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How to Let Go of Feeling “Busy”

busy

“I’m SO busy.”

You hear it all the time.

In fact we hear it so much, we should all just assume that everyone is that way and we can all stop saying it.

Because there is a maximum level of busy.

There are only 168 hours in a week, and if every single hour is planned and occupied, then you’ve reached the maximum level of busy.

However, there is no maximum capacity to your mental toughness.

There is no maximum capacity to your peace of mind.

There is no maximum capacity for your ability to handle stress.

Which means that the mental capacity of what you can handle should far exceed the physical and finite time constraints of what you have available in your calendar.

Multipliers seem to have figured out that carrying stress isn’t a necessary prerequisite of having success.

Anxiety isn’t an automatic byproduct of achievement.

And busy isn’t a mandatory requirement of building greatness.

You don’t have to be stressed.

You don’t have to feel anxiety.

You don’t have to feel busy.

Those are all choices that you allow yourself to make.

Those are all emotions that you allow yourself to feel.

But you are bigger than your problems.

You are tougher than your challenges.

And you are stronger than your challenges.

So you can let those feelings die because they aren’t serving you.

You can stop telling yourself that “you’re so busy” because it’s not new information to you that your calendar is full.

And you can stop telling everyone how busy you are so that maybe we all can stop this invisible competition about who has the most going on.

Instead, all of us can move on to getting things done powerfully, productively, and peacefully.

All the while knowing that if we’re working as hard as we can, doing the best we know how to do with what we’ve been given, then no one – including ourselves – can ask us to do anything more.

You’re Gossiping and You Don’t Even Know It

GOSSIPING

People say all the time “I never gossip” but unfortunately many of them are mistaken. 

They do participate in gossip, they just don’t realize it. 

Because we think of gossiping as “telling” secrets we’ve heard; but there’s more to it than that. 

To listen to gossip is to participate in gossip. 

Why?

Because when you listen to gossip you create a clearing and an environment for an emotional person to propagate their story. 

In other words you give a gossiper an audience. And that invites and encourages them to continue talking about whatever it is that they are talking about. 

Listening to gossip will at minimum make the person feel more validated and at most fan their flame to share even more. 

Because it’s hard to listen to gossip and not be agreeable and supportive of the person you’re listening to. It’s human nature to want to empathize with another person- especially when they’re frustrated or complaining. 

But by doing that you become an active member of the gossip crowd. You are advancing what is being said. 

So how do you know if what you are listening to is gossip?

Simple: Gossip is anything even remotely negative being said about a person who isn’t there. 

The moment someone you are talking to starts talking negative about another person you have immediately crossed into the gossip zone. 

And remember if you’re listening to gossip then you are participating in gossip. 

So how should you respond?

Also simple: You interrupt the person as quickly and politely yet firmly as possible and say “Hey, hopefully you don’t mind but I actually made a resolution this year that I would not talk negatively about or listen to negative talk about someone who isn’t in the room with me. I do want to support you and be a good friend though and the biggest thing I’ve learned that helps is to go talk directly with ________. I think that would probably help.”

This of course is simple but not easy. 

And yes you may lose some friends over this. And the ones you lose will probably be vocal about you being on your high horse because misery loves company and misery often gets angry when their company moves on and leaves them alone. 

But it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, the person who isn’t there, and the person who is frustrated. 

Because, as Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying: Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

5 Meaningful Gifts You Can Give That Don’t Cost Money

gifts

Christmas is here!

Honestly, I have to say that Christmas hasn’t historically been my favorite time of the year. But as I’ve gotten older it’s become more and more something that I look forward to.

One reason I have grown to love it is because it is such an intentional reminder to be focused on other people and giving and serving.

I need reminders of that as much as possible in my life because my unfortunate default is to participate in the world and process it only through the lens of how it affects me. 

But giving gifts is one of the best exercises you can do to develop a servant’s heart. It helps you develop the muscle of being more and more focused on others. 

We often think of giving gifts only as it relates to spending money, however it doesn’t have to be that way – not at all.

