May 07, 2009

The leadership of a king

The other night, my son and I finished reading The Horse And His Boy, one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series written by C.S. Lewis. One paragraph in particular caused me to pause for a moment to consider the weight of the words that I had just finished reading. It must have been a noticeable pause, because my son asked me why I had stopped reading.

To give some context, a young boy named Cor had just learned that he would someday be the king of his father's kingdom. Cor's brother had just finished stating that he was glad that his brother was going to be the king instead of him, because that meant that he could be a prince forever. Princes, in his words, have all of the fun.

The king agreed with Cor's brother, and spoke the following words that prompted my hesitation:

"For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there's hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land."

There are several lessons that leaders could learn from this:
  • Leaders set the direction and move forward with an intensity that rallies others in the face of adversity.
  • Knowing when to quit before hand is critical to success. However, leaders have the responsibility to make certain that those that they serve are protected from harm before themselves.
  • When tough times show up, a leader must be willing to sacrifice more than any other person, while ensuring that no one knows that the leader has done without.
Huge, audacious, out of this world opportunities abound, even in the current economic climate that we are faced with. What we need are leaders who are willing to embrace the uncertainty, move forward despite the challenges, and passionately inspire those that follow to move forward and victoriously take the field of opportunity that has been placed before us.

Are you willing to accept this mission?

April 29, 2009

Great ideas don't make a difference.

So you have a killer idea. One that you and others believe is going to change the world, leaving it a better place for one and all. You have gone through the process of releasing the virus. You have found your sneezers (thanks Seth Godin) and they are carrying the message that you have handed them with passion and intensity.

Unfortunately, although there seems to be a lot of noise about your idea, the results are not measuring up to the hype.

Now is the time that you need to ask yourself what work you have done to actually move your idea from being a mere thought or concept into something tangible and of value. Simply communicating an idea is meaningless if there is not an intentional effort to move it forward.

There is not a shortage on out of this world ideas. There is, however, a deficit of individuals who are willing to risk it all, putting in the effort and work that is necessary to ensure that a great idea becomes a great reality.

April 06, 2009

Revolutionary Cost

Recently, I introduced the concept of encouraging and creating micro-revolutions in our organizations. Micro-revolutions occur when we effectively communicate the mission and vision, and then step aside and let others run with it, not out of a sense of duty or obligation, but out of a desire to be a part of the mission that they believe in.

This costs you something. By creating micro-revolutions you may see the mission attained, yet you may find that you do not receive credit for the accomplishment. However, you should be more focused on seeing the vision and mission achieved without regard to any personal gain or accolade that you may receive. In other words, the benefits are more substantial than the cost and risk. Seeing the dream and mission that you have become reality must be more important than any other gain.

Here are some questions that you should truly ask yourself before endeavoring to create and encourage micro-revolutions:

  • Am I willing to hand my mission over to others to carry? - One of the keys to starting and sustaining the growth of micro-revolutions is overcoming your desire to be in complete control of every decision that is made. You must get to the point where you have invested and planted well enough in your team that you can allow those that you have been pouring into to carry the mission in a way that is their own. Something that you should keep in mind also, you don't get to choose who will be in control. The tribe decides this. Are you willing to hand the mission of to others to carry, and then step aside and let them achieve big things?

  • Am I willing to sacrifice time, money, and even myself for the mission? - Micro-revolutions require a substantial and consistent investment of your time and of yourself to see the mission reach fruition. You need to be actively involved in communicating the mission and vision that you have, and at the very onset, you are going to need to be very much in the details of how the mission and vision will be implemented. This means that you are going to need to spend time, additional time even, ensuring that the foundation for micro revolutions is being established and given some consistency. Micro-revolutions do not happen overnight, and you and your organization must be willing to patiently invest without any immediate sign of return, and potentially immediate loss. At first, it may even feel as though you are losing any ground that you may have already gained. It is important to remember that this is a normal and desired effect. You are correcting mistakes that were made before you adopted this concept. Pull up the straps of your boots, keep moving forward, and grow.

  • Am I willing to fail and learn big? - To grow, you are going to have to fail and learn. The first few times that you feel as though you are ready to allow micro revolutions to take off, they will gain some altitude and crash to the ground. These failures will be frustrating, and you will probably begin to ask yourself if it is really worth moving forward with cultivating micro-revolutions. You are going to be questioned about time and money. What is the real value that this is going to buy? You have to be willing to accept failures if you want you mission to be successful. This is universal, and doesn't merely apply to this concept. Anything that you do that is of any significance is going to take an acceptance of risk of failure, as well as an attitude to learn from your failures.

This list is not exhaustive, but it is a starting point for determining if you have the stomach for embracing micro-revolutions. The true cost is as unique as the individual, but typically, it is going to be associated in the area of something that you do not want to give up. Whether it is your time, or money, or even the need to have your hands in each and every task, there is something that you must surrender in order to see the mission reach fruition.

Understand that although there is tremendous value in creating an environment that cultivates and encourages micro-revolutions, doing so will cost you something, perhaps even significantly. But, if you are completely sold out on the mission that you have been uniquely designed for, then nothing else should matter anyway. In other words, your filter for success needs to move from self focused gain and towards mission focused gain. Achieving the mission requires a selfless and sacrificial attitude. It requires the heart of a servant.

Are you willing to pay the price for achieving something bigger than you?

April 01, 2009

The power of micro-revolutions

Sometimes, it seems no matter how hard we work towards achieving the mission that we have been created for, forward progress appears to be non-existent. Regardless of how much energy or time we expend, it feels like the wheels are spinning. Occasionally, there are even moments that it feels as though we are making negative progress!

If you want to see the mission that you have been molded and designed to complete reach fruition, then you must be willing to put aside any personal gain that is not related to the reward found in seeing the mission fully embodied. While achieving missional success is your responsibility, you must understand that others have been formed to support and carry the mission forward.

This can be done through strategically cultivating and encouraging micro-revolutions in our organizations.

Micro revolutions are not revolutions that separate us from the mission and vision of the organization, they are revolutions that occur when members of the team buy into the mission and vision, and want to see it fulfilled. The key to this strategy being successful, is that you must be willing to let go of control, and allow others to carry the mission using the unique strengths, talents, experiences, and abilities that they can offer. This strategy allows the tribes within the organization to tactically organize and carry the mission and vision to levels that would not be attainable otherwise.

