A few weeks ago, I had to speak five times in one day. I knew it would require a lot of me mentally and emotionally. My goal is always to give 110 percent. I want nothing left on the table when I finish.
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But, for some reason, I woke up that morning in a funk. I don’t know why. It was one of those things I couldn’t explain. But I didn’t like it and knew I needed to get myself in a better place if I was going to deliver on my goal.
This past weekend, I took the eight young men in my mentoring group on a retreat. It was the kickoff to our 2012 season.
We went to Deer Run, a beautiful retreat center in the hills of middle Tennessee. The weather was absolutely gorgeous—mid-40s and plenty of sunshine.
The value of a mentor cannot be overestimated. A mentor is someone who is a few laps ahead of you in an area of life where you wish to find success. More than formal training, more than a book or a seminar, a good mentor brings his or her personal experience to bear on your life in a way that may shape it forever.
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But how to find one? It’s actually easier than you think. Here are five ways to find a mentor:
If you want to improve the quality of your life or business, planning is essential. You have to be honest about your current reality, envision a better future, and then create a roadmap for getting from one to the other.
But having a solid plan is no guarantee against encountering problems along the way. As a mentor of mine used to say, “Doo-doo occurs.”
I am not your average leader. My leadership decisions don’t affect the boardroom, but they do the future of the world because I am raising two future leaders. I am a domestic engineer, a home economist, a housewife, a mom. I have found that my leadership at home has taught me lessons that any leader, whether in the board room or the laundry room, can use.
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- If it stinks, change it. This philosophy applies to diapers and to decisions. As leaders, sometimes we may “own” an idea so tightly, that even when shown data that the idea is failing, we keep holding on to it. A leader should be able to change. As Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of Consumer Electronics Association and co-author of a book on innovation puts it, “Mistakes are OK—hiding them is not.”
Sometimes, success is simply a matter of making one small adjustment. For example, at 211 degrees, water is hot. But at 212 degrees it boils. This makes all the difference.
Sam Parker and Mac Anderson expanded on this simple metaphor in their short book, 212°: the Extra Degree. They wrote,
A few weeks ago, I sat down with an old friend to catch up. He lost his job about nine months ago in a recession-induced layoff and has been unable to find another job. He’s had plenty of interviews just no offers.
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“What’s wrong with me?” he asked. “Why won’t someone offer me a job?” He was clearly discouraged.
No one is perfect. No one can be right 100 percent of the time (even if you are Jack Welch or Steve Jobs), including an organization’s leaders. But there are mistakes, and then there are MISTAKES.
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I have found 10 basic essentials that all leaders should have on their list entitled “things to avoid at all costs,” lest they end up on the wrong end of a no-confidence Board vote, a Shareholder lawsuit, or worst of all, an SEC subpoena.
I am a high-energy person. But I haven’t always been that way. There have been times in my life when I was utterly exhausted. Times when getting through the day was a big chore. Times when I had nothing left to give by the end of the day. Times when I just wanted to collapse into bed and pull the covers over my head.
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But in recent years, I am been very deliberate about managing my energy level. I did a lot of reading on this and took the time to educate myself. I experimented. I tried some new things. I broke some old habits. Now, my energy level remains pretty constant through the day.
I hear it all the time. “My husband [or wife] doesn’t understand me. We are so different. We don’t really have anything in common.”
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When I first met Gail, I was attracted to her precisely because she was different. Sadly, after a few years, these same differences started to annoy me. In fact, I began to think that my approach to live was right and hers wrong.
A clearly written goal is not enough. A carefully thought out action plan isn’t either. You need more than this if you are going to accomplish really big goals. Let me explain.
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Last year, I set a goal to write a new book, called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. As someone who has spent his career in the book publishing industry, I had witnessed hundreds (if not thousands) of people get turned away by publishers, simply because they didn’t have a platform.