When our wants and desires don't match who we are as a person, we live in conflict. Remember this truth. A nation, city, kingdom or person divided against itself cannot stand, in fact, it will be laid to waste. We cannot accomplish, achieve or accumulate possessions and wealth beyond who we are. When we are at odds with ourselves our life will be wasted. To live a life that matters, to be filled with peace, happiness and fulfillment start with these three traits. Don't just practice them, make them your unwavering principals. Make them your normal state-of-mind, who you are and you will be an extraordinary person who reaps the rewards of living a life that matters.
ONE...ALIGNMENT is the first trait to a life that matters. To being happy, content, fulfilled and living life with meaning.
This means we have to acknowledge that we cannot have more than we are worth. People, businesses and countries have been working to achieve without working to become. Results, achievements or our possessions cannot be more than we are. We can cheat this truth for short periods of time but inevitably alignment will catch up with us.
Since achievements and possessions are results, they have to come from actions that are generated by us. There has to be a cause to get an effect. The natural law of alignment states, 'we will get only when we give'. In fact, we'll have to give more than we get, and give without expectation, if we want to sustain our achievement and possessions. This is why instant success is fleeting at best and in fact, most often destroys those who cheat natural laws to achieve, accomplish or accumulate.
TWO...SELF-AWARENESS is the second trait. It is the ability to be honest with ourselves and aware of our true intentions. We cannot live in denial about who we are or what our wants and desires are and ever experience alignment.
Until we understand our intentions in all we do, we will be in conflict or misaligned. We'll be attempting to cheat natural laws by achieving more than we are, instead of aligning who we are with what we want. To live a life filled with self-confidence that will create the results that matter to us, self-awareness is step two. Become the person who will naturally generate the results you want, who you are is the cause that creates the effect that produces your results.
Acknowledging that our human nature is selfish, self-centered and that our thinking is short-term, is key to alignment that can unleash your power to live a life that matters.
Self-awareness is the core of personal responsibility. We cannot learn, grow or become who we want to be if we are not personally responsible. This means we stop blaming others and our circumstances. We then accept the truth that we are who, what and where we want to be until we choose to change. Then we will become aware that nothing can stop us once we accept these truths.
Setting your faith or religious beliefs aside for just a moment, think about the first story of mankind, Adam and Eve. Their story is about our human nature. Adam and Eve could do anything they wanted to do in the Garden of Eden...except for one thing. They chose to do that one thing. This was the first act of trying to cheat natural law. When God confronted Adam, what was his response? He blamed Eve and God for his actions. People today do the same thing. They blame their companies and their customers, they blame their families and their friends and the list goes on. It's never about them, it's never their fault. If you are still fighting with this truth, think about that last time you were late to a meeting or an appointment. What were you thinking about on the way? That's right, you were thinking about the reasons why you were late, you began to make up your excuses! We look for excuses before we look for solutions until we become self-aware and take personal responsibility.
You'll stop making excuses when you are aligned and self-aware. This happens because you become personally responsible. This won't sustain your journey to fulfillment, contentment, achievement and a life that matters, but it is the beginning... the first two steps. You will begin producing new results in your life, however it will take step three to overcome the obstacles in your journey and sustain a life that matters.
THREE...SELF-DISCIPLINE is the third trait in becoming and sustaining who you want to be because a life that matters is a journey filled with obstacles. If you don't learn self-discipline, someone else will have to discipline you.
Once you are aligned, which we've established takes constant adjustment and change through self-awareness, you'll need the ability to sustain your alignment. Sustaining your alignment requires doing things you don't want to do...self-discipline!
Everything of value in life is on the other side of an obstacle, challenge or problem. This is another truth or natural law. You'll have to be willing to do the things you don't want to do to become the person you want to become. Just think of how you feel about yourself after you've completed something you've been putting off or know would be uncomfortable. Your self-esteem and self-confidence is raised. If you want to keep increasing your self-esteem and confidence keep doing things you don't want to do.
Procrastination is in our nature as well as being reinforced from our earliest years in school. We learn we can get passing grades even if we put off doing the homework or studying until the last possible day. We pass the test or turn in the assignment even though we did the work at the last minute. We never do our best work, achieve to our full potential or grow our potential by procrastinating and doing the work to just get by. A life that matters isn't about a passing grade, it's about living to your full potential and growing that potential. In fact, procrastination or just getting by will drain us and make us miserable, cynical, fault finders. In short without self-discipline we are doomed to be average at best and we increase our odds of being miserable.
