Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” -- Zig Ziglar
Here is my collection of 101 Proven Practices for Focus. It still needs work to improve it, but I wanted to shared it, as is, because focus is one of the most important skills we can develop for work and life.
Focus is the backbone of personal effectiveness, personal development, productivity, time management, leadership skills, and just about anything that matters. Focus is a key ingredient to helping us achieve the things we set out to do, and to learn the things we need to learn.
Without focus, we can’t achieve great results.
I have a very healthy respect for the power of focus to amplify impact, to create amazing breakthroughs, and to make things happen.
Long ago one of my most impactful mentors said that focus is what separates the best from the rest. In all of his experience, what exceptional people had, that others did not, was focus.
Here are a few relevant definitions of focus: A main purpose or interest. A center of interest or activity. Close or narrow attention; concentration.
I think of focus simply as the skill or ability to direct and hold our attention.
Too many people think of focus as something either you are good at, or you are not. It’s just like delayed gratification.
Focus is a skill you can build.
Focus is actually a skill and you can develop it. In fact, you can develop it quite a bit. For example, I helped a colleague get themselves off of their ADD medication by learning some new ways to retrain their brain. It turned out that the medication only helped so much, the side effects sucked, and in the end, what they really needed was coping mechanisms for their mind, to better direct and hold their attention.
Here’s the surprise, though. You can actually learn how to direct your attention very quickly. Simply ask new questions. You can direct your attention by asking questions. If you want to change your focus, change the question.
Here is a list of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus:
When you go through the 101 Proven Practices for Focus, don’t expect it to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. Some of the practices for focus need to be fleshed out better. There is also some duplication and overlap, as I re-organize the list and find better ways to group and label ideas.
In the future, I’m going to revamp this collection to have some more precision, better naming, and some links to relevant quotes, and some science where possible. There is a lot more relevant science that explains why some of these techniques work, and why some work so well.
What’s important is that you find the practices that resonate for you, and the things that you can actually practice.
You might find that from all the practices, only one or two really resonate, or help you change your game. And, that’s great. The idea of having a large list to select from is that it’s more to choose from. The bigger your toolbox, the more you can choose the right tool for the job. If you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.
If you don’t consider yourself an expert in focus, that’s fine. Everybody has to start somewhere. In fact, you might even use one of the practices to help you get better: Rate your focus each day.
Simply rate yourself, on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is awesome and 1 means you’re a squirrel with a sugar high, dazed and confused, and chasing all the shiny objects that come into site. And then see if your focus improves over the course of a week.
If you adopt just one practice, try either Align your focus and your values or Ask new questions to change your focus.
At the bottom of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus, you’ll find the standard sharing buttons for social media to make it easier to share.
Share it with friends, family, your world, the world.
The ability to focus is really a challenge for a lot of people. The answer to improve your attention and focus is through proven practices, techniques, and skill building. Too many people hope the answer lies in a pill, but pills don’t teach you skills.
Even if you struggle a bit in the beginning, remind yourself that growth feels awkward. You' will get better with practice. Practice deliberately. In fact, the side benefit of focusing on improving your focus, is, well, you guessed it … you’ll improve your focus.
What we focus on expands, and the more we focus our attention, and apply deliberate practice, the deeper our ability to focus will grow.
Grow your focus with skill.
The Great Inspirational Quotes Revamped
The Great Happiness Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Leadership Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Love Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Motivational Quotes Revamped
The Great Personal Development Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Positive Thinking Quotes Collection
The Great Productivity Quotes Collection Revamped
I revamped my positive thinking quotes collection on Sources of Insight to help you amp up your ability to generate more positive thoughts.
It’s a powerful one.
Why positive thinking?
Maybe Zig Ziglar said it best:
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
Actually, there’s a more important reason for positive thinking:
It’s how you avoid learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is where you give up, because you don’t think you have any control over the situation, or what happens in your life. You explain negative situations as permanent, personal, and pervasive, instead of temporary, situational, and specific.
That’s a big deal.
If you fall into the learned helplessness trap, you spiral down. You stop taking action. After all, why take action, if it won’t matter. And, this can lead to depression.
But that’s a tale of woe for others, not you. Because you know how to defeat learned helplessness and how to build the skill of learned optimism.
You can do it by reducing negative thinking, and by practicing positive thinking. And what better way to improve your positive thinking, than through positive thinking quotes.
Always keep a few positive thinking quotes at your fingertips so that they are there when you need them.
Here is a quick taste of a few of my favorites from the positive thinking quotes collection:
“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” – Herm Albright
"Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?" — Dennis and Wendy Mannering
"Be enthusiastic. Remember the placebo effect – 30% of medicine is showbiz." — Ronald Spark
"I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet." — Mahatma Gandhi
"If the sky falls, hold up your hands." – Author Unknown
But this positive thinking quotes collection is so much more. I’ve organized the positive thinking quotes into a set of categories to chunk it up, and to make it more insightful:
Actions Adaptability and Flexibility Anger and Frustration Appreciation and Gratitude Attitude, Disposition, and Character Defeat, Setbacks, and Failures Expectations Focus and Perspective Hope and Fear Humor Letting Things Go and Forgiveness Love and Liking Opportunity and Possibility Positive Thinking (General)
The distinctions you can add to your mental repertoire, the more powerful of a positive thinker you will be.
You can think of each positive thinking quote as a distinction that can add more depth.
I've included positive thinking quotes from a wide range of people including Anne Frank, Epictetus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Napoleon, Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, Voltaire, Winston Churchill, and many, many more.
You might even find useful positive thinking mantras from the people that you work with, or the people right around you.
For example, here are a few positive thinking thoughts from Satya Nadella:
“The future we're going to invent together, express ourselves in the most creative ways.”
“I want to work in a place where everybody gets more meaning out of their work on an everyday basis.
