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Appreciating the Best of the Best

Military Thanksgiving2013 is drawing to a close and it has been one heck of a year.  My husband and I settled into a new home in Denver this year.  Our daughter had her fourth knee surgery and continues her college journey.  She is now a junior.  Our son graduated from college and got his first ‘real’ job using his degree.  I tell him he is living the 13-year old boy dream since he works as a video game production guy!  My husband joined The Human Factor full time.

I have spent a lot of time on the road, working with clients of every shape and size.  Which brings us to today’s subject.

As I pause to take stock of all the things I have to be grateful for, it certainly includes family, friends, health and many other things we sometimes take for granted. On the professional side, I’m grateful for the fact that my work brings me in contact with so many great companies, the great team at The Human Factor, and great leaders – and some not so great.  I learn from both.

The great leaders teach me about discipline, focus and winning, but especially about focus. Whether it’s something they were born with or worked hard all their lives to develop, today’s great leaders have the ability to rise above the endless sea of interruptions and distractions that we all face on a daily basis. Regardless of what’s going around them, they find a way to stay focused on their most important priorities and continue moving toward the goal. More important, they work to create an environment whereby everybody in their organizations can do the same.

The not-so-great-leaders?

Well, they teach me what not to do. Like focusing more on the past than the future. Buying in to their thought bubbles rather than pausing to examine their attitudes, beliefs and assumptions. Letting distractions and interruptions control their daily agenda rather than doing first things first.  Constantly attempting to prove themselves right even when they might not be. Playing not to lose rather than playing to win. And of course, not pausing to get clear on winning.

It’s easy to get distracted in today’s world, especially when our brains are constantly telling us that speed is more important than everything else – including our safety or our survival.  The trick is to recognize distractions for what they are, and make a conscious decision to focus on what’s really important rather than what seems so urgent. And that’s what great leaders do on a daily basis.

So I say ‘thank you’ to those who remind us of the importance of staying focused on winning, and to those who show us what happens when we don’t. What are you thankful for this year, and why?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Call to action: Think of one leader or role model who has made a difference in your life and thank them.

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The past few months have been a bit stressful for the Green household.

My husband and I decided to move to Denver based on a number of factors we have been considering for some time. Mark got a job teaching in one of the toughest and lowest performing middle schools there (by choice) and started in August. I stayed behind to sell the house. Fortunately, it sold fairly quickly. But the process of getting the house ready and then relocating all our worldly goods raised the stress meter a notch or two.

Now we’re living in a temporary apartment in the mile-high city (the tenant in the home we own there did not want to move out until December 31st!). We are ready to enjoy the much lower cost of living, the pro-business environment, as well as the rejuvenated Denver Broncos. Having owned a home in Denver for years, I’ve rooted for the Broncos (along with my other 5 teams), and it’s exciting to see how well they are playing this season and fun to see what having an All-Pro quarterback, (not to mention one of the best-ever quarterbacks) can do you for you!

Which brings us to today’s subject.

As I pause to take stock of all the things I have to be grateful for, it certainly includes family, friends, health, and many other things we sometimes take for granted. This year, my gratitude list also includes the fact that my job regularly brings me into contact with a variety of people who are the very best in the world at what they do.

I get to meet and work with very successful entrepreneurs and business leaders on a regular basis. I spend time working with some of the best companies in the world. This year, however, I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the members of Seal Team Six, the elite Navy squad. I enjoyed the opportunity to share a glass of wine with Daniel Burrus, the fascinating forward-thinking author of “Flash Foresight.” I presented at the FBI Leadership Academy, and I even met several times with one of the head NFL referees, Mike Carey to talk about winning (and wine). And I always include my own husband on this list – a mechanical engineer by schooling; after the first 10 years of his career he then went back to school and got another degree in teaching middle school so he can make a real difference by teaching at some of the toughest schools we have in this country!

What fascinates me most about elite leaders is not so much what they have accomplished but how they go about accomplishing it.

When you meet someone who’s the best at what they do, you get a real sense of discipline and focus. Regardless of their occupation or field of endeavor, they all possess real clarity around where they’re going and what they need to do to get there. Equally important, they don’t allow themselves to get pushed off course by all the interruptions and distractions that bombard us on a daily basis.

Every day I teach the importance of staying focused on winning – in my blog, in my keynote presentations, and in my work with clients. Even so, I can get just as distracted as anyone else, especially if I allow emails, voice mails, texts, and all those distractions that seem urgent and important but really aren’t, to disrupt my focus. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to rub elbows with people who excel at staying focused, because it pushes me to walk my talk and reminds me of what we can accomplish when we keep our eyes on the goal.

So I say ‘thank you’ to those who show us what excellence really looks like and to those who push and pull me constantly. And if you haven’t done it yet, you might want to pause for just a moment and make your own mental gratitude list. It’s a great way to release some stress and refocus on what’s really important.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Call to action: Think of one leader or role model who has made a difference in your life and thank them.


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