Athletes and competitors know all too well the feeling of playing down to an opponent’s level. We don’t do it on purpose. In fact, we’re baffled by it, and catch ourselves saying “we’re better than this!”
I recall losing a game in
Two things seemed to have happened. We played down to their level. And they played up to our level.
Knowing that we crushed them the time before, they came out hungry and focused. The competition brought out the best in them. We, on the other hand, were meeting the minimal expectation to win, staying a couple of points ahead.
We unconsciously dropped our standards.
Greatness in fierce competitors comes from an unwavering commitment to high standards. Usain Bolt came first in the 100-meter dash at the 2016 Olympics running a 9.81. Gatlin came second running 0.08 seconds behind and De Grasse third at 0.1 seconds behind Bolt. The margins were minuscule, yet they made all the difference.
When we’re not where we want to be, we should look to see if we’re playing down to the level of our environment.
Or if it’s time to set new standards; set them 0.1 seconds higher.
“It doesn’t work if the bad guys kill his mother’s uncle’s friend’s neighbour’s pet dog. You’ve got to make the stakes high.” – Steven Seagal
Lilly was this 12-year old shy daughter of Chinese immigrants. Not born here, but raised here from the age of 3; she was a total wiz kid. Lilly was brilliant in math, could draw better than the majority of adults, and was as sweet as an angel. But, she was timid. Very reserved and seldom engaged if not asked.
Luckily she was a Boys and Girls Club (BGC)
Over the years Lilly stayed engaged at the BGC. She helped out with the local youth council and volunteered to help the other kids. When Lilly was 17 and graduating from high school, she decided to write me a letter.
In the letter, she wrote,
“….I still remember the exact moment you took me aside and told me that you saw yourself in me. I was awed that you thought so highly of me and thought that I could become like you. Life at home was tough, and coming to the BGC was a bit of an escape. You made me believe in myself….”
I would be lying to you if I said that I recall that moment or even that conversation. To me, Lilly was just another kid at the Boys and Girls Club. A place that I enjoyed going to, helping out, and getting a paycheque. Nowhere else would I get paid to play basketball.
One of the most significant moments in Lilly’s development was one I would never recall.
As leaders, it is surprising how often this is true. Sometimes we are unaware of the impact, we have on others. Drew Dudley coined the term “Lollipop Moments” in his Ted-talk recalling a similar experience.
Our unawareness does not take away the significance of these everyday acts of leadership. You don’t need a stage, a book, or a million Instagram followers to change the lives of others.
It begins with our everyday acts of leadership.
Perhaps you have a lollipop moment where someone changed your life, and you’ve never told them. Give that person a call and let them know.
The words you use and actions you take as a leader have enormous unintended effects, both good and bad.
As we gain awareness, we’ll have more intentional lollipop moments.
Those who identify as achievers get fulfilment from creating projects and completing tasks. We love the feeling of success and go from one project to the next in search of our future victory.
Though what’s true among achiever personalities, is that our biggest fear is failure.
We’re taught from a young age that making a mistake is wrong.
Get enough questions wrong on a test, and you fail.
Fail enough tests, and you have to repeat a year in school.
Some of us may have failed a class, a school project, a student election, or even on an early stage start-up. Unfortunately, that ugly feeling of failure that creeps up from your gut, and through your esophagus is something you don’t forget.
It’s easy to say, “don’t give up!”
“Pick yourself back up!”
But once you’ve laid everything on the line, and lost it, failure has a different meaning.
And so, today, half of us fear failure so much, that we don’t try. We count ourselves out and justify it. The other half fears failure that they stop halfway, set the bar lower, to avoid the risk of losing what they have.
Our fear of failure has led us to mediocracy.
But, what if we looked at failure like the red lights that we have to stop at on our way to work, home, our dream vacation? We have got to wait a few minutes, and then keep driving. Or a detour construction sign, that forces us to take an alternative route?
Here’s a list of a few of my red lights in the past eight years:
2010 BGCO Flag Football Tournament Fundraiser
2011 Future Community Builders Program
2012 FYBY #iThink Campaign
2013 CUSA Council
2014 ECON Class
2015 CUSA: I’m Gonna Vote
2016 CUSA: Student Union Building
2017 Frank is a Phone
2018 (SJ) Student Union Executive Training
Better yet, here’s a list of some of the most famous red lights in history:
Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.