I want each of us to give ourselves permission to be able to move things forward. Each of us sometimes overestimate the power others have to do things vs. our own ability to make things happen.
As you explore the positive thinking quotes collection, try to find the quotes that challenge you the most, that really make you think, and give you a new way to generate more positive thoughts in your worst situations.
In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
You can use your daily trials and tribulations in the workplace as your personal dojo to practice and build your positive thinking skills.
The more positivity you can bring to the table, the more you’ll empower yourself in ways you never thought possible.
As you get tested by your worst scenarios, it’s good to keep in mind, the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."
I’ll also point out that as you grow your toolbox of positive thinking quotes and you build your positive thinking skills, you need to also focus on taking positive action.
Don’t just imagine a better garden, get out and actually weed it.
Here’s another important tip about positivity and positive thinking …
If you use visualization as part of your approach to getting results, it’s important to include dealing with setbacks and challenges. It’s actually more effective to imagine the most likely challenges coming up, and walking through how you’ll deal with them, if they occur. This is way more effective than just picturing the perfect plan where everything goes without a hitch.
The reality is things happen, stuff comes up, and setbacks occur.
But your ability to mentally prepare for the setbacks, and have a plan of action, will make you much more effective in dealing with the challenge that actually do occur. This will help you respond vs. react in more situations, and to stay in a better place mentally while you evaluate options, and decide a course of action. (Winging it under stress doesn’t work very well because we shut down our prefrontal cortex – the smart part of our brain – when we go into flight-or-fight mode.)
If I missed any of your favorite positive thinking quotes in my positive thinking quotes collection, please let me know.
In closing, please keep handy one of the most powerful positive thinking quotes of all time:
“May the force be with you.”
How has the Cloud changed your world?
One of the ways we challenge people is to ask, do you want to move to the Cloud, use the Cloud, or be the Cloud?
But to answer that well, you need to really be grounded in your vision for the future, and the role you wan to play.
The Cloud creates a brave new world. It enables and powers the Digital Economy.
Businesses need to cross the Cloud chasm (and some don’t make it) in an effort to stay relevant and to be what’s next.
Businesses need to re-imagine themselves and explore the art of the possible.
Business leaders and IT leaders need to help others forge their way forward in the Digital Frontier.
And it all starts with a story.
A story that inspires the hearts and minds so people can wrap their head around the challenge and the change.
I think Satya says the Microsoft story for the Cloud in a very simple and compelling way:
"We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more." -- Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO
That’s a pretty simple and yet pretty powerful and compelling story of why do we do what we do.
It’s a great way to re-imagine and inspire our transformation to a productivity and platform company in a Mobile-first, Cloud-first world. And, it’s a very simple story around productivity and empowerment that inspires and drives people in various roles and responsibilities to co-create the future in a profound way.
What is your simple story for how you re-imagine you or your business in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world?
Business Scenarios for the Cloud
If You Want to Thrive at Microsoft
Microsoft Explained: Making Sense of the Microsoft Platform Story
Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World
Satya Nadella on The Future is Software
Satya Nadella on Everyone Has to Be a Leader
The Microsoft Story
I was reading the IT Showcase’s page on the Cloud platform.
I really liked the simple little story around why we are moving to the Cloud:
“Three words: Agility, economics and innovation. Cloud technology satisfies the CEO's desire for greater business agility, the CFO's desire to streamline operations, and the CMO's desire for a more innovative way to engage customers.”
Some people move to the Cloud because they see an ROI play. Others move because they see opportunity cost. Others move simply because they don’t want to be left behind.
The most common reason I see is business agility and to stay relevant in today’s world.
People are using the Cloud to re-imagine the customer experience, transform the workforce and employee productivity, and to transform operations and back-office activities.
In all cases, these transformations lead to business-model innovation and new opportunities to create and capture value.
Value is a moving target and the Cloud can help you stay in the game.
Are you in the game?
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When you need to make things happen, motivational quotes can help you dig deep and get going.
I put together a very comprehensive collection of the world’s best motivational quotes a while back.
It was time for a refresh. Here it is:
Motivational Quotes – The Great Motivational Quotes Collection
Imagine motivational wisdom of the ages and modern sages right at your fingertips all on one page. I included motivational quotes from Bruce Lee, Tony Robbins, Winston Churchill, Waldo Emerson, Jim Rohn, and more.
See if you can find at least three motivational quotes that you can take with you on the road of life, to help you deal with setbacks and challenges, and to unleash your inner-awesome.
I’ll start you off. If you don’t already have these in your personal motivational quotes collection, here are a few that I draw from often:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill
“When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.” -Henry David Thoreau
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”— Howard Thurman
How’s that for a starter set?
You can train your brain with motivational mantras. Our thoughts are habits. If you want to build better thought habits, then feed on some of the best motivational quotes of all time.
“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Positive thinking won’t let you do anything but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” -– Zig Ziglar
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you train yourself well, you won’t entirely eliminate motivational setbacks, but you’ll be able to defeat procrastination, and you’ll be able to bounce back faster when you find yourself in a slump. Motivation is a skill you can build, and it will serve you well, in work and life.
The most important motivational concept to hold on to is the idea that you create your future. Or, as Wayne Dyer puts it:
“Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.”
So go for the bold, and get your game face on.
If you need some help kick-starting your fire, stroll through the motivational quotes a few times until something really sinks in or clicks for you. Life’s better with the right words, and there are just the right words already out there, just waiting to be found.
Enjoy and take your time sifting through the Motivational Quotes – The Great Motivational Quotes Collection.
Also, if you have a favorite motivational quote that I don’t have listed, let me know.
I think of inspiration simply as “breathe life into.”
Whether you're shipping code, designing the next big thing, or simply making things happen, inspirational quotes can help keep you going.
