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Words Mean Less Than The Intent Behind Them

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

I was recently dealing with a less than optimal situation.  A reservation that I had made was cancelled and I wasn’t notified of the cancellation.  As I spoke with the immediate employee, and then the next level up, I was hearing all the right words being spoken…”We’re sorry”, “It shouldn’t have happened”, “We hope this doesn’t affect future patronage”.

However, one thing that was also spoken without these exact words was that another opportunity had caused this cancellation.  In that moment it was clear was was actually being said…my patronage was less valuable than that of the other party.

In that moment, all the other words took a back seat.

words and intention

As you deal with setbacks and rough issues, always remember that the words said have less meaning than the intent behind them.  Also, remember that people are innately very good at hearing intention over words.

In this day and age of covering liability and quick apology to troubles, use your listening skills to hear the intention behind the words.

When you communicate with others, always be sure to convey your intentions clearly. If you choose to focus on the words and not the intention, the other parties will wonder what is really going on.

Beware the Shortcut

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

Leadership blogs and tech websites abound with shortcuts that promise us an easy fix to our problems. In only 5 steps or 7 bullets you can overcome any problem facing you.

The diet pill containing FDA approved ingredients will boost our energy and help us lose weight.

Not enough cash for that purchase? Just put it on the credit card.

Want to change jobs? Just pay for my class and use my simple system and you’ll become rich like Scrooge McDuck.

shortcut

Here’s the brutal truth…

If you want to see big life changes, you have to put in big work. PERIOD.

There is no shortcut to becoming a person of good character. It takes years of work to stick to your values and priorities.

Building a company that treats both customers and employees as valued human beings takes intentional focus and rejecting get rich quick schemes that de-value someone.

The work ethic of the 30’s and 40’s is made to seem antiquated when you can take a shortcut to easy wealth/health/relationships according to the media and “gurus” of the interwebs.

But it’s not true.

The best things in life require work.

Beware the shortcut….

Where do you need to put in some work?

How to deal with distractions brought on by the Apple Watch and other smart watches

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

The tech world is atwitter (and on Twitter) about the forthcoming release of the Apple Watch.  A connected smart watch that promises to provide you with apps galore, keep track of your location, pulse count and give you notifications from your iPhone right on your wrist in an instant.

Yesterday I saw a tweet from Michael Hyatt (whom I respect as a leader and tech user – get connected with him online with stat!), referencing an article by a tech writer about his Apple Watch Nightmare.

It’s not the first smart watch to the market.  Pebble, Android Wear and numerous other devices all promise to take the notifications from our smartphones and place them right at our wrists, without even having to check our phones.

Pebble Steel Watch

Heres the problem though…we’re already a distracted people and these kinds of devices have huge potential to worsen the problem.

In my coaching practice, I work with high level people to help take them to the next level.  Right now, many of my clients state that distraction and time management are the top issues holding them back.

For example: One Executive at the top of his organization is dealing with the massive influx of email, phone calls and his direct reports dropping by his office during business hours. Notifications that he has email, text, or phone calls going right to his wrist is going to reduce his attention span to next to nothing.

Another client, a Vice President with almost 100 people in his division is already struggling with the volume of notifications that he gets on a daily basis. During a time I spent with him, he was on the phone or answering texts/email for all but a few minutes of time. Imagine his chaos of getting notifications to his wrist while he’s on the phone already…

Still yet another client, responsible for a multimillion dollar complex, has a list of projects that is literally in the multiple pages when printed.  The influx of notifications going right to his wrist would be impossible to keep up with during the day.

They are not the only ones, and I suspect that you’re dealing with this tension as well…

So what’s the solution?

I see two approaches that you can take (and I advocate for both positions depending on your personality).

1) Don’t get a smart watch. Very few things in life are important enough that you need instant notification.

2) Turn off all but a few notifications. As a matter of fact, I regularly encourage clients to turn off all notifications on their cell phone, limit their email checking to twice daily, and put their phones on do not disturb for extended periods of time.

Intentional management of your time requires focus, and distraction from daily influx of notifications can really ruin your flow.

You may think that it’s not possible to build in time to be disconnected, but I encourage you to try it.  We never used to be this connected, and by communicating with your clients, coworkers and family what your schedule is, it’s not only doable, but the secret to a successful career.

I’m not all against smart watches. As many of you know, I’m a tech oriented kind of guy.  From network administration, to Ham radio, I love my tech toys.  As a matter of fact, I’m a smart watch user myself with a beautiful Pebble Steel connected to my Android phone.  But I’ve throttled notifications to just text messages from my personal cell number and my calendar alerts.  No email, no text from the business number. I check my various notifications when I intentionally choose to, on my schedule.

