Acknowledging the Questions

Ever since mankind has walked planet earth we have been questioning our existence. All any human being wants to feel is that he or she has a purpose and that this life on earth is of meaning. The funny thing is that the more we ponder the reasons why we are here and compare ourselves in terms of our universe and galaxies well beyond our comprehension, the more we can turn our minds into a swirling tornado of doubt, helplessness, and anxiety. 

Have you ever caught yourself sitting alone perhaps looking up at the blue sky watching the clouds go by or staring at the ocean while listening to the waves and asked yourself: Why am I here? 

I would be willing to bet that most of us who have thought about the true meaning of life and have had thoughts like these cross our minds at some point. However, when we solely focus on the question of “Why?” we put ourselves in a situation that is simply out of our control. Because the bottom line is that nobody truly knows with 100 percent certainly why we are here and what our sole purpose is. Those of us who believe in the afterlife find our purpose in living a life suitable for eternity. Christians believe that by living a life for Jesus, one will earn the privilege of living in eternal paradise when their time on earth is finished. Living a life for Jesus means excepting him into your heart and prioritizing faith and righteousness above the Temptations of worldly successes and pleasures. 

However, even for those who believe in the afterlife at the end of the day it still comes down to faith rather than 100% certainty. Faith in knowing that our purpose on this earth is one far beyond our comprehension. That’s where the problem lies with most people in my opinion. They want 100% security and 100% certainty in terms of their life’s purpose and future. However, those of us who think rationally understand that such wishes will never be a possibility. Nothing is ever 100% certain. So if that is truly the case, shouldn’t we be taking a different approach to this whole meaning of life topic?

Instead of asking “Why?” we need to start acknowledging that we are. The bottom line is, we can ask and search for reasons for why we live on planet earth and why there are millions of galaxies far beyond our comprehension. But at the end of the day, it truly doesn’t matter because we will never have an answer to why we were here. Nonetheless, by acknowledging that we are here, we can then work to create our purpose without waiting for it to fall in our lap. 

In my experiences, I’ve come across many people including myself at times who simply were unaware of their present existence. Not that they were unaware that they were alive, but they were unconscious to the concept of actually living. Yes there is a difference. They were so focused on looking for facts and answers that they forget the fact that they are here! The ability to live in the moment and appreciate the present has become a difficult task for a large portion of our society. This is because we are always focused on what the future will bring rather than what the moment is. 

So the next time you find yourself pondering life’s meaning,  your existence, and purpose, instead of questioning it, try to acknowledge that you are it. And always keep in mind that we will never truly know why we are here, but we can acknowledge what is and create our purpose from this acknowledgment. 

Mass Producing Mass Ignorance

Let’s look back a little over a year ago. The Covid-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc on us all. Lockdowns. closing businesses, gyms & schools along with the lack of face-face interactions Despite some lingering effects from the days of “lockdown life. ” People have been slowly but surely getting back to their lives and routines. Whether it will stay that way is to be determined but at least for now, people around the world are starting to feel a sense of normalcy again. Does this mean that we have learned from the trials and tribulations that the pandemic has brought? Possibly in some ways. However, I’d like to use this post to highlight an example of one of the major flaws that I have observed within our society….

The inability to remember, appreciate and learn from our past. As the old saying goes, “history repeats itself. Wearing a mask in public has simply become a part of our everyday lives. Most of us don’t even think twice about it anymore despite at one point complaing about having to do it. Before leaving the house the standard checklist used to be: keys, sunglasses,wallet, purse. Now it is keys, sunglasses,wallet, purse, FFP2 mask. It is what it is, I guess. That being said, those who remember back to March 2020 can recall the “mask shortage” that was taking place. At the height of the pandemic there apparently were not enough to go around. I even remember hearing a story of a guy in New York who had an abundance in storage and was at one point selling them at a 700 percent mark-up price before the FBI shut his lucrative business down. Fear causes panic which causes desperation which means there is a need. Therefore, people were buying them despite the outrageous cost increase. 

