Category Archives: Personal Development
The “To-Do” List.
Almost all leaders keep one.
It may be a simple post-it note or a small lined pad. It may be the more elaborate Franklin Planner, Planner Pad, or Get-Things-Done (GTD) systems. For those of us techies we may even be using the Opus Domini or Wunderlist on your tablet or smartphone.
With so much to do, and so many demands, we feel these lists are essential to how we manage our day, our lives, and our careers.
But what about our reputation and character? As leaders, do we find the time to place on our list those things that will enable us to grow, lead, and be an example of great leadership in our various roles at work and home?
In other words, do you have a “To-Be” List?
In Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography he describes his little book he carried with him at all times. In it, he listed 13 virtues he wanted to develop into better character traits. He chose one and focused on that for a week, then the next week another one, and so on. He may have been the first person to truly create a “To Be” list.
Having a “To Be” list accomplishes the same purpose as does a to-do list. It shapes the things we want to do daily in order to accomplish a goal. Instead of tasks and projects, it is our leadership traits.
In his book Life’s Ultimate To Do Be List by David C. Cook, he asks that if, at times, you feel more like a human “doing” than a human being. Does that seem true for you as well? Do you desire to finish your day measured by who you were rather than what you’ve done?
We can change that today. There are numbers of ways to make this happen.
We can make a list alongside our to-do list. You can choose a weekly leadership trait and focus on it like Franklin. You can select seven and choose one each day throughout the week, similar to what Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter and Square) does. Perhaps you can do it twice daily (one trait in the morning and one in the afternoon). The method is yours to create as long as it’s effective for you to grow. Personally, I write one quick statement across the top of my daily list as reminder of who to be. Ones that I’ve used are “Be Remarkable”, “Do Right”, and “Business is People“. Makes yours unique to you.
Let’s take these next weeks to focus on our being, rather than our doing!
Today’s post is authored by Dr. Larry Senn, a well-known consultant and whose latest book The Mood Elevator takes a personal application towards leadership. In it, Dr. Senn defines the various moods we encounter and how those moods interact within ourselves as we interact with others.
Senn shares with us today how our minds play that key role in shaping our moods, our interactions, and our influence.
Whether we realize it or not, all day every day, we have a movie/dialogue going on inside of our heads. No, we’re not crazy, we just have a narrator inside of our heads helping us make sense of the world as we encounter it.
In his book, Untethered Soul, author Michael Singer describes a typical example of a conversation we might have in our head before going to sleep.
“What am I doing? I can’t go to sleep yet. I forgot to call Fred. I remembered in the car but I didn’t call. If I don’t call now…oh wait it’s too late. I shouldn’t call him now. I don’t even know why I thought about it. I need to fall asleep. Oh shoot, now I can’t fall asleep. I’m not tired anymore. But I have a big day tomorrow, and I have to get up early.”
Sound familiar? This voice is constant and constantly fills our heads with stories, stories that many times are far from the reality of the situation. This movie we create in our head is how we can plummet from the top of the Mood Elevator to the bottom, when absolutely nothing in our outside world has changed.
Look at the story of Deborah from the book, The Mood Elevator. Awhile back Senn-Delaney hired a new consultant named Deborah. Shortly after Deb was hired, I invited her on a sales call with me at a major utility company close to where she lived. I thought it would be good to give her a chance to hear how we presented ourselves to a prospective client, and it might yield some work with her in her hometown. I didn’t think much of it, but a few months later, Deb told me how this very innocent invitation sent her into a horror movie in her head.
A sales call with the chairman of my new company?! But I’m so new. I’m just getting to know Senn Delaney. What if I perform badly? I’m not a salesperson; I’m a consultant. What if I say something stupid? I could get fired! That would look awful on my résumé. I took a risk leaving my long-time employer, and I can’t go back now. What if I can’t get another job? My oldest child won’t be able to start college. I could lose my house.
Nothing about Deb’s life had changed, yet she was already envisioning herself losing her house. It’s important to note that the feelings resulting from the horror movies in our heads are as strong as if the reality were true. Deb felt as frightened from the movie in her head as if she actually did lose her job. These movies have a very powerful effect on our moods and where we are on the Mood Elevator. In reality, the meeting went quite differently than Deb’s movie predicted. The three of us hit it off very well, we got the client and Deb had some work in her hometown to launch her career with us.
Deb’s story is far from unique, we all do this on a very regular basis. We get mad at someone in our minds, picture how we’re going to confront that person, and then find out they didn’t even do it. Or we picture in our minds how we’re going to fail at a project and then it goes extremely well. Regardless of the movie we’re playing in our mind – the important thing is to have an awareness that what is going on inside our head isn’t necessarily reality. Even more importantly, when the movie in our head is a scary one, our thinking is typically faulty and unreliable so by all means we must mistrust our thinking and not act until the movie is over, until we have our bearings back.
Think about when you’re watching a real movie. You sit in the darkened theater, caught up in the drama and the suspense; the music is playing, and the special effects are making your adrenaline flow. But consciously you know it’s just a movie. You know that if it gets too scary, you can go buy popcorn. When you learn to treat your mental movies like real movies, your thinking will have less power over you and as a result you can spend more time up the Mood Elevator.
About Dr. Larry Senn
Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website, www.themoodelevator.com.
In recent weeks the area I live has been subject to much rain. So much in fact that certain areas have washed away in part; some a little, some quite a lot.
In the course of time and entropy, the elements that something is exposed to can wear it down. It often takes an outside agent for those items to be built back again, whether to maintain or to enhance.
Our leadership growth trajectory can be like that in many ways.
We often experience period of erosion in our growth and effectiveness, both professionally and personally. That step backwards can from from the external elements we find ourselves in. More often than not, those contributing factors come within our own selves.
In these times we can get discouraged from our failures and our paralysis to shore up ourselves will lead to further and more rapid erosion, lost credibility, and uselessness to every sphere we hope to influence.
But unlike the roadway which cannot repair itself, we can be our own agents for change. by learning form what derailed us, first within ourselves then in our response to those external to us, we can shift the momentum of our leadership influence into an upward trajectory and back on the path of growth and success.
And if that is a challenge, we can still rely on those agents other than self to help us. Our mentors, coaches, spouses, pastors, and colleagues can be great resources to get back in the game, if we are willing to let them help us.
Life and leadership are intertwined, and the object lessons in both are the same in many respects. Our growth is never a liner upward line, but usually a 1 step backward and 2 steps forward plodding over time that reaps positive results and tremendous impact to those around us.
Resolve today to take those 2 steps forward. Don’t allow your stumbling to hold you there. Look to improve your response, missteps, and faults and then charge forward to improve to build upon that resolve and revelation into your leadership character.
It’s always important to realize your shortfalls. It’s even more important to move on from them.