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The Greatness Project

Greatness Project 2017

Greatness Project 2017: “We are the creators of our own experience — remembering this and living our lives from this perspective empowers us.” Mike Robbins
Over the years, in many of the workshops I’ve facilitated, I’ve heard the lament “I’ve not found my purpose yet.” This thinking imperils the very end goal many people pursue. When I visualize someone “looking” for their passion or purpose, I picture them looking under rocks with a large magnifying glass.
The idea that my purpose in life or passion is out there waiting for me to find creates two different and very big problems. The first problem is that idea of searching for our purpose makes the world and our lives a big game. Our purpose is hidden out there and we have to find it. Really? Yet, there are no rules, no guidelines and nothing to say when we really find it. That would be a nasty universe indeed. However the second problem is more critical. If we are to “find” our purpose in life, that means that it was planted and planned by someone or something else. It is not really ours, it is imposed on us by something outside of us. So, we don’t really own it and when things get difficult or challenging it is much easier to blame the universe or some higher being rather than persevere in our purpose.
Reality is much simpler, but requires more courage. Our life will be much more powerful, guided, energized when we craft our purpose. It is up to us to evaluate our strengths, what we love to do, how we love to interact and glue all of that together into our life purpose. That is when we truly own our lives. That is when the purpose that we pursue is directly connected to who we are and how we will make a difference in the lives of others.
So, if someone ever asks you “have you found your purpose?” You can respond by offering “no, I’m too busy crafting it.” You will have a much more powerful life and you won’t spend it looking under rocks.

Greatness Project 2017

Greatness Project 2017: The Status of Powerlessness

“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.”
Eric Michael Leventhal
It seems we live in a society, even an epoch, when status symbols and power are critical to how we perceived. Daily we are pitched to own new clothes, watches, cars, computers, etc., that proclaim to the world that we are wealthy, powerful, or at least up-to-date. These symbols communicate to others how we fit into our world and where we are in the pecking order. Most careers even seem to have a dress code. Look around. In order to fit in, everyone from artists to CEOs have a style that fits their chosen profession. And all of this stuff is to make others believe we are powerful (but perhaps mostly it is to convince us).
Have you ever met someone who is so powerful they can afford to let others shine? They can be quietly present and not have to take over the room. Those are people who have matured into the natural power of being authentic. They don’t worry what others might think of their clothes, nor do they have to dominate the conversation or have the final word. Their quiet power is more striking than all of the boisterousness, bragging or status symbols of those around them. They are the ones who have grown into the best of who they are.
We all have power. And it is power from the very nature of who we are and what we have to give to the world. Every time we give into the status symbols and pecking order that are prevalent in society we cheapen who we are and what we bring. Yet choosing not to play the game of authority takes courage. Being calm in a maelstrom of insecurity requires that we have explored the truth of who we are, what we bring and what our frailties are. Therein lays the precious gold of what we bring to the world. Once we know those truths about ourselves there are none who can upset or tempt us. That is true power and is what this world needs right now.

Greatness Project 2017

Greatness Project 2017: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Anne Bradstreet
I am an optimist. I don’t apologize for it, nor do I demand that others have the same outlook as I have. Yet I cringe when I hear optimists universally described as “not looking at reality.” But what is reality?
We live in a world that begins with fairy tales where couples live “happily ever after”, where Oz is at the end of the yellow brick road and the good always wins. These are the mental models we are given as children to face the reality of the world. Yet, we all know that the world is harsher than that. So, should we abandon the belief that everything will turn out well? Not at all.
Life has its rough times and it is the rough times that can define us. It is not enough to look forward to the bright future, without packing some rain gear. That is where we can help ourselves and help others.
When we embark on a new project we need to envision success or we will not set out on the journey. Yes, we envision the end goal in all its glory so that we have the energy to begin. And we also need the tools and resources to face the challenges along the way so that when the challenges arise, we are ready to meet them.
Plan for the challenges in every venture, heck, plan for them in every day. What do you do to keep your eyes on your goal? How do you energize yourself when things get tough? Who can you rely on to support you when things don’t work out? These are the tools and resources that all of us need to pack as we walk this unpredictable life.
I have always loved the phrase “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” In this life, we will meet with times of winter and times of spring, with both the good and the bad. Both the good and the bad teach us, but only if we are prepared. So, welcome your spring when it comes. It will be that much sweeter after you have worked your way through your winter.

Greatness Project 2017

Greatness Project 2017: “One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”
Joan of Arc
The Salesian Order of Catholic priests and brothers has a tradition on Fridays. They spend quiet time Friday afternoons contemplating death. That might seem morbid, yet there is nothing better than thinking about death to help anyone realign their life. When you realize that someday you will no longer be here, you start thinking about priorities, about how you spend your time and about what affect your life has on others.
Sit with people who are dying and you learn a lot about living. Hearing their stories, their laments and their joys, you can see either a life well-lived, or a life they perceive as squandered. Many people fear death, yet the ones who fear death least are those who lived well in this life.
What does it mean to “live well?” It means to live at peace with others. It means to cherish that which is most valuable to you and those people who are most valuable in your life. Living well means that as much as possible you enjoy everything in life, the simple joys and the tough ones too. To live a good life also means that you live in such a way that others emulate you, maybe without you knowing, but they want to be like you.
The trite phrase, “you can’t take it with you” is true about material possessions. But a life well lived? Well that is more interesting because you take it with you and you leave it behind. The memories of good people, good times, and good work is something that those at the end of their lives can hold close as a comfort. And they leave a wonderful legacy behind at the same time.
So, the question is, how will you die?

Greatness Project 2017

Greatness Project 2017: “A prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.” Charles Duhigg
Think of all the resolutions we make; the promises we tell ourselves; the goals we set. And many of us wonder why we don’t succeed. Yet, if we listen carefully to our reasoning for why we stopped, or never got started, we are usually putting the responsibility on something outside of ourselves. We are giving up our control. “There was too much pressure at work to continue exercising.” “I couldn’t keep eating healthy the way I wanted to because of my family.” “I didn’t finish writing the book because my life got complicated.” In all these scenarios we are blaming something outside of ourselves for why we didn’t continue. Yet successful people don’t do this. They believe, even in the most challenging situations that they have a choice, they have control.
Many of us have come to accept that we are only partly in control of our lives. We point at extenuating circumstances, bosses, family, etc. as to why we have not succeeded. Why do we do this? We do it to save our egos. We don’t want to accept the responsibility of our own ineffectiveness. Yet the reality is that every day, every moment we have control. We can make the choices to be who we want to be and what we want to do. Hiowever, are all of the choices balanced and fair? No. If I dislike my current job and want to do something different I have to weigh all of the values I hold dearly. Will I be able to support my family if I quit? Will I be able to keep my house and car? Will I be able to look myself in the mirror if I stay in this job? All these questions and many more have to be taken into consideration. BUT, at the end of the day, you get to choose what is most valuable to you. You may decide to stay where you are because you value your family more than economic uncertainty. But you chose! You are in control! You may risk losing the respect of your family and friends because by quitting you can’t pay the mortgage and you lose your house, but you want to pursue a dream. That also is having control, making a choice based on values.
The point is that we have to realize we always have control, we always have choices. They may not be fair or balanced, but we always have them. And when we finally realize that we have control, that we have choices, we are more powerful because our life is ours. This is the critical first step for everyone who is successful. If we don’t embrace this power, we lose it. But if we realize our power of choice, that the locus of control is in our hands, we can be energized to do anything.