Kathi Laughman

About Kathi Laughman

Kathi Laughman is a master strategist, certified life coach, speaker and best-selling author. She serves a community committed to continuously creating new pathways to success and significance. Her mission is to inspire, facilitate and invest in the success of others. She has proven in her own life and for her clients that there is more value in the rest of our stories than we ever dreamed possible.

In 2009 Kathi founded The Mackenzie Circle LLC where she focuses on personal leadership and development programs. In 2016, the company is expanding to include Your Success Place, an on-line strategic learning center. Contact Kathi at www.mackenziecircle.com or kathi.laughman@mackenziecircle.com

Resilience: What does it really take?

ResilienceWe all have aspirations for something.

Even if we haven’t translated it yet into a specific goal, there’s something we want more of, less of or different.

It is the ultimate dichotomy I think of our humanness: We resist change and yet change is what we crave.

The underlying conflict in this seems to be that we want the change we want and nothing else.

We do not want to have to put change to work; we only want change that works for us. And we believe we are the best judge of what that might be.

But the best change quite often masquerades as something else, something perhaps we don’t recognize for its true potential.

That’s the essence of resilience. Being able to recognize opportunity in whatever comes our way. Once we’ve made the decision for what we want, then everything gets put to work to accomplish that. It’s one of the principal lessons I learned from Napoleon Hill’s work, Think and Grow Rich. The decision begins everything. Without a decision, there is no touchstone.

What does it really take then to go from decision to done? What does resilience need in order to work? From studying those that are repeatedly successful it would appear that there are three things that happen with resilience.

First is that everything becomes a resource and gets put to work. You see things differently. You see them through the lens of possibility. You become resourceful instead of just waiting on resources.

Second is a steadfast sense of resolve. Jim Rohn tells the story of a young girl that when asked to define resolve explained that it was a promise you make to yourself. When things go awry, as we know they will, it is our resolve that keeps us on track and moving forward.

The third element is not just what we get in the end, it’s what we continuously produce and that is results. Results are the most effective way to light our path. They show us which direction is working. They guide us along the way. That is why we have to measure from the first step, so we can harness the power of those results, adjusting our sails as we go.

What it really takes is not just one thing, in fact it’s really not a thing at all. When you think about it, what it takes is us. We make the decision, we become resourceful, we resolve to persevere and we follow the best results until we get there.

What is it you want? Decide. Start there. Let it begin.

Live (decide) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (decide) well.

Resiliency: 5 Gifts of Change

Laughman_Oct 2015_Article 2_ChangeWhatever it is we experience in life, the value of it is whatever we choose it to be.

Does it matter? Is it helpful? Does it cause concern? Are we happy about it? Sad? Angry? Afraid? These are all natural responses. The key is recognizing they are also choices.

Our attitude toward change shows up long before the choice is made and in almost all cases, to at least some degree is dictating the outcome.

In his book, Jumpstart Your Thinking, Dr. John C. Maxwell teaches that our attitude acts like the “advance person” of our true selves. In other words, it shows up before we do, long before the main event. Over time it becomes almost instinctive.

It would seem then that this is an important concept to focus on when we consider where we want to grow. Do we have an attitude about change that is pre-empting success?

How do we change our attitude? In the same writings, Dr. Maxwell offers this commentary about the role it plays: “It is the librarian of our past, the speaker of our present, and the prophet of our future.”  I found that statement to hold the key. If our attitude is the speaker of our present, to change our attitude it would seem to mean we must first change how we speak about it.

As I surveyed some of the changes in my life where I initially struggled, I found five specific gifts I received once I allowed myself to grow through vs. just go through whatever I was experiencing. Seeing the gifts allowed my internal conversation and attitude to change.

#1- New People

My life has been richly blessed from expanding my personal circles. In many cases, those people were introduced to my life in the course of change.

#2- New Places

As a writer, place has been somewhat of a conundrum for me. We like the comfort of our “creative space” and can even begin to rely on its trappings. That was certainly the case for me. But when the creative flow stalls, quite often it is a change of place that allows it to begin streaming again. Once I realized that going to new places was a core fuel for inspiration, my attitude toward them shifted.

