It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. Even the world’s best and most experienced leaders have to change their leadership style and poor personal habits to stay fresh and relevant. I have seen a real-life example this year in John Tortorella, one of the NHL’s most controversial and polarizing coaches.
Tortorella was famous for his fiery personality. He rarely smiled, and was quick to yell obscenities at opposing players, refs and coaches. Although he has had a winning resume with other teams, the Vancouver Canucks fired him after the dismal 2013/14 season. The team failed to make the playoffs, and his antics, such as trying to brawl the Calgary Flames coach in his dressing room, got him a 15 game suspension from the league. His NHL career was in jeopardy. He was too much of a hothead, and while that style of coaching may have been effective in the past, it wasn’t winning the hearts of his players or management around the league.
But he did get a second chance with the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets. The team has only been able to break through to a playoff spot in two of their fifteen seasons. But this year they have been awesome. They had a 16 game win streak (the second best in league history), and they look to be on course to make a playoff run. What changed? I think it has a lot to do with their reinvented coach.
At age 58, John Tortorella has mellowed out, and he even cracks an occasional smile. He still has a fiery personality, but he has learned to reel it in, and take things in stride. In an interview with thestar.com he revealed that he stepped back and did some evaluation and assessment, and now he lets his human side show through. He even tries to enjoy the wins, something he didn’t do enough in the past.
You Can Change Too!
Do you feel the need to make some changes? Try these proven methods today!
- Take a breather.
Sometimes when we are in the middle of the rat race it is hard to get perspective. Take a Kit Kat break now! Reflect on areas you are stuck. Consider the issues that continue to hold back your life and leadership.
- Invite feedback.
Ask a trusted friend or colleague to give you honest feedback. Or open yourself up to a 360 review. You will get unfiltered responses that may kick your butt into reality. Self-evaluation is a first step, but we can easily fool ourselves into thinking we are doing better than we actually are. You need another set of eyes to see the reality of the situation.
- Make the changes.
Too many times we do nothing with the honest feedback we receive. Maybe it is because of pride, or because we don’t know how to change. Or maybe we don’t know what it will look like if we actually do what seems unnatural to us. The best way to find out is to just do it. What do you have to lose? Your job? You will likely lose it if you DON’T change! Like an old boxer once said, “It’s always better to go down swinging!”
Speaking of boxers, take to heart the inspirational words of Rocky Balboa from the movie Rocky IV: “If I can change and you can change, we all can change!” If Cold War enemies (and a fiery NHL coach) can change, so can you and me!
Now go get ’em Rocky!
There is something special about a fresh start, blank slate (what is a slate?), or cleaned desk.
The weight of ‘once was’ is behind us and the potential of ‘what could be’ awaits us. Humans are creative, and we naturally want to better ourselves. That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions each year, either informally in casual conversation, or sketched out in detail in a Moleskine notebook (the way I roll). Here’s my take on fresh starts.
Every day is new.
The writer of Lamentations says “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (3:22-23). This tells me God’s love and mercy are not only new every morning, they are new every MOMENT. He is always with us, always faithful, always holding things together.
What does this mean for us? Every moment is a chance at a fresh start. Gary Vaynerchuk recently posted an Instagram video where he described his love/hate relationship with resolutions. Essentially he said they are good but that we should resolve to be better everyday, not just wait for another year to go by. How silly is it to limit what we can do because of a glass ceiling like the invisible flip of a calendar year?
So, if you are out of shape, don’t wait until tomorrow to take the stairs or walk around the block. Just because there is a big family meal tonight doesn’t mean that you have to toast off a box of chocolates this afternoon.
Each year I set goals, I don’t make resolutions. And I hit a lot of my goals. Of course I miss some, but who cares? When I stumble and fall I dust off, and get back on track. Why limit my own potential when God himself, the Maker and sustainer of the universe is cheering me on to make a difference in my life, family and world?
Now grab a napkin, journal or the back of one of your kid’s drawings and make a plan.
- Set a goal for your personal life, career and spiritual health…or something like that. I’ll leave it to you to set up your categories.
- Ask WHY do I want to accomplish this goal? If your why isn’t strong enough you’ll never reach the goal. Move on until something really connects with your why.
- Make the goal SPECIFIC. “I want to be healthy” is a good goal, but there is no way to measure it. A better goal would be “I want to train to run this 5k race in July.” Enter the race now, put it on your calendar, and Google “How to train for a 5k race.” Then do it.
- Start now. When you miss a day of reading, exercising, or if you have a slack day at work or lose your temper at home, get back on the horse and ride. Remember…God’s love and mercies are new every MOMENT!
- Review your goals every week to make sure you are on track. And put them in a place where you can see them.
Now quite surfing the interwebs and get going.
There are very few sure-fire ways that guarantee to improve your life and leadership. But believe me when I say that these two words will be the high-octane fuel you need to go further, faster. These words? Thank you.
I know, you wonder how I can be so naïve to think that a simple “thank you” will be the key to personal transformation? But it is! Hear me out! I won’t bore you with studies (there are plenty) that prove the benefits of thankfulness. However, I do want you to carefully consider some of these fringe benefits and highlights of a thankful attitude.
