Tag Archives: Life’s Work

Seek and Destroy

As I prepare for an opportunity this week, I came across Peter Shallard’s ebook Seek & Destroy: How to Identify Entrepreneurial Obstacles and Overcome Them. Bam! An action book for all of us crazy enough to think we can do it on our own.

Seek & Destroy, by Peter Shallard
Seek & Destroy, by Peter Shallard

Peter Shallard is a psychologist who’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs reach the next level. His tagline is great– The Shrink for EntrepreneursBut his book (and blog) is a great read for anyone who needs help pushing past a fear or perceived obstacle.

In the opening sections of his book, Shallard shares his unique path to the present. He reveals a deep desire to help entrepreneurs that endures through this free ebook and an offer for a free personal assessment. Of the ten roadblocks, at least three really spoke to me. In the book, Pete shows you how to get over:

  • Confusion
  • Stuck-ness
  • Fear of Success
  • The Plateau
  • Fear of Starting
  • The Roller Coaster
  • Burn-Out
  • Distraction/Procrastination
  • That Knot in Your Gut
  • The Blame Game

I love Pete’s writing style. I’ve paraphrased his ten roadblocks, but the book is written in plain English that’s easy to “get” on the first read and is extremely relatable. Through each section, we get the benefit of a psychologist’s experience– both with science and with clients! Bonus: Pete’s own business experience makes him uniquely qualified to speak from a place at once clinical and real-world.

Pete doesn’t pull any punches in this book; his practical advice isn’t softened up by an “it’s-not-that-bad” attitude. Once again, this book is available fo’ free. It’s a short, easy read. Curl up on your own couch and let the Shrink for Entrepreneurs help you unpack what’s got you stuck.

Get the book on Pete’s website.

You can connect with me on Twitter and Google+!

The Power of Youth

Is being young an obstacle or an opportunity?

I asked a room full of ninth-grade students this question and was surprised that any of them at all viewed youth as an opportunity. Even into my twenties, my relative youth often seems like the biggest obstacle to success.

"Baby Boy Typing," Paul Inkles, CC
“Baby Boy Typing,” Paul Inkles, CC

When I was a manager in fast-food and active in business leadership roles, my youth often disqualified or discredited me in the eyes of my coworkers and the team members I led. Spectacular ideas that might require significant change were suddenly naive pipe dreams. Buy-in was hard to come by.

When you’re having to really grind it out against such tremendous resistance, it can be tempting to throw in the towel. But with persistence, effort and enthusiasm are recognized and rewarded.

From ninth-grade into your twenties (and perhaps beyond), some people will try to make your youth (or even youthful qualities like “enthusiasm”, “energy”, “excitement”, and “not being a jaded *bleep*-hole”) an obstacle.

Don’t let it happen.

The fact is that successful leaders will empower you to utilize the gift of youth to your (and your team’s) advantage. Older leaders will appreciate your drive and seek to develop you.

Your youth is an opportunity. People want to see you succeed.

Get excited. Don’t be afraid to take the reins when you can. Infect others with your enthusiasm.

You may be too young to drive or vote or run for a particular office or join a certain social club. But you’re never too young to make a difference. You’re never too young to lead.

For the aforementioned jaded *bleep*-holes, I acknowledge the importance of experience. But the most experienced leader in the world without the courage to take action will fail to lead every time. Put aside your sour disposition long enough to develop the young people in your organization.

Here’s a sobering thought: older people generally die before younger people. One day you’re going to need the young people you’re growing up. Are you empowering young leaders to be the bold standard-bearers of tomorrow or are you hammering out beat-down cowards to do what you’ve always done?

There is power in youth. Harness it for yourself and for your community.

You can connect with me on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn!

What to Do with Momentum

You leave the big meeting or company retreat and spirits are high. You go to a leadership conference and ideas are flying. So now what?

Photo Courtesy Loyola Hoops via Flickr. CC
Photo Courtesy Loyola Hoops via Flickr. CC

Recently I’ve been following the success of a new program from Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). One of my favorite programs, HOBY helps young people discover their passions and develop leadership through service to others.

All through the event, HOBY participants are pumped up, surrounded by like-minded, driven individuals who have huge dreams. When they go home, though, the students are thrust back into the “real world,” where everything seems ho-hum by comparison. It’s called the HOBY Hangover.

You’ve experienced this, right? You’ve got a great idea, you prepare a great proposal, and then BAM! Your presentation has to wait. You have a meeting with your team, you formulate a plan, you make assignments, and then…everyone goes back to their figurative cubicles.