In the spirit of helping people find their Eye of the Tiger or get their mojo on, I’ve put together a hand-crafted collection of the ultimate inspirational quotes:
The Inspirational Quotes Collection
If you’ve seen my collection of inspirational quotes before, it’s completely revamped. It should be much easier to browse all of the inspirational quotes now so you can see some old familiar quotes that you may have heard of long ago, as well as many inspirational quotes, you have never heard of before.
Dive in, explore the collection of inspirational quotes, and see if you can find at least three inspirational quotes that breathe new life into your moment, your day, your work, or anything you do.
Inspirational quotes can help us move mountains. The right inspirational words and ideas can help us boldly go where we have not gone before, as well as conquer our fears and soar to new heights.
Or, the right inspirational quote can simply help us roar a little louder inside, when we need it most.
Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. And work can be an incredible challenge. And sometimes, even our best laid plans, go up in flames.
So having a repertoire of inspirational quotes and inspiring mantras at your mental fingertips can help you roll with the punches and keep going.
One of the most important inspirational ideas I learned early on goes like this:
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It helped me turn trials into triumphs, and eventually learn to take on big challenges as a way to grow.
Another inspirational idea that really helped me find my way forward is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and, it goes like this:
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Whenever I went on a new journey, down an unfamiliar path, it helped remind me that I don’t always need a trail, and that many times, it’s about blazing my own trail.
The power of inspirational quotes is their power to light a fire inside and fan the flames until we go and blaze our trail that leaves our self, and others, in awe.
Perhaps, the greatest inspirational quote of all time is another amazing quote by Emerson:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
It’s an awe-inspiring reminder to not only do what makes us come alive, but to realize our potential and unleash what we are capable of.
So many inspirational quotes remind us that life is short and that we have to go for it. But maybe George Bernard Shaw said it best:
“I want to be all used up when I die.”
One quote that I think about often is by Seth Godin:
“Life is like skiing. Just like skiing, the goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. It’s to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets.”
It’s all about making the journey worth it.
What do you do when it’s over. It all depends. Dr. Seuss has an interesting twist:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
But the one that I find has true wisdom is from Dave Weinbaum:
“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.”
Here’s to new many more beginnings in your life.
Enjoy and be sure to explore The Inspirational Quotes Collection to soar or roar in your own personal way.
A while back I put together a comprehensive collection of love quotes. It’s a combination of the wisdom of the ages + modern sages. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I gave it a good revamp. Here it is:
The Great Love Quotes Collection
It's a serious collection of love quotes and includes lessons from the likes of Lucille Ball, Shakespeare, Socrates, and even The Princess Bride.
I organized the quotes into a set of buckets: Beauty Broken Hearts and Loss Falling in Love Fear and Love Fun and Love Kissing Love and Life Significance and Meaning The Power of Love True Love
I think there’s a little something for everyone among the various buckets. If you walk away with three new quotes that make you feel a little lighter, put a little skip in your step, or help you see love in a new light, then mission accomplished.
If you think of love like warmth and connection, you can create more micro-moments of love in your life.
This might not seem like a big deal, but if you knew all the benefits for your heart, brain, bodily processes, and even your life span, you might think twice.
You might be surprised by how much your career can be limited if you don’t balance connection with conviction. It’s not uncommon to hear a lot of turning points in the careers of developers, program managers, IT leaders, and business leaders that changed their game, when they changed their heart.
In fact, on one of the teams I was on, the original mantra was “business before technology”, but people in the halls started to say, “people before business, business before technology” to remind people of what makes business go round.
When people treat each other better, work and life get better.
Here are a few of my favorite love quotes from the collection …
“Love is like heaven, but it can hurt like hell.” – Unknown
“Love is not a feeling, it’s an ability.” — Dan in Real Life
“There is a place you can touch a woman that will drive her crazy. Her heart.” — Milk Money
“Hearts will be practical only when they are made unbreakable.” – The Wizard of Oz
“Things are beautiful if you love them.” – Jean Anouilh
“Life is messy. Love is messier.” – Catch and Release
“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” – Unknown
For many more quotes, explore The Great Love Quotes Collection.
Happiness Quotes Revamped
My Story of Personal Transformation
The Great Productivity Quotes Collection
A while back I put together a comprehensive collection of personal productivity quotes. It’s a combination of the wisdom of the ages + modern sages. It was time for a revamp. Here it is:
It's a serious collection of personal productivity quotes and includes lessons from the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Bruce Lee, Peter Drucker, Tony Robbins Voltaire, and more.
My favorite definition is a simple formula from Steve Pavlina:
Productivity = Value / Time
I like the formula because of it’s simplicity and because of the insight it provides. If you want to increase your productivity, then you can increase the value or reduce the time it takes, or both.
One of the things I remind my colleagues in the halls of Microsoft is that value is the ultimate short-cut. If you know what’s valued, you can eliminate or reduce all the waste in between.
To organize the productivity quotes, I use a simple frame of productivity Hot Spots:
Action, Approach, Efficiency / Effectiveness, Energy Management, Failure, Focus, Goals, Improvement, Motivation and Mindset, Planning, Opportunity, Self-Awareness, and Time Management.
I find these buckets are useful for organizing principles, patterns, practices, and even quotes. There are a lot of productivity quotes, so using this frame helps group the quotes into more manageable themes.
It sounds so simple when I say it now, but it took me a while to figure out the ultimate formula for personal productivity. Here’s the formula:
Work on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy.
In other words, start with the right things. Trim your tree of opportunity and focus on the right branches and leaves that will bear the most fruit. Work on these things at the right time. It’s easy to miss windows of opportunity and time changes what’s valued. We also have better times in the day to work on things than others. Work on things the right way. This is really about using better techniques. If have the wrong technique, then throwing hours and effort at something will just waste your time. Lastly, work on things with the right energy. Your energy is your force multiplier since you won’t get more time in the day.
