The times I have made the biggest strides in my life and work have always come when I put an intense focus on my personal growth and development.
I am always reading and studying something - most of the time because I enjoy it and it keeps me learning new things, but there is a difference between passively learning something and being intently focused with a goal.
I have found that when I set a goal to learn a subject to use the information to generate true results in an area of my life; I learn it better, I use it better, and I retain it better.
And the periods I have been able to do this best are when I have slower times or downtime in my life. Times when I don't have as many distractions and obligations taking my time and I can focus better. For example, when I am working on a product launch over a 6-8 week period and am reiterating with my teams and working late hours seemingly up to the last second to get it right; it is not a great time to set a focused personal growth goal.
But, when the launch is over and we've celebrated our success and things calm down - I find it a great time to immerse myself into learning a new skill or subject.
One thing that the Coronavirus has done for most people, is slow things down. It has given many people a great opportunity to focus on personal growth in their lives. In fact, now is one of the best opportunities in years to focus on learning new skills and subjects, not just because we have, but also because there are so many great resources available to us.
If what I just shared makes sense to you and you want to make a commitment to your personal growth, here is my advice to you.
Now is the THE time to grow in your life. Don't waste it!
I was listening to the song, Get Along, by Kenny Chesney the other day and was struck by one lyric. First, I am big fan of the message of the song and you can read the chorus above. Who wouldn't agree with that message?
If you read the lyrics, you will see at one part, Kenny sings "Scared to live, scared to die, we ain't perfect, but we try."
Scared to live.
I thought about that one lyric as I listened to the song and found myself asking the question, "Am I scared to live? What does that mean?"
As I thought on it for a while, it became clear that there have been times in my life, where I have been scared to live. Times, where I have been scared or stopped short of stepping out or standing up. As I have gotten older and learned more about who I am and dug deep into what I truly believe - as well as have chosen my values and principles, it has been much easier to NOT be scared to live.
Over the years, I have developed an unshakable faith in myself and the power I have as an individual - the power we all have as individuals. And because of this, I am no longer afraid to be me. I am not afraid to step out. I am not afraid to be criticized or disliked. Most importantly, I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.
And it truly feels like a giant weight has been lifted. Fear is a giant albatross that weighs us down. It keeps us from becoming our best self and who we are meant to be. But, in order to conquer this fear and not be scared to live, we must learn to love ourselves and have faith in who we are.
In today's world of cancel culture and demonizing of people because they say or believe something different than a group or movement, it is important, now, more than ever to find ourselves and not be scared to live. We must have the conversations, the uncomfortable ones. We must be willing to stand firm for what we believe in. And we have to be OK with the fact that not everyone will like us, but we must put in the effort to "get along."
If we do, we will find that on about 90% of things, we agree. People will never agree on everything. It's what makes us unique and creates the amazing world we live in. And when we realize that, I hope we will have the bigger realization that we should not destroy each other over the 10% when there is so much that we have in common.
Always give love the upper hand. Paint a wall, learn to dance, call you mom, buy a boat, drink a beer, sing a song, make a friend, can't we all just get along?
Don't be scared to live!
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Ocean's 11 is where Rusty (played by Brad Pitt), explains the "art of conversation" to Linus (played by Matt Damon). It is a short scene, but it offers some great business lessons.
The biggest one I take from it, is that less is more. When selling, don't say more than you have to close a deal. When leading people, don't push people past their breaking point when inspiring them. When setting targets, keep them simple, short, measurable, and easy for everyone to understand. When reaching for new levels in your success, don't take on more than you can handle.
Less is more. Simple is simple. And simplicity, executed well, leads to great results.
Watch the clip below and see what lessons you takeaway from the "art of conversation."
I was recently reminded of a very important lesson in life. My daughter put herself in danger of drowning because she pushed herself and her limits too far.
First off, my daughter is an incredibly strong swimmer for an almost 8 year old. One of the best I've ever seen. She's going to be amazing on a swim team some day. Over the 4th of July holiday, we were in the pool with some family visiting and she was showing off her ability to swim underwater and hold her breath. She can swim all the way down and back in the pool without needing a breath! After a few times, she didn't take much rest and went to do it again and this time, got about halfway back when she passed out underwater.
Thankfully, my wife and I were right there to scoop her out of the water and administer care. I know it seems like I am casually writing this story, but I cannot explain the terror that went through me as I pulled what seemed like her lifeless body from the water. I immediately noticed she had a pulse and was moving a little, but I got her down and started a couple breaths into CPR and she came to. She did not spit up any water or show signs of water in her lungs and after about 10 mins was completely awake and back to normal. We then took her to the ER and stayed for several hours while they monitored her and then discharged her with a clean bill of health.
There are so many lessons I can speak to from this experience and probably will in a future Lessons for Hannah episode, but a very important one that everyone can learn from is to understand your limits. After she was back to normal, I asked her what she remembered right before things happened. She told me she remembered her lungs hurting, but she thought she could make it - and then everything went black.
She passed out because she did not heed the warning signs of her lungs' limits. When they started hurting her, she should have immediately come up for air, but she decided to push things without understanding the limits she had. Of course, this is after repeated conversations with mom and dad over time about how to be safe in the pool, etc.
And that is the hardest part, sometimes we don't know our limits until we reach them or try to blindly push through them. This can and does get us into trouble, or can end in tragedy. Thankfully to God and quick action by my wife and then me and our whole family, we didn't have a tragedy - but my daughter learned about her limits the hard way and it could have cost her, her life. I don't think my adrenaline came down until after 2am in the morning that night - as a father, this is the hardest thing I've ever experienced.
But, the lesson you can take is to know and understand your limits and be careful when you push them.
I am all for pushing your limits and reaching new heights, but doing so in a calculated and planned way.
You must learn to know when you are going too far and back off.
We are very lucky and we have a lasting lesson to share with others. I hope you take this to heart and don't learn about your limits the hard way!
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