The bottom line is that technology can help or dramatically hurt your productivity, and the only way to ensure you are able to succeed is to take ownership of your time and be intentional about your schedule.

How are you dealing with distractions from your devices and daily work life?

Wrap up your 2014 well and clarify 2015 goals

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

So how was your 2014?

Have you ever taken time to think deeply about how your year went?  It’s something that I was encouraged to do about 4 years ago, and now it’s a vital piece of my growth and perspective each year.

Doing a yearly review and goal setting for the next is critical to me keeping focus and putting the most important things in my life in priority view.

Climb The Peak

I’d like to share my process and encourage you to give it a try this year.

  • Pick a block of time when you’re at your sharpest (early, late, over coffee, whenever you feel at your mental best).
  • Print out your calendar from 2014 and grab a copy of your journal (if you keep one).
  • Have a clean piece of paper or notebook at hand (leave the electronic tools aside, they tend to lead to distraction rather than focus).
  • Split the page down the middle vertically and write good at the top of one side and bad on the other.
  • Look at each month individually and recall what happened that month.
  • Write down what you see jumping out at your as you look at your calendar and journal. If you don’t have a journal (now’s a good time to start one), just let your mind wander through each month and remember what happened.
  • Once you’re done with the year, look back at your lists of good and bad. Be thankful for the good, grieve the bad and then close the year. Take the paper, wad or shred it up and throw it away.

Take a 5 minute break, have a stimulating drink of choice and then grab a new piece of paper.

  • If you could accomplish just three things in 2015 that you know would make a positive impact in your life, what would they be? Wildly important, life changing, dream type goals are what you’re looking for here. Give your 2015 a reason to be great!
  • Write these goals down, with spaces between each for notes later.
  • Why would accomplishing these goals make your 2015 better? Write down the why under each goal. Knowing your why will make it easier to stay on task in June when things are getting hectic (or late January depending on how busy your are).
  • Write out a list of the next little step you could take to make the goal happen. It might be a phone call, schedule a meeting, do a google search, etc.
  • When you get that one task done, write out the next action step you must take.
  • Repeat until you’re done with the goal!

I hope that you’ve had a great 2014 and are looking forward to your 2015! If you ever need an encouragement or challenge, please drop me a line. I’d love to help you move forward and leave average behind!

John

How Herd Mentality Leads to Average

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

Back when we were kids (young kids) we dreamed of what we would become.

An astronaut, cowboy, princess, fairy, super hero, fireman, police officer – the possibilities seemed endless.

But somewhere along the way to adulthood, we bought into a lie that leads to mediocrity, of being just average, instead of the vibrant person that we dreamed of.

Herd Mentality

We started to follow the “you should” of the herd. It’s a subtle shift that once started snowballs into a life lived barely alive.

You see, the herd is not comfortable with outliers (those things beyond the norm) because they are different and strange.  So we’re being told to become the most vanilla, bland and ordinary people that society can think of.

The beauty of the strange, the refreshment of the new, and the challenge of the change are ground off by the herd members who want to stay exactly safe, year after year.

According to the herd, you should:

  • Get a new car every two years
  • Get a huge new house
  • Buy an iPhone
  • Buy an Android
  • Buy, Buy, Buy
  • Go to college
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Go into debt to get want you want this very instant (waiting is for chumps, you know)
  • Take boner pills
  • Use anti-aging cream
  • Install fake hair on your head
  • Retire when you are old
  • Work for a company that doesn’t care about you
  • Commute every day
  • Try to find God in a church
  • Play sports
  • Watch the news
  • Get cable/satellite
  • Vote Democratic/Republican/Libertarian…blah, blah, blah
  • Suffer along with the rest of the herd

But it’s all a lie! The herd is just trying to get everyone to look like them, and in the process you end up with a lot of unhealthy input.

What if you could choose to become what you wanted to be?

What if you told the herd that is was time to leave average behind, and went out on your own path?

Would it scare you? Does it seem hopeless to even try? Would it really make a difference?

You can leave average behind by defining what your life should look like. You have to create a life plan where you detail what is a priority for you and what is not. It’s a process that my clients find both incredibly hard, and yet immensely satisfying when completed.

You also have to decide which relationships are important and which can be left behind. You have to say goodbye to unhealthy inputs into your life, whether in person or the media (TV, Radio, Social, Internet, Newspaper, etc.) that you are consuming.

