Tag Archives: leadership

Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed…

In recent days I’ve decided to take a different approach to this blog. Obviously, I haven’t posted anything in months, and I know it’s because I began to make something that could be relatively simple, very complex. So instead of feeling like I need to develop a post so perfectly written that it can be a chapter of a book, I’ve decided to just write when it feels “right.”

That said, I just had one of those moments. It was a moment that reminded me of a quote shared with me by one of my brothers, the poet, author, artist, Kenneth Zakee.  Once I was debating on whether or not to ask a question of someone. An affirmative response to this question would’ve surely made a positive difference in my life. Conversely, I made the denial of my question ‘the end of the world’ . In fact, I’d  built a mental monster associated with the “no.” I ended up not asking the question.  When I shared this with Zakee, his response was summed up in a simple quote, “closed mounts don’t get fed.”

That quote, in that moment, changed my life, and my approach to making requests. I decided on that day that I would develop an awareness of the power of asking. I decided that I would no longer disqualify myself from any opportunities because I feared asking the question. I had another one of those moments this morning. I stared at the e-mail that I’d written to make this request.The challenge for me was that I could rationalize five different reasons why my request would be denied.  At the same time I hear that little voice telling me, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” And then I hit ‘send.’ Whew! As of this posting, I have not received a response, though I anxiously await the reply. Also, I’m still alive (I know some of the mental horrors we conjure up when talking ourselves out of taking action)! At the same time, I’m proud of myself for being willing to take this step, make myself vulnerable, and asked the question. Each time that I break through in this way, I’m emboldened to do it again next time.

Having built this “asking” muscle, I’m not afraid to tell you that it is paid unbelievable dividends in my life. So many doors that looked close on the surface have been opened due to me asking. This is especially true in situations where everything points to not asking the question, and yet, I still ask.  And I would encourage you to do the same. You should never disqualify you. The only “no” that you can be certain of is the one in your head. It doesn’t matter how slim the odds are, you have to push yourself to make the request. Let  them disqualify you.

Breakthrough Action Steps – Take Action NOW!

The next time you find yourself at a crossroads,  wondering whether or not to ask the question,  take yourself through the following steps:

  1. Repeat your new mantra, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”
  2. Visualize all of the benefits of an affirmative response to your request.
  3. Ask yourself, “What is the  absolute worst thing that can happen if I asked this question?” ( most of the time it’s “he/she will say no.”)
  4. Ask the question. Make the request.
  5. Feel GREAT about asking the question, even before you receive the answer.
  6. Post your breakthrough on this blog so you can encourage others to do the same.

I’m confident that I’m not alone in working through this type of dilemma.  I invite you to share some of your moments and breakthroughs. The power of asking is one of those subtle shifts, that will yield seismic results.  So what question have you put off asking? I challenge you to follow the steps above, and ask the question today.

Forward,

Ken

Ken Williams is a speaker, trainer, and author. He is a contributing author to The Collaborative Administrator, and the Chief Visionary Officer of Unfold The Soul, a company dedicated to helping individuals make the life they have, the life they want. Unfold The Soul also supports team collaboration and helps organizations function at peak performance.  Click Here to subscribe to The Breakthrough Blog.

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We DON’T get what we DESERVE….

We don’t get what we DESERVE, we get what we CREATE. This has been an incredible week of breakthroughs for me.  I shared with my Facebook and Twitter family that I was selected to deliver the closing keynote at The Professional Learning Communities Conference in Boston this coming August.  Check the link below:

More than the opportunity to bring an already great conference to a close, what has me in a place of reflection is the journey that has brought me to this point.  Here’s a great quote that my friend and colleague Greg Kushnir reminded me of:

“Set goals for yourself that will make you the best you can be.
You don’t get what you DESERVE, you get what you CREATE.
Create a tomorrow for yourself.  If you don’t fashion it,
someone else will.”
-Deep and Sussman

The notion of speaking, training and presenting to audiences across the nation about content I am passionate about started as a mere thought.  Back in 2001, I sat at the back of an auditorium listening to Dr. Rick DuFour talk about a school improvement and leadership model.  Though I expected to sit in the back and write emails on my new Palm I-705 (super slow emailing but exciting nevertheless back in ’01), I found myself leaning forward and listening to his presentation.  After becoming completely sold out to his work, I attended a conference where he delivered a keynote, and it was there that the thought ran through my head….”I can do that…”  Now, you’re probably thinking of the elevendy-hundred times you’ve found yourself in the same situation where you have had a creative (I can do that) thought, where something immediately and powerfully resonated with you.

From there I decided to work my way through a huge crowd to stick my hand out and introduce myself.  I took action before I could talk myself out of why I should keep my butt in my seat.  Dr. DuFour and I spoke briefly, and after the conference, I was proactive and kept in touch.  There have been dozens of different opportunities that I’ve taken advantage of to nurture the relationship with my new mentor and eventually he and his wife Becky DuFour invited me to work with them.