#3- New Skills

Any time we encounter change there is almost always something to learn. That can be a daunting road block if we are afraid we may not be able to acquire that skill. The key is recognizing that everything we know at some point was unknown to us. Everything we can do today, at some point we did not know how to do. And with new skills comes new opportunities.

#4- New Ideas

Change is a wonderful stimulus. What we consider (or reject) changes based on new information. We find that we have greater agility for transferring knowledge and skill. We are able to cross-pollinate our understanding of how we work best.

#5- Possibilities

This is of course my favorite because it’s the culmination of everything else. It’s the pinnacle of success when it comes to real change. When we integrate new people, places, skills and ideas into our strategies, the possibilities exponentially grow.

We can change our relationship with change by changing our attitude toward it. We change our attitude by changing our perspective and how we view it, how we speak about it. What new people can I meet and serve? What new places can I experience? What new skills can I acquire and master? What new ideas can this generate? How does this expand the possibilities for my life and work?

In summary: What does this make possible? Once we embrace that question, we begin to master the power of true resiliency.

Live (change) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (change) well.

Do you struggle with resilience? 3 warning signs to consider

It’s easy to say that we are resilient. It’s much more challenging to live resiliently. It is one of the most important skills we need to develop. But all too often we wait until we need it to determine if we’ve got it. The reality is that it doesn’t work that way.

Like any skill, it has to be developed over time and begins with our mindset. How we perceive our world will determine how we interact with it.

That is the core essence of true resilience. We stop responding to our world and start interacting with it. We put the energy of what is happening around us to work. We harness that energy and create new opportunities. It is what I have come to think of as moving from powerless effort (responding) to effortless power (resilience).

Recently I have been part of some discussions around resilience and how we develop it. The initial questions focused on how we could determine if it is a skill we have honed or not. After all, it’s not something you can always measure or see until after it has been employed. From those conversations, we determined that there are some warning signs that may be indicators that we need to strengthen that muscle.

Here are the top three:

#1- A higher commitment to the plan than to the result.

It can be dangerous to become overly attached to the road map. After all, roads close and things change. But the end goal is still the end goal. Adjusting the sails is far better than ignoring that the course needs correction.

#2- A driving need to understand the cause of something in order to assign blame, even (or especially) if it’s to yourself.

Things happen. The cause is most likely irrelevant once it happens. The true forward course is not assigning responsibility for why it happened but rather taking responsibility for what to do from there. What does this make possible? Take responsibility for that and it shifts to opportunity thinking.

#3- Your goal list is continuously littered with casualties that don’t seem to ever cross the finish line.

When we find a trend line in something, it means there is a systemic issue causing a particular result. When the trend we see is unfinished work or unrealized goals, it usually means that we are not able to see our way through disruptions, delays or even simple distractions. By analyzing the points where we falter, we can see where we need to shore up our resiliency muscle and put intelligent creativity to work.

A commitment to seeing the possibilities around us naturally develops our personal resiliency. Our life lens is trained to see opportunities for growing and giving in every situation. In a world where we are faced every day with uncertainty, we can thrive knowing that what is uncertain leaves room for infinite creativity.

What if the glass half empty is also half full? What if it’s both and ready for more?

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

Who is on your Top 50 list?

Several years ago Success Magazine published a series of interviews designed to give the small business owner or entrepreneur insights from the experts.

One of the mentors selected was Tory Johnson of Women for Hire, Spark & Hustle, The Shift and most recently, Deals and Steals.

Tory is someone I have admired for her practiced resiliency and, dare I say it? Her spark and hustle!

In the interview, Tory shared that she maintained a list at all times of her top 50 prospects and she worked that list with relentless focus. Once you were on the list, you could be certain that you were going to be hearing from Tory. And if you were smart, you’d be doing business with her. She encouraged all business owners to have their own list and to leverage the list to keep on task for growing the business. Sound and savvy advice.

Beyond the obvious, there were lessons from that interview and list discussion that have stayed with me.

Lesson #1 – A list helps create focus and action!