So what is my point? My point is that we as a society simply do not learn from our failures and we take simple things such as having a cotton mask for granted. Unlike in March of 2020, if you take a walk around your city or town today you will likely see multiple used FFP2 masks littered upon the ground like a McDonald’s burger wrapper. What was a year ago seen as a luxury item can now be found along your local freeway with other people’s used fast-food packaging. What a difference a year makes, huh? 

The bottom line is this. We live in a world where we can “mass-produce” to solve most of our problems. Need more money? Just print more. Need more meat? Just breed more animals. Need more FFP2 mask? Just produce more. I am not saying that mass production is all bad. I mean we are simply accommodating our needs in the most east and efficient way we know how. The problem lies in the change that occurs in our mindsets when our needs become something of excess.

Ignorance of what once was, and a lack of appreciation for the current situation. Some might call this simple “human nature.” That may be true as well, but it doesn’t mean that we should let human nature get in the way of being aware and having discernment. That is the real problem. People too often let their nature take control while letting their immense cognitive ability to remember and think to take a back seat.

So the next time you see a used FFP2 mask laying stray and dirty on the sidewalk, let that be a reminder of how ignorant we can be if we allow our nature take over. Let that experience take you back to March 2020 where these masks had the value of 700 percent above their mark-up. Maybe then and only then can we begin to overcome our nature and learn to appreciate.

Or maybe not…

Expert ≠ Ego

There are a lot of legitimate experts in the world. There are also a lot of self-proclaimed ones. The term “expert” has taken off in society as a method to one’s worth and stick out. It has become an excuse to justify making noise on social media and drawing attention to one’s brand or business. While I certainly do not want to criticize those who choose this route as I know that this is the world that we currently live in. However, I do want to bring awareness to the dangers of claiming the title of an expert.
That being said, we all want to be associated and work with experts. For example, we all want to have a doctor to is an expert in whatever illness we have. We all want to hire brokers who are experts in the field in which we aren’t. So in this sense, experts are essential. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the difference between actual experts and those who are using the title as a scheme to attract attention.
One thing I have come to realize is nearly all experts have egos. This is not always a bad thing if the person is truly who they claim to be. In any case, the point I am trying to get across is that the moment we claim ourselves as an expert is often the moment where we stop growing. There is nothing wrong with claiming expertise in whatever field you associate yourself with. However, do not let that add to your ego and stunt your personal growth. Being an expert is something we all should strive for. The key is understanding that the process is never-ending. We all want to be associated with people of expertise. Most of us, however, do not want to be associated with the egos of said individuals. It is OK to self-proclaim. In fact, it is often necessary in order to be taken seriously. Just understand that with such proclamation comes a responsibility to remain genuine in your willingness to grow. Don’t let being an expert enlarge your ego.

Be Selfish Because We Need To

Be selfish to serve not selfish to spend. Understanding this concept will take you far in your journey towards becoming an effective leader of yourself and others.

We all have heard of the term Servant Leadership. While I am surely a believer of this concept, I believe there is a strong misconception about what it really implies. Servant leadership deals with putting others before yourselves. The act of serving others for their own best interest regardless of the impact it has on your on well being. Servant leadership is a great concept however, I believe that in order to effectively serve others, we must first serve ourselves. By this I mean that we must first look out for our own state of mind and our own well being. This may sound selfish, but how can one be expected to serve others when they are suffering themselves? It is simply not a reasonable task for us humans.

We are selfish by nature because we need to be in order to live healthy. Think about a marathon runner running a race with zero carbohydrates in their system. They surly will break down before the finish line because of their lack of proper nutrition beforehand. We as aspiring leaders can be compared in the same light. We need to fill ourselves with positive vibes, habits, self-care and a healthy lifestyle in order to have enough energy to serve others. Without these aspects we will break down before we can make any type of impact on others. Just remember that being selfish is natural, do not feel bad for being human. There is a big difference in being selfish to serve and being selfish to spend. Selfishness is a necessity. Just make sure that your selfishness is serving as the carbohydrates for a cause beyond indulgence in yourself.