A simple way to think of the way to optimize your productivity is to use your best energy for your best results.
I share a simple system and a comprehensive set of proven practices for personal productivity in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way. (It’s been a best seller in time management, and it helps you master productivity, time management, and work-life balance.)
Believe it or not, quotes are not just neat and fun little sayings. The right quotes are actually pithy ways to share strategies and insights. They can completely change your game.
Here are a handful of some of the strategies that I’ve learned for improving productivity and many of these strategies are echoed in The Great Productivity Quotes Collection:
Less is more.
Focus on quality.
Quotas and quantity can help you achieve quality. (If you learn from your process and apply it.)
Value is in the eye of the beholder and the stakeholder.
Find better techniques to multiply your results.
Enjoy the process.
Spend more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses.
Pair up to amplify your talents and capabilities.
Focus on continuous improvement.
Manage your energy, not time.
Reduce the time you spend and you’ll innovate in your process.
Use timeboxing to invest time more intelligently. (Set limits and boundaries so you don’t over-spend in the wrong areas of your life.)
Work smarter, not harder.
Change your approach when it’s not working.
Test your results.
There are many ways to think about productivity. I like to think of productivity as power. I think of power as the ability to take action. When you exercise your ability to take action and concentrate your effort and your focus, you can make amazing things happen in work and life.
Productivity is a powerful tool in your toolbox for personal empowerment.
As with anything, make sure you use the right tool for the job. And that’s why I continue to fill my toolbox with several tools. Otherwise, if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.
“Knowing others is intelligence. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” -- Lao Tzu
A while back I put together a comprehensive collection of personal development quotes. It’s a combination of the wisdom of the ages + modern sages. It was time for a revamp. Here it is:
The Great Personal Development Quotes Collection
It's a serious collection of personal development quotes and includes lessons from the likes of Buddha, Covey, Emerson, Gandhi, Robbins, Ziglar, and more.
Personal development is a process for life where you improve your awareness, your skills, your abilities, and your potential. Personal development shapes your growth by developing your strengths, reducing your liabilities, and expanding what you’re capable of.
You improve your potential through self-awareness, habits, practice, and feedback.
A big part of personal development is simply awareness. For example, when you know your Myers & Briggs Personality Type, you gain insight into whether you outwardly or inwardly focused, how you prefer to take in information, how you prefer to make decisions, and how you prefer to live your outer life.
Aside from better understanding your own patterns, you can also use it to understand other people’s behavior preferences, and you can adapt your style. If you see somebody staring blankly at you during your presentation, it doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged. They might just be an introvert processing the information in their own quiet way.
If you know your Conflict Style, you can tailor and adapt it to the situation, as well as better understand the mode that others are operating in.
There are many models and tools for self-awareness, but the goal is the same: learn how to be more effective in more situations based on your individual strengths, abilities, and experience.
Personal development is a verb. You need to take action. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t apply it. Even thoughts are habits that we haven’t learned how to measure. When you apply what you learn, you can adjust what you learn based on feedback and results.
If you keep in mind that personal development is about continuously improving your thinking, feeling, and doing, then it’s easier to stay focused and to evaluate your results.
You can also approach personal development in a number of ways. Just like martial arts, there are hard-styles and there are soft-styles. In my experience, it helps to balance and blend hard-core skill building along with building the soft skills, especially interpersonal skills and your emotional intelligence.
If you want to grow, you have to believe you can.
If you adopt a Growth Mindset, you can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area of work and life.
In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck shares a lot of science and stories around how our mindset limits or enables our growth. If we believe that our abilities are fixed traits, and that we are either good or bad at something, then we have a Fixed Mindset.
If, on the other hand, you believe that you can get better through skills development, then you have a Growth Mindset.
If you’ve ever been in any sort of elite training, or specialized skills development or had a great mentor that provides deep feedback, it should be more than obvious to you how much growth and greatness is possible.
So if you have a Growth Mindset, and you practice personal development, and you develop your self-awareness, then what will hold you back?
Simple. The inability or lack of willingness for you to change your approach.
Darwin taught us that nature favors the flexible and Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
And yet, how many people get stuck in a rut or hold themselves back through limiting thought patterns or behaviors?
One of the greatest things you can possible do for your future success is to learn how to change your approach with skill.
I could say so much more about personal development but at this point, I’d rather share what some of the greatest giants in personal development have had to say.
Use The Great Personal Development Quotes Collection to stand on the shoulders of giants, and see further, as you look inward and upward.
And if you want a jumpstart in agile personal development, check out my best-selling book on productivity: Getting Results the Agile Way. It’s a simple system for meaningful results, and it’s a way to use personal development to think better, feel better, and do better in all areas of your life.
A while back I put together a comprehensive collection of leadership quotes. It’s a combination of the wisdom of the ages + modern sages. It was time for a revamp. Here it is:
The Great Leadership Quotes Collection
It's a serious collection of leadership quotes and includes lessons from the likes of John Maxwell, Jim Rohn, Lao Tzu, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and more.
John Maxwell said it best when he defined leadership as influence. Tom Peters added a powerful twist to leadership when he said that leadership is not about creating followers—it’s about creating more leaders.
I like to think of leadership in terms of incremental spheres of influence starting with personal or self-leadership, followed by team leadership, followed by organizational leadership, etc. Effectively, you can expand your sphere of influence, but none of it really works, if you can’t lead yourself first.
I also like to think about the various aspects of leadership, such as Courage, Challenges, Character, Communication, Connection, Conviction, Credibility, Encouragement, Failure, Fear, Heart, Influence, Inspiration, Learning, Self-Leadership, Servant-Leadership, Teamwork, and Vision. As such, I’ve used these categories to help put the leadership quotes into a meaningful collection with simple themes.