You can call it mutiny or and abandonment of the system of the hierarchy, but if you want to see an idea, vision, or mission ignite and spread with passion and intensity, it is best to encourage others to turn the tables and carry the your message. You must realize that your job is simply to provide the direction and communicate the mission, engaging people lead with a heart of action!

There are of course costs and benefits associated with this concept. Over the next several days, I will begin to unwrap this a bit more.

For now, be prepared to strike the match, get out of the way, and let the tribe build the raging fire!

March 31, 2009

Authentic mission requires potential loss

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to truly fulfill your authentic mission?

Hopefully, compassion isn't on that list, but before you simply read on, really take a second to consider this.

Suppose you are on your way to an important interview, or meeting, or some other potentially life altering event, and you see someone stranded alongside the road. Would you stop? Would it make a difference if you were ahead of schedule or on schedule? What if you were running late? What if helping might cause your freshly pressed, tidy clothes to become soiled? Would that change your course of action?

Of course, most people would probably say that they would make the decision to help those in need, even when it could possibly come at a loss to themselves. In reality and application however, the story comes together somewhat differently. How many times have you been faced with this opportunity and simply kept on driving? Maybe, a brief pause is taken to say a prayer for those that are in need. Maybe.

What keeps you from answering the call to service when it is placed in your path? Fear of losing your job, or missing out on the once in a lifetime opportunity to better your career situation? What are you truly and authentically willing to sacrifice for others? Perhaps potentially missing your child's ball game or that dinner out with your spouse? You can be certain that you will be called to serve in the area where you are most likely to resist, and where there appears to be the greatest personal loss.

It is a challenge to not become so involved in the mission that you fail to serve those that you are here to serve. You must not forget, even for a moment, that the mission is not about yourself. It is about the people that you encounter daily. Living for others is going to cost you something, perhaps even everything.

If you can get to that place where you are living for others, more concerned about their well being than your own, you will be better equipped to understand the fullness of life that you have been designed for.

March 30, 2009

Invaluable Resource

I have heard it said that if you want to be successful, you need to become invaluable to your organization. You need to know how things work in the organization, the culture that exists, and the processes that are in place. While it is true that knowledge is important, acquired knowledge should not be something that is locked away hidden only for selfish gain.

As you acquire knowledge, you must be willing to open up and share what you have learned with your team. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell makes the point that our families and organizations are naturally made up of pockets of knowledge. Each individual remembers certain things that are of value. As a result, the community becomes an intertwined repository of knowledge that is built on the framework of interdependence and interaction. Organizationally, we know more as a team and community than we do independently.

The goal then, should not be to become the single person who knows everything in the organization. Your goal, if you truly want to be invaluable, should include making full use of your strengths every day, directing your focus on building relationships, and working towards being the person who knows the individuals who possess the knowledge. Once you know who has the knowledge, encourage them to share that knowledge with everyone that they possibly can. Ultimately, your organization will be far more productive, efficient, and innovative.

As the saying goes, it isn't what you know that makes you successful, it's who you know.

March 26, 2009

What Are You Cutting?

In case you were not aware, the global economy is in a tight place right now. The Italian economy is affected just as much by the global economy as the rest of us are. It seems that the Italian economy is largely based on the influx of American tourism dollars. As a result of the down economy, fewer Americans are traveling abroad to Italy right now. Of course fewer tourism dollars means more problems for the Italian economy.

Right now, in an effort to return the flow of tourism dollars into the economy, several of the luxury hotels and other areas of interest to travelers are reducing rates for the good and services that they provide. From a pure profit and loss perspective, this seems to make sense. Reduce rates, make things more affordable, and then people should be more willing to travel.

However, rates are not the only thing that these businesses are cutting right now. They are also cutting back on what they deliver. Again, from a pure profit and loss perspective this seems to make some sense. If I reduce the amount that I charge, then I need to reduce what I provide in order to yield the same profits that I expect.

The trouble behind this is that they are sacrificing the brand that they have built in order to accommodate the market. Unfortunately, this is how many organizations are reacting to the current economic conditions. Eventually, the economy will make a turn around. And when it does, customers will once again be willing to pay substantially for luxury hotels and spectacular getaways. Sadly though, many of these businesses may no longer be around to enjoy the fruits of restored economic prosperity.

This economy provides the perfect opportunity for your organization to create powerful word of mouth epidemics like never before. Discover how you can provide service that is superior to what you currently provide, especially when times are tough. Your customers will know that you are committed to providing out of this world service, even when it may come at a loss of profits for you, and as a result, they will be more willing to continue to use the products and services that you provide in years to come.

Selling out your vision and mission temporarily will only get you by temporarily. Optimistically making an investment in the future will help to ensure that you are still around to serve in the future.

March 25, 2009

It is your problem

When your customers are calling you on the phone to ask for assistance, they may appear to be somewhat frustrated. Whatever the issue or problem that they are experiencing may happen to be, you can be certain that it is important. Regardless of how trivial you may think that the issue is, it is truly something critical to your customer.

As a responsible, professional, reliable, service provider, it is your self accepted responsibility to treat the needs and concerns of your customer as though they are of true concern to you. Even if the problem is not directly related to the product or service that you have provided, your customer sees you. Or hears your voice. Or they have received an email from you. What I am getting at is this; Although the problem may not be one that you initiated or even in your officially sanctioned area of responsibility, it is in fact your problem now. You have established that you are the point of contact for the customer and the issue that they are experiencing, and you must follow through on ensuring that appropriate steps toward resolution are taken.

It is not good enough to make the statement that it is not my code, or my server, or my database. It is not enough to say that it is not my department, or it it's not in my job description. Regardless of whether you are closing million dollar deals or creating an aesthetically pleasing experience by ensuring that the floors are clean, you have a responsibility to serve others before yourself.

This is not simply some rule that is necessary for creating out of this world customer experiences. It isn't about your image or the image of the organization that you work for. This concept is simply a requisite for being a part of the human race.

Believe it or not, you have been designed and created with a servant heart for others. Focus more on authentically serving others, less on the job description or corporate borders of your function or the function of your department, and start serving the other people that you are in contact with each and everyday.

Rewards of satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment are found when you move past living for yourself, and start living for others.