Change is Fuel for the Driven

Change is power. Any kind of change is a formidable challenge for most people.

In our daily world, especially in this hectic instant access global culture where technology changes by the minute and you have to be adapting constantly. We are being pulled in diverse directions and the older we get the less elastic we become. We get in the habit of doing things a certain way and become less tolerant to external demands to alter our lifestyle. Modifying learned responses to habitual routine tasks often causes stress and anxiety.

However, when the good Lord provides us the opportunity to change our lifestyle, he not only gives us the power to do so, but the result is a much more powerful person! Some people say they need to change but avoid necessary action because they’re consumed with fear of failure of the unknown. The two factors that derail people from reaching their full potential.

It all starts in your mind. If you think you can change, then you can and if you think you can’t, then you cannot. One thing we must remember is that change is inevitable in life. So why avoid the inevitable? When we embrace change and understand that it is necessary in terms of reaching our full potential, then we can look forward to change because it means that we are growing more powerful in terms of our mindset and overall lasting legacy. The key is to remain conscious of change. A lot of us go through life and are hit in the face with change as a surprise. However, if we remain conscious and aware of its inevitability, we can prepare ourselves to embrace and thrive once it comes. Life without change is stagnant and limited. For some this may be OK however, for those who are driven to make a difference, change is our fuel and it gives us power over our lives.

Blessing in Disguise: “Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone”

Imagine a writer without a laptop, a pen or paper. Imagine a motivational speaker without an audience. Imagine a bodybuilder without a gym. I would be willing to guess that all of us in some way shape or form have/have had things in our lives that we are/were passionate about. If the past year has taught us anything it is that anything and everything can be taken away from us at any moment. That includes our life’s passions.

Passions are what keep most people motivated and eager to wake up in the morning. Passions are what make life worth living. However, what if I told you that before it was taken away, my greatest passion was holding me back from reaching my ultimate potential? You see the problem with our passions is that they become our comfort. And comfort is the ultimate block of growth. One of my favorite quotes by Neale Donald Walsh states, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” In my opinion, this couldn’t be more true.

The bottom line is that passion is a necessity in life. However, we cannot let one single passion limit or define us. For example, I am extremely passionate about fitness. It even got to a point where I would go to the gym 2 times a day for 7 days a week for 2 hours at a time. Doing the math that was 28 hours a week just spent in the gym! While my physical growth was at its peak, my mental growth was severely lacking therefore, my potential was being held back by my over-riding comfort.

Then came the 2020 Lockdown and all of a sudden my passion and comfort of going to the gym was taken away from me. I may be one of the only ones to say this but, “Thank God for Lockdown.” This created an uncomfortable situation for me. All of a sudden my passion was taken away and I was forced to react. This was my blessing in disguise. Despite the initial struggles and disappointment, I realized that this time away from the gym was my chance to step out of my comfort zone and improve my mental and creative abilities. I now realize that my potential goes well beyond fitness. And while fitness will always remain an important passion of mine, it no longer defines me as a person and the comfort of it no longer hinders me from reaching my potential.

So next time your comfort is swept from under your feet, just remember that it is your opportunity to grow. And don’t forget, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Thank God For…

What if I told your that 2020 was the best year of my life? Referencing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s comments after the Pearl Harbor attacks, “A year (not day) that will live in infamy.” 2020 started with a shock with the tragic and heartbreaking death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and those 7 other precious individuals. God rest their souls. Such an icon and someone who had the ora of a superhero who would live forever suddenly gone from this earth. Truly a wake up call.

Then came Covid-19 and that was all she wrote in regards to most people’s plans and resolutions. However, if you were someone like me at the start of the year, you had nowhere to go but up. 2020 has taught me to not let Situation define Self. I can honestly say that 2020 has been the most productive and transformational year of my life. Not because, I achieved a lot or made a lot of money, but because I used pain and struggle to achieve success. I guess the question at the end of the day come down to a 9 word question:

What will you do when you hit rock bottom?