How do you keep momentum alive? I’ll tell you what I strive to do:

  • Feed It: The simple truth is that momentum naturally slumps off without careful attention. You’ve got to provide fuel by recognizing progress. Feed the momentum first by setting small goals and second by publicly celebrating accomplishment.
  • Lead It: What happens when momentum gets ahead of you? You’re dragged right through the dirt! You’ve got to manage momentum so that you lead the charge or have systems in place that allow you to ride the wave. You may want to delegate or share leadership, spreading ownership of the project.
  • Speed It: Even if you have a ridiculously successful experience and your team’s project or task is complete, have another project lined up to take advantage of the momentum of the team and the chemistry you have built. We judge our experiences by our current expectations; dare to be always moving the bar.

Here’s another key to maintaining or taking advantage of momentum: do something! I’m the world’s worst about planning and planning and planning and having a great plan and drafting an excellent grant proposal and formulating breath-taking scaling schemes…get the picture?

When you leave HOBY– whatever your HOBY is– with a purpose and a passion, act on it. You could write out a plan, but you’ve got one hiding in the back corner of your mind already, right? Make it happen.

If you don’t know how, e-mail me at justinbuck.freelance@gmail.com. For absolutely free, I’ll help you turn a passion into an idea, an idea into a plan, and a plan into a project. No gimmicks or time-share presentations. It’s what I’m passionate about.

Just don’t let that feeling of urgency, that ache to get started, that unstoppable momentum…run and hide when you hit the “real world”.

Are you struggling with your own HOBY Hangover? Take my prescription above and call me in the morning.

Building Your Castle

Few kings in olden days built more than one castle. Frontier forts and military encampments aside, most lords or nobles made building a castle more of a life’s work.

Today, a medieval castle rises in Northwest Arkansas. Outside of that, though, I can’t think of anyone else actually building a castle. But Myles Montplaisir recently got me thinking about the concept as a metaphor for a life’s work.

Michael Hyatt discusses building a home base from which to extend your platform. Building a home base (for your platform) and building your castle (your life’s work) include many similarities. Let’s examine more deeply the castle metaphor.

A castle needs:

  1. An Architect: Simply put, your Castle needs you. You have the vision. You have the drive. You have to make it happen. But Architects don’t just wake up one day, gather their tools, and start building Castles. They have to acquire skills and experience, sometimes working under someone else on a different Castle. An Architect spends time tweaking his style and design before setting out to build his or her masterpiece.
  2. A Site: This might be approximated as a Platform. Michael Hyatt discusses building Platforms at length. Your Site must be carefully selected, but you can’t wait forever for the perfect conditions to present themselves. In short, a site should be prepared over time, establishing the right foundations with solid character and the trust of your circle of friends and greater community. After all, a Castle cannot survive without the means to support itself. Prepare the ground for your Castle by building relationships and cultivating the means to sustain your work.
  3. A Plan: Can you imagine going to work on a construction project with no blueprint? Can you imagine leading troops into battle with no plan? Take your time, consider the needs of your Castle and those who depend upon it, and plan accordingly. Don’t forget to draw your plan in pencil! If you’re not able to make adjustments as you go, your rigid plan will build a cold and inhospitable Castle.
  4. Materials: While your Site is the platform you build your Castle on, the Materials are those things with which you must actually build your life’s work (i.e.: Your Castle). These may include tangibles or intangibles or (more likely) both. You may need physical space to operate out of, you may need a community of contributors or a partnership of professionals, or you may simply need the attention of those you are seeking to impact. Gather these Materials over time to ensure a lasting supply. You wouldn’t want to find out you don’t have what you need when you’re halfway done building!
  5. Builders: You can dream the dream and even, under some circumstances, draw the Plan by yourself, but you could never build a Castle alone. Even if you could, it would take someone to pick up where you left off; a one-man building team would take more than a lifetime to get the job done! These Builders may be friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. They may be Architects-in-Training who you can develop, Architects-Emeritus who can develop you, Architects who regret never finishing their own Castles…every one of them will have his/her own story and motivation. It’s up to you to make this a gratifying experience for each one.
  6. A Crown: A life’s work is never finished. It may have several “Crowning Achievements” along the way, but it has no end. That said, your Castle must have a Crown that acknowledges its arrival and establishment. But the Crown is for the Castle, not the King. This is something I have to remind myself constantly. Because I sometimes suffer from an addiction to self, I often get in the way of my projects or achievements. These aren’t the Middle Ages, folks. There are no serfs, and the servants in today’s leadership culture are often those who sit on the throne! Serve the needs of your constituents– serve the needs of your Castle– and you will find a crown of righteousness for yourself after all.

Myles talks about “King/Queening” your Castle. At the completion of a medieval castle or even some modern buildings, the project is said to have been “crowned”. Until it’s finished, the Castle may seem like a pile of stones or a far-off fantasy. But as the Castle’s Crowning approaches, people will flock to its cause for shelter or a better future or greater opportunities.

A well-built Castle will stand the test of time. People will marvel at how it was built with only “primitive tools”, how something that took so long to realize could have survived the threat of invasion or poverty. To be sure, the skeletons of abandoned Castles lie strewn across the world. But a Castle Crowned, a life’s work pursued, is well worth the toil.