March 24, 2009

Mutating the Virus of Urgency

The other day, I wrote a post introducing the concept of the virus of urgency. In summary the virus of urgency is a phenomenon that occurs in organizations when people need to get something done, but the supporting cast has not historically met the need. Individuals that need to get something done that is of value to the organization will find a way to get what they need, even if that means cultivating a false sense of urgency.

Destroying a mindset that has been ingrained into the fabric of the organization is challenging, and often, not of tremendous value. Instead, it is more valuable to identify how you can mutate the virus in the organization. Change it just enough to really get things done, and it becomes less of a push for people to adopt the idea.

You can actually use the original strain of the virus of urgency, and re-engineer it to better meet the needs of the organization. This is cost effective, and will enable you to provide a better service to your customers and partners. The truth is, there is still a desire for a sense of urgency to exist in our organizations. The challenge is found in ensuring that the sense of urgency that is being cultivated is focused on responding to issues related to the mission and vision that your organization exists for.

A couple of strategies for mutating the virus include the following:

  1. Ask the question, 'When is this needed?' Typically, in an organization that has historically neglected the requests and needs of the customer, the response will be tomorrow. When this response is given, simply be honest and transparent to your customer, and explain that you cannot address the issue by tomorrow, but do provide a time that you will be able to provide what they are seeking. As a courtesy, make certain that your customer agrees to the time line given, and then, be sure that you provide what you promise by the agreed upon date, if not sooner. Set the expectation and then deliver. If you truly find that you will not meet the deadline, keep your customer informed early and often so that they are not surprised when the date of delivery arrives and the hopes that they had are dashed to the ground!
  2. If it's broken, fix it! If there is a problem that is preventing something from working correctly, get on it and get the problem resolved. If you cannot address a true emergency, your customers will not trust that you will follow through on the long term promises that you are making.
  3. Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. Keep your customers informed of the status of things as you are working on them. Try to avoid becoming the black hole for projects, where something is requested, and then something is delivered. Challenge your customers, invite them to be a part of the solution, and encourage innovation. Allow them to own the solution. Your role should be primarily focused on enabling your customer to get the job done that they have been designed for.
This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it is a common sense place to start. Sadly, too many organizations lack following through on these simple, yet powerful concepts. By beginning to apply these three concepts, you will gain respect from your customers again, and the organization will be better able to fulfill the obligations, commitments, and mission that it has been commissioned for.

Transparency, communication, accountability, and a servant heart go a long way to earning back the trust of your customers.

Simple, yet often overlooked.

March 20, 2009

The reality of dreaming...

I learn some of the most valuable lessons about leadership, life, and purpose when I am hanging out with my kids.

While reading with my son last night, a character in the book The Silver Chair said something that really got me to thinking about our lives and how we allow fear and the system of the status quo to control our actions. In this scene, a witch was attempting to convince the heroic few that stood in opposition of the multitudes, that all that they had ever lived for, all that he had ever loved, and all that they truly believed in was really only a lie. Several of the characters were dissuaded from believing what they knew in their hearts to be true. However, one character, Puddleglum, made a speech saying that he would rather live in a world that was full of good and light, even if it were not real, than to live in the witch's dark world of reality.

The system of the status quo does this all of the time. It keeps us 'grounded' and focused on 'the truth'. It attempts to open the eyes of dreamers and visionaries in an effort to dissuade them from desiring something more. Sadly, too many of us fall victim to this attack on what we believe is real and right. We become convinced that our biggest and most audacious dreams are simply that; Dreams that we tell ourselves to get through the darkness of the reality that we live in. The status quo seeks to dissuade us from dreaming, even when the dream is more real to us than the system that we are presented with, because it threatens the foundation of the status quo.

You must believe that the dreams and vision that you have are real. There is more beauty and passion in the life that the status quo tells us is non-existent than there is in the reality that they cling so tightly to. Dream big, put action behind your mission, and live boldly, accepting the reality and responsibility of the life that you have been uniquely designed for.

As for me, I would rather live in a world of possibility than to accept the 'truth' that the status quo offers.

March 19, 2009

Part of Your Story

We all want to be a part of a story that is meaningful.

That is why I choose to eat Clif bars as opposed to the other energy bars that are available on the shelves of supermarkets. No, I am not being compensated by this company. I do not own stock in this company, and I am certainly not receiving free energy bars!

However, they do have a story to tell, and principles that they believe in. Clif Bar & Company was born out of something practical and real. There is a story about why they started doing what they do, how they got started, and if you are willing to read more into it, where they want to go.

They buy into and practice that the product that they create is not simply something that they sell to consumers. They believe that they are creating a community that grows together that shares a common vision, goals, and great food.

Why do I eat them:

  1. Clif Bars taste good, and they are made with good, wholesome, natural ingredients. Most energy bars taste bad because they are full of unnecessary chemicals.
  2. They have a story that they are telling, and that they encourage other people to be a part of.
  3. They are anchored to something grander than simply selling me an energy bar. There is more to it than that. They have a mission, and they seek to make a positive contribution in this world every day. They understand responsibility, they accept responsibility, and they have fun doing so! This is outstanding!
Is there a story behind your products and services, or are you just trying to sell us something? Tell the story of why you are here, let people become a part of it, don't sell out your vision and mission, and you will gain respect and true fans.

Who knows? Maybe instead of your marketing team writing a blog about how great your products are, your customers may end up sneezing the story that you are inviting them to be a part of.

March 18, 2009

Nosiy Tools

Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Ning, Squidoo, blogs, web pages, and the Internet are noisy. They are all tools, merely there to enable and support people in communicating a message that they believe in.

Too often, we lose sight of the fact that these tools are not the mission. The tools are not even the strategy. We use them to tactically achieve the things that we actually want to get done. We use them to see our mission move forward. To see our strategic initiatives reach fruition.

However, we trade a whole lot of our time playing. Playing is good to an extent. It helps us to learn more about the tools that we are going to use. Playing helps us to better understand how the community that we are leading will react to our use of the tools that we select. And playing equips us with tools that could be useful to us in ways that are not immediately understood.

We need to be extremely careful that we do not allow the tools to dictate how we are going to get things done. We should already have an idea about what it is that is important to us and how we plan to make certain that we align ourselves in such a way that we are able to achieve what is important to us. We must consider the problem that we are trying to solve, and then determine the best tools and tactics to achieve resolution.

The tools can change, as well as the tactics.

But the mission doesn't. The mission is static.