In a lot of ways, it feels like we have as a society. However, despite all that we have been through in 2020, 2021 will not gracefully offer its sympathy like a vast majority of people are suggesting. I can’t count how many times throughout this year where I have heard people say things to the tune: “2021 can’t get here soon enough”. Well, it is finally here. However, I can assure you the tomorrow on January 1, 2021, the pandemic and financial crisis will still be here, unemployment will still be on the rise, mental illness will still be making its imprint on society and people will still display hate towards people who are different from them. That being said, we can’t let the situation define ourselves. We all have the power and the ability to enact positive change in our lives. 2020 has woken me up to my former reality. I have had time to sit at home and ponder who I was. I had time to align my habits with my goals. I have had time to read amazing books about people who struggled just like me and used their pain to achieve their ultimate destiny. I have had time to write 2 books of my own which I had always thought about but never actually acted upon in years prior. I have had time to talk to my loved ones and realize how precious those moments are and how much I had taken them for granted in years past. I have had time to thank God for the life he gave me. I have had time to sit in silence and be with myself and understand that I was in control, not the situation.

I guess I was one of the lucky ones. I guess I didn’t need 2020 to hit rock bottom. I had already been there for some time. 2020 woke me up from a deep sleep. 2020 showed me how valuable, beautiful and fragile life in the flesh is. 2020 made me a better leader of myself. Excuse my selfishness, but 2020 has been a Godsend for me. I am not blind to people’s pain, I am not oblivious to the struggle that people have gone through this past year (physically and mentally). I pray for those people and I pray God helps them to find themselves despite the situation. 2021 offers no sympathy or guarantees of improvement. The situation will remain the same. 2021 will be defined how true to Self we choose to stay. Thank God for 2020. Sad to see you go but forever grateful for the quiet blessings you left behind.

Unleashing Potential: Better Leadership is Needed

The common questions surrounding the concept of leadership development are often:
1) What is leadership?
2) How are leaders developed?

While these are certainly the basis of understanding what it means to become an effective leader, there are 2 other questions which I believe are just as important but often take a back seat to the questions above. They are:

1)Why does better leadership make a difference?
2)How does better leadership achieve those differences?

These are the questions I want to focus on in this article. Effective leadership is a highly unique form of human behavior that requires the integration of a strong personal foundation, knowledge, soft skills and actions aligning with words. Despite the fact that many people in leadership roles have a wide-ranging influence, very few of them actually reach their full potential in regards to maximizing the abilities of themselves and their followers. So what can one do do if they step up and unleash their leadership potential? Create a legacy that can continue on for generations to come.

One’s journey to unleashing their leadership potential begins with a great understanding of self. Discover and develop the personality traits and understand how they relate to effective leadership. When one becomes aware of what effective leadership truly entails, he/she can maximize their positive traits, and become aware of the weaker areas. This is a key step to one to achieving their leadership potential. Once one understands themselves along with their strengths and weaknesses, the next step is to hone their communication skills. These are not limited to public speaking skills either. This includes writing style, body language and most importantly, methods of communication depending on the individual personalities within their following. Taking a personal approach to leadership and understanding what makes each individual tick can lead to the most important aspect effective leaders need to possess. RESPECT. When one earns respect, they are well on the way to reaching their full potential in said leadership role. One’s ability to communicate effectively with varying personalities enhances the ability to improve interpersonal relationships therefore leading to a genuine respect for one another. Another important skill is to learn how to learn. One would be wise to examine different teaching methods and learning styles in order to identify how the people in one’s following learn best. Effective leaders must first and foremost humble themselves and check their ego at the door. This is a major step in reaching one’s potential that is often not easy to do. Effective leaders have to be willing to admit that they know that they don’t know it all.

In conclusion, remember that being a leader is not simply a title or something one is born into. Effective Leadership is a never ending process of development and humbling oneself.
Dr. Ken Blanchard, in his book “The Heart of A Leader”said; “If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek.” Effective leaders have to take-on and own the responsibility. This is what makes a difference and this is what society needs more of.

