Rekindle, Reinvigorate, and Recharge—It Works at Any Age

Ken BlanchardOn May 6, I turned 75 years old. In today’s society, most people would be retired at 75—or at least thinking about it.

But did you know that the very practice of retirement was designed for the industrial world? During that era, people were physically tired by the time they reached 65 and needed to rest.

Things are different now—we have more options. My goal in life is to be a loving teacher of simple truths. I’ve always searched for methods to improve the skills of leaders and to communicate those methods in a way that makes it easy for people to understand and practice. That doesn’t make me tired—it refuels me. So, I’m adopting a different approach. I’m focusing on an attitude of refirement instead of retirement.

I first heard this word from Zig Ziglar, the great American author and motivator. When he would run into friends who hadn’t seen him for a while, they would ask if he had retired. He always answered this question the same way.  “There’s no mention of retirement in the Bible. Except for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, David, and a few others, nobody under 80 made an impact. I’m not retiring, I’m refiring! I’m not gonna ease up, let up, shut up or give up until I’m taken up. As a matter of fact, I’m just getting warmed up!” Zig lived his life that way until his death in the fall of 2012.

Norman Vincent Peale was another of my mentors who helped shape this idea. When I first met Norman, he was eighty-six years old. What most amazed me about him was that he was excited about every single day. Why? He couldn’t wait to find out what he might learn. He often said, “When I stop learning, I might as well lie down because I will be dead.” He was learning right up until he passed away at age ninety-five.

Learning is more important today than it’s ever been. In the past, if people were loyal to their company and worked hard, their job was secure. Today, the skills you bring to the party constitute the only available form of job security. People who are continually learning and upgrading their skills increase their value—not only in their organization, but also in the overall job market.

So don’t count the days until you retire. Start refiring now and look for new ways to rekindle, reinvigorate, and recharge your relationship with others. I guarantee you’ll have plenty to celebrate each and every day.

5 Keys to Connecting With Your People

bigstock-Different-46099117I was talking with some friends at a recent morning men’s group. Our focus was on the importance of being connected to other people and what it means. We came up with five things we think help you really get connected to others—at work, and in all aspects of life. How would you rate yourself in these five areas?

  1. Listen more than you speak.  We talked about listening a lot. If God wanted you to speak more than listen, he would have given you two mouths!
  2. Praise other people’s efforts.  This one has always been so important to me. Catch people doing things right.  That really helps you get connected with people.
  3. Show interest in others.  It’s not all about you. Find out about people and their families and learn about what’s happening in their lives.
  4. Be willing to share about yourself.  In our book Lead with LUV, my coauthor and former Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett said that people admire your skills but they really love your vulnerability. Are you willing to share about yourself?  I think being vulnerable with people is really important.
  5. Ask for input from others—ask people to help you.  People really feel connected if they can be of help to you. Continue reading

NATO Golf

With spring around the corner, I find my mind turning to golf. I love to play golf. I’ve always tried to not take it too seriously and remember that it’s just a game—but I didn’t really love to play until I started to use an approach called NATO golf. In case you haven’t heard of it before, NATO stands for Not Attached To Outcome.

BallWhen you’re attached to outcome, you might be having a good game but then you hit the ball wrong and find yourself focusing on the wrong things—every move you make, every breeze, every bump in the grass. It really tightens you up and you can’t perform as well. You become fearful of your results because you believe that who you are depends on how you score or play that day.

I can’t tell you how much more fun it is to play NATO golf than to grind my teeth over the score. It doesn’t mean I’m not interested in hitting good shots or scoring well—but I know that I am not my score. I am not each shot. As a result, I’m much more relaxed and able to swing freely at the ball without fear. I play so much better when I’m not worried about whether I’m going to be able to hit that hole or make that putt. I just get up there and let it happen. It’s beautiful.

Golf is always interesting to me, because I believe golf is a lot like life. Think about it. Sometimes you’re playing better than you should, so you learn how to deal with success.  Sometimes you’re playing worse than you should, so you learn how to deal with failure.  Sometimes you get good breaks you don’t deserve and sometimes you get good breaks you do deserve.  Sometimes you get bad breaks you don’t deserve and sometimes you get bad breaks you do deserve.  All in four and a half hours!  Ha! And one of the best ways to get to know somebody is to play golf with them and watch how they behave. It says a lot about a person.

In life, as in golf, sometimes we get so focused on outcome that we don’t enjoy the ride.  We’re so uptight about the importance of the outcome that we miss the dance of life, the dance of relationships, the dance of the sales call, or the dance of doing a seminar.

Mark Twain said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” I can’t say that I agree. Golf is a wonderful game as long as you don’t start believing that who you are is dependent on how you score. Don’t get attached to outcome—just be who you are and you will be amazed at how much more you’ll enjoy the game of golf—and the game of life.

Exercise your right to vote on Tuesday!

I made a trip to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago. It was a really interesting time to be there—just before a presidential election. I heard a lot of negative statements and a lot of worry about the economy and the election and the state our country is in.  So I want to show you a quote someone sent to me:

“The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt. People must once again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

Do you know who gets credit for that statement?  Cicero, who supposedly said it in 55 B.C.! I’m strangely comforted by the fact that the world has had some of these same problems for centuries. So I made a choice to come away from Washington, D.C. feeling positive about the future. I think we’re going to pull through this. We’ve got a great country—we can pull out of this debt and solve these problems—particularly if we all hang in there together. 

I was so impressed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he stated publicly this past week that Barack Obama was “outstanding to deal with” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Even though Governor Christie is a Republican and a staunch supporter of Mitt Romney, he didn’t play politics; he praised Obama because he felt praise was due. I thought it was refreshing and I think the American people would love to see more examples of this kind of non-partisan collaboration among our leaders. If our national leaders all had this kind of cooperative mentality, we could pull together and overcome any obstacle in our path. We shouldn’t need something like a hurricane to bring American leaders together as problem-solving partners.

My friend Hyrum Smith recently reissued his 2004 book with the title Pain is Inevitable; Misery is Optional.  That’s tied in with what I believe about our country’s difficulties.  Let’s realize that pain is inevitable—problems are inevitable—but misery is optional.  We don’t have to play the blame game. We can choose to be compassionate and loving and caring. When people want you to join in a pity party about how bad everything is in the country, you can choose not to engage.  You can say, “Okay, what can we do to try and make a positive difference in our own community?” and encourage others to be part of the solution.

So, choose to be positive and to do something about it – and right now, doing something means we all have to get out and vote.  Vote any way you want—just vote.  Decide who you think can really make a difference and help us turn the country around. And don’t forget about the local elections and issues—those are just as important as what’s happening nationally.

We can each make a difference where we are. We can be leaders where we’re planted. Encourage others around you and choose to stay positive. And remember to vote on Tuesday!

My boss acts like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Another big question that I get all the time…

What do you do if you have an unpredictable boss—where you never know who’s going to show up?  One day he’s upbeat and happy and thinks you’re great, and the next day you feel like you’re dealing with an ogre. I suggest two things: The first is to get your resume out there, because you might want to go find another place or another boss. The other thing, which is so important, is to never buy into the idea that your self-worth is a function of your performance plus the opinion of others. If you get hooked into that outlook on life, then your self-worth is up for grabs every day. Why? Because nobody’s performance is great every day. Have you ever noticed how fickle people are? They don’t operate the same way every day, either. So one of the things you need to deal with, if you are dealing with someone with an erratic personality, is that God did not make junk. You are absolutely beautiful. Don’t have your whole day depend on how someone else treats you. Remember that you’re a good person who is loved. Maybe that boss doesn’t quite get it yet. But he or she will.