I’ve also included special sections on What is Leadership, Leadership Defined, and Leading by Example.
While I haven’t counted the leadership quotes, there are a lot. But they are well-organized and easy to scan. You’ll notice how the names of famous people that said the leadership quote will pop out at you. I bolded the names for extra impact and to help you quickly jump to interesting people, to see what they have to say about the art and science of leadership.
I bet you can find at least three leadership quotes that you can use on a daily basis to think a little better, feel a little better, or do a little better.
For those of you that think that leadership is something that other people do, or something that gets done to you, or that leadership is a position, I’ll share the words of John Maxwell on this topic:
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” — John Maxwell
In fact, if you’ve never seen it before or need a quick reminder that everyone is a leader, this is a great video that makes the point hit home:
Everyone is a Leader
It’s one of those cool, simple, cartoon videos that shows how leadership is everyone’s job and that without that philosophy, people, systems, organizations, etc. all fail.
The world moves too fast and things change too much to wait for somebody at the top to tell you what to do. The closer you are to where the action is, the more context you have, and the more insight you can use to make better decisions and get better results.
Leadership is a body of principles, patterns, and practices that you can use to empower yourself, and others, with skill.
Just like a Jedi, your force gets stronger the more you use it.
But always remember the surprise about leadership – the more you give your power away, the more power that comes back to you.
It’s not Karma. It’s caring. And it’s contagious.
(As Brian Tracy would say, the three C’s of leadership are Consideration,Caring,and Courtesy.)
Well, maybe it is like Karma in that what goes around, comes around, and leadership amplifies when you share it with people and help everyone become all that they are capable of.
Stand strong when tested, and lead yourself from the inside out.
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I've completely overhauled my collection of happiness quotes. It was time for a revamp. Hear what Charlie Brown, Dale Carnegie, Aristotle, Confucius, and more have to say about the art and skill of happiness.
Here is the new collection of happiness quotes fresh from the press:
Happiness Quotes (Sources of Insight)
It should be a lot easier to read and a lot easier to use. And it’s exhaustive, so you’ll most likely find at lead a few quotes you’ve never heard before. While I have some general quotes on happiness, I also organized my happiness quotes collection into key themes: What is Happiness, Skilled Happiness, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Well, life happens. And life has it’s ups and downs, whether you’re an executive, an IT leader, a Program Manager, a developer, or you name it.
As the world changes faster around us, our thoughts shape our work and life.
When people aren’t happy, they don’t work well. You can argue it’s the job, but a study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology showed that it’s the other way around:
Happiness leads to job satisfaction.
They found that the causal relationship between subjective-well being to job satisfaction was stronger than the causal relationship from job satisfaction to subjective well-being.
It helps explain why one person’s treasure is another’s trash.
If you arm yourself with a great set of happiness quotes, you’ll find ways think better. Some of the quotes are actually profound wisdom distilled into a sentence. Some are just entertaining.
Sometimes it just helps to validate your thinking. For example, are you worried that every time you start to feel happy that something will go wrong? You are not alone. Charlie Brown feels the same way:
"I think I’m afraid to be happy, because whenever I get too happy, something bad always happens." – Charlie Brown
I think you’ll find a great deal of wisdom within the quotes and they will help you find your own personal HOW of happiness. While happiness can be a team sport, it’s really an individual skill that you learn to master over a lifetime. While you may not end up as a shiny, happy Pollyanna, you can find ways to raise your frustration tolerance, enjoy more of your moments, and bounce back faster when life throws you the proverbial curve ball.
While some might say that the secret of happiness is finding your one thing, I think it’s more than that. As a mentor at Microsoft, I coach a lot of individuals on personal effectiveness, and a big part of it, is figuring out how to do what makes you come alive.
But there’s actually more to the story.
The ultimate way to find your happiness is to treat happiness like a verb, right here and right now, and find ways to spend more time in your values, while in the service of others or some greater good. And, as Zig Ziglar would say, “Enjoy the price of success.”
And, that my friends is deep happiness.
What is Agile Results all about? What are the most important keys to using Agile Results to master productivity, time management, and work-life balance?
If you've ever wondered what Getting Results the Agile Way is all about, or want to know how to make the most of the book, this is it. I answer these questions and more in my interview with The Entrepreneur's Library on Getting Results the Agile Way:
Interview with The Entrepreneur's Library on Agile Results
In this interview, Wade Danielson, the creator of The Entrepreneur’s Library, asks me the following questions:
Wade also gives me a chance to give a walkthrough of the book, Getting Results the Agile Way, where I explain how to make the most of the book, and what each section is really about.
It’s a unique chance to get the philosophy behind Agile Results and why it’s really a personal results system for work and life. It’s not a system that you break yourself against. Instead, it’s a simple system for meaningful results that supports you and the way you work. It helps you optimize your productivity by focusing on the wins that matter, playing to your strengths, and using your best energy for your best results.
An amazing thing happens when you become more focused and productive …
You get more out of life.
And you can get more done in a day than other people get done all week.
Bandita is one of the most amazing leaders in the technology arena.
She’s not just technical, but she also has business skills, and executive presence.
But she didn’t start out that way.
She had to learn presence from the school of hard knocks. Many people think presence is something that either you have or you don’t.
Bandita proves otherwise.
Here is a guest post by Bandita Joarder on how presence is something you can learn:
Presence is Something You Can Learn
It’s a personal story. It’s an empowering story. It’s a story of a challenge and a change, and how learning the power of presence, helped Bandita move forward in her career.
I’ve been talking to people in the halls about what they learned about goals from last year, and what they are going to do differently this year. We’ve had chats about New Years Resolutions, habits, goals, and big dreams. (My theme is Dream Big for 2015.)
