliefs, work on changing the thoughts that led to these beliefs. Many times, we base our thoughts, and, ultimately, our beliefs and actions on the wrong things including false assumptions, one-time events, people’s perceptions of us, and performances that are not our best. You cannot let circumstances construct barriers that leave you powerless to discover the path forward. You must take time to consider the truths about your life including your strengths as well as past performances that reinforce your abilities and talent.

Dots Puzzle Solution

If you begin to see the problem from a different way of thinking, you can soon discover possibilities that lead to peak performance. Choose today to break out of the box of fear and doubt that is limiting you from unleashing trust, belief, and breakthrough performances in all aspects of your life!

We provide coaching, consulting, and leadership development programs focused on helping you, your team, and your organization or business create breakthrough performances and develop a culture of leadership. Browse our web site for more information.

Question: What are some beliefs that limit you from maximizing your potential and accomplishing your goals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.