One thing I enjoy is collecting quotes – about leadership, about success, about inspiration. I’ve been doing it for more than a decade. Whenever I come across a good one, I drop it into a Word document. So far, there are 19 pages and more than 300 inspirational citations from famous people. Often, when I’m looking for motivation or a spark for new ideas, I’ll open up the file and start reading.
Here are three of my favorites:
“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.” ~ George Patton
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” ~ John Wooden
“Do something every day that scares you.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve wondered if these sayings attributed to legendary people came ‘off the cuff’ in a newspaper interview, were published in a book or carefully crafted in preparation for a speech. I’ve also thought about how many things these leaders must have said during their lifetimes… and they’re remembered for just a few words. (See: Truman, Harry S. ~ “If you can’t stand the heat…”)
Yet a few words are all it takes to communicate a wonderful thought. Recently we were in a restaurant and, returning from the restroom, I poked my head in the kitchen. (Hey, I’m a coach… curiosity is what I do!) Written in large letters on a white board – surrounded by names of employees, schedules, specials and which menu items to push – were four words that speak volumes: “Earn your job everyday.”
With four people looking for work for every single opening in this country, that’s a great motivator for employees. Put more directly: “Phone it in, and you’ll be gone.” I guess the true power of a memorable quote is the carefully chosen words that convey the desired message.
What’s the third most important lesson I learned during 2010?
Big Oops II – During a leadership meeting I facilitated, someone asked how to overcome those times when what you say comes out wrong. I eloquently explained: “If you speak in public, you’ll slip on occasion. Apologize and move on.” Two hours later, another person asked how to confront a team member who gets upset easily. My response: “Begin by acknowledging the conversation could become emotional.” I immediately felt the energy drain from the room, which consisted of 28 women and four men. For the next half hour the discussion was ‘words a guy should never say to a woman.’ Of course, I apologized… several times. My face may have turned red, too.
Recently, a client said he wants to start a blog… yet he has no idea where to begin when it comes to creating content. “You’re a writer, I’m not,” he said. “I’m worried I won’t be able to come up with any ideas. Help me.”
That’s a quandary many folks face when they try to develop thought leadership material on a consistent basis. Since this is my first blog posting in three weeks, you might think I suffer from a similar challenge; however, the reality is I took a vacation, traveled out of town to work with a client’s executive leadership team and stepped back into my former life to produce a series of videos for a client. It’s actually been finding the time to write, not a lack of inspiration, that’s disrupted my plan.
So here’s the approach I recommended to my client to help him get over that ‘writer’s block’ mental hump and, hopefully, allow him to share wonderful ideas with his desired audience. First, keep your eyes open for insights that appear before you. These may come from reading an article, having a discussion with a client or friend, or reveal themselves in a late night dream. The key is to connect the dots with a “that’s something I would like to write about” realization.
Second, keep an ongoing list of these ideas near your keyboard. Then when you’re ready to write, you won’t have to sit down and stare at the screen hoping some idea pops into your head. Third, and this is a new awareness I’m testing today, block time to write four or more entries at once. Then you simply have to schedule them to post at regular intervals. That’s going to be my way of preventing long interludes between musings.
Finally, and this is the most important lesson on writing I learned – and it came in the fourth year of creating my monthly E-Newsletter – never worry about what your readers think. If it’s well thought out, true to what you believe and comes from your heart, then your part is complete. Allow your viewpoint to resonate with those who are open to receiving it.