Today’s Task – June 29, 2017

By all accounts he was considered successful.  In fact, quite successful.  He was a fast-tracker.  He had a nice house in the suburbs, two new cars, a couple of kids….The tape was rolling.  This was his “good guy” speech….the one he had perfected for introducing himself at cocktail parties, trade shows, and clubs.  He paused, before continuing.  Actually, he was really not that successful.  He had always been able to meet other people’s expectations, but for some reason it was getting harder and harder.  He didn’t know how much longer he could keep it up.  He was desperate and needed help.  He couldn’t find any meaning or significance for his life.  He was out of touch, hollow.  He was losing his integrity.  Along the way, he seemed to have lost the real him.

I recently spoke with the step-father of three of my former students.  I asked how the girls were doing and he shared that the youngest was doing well in college, the middle had met a wonderful young man and would be getting married next year, and the eldest….well, there was a slight pause and I immediately jumped in and said, “Is lost!”  He nodded in agreement, describing her in similar terms to the man in the opening paragraph.  When she finished college, she had the opportunity for a career and a budding romantic relationship.  Since then, she has abandoned her field of study, her romantic relationship ended, and she has jumped from job to job.  She appears to be living a life without significance; without purpose.  Purpose is energy.  It is the single most motivating force there is.  She must discover her purpose, her why!  She must be and live on-purpose.  Only then will she have a life filled with meaning and significance.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to become an on-purpose person.  Being on-purpose requires discipline and a sustained effort.  It requires you to find your why!  Once you have found your why, others can help you by providing you with feedback and by affirming your purpose.  But, it is 100 percent your responsibility to discover your purpose.  Anything less is people-pleasing.  If you find that today you are living a life without purpose, you must find a new path; an alternate route.  Remember the words of Lao-tzu who told us “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  Take that first step towards your new purpose today!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

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Today’s Task – June 28, 2017

In the book HeroZ, a fable written about employee empowerment, a letter was sent from the Duke of Arrows to all arrow-making Tower bosses.  The directive was that because the number of dragons was increasing, the arrow-makers were expected to improve their output by 10 percent before the next Dragon Moon.  Tower two worked diligently, empowering everyone involved in the arrow-making process, and before the Dragon Moon arrived, they streamlined and improved the process for each of their tasks enabling them to produce twice as many arrows as they had in the past.  The problem?  The arrows were ineffective; they didn’t fly straight and they were unable to pierce the thick skin of the dragons.

It turns out that the arrow-makers neglected two key elements; Quantity is only one aspect of being productive, and to improve quality is to improve what the customer values.  I suspect this fable is not too far removed from what we see happening in organizations every day.  As an educator, I was always frustrated by the idea that “students are doing poorly in math, let’s make them take more math courses.”  No….why are we simply giving them more of something that has already proven ineffective?  That is a quantity over quality approach.  What we really needed to do was assess the situation and define the problem, determine the causes, target solutions and develop improvement strategies, implement those strategies, and make it an ongoing process.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to make sure that when you are setting your goals, they are goals worthy of pursuing.  The arrow-makers thought their goal was to make more arrows and through very diligent efforts, they were able to meet that goal.  The issue however, was that more bad arrows was not a worthy goal.  They spent months refining a process which ultimately fell short of meeting the overall mission’s needs.  The problem was not the process, but the lack of an appropriate goal.  How often have you worked diligently, only to find that your efforts were wasted on a goal that did not fit the overall mission of your organization?

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

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June 27, 2017 1 comment

Today’s Task – June 27, 2017

A philanthropist is someone who seeks to promote the welfare of others.  Usually we associate it solely with the giving of money to a needy cause: Warren Buffett pledging to give away eighty-five percent of his forty-billion-dollar fortune to philanthropic foundations, or Bill Gates leaving Microsoft to run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Take the money out of the equation, and you have the spirit of Give Yourself, the second step in the Greater Than Yourself philosophy I wrote of yesterday.  Instead of money, you promote another’s welfare by opening the door to your personal inventory and helping them to make the best use of it.