Here are 5 meaningful gifts that can be some of the best you ever give that don’t cost you a dollar:

Knowledge – To me knowledge is one of the best and most valuable gifts that one can ever be given. In fact, I sometimes think of myself as a “connoisseur of knowledge” giving away things I know and have learned in exchange for acquiring new key pieces of information that will open up the next step for me and Southwestern Consulting. What knowledge do you have that could really change someone’s life? Find someone and share that with them.

Appreciation – Great leaders know that verbal affirmation is a form of currency. It costs you nothing to recognize someone, praise them, compliment them, and tell them how valuable or important they are to you. Yet people hardly ever do it. Why not? Either because they are too lazy (they don’t want to), too self-centered (they don’t think to), or too proud (they think it minimizes their own contribution).

Opportunity – What is more valuable than money? Easy. An opportunity. A vision. The possibility of creating something great and of doing something meaningful. Find ways to create opportunities for those around you. Learn about their dreams and their passions and see how you can creatively coordinate them with things you have going on in your life. Or just give someone the opportunity to work with you and learn from you. Or connect them with someone you know who might be able to help them. 

Time – Nothing says “I care about you” and “you matter to me” quite like spending time with someone. Granted time is limited, and precious so you can’t give it to everyone. And time is money, so in that sense it costs you a great deal. Still, perhaps there is a family member or friend you need to catch up with, or a young team member or potential recruit you want to invest into. This is a very precious gift to give so give it wisely but it is still something you have at your disposal that won’t take money out of your pocket.

Grace – One of the greatest gifts of all is the gift of grace. Maybe there is someone you need to forgive? Maybe there is someone whom you need to ask for forgiveness from? Or maybe this is a time of year where you have a chance to tell someone about the Grace that is freely and permanently made available to them by way of Jesus. The special irony about the gift of grace is that it’s one gift that you give to someone else that ends up really being a gift to yourself.

Whatever gifts you have to give this holiday season, our entire staff and team at Southwestern Consulting would like to wish you a very very Merry Christmas!

P.S. We will have a podcast episode to share next Wednesday but other than that we are off this next week being with our families so we’ll see you amped up and ready to go in 2017!  

The 3 Most Common Mistakes in Career Planning Decision Making

the-3-most-common-mistakes-in-career-planning-decision-making

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to deciding what our next career move is going to be.

Things like:

How much money will I make?

Will my job be safe and steady?

Is there opportunity for advancement?

Over the years I’ve begun to notice a theme and difference in those who end up both happy and successful and those who only get one or neither of the two.

The surprise?

It comes down strictly to how they evaluate their initial decision.

Most people’s top priority for determining their next career move typically includes things like: job security, money, opportunity for advancement and what skills will I learn.

It’s easy to understand why most people use those as their key criteria because they are somewhat black and white, logical, objective, measurable and therefore simpler to evaluate. Unfortunately, while those criteria aren’t “bad” necessarily, they typically are insignificant contributors to our joy and satisfaction in the long term.

So how do the happy, fulfilled and extraordinarily successful people make their decision differently?

They consider and ultimately let their deciding factors be things that are more intrinsic, human, emotional and admittedly obscure.

  1. Satisfaction over Security – For example, they would be more likely to value the enjoyment of the daily work over something like job security. Ultra performers always trust themselves rather than others for their sense of stability because they know that if they’re always willing to work hard then they’ll never have a hard time finding good work. And so they will default much more to caring about how enjoyable their daily work will be and how much it aligns with their natural skill sets and long term passions rather than just considering if they’ll get to keep their job. When it comes down to it, they will choose satisfaction over security every time.

  2. Purpose over Profit – They also will consider the impact they are making in the world much more valuable than the money they will potentially make. Because they know that while there are lots of ways to make money – and that if you get good enough at virtually anything you will make a lot of money – they know that dedicating 1/3 of their breathing life to doing something that makes a difference in the world will create much more sustainable meaning in their life than will money. If forced to choose between the two, a happy person will choose making a difference over making a dollar.