First was that the power in leveraging an actual list. Beyond just recording an intention, it becomes a playbook. When we remove the decision point from the action plan we allow ourselves to move fluidly. If there is a list of 50 names, if someone isn’t available, that’s fine. There are many other names left to go. And when you run out, you go back to the top. What is on your to do list can go from “make sales calls” to “contact people on my prospect list and make 10 appointments”. The more specific the task, the easier it is to do. You don’t worry about how many you call because your task is 10 appointments. You don’t worry about who to call next, that’s already laid out for you.

Lesson #2 – Begin where you are with what you have and keep moving!

The second lesson is that our top 50 list can start as a top 10 list. We don’t have to have 50 to begin. We can start with 5. The key is to grow the list to the point that you are always equipped to connect. And to keep it fresh based on moving people to the top customer list or top collaborator list and so on. It really is about relationship management across the board. We should always be working toward an active top 50 prospect list at the conversation level.

Lesson #3 – All things being equal – well they aren’t! But it still works!

The third lesson is that prospect can mean different things to different people and businesses. Your prospects may be potential partners or resources vs. actual prospects you might sell to. This was an important distinction for me as a life coach and strategist. My early prospects were not people I would want to coach. They were influencers and mentors, people that could be invaluable to me as I was building my business. What was interesting to me was that some of those that seemed out of reach initially were in fact very approachable. Engaging them on social media, enrolling in courses, attending events and promoting their work all led to productive partnerships. Even now, my prospect contact list focuses on partners vs. clients. By leveraging those relationships, we both are able to serve broader audiences and help more people.

My own lists have come into more focus for me as I’m working on my next book that will be launching later this year that spotlights the topic of resilience. When we consider the power of resilience, relationship building and management is one of the core skills promoting its essence. In fact, together with strategic learning practices, it is the foundation.

Live (list!) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (list!) well.

Which do you create? A circle or a sun? A probing question from Picasso

Resilience is demonstrated by what we create from our experiences in life.

And with that, what we create has everything to do with our perspective.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”  This is particularly true when we touch on what we create. Perhaps you don’t even see yourself as someone who “creates” but I can assure you that you are. Each of us is a creative and we all have an innate need to create. It goes well beyond what we might think of as creative for art, music, writing, etc. Even within those disciplines, the basics already exist. It is what we make of them that becomes our creation.

A teacher creates a learning experience. A mother (or father) creates a home. A musician creates a performance. A photographer creates an image. A writer creates a story or message. A leader creates a team. Each takes something and through their own unique application transforms it into something else.

But there is more to this that merits consideration. Here is a thought provoking insight from Picasso that transcends the original application intended beyond art:

picasso“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”

No matter what we create, the transformation can either deliver brilliance or diminish the light. We each have that choice. We each have that power.

This is also true of our lives. We can allow our brilliance to diminish to that yellow spot.  Or through curiosity, creativity and intelligence we can  transform our lives into bright shining suns of endless possibilities.

The real insight is that in both cases, it is not about resources, talent or skill.  It is about perspective and choice.  What do you see?  What do you create?

Live (Create!) today what you want to tomorrow to be.

Want to reduce stress? 3 Ways Being Strategic Can Help

this way, that way, another way illustrationThere are some words that over time get lost in the clutter of all of the messages we receive. One of those words is strategy. Be strategic! Be intentional! Be purposeful! Each of those admonitions is great advice. But what do they mean? We need to explore beyond the sound bites and be certain that we understand what it means to apply the knowledge.

Working as a master strategist over the past decade, the concept of strategy has proven time and time again to be much simpler than you might think. It comes down to this: Begin with the end in mind. When we employ strategy, it goes beyond the plan. It goes all the way to the end, to the outcome. Begin with the end in mind.

Think of it like reverse engineering. First you determine what you’re building. Then you work backwards to develop the right sequence of steps to get you there. When you do that, you are being strategic. You know what you are going to need and when you are going to need it. You know what you need to do and when you need to do it. Beyond that, you know why.

If the question is this: What should I do today?  The answer is this: What do you want to be/have tomorrow? Within the answer to the second question is your answer for the first. That is why our coaching programs focus on living today like you want tomorrow to be. And that is where the true magic of strategy serves us.

