Tag Archives | Michael Hyatt

Four Key Decisions That Shape Your Character

Charisma may be useful in attracting a following, but it is largely useless when it comes to achieving a long term positive impact on the people and organizations we lead. For this, we need character. Effective leadership is an inside-out job.

The older I get, the more this quote from one of my mentors, Michael Hyatt reveals itself in everyday experience. As leaders (we are all leaders in some area of our lives), our influence is shaped by our character, which, in turn, is formed over time by our daily choices. The fact is, who we become is not a product of the milestone moments in our lives as much as the small, seemingly inconsequential decisions we make every day.

The good news is that, unlike personality, which is fixed at birth, your character can be developed through the intentional decisions you make about how you spend your time. If you are consistent in managing them, these daily decisions become powerful forces that will encourage you to live with more passion, purpose and influence. Here are four to consider:

Decision #1: The content you consume.
How much news do you expose yourself to every day?
What are you reading and how often?
What do you listen to while driving?
How you answer questions like these says a lot about how intentional you are in developing your character. Author and speaker Matthew Kelly tells his audiences, “You show me what you’re reading and I’ll tell you what sort of person you are. If you give me a list of the books you read last year I can tell you what happened in your life. Even better, you give me a list of the books you’re going to read in the next 12 months and I will tell you what will happen in your life in the coming year.”
That’s a bold prediction, but his message rings clear: Your character is shaped by what you allow to occupy your mind every day. I recall a successful entrepreneur telling me that he largely ignores the news because, if he didn’t, he would be too fearful to launch new business ventures. Remember, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on, both Fox News and MSNBC do not exist to deliver news; their goal is to achieve ratings, which means their mission is keeping you glued to the TV. Over time, the negativity, alarmism, and agenda-driven drama affects us, injecting doubt, worry and passivity that, over time, can hijack our dreams and stifle our initiative. While I’m not suggesting we ignore what’s going on in the world, I strongly believe we need to set boundaries not only on the news we watch, but on all the content we consume every day–podcasts, blogs, streaming video, social media, etc.

Decision #2: The friendships you maintain.
Personal development icon Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Although we are often called through our work and personal lives to minister to many different types of people, those we choose as our closest friends and confidants will have a disproportionate influence on who we become, so we must choose them wisely. If you want to have a great marriage, for example, hang out with people with strong marriages. If you’re looking to become healthy and fit, cultivate friendships with people who practice good nutrition and exercise habits. On the other hand, avoid making close friends with people who exhibit the traits you want to avoid. Remember, birds of a feather really do flock together.

Decision #3: The beliefs you cultivate.
It’s been said that our actions ultimately reflect our beliefs. If you believe, for example, that human life is the result of random, meaningless chance verses the product of a loving, personal God who created you for a purpose, then chances are this belief will, at some point, play out in your life. Your world view–the fundamental beliefs you have about ultimate reality–matters, and every world view attempts to answer these four questions:
>Origin: How did I get here?
>Meaning: What is the ultimate meaning of my life?
>Morality: How should I live? Is there a right and wrong, and what is the difference?
>Destiny: What will happen when I die?
In a culture shaped by superficiality, these questions may seem over-the-top, but your capacity to formulate clear, confident answers to each of these will profoundly influence the breadth and depth of the person you become.

Decision #4: The habits you develop.
In his book, Make Today Count, leadership expert John Maxwell makes a provocative claim. He writes:

If I could come to your house and spend just one day with you, I would be able to tell whether or not you will be successful. You could pick the day. If I got up with you in the morning and went through the day with you, watching you for 24 hours, I could tell in what direction your life is headed.

According to John, when he shares this at conferences, he always gets a strong reaction. Some people are surprised and get defensive because they think he would be making a snap judgment about them. Others, however, are intrigued and want to know why he would make such a statement. As John points out, our character isn’t something that suddenly manifests itself in someone’s life. It is a process; every day is merely preparation for the next, and our habits–the simple, repeatable actions we consistently take over time–ultimately determine who we become. As John famously says, “You will never change anything in your life until you change something you do daily.” So what are your habits preparing you for, and is it aligned with where you truly want to go?

Of all the forces shaping the quality and impact of your life, your character stands alone. No one wants to reach the end of their life and feel regret over squandered opportunities and broken relationships, yet sadly, it will be the destination of choice for so many. The difference between experiencing regret verses a deep satisfaction with life, I believe, lies in the importance you attach to each of these life-shaping, character-defining decisions.