  3. People over Opportunity – Finally, and most important of all, people who become ultimately successful and happy seem to make a calculation that most people overlook entirely. Ultra performers weigh who they will be working with as much more valuable than what they will be doing or how it might advance their career. They know that the people they surround themselves with has a much stronger shaping effect on the success of their life than do their career checkpoints. They are always much more concerned with who they are becoming than they are with how their resume looks. Thus, their single biggest criteria and consideration is evaluating the other team members they will be around. And not just the top level leaders they might have access to, but who are the people they will actually be working with side by side on a daily basis. While it is their #1 deciding criteria, most interviewees never even ask about or know a single person they will end up working with on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Ultra performers always choose people over opportunity.

The biggest irony of all of this is that when you make a career decision based on satisfaction over security, purpose over profit, and people over opportunity, is that those people end up being the ones who make all the money, build all the influence and security, and end up with the biggest opportunities for advancement!

First who.

Then why.

Then what.

And let money be last as a bi-product of the others.

Choose wisely.

The Simple Truth of Creating a Lasting Legacy

legacy

Legacy is not the result of how much you accomplish; it is the result of how many you serve. 

At the end of the day people don’t care much about what you accomplish for yourself, but they feel permanently indebted to those who help them be successful.

Service then, rather than personal success, is what makes us valuable and memorable.

And while service may not be a popular pursuit for many people in the world today, it is one of the consistent commonalities in the world’s greatest legends.

We remember those who served. 

We remember those who lifted us up.  

We remember those who looked after us. 

And it is ironic that no prerequisites are required to serve.  

You don’t have to have a degree, or any experience, or any credentials. 

You can just serve. 

It is perhaps the highest pursuit of all and yet there is nothing and no one who prevents you or blocks you from doing it. 

Anyone can serve. 

Starting now.  

You can find people who need help, and you can support them. 

In that way, you will be adding value to the world, you will be building your memory, and you will be defining your legacy. 

Does Recognition Really Matter?

recognition

In our selfie society, it has fortunately or unfortunately become a customary expectation for us as workers to be recognized for our work.

We are used to getting immediate feedback from people on what they think about us and the things we are doing.

Recognition, therefore, has become an integral part of business operations.

We have incentives, awards ceremonies, email chains, bonuses, prizes and all sorts of other ways that we draw attention to accomplishments that people in our organizations make.

But one of the most important lessons I had to learn as a leader is that recognition, by itself, isn’t what people are really after. 

I use to think that recognition is what people wanted, but I’ve come to learn that it usually isn’t.

People don’t want recognition; people want to feel valued.

People want to feel important.

People want to feel cared for.

People want to feel looked after.

And, it’s not having your name on a plaque, on a trophy, or read off in a long list of other people who did stuff that necessarily makes us feel valued.

What makes people feel valued is heartfelt gratitude.

What makes people feel valued is genuine appreciation.

What makes people feel valued is honest admiration.

People sometimes say we’re motivated by “recognition,” but what we usually mean is that we’re motivated by feeling important, respected and valuable.

We want to know that our efforts count, that they make a difference, and that someone else is taking notice of the work that we’re putting in.

So, emotionless certificates, mundane ceremonies, and trite words devoid of authentic meaning don’t really get the job done.

Which is ironic, because for organizations it takes a tremendous amount of coordination, logistics, manpower, and planning to pull off recognition efforts.

Those things can all be good and should be done, but the part that we need to never lose sight of though is that people don’t usually need all that crazy stuff – even though it can be nice.

What they must have though, that is critical to their survival, is to feel valued. They have to feel noticed.

Which is probably why Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, used to say something that I’m only now fully understanding: “You can give them a $5 present but always give them a $50 bow.”

I think what she was highlighting is that it’s not the award, but the celebration that matters.

And it’s not even the big public celebration that is the most important part, but doing the work that it takes to make people feel truly valued.

And you can make someone feel valued with a simple note or heartfelt thank you even if you can’t do a big prize or ceremony.

So, it’s fine to recognize.

It’s good to recognize.

But recognition is not what ultimately matters; it’s making people feel valued that matters.

Send a note right now to someone who you value and who you appreciate who you haven’t told in a meaningful way in a while. I think you’ll be amazed at how effectively it works.