Being strategic goes beyond being your guide in how you plan. It goes to how you live. Let’s look at three ways we experience stress in our lives and see how being strategic can reduce and even eliminate that stress for us.

#1 – The Art of the No

We all struggle with this, particularly women. We find it stressful to say no because we aren’t comfortable with when and how to say no. Let me share with you what Michael E. Porter (Harvard Business Review) who is considered by many a modern day Father of Strategy has to say on this subject. When asked to define strategy, his response was this: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” I found that very insightful. Being strategic is in fact a giant filter. It gets rid of the clutter in the way of getting to the end.

When we begin with the end in mind, we know what will take us there and what will not and we can focus there. We can also use that context when choosing what not to do.  For many years I have employed this simple principle: “Don’t say no, say how.”  It sounds simple but it’s really a way of vetting your options. Can I do this? Yes- if you do A,B or C or perhaps if you do not do A, B or C. It creates a choice instead of a “NO”. One of the most effective sales techniques ever employed is giving customers options for purchase.  Would you like A, B or C? They are instinctively drawn to choosing one of the offers provided vs. just Do you want A? Yes or No.

Apply that in your life. Someone asks you to serve on a committee that is going to mean a commitment of your time. Is that going to serve your “end in mind” strategy? If yes, you have your answer. If not, then the choice is to either take on the new responsibility and sacrifice momentum or stay focused on the strategy you have in place. When responding, it is now within a context for you and for the person that offered you the opportunity. Now you have the opportunity to make them aware of what you are working toward as well. It may very well be that there is a masked opportunity in play that you would not have seen without that specific conversation.

#2 – The Actions of the Day

The second place we experience stress is when we fail to live up to our promises to ourselves. Any time we move out of integrity (say one thing – do another) it introduces stress. Who we are vs. what we do is the ultimate generator or dissipater of stress. It’s about the tough things we have to do every day to move us to that “end in mind” state. If we don’t start with that vision, we will soon find ourselves losing steam when the work that needs to be done isn’t recognized as important, even vital.

We all feel better about ourselves when we have the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done what we said we would do. It’s about self-discipline, one of the hardest disciplines to achieve. Personal leadership expert Brian Tracy defines discipline with these six words: Do what you resolve to do. I love that. So very close to my definition of strategy: Begin with the end in mind. They are in fact the same fundamental principal. One serves the other.

The planning of our days becomes straight forward. The actions of our days become deliberate. As a result, we reduce the stress of continuous choice. The decisions are already made. We are now just living them out. The former editor of Fortune magazine Alvin Toffler offers this advice: “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

#3 – The Disruptions of the Day

Here is perhaps the most important place to consider when reviewing the true value of strategy. Each of us faces disruption in our lives. Sometimes they are significant events such as death, divorce, even disease. Even if not happening directly to us, when they happen to someone close to us it will still impact us. But it goes beyond those larger disruptions to include some that might not seem as significant but still disrupt our path. Your car doesn’t start, the plumbing picks the absolute worst time to stop working, your computer has turned into an alien machine – so many opportunities for stress to burst onto the scene and distract us from our path.

When we operate from the perspective of what we are living toward instead of what we are living through it makes all the difference. Within that framework we are always able to find contingencies and resources will be at the ready.  We can see disruptions in a different light. Where is the lesson? Where is the door? In so many cases, what starts out as a disruption is in fact a new opening on the path.

The next time you find yourself struggling with saying no, lacking purpose in your day-to-day activities or derailed by disruptions, remember that you have a different choice. You can choose to live today like you want tomorrow to be. You can choose to begin right now with the end in mind. You can. I have faith in you. You will.

Live well.

Your Changing Nest: Are you ready for what’s next? Part 2

Empty NestWelcome back to our conversation about the changing nest. Are you ready for what’s next? Here are some life practices to help you as you re-feather your nest for your next season. What makes them powerful is the fact that they are a part of our everyday life.

As I’ve moved through the empty nest in my own life, these have proved invaluable for moving me through those critical times as I have lived my “now” and designed my “next”!