March 16, 2009

The Virus of Urgency

My friend Lynn has helped me to understand that we need to manage to the expectations of our customers.

Too often, internal customers say that they need to have something completed today, if not five minutes ago. The fact that your customers are asking for something to be completed now is an indication that there is a much larger problem to tackle. The reason that your customers are asking for things with such immediacy is because their needs have been neglected in the past. Your customers feel that the only way to get what they really need is to create a false sense of urgency. In other words, what the customer is really saying is, "I am going to tell you that I need something today to make my request seem urgent, because if I don't, you aren't going to work on it for me." This behavior has been nurtured over time, and it has become a part of the culture. Like a virus, it has even spread into the way that we work and interact with each other.

The results of this include the following:
  1. You are reactive, not proactive. - Rather than responding to issues that are actual emergencies, everything is treated as an emergency. This prevents your team from doing the work that is actually of real value and importance to your organization.
  2. Your customers find other ways to solve problems. - Sure, we want people to innovate and come up with out of this world ideas, but they should be focused on how they can solve the problems and answer the questions that are unique to what they do, not how they can work around a group that is unresponsive. If they don't need you, then why are you even there at all?
  3. You fail to grow, because you fail to learn. - When you are determining the work that you will commit to, based on your own needs, you fail to meet the needs of your organization. This is a selfish way to approach business. It is your primary responsibility to enable your customers to be as successful as they possibly can be. By focusing your efforts on the projects that you perceive will return the greatest value to you, you fail to enable your customers. There is a lot that we can learn from those that we serve. If we are not serving, we are not really learning.
Clearly, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to changing the cultural mindset that has grown in so many of our organizations. The first step is identifying the problem. Then we can start to come up with solutions.

March 11, 2009

Part of the herd?

Too many of our organizations are far too bureaucratic to be successful. As a result, the people that are supposed to be the life of our organizations fall into this trap of bureaucracy. And those that do not fall into the trap are often ostracized, excommunicated, or ripped apart in defense of maintaining the status quo. We take beautiful, creative, strong minds and force them to think rigidly and linearly, while at the same time, asking them to come up with innovative ideas.

Take a number, step in line, wait in line, fill out form, repeat. I don't know about you, but that sure doesn't seem to be very conducive to growth. Waiting in a line to fill out some forms? For what purpose? Because we are told that this is the way that it needs to be? This does not seem responsible from an organizational or personal perspective. Why waste and squander the talents and strengths that people have to offer?

"Mature" organizations have strict guidelines and policies in place. This is why business costs so much, and this is why our businesses and non-profits are closing their doors. Our organizations are too big. Too many people are doing work that isn't even remotely related to what is needed or wanted. Work is done, simply to keep busy until quitting time. There are people sitting on top of talented, motivated, and innovative people, barking orders, asking for forms to be completed, and demanding a full account of our time. And still we wonder why we are not innovative, creative, passionate? Seriously?

We need to be lightweight again, and return to the core of what we exist for. It is time to get smaller on policy and procedure, and begin providing extreme value to our customers and employees. If you really want your organization to grow and reach its full potential, you are going to have to refocus your efforts and energize the tribe. We cannot afford to be so heavy anymore. This economy will not support it. Your customers will not support it. And your employees and volunteers will certainly not support it.

Cattle move in herds. They are slow, they spend hours upon hours grazing, and if they are not prodded, they do not tend to move a whole lot. Wolves on the other hand travel in smaller leaner packs. They are cunning, and they are quiet. With stealth like agility, they can sneak up on their prey and pick off the herd on one by one.

Will you and your organization be the wolf, or will you be the beef?

March 09, 2009

Giving life up for the status quo

There is beauty and joy all around us. Inspiration, innovation, excitement, and passion are not hard to find, for those who truly want to see it.

In fact, we have all been designed with joy and creativity hard wired into our DNA. However, at some point in our lives, most adults, in an effort to be mature and responsible, push away creativity and side with the obese and bloated system of the status quo. We tend to live under the false premise that siding with the status quo is safe, secure, and without risk. That seems to make a lot of sense, until you begin to see the status quo begin to crumble under the enormous weight of self induced process, policy, and procedure. The economic crisis that we find ourselves in today is a result of our over reliance on the status quo, as opposed to relying on the strengths and talents that we have each been uniquely created with, for a mission that is just as unique.

Beauty and design are elegant. They are lightweight on process. They require that we focus on doing what is important, doing what is important well, and keeping the solution elegantly simplistic. However, elegance and simplicity come with a cost. There is a lot more effort that is required when you are trying to do something different than it has ever been done.

Creating something elegantly simplistic requires digging into the core of who we are, the part of our souls that we have neglected for so long in exchange for assumed security. Another challenge that we face as we begin to do things that are meaningful, passionate, and creative is that we will all to often look internally for the best ideas. Rarely are the best ideas found within. They are often found as a result of looking at all of the beautifully crazy ideas that others have had, and then marrying them into an elegant union. Finally, doing something creative and extraordinary will require us to be uncomfortable and to step into a place of constant uncertainty. This sounds scary at first, but ultimately, you will find joy and contentment when you are able to escape the bonds that we willfully accept when we blindly follow a broken system.

Keep in mind, the status quo is established in order to keep you from fulfilling a mission that is uniquely your own. It is there, intentionally, to distract you from the work that needs to be done. Whether or not you decide to step up to the mission of your life is completely a call that you must make on your own.

March 08, 2009

The Champions of Economic Recovery

Over the past several weeks, people and organizations have been provided the opportunity to propose projects and ideas to state government agencies in response to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Essentially the federal government has committed funds as a means for moving our country out of the economic situation that we find ourselves in today.

As a result of this, I find myself somewhat hopeful again. When posed with the question on how to use this money, the American people have responded. Sure some of the ideas that have been submitted are pretty crazy, but at least this proves that people are still willing to think of doing things that are much bigger than themselves. There are still people out there who have visionary ideas that they are willing to put out there. When it comes down to it, we are innovative and creative people at the core of who we truly are.

I am hopeful again, because I see the American people returning to the innovative roots of the American spirit. Without thinking about financial limitation, people are coming up with some pretty crazy, inspiring, and great ideas. Some of these ideas may appear to be terrible, but the truth is, even these ideas could be coupled with other ideas to create something great!

