Learning the Tools of Our Trade

Recently a friend of mine was worried that he was not going to meet  important project requirements for his job. I helped him break down major tasks and had him define how much time each task needed. Our discussion took less than ten minutes. Afterwards, he was relieved that accomplishing the project on time seemed very achievable.

Then I suggested that he add the defined tasks to his schedule so he could make sure he allocated the time needed. Because for many people there is a  gap between knowing what to do, and taking the time to do it.

He responded, “I don’t use a calendar to schedule my day! It takes too much time. I need to be flexible to work on whatever is most important at the moment.” It became evident why this important project with a fixed deadline caused my friend anxiety.

Last week, I was ill. I had caught a summer cold that took me out of commission for a couple of days. I needed to revise my work calendar. But because I had a plan, I knew what actions could be delayed and what needed to be done as scheduled. When a deadline can’t be moved, I like the necessary actions to be in my schedule.

I find it interesting that some people view a schedule as being too restrictive, and other people view a schedule as necessary to enable flexibility. The schedule is not the difference, it is how we use it.

Isn’t this true of all tools? A tool is only as good as our ability to use it!

The Courage to See More

When we have the courage to take a step beyond our comfort zone, we have the opportunity to see what lies beyond. It may be scary. It may be uncomfortable. It may be difficult. But it is the only way to see the potential of what might be.

Our lives will grow or stagnant in proportion to the amount of courage we display. By being willing to take risks, face our fears, explore our limits, and accept failure as a challenge, not a roadblock, we will go farther than those that predictably follow the safe path.

This world for us is limitless, but we are bound by our actions. You can find new frontiers by exploring random links on Wikipedia, learning about another generation, researching a new interest, taking a deeper dive into your career, or just dreaming. The more we learn the greater the opportunity we create to use the knowledge in actions that take us beyond our normal daily boundaries.

Our dreams reflect the success we desire. The moment we resolve to take hold of a dream and make it a goal, we bring clarity to that dream. If you have the courage to see your dream, then have the courage to step towards achievement. What new idea do you see today?

The Courage to Be Authentic

My friend, John Maxwell, has said there are six people within us that dictate our actions.

1.  Who others think you are
2.  Who you are expected to be
3.  Who you were
4.  Who you wish to be
5.  Who you think you are
6.  Who you really are

As a child we act without thinking. Then as we mature we try to act as we are expected. We want to fit in. As we get older and hopefully wiser, we begin to think deeper about our actions. We discover that the actions are a reflection of who we are and who we can become.

To know and act like how you truly are, you must know yourself, and have the courage to be that person. Each step grows our courage.

What percent of people live courageously? I would guess about 20%, maybe less. There is no easy measure, but most people are held back by fear – fear of what others might think, fear of the unknown, fear of losing what they have gained, fear of failure,  just fear.

Living courageously every single day is nearly impossible. But knowing the edge of your comfort zone, and being able to cross it once a week, or once a month, can lead to authentic personal growth. It is a challenge worth the effort. I need to do it more often.

How often do you act courageously?

Courage Keeps Us Moving Forward

The decision to move forward is a personal decision we are capable of making. Many times it is not the first option we think about. Thomas Edison said, “Be courageous! I have lived a long time. I have seen history repeat itself again and again. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has come out stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!”

We tend to fear moving forward. When times are good, we get comfortable. When times are bad, we would like to go back to when times were more comfortable. In reality, the best course of action is always forward regardless if times are good or bad.

The battle to move forward is within us. It is not an external battle. Courage to change allows us to have a greater tomorrow. For me, I work to win this battle every day. I constantly review habits and routines revealing what to keep, what to drop, and what to change.  What is your method to overcome fear and move forward?