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written by Mick Ukleja

The Hero’s Journey Begins At The Edge Of Discomfort

No one has ever become a hero by dodging discomfort. At the core of our stories, fairy tales, movies and legends, the hero always encounters varying degrees of disequilibrium and disorientation. And this is where the greatest learning takes place.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step across your comfort zone.

How do you view the discomforts you encounter? There are 3 choices: Avoidance – Resignation – Engagement.

  1. Avoidance has its place Why create discomfort where it’s not necessary?

Yet, who decides what is and isn’t necessary?  Going to school and work often creates discomfort, but it’s necessary.  Exercising can create discomfort, but we know the benefits.  Medical procedures, even though uncomfortable, are a must.

  1. Resignation in the face of discomforts involves acceptance

However, the shadow side of resignation is that it can put the discomforts in charge.  We can become the victims of certain “pains” we encounter.

  1. Engagement, I suggest, is a better strategy.  How can we leverage the discomforts—both planned and unplanned—for our personal and professional benefit?

You need to do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable.  There are only two pains you have to worry about, ‘the pain of discipline today, or the pain of regret tomorrow.” Jim Rohn

There are times when discomfort can come as a result of an unwise choice, or perhaps through no choice of our own.  Avoidance doesn’t work, and can actually make the struggle worse.  Resignation often puts us in a reactive mode.  Engagement allows us to proactively learn and grow.

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written by Mick Ukleja

The Execution Of A Leader

Execution-of-PlanI know! It sounds like the title of a documentary on a third-world rouge dictator who’s been overthrown.  However, it’s much closer to home.

“70% of strategic failures come from poor execution of leadership…it’s rarely for lack of smarts or vision” – Ram Charan

It’s one thing to develop a strategy but quite another to execute the same.  Strategy is discussed on a regular basis in management classes.  Yet I dare say that if you have an MBA or a degree in organizational change, it is a fair bet you’ve never had a course in execution.  At first glance poor strategy becomes the villain.  A good strategy is the sine qua non—without which you have nothing.  But it doesn’t end there.

Beware of false assumptions:

Strategy to Execution is not a linear process anymore than Theory is to Practice. Theory informs practice and practice clarifies and refines our theory. It’s the same with strategy and execution. Strategy informs execution and execution clarifies and refines our strategy. They are inseparable. The incorrect assumption is that strategy is about planning and execution is about action. That might fit in the classroom, but not in the real world.

Strategy is not the problem anymore than execution is the solution. By itself, execution is dangerous. Strategy informs execution.

So what’s the problem? For starters our workspace and life space is cluttered. The amount of activity that surrounds us screams for our attention.  It’s like a Tornado, which packs an enormous amount of energy and vocational debris.  It’s easy to lose your way and run for cover.

Trying harder when results disappoint is usually the first response. However, trying harder when you are already working hard usually creates more discouragement than better results. A good exercise would be to write down why more effort, more time and more resources would make a difference.

On the other hand, strategy without execution is like a life without proper oxygen. It will grow faint, collapse and eventually expire. The death of a strategy is not like a stellar death with the horrific brilliance of a supernova destroying everything in its path, while capturing the attention of a large portion of the universe. The death of strategic initiatives sort of sputter to the ground after a slow decent that’s hardly even noticeable.  The daily tornado got our attention, not the slow decaying strategy.

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written by Mick Ukleja

How Do You Really Change?

“It ain’t the roads we take; it’s what’s inside us that makes us turn out the way we do.” – O. Henry

Change-When it comes to the subject of change, you don’t need fluff or theory. So let’s get right to the heart of the matter.

The way we change can take many forms. Knowing this is important because as Heraclitus said, “the only constant is change.” So it would be a good idea to understand how it works.

We can change because of:

  • Events. We can change because of significant emotional events. Some of the common examples would be things like a divorce, heart attack, inheritance, having a child, bankruptcy, or marriage. However, we also know that there are those who do not change even after that significant emotional event. Folks can fall right back into the same old habits.
  • Insight. We can change because of significant personal insight. Experiences don’t change us by themselves. They can simply remain experiences. We learn from them when we reflect on them. Here’s the formula:

Experience + Reflection = Insight

From this comes the deliberate decision to change one or more behaviors.

Change from both is good. However, to be able to change because of insight is to make change a positive lever assisting you to move forward on a day by day basis. No need to wait for an event. It results from asking 2 questions:

  1. What kind of person am I becoming? And…
  2. How far will that person take me?

These questions become your assistants as you plan and create your personal masterpiece.

Researcher, Julian Rotter, developed a concept referred to as Locus of Control. “Locus” means “place” or “location.” “Control” refers to what you are controlled by. There are 2 choices:

  • Internal factors, or
  • External factors.

You can have an internal locus of control or an external locus of control or be somewhere in the middle.

An internal locus of control means you believe your own thoughts, behaviors, attitudes and actions have a strong influence on your life’s outcomes.

An external locus of control means you believe what happens to you is controlled by others and outward circumstances.

The first group believes they can make a difference in their lives. They have control, not over everything or even the majority of things, but over enough to move the needle – to move their life in the right direction. They focus on what they can control, not on what they can’t.

The second group does not believe they have control. There is not a feeling of control. What’s the result? Whenever control is decreased, anxiety and stress are increased. Along with these emotional pitfalls comes the attitude that others tend to be more talented or lucky, and “I’m not.”

Natural talent is a wonderful thing. Everyone has it to varying degrees. The reality is that few people are genetically gifted, but we all have talent. Real success comes from learning what we need to improve…followed by hard work. Change is never comfortable because it’s growth, and that’s why it’s called growing pains. It’s worth it when we realize it’s the lever that creates the kind of person we are becoming.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone.

The successful journey begins when you decide you have the power to change. From there you learn how a particular change would benefit you. From there you commit to it. That’s execution.

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