Leader’s Honor: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Who would forget the ever-famous line of Peter Parker’s grandfather, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Spiderman never let us down. With the power he possessed, he made sure to be responsible in using it for the good of the people around him. Leadership is not at all different from being superheroes in this sense. Yes, we may not have super powers like Spiderman, but we have the same authority and the responsibility of protecting our followers and leading them towards success. Effective leaders must embrace responsibility and make it their mission – not just before one accepts to take it, but also after the task at hand has been accomplished or considered a failure. As much as one is responsible for his/her team’s success, they should also be willingly responsible for any and all failures. This is truly the ultimate responsibility of those who hold leadership roles. One must be ready and willing to take the blame when things go wrong. Making excuses and blaming something or someone else for failed jobs is simply a quality that effective leaders cannot possess. As effective leaders, we must ensure that the team members learn and most importantly, IMPROVE from mistakes. Despite the fact that we cannot control our follower’s actions, we do have the full control of our own reactions. All one can do is try to put their followers in the best place to achieve moral success. This is the power and responsibility that we possess. “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Leadership Exposed: 4 Realities of Leadership that Shouldn’t be Overlooked

Much has been written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. But there are certain leadership ideas that we ourselves fail to recognize and realize in the course of reading books. Here is a short list of things you thought you knew about leadership.

  1. Leaders come in different flavors.

There are surly different types of leaders and you will probably encounter more than one type in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices such as the senators, congressmen, and presidents. Informal leaders are those we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience such as in the case of our elders; or by virtue of their expertise and contribution on a given field such as Albert Einstein in the field of Theoretical Physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the field of the Arts. Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles. Take for example the following varying leadership strategies presented by three different experts:

1. Lewin’s three basic leadership styles: authoritative, participative, and delegative

   2. Likert’s four leadership styles: exploitive authoritative, benevolent authoritative, consultative, and participative

    3. Goleman’s six emotional leadership styles – visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pace-setting, and commanding.   

  1. Leadership is a process of becoming.

There is a common phase that a lot of leadership developers use: “Leaders are made not born.” While I tend to agree with this statement, the term “made” refers to a finished product. However, the process of becoming an effective leader is a process that is never-ending. That being said, leaders are never truly “made” because development and growth should never be a finished product. Keeping this idea in mind, without the right environment and exposure, leaders may fail to develop their full potential. One does not become a leader in one day and just stop, the moment one is “made” is the moment they begin to wither away. Life-long learning is important in becoming a good leader for each day brings new experiences that put your knowledge, skills, and attitude to the test.

  1. Leadership starts with you.

The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it to your own life. When one is incapable of leading themselves, how can they expect to lead others in an effective manner? Leaders are always in the limelight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends much on your actions: your interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers; your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and essentially your daily handling/treatment of others. Repeated actions become habits. Habits in turn form a person’s character.

  1. Leadership styles depend on the situation.

How come dictatorship is accepted in countries like North Korea but not in the United States of America? Aside from culture, beliefs, value system, and form of government, the current situation of a nation also affects the leadership styles used by its formal leaders. There is no rule that only one style can be used. Effective leaders have the ability to recognize various situations and then employ a combination of leadership styles depending on said situation. In emergency situations such as periods of war and calamity, decision-making is a matter of life and death. Thus, a nation’s leader cannot afford to consult with all departments to arrive at crucial decisions. The case is of course different in times of peace and order where different branches of government can freely interact and collaborate. Another case in point is in leading organizations. When the staffs are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership is most appropriate. But if the staffs have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high coaching, high supporting, and high directing behavior from organizational leaders is required.

As aspiring leaders who have had past success, it is easy to get into the mindset that we are experts and that our beliefs and actions are always the most effective. However, it is crucial to keep these 4 realities in mind. Also, never forget that we are never truly “made”. We are in reality in a constant process of becoming.