Dealing with Different … 6 Ways to Embrace Change: Part 3

Anticipate an Adventure

Go ahead and expect it. If you choose to be courageous and your heart is right, you can anticipate an adventure.

One of the things I failed to appreciate when I made my big transition to encouraging leaders full-time was what an adventure it would be. It has stretched me, challenged me, pushed me, and caused me to grow. I can’t imagine how stuck I would be had I not embraced change.

The adventure has taken me all over the country. During the last 18 months, I have met thousands of leaders, traveled to Yellowstone and Alaska, attended an NBA playoff game to watch the Spurs on their march to a 5th championship in 15 years, spent a week at spring training with my favorite team the Pirates, and experienced some amazing days in the Big Apple with my wife learning the craft of storytelling.

WV

As I write these words, I am enjoying the beauty of West Virginia, a place I had never been before the change. If I had chosen comfort, none of these adventures would have happened. I hate to admit it, but I never anticipated how great change could be.

Change has a way of taking us places – not just places on the map. The demands of different are the catalyst to accelerate our accomplishments. Change propels us to progress. It grows us toward greatness.

If you are facing a change and find yourself mired in fear or looking for reasons to resist, I challenge you to lean in.

If you will, you can anticipate an adventure.

Leadership begins at home.

Randy

When it comes to change, do you think it is easier for leaders to anticipate adversity or adventure? Why?

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Dealing With Different … 6 Ways to Embrace Change: Part 1

Choose Courage Over Comfort

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take our change topic to another level by speaking at an annual retreat for a department whose company just restructured. The topic? You guessed it … Change.

Change Retreat

Can we all just agree … things are changing at blur speed?

Once we accept the fact that change is inevitable and make the decision to pursue growth (see yesterday’s post), we have two choices. We can either lean in or we can resist and be left behind.

I’m no different from anyone else. For me, change is hard. I like the status quo as much as the next guy … except I don’t. If the next guy is a leader he knows the status quo will ultimately suck the soul out of him and the people he leads.

Through the years I have experienced thousands of changes. I am finally learning to look forward to most of them. While I still resist occasionally, I have identified six steps to serve as my filter whenever I find myself “dealing with different.” Over the next few days I will share them with you. I encourage you to incorporate them into your leadership. I’m confident they will help you lean in to change.

Step 1 … Choose Courage over Comfort – When I started my company to encourage and equip leaders, the transition took longer than it should have because fear was involved. I heard voices. Mostly my own … Randy, how can you walk away from your income when you have three kids in college and one a year away? What about your health insurance? What if no one will hire you to speak to their organization or team? What if no one is looking for a leadership coach? What if you fail?

Thankfully my wife believed in and encouraged me, and my four daughters called me a sissy. “Dad you keep telling everyone else to live in their sweet spot. You and Uncle Danno even wrote a book on it. It looks to us like you are a scaredy-cat, sissy-chicken.”

Ouch! A man can only take so much from his little women.

Ultimately I decided to go for it. I knew if I didn’t I would one day be an old man full of disappointment and regret. Admittedly, if I had failed I would have been disappointed that I didn’t have what it takes. But I knew I wouldn’t have any regret.

Without courage I had lost my edge as a leader. Edge is a big deal. Without it, you limit your influence. I had conversations with God about my angst. I kept finding places in Scripture where He commands His followers to be courageous. I couldn’t find a single admonishment toward comfort.

When I chose courage and made the change it was like the wind returned to my sails. The support was overwhelming. I discovered it was even bigger than my doubts had been. There was plenty of work with my name on it. Provision was beyond what I could have ever dreamed. And My daughters were my biggest fans. Imagine that!

I told my wife, “This is unbelievable.” She reminded me, as she often does, “No this is believable. This is what you have prayed and prepared for.”

So how about you? Are you comfortable? I hope not. Because if you are, you are most likely miserable. If today finds you in a place where you know you need to make a change, resist the resistance … choose courage over comfort.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

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I’ll share a second step to help you embrace change in my next post.

Second Wind: Part One

A Three Hour Tour

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to do something for the first time … sail a boat.

A friend of mine is basically “Hobie-Wan-Kenobi” and he had just returned from a few days of riding his Hobie on the Gulf of Mexico with his brother, also an experienced sailor. See the photo.

Our families enjoyed a weekend cookout at Lake Oconee, and Hobie-Wan brought his 14 foot sail boat.

My first mistake was showing any interest at all. Small talk was my intention. “You been sailing long?”… “Who taught you how?”…”Looks like fun.” Innocent comments that were certainly not meant to communicate, “Will you teach me how?” Me and my big mouth.

The next thing I knew we were heading away from the dock, my hand holding a steering mechanism (I won’t pretend I know what it is called) and my head ducking the sail as it moved back and forth across the boat.

Hobie Wan gave great instructions about turns and laying off the sail based on the wind direction and other important information. I did a lot of nodding and pretended to understand. Unfortunately, I must have seemed confident.

Immediately we turned the boat around and went back to the dock where Hobie Wan proceeded to climb out. Excited about heading up to the house for another hot dog I started to stand up myself. That’s when my friend went Herman Melville on me and gave the boat a push back toward the open water.

Before I could object, the sail caught some wind and I was moving across the lake at a pretty good clip. “You’re doing great!” were the last words I heard.

