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I was honored to write the following for my colleague Susan Mazza’s website, Random Acts of Leadership, one of the top leadership blogs on the Internet.

 
 

There is one mindset that is absolutely paralyzing to individuals and organizations alike.

 

It is one that creates a victim mentality of helplessness among individuals and steals leadership power from organizations.

 

It is the “they/their/them” mindset.

  • “They” better do something.
  • It is “their” fault.
  • It is up to “them.”

 

Thankfully I discovered the panacea to this horrendous malady impacting our organizations today.

 

flamenco-594272_1280Simply put, it takes one to tango.

 

I know that goes against conventional wisdom and that well known cliché, but I have seen its powerful truth demonstrated in my own life.

 

Many years ago I decided I wanted a closer, more demonstrative relationship with my brother and Dad. I know we loved each other, but we didn’t say or show it often. Let’s face it, we were typical guys.

 

No longer satisfied with this kind of relationship with the men I love and cherish deeply, I decided that every time I saw my Dad or brother I would greet them with a hug. And every time I said good-bye, I would give them a hug and tell them I love them. I was not attached to the outcome. And I was not attached to whether or not they reciprocated. This was something that I wanted to do that was important to me.

 

As you can imagine, in the beginning of this little game things were a bit awkward. When I hugged my brother he would make funny faces, resist a bit, and wonder what the hell I was doing. My Dad didn’t resist, but he also didn’t reciprocate. Hugging both of them was a bit like hugging a fish. In these initial stages, it felt more like I was doing something to them. But that was OK. I was committed to my action and the communication of my love for them.

 

This went on for many, many months. I honestly don’t recall how long, but it was quite a while.

 

Then magic happened. I will never forget either of these unbelievable days for the rest of my life.

 

One day as I was leaving my Dad’s house I was preoccupied with where I needed to be next. I said good-bye to my Dad and turned to walk to my car without practicing my usual ritual of hugging. From behind me as I walked away I heard my Dad say, “Aren’t you forgetting something?” I turned around to see my Dad’s arms spread as wide as an eagle’s, waiting to envelop me in a huge hug.

 

Best. Hug. Ever!!!

 

Some time after that, I was driving my brother to the airport as he was leaving to go on a trip for the US Fencing team. As usual, I drove him to the door where his airline was located, wished him a good trip and waited for him to grab his bags out of the back seat of the car. I nearly fainted when he said, “Hold on, I want to give you a hug.” I still tear up thinking about that moment. It was a huge breakthrough in our relationship as brothers and made us ever closer.

 

The lesson I learned from this little experiment was that when it comes to leadership, changing behaviors and transforming our relationships, contrary to the familiar saying . . . it actually takes just one to tango.

 

Let him that would move the world, first move himself.

– Socrates

 

All too often when we desire change in our lives we wait for others to initiate it and lead. Or maybe we pray for a miracle and hope that the change will magically happen. While I am all for miracles, this approach steals from us one of the most amazing superpowers we humans possess — the ability to manifest our desires.

 

In the 20 years that I have been involved with coaching and business acceleration, I have witnessed countless examples of people proving that we can indeed create just about any change we desire. And it isn’t really that difficult. It starts as a desire in our heart, moves to a thought and plan, transforms into action, and then almost without fail turns into results.

 

There is no need to make it more difficult than that. Adding anything else just complicates the process and clouds the results.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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This summer the sports radio airwaves were filled with news of professional baseball and football players renegotiating and signing new contracts.  The amount of money being thrown around was dizzying, often in the tens of millions.  It didn’t take much to get wrapped up in a fantasy of acquiring wealth like that and achieving a level of fame and fortune these players had.
 
In thinking about all their new-found wealth I got hooked, especially since that is the game that is played here in America – and more and more, that is the game being played throughout the world:  Whoever has the most money wins and is most successful.
 
Then it dawned on me.  I don’t really want to be wealthy.  That’s not what truly motivates me or how I define success.  Sure if someone offered to pay me lots of money for the value I bring to the world I would enjoy every bit of it and be grateful for the acknowledgement, but it wouldn’t necessarily motivate me or fulfill me.  Having lots of money is not what I consider a true measure of my success.
 
For me, success is about helping people and inspiring them to a great life.  It is about making a difference in people’s lives and knowing that my interaction with them left them in a better place than where they were before we met.  To spend my life doing that is a dream come true for me.
 
Not surprisingly, understanding this distinction about what motivates me and how I define success shifted my focus and drive.  The idea of making lots of money feels hard to me. Like a chore.  But the idea of helping and inspiring people?  That is what I was born to do.  It is as natural as eating and sleeping to me.  And I have no doubt that in pursuing that goal, success, and more importantly satisfaction, will surely find me  . . . not to mention quite a bit of money.  🙂
 
So perhaps finding happiness in life is really about answering these two questions.
 
1) Do you know what your true desire in life is and what motivates and fulfills you?
 
2) How do you define success?
  

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying “Amen” to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.
   
                                                                                – Robert Louis Stevenson

 

With the bombardment from media and popular entertainment these days, it is easy to get caught up in all the noise we hear about what it means to be successful, or popular, or cool, or fashionable.  But to define yourself by the standards others set for you is a surefire recipe for frustration and dissatisfaction.  Is it really worth “keeping up with the Joneses” if what the Joneses have has little to do with what you want in life?  The more you can look inward to find your true passion and satisfaction, the easier life tends to become.

 

Take a peek at the video below to get an inspirational look at someone who is clearly powered by what is inside him, rather than what swirls around him.

 

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