Here are a few of the insights that I’ve been sharing with people that really seems to create a lot clarity:
Maybe the most important insight is that while you don’t need goals to make your habits effective, it’s really easy to spend a year, and then wonder where the year went, without the meaningful milestones to look back on. That said, I’ve had a few years, where I simply focused on habits without specific goals, but I always had a vision for a better me, or a better future in mind (more like a direction than a destination.)
As I’ve taken friends and colleagues through some of my learnings over the holidays, regarding habits, dreams, and goals, I’ve had a few people say that I should put it all together and share it, since it might help more people add some clarity to setting and achieving their goals.
Here it is:
How Dreams, Goals, and Habits Fit Together
Enjoy, and Dream Big for 2015.
Several Summers back, I used a 30 Day Improvement Sprint to share my best insights and best lessons learned on getting results. I called it 30 Days of Getting Results:
30 Days of Getting Results
It’s timeless advice to help you be YOUR best.
The overall goal of the site was to help you master productivity, master time management, and achieve work life balance. The idea was that by spending a little time each day, you would get back lots of time and energy and produce better results. And we all need an edge in work and life.
Here are the key things that I tried to help you with:
So if you’re struggling with any of the above, you might find just the piece of advice or the one or two ideas that help you find your breakthrough.
Behind the scenes, when I wrote each of the 30 days, I gave myself a 20-minute time limit (a 20-minute timebox for you in the know.) I would then write as if writing to somebody where I only had a small window of time to help them as best I could to achieve better results, in any situation.
It might seem like the first few days start slow, but things pick up from there pretty fast. Also, it’s self-paced so you can hop around to any particular day that you think you need the most.
I’ve had many people tell me that it was the course that they needed that helped them set and achieve better goals, while also helping them make new habits and break bad habits. It’s also helped them find more energy as well as enjoy more of the things that they do. It’s also helped them find ways to spend more time in their strengths and do what makes them come alive.
I will say that the user experience isn’t that great. The site was a test and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on the site design. That said, it’s pretty straightforward. When you go to the home page at 30 Days of Getting Results, you’ll see a brief intro and overview, and then you can dive in from there, by either starting with Day 1: Take a Tour of Agile Results, or by clicking through the 30 Days on the left-hand side of the menu.
Here are all the days at a glance for your convenience:
The course is free. Hopefully that doesn’t de-value it. It has a lot of the lessons you would learn in some of the most advanced productivity and time management training.
The structure of each day is the same. It includes an outcome, a lesson, and an assignment. And right up front, I include a relevant quote and picture. Here is an example of Day 24 – Bounce Back with Skill:
If you want to start off well for 2015, and you have big dreams and big goals in mind, then give 30 Days of Getting Results a try:
If you want to take it slow and steady, then just try one lesson each day. If you’re feeling gung-ho, then see how quickly you can make it through all 30 at your own pace.
To help you stay on track, if you take the slow and steady route, build the habit by adding a simple reminder to your calendar in the morning to go and take the next lesson. Do it Monday through Friday and take the weekends off.
Enjoy and best wishes for your best year ever.
Dream Big for 2015 (my personal theme for 2015)
I did a major cleanup of my post on lessons learned from John Maxwell:
Lessons Learned from John Maxwell
It should be much easier to read now.
It was worth cleaning up because John Maxwell is one of the deepest thinkers in the leadership space. He’s published more than 50 books on leadership and he lives and breathes leadership in business and in life.
When I first started studying leadership long ago, John Maxwell’s definition of leadership was the most precise I found:
“Leadership is influence.”
As I began to dig through his work, I was amazed at the nuggets and gems and words of wisdom that he shared in so many books. I started with Your Road Map for Success. I think my next book was The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Ironically, I didn’t realize it was the same author until I started to notice on my shelf that I had a growing collection of leadership books, all by John Maxwell.
It was like finding the leadership Sherpa.
Sure enough, over the years, he continued to fill the shelves at Barnes & Nobles, with book after book on all the various nooks and crannies of leadership.
This was about the same time that I noticed how Edward de Bono had filled the shelves with books on thinking. I realized that some people really share there life’s work as a rich library that is a timeless gift for the world. I also realized that it really helps people stand out in their field or discipline when they contribute so many guides and guidance to the art and science of whatever their specific focus is.
What I like about John Maxwell’s work is that it’s plain English and down to Earth. He writes in a very conversational way, and you can actually see his own progress throughout his books. In Your Road Map for Success, it’s a great example of how he doesn’t treat leadership as something that comes naturally. He works hard at it, to build his own knowledge base of patterns, practices, ideas, concepts, and inspirational stories.
While he’s created a wealth of wisdom to help advance the practice of leadership, I think perhaps his greatest contribution is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It’s truly a work of art, and he does an amazing job of distilling down the principles that serve as the backbone of effective leadership.
Everybody has a story. I thought I would share mine at Sources of Insight:
It’s the story of how I figured out how to do more of what makes me come alive, and how to share my unique value with the world.
It’s a journey, but this story is a look backwards, and how it helped me shape my path forward.
I included some of the key questions I asked, as well as some of the key resources I used to get a new lens on work and life.
Life can really be a game of chutes and ladders, depending on the questions you ask, the choices you make, and the actions you take.
I think one of the biggest challenges we have in life, is a very personal one. It’s the challenge of finding our voice. It’s the challenge of finding our passion, our purpose, and our talents. It’s the challenge of becoming all that we’re capable of. And, it’s the challenge of how to make the most of what we’ve got, while helping others in our unique way.
The other big challenge is avoiding regret, learning to live with regret, or learning how to live without regret. What we regret the most, are the things we have a chance to change. It’s our opportunities lost. Or, to put it another way, we regret the things we didn’t do. That can include things like not being true to ourselves, not expressing our feelings, not staying in touch with friends, or not letting ourselves be happier.