The next 10 minutes are a blur. I did my best to remember Herman’s words, but I must admit the trip across the lake was awkward at best. After a few adjustments and mess ups, I made it to the other side, ducked, and turned for home without flipping the boat.

Feeling more confident with each gust of wind, the thought occurred to me, “I could actually  get used to this.”

Then it happened. Just as I was about half way across the lake and beginning to think I would survive the excursion without going Gilligan and turning it into a three hour tour, the wind died.

It is amazing what goes through your mind when you are out on the open water by yourself.

“I wonder how dumb it would look if I just jumped in and pulled the boat back to the dock. It’s only a half mile and I’m a decent swimmer.”

“I wonder how big the catfish are in this lake?”

“Where are my kids with the Jet Ski when I need them?”

“I bet wife put Herman up to this?”

“I wish Gilligan were here.”

You will be glad to know I made it back without the help of the Coast Guard. But not before I discovered a couple of leadership lessons.

Over the next couple of days I will tell you what I learned. Stay tuned …

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

When was the last time you had an adventure and felt challenged?

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Four Steps to Help You Quit Your Job

I’m often asked how I made the switch from leading in an organization to starting my own leadership company.

I’m not sure there is an easy answer. Truthfully, the whole process felt squishy.

Yesterday morning I ran across an interview Anderson Cooper recently did with Fast Company Magazine. Cooper’s answer to one of the questions helped give language to my idea of squishy.

When faced with taking his own career risk Cooper said, I knew rationally that my fear of taking a step didn’t make sense. I had talked to enough successful people to know that the path to success is often meandering. It can appear to be a series of random events and only in retrospect can one look back and connect the dots.”

Looking back, my journey was not squishy. While there were times I was meandering, there were also concrete things I did to ultimately help me make the break. I can now even connect many of the dots.

If today finds you feeling unhappy and hopeless in your work, I believe the four things I did during my transition can help you with yours.

Four Steps to Help You Quit Your Job … 

1. Define. The first thing I had to do was define what it was I wanted to do. This was a process. A process that started with paying attention to who I am. “Defining Questions” like … Where is the energy? … Where is the effectiveness? … What is the need I can meet? … and Where is the affirmation? all helped me identify a preferred future.

FYW imageI wrestled with this for so long I literally was able to write a book with my friend Dan Webster to help others work through this process. If you need clarity on sorting out what YOU are born to do (or know someone who is drifting in their work), I highly suggest reading FINDING YOUR WAY: Discovering the Truth About You.

2. Align. The next thing I did was line my life up with what I had defined. I set my sights on building a company focused on encouraging, coaching, and speaking to leaders, teams, and organizations. I spent most of my time outside of my real job looking for opportunities to do those three things – it is the direction I pointed toward. I say it all the time, “Your direction always determines your destination.” It was certainly true for me. Every time I took a baby step I found myself closer to where I wanted to be.

Like me, you must align with your target. If you’re not willing to do whatever it takes to walk toward your dream, you likely have a lack of passion and subsequently the wrong target. I knew I had discovered my dream because my Defining Questions were answered. I was effective, energized, able to meet a need, and people kept encouraging (and even paying) me.

3. Refine. Step three was to keep refining. This included narrowing my focus and more importantly, working on myself. When I evaluated my definition I continually wondered, Is this really what I want to do with my life and is it the right fit for who I am and my skills?

compass-bw2As the process unfolded, I kept making adjustments. The challenge was that it required massive amounts of time, energy, thinking, questioning, and failing.

Believing I was planted instead of buried, helped me stay the course when others doubted me. Having a clear definition of what I wanted, served as my compass and helped me stay the course when I doubted myself.

Another part of the refining process was to listen to trusted counsel. More than once I asked those closest to me, Am I nuts or could you see me actually making a living at this?

Additionally, I refined by working on my skills and expanding my network. Every day I asked, How can I improve so people would be willing to pay me to do what I love? And, Who can I add value to today?

4. Resign. The last step was the hardest. I’m not sure why, but actually resigning was brutal. I think it was because I was so comfortable. I kept telling myself things like, “No one quits their job with three kids in college.” … “You’ll loose your health benefits.” … “What if you fail?”

All questions to be considered, but for me, indicators that I was a consumed with comfort. Ultimately, chasing comfort was killing me!

As a Bible-reading person of faith, I kept looking for a verse encouraging me to be comfortable (don’t waste your time, you won’t find it … at least it wasn’t in my Bible). And yet, over and over I discovered verses where God commands His children to be courageous. Ouch! … the opposite of comfortable.

As I played my life forward in my mind, I knew if I didn’t courageously go after my dream I would be disappointed in myself and ultimately end my life with uncomfortable regret. On the other hand, if I decided to go for it and failed, while I would be disappointed I wasn’t good enough, I would have no regret. 

The command to be courageous became my crisis point. Would I play it safe and grasp at security, or would I get-my-Cortez-on and burn my boats?

I struck a match and chose to resign.

Warning 1: Do not recklessly resign! Knowing I had thoroughly defined, aligned, and refined increased my courage and helped me surrender to what I needed to do.

Warning 2: Do not wait too long to resign! Go ahead and put your last day on the calendar and watch your urgency level increase – if you wait too long the moment will pass you by.

It has been over a year since I made the break, and I have never been happier in my work. But the fact is, it took me almost three decades to find my dream job.

I’m confident if you will define, align, refine, and resign you can land in your sweet spot much sooner.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

What are the effects of choosing comfort over courage?

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