Babe Ruth, considered by sports historians to be the greatest athlete of all time and famous for setting the home run record, also holds the record for strikeouts.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Walt Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.
Eighteen publishers turned down Richard Rach’s 10,000-word story, Jonathan Livingston Seagull before Macmillan finally published it in 1970. By 1975 it had sold more than seven million copies in the U.S. alone.
Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight elections; before he went on to liberate the United States of America.
I’m not saying you have to fail.
I’m asking what decisions would you make differently if you thought of failures as red lights?
Shoot your shot.
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How do you begin?
The answer is quite simple, you begin.
To begin, begin.
How do you jump into the freezing water? You jump.
How do you start writing a 300-page novel? You write.
Many a time we get stuck strategizing, plotting, analyzing, organizing and re-organizing.
I get stuck researching, I always say, “well I want to know the BEST way of doing it.” While there is merit to doing research, and value in strategizing, many of us spend time strategizing on how to do the best research.
This cycle is caused by the same fear we have when we’re deciding to jump off a 12-meter cliff.
Mel Robbins has a simple solution. Countdown by 5 and begin. The counting down creates a neurological response, where your mind clears and focuses on the task at hand.
So what have you been putting off till tomorrow?
“A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a moulder of consensus”– Martin Luther King Jr.
Our politicians fail us. No, not because they ‘play politics.’ It is because they are not leaders.
Politicians reflect the will of the people. Due to our modern liberal approach, it is believed that the individual voter knows best. That the customer is always right.
But is the customer always right? Do the people know what’s best? Does the voter have perfect information?
Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Steve Jobs commented, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Can we imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. had left his civil rights fight to a democratic vote? Asking the American people what they would like to see?
Leaders do not reflect the will of the people. Leaders take bold action to change the will of the people. They guide the thinking and evolve their ideas through collaboration and co-creation.
Leaders do not search for consensus. They create consensus by moulding, educating, and nurturing ideas with their people. Innovators, original thinkers, and shakers introduce radical ideas to push our world forward.
It takes boldness to lead. It takes emotional rigour. And most of all it takes resiliency.
“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must first turn his back on the crowd.”– James Crook
Today I sat with 25 young adults who have chosen to take a gap year between high school and post-secondary. They joined the Discover Year program which helps the students with a structured gap year ensuring immersive learning through travel and work.
Their most pressing questions was, “How am I supposed to find my passion?”
The youth are bright, empathetic and interested in doing what is best for their life. They have been consistently told – with good intent – that they must follow their passion. However, unable to identify their passion, the youth feel stuck and cannot make a decision.
As children, we grow up asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Another of the favourites is the dreaded “What is your passion?” These common questions are usually asked when we’re feeling indecisive about what to do with our careers.
What if instead, we started asking a different question.
What problem would you like to help solve?
Changing the question shifts us into thinking as problem solvers. We begin to see careers as tools on our journey to helping solve problems – and not as identities.
Job markets are quickly changing, and training students for specific jobs in an
The fictional stories we read, watch and talk about in society reflect the values we seek. We grew up reading the comic books of Batman and watching Superman on TV. Some of us even dressed up as one of them for Halloween.
While we recognize that Superman would destroy Batman in a fist fight, our hearts connect with Batman’s struggle.
Superman is ‘super’ human. He’s the ultimate creation of all human values and muscle. He is humble, caring, kind, selfless and his only fault is his human emotion of love for the beautiful Lois Lane. As much as we love Superman, we idealism him. We see him as superior to humans, and just far enough from reach that we can admire him without any personal expectations.
Batman, however, is human. He’s an adult with childhood trauma that he’s still trying to overcome — a billionaire that is still searching for happiness. Batman is not as caring or kind; he’s rough around the edges, he has a tough-love mentality. Batman’s authenticity is what draws a generation of fans towards his character.
We see his faults in us and have hope that we too can rise to the challenge. We relate to his childhood traumas with our difficulties and forgive his imperfect values.
More and more people are pulled to leaders that resemble Batman, that demonstrate their authenticity as a leader.
Or as my students would put it “you’re just so REAL with us.” Most people don’t want to be led by Superman, a superhuman who doesn’t fatigue and doesn’t fault in judgement.
Be vulnerable as a leader. Be open and honest about your mistakes with your team. This creates a safe environment, where they see the human in you and will help you rise to the challenge when the going gets tough.
