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Fifty-five is a notable age.

This week I turned 55. I don’t know how 55 should feel or look. But, I don’t feel 55 and people tell me that I don’t look or behave it.

I am sure we’ve all heard the saying “the fifties is the new thirties.” Statistics support this view too. In fact, I recently saw a statistic that in modern countries such as the USA and Canada, the average expectancy of a man has increased in the 20th century from 46 to 74 and women from 48 to 80.

But statistics is one thing and how we feel, look and behave is another. Fifty-five is a notable age. It’s the middle of my life, or as my wife says: “at 50 we have earned the right to stop worrying about what other people think about us or what we should do, and only care about what we feel is right for us to be and do.”

So, 55 is a great opportunity to take stock of where I am in my life journey – what I feel great about, what I don’t, and most important what I want the next 10 years and rest of my life to look like.

I will always have ambitions, aspirations and goals. There are more things I still want to accomplish and get done, more wealth to build and more difference to make. Having said that, my biggest wish is to get up every day for the rest of my life feeling fully satisfied, blessed and validated by who I am and what I have accomplished thus far. I want to feel that I am pursuing my aspirations and goals as an expression of success and abundance, rather than scarcity and deficit.

Many years ago a friend caught me by surprise when he asked me the question: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” And that question has stayed with me ever since.

My answer is: I am young enough to fully express myself every day in everything I do, to fully love the people that are dearest to me with all my heart, to pursue my wildest dreams without doubt or compromise, and to live every day of my life with the optimism, hope and excitement that “the best is yet to come.” It is scary at times to live full out, but I can’t imagine any other way to do it.

How old would YOU be if you didn’t know how old YOU are?     

Space of Possibility

Over the last few weeks, I have written much about the differences between Warriors and Worriers, positioning them as distinct opposites. But the truth is that Warriors do occasionally worry. And Worriers sometimes act courageously. From time to time, we step over that line to the other side, but we all live mostly on one side or the other.

The difference between the space where Warriors live and the space where Worriers is possibility.

Worriers are bound by past limitations. They tend to believe that their future prospects are constrained by past events and predicaments. They often allow themselves to remain stuck in the past, because it’s more familiar and safer that way. Doing what they’ve always done requires no vulnerability, no courage, and little to no exposure or risk. Worriers live in the space of “limited or no possibility.”

Warriors, however, live in a place of possibility. They honor the past and learn from it, but they continue to look towards the future and think about what could be, what they want, and what they are committed to achieving. And they take ownership for making it happen. This is a much more empowering, free, and courageous way of thinking.

People always vacillate between these two spaces. We choose the side where we’ll live, but we occasionally blip into the other side. When Worriers blip into the space of possibility, they often respond with sarcasm, defensiveness, and cynicism. I often see this in organizations. When change initiatives are launched, Worriers are typically the first to criticize, find the flaws, and say “This, too, shall pass.”

When Warriors blip to the other side, they typically experience mental and even physical pain. They feel like they have not been true to themselves, so they get back to their rightful side as quickly as possible.

Here’s an example: One of my clients, who typically is a very bold and courageous leader, recently called me because he was quite upset about the way he conducted himself in an important meeting the day before. Apparently, he promised to backup one of his colleagues in a critical presentation to the board for a new idea. Their department was seeking to get investment for its implementation. The meeting didn’t go well, and when it was his opportunity to speak up he held back and didn’t live up to his promise. He was devastated with his own behavior. In fact he shared with me that he couldn’t sleep that entire night. After our brief conversation he picked up the phone and called his colleague. He took responsibility for his lack of courage and support, apologized to his colleague and received forgiveness. He called me again later that day feeling completely restored, freed up and energized.

When Warriors screw up, act harshly, offend someone or act in any way that is inconsistent with they commitment, they are much more inclined to pick up the phone to that person, apologize and patch things up. This is the way they return back to their rightful side when they blip for the Warrior into the Worrier space.

We all vacillate from one side to the other. The question is: Where do you live? Where’s home? And if home is in the Worrier space, are you perhaps ready to move?

Develop Your Warrior Muscle (Part 1)

Every day we are faced with numerous circumstances and situations over which we have no control. However, we can always control who we’re going to be in those moments and how we’ll react to each situation.

The choice is yours: You can deal with problems like a Worrier (i.e., by being a victim, blaming others, and making excuses for yourself). Or you can deal with problems like a Warrior, meaning you accept and own the reality and approach problems head on.

Worriers tend to complain. Warriors avoid complaining, because they understand that even when their complaints are valid, focusing on them is a waste of time. Doing so only weakens them and makes them smaller than their problems.

Worriers often feel their problems are larger than them, and they let challenging or overwhelming circumstances conquer them. Warriors know they have a choice about their attitude and the way they’re going to respond to the tough situations with which they’re faced. And they never stop moving forward.