Life practice #1– Bookending your day

Although this has long been a personal practice for me, it has changed greatly over the past few years as I’ve gone through some of these transitions. Let’s talk about what this really is about. Your morning practice is about centering and focus. It’s about getting grounded for whatever the day will bring. This can be a combination of activities – whatever helps you achieve that for yourself. It could be your journal, inspirational reading or audios, physical stretching exercises, meditation or prayer (or any combination of those!). It does not have to take a long time to be effective but it’s what is often referred to as a power hour. I never thought I would get up early for this but now I look forward to it every day.

Your evening practice (the other bookend!) is about letting go of the day and getting ready for what is next. Did you know that a core practice for fighting the dull-drums in life is having something to look forward to? When we end one day by knowing what we have to look forward to the next day, we rest more fully and awake with purpose. It’s easier to start when we have a plan. The most important part is letting go of today and looking forward to tomorrow. Whatever practices help you do that – those should be a part of your evening bookend. This is also a great time for your gratitude practices.

Life practice #2 – Re-Claiming Your Calendar

One of the most detrimental things I found myself doing when my daughter first got married and left the nest was waiting to see when she would need me. I hesitated committing to things until I knew what her plans would be. I was so afraid of not being available if she called or wanted to do something.

Giving me permission to create my life was essential and the first step was reclaiming my calendar. Making commitments and having things to look forward to. Even seeing her! I still remember the first time I had to tell her I had another commitment. It was a really tough moment but one that helped both of us recognize that in giving ourselves permission to experience more, we were in fact giving each other permission to do the same. There is great freedom in trust. If the calendar stays blank, so will our lives. Get some stars on your calendar!

The idea of something to look forward to has even made it into many definitions of happiness. Best-selling author and poet Rita Mae Brown is quoted as saying that “Happiness is pretty simple. You need someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.”

Life practice #3 – Growing your life by growing you

“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Have you ever felt like you are the glue holding everything together? That you’re the stability for everyone else? This is something I hear often. And when the nest changes, here’s a key place where we now start to think about this. When those responsibilities change, we aren’t always sure where to turn in our lives to find a focus, a purpose.

One of the things I love most about my life now is the fact that the decisions don’t feel so big anymore. I used to feel such weight with every choice. Now I recognize that everything is for a season and I’m able to enjoy it more fully. Learning and growing is a big part of that. My learning strategy was always about my profession. Now it’s about me. My life. Who I want to be and how I want to be. As I have grown, so has my life.

The only motivation in life that works every time is this: Progress. So go create some progress. Create your own change. That is going to create your own internal fire and motivation for more.

It’s a core practice that serves us all. Always be learning something. Always be growing. And be deliberate about it. Many people say that they are a “lifelong” learner and that they learn from everyone. That’s great. But also learn something specific. Take a class, a course, sign-up as a volunteer where you’ll learn a new skill. Be deliberate and embrace your inner explorer again!

Life practice #4- Always be expanding your circle!

I’m sure you’ve heard the concept that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I first learned it from success philosopher Jim Rohn. When we think about how our life changes as our nest changes this is an important factor because in many cases, up to that point our relationships have been by default and defined by our roles versus intentional based on where we are personally growing. What are your current goals? Who are the best people to have around you for that? That is where I started. Those relationships have continued to grow and what is remarkable is that they were the catalyst for other new relationships. As we find kindred spirits, they introduce us to others. By always being open to expanding our circles, we are also expanding our life-scape.

Life practice #5- Make a difference – every day

One of the things that comes up often on the subject of empty nest and changes in the seasons of life is the idea of legacy. What do we want to be remembered for? We think about this as we again start looking at purpose and shifting roles and responsibilities. We begin to think that perhaps our purpose is bigger than we might have once believed or even conceived.

We often see people at this time of their time taking on causes and engaging more in their communities. And that’s a wonderful strategy.

But I would like for us to think about this even more universally and make it a life practice to make a difference for someone every day. The truth is that we already do whether we recognize it or not. Sometimes good, sometimes perhaps not, but we have a choice. If we set a goal everyday of making a positive difference the dividends in life satisfaction we achieve are priceless.