Benefits of a Thankful Life
1) Grateful people are more optimistic and happy. Consider how much money people spend each year trying to buy happiness or how many self-help books they read in order to squash negativity. Thankfulness takes care of these issues.
2) Thankful people are less materialistic. Although they have unfulfilled desires, they are mindful of all the good things in their life. This means they are less envious and self-centered.
3) Thankful people don’t expect as much, or don’t feel that the world owes them something. Anger is a by-product of unfulfilled expectations. But people with an attitude of gratitude don’t expect or demand as much from others. The result? They are kinder, have healthier relationships and they even sleep better.
The net effect? When you are thankful you are healthier, happier and have increased energy.
The Thankful Life Action Plan
Why not give it a try for yourself. This Christmas season call a friend or co-worker and tell them how thankful you are for them. It may be the best gift you could ever give them. And you benefit as well!
As I wrap things up on this post I think it’s a perfect time for me to say thank you for your support over this last year. Many of you have read my book “Sideswiped: Three Keys to a Fresh Start After Suffering a Broken Heart” and have written notes/emails encouraging me to keep writing. You have read and shared my blog posts and have given feedback that has helped me to hone in on the issues you want to hear about.
So because nothing should “go without saying” I am thankful for you, and I look forward to being a small part of your personal growth in the coming year.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours.
The words of the old saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman” really needs to be reconsidered, especially in my case. The woman in my life is not ‘behind me’ in any way. She is with me every step, and often trail blazes towards our preferred future. If there is any greatness in me, Melissa deserves much of the credit.
Melissa and me are a team. On personality tests we are polar opposites. I am an extrovert while she is an introvert…and that is just the beginning. We communicate differently, we show affection differently, and we watch entirely different tv shows. I watch every documentary on Netflix while she watches “The Voice.”
*Full Disclosure: I don’t watch “The Voice.”
However because she sees and perceives things that I don’t, she helps me forward, and picks me out of ruts I get wedged in to. It was Melissa who urged me to write a book, even though the content was painful. She said my story needed to be told, and that I shouldn’t put it off any longer. Without her support there is no way it would have materialized.
Melissa has made me a better parent. I watch the way she talks to our kids and teaches them throughout the day. She is more concerned with forming their minds and hearts than she is concerned with a spotless kitchen. This kills the OCD in me, but she is right. Her priorities are clear, while mine are skewed. I have learned to relax and even develop patience when I would have lost it in the past. I guess I’m growing.
And she challenges me to be led and to lead by listening to God’s voice. We don’t make major decisions without consulting one another and without prayer. I have jumped the gun in the past, but through her example I now know that ‘waiting’ is a virtue even when my vision and passion tempts me to jump the cue.
There were days I wondered what kind of joke God was playing when he matched us up. Now I realize he was giving me the gift of a true friend and helper to shape me into the man I must become. Thank you Melissa.
Today might be a great idea for you to thank the person in your life that God is using to shape you into something better than you could ever be on your own. Remember, there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman in this world.
Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the death of my wife Sheri Dawn Voll (Valleau). Mostly it seems like another lifetime ago, however, periodically it seems just like yesterday. There are moments from that horrific day that will linger with me as long as I draw breath, but the raw pain that it once caused has been replaced by reflection and even a smile at the precious gift God gave me, even though it wasn’t for long.
I posted on my Facebook page last year that each December 1st would be “International Sideswipe Day.” This is a day to remember those whom we have lost, share our grief, and encourage one another that there is hope after loss. I was blown away at the responses I received. It can be overwhelming to hear the pain that people go through each day. Some of your stories took my breath away; you have faced so much and you continue to push forward. It’s simply inspirational.
Grief and pain are something that we have to go through. There is no sidestepping it. It can be lonely, but we need not be alone. Friends, family, and acquaintances cannot take away the pain but they can speed the healing. I have learned that encouragement, prayer, and a kind word can change the course of a person’s day…or even life. So, I guess in that way the gift of friendship and encouragement are even more important than being a pain reliever. Pain makes us alive, but comforting one another with love and compassion makes us truly human.
Yesterday I received all sorts of calls, texts, emails and FB messages from friends who wanted to let me know that they remember Sheri and the events of December 1. Their outpouring of love humbles me. And I realize that it is because of this love that I have been able to heal and lead others to a greater sense of hope in their personal nightmare. That’s why I was able to muster the courage to write “Sideswiped: Three Keys to a Fresh Start After Suffering a Broken Heart.” Each week a person or two will contact me out of the blue to tell me the difference it has made to them or a loved one who is going through deep waters.
So whatever you are going through, or however helpless you feel as you walk with someone through his or her “valley of the shadow of death,” please know that there is hope and you are the one that God has chosen to deliver it. Sometimes it’s in the form of a hug, a quick text or a gift of a book that might help them get unstuck.
Whatever you do, do something. You are needed. You are a part of someone’s healing no matter how broken you may feel yourself.