Tag Archive for: development


I was doing some reading on the characteristics of Christian leaders and I came across a study on excellence here.

Some interesting thoughts.

Excellence is the state or quality of excelling. It is superiority, or the state of being good, to a high degree. Excellence is considered to be a value by many and a goal worthy to be pursued.

The pursuit of excellence is not to be a quest for superiority, and it is not about competition or about outstripping others, which is usually done for one’s own glory or significance or for the praise or applause of men.

Instead, excellence means being your best. Excellence means being better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Excellence means matching your practice with your potential.

The pursuit of excellence should not be limited by the nature of the task. We should pursue excellence no matter how humble or menial the task.

The pursuit of excellence is never a matter of simply choosing between what is good or bad, but of choosing what is best or superior.

You Are What You Think

A friend of mine has been going through some difficult challenges. And he is focused. Resolute. Positive.

I find that when things are difficult I can be incredibly focused and resolute. Positive? Depends on the level of stress.

I have been learning to gain better control over my internal thoughts and to focus on being positive even through the challenging times.

I came across this article some years back on how to improve inner thoughts (source unknown).

Commitment, Control and Challenge.


Make a positive commitment to yourself, to learning, work, family, friends, nature, and other worthwhile causes. Praise yourself and others. Dream of success. Be enthusiastic.


Keep your mind focused on important things. Set goals and priorities for what you think and do. Visualize to practice your actions. Develop a strategy for dealing with problems. Learn to relax. Enjoy successes. Be honest with yourself.


Be courageous. Change and improve each day. Do your best and don’t look back. See learning and change as opportunities. Try new things. Consider several options. Meet new people. Ask lots of questions. Keep track of your mental and physical health. Be optimistic.

Studies show that people with these characteristics are winners in good times and survivors in hard times. Research shows that, “… people who begin consciously to modify their inner conversations and assumptions report an almost immediate improvement in their performance. Their energy increases and things seem to go better …”

Commitment, control and challenge help build self-esteem and promote positive thinking.

The Link

We picked up my son from Laurier yesterday. He has accepted the offer of admission to Laurier’s school of business and he enters first year this fall. Laurier offers a student leadership in business conference called the Link and my son took part in that experience last week.

He had an awesome time. From what I gather, the program was very busy and challenging. There was a major case study, social events and guest speakers. Dennis Kavelman, the Chief Financial Officer for RIM and a graduate of Laurier’s business school, was one of the speakers. Luc d’Abadie, author of The Power of Focus for College Students, was another speaker.

I read Luc’s book last night. There is a supporting website for the book here. Still under development as many of the treasures within the book reference content not yet available on the website. However, the book is a great resource for students. I have to make sure that my son gets through it before he starts in the fall. What a wonderful resource. I wish I had something like it before I started university.

The Future of PowerPoint

Lawrence Lessig makes reference to a presentation by Dick Hardt here.

The presentation itself is quite unique and certainly presents an original way of using PowerPoint, or Keynote, to augment a speech. Follow this link to review his presentation. Although his topic is on identity, a bit of a niche topic and focused on a technology audience, I can guarantee you that you will walk away from his presentation with an understanding of the identity challenge and the technical approach that he is advocating.

Dick Hardt is a powerful communicator.

Dick Hardt

Be Your Future

I receive hundreds of emails each month from people who connect with this blog. One email I received was from Robert Gignac. He is the author of Rich is a State of Mind, an excellent book on financial planning.

We have kept in touch through email and we had lunch together yesterday. I found it a very interesting discussion as I learned more about his life and his background.

Whether deliberate or coincidental, he spoke about the life of a man who pursued a career with a large retailer. He spent his entire working life with the same company and progressed up the corporate ladder to a senior executive position. Upon retirement, his daughter asked him to share his career experience: was it worth the sacrifice? the effort?

His response to his daughter: “I always wanted to be an engineer.”

Robert’s point was that we too often spend our lives accepting whatever path we started without taking the courage to change paths to our passion. We are reluctant to be our future. We compromise. And often for good reason: the need for money, security, stability. However, when we look back, will it be with satisfaction or regret?

Lunch ended and I walked back to my office. And I could not shake the story. I looked at my own path and asked myself the same question: when I cross over into retirement, will I look back on my career with satisfaction or regret?

Frankly, I would need to look back with a broader perspective: faith, family, service, career. Although I can think about work as an all encompassing endpoint, it is not. At the end of the day, and for most people, a job is a job.

Personal Sacrifice

My words stood out on the page: “Personal Sacrifice”.

I was reading one of my performance reviews from ten years ago. Lots of glowing praise from the appraiser and, because the review involved peer assessments, I enjoyed overwhelmingly positive comments from those I worked with back then.