The great thing about leaving average behind is that it looks different for every person. What one person is passionate about, another hates. AND THATS GREAT!!!

Do what you’re passionate about.

Make a difference in the world.

Tell the herd goodbye!

What’s one or two areas in your life that you need to tell the herd that you’re leaving average behind?

The Death of the To-Do List – And the Birth of the Must-Do List

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

Seems like every major software player (and many entrepreneur little guys) has a software package that will let you track your to-do list.

In this day and age of over extended, too many choices, can I please just get a break: stress…you’ve really got to have a to-do list.

Whether it’s on paper, your smartphone, tablet, computer or written in ink on your hand, a to-do list is part of the uniform of the US society.

 

Must-Do

However, a to-do list falls very short of actually helping us to get the things donethat matter most to us.  We’ll get caught up in adding and then checking off to-do items and pretend that we’re getting things done.

In reality, because we’re not getting the most important things done, it stresses us out.

So today I’ll challenge you to make a separate list with just 5 things on it for this week.

This list is your must-do list.  It should be things that, if done, will make a difference in your life. Important, satisfying differences…

Every must-do list should be updated at the end of the week.  Add 5 new things and then move forward in getting the most important things done in your life.

What’s on your must do list?

The Last 6.2 Miles of a Marathon – Part 3

This post originally appeared on Coach Jen’s blog at jenregan.info.

I don’t know about you but after the last two posts (part 1 here and part 2 here), but I have a new appreciation for marathon runners. Life is hard enough, why put yourself through that torture? I say that, but I still love a good challenge!

There is one more insight I want to pull from the article I came a crossed “My Experiences With The Last 6.2 Miles Of The Marathon”  . Here is what he writes.

“When I was struggling the most I came upon a young guy who made me feel like I was doing okay. He was really struggling. He was walking (well really hobbling) and as I passed him I gave him a little slap on the shoulders and told him that he could do it and that we were getting close. He mumbled something back that I couldn’t understand but then he started to jog with me. As we talked I started to tell him that he was looking good, that we were getting closer, and that he would never be the same after finishing that marathon (It was his first). The thing that I noticed is the more I tried to help him and get his spirits up the better I felt about myself. In talking someone else through the rough spots I am talking myself through.”

little boy

When we are down and out, the last thing we want to think about is helping others. It takes all of our gumption to get ourselves out of bed in the morning much less the effort to help someone else. But what Mr. Haag says in the article is so true. If we take just one ounce of energy and put it toward encouraging someone else, we find that we suddenly have more. More energy, more peace, more joy, more. I can’t explain it, but I think we all know deep down it is true. If you have never tried it, today is the day. I know this is a great reminder for me. I want to be an encourager of others and I love how I feel in return.

“Now in every race that I run I seek out those who look like they could use a little help or inspiration and try to offer some words of encouragement. I think life is the same, if we will try to find opportunities to help and give then usually we are the ones who receive the most.”

Whether you feel like it today or not, experiment and encourage someone around you. Genuinely care about them, and see what comes back your direction. It might just be the key to get us through the last 6.2 mile challenge we have in front of us.

The Last 6.2 Miles of a Marathon – part 2

This post originally appeared on Coach Jen’s blog at jenregan.info.

If you are just tuning in, I found a great article recently that is helping me walk step by step through my marathon of life. On March 29th 2012 Ryan Haag posted “My Experiences With The Last 6.2 Miles Of The Marathon” and he touched on some pretty amazing correlations between his last 6.2 miles and how we have to run the race of life.

In my last post we looked at the last 6.2 miles of the marathon. This is important, because the marathon is somewhat “easy” towards the beginning, but as it continues, it gets harder and harder to the point where you can only focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

PERSEVERANCE!

Marathon runners

Today’s subject is very similar because I don’t think we can take the subject of perseverance too lightly and only mention it and move on. As I continued to read Ryan Haag’s article he started describing a number of his last 6.2 miles experiences.

He shares “It was not long after this (seeing the 21 mile marker) that I experienced what has been my nemesis in the final miles of all but one of my marathons, which is cramping in my hamstrings.”

And his marathon a year later, “the hamstring cramps that I had felt the year earlier returned with a vengeance. I was trying to run straight legged and hobble the best I could but my pace started to slow. I found myself gritting my teeth and kind of growling to try to persevere through the pain.”