Worriers say things like “it’s not fair” and “why me?” On the other hand, Warriors ask: “What do I do now? What can I control here? What difference can I make? And how can I make the best of this?” They always take the stand that they are larger than their circumstances.

Warriors live by a “no victim, no suffering” code. They typically gravitate towards doing work they enjoy, or they bring love to their work. In other words, they “do what they love or love what they do.” They bring a positive, productive energy to whatever they tackle, and even if they don’t love every aspect of their work, they do everything in their power to at least own it. This means genuinely accepting and making the best of things. And if they can’t own it, they leave it.

Warriors know they make a difference. They have faith in themselves and their intentions. If they don’t feel they can make a positive difference in their current environment, they always stay true to their values, act with courage, and make the tough decisions. They leave and go to a different team, role, or environment where they can express themselves and make a difference. They don’t allow themselves to recede into a victim mentality or to become resentful, which is what typically happens when people sell out on living up to their values, principles, and vision.

Worriers can spend their entire careers being cynical and resigned. They often view the world as “unkind,” their luck as “unfortunate,” and their options and possibilities as “scarce.” A client once described his job to me as his “eight-hour inconvenience.” Yet, he had been working in that same company for many years. You can imagine which camp he belongs to.

The global workforce is filled with people who spend their entire careers and lives in the Worrier space. In fact, the Worrier space is still the norm in most companies. The problem is that it takes a tremendous level of numbness and unconsciousness to sustain this existence.

Warriors are not perfect by any means. They have the same fears, anxieties, hang-ups, concerns, and doubts that Worriers have. What makes them Warriors is that they act with courage. They understand and accept that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather being afraid and living up to your vision and commitment anyway.

Worriers are often very circumstantial. They typically have a good reason for why they can’t have what they want, or a good story about why it’s not the right time. They keep waiting for the fear to subside or the obstacles to evaporate, or they play it small and safe enough to not provoke fear in the first place.

Building your Warrior muscle is ultimately about developing courage: The courage to be vulnerable and authentic, to be open and honest, and to try new things. Everyone – men and women, young people and those nearing retirement – can be Warrior, but only if they are willing to take ownership of their careers and lives.

More to come on this in my next blog. Stay tuned.

We’re Halfway Through 2013—But Did You Ever Really Complete 2012?

There’s a distinct difference between ending something and completing it. Events in the physical world have a beginning, middle and end to them – whether we like it or not. We get older. Another year passes. And our lives keep moving forward, towards an eventual ending point.

Similarly, there is a physical rhythm to our professional year that is beyond our control. In a way, we’re passengers in time. The year ends, a new year begins, and the sand in the hourglass keeps trickling down.

Completion is different. Completion is a mindset, a paradigm, and a way of viewing our efforts, achievements, successes and failures in the most empowering way.

We have no control over the fact that 2012 is now over and that we’re already halfway through 2013, but we do have full say about our relationship to what happened in the previous year, including what we delivered and what was accomplished We also have control over the conclusions and lessons we will take with us from the previous year into the next.

So here we are in June of 2013. But many of us have never really taken the time to complete 2012.

To bring closure to last year and fully prepare yourself and your team for the rest of 2013, consider the following questions–starting with some basic facts. In 2012:

  1. What results did you promise or want to deliver?
  2. What results did you actually achieve?
  3. What objectives did you deliver, and what promises did you keep?
  4. What objectives and promises did you not deliver/keep? Where did you and/or your team fall short?

Once you have embraced the hard facts, take a look at some of the bigger-picture aspects of 2012:

  1. What did you accomplish in 2012 beyond your targeted results? It’s important to honor and even celebrate what got accomplished, even if it seems small or “not enough.”
  2. How did you forward your bigger vision and purpose (whether you made all your numbers or not)?
  3. In what areas and in what ways did you get stronger? What “muscles” If you post the piece about building your warrior muscle before this blog, then you could link to it here.and new competencies did you develop? What did you learn to do – by choice or by necessity – that will make you stronger and better in the future?
  4. What valuable lessons did you learn from your successes and/or failures? This is particularly relevant and important in tough years – which can make us stronger and better prepared for future chapters.
  5. How did your successes and/or failures in 2012 better prepare you for greater success in 2013?
  6. What can you commit to in 2013 and beyond, given all that occurred and all that you learned in 2012?

The beauty of completion is that it enables and empowers us to draw out the opportunities, learning and gold from everything that happened in the past. By viewing our past deeds and achievements through the lens of “completion,” we can foster a continuous path of personal development, growth and fulfillment.

When we end a year without completion, we often feel somewhat “stuck” and not quite ready and excited to move forward. However, when we take the time to complete each year, we experience a powerful sense of harmony, confidence and calmness. We feel empowered, ready and excited about moving on to the next chapter.

So go ahead and complete 2012, and keep what you have learned in mind, because 2014 will be here before you know it.