Archives For Belief System

Dirt Bucket BrigadeRecently, a friend sent me a February 2012 article about the “Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” Nurse and songwriter Bronnie Ware originally shared these insights from her work as a palliative caregiver in an October 2010 blog post. The post went viral and led to her 2012 book.

The top five regrets from those at the end of their lives include:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

I see a common theme among these top five regrets – not living one’s purpose and values. Living a life others expected of them? Not true to their best self. Working so hard that they didn’t do things more in line with their life’s purpose? Not true to their best self.

Keeping one’s feelings bottled up? Disconnecting from friends? Curbing one’s day-to-day happiness? All indications that they’d not lived a life aligned to their true purpose and values.

We cannot be of service or of grace if we are not living our true purpose and values. Bronnie’s insights provide us the opportunity to change up our daily plans, decisions, and actions NOW – and live our best selves.

Be Your Best Self

Start with clarifying your purpose & values. For purpose, consider these questions:

  • What is my reason for being in this life?
  • What am I here to contribute or accomplish?
  • Who am I most inspired to serve?

Here’s my personal purpose statement: “To inspire and encourage others – life leaders and participants – to clarify their personal values and to serve with authenticity.”

For values, note the principles that you believe, in your soul, to be valid, right, and good. Define your values specifically. Then identify 2-3 valued behaviors that indicate the observable, measurable ways you’ll demonstrate your values.

Write these down. It may take a few drafts before you reach a purpose & values statement that you’re satisfied with.

Once your personal purpose and values are formalized, it is easier to assess ways you can demonstrate alignment to your best self. Where can you refine how you spend your time and talent to ensure you’re doing MORE values-aligned activities?

For example, could you carve out time to build a church foundation in Jamaica (like the gentleman in the photo above)? If you are a singer and/or musician, is there an organization like San Francisco’s Bread & Roses that provides free, live, quality shows to people otherwise isolated from society? Is there a soup kitchen in your city that needs your help?

There are hundreds of ways you can volunteer your time and talent, in and out of your workplace. Find one or two that inspire you, that help you demonstrate your personal purpose and values. Your spirit will soar and your regrets will be few(er).

What are your thoughts? Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. How do you live your true purpose and values? How does your best self serve others in your community?

FREE SURVEY: What is it like to work in your company culture? Contribute your experiences in my FREE Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis will be shared in an upcoming post and podcast.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/sframephoto

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The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Clear Your “Filters”

July 18, 2011

Early one recent morning, I turned on the hot water in my sink to shave. The water was hot and, um, rusty. I checked the other hot water outlets and found the same, copper-colored water. It was time to bring in Matt, our trusty plumbing & heating expert.

Matt came by within the hour and verified what we suspected: our water heater was on its last legs. It was nearly 20 years old, installed when our mountain abode was first built. Sediment and rust had built up over that time. We gave Matt the go ahead to replace it.

When Matt and his assistant installed the new water heater for us a few days later, Matt asked us what the two tanks were “in line,” feeding the water heater. We had no idea. There were no markings. He opened one up and found charcoal bits in a filter system. Apparently these tanks were also installed when our house was built. Designed to clean up the water from our well, the charcoal elements needed replacing regularly. We had never done that, and it is unlikely that the previous owner did anything with them. The filters had (probably) worked well early on, then did very little cleaning of the well water as it went through them.

Matt pulled the clogged tanks out and finished the installation of the new water heater. The next morning we I enjoyed not only sparkling hot water but amazingly strong water pressure. It seems the two old charcoal filter tanks robbed us of decent water pressure the entire six years we’ve live in this house. We never knew the water pressure that was possible! Once those clogged filters were removed from the process, water flowed efficiently and vigorously as we directed it.

What “Filters” Inhibit Clarity in your Organization?

In my work with senior leaders with culture initiatives, I find many times that their view of their organization’s “cultural reality” is not very accurate. They do not know what employees think about “how it is to work” in their organization. They believe that the information given to them is accurate, but they really don’t know if it is fully accurate or not.

