Well, lots of things have changed in our world. Boy, that is an understatement. No travel, no speaking in person, and no Joy in Mudville. We are living in the Age of Don’t. Don’t forget your mask, don’t forget to wash your hands, don’t get too close, stay 6 feet away, and on and on and on! I haven’t seen this many rules since in were in Mrs. Robbin’s kindergarten class. I’m surprised the Baptist Church nativity isn’t socially-distanced and baby Jesus isn’t wearing a mask. We don’t need a vacation; we need a rule-cation.
My daughter called me last week to ask if I wanted to participate in a virus trial–a chance to be normal again–and I said, “Shoot yea!” Ok, I know what you are thinking! Are you crazy Dale? Nope, I spent 27 years of my life in the Air Force, and I have been stuck for a thousand diseases so that I could be ready to travel worldwide at the drop of a hat. So, one shot isn’t going to rock my world. Besides, it could be the freedom I am looking for.
Since we last talked, I’ve been busy. A lot of my speaker friends have tried online speaking without an audience. That is like kissing your first cousin with a mask on. It’s a kiss, but it doesn’t count. This sabbatical from the job I love has been very enlightening. For the first time in a long time. I have been working as a consultant for someone else, but it has been an opportunity to apply some of the strategies I talk about, and interestingly enough, not only do these strategies work, but they have made the company where I am the Vice President of Strategic Planning a lot more profitable and a lot more customer-centric. But enough about me…
Let’s talk about you! I know all of these restrictions are tough. I see their effects every day. So let’s look at the bright side, since it is the side I live on! This pause is a perfect opportunity to work on your skills. Just like me, you have had to adjust. You have had to morph yourself and be flexible. One of my favorite songs is “Don’t Mess Around With Jim” by none other than Jim Croce. It is a ballad about good and evil. What makes it fun for me is that it is about how fast things change–one minute you are on top, the next, you’re not. Big Jim is like COVID-19: it is bad, and it is a change, but soon, SLIM (I couldn’t think of a good leadership acronym so let’s go with Shot-Loving Illuminating Mechanism) will be in charge. If you are a western fan, this means that there is going to be a new sheriff in town.
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So here are my strategies to kick Jim out of town:
1. Play big and plan big.
This is your one shot to live an amazing adventure and be more than you thought possible. Be ambitious in your dreams and plans. Consider what you want to be able to say about your life when you are 80 or 100 years old, sitting on the porch, waving at folks, and reflecting on the experiences you have had. Successful people aren’t necessarily the smartest or best-educated; they are brave enough to own what they want. They don’t cower in fear of Jim. (Journey Inferiority Mechanisms). Make a plan for the next six months, two years, 10 years, and get specific about your life, goals, and how you will make them happen. What are you really capable of? Spit into the wind!
2. Make yourself your first and most important project.
Don’t just invest in yourself, invest in your family–the most important investment you will ever make. Successful people think strategically about how they are living and where they are heading into the future. This might require moving. Relocating is a great way to start over. You can set deadlines and consult with experts who will support your success. Create a vision, and identify blockers that impede your progress. Consider ways you can learn, adapt, and grow with the resources you have access to. Dedicate time every single week to your own self-development and growth. How can you make you and your future a priority? Take the mask off the old Lone Ranger.
3. Do what other people aren’t prepared or willing to do.
The world is full of people who start stuff. but never follow through. Successful people do what’s required of them to succeed. They keep going, even when it’s hard, and they don’t want to. Don’t wait, don’t give in, and commit to your plan. When your motivation has passed, it will be your commitment that keeps you going. Be clear about what compromises you are prepared to make and know your non-negotiables in terms of how you practice self-care. Are you prepared to do what’s required? Are you looking for Jim?
4. Find and contribute to your tribe.
Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, who will help you grow to be more, and who understand your true potential. Your tribe extends beyond friends and family. They are people who will challenge you and celebrate you. Identify those in your world who you trust and will tell you the truth—no energy vampires allowed! Successful people rarely create success on their own. Find someone who inspires you, and you will quickly see they have people around them who make them better, too. Who do you know? Call Jim out!
5. Get uncomfortable with your next moves.
It is true, the greatest learning happens in necessity. To know what you are really capable of, you have to test out your resilience and capabilities. You don’t know what you don’t know about you yet. Total success across all areas of your life will come when you have the opportunities to stretch and find solutions. Knowing you can trust yourself is key to personal growth. You are an ever-evolving complex human with so many things to learn, and that is where your potential sits. Intentionally look for new experiences. When was the last time you felt really uncomfortable? I mean besides like, right now, in the middle of a pandemic? Personal and professional success is yours for the taking when you consciously plan your life. By implementing these strategies, you will be prepared for the curveballs and ready for the opportunities. The reality is that no one else in the world can create success for you.