Changing Your Game Plan
from Success to Significance
By Bob Buford
The Big Idea
Bob Buford believes the second half of your life can be better than the first. In Halftime, Bob focuses on this important time of transition – the time when, as he says, a person pauses to consider what will make his or her remaining years rich and meaningful.
To help people at midlife to embark on their “personal renaissance,” Buford lifts up the important questions we need to ask, such as: What am I really good at? If my life were absolutely perfect, what would it look like?
Buford fills Halftime with a blend of personal insight, true-life examples, and hit-the-nail-on-the-head quotes from men who have successfully navigated the exhilarating and potentially dangerous shoals of midlife.
Why You Need This Book
This book provides the encouragement and insight to propel your life on a new course away from mere success to true significance – and the best years of your life.
Midlife. Halftime. It doesn’t need to be a time of crisis; it can be a catalyst.
LISTENING TO THE GENTLE WHISPER
In the first half of life, there is barely enough time to progress beyond second base, or even think about doing so. We are hunter-gatherers, doing our best to provide for our families, to advance to our children. In addition, for most men, and certainly a growing number of women, the first half finds us in our warrior mode. The second half, when the pressure lets up, seems to be more the time when most people round second base and begin to do something more than what they’ve done so far.
The first half of life has to do with getting and gaining, learning and earning. Some chase the prize in a more spectacular, aggressive fashion. It is about releasing the seed of creativity and energy that have been implanted within us, watering and cultivating it so that we may be abundantly fruitful. It involves investing our gifts in service to others – and receiving the personal joy that comes as a result of that spending. This is the kind of risk for which entrepreneurs earn excellent returns much of the time.
There is a risk in this decision: In tossing aside the security blanket that keeps you safe and warm in your cautiously controlled zone of comfort, you may have to set aside familiar markers and reference points. You may feel, at least at first, that you are losing control of your life.
LOCATING THE MAINSPRING
Realize that not everyone can afford to devote only 20 percent of his time to his career. But don’t allow the second half of your life to be characterized by decline, boredom, and increasing ineffectiveness.
Listen carefully to that still, small voice, and then do some honest soul-searching. What’s in your box? Is it money? Career? Family? Freedom?
Remember, you can only have one thing in the box. Regardless of your position in life, once you have identified what’s in your box, you will be able to see the cluster of activities that put into play your “one thing” and keep you growing.
But be careful. Growth is not always easy.
Halftime cannot be a noisy place.
The first half is noisy, busy, almost frenetic. It’s just that you never seem to have time to do it.
If you are hearing a voice speak softly to you, it is time to head for the locker room, catch your breath, and get ready for the second half – a better second half than the first.
Many times, a good second half depends on what is done during halftime.
Here are some general concepts that can help you prepare to go back out into the field:
Make peace. Regret haunts you in ways that will sap your strength and inspiration to go on to better things. Take time. The biggest mistake most of us make in the first half is not taking enough time on the things that are really important, so when you enter your halftime you need to make sure you don’t repeat that mistake.
Be deliberate. Set an agenda that will help you “walk” through the important issues.
Share the journey. If your marriage is truly a partnership, it would be wrong for you to impose a whole new lifestyle onto your spouse without consulting her.
Be honest. Your second-half self is your genuine self, so be honest enough to discover it.
FROM SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE
One of the most common characteristics of a person who is nearing the end of the first half is that unquenchable desire to move from success to significance.
Psychologist Donald Joy once observed that soon after a man turns forty, he is likely to tackle a huge undertaking – something that appears to be slightly out of his reach.
As we move closer to the halftime of our lives, we realize that we can only buy, sell, manage, and attain so much. We also begin to understand that we will only live so long. When all is said and done, our success will be pretty empty unless it has included a corresponding degree of significance.
Significance need not be a 180-degree course change. Instead, do some retrofitting so that you can apply your gifts in ways that allow you to spend more time on things related to what’s in your box.
Life seems more comfortable in known, familiar territory, even when we are fairly certain something better awaits us out there.
Many people don’t make it through this zone, which is characterized by the pain of loss of former certainties and by confusion about what comes next. The future seems to be somewhat fuzzy and vague, and doesn’t compete well with the comfort and certainty of our present situation.
The normal pattern for most people is a single curve that rises as we approach middle age, and then sharply falls off toward retirement. What author and philosopher Charles Handy recommends is to start a new curve, preferably while the first one is still rising, but certainly before it begins to fall.
It is important to learn how to enjoy and benefit from the success you worked so hard to attain without becoming addicted to it, without going past the inflection point in the curve when it turns sour. Handy’s Sigmoid curve shows us that everything, even the best things, go pathological beyond that inflection point.
And it is the realization that they could become stuck forever – “in a rut,” as some say – that helps motivate some people to escape the first half.
It is one thing to talk about regaining control, and quite another to really do it. Old habits, even tempered with a brand-new outlook on life, die hard. Delegate at work, play, and home. Work smarter, not harder.