Authenticity builds trust.
We’ve all heard this idea of “your true self.” This idea that deep down in the core of who you are, in your soul there is ‘true self’ waiting to emerge. An indestructible truth, or code that of who you are, and whom you are meant to be. The origin of the word ‘individual’ stems from the idea of having an ‘indivisible’ self.
Out of this belief, a great deal of advice has been given to young people. Search ‘deep within’ yourself to find who you are. To ‘just be yourself’ and to ‘stay true to who you are.’ That you are born with an innate truth and we must spend life discovering it, and through this truth, you’ll discover your life purpose.
What if I told you there is no ‘true self.’
There is no indestructible core.
There is no code of who you ‘really’ are.
That searching deep within yourself won’t uncover innate truths.
Your identity was given to you at birth by society, and you’ve spent those last decades trying to fit those constructed beliefs while at the same time, trying to find ‘your true self.’
That’s right because while there is no true indivisible self, we do have the opportunity to self-create.
We have the opportunity to decide what our true self is.
We don’t need to search deep within ourselves to find what’s important to us. We need to decide for ourselves the essential truths, values and principals we want to live by.
The issue with being ‘yourself’ is that many of us grew up with several “I am – identity limiting beliefs.” ‘I am’ thinking assumes we cannot change. Whether I think ‘I am intelligent’ or ‘I am not intelligent,’ ‘I am athletic’ or ‘I am not athletic’ either belief may stop us from seeking to develop. ‘I am’ creates a sort of immovable self.
Nothing that has happened in your past determines who you will be in the next five years. There is no indivisible self that guides what you’re going to become.
No more trying to find your true self.
You get to create the person you want to be.
You get to create your life purpose.
You can decide to begin that process anytime you want, but the start of a new year gives us the nudge to start fresh.
It’s that time of year again. A new year, a new you, right? Lol.
We all know the jokes made about setting goals and new year resolutions. We all know that most don’t last, and everyone’s motivation is a load of bullshit.
Or have we merely accepted that story to be true?
Since everyone fails every year, we’ve come to shrug our shoulders and say, “why bother?” But have you ever actually read an official study on new years resolutions and people not sticking to them? I’ve never filled out any of these surveys, have you? Are the people filling out these surveys the ones that get paid $100 a week to do surveys, and sit at home moping about life?
If someone is out there striving, pushing, building, do you think they’re filling out these surveys? haha.
Who are these people that can’t stick to a goal for a month, or at least rebound when they fail? After all its about the bounce-back.
The fact that no one sticks to their new year’s resolution goals is a lie we’ve told ourselves as an excuse to quit on our own goals. Everyone else stops, so what makes us any different?
I don’t know about you, but I have 15 friends and family who set goals and achieved them this year. Maybe it’s time you look at whom you surround yourself with if everyone you know quit on their goals.
Let’s bust another myth while we’re at it. It does not take 21 days to build a habit, that’s unrealistic. Whoever made that claim was never addicted to alcohol because, after 21 days of not drinking, the 22nd day is still extremely difficult.
Here’s the truth you don’t want to hear. It takes effort and work every day to be extraordinary. I’ve gone to the gym/played sports 228 times this past year, and I still have to push my ass to get up in the morning. Continuously fight myself to do cardio, and not miss a workout.
Sticking to your goal is not hard because you’re weak, or you can’t, or you’re not meant to do it. It’s hard because it takes work and effort.
So let’s change the story we tell ourselves this year.
Setting new years resolutions is healthy. Having goals and ambition is part of growth. Growth is directly linked to happiness. And believe it or not, happiness leads us to success. Our friends and family achieve
This year’s theme is: Create The Extraordinary.
Be Bold. Stop listening to impractical societal studies and myths used to justify our sub-average performance.
As Tony Robbins says, “Create the motherfucker you want to be.”
My blog will also be posted on my new Facebook page. I’ll be tweeting about it. I’ll be making Instagram graphics that capture each post.
Also, what I’m most excited to announce is that I’ll be creating one video each week on my new Youtube Channel.
Your support so far has been what’s continued to push me to believe, grow and put my thoughts out there. As I’ve always had a little voice in my head that said… “who am I to be writing about, leadership, entrepreneurship and personal growth.”
The question we should all ask instead
“Who are we, not to share our thoughts to the world.”