Think of it this way; you are not donating to a “needy cause” so much as to a worthy person.  I like the idea of helping a worthy person.  GTY is really a form of very personal, one-on-one philanthropy.  It comes from the same deep impulse, except that you don’t have to be rich to undertake it and it is available to everyone.  You give your talent, time, knowledge, contacts….whatever resources you have…. to worthy people in your life at work and at home.  You can act, instead of just watching others act or hearing about it on the news.  It is about recognizing the needs of others and cultivating your desire to promote their welfare, their success, and their capacity for achievement.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider the value of giving yourself to others, to helping a worthy person.  Invest in the relationship.  Give your knowledge.  Share your life lessons. Introduce them to the right people.  Sing their praises to others.  Give them tough, honest feedback and hold them accountable to their commitments.  I can tell you from my own experience that the more successful my students became, the larger my legacy became.  I suspect that had I concentrated on my legacy instead of my students’ growth, the end results would have been quite different.  So, find someone worthy of all you have to give….and then give it all away!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

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Today’s Task – June 26, 2017

Practically everyone knows Christianity’s Golden Rule: “Due unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Most of us have heard it since we were kids and have some version of it committed to memory.  Somewhere in our hearts, subconscious, or wherever we store this kind of thing, we know that we are all supposed to practice what philosophers call the ethic of reciprocity.  Virtually every culture and school of thought on this planet….Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Humanism; spiritual, secular, philosophical, whatever….subscribes to some version of that same rule.  In principle, we all seem to agree that this is a good thing.

The above comes from the book Greater Than Yourself, by Steve Farber, and serves as a sort of introduction to the Greater Than Yourself principle.  The basic and seemingly paradoxical truth behind GTY is that truly great leaders in life become so because they cause others to be greater than themselves.  As parents, we all want our children to have greater opportunities than we had.  We want them to have better educations, better jobs, nicer homes, etc.  As an educator, I always tried to make sure my students were better informed than I was at their age, and if they were going on in music, I wanted them to be better prepared than I was.  There are three tenets of GTY; Expand yourself, Give yourself, and Replicate yourself.  Expanding yourself means you must be getting better and better, more competent, smarter, more experienced, more connected to others all the time.  Giving yourself means that you must give freely of, not only your knowledge, but all your resources; your connections and network, your experience, your insights, your advice and counsel, and your time.  Replicate, the final step, means you must make sure the people you elevate are doing the same for others; passing it forward if you will.  While I can’t prove that living the GTY principle will change the world, I guarantee it won’t hurt it.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider whether you are living a life in accordance with the tenets of GTY.  Are you continuously expanding your mind, experience, and connections?  Do you hoard your knowledge and resources in hopes that this will somehow make you better than others, or do you give it away?  Do you replicate yourself, encouraging those you elevate to “pass it forward” by elevating others?  GTY, Greater Than Yourself, is the action step to the Golden Rule.  By focusing on making others greater than yourself, you become one of the greats, too.  Think about it this way; as my program turned out more and more quality young people, others sought out my insights, elevating me to an even higher level as an educator.  By concentrating my efforts on making my students greater that myself, I rose in the ranks of education.

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

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Today’s Task – June 23, 2017

We are stronger together than we are apart.  During a summer league game last night, that was the focus of a high school soccer team with which I work.  It is a talent laden team with little inclination for a team approach.  Everyone wants to be “that guy;” the one who scores the goal.  I also worked with an American Legion baseball team which is struggling to find a team identity.  Interestingly, when they went out on the field to warm up, the kids from each school represented, threw with the other players from their school.  It is difficult to form a Legion team identity if they are unwilling to let go of their school identity.