Question: Which of these decision areas do you feel confident you have made? Which ones have challenged you? What do you plan to do about it? I’d love to hear your comments!

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Amusement vs. Recreation: Why You Need to Know the Difference

In a recent podcast interview, author and productivity expert Michael Hyatt shared an experience taking his three daughters to Disney World in the middle of summer.

“It was hot, crowded, and miserable,” he recalled. “When I came home from that vacation, I was totally exhausted.”

Michael went on to make the point that amusement and recreation are not the same; in fact, they have completely opposite effects on your sense of well-being.

Since we live in a culture that values productivity, accomplishment, and personal drivenness (see my last post), cultivating healthy rhythms of work and recreation into your lifestyle, while minimizing mindless amusement, can be a real difference maker.

by Ilham Rahmansyah via Unsplash

When it comes to amusement verses recreation, here are four simple tests to discern the difference:

1) Amusement often tires you out, while recreation restores you.
Look at the etymology of the word “recreation.” It literally means ” to re-create,” implying an active engagement of the mind and body that is fun, focused, and restorative. But as Michael Hyatt discovered, even well intentioned activities like family vacations can leave you mentally and physically drained.

2) Amusement can be mindless while recreation makes you feel more connected to yourself and to the world around you.
Have you ever sat in front of the TV for hours, remote in hand, flipping through channels without watching anything? How does it make you feel? If you’re like me, I feel unproductive — even anxious. We use language such as “vegging out” to describe such behaviors, which implies disconnection; we’re acting like vegetables — living organisms but with no brains.

3) Amusement is usually unplanned; recreation is intentional.
Think about the things you truly enjoy doing, that when you’re doing them you lose all sense of time. Examples may include fishing, playing a musical instrument, exercise, painting, reading, writing, prayer and meditation, gardening, etc. In most cases, activities like these need to be planned for. Amusement, on the other hand, tends to be spontaneous, flowing out of unscheduled or “idle” time.

4) Amusement plays to your weaknesses while recreation enhances your strengths.
I remember the years I spent playing football in high school and college. During the season, when my daily schedule was filled up with classes, practice, and homework, I would tell myself how much harder I will study when the demands of the season are over and my time frees up. But invariably, I squandered most of that “free” time with unproductive things and, instead of improving my grades, they would usually decline. I think this is true for most people — unscheduled, unplanned time frequently flows to our weaknesses. Meaningful recreation, on the other hand, because it contributes to our growth, sharpens us, making us better equipped to handle the stresses of our lives.

Of course, there will always be times when you have to put your own needs aside for the sake of your family or for others. (I’ll bet Michael Hyatt’s daughters felt differently about their Disney experience than he did!) After all, life is not all about us.

Learning to incorporate intentional and repeatable rhythms of recreation into your life while minimizing mindless amusement and idleness can be a game changer, enabling you to inject a fresh sense of passion and purpose into your work and your life.

How do you spend your free time? Have you ever experienced any of these four distinctions between amusement and recreation in your approach to leisure? What would it mean to your life to discover one or two pursuits that energize and restore you?

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Do Your Wear Busyness as a Badge of Honor?

My wife, Debbie, and I attend our share of social gatherings. Lately, I’ve begun to notice that when we encounter people we haven’t seen in while and the obligatory ice-breaking question, “How are you doing?” gets asked, the most common, nearly reflexive response from people is, “I’m crazy busy.”

As author and leadership expert Michael Hyatt points out, in a culture that increasingly values preoccupation and overcommitment, “crazy busy” has almost become a statement of validation, reinforcing that I am significant and that what I am doing is important.

But this addiction to personal drivenness comes at a steep cost.

By José Martín | unsplash.com

For some, it can lead to health problems, divorce, substance abuse, or emotional breakdown. For others, it can slowly steal their peace and lead to a “dumbed down” lifestyle where meaning is suppressed and the heart is rarely engaged.

The antidote, according to David Allen, author of the blockbusting productivity book, Getting Things Done, is gaining a sense of control and perspective over your life.

If you find yourself mired in the “crazy busy” trap, here are three restorative habits that will help bring balance and purpose to your work and life.

