Focus Your Efforts – By giving up control

It almost seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? But – to focus your efforts, you have to learn to give up control. You cannot control…

  • How someone behaves
  • What decision is reached
  • How someone feels
  • The traffic
  • The weather
  • How your team performs
  • The value of your investments
  • What someone thinks of you

What you can control…

  • Where you focus your energies
  • What projects you start
  • How you react to situations
  • Your attitude
  • The directions you give
  • The environment you create

Quit worrying about things that you can’t control. Stop making projects of people, and focus your energies on things that will change based on YOUR efforts. Take charge. Be creative. Start something new. Don’t give up. Focus.

It’s not how you start – but how you finish

We all have a favorite account of someone who did something great with their life after overcoming an obstacle that got in their way. We look at these people sometimes wistfully, wishing we had the same good fortune to overcome our own obstacles. Well – if it was due to good fortune, we probably wouldn’t hold these people in such high esteem. It was their perseverance – their commitment to overcome all odds that holds our attention and fuels our imagination. What if…. what if that could happen to me? Then… I could…

What? What would you overcome? What would you achieve? A better relationship? A better job? Happiness? Financial Security? These things can happen to you – if you persevere. If you believe that you have the power to overcome obstacles. Why don’t more people persevere? Because they look at how they started their race – at how many times they’ve failed.

Failure happens to all of us. Some let failure become their destination, others – just stops along the way. Which one are you? It doesn’t matter how you started, or where you are today. What matters is where you are going tomorrow, and how you finish. Get up. Continue your quest… whatever it may be. And finish strong.


How you do things is important!

As I gave a presentation at the PMI Sacramento Valley Chapter PMO Interest Group yesterday, I was reminded that in addition to the “what” we do, “how” we do things is just as important. Project Management Offices are good at determining what Project Managers do. They develop forms, process and procedures. What seems to get lost though – is how things get done. How are people treated? What are the core values of the organization? What behavior is acceptable or unacceptable?

As you go about your daily routine – keep a mental note of how you are treating others and if clarity exists around what is acceptable or expected behavior.

Follow these links to a either a flier on how to build an effective Credo Statement or to see the power point presentation on Ethics Nightmares (2.5mb).

All the best…
All the time…


Courage – Make a decision – to make a difference

As Memorial Day fades into memory and you begin a new week – make a decision to make a difference… today! What area in your life do you need to make an improvement on? What things at work need to change, but haven’t because you’re afraid to take a stand or speak up?

I’m not suggesting getting on your white horse and charging into the boardroom swinging your sword. Take some time to develop a well thought out strategy on how you can bring about the changes you desire. Then act. However, don’t fall in the Analysis to Paralysis trap. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to plan – then set a deadline for action. Remember, most positive changes don’t happen by accident. If you’re waiting for circumstances to change on their own, you are not taking charge of your life and are relinquishing power and control to someone or something else. Take charge of your life. Make a difference – today!

All the best…
All the time…


Remembering…those who paid the ultimate price

Punchbowl - National Cemetery of the Pacific

Punchbowl – National Cemetery of the Pacific

I catch myself telling others – Happy Memorial Day… and then have to pause for a moment. Memorial Day has become a time for celebration – a time off from work – a time to relax – a time to catch our breath. A time for reflection often gets overlooked, or lost in the shuffle of our busy lives. A random thought of thanks is what many Americans give to Memorial Day. How soon we forget…

This post is my personal tribute and heartfelt thanks for friends lost… while preserving our freedom.

Petty Officer Danny Smith, who gave his life along with 12 others while on a SOCAL mission in a P-3.

Commander “Bug” Roach – Critically injured as he ejected from his A-4 on a training mission near San Diego.

Ltjg Carey Arthur – Lost at sea when his S-3 crashed soon after taking off the USS Nimitz on a patrol

Ens. Brian DeHaan – Crashed while undergoing training at Pensacola Florida


Pick one thing to change today

As a leader, you get inundated with lists of things to do. Many leaders get bogged down in trying to do too much. Even prioritizing lists can sometimes seem overwhelming. Start your day off right. Pick one thing that is important to you, and start moving it forward. No – I don’t mean sorting your email. What is the one thing that you’ve been putting off that would make a positive impact in your career/job? Now – go do it!!

Be an early bird…

I’m sitting here at Starbucks, enjoying a cup of coffee and a bran muffin. Great! It’s 7am on Sunday morning – still great? You bet. I actually slept in this Sunday morning, I got up at 6:15. Sounds early to some of you, but for those of you with a dream, you understand. What I’m doing is advocated by every successful person I know. Achieving your dreams takes work. The work is what makes getting there so memorable.

Are you surprised when you hear about a lottery winner that lost all his or her money, or whose family fell apart? I’m not. If you don’t have to work for your dreams, what’s the point? There are three kinds of people in life. Those that watch things happen, those that make things happen, and those that wonder what happened. Be someone that makes things happen. Join me in the early bird club. Get up early and focus on making your life better. Read. Reflect. Dream. Plan. Take action.

I once heard a funny response to the adage “the early bird gets the worm” – the response was, “Well yeah, but I don’t like worms.” Neither do I. But I don’t like starving either. Kenny Chesney sums it up in his song Don’t Blink – “a 100 years goes by faster than you think!” Make something of your life. Become disciplined and get up early to work on your dreams.


I was teaching a class earlier this year and was following the flow of the class – and delving into something I hadn’t planned on. I mentioned setting life goals – and got blank stares from a class of middle to senior level project managers. Out of 25 students, only a small handful had ever taken the time to set down their life goals on paper. I was floored!

Do yourself a huge favor, take an hour to write down your life goals – you won’t regret it. Research has continuously shown that by writing down your goals, the odds of you achieving them go up astronomically. What are life goals? Take a sheet of paper and make five columns. Label them, one year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and lifetime. Start at “lifetime” and list all the big things you want to accomplish before you die. Then, move the ones you want to accomplish within 20 years to the next column – then move those you want to accomplish with 10 to the next column…. etc.

I have done this since the age of 20, and have accomplished most of the things on my list. Success and happiness don’t happen by chance. Take charge of your future. Believe enough in yourself to write down your dreams!

Your Life Matters!

As a first post, my message to you is that your life matters! Greatness is not measured in the things you achieve – by the things you can purchase – or the positions you hold. Greatness is measured by the positive impact you have on those around you, using the gifts that you possess to the utmost of your ability. I am not a believer in the adage that we are all created equal. We aren’t. We should all be treated equally, but we all have different strengths and weaknesses. To tell me that I can become anything I want – is ridiculous. Can I join the ranks of Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Michelle Kwan or Tiger Woods as a professional athlete at the top of a sport of my choosing? I don’t think so. Yet obviously, some people can! The question really is – what can I do with my gifts to positively impact those around me?

On a trip to Edmonton last week, I met Wojtek. He was my chauffeur who drove me to and from the airport. Wojtek is an immigrant from Poland who owns a limousine service. I asked him to name a few famous people that he had picked up. He laughed. Then he said, “We are all famous in our own way. I look at you and know that you are just as special as any diplomat or sports hero”. So, according to Wojtek (and I agree), you’re famous. So how are you going to use those gifts of yours, regardless of what they are?

I have a friend whose 16 year old daughter died of cancer last year. When he told me how she died – I was reminded of the power of the human spirit. As her breathing became difficult and her last few moments passed by, her heart continued to beat strongly and stubbornly. She was fighting for her life, until the very end. The dignity over death – was profound. The impact that a 16 year girl had on me, was life changing. She had power and purpose. She achieved greatness without a title, without job, with no great possessions. What can you achieve with what you have?

All the Best!