The government is not the champion that will pull us out of the economic struggle that we find our nation in today. It will be the American people returning to generating and communicating ideas with one another. The American people will be the catalyst for turning this economy around, and as a result, individuals will once again realize the power that comes from using the brilliantly beautiful minds that they have been uniquely designed with.

Although I am not certain if this was intended, the government has provided the platform for people to dream again. Now is the time for people to think of doing phenomenal things without limitation! If we truly want to turn this economy around, then we must answer the call to creative freedom!

Now is the time for us to do something great!

March 05, 2009

Love and Respect

In a post by Seth Godin, he brings up a couple of really great points when it comes to presenting. He explains that when delivering a message, the presenter needs both respect from the audience and a love for the audience.

Regardless of how you choose to tell your story, you are a presenter. Whether it is in an auditorium or theater, your office, or through a blog, you are presenting ideas, concepts, and a vision to the individuals that you are attempting to connect with, otherwise known as your audience.

We are all storytellers. This is a fact. Call it your personal brand, or vision casting, or leading your mission, you are telling a story everyday. Sometimes, the story spans multiple days, weeks, months, and years. Other times, you only have several minutes to convey your message. That being said, it is crucial to gain respect from your audience quickly. The way that you gain this respect is through consistency in your actions, being responsible and assertive, passionate and engaged. You need to be aware of and accept the fact that quality is essential in all that you do. You may only have one chance to grab hold of someone and speak to them, especially in a world where there is so much competing for our attention. Your audience has already made certain judgements about you before you even begin to speak. If you want your message to be heard and accepted, you need understand that you get one shot to earn that respect. A damaged brand is extremely difficult to overcome. It can be done, but it takes significant time and effort.

Why do you even care if anyone listens to what you have to say in the first place? What does it matter if you gain respect from your audience? Because, the story that you are designed to tell is important to those that are listening. You need to realize and understand the weight of the responsibility that you have accepted. People will listen to the story that you have to tell and will actually look for a way to become a part of the story that you are presenting, when you are able to get beyond any potential gain for yourself and focus on the importance that your message has in the lives of others.

Gaining respect from others and loving your audience require that you gain the understanding that none of it is about you or your organization. It is all about others, and helping them to become the best that they possibly can become.

Simply put, your story is important out of your love for others. And the only way that you can deliver this story is to gain respect from the audience and to love the audience.

March 04, 2009

Possibly Creative

There is almost nothing that energizes me more than being surrounded by creative people! I love to hear people thinking out loud about different ways that things could be done, seeing challenges as mere fodder and opportunities for doing something great!

Being creative is fun, and while it does require a ton of brain power, discussion, and the ability to look foolish from time to time, it energizes me completely! Get a room of people together to solve a common problem without citing all of the limitations that we have established in the form of policies and procedures, and big problems can start to look trivial.

Conversely, there is nothing that drains me more than being surrounded by realists. It isn't that they don't necessarily want to do something great, they just have a different approach to getting there. Of course, I argue that if they cannot dream about what could be regardless of what they are faced with now, they don't have a very clear picture of where they are heading.

The world simply needs more possibility thinkers, or at least people who are willing to live past the fear of failure, and embrace all that they could creatively become!

March 03, 2009

The Open Mind Principle

When a problem comes along that needs solving, where is the first place the we tend to look?

Internally. The trouble is, the solution is rarely found solely within ourselves. Sure, we have certain resources, passions, and inherent strengths and talents that are available for our use. It is absolutely wise to know and make use of these. However, without some idea of how to use what we have, we often find ourselves mulling over a problem without having any idea how to resolve it.

Part of the issue with only looking internally is that you only use what you have now. There are other possible ideas that others have that may be able to solve the same problem that you are trying to solve. Ironically, the ideas that they have may not even be ones that are directly related to the issue or challenge that you are looking to resolve.

Something else worth considering is that there may be other people or organizations that feel stuck on an issue. No matter how many great ideas that they have, they are not able to make any progress towards resolution due to limited resources. However, combine what you have with what they have, and then, you might be able to talk about the possibility of finding a mutual resolution to the complex issues that you are trying to resolve.

A few things that need to be kept in mind:

  1. You will never solve problems with a closed mind. Closed minds take nothing in, and share nothing. This is akin to the open-hand principle. You cannot receive if you hands are not open. If you hold on to tightly to what you have, your hands are not able to abundantly receive. With a closed mind, you don't grow.
  2. You don't need more stuff to solve your problems. You have everything that you need to solve the problems that you have been entrusted to. You simply need to be willing to excercise your creative muscle and make use of what you have. This is going to require you to perhaps do somethings that are completely crazy, heretical, and maybe even a little scary. But, you accepted the responsibility, so get over it and make a difference!
  3. You need more thoughts to solve your problems. Regardless of what you are going through, you need to have, at the very minimum, a sounding board that you can bounce ideas off of. You need people in your life that will hold you accountable, that will be completely honest with you, and that will even share ideas with you. You need people that are passionately bought into the mission that you exist for. They may not be necessarily bought into you or your organization, but they fully grasp and understand the mission and vision, and want to see it be successful. By the way, the worst thing that you can do with these individuals is to ignore them. Get them involved in the idea generating process, and listen to the thoughts and ideas that they have!

March 02, 2009

Intermingled Composition

A great composer can produce astonishing and vibrant works that can stir emotion in even the coldest of human hearts. The composer is essentially telling a story.

Sometimes, the music that we hear is sad, but then, someone picks up the tune, and injects their own story into it. And before you know it, the whole song has been transformed. What was once sad and dark is now filled with light and life. Passion and energy take over, and the message being conveyed is completely changed.

The stories that we tell are no less different than the stories that a composer or author skillfully arranges. The stories of our lives have beginnings, middles, and ends. How we allow others to change the context of our story is of course a decision that we must make on our own.

Regardless of the tempo of the story you are telling, you can choose who will have influence of injecting pieces into your story. The real beauty is found when two or more stories can come together in a beautiful masterpiece, where it is not recognizable that the intent of the message was divergent.

The two become one, in a matter of speaking.

February 27, 2009

True Responsibility

Regardless of who you are, what your job title or pay grade is, or where you live, the fact of the matter is, people need you to be responsible. Most people realize and accept this. They want to be responsible, and they want to do the right thing.

However, most people have a misunderstanding about what it really means to be truly responsible.