This is also where our example makes a tremendous difference. When our children see us moving beyond the nucleus and seeing beyond ourselves to a greater purpose, we are also encouraging them to do the same. Always remember that your legacy is never about what you leave. It is always about what you live.

Permission – Perspective – Possibilities

Use these life practices to create a life system that will guide you through from now to next. Not once – but every time throughout your life.

As my mentor Jim Rohn said: “We all have two choices: We can make a living or we can design a life.”

These practices can make the difference as you design a life.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

Your Changing Nest: Are you ready for what’s next?

Change is a part of life. We all know that. But do we champion change and actively put it to work in our lives? Sometimes we can be so busy responding to the many changes outside of our control that we lose sight of how strategic change can actually be.

Empty NestIn thinking about a practical example for this, I thought about where change can be the most disruptive, especially for women. One place that is true is our “nest”. Whether those changes are planned and even celebrated does not mean they are not disruptive in ways we didn’t count on or struggle with as we move forward in our lives. Our changing nest – and for what we’ll be talking about here, our empty nest.

Our children growing up: heading to college, moving away, getting married. It doesn’t matter who you are – this can be a very unsettling time. Our whole lives can seem to shift. No matter how much we’re celebrating, within that change there can still be a sense of loss.

Let’s talk about why that might be and break it down. I call it the 3 R’s of our nest dynamic:

Relationships – Responsibilities – Resources

In my own life I can see this so clearly in hindsight (that rearview mirror!). There is a relationship dynamic that definitely shifts. Our children are always our children, no matter how old they are. But they become someone else as well. They become another adult, even in some ways, a peer. That relationship can bring a very different energy.

When we think about responsibilities, quite often we’re really talking about purpose. We’re so used to living our daily life at every level based on being responsible for their daily life. When that responsibility shifts, it can bring with it a loss of purpose. What will we do with ourselves?

And those resources! Our time, money and energy! When the priorities begin to shift, we often fail to recognize that how we leverage these resources also needs to shift.

It is here where we begin to learn and embrace the POWER of Permission, Perspective and Possibilities. Every change is an ending and a beginning. Every time our life progresses to a new season it brings the ending of something we know so that we can replace it with possibilities that were not there before. Think about this in terms of actual seasons. We can’t have winter and summer at the same time in the same place. And there are things that are unique to each of them. So it is true in our lives.

The truth is though that we may not want a season to end and that can be our first hurdle. To get through to the point of permission, perspective and possibility we have to first allow ourselves to grieve for what is left behind. How we do that is as individual as our fingerprints. But it is essential. The most effective approach for this is quite simple: Gratitude. Once we commit to seeing everything through the lens of grace it becomes much easier to live from a point of gratitude. This isn’t just a platitude and I also don’t think it’s valid to say that we have to be grateful for everything. It’s not realistic. But we can always be grateful for something. And that’s the difference. Focus on what we can be grateful for and the rest becomes much easier to carry.

There are also some other very practical things that we can do that will help us re-feather our nest we will cover in part two of our discussion. I’ve come to think of them as life practices or personal strategies. What makes them powerful is the fact that they are a part of our everyday life.

The key question is always this: What does this make possible? That is the essence of resilience and how we move with grace to what we create next in and with our lives.

Live (change) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (change) well!

Excellence as the new perfection – 3 questions to get you there

Progress vs PerfectionPersonal excellence has long been my objective.

I was captivated by Tom Peters and Nancy Austin’s work in A Passion for Excellence. Having standards and expectations of quality are important and productive values.  There is no question in my mind that good can be the enemy of great. I have seen far too many people settle at a level of performance that did not leverage their full potential.

We should not let anything prevent us from stretching to the remarkable, from aspiring to whatever pinnacle matters to us in terms of achievement.  But we also need to remember that excellence is not the same as perfection. It is easy to get them confused, especially if you are a perfectionist by nature. Because when it comes to perfection, excellence will always be the better measure.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is a place I can still struggle.  When is good really great and I just don’t recognize it?  When is good enough, good enough?  There’s an art to knowing.  More importantly, there’s significant value in knowing.  When I find myself struggling with what I call my “analysis paralysis” I have learned to turn to what I call my three “freedom” questions as a way to move beyond where I am.

