Triggering the End of Vacation

Vacations should only end after three things happen: 1) you feel rested, 2) you miss home, and 3) you actually want to get back to work. If those three things do not fall into place by the end of your sojourn, your vacation failed. That, or you 1) have health problems, 2) do not feel at home where you live or 3) hate the work you do. Vacations can help you distance yourself from your normal life enough to realize any one of these three issues and tackle problems accordingly.

Give Everyone A Piece of Leadership

Dan Pink makes a big deal about autonomy, mastery and purpose as the three key motivators for success. I agree with each one. As a manager, you should do everything in your power to give each member of your team a little piece of leadership. Whether that be a process to oversee, a special project to helm or oversight to a group of people, give each person ownership of something they like to do (autonomy). Best if you give them something they have room to improve in and master (mastery). Bonus points if they come up with idea for what they own themselves (purpose). If you can be a trusting person and want to help people succeed, let go and give people the power to direct their own lives as often as possible. When you give your team widespread authority, it becomes your job to keep all the chips on the table. Make sure everyone is on the same page when and where possible. Different leadership means different directions – do not let your leaders completely run away on their own, or you will have fragmentation and anarchy. If only as an experiment, surrender control over every little thing and award responsibility. You’ll be surprised with the results.

Plan For the Worst, Hope For the Best

If you identify and find a way to accept the worst possible outcome of your situation, anything better than the worst will feel like a blessing. Do not lower your expectations or demoralize yourself into a constant state of negativity – that’s not the point. It is always important in planning to anticipate possible outcomes. By preparing for the worst, you will be better-equipped to tackle the actual results. If things are not as bad as you planned, then you will be relieved. Life will be good.

You must keep thoughts of failure in check by balancing them with hopes for success. Without hope, we have little room to grow and no path to follow. You must have something to believe in and live for. Otherwise, what’s the point? A true balance between fear and hope should land you in the middle – a realistic place where accomplishments are appreciated and failures become lessons well-learned. That’s a pretty comfortable place to be.

A Grain of Sand in the Universe

Without question, nature inspired me this weekend. The world is so much bigger than we are, so much older, so much wiser. To comprehend how instantaneous and fractional our lives are in the grand scope and age of our planet and the universe is very humbling. Problems with traffic, bills, chores, jobs, and other people seem so meaningless while lying under billions of stars at night. Quite an experience.

When struggling with personal woes, step back for a second and remember: you are not alone. You are part of something grand, something much larger than yourself. You play a role not only in humanity, but in the greater scheme of the universe. When small problems seem like a big deal, try to remember that there are stars collapsing and entire worlds ripping apart out there. Count your blessings. And remember this: we have it pretty good.

Love life, live in awe of the universe, and make it count.

The Hat-Trick of Leadership

While it takes many different ingredients to make a leader, some of the greatest I study share the following three traits:

  1. Higher Purpose – for the mission and for humanity abroad.
  2. Steadfast Optimism – faith in people, the direction, and positive results.
  3. Genuine Patriotism – in service of and love for the family or organization at hand.

Do you have what it takes?

Life Goals

Photo of an open fortune cookieBring people together.

Build a home.

Separate culture from money.

Raise children.

End the culture wars.

Spend time well.

What in life is most important to you? What are your values? Can you spin them into goals that drive your life?

Self worth stems from purpose. Purpose stems from goals. Goals stem from values.

Wrap your goals into fortune cookie-sized mission statements. If you are not willing to tattoo these statements to your body, your goals are not developed well enough.

Live the change you want to see in the world. Live the change you want to see in your own life.

But first, know thyself.

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Frankly, the question is bullshit. We are guided to answer it with a profession, a title or a lifestyle.

“I want to be an artist.” “I want to be the president.” “I want to be a film director.” “I want to stay at home and raise my children.”

The problem? There’s far more to life than a title, many roads to travel, and too much time to do only one thing. Your answer will change. It has since you were born, it will continue to evolve until the day you die. My answer changed throughout my life from Locomotive Engineer to Meteorologist to Starship Captain to Video Game Designer to Film Producer to Technology CEO. I have been all over the map, with passion and curiosity. I am sure you have, too.

I understand the question. “What do you want to be?” It is a focusing mechanism, the answer of which can help guide you into the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Unfortunately, the question suggests that there is only one answer per person. It distinguishes between future (“what will you become”) and present (“what you are now”). And it prompts you to cite conventional societal roles or industries as a solution to your life problem. Woe is you if your job title is at the core of your eulogy.

I propose a new question:

“What is your purpose?”

Purpose is your mission in life, your agenda, the core principal that guides you when you wake up in the morning and drives you to make decisions. No matter the career or role you play, purpose underlies everything you say and do.

What would you die for?

I want to bring people together. That’s my purpose. And that purpose is far more noble and omnipresent than my resume or my title.