I do not want to make light of Mr. Haag’s pain and suffering, but I started to laugh as I read about him running straight legged and hobbling. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a laugh because I thought it was funny, it was a laugh because I feel right now, today, that I am hobbling and just trying to make it. I envisioned myself as the one doing all I could to keep going even if it meant running straight legged and hobbling.

One of the goals I have been working in this year, among others, is the physical goal of getting into better shape and strengthening my back (a cause of pain for me for years). I have made great progress with the help of my personal trainer. We have discovered and improved one area of my back, but with that improvement, my hip which has had to compensate for my bad back all of these years is now screaming. I know I am making progress. I know I am getting stronger. But I feel like I am having to run straight legged and hobbling. And yes, I have growled too!

Your struggle may be physical, it may be mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial.. Whatever it is, it can be hard!

The article continues “with about 2 miles to go someone was passing out ice cold wash clothes which I used to wipe my hot, salt crusted head and body with and then just laid it on my bald head while I ran. It was possibly the most refreshing thing I have ever felt.”

Each day we are blessed with “cold wash clothes” but sometimes in the middle of the mess and pain we don’t see how much of a blessing they are. There is no doubt that Mr. Haag had to focus all of his being on putting one foot in front of the other, but he was able to feel the refreshment that came his way that day. It may come from another person, it may come from nature, where ever it comes from, grab it, hold onto it and allow it to help encourage us in our race.

Stop for just a second and think about a “cold wash cloth” experience you have had recently. Take time to enjoy it! Then keep hobbling FORWARD!

The Last 6.2 Miles of a Marathon

This post originally appeared on Coach Jen’s blog at jenregan.info.

This morning I Googled “what is the hardest mile of a marathon?” because that is where I feel like I am in life right now. I always teach that life is more of a marathon compared to a sprint. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

Well, I am doing that and I suspect you are too, but doesn’t it get to the point at times when you feel fatigued, like your life is getting “cramped up”, like the finish line is too far away?

That is how I feel today and have been feeling for a few weeks now. I am pushing forward in a number of areas of my life, but I’ve lost my excitement, I’m struggling to stay confident, and I question whether I’m running the right race.

marathon water

My Google search brought me to a blog called Run Through Life: Tips and Experiences on Running & Other Important Things In Life. http://www.runningthroughlife.com

On March 29th 2012 Ryan Haag posted “My Experiences With The Last 6.2 Miles Of The Marathon” and he touched on some pretty amazing correlations between his last 6.2 miles and how I feel in life right now. I want to fill this blog post with all of his insights, but I am going to take one at a time. I need to chew on each of them and figure out what each of them mean to me and how I can apply them to make the “stretch of life” less cumbersome.

Today’s insight is: “When I start a race I am usually thinking in five mile increments and then the farther I get into the race my goals shorten to water stops and then to 1 mile at a time and during the final few miles it goes to one step at a time.”

As I reflect on my life and current goals, I can see this same thing. I am probably to the point where I am looking for water stops. But this does not encourage me because it means that it is going to get harder. It means that I am going to get to the point where I can barely lift one foot to put it in front of the other.

Does it help to know that this phase of my goals is around the bend? Maybe a little. I guess I know when I am there that it is a “normal” part of the race. That others have come before me and persevered through this part to cross the finish line.

But I think what motivates me more is to know that many before me have stopped just short of the finish line and I don’t want to be that person. I do want to persevere!

“It is during that last 6.2 miles where you really have to reach down into yourself both physically and mentally and find strength that you previously didn’t know you had. The last 6.2 miles is what makes you better, stronger, more confident, yet humble person following the marathon. That 6.2 miles stretch gives you the confidence that there is nothing that can stop you from attaining your dreams but also makes you so grateful for all of the gifts that you have been given.”

Where are you on your current race of life? Are you feeling good watching the miles pass with ease? Are you starting to feel the fatigue? Or are you just trying to put one foot in front of the other?

Hang in there! Keep going! Don’t stop! Others have persevered and you can too!

More to come…parts 2 and 3 will post this week.

Who Are You?

This post originally appeared on John’s blog at johndregan.info

Who are you?

Really?

Not what you do for a paycheck.

Not what other people say you’re talented at.

Not what your spouse expects you to be.

Not how many houses, cars, TV’s, smartphones, etc. that you own.

Not what society tells you to be.

If you took 30 minutes today and sat down to try to define who you really are, what would you discover?

Are you being true to who you really are, or are you living someone else’s life?

Don’t you think it’s time to live the life that only you can live?

Life is short and you have a unique life that can contribute to the world.

We need you to be who you really are.

Lead Thru Example!