You have been given the gift of a creative mind. Some may argue that they cannot paint, or create great works of prose, or develop really cool applications that are going to revolutionize the world. I'll agree, some people cannot paint or do any of the things that were mentioned, however, anyone can be creative. And everyone has a responsibility to exercise the creative muscles.

People have bought into the misconception that responsibility means accepting things the way that they are. People somehow believe that the way things are now is how they will always be. Accepting this mindset will ensure that things will not be the same as they are now. Why? Because this supports and maintain the system of the status quo. The system of the status quo is crumbling. Continuing to do things the way that they have always done, simply because that is always the way that they have been done, is not indicative of accepting responsibility.

Be creative with the challenges and issues that are preventing you, your organization, or even your family from embodying the image of the design that they have been creatively built with. You have a responsibility and obligation to creatively make use of the strengths and talents that you have been wired with every single day.

If you need any help unwrapping this more, let me know. I am passionate about helping individuals and organizations to identify creative ways that they can make full use of the opportunities, resources, strengths, and talents that are uniquely their own!

February 26, 2009

Heretics Wanted

Are you working hard, putting everything that you have into moving forward your action plan to make a positive impact on the world? Or, do you more often find yourself in protection mode, playing it safe, and carefully weighing your actions based on politics?

Heretics cannot afford to be political people.

If you are going to make a difference that matters, if you want to be a leader that inspires people, if you want to build and provide the best products and services possible, you have to be a heretic. Armed with the mission that you have been designed with, you cannot fail, even in failure. Heretics know that the failures that they endure today are the table settings for something extraordinary tomorrow.

If you live for maintaining your job, you are not a heretic. If you are afraid of making waves, and being looked upon with disdain, you are not a heretic. If you are not willing to sacrifice your own comfort for something far greater than yourself, you are not a heretic.

Heretics do what is right for the advancement of the mission that they have been designed with, even when it makes no sense to do so. It's time to define why it is that you are here, and then passionately get out in front of your team and lead. It is time to label yourself as a heretic, and then behave like one.

February 24, 2009

Creative Emergency!

We take things way to seriously!

Sure, there are serious problems all around us. That pile of debt that we are facing as a country is pretty audacious. Those credit card, car loan, and student loan balances that you have are definitely quite significant. Your health isn't doing so great, you are faced with challenges with your children and your family.

Truly, there is a lot to be concerned about.

However, what if we approached these concerns like a child might? What if we were able to look at these issues, and even all of the things that are around us, and use them as the fodder for achieving some of the greatest things that anyone could ever dream possible. Imagine the stories that you would be able to tell!

When we tell our story the way that it needs to be told. We can sing, even if we have no voice. We can climb, even when we have no strength. We can ride the range, correcting the wrongs that we see. Yes, we do need to face our problems eventually, but wrapping them in a story can help us to identify innovative ways to overcome challenges that appear to be bigger than we could possibly overcome.

Have some fun again! It is really okay to do this! Paint, write, talk with your friends about what could be! Become an artist again! If we could all just be 1% more imaginative and less concerned about reality, we might find that a great deal of our problems kind of get resolved as a result.

User or Leader?

Who are the people that are on your team? Do you realize that each of them has a personal mission? Why are they on your team? Why do they come to work each day and support the mission that you have established (you have done this, right)?

Using the gifts and talents of the people that are on your team is not what is necessary for your goals to be achieved. However, allow each person to see how the time that they spend actively working towards your mission is helping them to achieve their own mission or story, and you will find that you have people that are passionately bought in to delivering the best that they possibly can. They will give you everything.

If you are just using the gifts, talents, strengths, and abilities of the members of your team, for the actualization of your mission, you are a user. People will become tired of your rhetoric, and will become restless as they will feel as though they are not achieving what it is that they are here to complete (and they would be right for feeling this way).

If you can truly identify the individual mission that each member of your team comes to the table with, and then provide them a platform to deliver on the mission that they have been designed for, you are a leader. People will be engaged, and will passionately deliver on the goals that are necessary for your mission to reach fruition. And sometimes, you surprisingly may find someone who has the exact same mission that you have been created with.

Knowing the mission that your team members (and even customers) are designed for, and showing them how helping you achieve the mission that you have will help them to complete the mission that they have been created for, will lead to far greater impact and loyalty than if you simply use them for what they have.

February 23, 2009

Kill Realism

When tough times start showing up, we start thinking realistically. Ironically, these are the times when creative genius and inspiration are needed the most, yet, rather than simply thinking beyond the current set of circumstances or perceived limitations, we limit our potential to respond to the issues that are in front of us.

Tactical decisions will not be so dramatically impacted by these decisions. Our limited vision and implementations will, for the most part, fail quickly.

The danger comes when we are planning strategically based on a mindset of realism. Executive management needs to think creatively when it comes to strategy. Where do we want to be in five years? What is going to define our business in the next seven years? What do we stand for?

A lot of organizations can't even answer the question that asks why they exist in the first place. Why are you here? To make a profit for your shareholders? That's not good enough. That's not creative. That just says that you are willing to compromise whatever it is that you are doing currently when times get tough and jump onto the thing at the time that has the potential of gaining a financial return. To be completely honest, that just makes you nothing more than a zombie. Go with whatever the big money maker is, and follow the crowd. That's what zombies do.

Not very inspiring, is it? Yet, this is exactly the playbook that so many organizations use.

If you are going to make it through these tough economic times, you need to be prepared to think of some pretty creative ways to keep on track. And, if you haven't defined why you are even here, then you know where to start. If you need some help either defining why you're here, or how you are going to move forward, let me know. I am more than willing to help individuals and organizations become everything that they have been designed to be.

Please, stop killing creativity and innovation in our organizations and lives. Instead, attack realism with zeal, and let's do something great!

February 20, 2009

Do You Need More?

If we had more money, then we could provide products that our customers would really find useful. If finances were unlimited, we could reach out to people with our ministry like never before. If we had more people available to complete list of projects we have before us, then we would be able to get a lot more done.

The misconception seems to be that if we had more, we would be able to do more.

The question really is what are you doing with what little you already have? Are you putting the resources that you have to work everyday, making use of everything that you have available? Are you digging deep despite adversity, creatively approaching the challenges that you face, or are you simply thinking about what could be if you had more?

