[Warning: If you are interested in a calm, comfortable life, this blog will be counterproductive for you.]

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Finally Saw The Grand Canyon and It Wasn't What I Thought

Yesterday, I was flying to a conference and the pilot announced we were flying directly over the Grand Canyon. I've never been to the Grand Canyon and got excited.

This is what I saw. From that height, seeing the Grand Canyon was actually boring. I don't think that was Grand Canyon's fault, though.

The 22,000 foot view isn't always the best view. People are often told not to get stuck in the weeds--and that's true. But you also make mistakes when you get so high level you can't see the details.

1 - Every grand dream needs to result into a specific step you can take next week. I know many people who have had dreams for their life that never left the "someday" category. I lived this way for years, dreaming about writing but never actually writing. Books don't just happen, they are the fruit of many small choices to write one more sentence.

2 - How you say something matters. "I want to get in shape" does not have the same power as "I want to lose one inch off my waistline by the end of next month." Being more specific is like sharpening the edge of your sword.

3 - Leaders who cast vision and set culture can't ignore the day to day details. Your noble speech and innovative ideas have to translate into the computer systems and financial incentives and dress code of your organization (to list a few examples). Your people live on the "ground" of your company, not 22,000 feet in the air. 

Maybe I was sensitive to this because I when we flew over the Grand Canyon, I was working on a round of final edits for my leadership book about a leader who ignores the details (and pays for it). But this experience reinforced one of the big insights that has shaped my life:

Every great idea eventually degenerates into hard work. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

3 Options When Facing Social Pressure

Most people first notice the power of peer pressure around age 12. And for a while it pretty much rules our lives--these are often our hardest years.

"Social pressure is the mother of all stupidity." --from Crucial Accountability

And peer pressure doesn't go away at the end of high school. Truth be told, we aren't so very different than we were in junior high. Most of the same longings, fears, impulses and questions burn inside of us. But we do have one key difference: We can be aware of peer pressure. We don't have to be ruled by it.

Three options when facing social pressure:

1) See it coming--and fight it. Decide what is most important and go for it. Don't ask around to see if others approve. And for the really big stuff, be prepared to leave people behind if they don't want to go with you. Some things are too important to subject to a popular vote. You'll never regret doing what's right.

2) Harness it for your own benefit. Surround yourself with people who value what you think is important. Create peer pressure to do the right things. Want to be a better parent? Hang around great parents as much as you can. Exercising friends can inspire you to finally exercise, too. 

3) Find another source to satisfy your longings. The bad news: Those longings that woke in you as a child aren't going away. They are who you are at your core, shaping your life in ways often overlooked. The good news: There are healthier ways to satisfy every longing. And nothing frees you from peer pressure like having your heart be extravagantly loved by God. A Twinkie isn't so tempting after I've eaten an epic Easter dinner.