Friday, January 22, 2010

Giving Up or Giving In?

The day I learned to water ski I also gained a valuable lesson that I promptly shelved and rarely referenced until recently. Try as I might to get up on my skis I kept falling and filling my body cavities with more and more water. Finally as I was about to quit in frustration the generous friend who was teaching me yelled "stop trying so hard!" He yelled across the water, for everyone on shore to hear "you're trying to pull yourself out of the water by your own strength! Don't be so stubborn, let the boat do it!" Out of sheer anger I just laid back and thought "fine, and when I crash one more time, I'm outta here." Gunning the boat forward, he never glanced back as I glided up out of the water and began the thrill of water skiing.

For 10 years we've researched greatness in individuals and organizations. We examined the data from countless studies to identify characteristics, processes, and results which we published in Pathways to Greatness. I am pretty proud of what we've accomplished. But a conversation at a wedding recently hinted that my study was obsessed with goals and achievement. That conversation, along with others, made me question whether I was "trying to pull myself out of the water" rather than examine other ways to live greatness. Additionally some of my friends who are more versed in eastern concepts said that our study was very western in scope and focused too much on doing and not enough on being.

So, this year the Greatness Project will focus on developing or experiencing greatness through some inner work. Trust me, this will be murder for me. I am a typical American male with a western mindset, driven to achieve. I've only been conscious of this for two days and already I've had to stop myself from setting stretch goals at least five times.

I need help. Feel free to let me know ways to unleash personal greatness without making it about achievement. I will share with you all I learn from this journey. Perhaps it is time for me to stop trying so hard and let the boat pull me out of the water.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Doing Resolutions Right

Okay, New Year’s Eve is over and we’re moving into the year. If you’ve not yet created some resolutions, there is still time. If you have created resolutions, there is still time to make them stick. Great things can come from good resolutions.

The most important starting point is picking resolutions that you want to follow, not society or others say you should. Let’s face it, if you really don’t want to follow your resolutions, you will last about a month (if you’re lucky) before you abandon them. Motivation that comes from you, not from others, is the greatest driver of success. Recently I learned from a friend about his success in losing weight. After many failed attempts insisted on by others, this time the initial decision was his, because he was unhappy about how he felt physically. He never called it a diet, he called it a wellness campaign.

The second key point in resolutions is to be specific. The absolute worst thing you can say to yourself is “I’ll do my best.” Studies show that people who “do their best” under-perform those who create a specific goal to strive for. My friend chose a specific goal of being able to participate and complete a 39 mile fund raiser about 7 months from the beginning of the year. He said that it fit his desire for wellness not just weight loss.

Finally, the resolution has to be broken down into daily goals. My friend chose to count calories, so he could have the proper nutrition and miles so he could participate in the fund raiser. After 6 months he had lost 35 pounds and was able to participate in the walk. So, it’s not too late. But what will you do to make your life great? Resolutions are catalysts for greatness.