Make no mistake, if you aren't providing the best products that you can with what you already have, if you are not out in front of your tribe leading them passionately with what you have been entrusted with, you certainly are not going to be able to do it any better with more. More money, time, or power is not going to equate to better products, or reaching more people, or even getting more done.

Those that are able to provide the best, most imaginative, and incredibly crazy innovations with what they already have will find that they gain more, and they will be faced with abundance. However, those that are sitting idly by waiting for more to be given before they are ready to make a difference will find themselves always coming up short, frustrated, angry, and eventually, completely bankrupt.

Stop whining and waiting for someone to give you more before you can begin to make a difference. Instead, make use of what you have been given today, and you will find that you will be entrusted with more tomorrow.

February 19, 2009

Scapegoat Named Fear

Fear is the new scapegoat that we use as our excuse for not accepting our obligation of being the best that we can be.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of falling. Fear of flying. Fear of death. Fear of fear. Fear of complacency. Fear of knowledge. Fear of the unknown. Fear of commitment. Fear of disappointment.

Why do we allow fear to play such a pivotal role in who we are, but of greater concern, who we are becoming?

I fear that too many of us, myself included, are missing out on the great things we have been designed for as a result of giving fear more credit than it deserves.

February 16, 2009

Are You Still Dancing?

This afternoon as I was walking through the mall with my daughter, my son, and my wife, I saw a young child dancing joyfully. Typically, I would think nothing of this. As a father of three, I too have seen my children break out into random song and dance in public. For me, seeing kids doing "crazy" things is as common and ordinary as eating is to others.

However, as we walked by, I overheard the child's mother tell her daughter to stop dancing. For whatever reason, I actually began to think about the message that the mother was delivering to her daughter. I too have told my daughter and son to stop dancing in public, or to stop singing, or to stop bothering people. However, they are living out what is in their heart.

This started me to thinking; are we doing what is flowing from the depths of our heart, or are we repressing it? Are we teaching our children that in order to function and live in this society they need to push down the joy and hide it under a veil of propriety?

At some point, adults have bought into the lie that it is unacceptable to dance in public. Or to sing. Or to do stuff that is completely crazy.

Are you willing to dance again? Are you willing to allow the joy in your heart to bubble out into your work, and into the lives of those that are around you? It is time to join the dance again. It is time to sing again. It is time to be fully alive!

The world is desperately in need of people and organizations that are willing to drop the facade and embrace the joy that they have in their hearts! Answer the call of your heart and let your creativity and innovation flow for the world to see.

February 10, 2009

Correct it, or it will be corrected for you

People want to have a chance to be a part of something creative, fun, and innovative. They want to be able to contribute to things that are bigger than what we know today, and genuinely want to have the opportunity to use the talents and strengths that they have been inherently gifted with.

That being said, why do we so often allow tight controls and systems to override this core of who we are? Let's face it, we have done a great job of organizing our work into silos that constantly oppose creativity and innovation.

Someone mentioned the other day that all of the processes of the 1950s have been automated already. The point that this individual was making is that now, we need innovation. Unfortunately, we have done such a great job of quieting and discouraging innovation that we cannot see past what has already been built.

What you see in the economy now is not about the economy. It is about recapturing our human spirit again, and breathing real substance and life into what it is that we do every single day. We can give lip service to encouraging and rewarding innovation and creativity, but in the end, it does not benefit us unless we really mean it.

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of walls and barriers established that will take some knocking down. If we don't do it, the economy will certainly correct our mistakes on our behalf.

Time to get innovative and start making some real change. Let's do something big! Let's do something great!

February 09, 2009

The Reality of Constraints

Often, when we are given a project to work on, we are also given a list of constraints.

Constraints are often used to define what we must do, how we must do what we must do, and the amount of time that we have to get them done. We find ourselves constrained by the budget, by available resources, and even current understanding. They can be self implied or mandated. Explicitly dictated or implicitly assumed.

Constraints can be useful in helping us to understand the problem better. They can be a great asset in helping us to understand reality. For those of us that prefer to live life thinking about what could be, what can be, and what should be, they can be imperative in keeping us from making poor decisions that could adversely impact our customers, our coworkers, or even ourselves.

However, it is very easy for people to get so tied down to the constraints that they forget to dream altogether. If people in history had allowed the constraints of the day, such as the world being flat, to prevent them from doing things, then no one would have discovered that there was a beautiful round world full of excitement and discovery.

Before simply accepting the constraints that are given, or limiting your creative and personal potential by creating constraints for yourself based on assumptions, take some time to weigh each of the constraints. Find out if they are real constraints or if they are simply a product of the system of the status quo, created to keep you in line.

At the end of the day, you will be held accountable for seeing that the mission that you have been designed to complete is achieved. You can try as much as you like to blame failure on the constraints, you can whine about how the deck is completely stacked against you, and try to shrug off achieving your audacious goals because of obstacles. However, in the end, you are responsible for seeing to it that you are successful. Everything that you need has already been given, or will be given.

The only thing standing in your way is you and the perceived constraints that you have have given undeserved weight.

February 05, 2009

Our Greatest Consumable Resource

I've heard that it is important to treat the time of your customer as though it is sacred.

Why don't we simply treat time in general as though it is sacred?

We spend time worrying about how much oil will be left in 10 years. We worry about the latest technology that is coming, hoping that we will be able to maintain a competitive edge in the new economy.

Does that really matter?

Time is one of our greatest resources. However, it is spent quickly, and once it has been spent, you don't get it back. You can take things back to the store and get your money back. You can recycle paper, and use it again in a new form. But time is consumable.

Once it is gone, it is gone forever.

Value your time, the time of others, and the time of your loved ones.

Live boldly, passionately, and with intensity making use of every moment that you have been given.

February 03, 2009

The Low Hanging Fruit Debate of 2009

Today in a training session that I was attending, the facilitator brought up the phrase "low hanging fruit."

Immediately, all heads snapped around to the back of the room, eyes fixed on one individual in particular. Almost in perfect synchronicity, this one person very vocally began to exclaim how great his dislike of this phrase actually is. Of course, we already know that he hates that phrase, which is exactly why we so eagerly anticipated his response.