The top regrets in life based on research are: education, career, romance, parenting, self-improvement, leisure, finance, health, friends, spirituality, and community. Education is the top regret because it impacts so many areas of our life, and it’s within our control.
The way I learned to write my story forward is to combine a combination of answering the following questions on an on-gong basis:
Transformation is a journey of challenges and changes. And that’s where our greatest growth comes from.
Best wishes for your best year, ever.
“Another year over, And a new one just begun.” – John Lennon
Ready to get your game on?
January is a great time to focus on what you want out of this year. As you close out last year, you can reflect on what went well and what things you could improve. Focus on the growth.
January is also a great time to build some momentum. January and December are the bookends for your year. It’s interesting how they are both a month apart and a year apart.
What you fill that year with, is your opportunity.
If you’re having a hard time remembering what it means to dream big, I put together a collection of dream big quotes to rekindle your imagination.
I’ve also put together a set of posts to help you create goals with skill:
One of the most helpful things I’ve found with goal setting, is to start with 3 dreams or 3 wins for the year. I learned this while I was putting together Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life. As my story goes, I got frustrated and bogged down by a heavy goal process and lost in creating SMART goals. I finally stepped back and just asked myself, what are Three Wins or Three Outcomes that I want out of this year? The first things that came to mind were 1) ship my book, 2) get to my fighting weight, and 3) take an epic adventure.
It wasn’t scientific, but it was significant, and it was simple. But most of all, it was empowering.
In retrospect, it seems so obvious now, but what I was missing in my goals was the part that always needs to happen first: Dream big. We need to first put our dreams on the table because that’s where meaningful goals are born from. It’s the dreams that make our goals a force to be reckoned with. Really, goals are just a way to break our dreams down into chunks of change we can deal with, and to help guide us on our journey towards the end in mind. That’s why we have to keep pushing our dreams beyond our limits. That way we don’t try to push ourselves with our goals. Instead, we pull ourselves with our dreams.
If you want to know how to get started with Agile Results, before you get the book, you can use the Agile Results QuickStart guide. You can use it to create your personal results system. It’s a simple system, but a powerful one. Individuals, teams, and leaders use it to bring out their best and to make the mot of what they’ve got.
To give you a quick example, if you want to rise above the noise of your day, just take a quick pause, and write down Three Wins that you want out of today. If you’re day is pretty tough, you might say, “great breakfast, great lunch, great dinner.” We have those days. Or, if you’re feeling pretty good, you might say, “ship feature X” or “clear my backlog” or “finish my presentation” or “win a raving fan”, etc.
It sounds simple but by having Three Wins to hold onto for today, it helps you focus. It helps you prioritize. And it helps you get back on track, when you get off track. It also gives you a quick way to feel good about your achievements at the end of the day, because you can actually name them. They are your private victories.
So, if you want to practice Agile Results, just remember to think in threes: Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, Three Wins for the Year. It will help you funnel and focus your time and energy on meaningful results that matter. And, you’ll build momentum a moment at a time, as you respond to challenges, exercises your choices, and drive your changes in work and in life.
This is a follow up to Santa Lands on a Virgin Atlantic Plane with 4D Technology. It turns out that you can measure the magic in the air.
Here is the page that’s tracking the festive magic:
There’s Magic in the Air
Here is a snapshot of the page:
How are we measuring the festive magic? Using cloud-based Dynamics social analytics software.
Via the There’s Magic in the Air site: ”At Virgin Atlantic we love the festive season and so do lots of our customers.
So this year, we wanted to see how much ‘festive magic’ our customers and employees are creating around the world.
Partnering with our friends at Microsoft, we're using cloud based Dynamics social analytics software to calculate the volume and sentiment of social posts on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. We’re analyzing the posts for positive mentions of keywords like ‘Christmas,’ ‘magic’ and ‘reindeer.’ So we can understand how much of that festive magic is being generated every day until 7January, 2015.
We're doing this in a totally anonymous way, and we're not storing any personal information. We just want to understand how much magic we're collectively creating during this period.”
What a fun and festive way to show software in action, and use technology to light up the holiday season.
Santa Lands on a Virgin Atlantic Plane with 4D Technology
The Mission of Microsoft Enterprise Services
I’ve put together a roundup of the best productivity books that have helped me get better results in work and life. It contains many of the same books that I recommend to people and teams that I mentor. Here is the list:
It has a lot of books. To be productive, it takes a lot of skills, and a lot of self-mastery. And, you never know which book is going to do it for you.
I organize the productivity books in a scenario-based way:
At the end of the list, I included all the books in a simple, flat A-Z list so you can quickly check against your own productivity book collection to see if I have mentioned books that you don’t have or don’t know about.
I’ve put this list of productivity books together to give you an unfair advantage. Competition can be fierce. Remember that the best person to always compete against is you—find ways to be better, faster, or cheaper, when it comes to making things happen. It’s how you stay in the game, and it’s how you change your game.
In fact, productivity is a backbone for surviving and thriving. Yeah, it’s a big deal.
Also, bear in mind that the big idea behind extreme productivity, or effective productivity is to focus on learning and growth. If you have a growth mindset, you’ll win in the long-run, because you’ll get better over time, and you can compound your effort. Also, learn to embrace the effort, and to love the work you do, or love the way you do it.
Your work is the ultimate self-expression, and the legacy you leave behind, can be an inspiration for yourself, as well as for others.
My Productivity Books page will be a living catalog of the books I draw from, and it’s part of my bigger Great Books collection, where I share the world’s best books for insight and action on business, career, leadership, personal development, and more.
I know there are a lot of productivity books on my list. If I can only recommend one, I start people off with Getting Results the Agile Way. I wrote it specifically to help people get better results in work and life with a simple system I developed over time in extreme scenarios. It integrates proven practices for personal productivity, as well as positive psychology, project management, sports science, and more in terms of achieving high-performance with flow. And, it’s easy to get started (Here is the Agile Results QuickStart.)