That said, most people would rather avoid discomfort or protect their comfort than do the things that make them uncomfortable but increase their personal value and potential. These things are different for each of us, but everyone I've ever spoken to, coached or trained, can make a list of the things they know they should do, but have been putting off. Whether its in your family, work, community, health, fitness or spiritual life, you'll have to do the things you don't want to do, to sustain self-awareness and alignment and live a life that matters.
Start by making that list, attack the things on it first everyday, choose to be uncomfortable to become extraordinary. When you do you'll start to embrace change, grow and become the person you want to be. The person who can naturally achieve the things you want, live with renewed enthusiasm and experience new opportunities.
Become aligned, self-aware and self-disciplined and you'll enjoy the journey of living a life that matters!
Past success and achievement often breeds comfort. It's also in our human nature to seek comfort even before improvement. It’s this comfort that causes people and leaders to stop improving and protect their success in good times when they get comfortable or reach their desired level of success.
In tough times, like we're now experiencing, it will make people and leaders dig in even deeper to survive and wait until things get back to normal instead of taking the actions to improve and create a new normal. While this make slow the decline or fall, it certainly de-motivates and demoralizes people and organization. This mind set will enable the final decline and move them or their organization backwards at a time when energy and enthusiasm for the challenges, change and new innovative thinking are desperately needed.
Over the years I have met many people and business executives who seemed to be comfortable with the status quo. These same people and leaders often agree it is time for change, time to improve, but go back to what is familiar and wait for change to overtake them or their organization. After years of observing this mind set and behavior I am left with only one conclusion. This happens because they have achieved a personal goal and become a too comfortable with their position or life. This causes them to look to protect their position or possessions instead of using all the attitudes, skills and actions that help them achieve or grow in the first place.
When things get tough and leadership and changes are needed, their comfort level motivates them to wait until things get better rather than look for alternatives to make things better. I have never believed these same people or executives achieved their personal goals with this mentality. Rather, they only stopped moving forward, being innovative thinkers and advocates for change and personal growth after they achieved a personal goal and reached a comfort level.
When bright, aggressive people and leaders, who were able to lead their organization to great achievements, start using language like "hunker down" and "wait", it is most often a sign of comfort or fear and it’s happening too regularly.
When the time comes that people or leaders would rather be comfortable than grow or lead the movement for improvement in their life or organization, it is time for the leader to step down and find a new challenge to get reenergized. This is true in our personal lives as well...complacency or comfort are our greatest enemies to a happy successful life. Leaders stepping down or finding a new challenge rarely happens in a timely or productive manner and usually occurs after much of the success achieved has been lost.
As a leader...Do you have a plan for stepping down or creating new challenges? In your personal life,...Are you aware when you get too comfortable? Good habits lead to good results but when a habit becomes a rut that drains you of your energy beware. Look for the new challenge to reenergize the achiever in you.
How will you know when it's time? One major indicator is when the changes required to keep moving you or your organization forward aren’t energizing but a chore! When our attitudes as leaders are right then change is always energizing.
Most leaders have the heart of a great competitor. Great competitors usually lose the will to prepare before they lose the desire to perform. When this happens performance suffers.
Often in business, leaders get comfortable with their past achievements or the position they hold and it creates an unwillingness to embrace the changes needed for their organization to move forward to new accomplishments.
Too often achievers or leaders are like the performing artist that can’t let go of past accomplishment or the thrill of the performance and try to perform after their performance deteriorates. Except people's performance in life don't have to deteriorate if they stay committed to learning, growing and change.
For people, leaders and their organizations, it is best to get reenergized by becoming change advocates. It is never best to wait for things to get better… Be careful that your life and leadership strategy isn’t to hunker down, wait or survive until things improve.
Don't hide behind the idea of going, back to basics, I've always done it this way, or it's worked this way before. Be ready to make changes, learn, grow and keep making changes to learn again. Remember it's what you learn after you know it all that matters the most and makes the biggest difference.
We are all experiencing a new economy and a new way of life. If you want a happy successful present and bright future then wake up everyday looking for what's possible, what's new.
It's time for people in general, and leaders specifically, to get back to their first loves…challenge, change, innovation and improvement. This is the best solution in good times, tough times and the best way to re-energize yourself or your organization.