  1. Schedule thinking time. Years ago, we lived in a subdivision that was located near our local airport. I can recall as I sat in the window seat flying home from a business trip what a completely different perspective I had looking down on my neighborhood from three thousand feet verses ground level. Similarly, scheduling time alone to think and process your life delivers the same sense of perspective that you rarely experience at “runway level.” Try setting aside a few hours every month to simply think. It will seem weird at first, but as Harvey Firestone said, “If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.”  Those ideas simply won’t come when you’re addicted to urgency.
  2. Keep a journal. Three years ago a mentor challenged me to keep a journal. Which, after my initial resistance, has turned out to be a game changer in keeping me from succumbing to what leadership blogger Bill Zipp calls, “the rising tide of demands, details, and deadlines.” I typically journal three to four times per week. The discipline of recording my thoughts helps me gain greater focus, unravel thorny problems, process negative emotions, and maintain a balanced perspective on my work and life. To learn more, check out Michael Hyatt’s post, The 7 Benefits Of Keeping A Daily Journal.
  3. Create a life plan. As author Daniel Harkavy, says in his outstanding book, Becoming a Coaching Leader, “Most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning their lives.” As as result, they drift along, ending up at destinations they never would have chosen: a failed marriage, a health crisis, or an aimless career path. Creating a written life plan is a powerful process that puts you in control of setting clear priorities for every area of your life. Having created my own life plan five years ago (I update it twice a year), it has become one of the most useful tools for me in living a more intentional and productive life. For more inspiration, read Michael Hyatt’s 7 Reasons Why You Need A Life Plan.

Sure, there will be seasons in our lives when we run at full throttle — but they should be the exception, not the rule. Resisting the temptation to wear busyness as a badge of honor and pursue an intentional lifestyle driven by clear priorities can be one of the biggest difference makers in your life!

My challenge to you: Pick one of the three initiatives listed above and try it for 30 days. If you truly commit yourself, I guarantee you will feel differently about your personal effectiveness.

What do you think? What would it mean to your life to gain greater control and perspective? Leave me a comment.

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Are You Failing Enough to Succeed?

In a recent issue of SUCCESS Magazine, editor Darren Hardy recounted how, as a young man launching a career in real estate in the early 1990’s, he fell in love with what he calls the “F-Word.”

“I attended my first real estate conference where I asked the speaker to lunch and pumped for his best advice on how to be successful in real estate,” Hardy explained.

He was not prepared for the answer.

“Go fail,” he shot back.  “Your goal is to out-fail the competition. Whoever can fail the most, wins.”

via LightStock

Most of us have been taught to believe that the whole idea of success is to avoid failure, not embrace it. But as Hardy discovered and now passionately extols, it’s quite the opposite.

“From the day I started to follow that advice as a 20-year old kid in a hyper-competitive real estate market during one of the worst downturns in decades, I discovered that the volume, speed, and size of my failure also increased the volume, speed and size of my success. It started a lifelong love affair with failure.”

When I first read Hardy’s comments, I wasn’t sure if I agreed with him or not. I understand the value of learning from your mistakes and how many breakthrough successes have come through failure and adversity. But the idea of embracing failure–looking for ways to screw up–seemed excessive, if not reckless.

In the months since I first read this article, although I can’t say I see myself “falling in love with failure,” I’ve come to understand the value of embracing failure and the role it can play in experiencing success–in three ways.

  1. Most great leaders don’t succeed in spite of failing, but because of it. Many of the most storied achievements in business were the direct result of failure.  As Michael Hyatt described in his story on the founding of Groupon in 2008, one man’s dogged persistence in the face of a major setback created a massively successful business model that was completely unintended. History is littered with similar stories of harnessing failure to produce breakthrough opportunities.
  2. Embracing failure compels you to live at the edge of your comfort zone. Failure exposes you; it forces you to put yourself “out there” risking embarrassment and even shame. But like a muscle that gets sore the first time you exercise it, eventually you get stronger as you develop a lifestyle centered around “being comfortable being uncomfortable.” People who live this way, I’ve observed, experience a greater level of joy and fulfillment than those who embrace self protection.
  3. Most of the truly important things in life lie on the other side of failure.  I recently read a profound comment from a blog post on responding to adversity that illustrates the personal impact of embracing failure: “I like to believe that throughout my failures, I have learned to be more patient, giving, slower to get angry, slower to freak out about the things that are not life-threatening. I hope to continue to grow in that way, and of course to continue to fail because that is just inevitable.”  What a refreshing perspective on failure.

Although I honestly don’t believe I will ever be comfortable actively pursuing failure, I have definitely developed a greater appreciation for the role it plays in shaping me as a leader.

What about you? How do you view failure and what would, instead of avoiding it, intentionally embracing failure make possible in your career–and in your personal life?

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