I believe in the power of books to change lives. Productivity is just one area, but it’s an area that impacts all the other major areas of our life.
If you can master productivity, you can know more, be more, and achieve more.
And, if you balance that with living your values, making an impact, and enjoying the journey, that is the key to living la vida buena.
Microsoft and Virgin help land Santa on top of a plane at 30,000 feet. If you’ve been wondering where Santa’s been, he landed on top of a Virgin Atlantic plane and did a photo shoot with the passengers.
Microsoft teamed up with Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic to bring the magic of Christmas to life. In the world’s first 4D experience in flight, Santa Claus appears to land on top of a Virgin Atlantic plane at 30,000 feet.
How’s that for some fancy flying with modern technology?!
Each passenger was also given a Windows tablet so they could track Father Christmas and chat with him during the flight.
Here’s the video of Santa landing on top of the plane and visiting with the passengers:
Video: Santa Lands on Top of a Virgin Atlantic Plane at 30,000 Feet
Here are a few scenes that show Santa in action …
Here’s one of Santa’s reindeer peering down into the cabin from on top of the plane:
Here’s Santa peering down into the cabin from above the plane before he goes inside:
Santa sees somebody he recognizes:
Santa boards the plane and walks the cabin:
The kids are excited to see Santa:
Adults are happy, too:
Santa has time for some photo shoots:
Santa leaves to get back to his sleigh on top of the plane:
Virgin Atlantic and Microsoft wish everybody a very, merry Christmas:
Here’s Richard Branson’s post on the story:
Santa Lands on Virgin Atlantic Plane at 30,000 Feet
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
10 Big Ideas from a Christmas Carol
25 Holiday Classic Movies and Lessons Learned
Microsoft Cloud Case Studies at a Glance
I wrote a roundup of the best books I read in 2014.
I read a lot of books, and not all of them are worth sharing. I’m a believer that leaders are readers, and as Bill Gates says, “reading is how I learn best.”
Here are a few of the books that made my list:
For the full list and some quick perspective on each book, you can read my post on the best books I read in 2014.
Sometimes with all the hustle and bustle, it can be tough to find the holiday spirit.
It’s easy to say “Bah!—Humbug!”, but that’s a spiral down.
The key is to find the people and ideas that lift you up and remind you what you’re capable of.
I’ve put together 10 Big Ideas from A Christmas Carol at Sources of Insight.com to help you get your holiday groove on.
Here are the10 big ideas at a glance:
For elaboration, and supporting snippets from A Christmas Carol, check out my full post on 10 Big Ideas from A Christmas Carol. There’s a little smile in there for everyone.
If you take a quick time out in your day, and really step into it, I bet you'll find at least one nugget that helps you feel a little lighter, laugh a little louder, or love a little more.
Either way, remember that the choice is always yours – humbugs and all.
Happy holidays to you and yours.
Here’s a simple visual that I whiteboard when I lead workshops for business transformation.
The Sweet Spot is where customer “demand” meets Microsoft “supply.”
I’m not a fan of product pushers or product pushing. I’m a fan of creating “pull.”
In order for customers to pull-through any product, platform, or service, you need to know the customer’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes. Without customer empathy, you’re not relevant.
This is a simple visual, but a powerful one.
When you have good representation of the voice of the customer, you can really identity problems worth solving. It always comes down to pains, needs, opportunities, and desired outcomes. In short, I always just say pains, needs, and desired outcomes so that people can remember it easily.
To make it real, we use scenarios to tell a simple story of a customer’s pain, needs, and desired outcomes. We use our friends in the field working with customers to give us real stories of real pain.
Here is an example Scenario Narrative where a company is struggling in creating products that its customers care about …
As you can see, the Current State is a pretty good story of pain, that a lot of business leaders and product owners can identify with. For some, it’s all too real, because it is their story and they can see themselves in it.
In the Desired Future State, it’s a pretty good story of what success would look like. It paints a pretty simple picture of what would be an ideal scenario …. a future possibility.
Here is an example of a Solution Storyboard, where we paint a simple picture of that Desired Future State, or more precisely, a Future Capability Vision. It’s this Future Capability Vision that shows how, with the right capabilities, the customer can address their pains, needs, and desired outcomes.
The beauty of this approach is that it’s product and technology agnostic. It’s all about building capabilities.
From there, with a good understanding of the pains, needs, and desired outcomes, it’s super easy to overlay relevant products, technologies, consulting services, etc.
And then, rather than trying to do a product “push”, it becomes a product “pull” because it connects with customers in a very deep, very real, very relevant way.
Think “pull” not “push.”
Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Operations
Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Your Customer Experience
Dual-Speed IT Drives Business Transformation and Improves IT-Business Relationships
How Business Leaders are Building Digital Skills
How To Build a Roadmap for Your Digital Transformation
I’m always of fan of hearing about how Softies change the world, inside and outside of Microsoft.
I was reading Blind Ambition: How to Envision Your Limitless Potential and Achieve the Success You Want by Patricia Walsh. It’s an inspirational story, as well as an insightful read if you are looking for ways to up your game or get the edge in work and life.
I wrote a 10 Big Ideas from Blind Ambition to share some of the highlights from the book.
Walsh is a former Softie. More than that, she has raced in marathons, ultra-marathons and IRONMAN triathlons. In 2011, Walsh set a new world record for blind triathletes, shattering the previous male and female records by over 50 minutes.
She left Microsoft to start her own business, pursuit her speaking career, and train as a world-class athlete.
She set a high-bar.
But she also set a great example. Walsh wanted to help light the way for others to show them that they can be limitless if they set goals, put in the work, and don’t let fear or failures hold them back.
And most importantly, don’t put limits on yourself, and don’t fall into the trap of the limits that others put on you.