In both instances, these teams are working in a default culture.  Neither team has a strong of vision of who they are and what they represent; a thing I call core covenants.  The soccer team did a great job of playing team soccer, making positive runs, finding the open man, and playing a tight, supportive style of defense, winning their game 3 – 0.  The baseball team struggled to beat a far less talented team, finally winning on a walk-off home run in the ninth inning.  As a mentor coach for each of these teams, it is my responsibility to help these athletes build a stronger “team” approach.  I must encourage the coaches to help them develop a set of core covenants (values) that represent their vision of what the program should be.  This will allow them to develop the culture they want, as opposed to functioning in the current culture which exists only because they have given little time or effort to developing a new one.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider that we are stronger together than we are apart.  Having a synergistic approach based on a set of core values will create a culture in which the talents and skills of everyone on the team will blend together to make the team all that it can be.  Granted, this may not be as easy as it sounds, but this I know; you cannot be together by being apart.  It is impossible!!!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

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Today’s Task – June 22, 2017

Are you a “but” person?  No, not a butt person….a “but” person.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  Are you that person who says things like, “I would clean my room but, it is just going to get messy again anyway.”  Or, “I was going to do my homework but, I had a game last night.”  Or maybe even, “I really want my band (team, organization) to be good but….. (you can fill in the blank).”   There is a school of thought that believes everything we say before the “but” is a lie and everything after it is your justification for that lie.  Well, listen closely.  It is time to get off your “but” and get moving.

 This past week I had the wonderful pleasure of working with the young students who attended the WVU Mountaineer Music Leadership Academy.  Each evening we would sit in a circle and have open discussions regarding the day’s topic and how it manifests itself in their home programs.  As student’s shared concerns regarding their programs, or the desire to change the culture of their programs, we would offer insights into ways they could move forward.  Often times, these insights were met with the ever-telling phrase; yes but…..  Often times, the students were unable to let go of what the program is, in order to allow it to become what it might be.  Sitting on their “but” has become easier than taking the risk to do whatever it would take to fix the problem.  We talked of how it takes two people to start a movement; one to start it….and the second to follow.  As long as everyone sits on their “buts”, there can be no movement.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider whether you are sitting on your “buts” or if you are doing all that you can do to start a movement.  How much better would life be if you would clean your room, and keep it that way?  How much better would school be if you did your homework, in spite of last night’s game?  How much better….well, you get the point.   Make today the day you finally get off your “but” and get moving.  Put your “buts” behind you because to have your “butt” in the lead means you are simply moving backwards.  (Did you see what I just did there?)

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

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Today’s Task – June 14, 2017

The process of learning works in every facet of our lives:  lessons repeat themselves until we learn them, if we don’t learn the easier lessons, they get harder, we learn and grow through challenges, and every adversity has hidden gifts.  The extent to which we fulfill our hidden calling depends on how we respond to the challenges we meet along the way.  No matter where we live, and whether we are born into poverty or privilege, we still have the responsibility, opportunity, and capacity to reach toward the highest light within us.

The wise among us have observed that actions lead to consequences and lessons.  Whether we learn these lessons, or they have to repeat themselves, depends on our current readiness and openness.  An increasingly wise young friend of mine recently made a very astute comment regarding her own readiness.  Challenged with a weight problem, she watched for years as contestants on The Biggest Loser made the necessary life changes that lead to incredible body transformations.  The lessons were right there in front of my friend, but they had to keep repeating themselves until she stopped watching others and focused on making the appropriate life changes in her own life.  No more excuses about child-birth weight gain or the circumstances of a difficult life.  She was ready and open to the endless possibilities that are her life.  Bravo TF.  Bravo!

Today, no every day, I encourage you to learn THIS important lesson.  Zen Master Ummon said, “When you sit, sit; when you stand, stand….just don’t wobble between the two.”  When you sit and watch the lessons of life unfold with little or no action on your part, you can expect little in return.  Life is not about success or failure.  It is about stretching yourself.  How will you know your limits until you have tested yourself?  And how do you test them unless you are willing to fail brilliantly?  Remember….no matter where you live, and whether you were born into poverty or privilege, you still have the responsibility, opportunity, and capacity to reach toward the highest light within you.  Quit sitting….quit wobbling….stand up and become all you were meant to be!

For the next week, I will be taking a hiatus from writing as I will be presenting leadership lessons at the West Virginia University Mountaineer Music Leadership Academy.  Until then, you will have to stand up on your own.

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

 

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