He makes the argument that low hanging fruit implies that we are going for the easy solutions first, without tackling the issues that are of real substance. It takes more effort to climb a tree to get to the fruit at the top, but if you can figure out how to make your way up there, the fruit has a better chance of not being impacted by insects and other elements. I can see his thought process here, and don't totally disagree. Sometimes we tend to solve the easy stuff first, which makes things better, at least temporarily. The thought is that we will eventually get all of the low hanging fruit out of the way, and then we will be in a better position to go after the stuff that is still out of reach. Unfortunately, there seems to be an unending supply of low hanging fruit.

However, the facilitator made a great point as well. Getting a few early successes out of the way can substantially increase morale. Also, low hanging fruit tends to imply that we already have what we need to address the issues. Less energy, time, and resources are expended to get a result, even if the gain is minimal.

As I listened to this debate continue, I started to think about something. Going after the fruit at the top of the tree requires energy. If you wanted to get to the top of the tree, you had better be prepared to climb. Part of being prepared includes being well nourished, especially for an activity such as climbing a tree. So, why not eat the low hanging fruit to prepare yourself for the climb?

There might be some merit to this, even as it pertains to our personal development and growth as well.

Then again, maybe I am just hungry and want to take the easy way out.

February 02, 2009

Action is Requisite

People all over the place are doing some pretty awesome and audacious things right now. In spite of the downturn of the economy, they are deciding to keep moving forward. Some are even looking at this as an opportunity to do something that they have always wanted to do.

The cost to start a business has never been lower. Of course, the risk of failing is more substantial now too.

I've always heard that with great risk, there can come great reward. With minimal risk, there is minimal reward. I tend to think of it this way.

With great risk comes great responsibility and tremendous levels of action, which can result in great reward. When you take the path of minimal risk, you are typically taking the path that is less responsible even though it may require tremendous levels of action, and the rewards are for the most part minimal. That is, if you want to live and breath the mission that you have been designed to complete.

You have an obligation and responsibility to take risk, meet fear head on, and do the work that you have been custom cut for.

The people that are doing great things right now have something in common.

They know the burden that they have. They have endured the fatigue that comes from sleepless nights where all you can do is lie there staring at the ceiling with the knowledge that there are people hurting as a result of their inaction. They have become frustrated with that idea that seems to come back to them again and again, regardless of what they try to do to extinguish it. Even the crazy ideas seem to prevail against their attempts to thwart them. So they have decided to own up to the responsibility that they have, and have started to put feet to the mission that belongs to them.

They are doing. Doing implies action. If your simply thinking, your not doing. If your restless, your not doing. If your repressing ideas because they are too big, or too crazy, or too difficult, your not doing.

Anything that you feel compelled to do and cannot push away, you must do. You must begin. Stop coming up with excuses. Stop pushing away that which keeps coming back to you.

There might just be something in it that you need to act on.

January 29, 2009

Chasing Riches, Happiness, and Peace

It seems that most everybody wants to get rich quick. Or to become a raging success over night. Some may simply have a desire to find happiness, peace, and deep satisfaction. Others have a desire for all of these things in unison as though acquiring all of these in parallel leads to some sort of perfect trifecta of joy and bliss.

There is a misconception that that all of these are interrelated. So the thought goes, "If I become more successful, I'll have more money, which will provide me the opportunity to do the things that I have always wanted to do (really, you have an obligation to do this anyway, but that's an entirely different topic altogether), which will result in my happiness, which is really what the world is all about".

Chasing our desires is going to do nothing but leave us feeling depressed, frustrated, aggravated, and plain exhausted. Chasing, by its very meaning, indicates that we are trying to tackle an object that is perpetually moving. Every time that we appear to get closer to the reaching what we are in pursuit of, it moves, or we slip and fall, or something bigger than us steps out in front of us and gobbles up what we have been running after. Occassionally, we even chase it into someone elses eagerly waiting hands.

Unfortunately, people get caught up in the chase, and forget what it is that they started chasing in the first place. They start seeing many things to chase at one time. I see wealth over there, but hey, look, over there, happiness is much closer! If I can just get some happiness, I will feel more like chasing the money! So you run over to happiness, but once you get over to it, it darts off leaving you frustrated, bewildered, and at times betrayed.

I am not suggesting that there is nothing worth chasing. On the contrary, we have been designed and wired with intense desire and passion in our hearts and minds. If we had not been built with desire, then would have nothing worth working for. There would not be a reason to eat, or to drink, or even live. Unforunately, our desire and passion, however noble they may appear, are often misplaced and misdirected.

All that we really long for, desire, and need are provided, when we are willing to give our lives to a cause that is not about us, but is about others. It makes entirely no sense to me, but the more you work to achieve something, the harder you push, the farther you find yourself from reaching it, especially when it is a selfish pursuit. However, when you work for others, giving yourself over to the mission that you have been custom designed for without regard to your own needs, all that you were chasing seems to simply be provided.

Like my friend Scott was saying the other day, Growth = Less + Less, as opposed to the formula that we have been indoctrinated with (Growth = More + More + More).

Be mindful of what you are pursuing, and what it is that is driving you. Focus on the mission and work for others, and all that you have been chasing will begin to chase you.

January 27, 2009

Life Without Fuel

Without fuel of some variety, automobiles sit lifeless.

Without fuel in the form of the proper balance of proteins, calories, fats, and carbohydrates, our workouts are not as effective as they possible could be otherwise.

Likewise, the minds and bodies of all living things will not grow correctly without fuel.

Without fuel, great ideas grow moldy and rot in obscure journals, our minds, or are tragically lost forever.

Fuel is necessary for fire too. Fire keeps us warm, allows us to cook our food, and enables the refinement of precious metals and even land.

Fuel is what gets us to move past the barriers that are in front of us. Fuel feeds us so that we can overcome obstacles, achieve goals that are bigger than ourselves, and accomplish what we have been designed for.

Of course, fuel is not free. It costs each of us something. It costs us something globally too.

Fuel is exhaustible. Once it is used, you have to get more. But, fuel is necessary to get where you want to go. Without fuel, there is no momentum. Without momentum, there is no growth. Without growth, we cannot reach our goals.

We need to be appropriately fueled. If you spend too much time fueling, you never go anywhere. If you don't spend enough time fueling, your tank will not be full enough to reach the destination as quickly as you could, or could prevent you from getting to your destination at all.

Find what it is that fuels you. Observe the times of the day when you are most productive and most on fire. Identify the activities that ramp up your stores of energy, and then fill up the tank. The only thing left is to go and complete the mission and goals that you have been designed to complete, but always remember, you have to refuel eventually.