Do what you best; drop the rest. Go with your strengths.
Set limits. Reallocate time to your mission, to your core issues.
Protect your personal time by putting it on your calendar. Leave time for absolute silence, for deliberately looking at your life to see that it is in balance.
Work with people you like. Work with people who can add energy to life, not with those who take energy away.
Set timetables. If you do not put your second-half dreams on a timetable, they will quickly become unfulfilled wishes.
Downsize. Get rid of the things that stand between you and regaining control of your life.
Play around a little. Play ought to be a big second-half activity, not so much in terms of time spent, but in importance.
Take the phone off the hook. Unless you’re a brain surgeon on twenty-four hour call, it’s not necessary to let people know where you are all the time.
If you are being controlled by too many time-and energy-consuming activities, you will continue to be frustrated by unfulfilled dreams and desires. Realize too, that you are in unfamiliar territory; and it may take some practice before you feel comfortable. Eventually, however, you will find a way to regain control of your own life.
Developing a personal mission statement makes a lot of sense, especially for second-halfers. During the first half, you probably either did not have time to develop such a declaration of mission, or the mission statement you adopted really belonged to the company for which you worked. You will not get very far in your second half without knowing your life mission. Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests that in developing a personal mission statement, you should focus on what you wish to be and do, based on the values and principle that undergird all your beliefs and actions.
“Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power, “ writes Covey.
PLAYING FOR ALL YOU’RE WORTH
Please don’t let that hinder you from playing the game hard. Then, when their formulas don’t work, they get discouraged and resign themselves to the downward slope of their one curve.
Remember, the second half is only part of the game. We all have to play the whole game.
Thomas Merton wrote that all you really need is in your life already. He called it the “hidden wholeness.” Even though that’s what most of us do in the first half, we eventually learn that money, fame, material possessions, and experiences will never fill us.
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Monday, December 8, 2008
9 Things a Leader Must Do
Breaking Through to the Next Level
based on the book by Dr. Henry Cloud
The Big Idea
Are you accomplishing what you want as a leader?
Why do some leaders get and accomplish what they want, while others seem to regularly experience frustration and setbacks? Why do some leaders achieve their goals, while others barely hang in there?
Based on his groundbreaking psychological study of ways that successful individuals think and behave, Dr. Henry Cloud presents a simple yet profound roadmap to help leaders – and those who want to become leaders – to arrive at greater levels of personal growth and corporate influence that they thought were possible.
The good news for all of us is that leadership success is not limited to vague notions of “charisma” or traditional advantages like graduate degrees and connections. It is much more closely tied to a pattern of thinking and moving forward that learns from mistakes and stays focused on goals.
Why You Need This Book
This book will help you discover the secrets that will help you focus on the dynamics that make a difference in your organization – and your life.
Déjà Vu Leaders
A good number of us are in business or other arenas of leadership, but we have different backgrounds, different personalities, different economic circumstances, and different abilities. However, this set of people are the same in that they share this particular way of handling life and work. And that commonality is the déjà vu experience.
People who found what they were looking for in life seemed to do a certain set of things in common.
If you were not born with these patterns for leadership in place, you can learn them.
You can learn these patterns that work every time and lead to a better life.
1. Excavate Your Soul
For successful leaders, the invisible world is where the real life is. The same is true at all levels of leadership in the business world. Every blockbuster deal, every new rung on the corporate ladder, every project design, every company merger, and every successful sales campaign begins in the invisible soul of human beings. Leadership success is the process of digging up the treasures of the invisible soul in order to bring dreams, desires, and talents into the visible world.
In order to optimize his opportunities in business and life, the déjà vu leader:
Becomes aware of his dreams, desires, talents, and other treasures of the soul.
Listens to them and values them as life itself.
Takes steps to develop them, beginning in very small ways.
In order to get to the outside visible world, your desires and talents have to be mined, refined, and sculpted. Listen to what bugs you.
Don’t let negative feelings just sit there.
Don’t let long-term wishes and dreams go ignored. Listen to your symptoms. Pay attention to your fantasies. Face the fears and obstacles that have caused you to bury your inner treasures.
Don’t confuse envy with desire. You may be envious of someone else’s position or success because you have lost touch with your own dreams.
Do everything above in the context of your values and the community of people who are committed to guarding your heart. If you do not have such a community, find one and join it.
2. Yank the Diseased Tooth
There are major negative things that can afflict us, really bad stuff. Either fill the cavity or pull the tooth. Then new energy, resources, time, and space become available to you to focus on the things that have life in them. The negative energy drain is stopped, making room for the good stuff.
So, here is the sad result of not living like a déjà vu leader: You get the negative emotions of all your problems without the benefits of solving them. Avoidance is really not helping anything, because you still expend the energy and feel the hurt. Avoidance always prolongs the pain.
This violates an important value.
I wish this were not happening.