I was surprised and humbled. Surprised at the comments and humbled at the overall goodwill that was evident in the document. I made some comments on the performance review. And, under a heading called “Regrets” I wrote the words “Personal Sacrifice”. I’m not sure, but I think I was referring to my focus on career over family and community.

I have changed my thinking a lot since then. And I came across this observation on Personal Sacrifice a few years ago. I do not recall the source.

ALL ACHIEVEMENTS REQUIRE SACRIFICES. Those who refuse to make sacrifices refuse to grow. They refuse to succeed. They refuse to discover the joy of accomplishment. They refuse to establish meaning and purpose in their lives. And when they do so, they pay a heavy price. For the pain of future failure will be far greater than any discomfort a sacrifice would have required.

Don’t join the ranks of those who have yet to learn that it’s not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us successful.

We are social creatures. We depend on one another. We cannot achieve our goals without the help of others. Yet, others have their own agendas, goals, and interests. So, how can we work together without compromising? To succeed, we need to learn that we have to let go of one thing to gain another. We have to understand that sacrifice, or doing what we don’t want to get what we do want, is inexorably enmeshed in life.

The extent to which we are willing to sacrifice controls the extent to which we will be successful. Or, as James Allen (1864 ~ 1912) wrote, “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”

Most of us realize this, but before we can make a sacrifice, we have to overcome the resistance to doing so. How can we make our task easier? How can we reduce the sting? The greatest favor we can do for ourselves is change our perspective. That is, change the way we look at things.

The problem is the word SACRIFICE has a negative nuance. It implies making an effort, doing what we don’t want to, and undergoing pain. Why not put a positive spin on it. Why not focus on the beautiful things suggested by the word? For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 ~ 1882) had this to say, “Self-sacrifice is the real miracle out of which all the reported miracles grow.” So, instead of calling something a sacrifice, why don’t we call it a MIRACLE?

Think about it for a moment.

We are the only animals that can willingly do what we don’t want to do. That is a miraculous power. Sacrifice is the miracle that makes great things possible. The word SACRIFICE is made up of SACRI and FICIO, which means TO MAKE HOLY. So, when we make sacrifices, we are sanctifying our actions, for whenever we raise ourselves to a higher level, we are bringing ourselves closer to our Creator.

Rather than looking at sacrifice as something negative, look at it as a miracle, a holy act, a heroic act, a joyous, creative act, the means to our goal, an investment in the future, and a step to greatness. Look at it as a commitment and determination to succeed. When we look at it in these ways, it becomes much more palatable. When seen in this light, we realize that sacrifice is not about LOSS but about GAIN.

Goal Setting

I had a lengthy discussion with a colleague about the difference between being and doing. Being means understanding the purpose, mission and values that frame our character and our context for living. Doing means performing a set of activities that may, or may not, align to our purpose for life.

Whenever I meet somone for the first time, the discussion generally begins with the question: “What do you do?”. And, from a career perspective, I see a lot of people doing. I am never really sure how many have taken the time to reflect on the context for their being.

And so I was making reference to goal setting with this colleague. I suggested that a critical gap for people in the corporate world is that they are so busy doing things that they often never take the time to think about their lifetime goals. What do you want to achieve in your life? Long term. 20, 30 years out. And how do those lifetime goals link up to today?

For myself, I have created a personal vision and mission statement as well as a set of values to describe the context for my lifetime goals. I developed a set of long-term objectives against the following priority areas: family, faith, finances, personal growth, physical fitness and career. Much of my thinking here was influenced by Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Since 1990, I have kept an annual record of my life’s goals and objectives. It makes for some pretty interesting reading. I still have a lot of work ahead of me.

I continue to take time each year to write out specific short-term goals that line up with my priority areas. I would like to think that this helps me to get things right all of the time but it doesn’t. I am definitely a human being under development. There is, however, direction and purpose. And context.

Most importantly, major decisions in life become relatively straightforward. Decisions align or they don’t.

High Priority

The Barna Group had an interesting piece on a survey of top priorities for Americans. Top priority, at 51% was family. Faith was the runner-up category, listed by 16% of all adults. Other priorities included health (7%), lifestyle (5%), vocational matters (3%), money (3%), achieving success (3%), friendships (1%), leisure pursuits (1%), and having influence (1%). You can read the report here.

Career did not make a very strong showing in the list of priorities. I imagine that the priority list would be inverted from an investment of time perspective given the demands of everyday life. And, for some folks, their priority for family and faith never makes it to the top of their to do list. Work, including unpaid and volunteer activities, can consume too much focus and attention. Such work can displace our priorities for family and faith.

Work-life balance is hard to get right. Not impossible mind you. Just hard.