Question #1:  Will what I have get the job done?  (If yes – it’s finished.  If no – what is left to do? I then focus only the minimum steps left.)

Question #2:  What will happen if I let it go as it is and it needed more work?  (Usually – nothing.  Sometimes – something.  If something, then I close the risk gap but only that.)

Question #3:  What was my original intention for the work and what is it costing me to not be finished?  (This is often where I come face to face with where I’ve allowed my motivation to shift out of focus. With that lens adjustment, the need for results overpowers the need for false perfection.)

It’s pretty simple.  It’s either enough or it’s not.  It is also important to remind ourselves that perfection is a false measure.  It’s not universal.  It’s not evergreen.  It’s not real.  But let’s face it, we each continue in our own ways at times to pursue it. Let’s try a better way. Let’s make excellence our new perfection. Let’s dismiss that false taskmaster and focus instead on excellence by generating value for ourselves and others.  It’s an amazing freedom.  And in the end, produces higher quality work because we focus on specific, tangible, measurable and attainable standards.

Where do you pursue perfection?  What would you be able to accomplish if you traded in perfection for excellence?  Amazing things.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

5 in 1 or 1 in 5 – You Choose!

TWIBC_Laughman_1_5Does it ever feel as if what matters to you is never going to make it to your “FINISHED” list? It just keeps getting pushed back or over or wherever it goes when life demands its way with your day. We all experience this and it is perhaps the single most important issue when we think about life balance or what I call life harmony.

Life harmony is a more realistic expression for me because the key is not to prescribe each moment but to instead feel free to partake in each moment in a meaningful way. When we are distracted and pulled in every direction the moments we miss matter. Those are the pings of regret we often feel whether it’s at the end of a life or the end of a day.

It is however an easier challenge to take on than you might think. By breaking this down into some tried and true actions and deciding on how you will integrate them into your calendar you can gain back a sense of satisfaction in your life and how you are living it each day.

The key is to begin with small things. Items you can handle preferably in less than an hour and or even better, assigned to others. Remember that progress is not just in doing the thing – it lies in getting the thing done. So let’s break it down.

Here are five spots to begin. You can choose to do all five in a single day or you can do one each day over the next five days. That part is up to you. Just remember that this is not a once and done practice. Keep the practice going for the next 30 days and see a dramatic change in how you feel about yourself and your impact in the world. You will begin to find a rhythm that will create its own momentum.

#1- Find one thing you are tolerating and address it. Something that by now you may think you are looking past but I promise you that is not the case. Perhaps it’s something missing or something that doesn’t work – the best place to start on this one is your environment. Just identify one thing. Stop tolerating it and fix it. Make the change yourself or get someone else to help. But get it done.

#2- Name one thing you are procrastinating about and address it. Yes, this is different. This is something you know you need to do but you keep putting it off. Usually this is a personal appointment or some kind of maintenance item. Is your annual check-up now going on year two? Make the appointment.

#3- Call one person you have been neglecting. You know the one. That person you think about in the middle of a meeting (or night) and promise yourself you will call them and check on them but you never do. Own it and call them. If there are too many names on this list, you know this is a place where you need to focus most over the next 30 days. Relationships need nurturing.

#4- Let go of something. What are you hanging on to? This can be an emotion, a grudge or a physical object. Where (or what) do you need to let go? Quite often if we start with the physical (clean out a drawer) it often leads us inward to where the real letting go can happen.

#5- Begin one new positive habit. There it is! What we’re going to do with the now open space in our thoughts and energy. The best place to begin here is where you are the least satisfied with your life right now. If it’s health, take on a SMALL but positive new habit. If it’s financial, determine one new habit that over time is going to make the difference for you. If it’s spiritual, begin a daily practice of reading and prayer. Not sure? Begin expressing gratitude daily. Just pick something that is positive and has a repetitive action associated with it and introduce that into your day.

5 in 1 or 1 in 5. You choose. Your first choice? To begin. Choose to take the reins of the day and claim the baton as director for your life.

Live (choose) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (choose) well!