3. Play the Whole Movie
Déjà vu leaders evaluate almost everything they do in this way. They see every behavior and decision as links in a larger chain, steps in a direction that has a destination. In short, they rarely do anything without thinking of the ultimate consequences. They play the whole movie, so to speak.
Playing the whole movie can save your life by preventing bad things from happening, and it can build your life by enabling you to see the good things that can happen.
In addition to motivation, playing the whole movie provides successful leaders with another strategy common to all of them. They use it to live out the difficulties before they actually occur. In other words, they worry ahead of time, meaning they play the movie and then take active steps to make sure they are ready for unpleasant scenes when they arrive.
So plot a movie, a vision of your life, your career, your relationships, your finances, and so on. See it, plan it, and then evaluate each scene you write every day in light of where the movie is supposed to end.
4. Put Superman Out of a Job
Déjà vu leaders tend to call on themselves as the first source to correct difficult situations. Even if someone else is at fault, they take the initiative to address the problem and seek a solution. Whatever the answer may be, déjà vu leaders make a move.
If it takes money to make money (a common excuse), then go raise the money you need. Don’t just sit there wishing for a bigger budget.
If the economy is lousy, don’t wait for it to change. Gain a skill in a different field, look somewhere else, find another niche that is hot, enlarge your network or openness to other jobs, start your own service business, or something.
5. Embrace Your Inner Insect
The biggest enemy of the small-steps-big-results principle is our craving for having it all. If the ant picks up a grain of sand, the city will be built. But if the ant looks at the grain and says, “That is not a city! All-or-nothing thinking keeps people stuck in destructive ruts. All success is built and sustained just like a building is built, one brick at a time. But one brick seems too small and insignificant for all-or-nothing thinkers. Déjà vu leaders are different. They value the little increments, the tiny steps. Taking the long road, one tiny step at a time, will actually get you there faster because you will not lose time by trying shortcuts.
6. Earn a Black Belt in Hate
Choosing what you hate is serious business. What you do not hate well is going to find its way into your life. Here are some tips that déjà vu leaders would offer:
Make your values intentional. Deal with your subjective hatred. Find the sources of your subjective hatred and make them objective. Put names and faces to the origins of your problematic feelings and attitudes.
Mix hate with love and respect. A déjà vu leader shows up with what we call integrated character. In other words, when he brings his hate, he brings his love as well. His hate is integrated with his love and other values, such as respect for people, kindness, and forgiveness. That is how he can take a hard stand on a tough issue but remain loving and kind in the process.
Build your skills. One thing that déjà vu leaders always do well is resolve conflict, and that means being honest and assertive without losing control, getting manipulated, or freaking out.
In the process, you will preserve most of the good things in your life, eliminate most of the destructive things, and experience much more success in your work and in your life.
7. Forget About Playing Fair
People who succeed in leadership and life do not go around settling scores. They do not even keep score. It is the law of love, changing things for the better.
Déjà vu leaders have transcended the need for revenge. The other’s benefit is their utmost concern. Revenge is for immature people. Mature leaders know that ultimately the offending person is going to get what he deserves without anyone else bringing it about.
8. Quit Self-Exaggerating
Just as humility sells soap, it can also build success in all areas of your life and leadership. Be a déjà vu leader and learn the way of humility. Here are a few examples of the humble ways of déjà vu leaders:
Say you are sorry to your children, spouse, coworkers, customers, and other people in your life when you fail them.
Serve the people “under” you in whatever structures have placed you “over” them. In organizations where there are hierarchies, déjà vu leaders are as concerned with their relationship to the custodian as they are with their relationship to the CEO.
Root out any attitude of entitlement. Embrace a spirit of gratitude for everything you have or any good treatment you get.
When someone is hurt by you, listen. Embrace your imperfections and the imperfections of others. Use failure as a teacher and a friend.
9. Ignore the Popularity Polls
Successful leaders are sensitive to the reactions of others, but when weighing whether or not a given course is right, whether or not someone else is going to like it is not a factor that carries any weight. Concern, yes; but weight, no. déjà vu leaders decide to do what is right first and deal with the fallout second.
Déjà vu leaders go against the odds if the odds are against what is right. They are willing to be the odd one, risking loss of approval in order to do the right thing. Forget the popularity polls. Don’t try to avoid upsetting people; just make sure you are upsetting the right ones. If kind, loving, responsible and honest people are upset with you, then you had better look at the choices you are making. But if controlling, hot and cold, irresponsible, or manipulative people are upset with you, then take courage – it might be a sign that you are doing the right thing and becoming a déjà vu leader!
The principles are available to everyone. Do not see leadership success as a goal that you cannot attain or a prize only for special or lucky people. Success is never embodied in a person, but in the ways of wisdom that transcend any one individual. What déjà vu leaders do is find those ways and practice them.
Be encouraged to embark on a path of putting them into practice into your own life and becoming a déjà vu leader.
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