They have many “filters” in place, including people, systems, and structure. The filtering that occurs is usually not intentional – but it is powerful. Filtered information may not give a complete picture of a situation. Decisions made based on filtered information may not solve problems, at all.

Three Ways to Reduce Filtering

Leaders at all levels validate the information they receive when they:

  • Increase the Information Channels You Scan.
    Seek data from a variety of direct sources. Learn about processes from the vantage point of suppliers, employees, and customers.
  • Measure What’s Really Important.
    Sometimes the metrics that are easy to measure aren’t the right things to measure. Decide what metrics are truly worth paying attention to, then do that. Day in and day out.
  • Manage by Wandering Around.
    Connect with individual leaders, supervisors, and staff regularly. Wander around and “buy coffee” for individuals and learn what they see as opportunities for improvement.

Clear your filters. Learn what’s really happening, day in and day out, with employees and customers. Get a clear view and change systems, policies, and procedures to remove frustration and enable action and service. Then, keep cleaning those filters . . . and modifying systems . . . and cleaning filters . . . regularly. Your employees and customers will love you for it.

Have you downloaded your FREE excerpt of my new book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Astrology fans who follow the stars were not amused at the articles this week noting that the Zodiac charts were off by a month (see the follow up story to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s original piece). Much drama ensued as believers used the internet to express their anger at changes to their star-driven horoscopes.

Believers have a great deal invested in the Zodiac. The guidance their daily horoscope offers provides them comfort. Couples often have their signs analyzed to learn how compatible their chosen mate is to them. And exactly what are Zodiac-sign-tattooed believers to do if they now fall under the new 13th sign, that of Ophiuchus?

The good news for Westerners is that their Zodiac chart has actually NOT changed. CNN states in their article that “astrology experts say the shift in zodiac signs does not apply to most Westerners, who follow the tropical zodiac, which is fixed to the seasons. The Star-Tribune article referred to the sidereal zodiac, which is fixed to constellations and is followed more in the East.”

Organizational leaders can learn a great deal from this episode. These reactions to the shifting Zodiac are exactly how staff react when a change is announced in their organizations!

Common Reactions to Change

Senior leaders typically expect to see this sequence: 1) announce the change, and everyone will 2) implement the change. Change NEVER works out that way.

People go through predictable stages of reactions to change. Blanchard’s research-based program, Leading People Through Change, provides insights into their concerns. These stages are individual (individual players will go through each stage at different speeds) and sequential - players will not move to the next stage of concern until their needs have been met at the previous stage. We examine the first three phases in this post.

  1. The first phase is information concerns – people want to know what exactly the change is, why is it needed, how much change at how fast a pace, etc. Once information concerns have been addressed, players will move to . . .
  2. The second phase: personal concerns – people want to know how the change will play out for them, what’s in it for them, what will I give up, what will I gain over time, etc. When personal concerns have been addressed – and these concerns can widely vary across a workforce – players will move to . . .
  3. The third phase: implementation concerns – people are able to focus on how the change will be put into action, what the plan is, how will people be held accountable, what resources will be available, etc.

Savvy change leaders know that these initial stages of concern must be thoroughly addressed for the desired change to take hold.

How to Help Staff Embrace Change

There are four basic ordered steps in a change leader’s action plan to help staff embrace a needed change:

  1. Educate - Describe the change fully – or as fully as you can at this stage. Share the business case for the change – what in the business environment is driving this change? What are the costs – time, dollars, customers, opportunity – of not making this change?
  2. Involve - Offer numerous opportunities for staff to examine the change, to suggest how to make the change more efficient, etc. Build buy-in with these conversations.
  3. Embed - Create systemic support for the new behaviors; the change will not endure without systems refinements. With staff involvement, modify delivery systems, performance systems, etc.
  4. Refine - Over time, continue staff involvement to tweak the change (and supporting systems) to enhance the benefits of the new approach(es).

What is your experience with staff embracing or resisting change? Join in the conversation!


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”