Ok, while that was one helluva fast-forward with many steps, challenges, decisions and opportunities in between, there is a bottom line…no, better yet, a fine line that is the thrust and essence of this post.  And that is:

It is up to YOU to create the life YOU desire.  The fine line that separates those who live as they want and  everyone else is the decision to TAKE ACTION.

This idea of taking action often amounts to a simple step, an email, a phone call, a handshake, a business plan, a question, or some research….each step that I’ve taken along this wonderful journey of living my life on purpose has led to another path being revealed to me.  We don’t always know what the next step is, and will never know if we don’t take risks and take action.

So…

Questions for Reflection:

1.    What creative nudges have you been getting that you have yet to act upon?
2.    What gift are you not being responsible for or responding to?
3.    What ONE step can you take TODAY in the service of making a breakthrough?

Points to Consider:

1.    The fact is, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” The change that I’m referring to is not the environment around you, but the “invironment” within you (the thoughts and beliefs you carry on the inside).
2.    Taking action is a muscle, and it’s pretty similar to the physical muscles we have.  When we work them, they work for us.  With each action step you take, you will find the next one easier to take.  So, get started NOW!

If this post resonated with you, please share feedback, as well as moments in your own journey.  From first-step breakthroughs to the ones that result in the realization of our desires, they are all valuable experiences.  As my wife Nicole always reminds me, “We are all on our individual journeys.”  Looking forward to hearing about them.

Forward,

Ken

Ken Williams is a speaker, trainer, author and breakthrough coach. He is a contributing author of The Collaborative Administrator. He is Chief Visionary Officer of Unfold The Soul, a company dedicated to helping individuals make the life they have, the life they want. Unfold The Soul also supports teams and organizations function at peak performance. Follow Ken on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/unfoldthesoul. Click Here to subscribe to The Breakthrough Blog.

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I Cried Because I Had No Shoes…Until I Saw Someone With No Feet

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to speaking/traning engagement and I missed my flight out of Atlanta to Seattle, and with time to kill, I drove over to Barnes and Noble to rest and read.  There I sitting and couldn’t help but overhear a man on the phone desperately trying to find someone who could fax an employment application for him.  He was honest and clear about having NO money.  He seemed sincere and since in his efforts to get the job application to the potential employer.  I have an eFax account and offered to fax the application for him.  Things worked out for him and he declined my offer, which led to a conversation between us.  I went on to learn that Jim Williams is now virtually homeless after 30 years of employment in corporate America and earning a degree from GA Tech in the 1970’s. As of the day we talked, he’d lost his income, home, vehicle, and a good deal of other assets.  I know with the economic challenges our country is facing, this is not an isolated situation.  I don’t think his situation would be called exceptional in this economic environment.  However, if you were with me at the bookstore that day, you would have found Jim’s attitude to be exceptional.

You see, in the midst of these extreme and typically stressful circumstances, Jim decided to use this adversity as a sign for him to pursue his life’s passion. In between recovering financially and securing some sort of employment, Jim has gotten crystal clear on what he wants, and that is to be a writer.

His combination of “clarity” and “humility” blew me away.  While in one breath he explained his very challenging situation, in the next breath he went on to explain how losing EVERYTHING caused him to decide to search for and live through his passion as a writer and humorist.  He associated the two circumstances in his life.  I thought it incredible that he could focus, zero-in and identify his life’s calling in the midst of  incredible adversity.  He has just turned 60, and has the passion and zeal of a man a third his age.

Jim’s story is more than a story about working through adversity, though under these circumstances, that alone would have impressed me.  What inspired me and stretched my thinking was the idea that this extreme form of adversity prompted him to pursue his life’s dream.  He took his circumstances to mean it was time to get crystal clear about what he wants from life.  I know how that feels.  I am clear. I know what I want, and I’m clear on the habits of mind and behaviors that manifest all that I focus on.  However, I wish I could say with assurance that before I met Jim, I’d respond the way he did under the same circumstances.  After meeting Jim, I’m confident that I would handle adversity differently and work to seek/maintain clarity throughout my journey.

My urge to coach moved me to encourage Jim to start writing.  I was happy to learn that he has been writing in between seeking employment and getting back on his feet.  Here are the links to two of his blogs, Notes from the Recessionwww.notesfromtherecession.blogspot.com) and The Big Boom Theoryhttp://bigboomtheory.blogspot.com).  He writes under the name Will Cantrell.

I hope Jim’s example serves you in times of struggle.  Please share ideas, comments, feedback and strategies with The Breakthrough Blog community.  Bob Proctor has a great quote, “People don’t get what they want, because they don’t know what they want.”  With that in mind, do you know what you want?  Do you have a clear mental picture?  When you’re clear on what you want, and you’ve made a decision (eliminating all options except success), then you can withstand extraordinary challenges.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you typically handle adversity?
  2. How do you go about finding the opportunity in adversity?
  3. What step will you take today to move you toward finding the opportunity in adversity?

Points to Consider

  1. Adversity is…don’t try to fight it, instead work on your attitude toward misfortune.  Pain is inevitable, suffering however is a choice.
  2. Recognize adversity and challenges as an opportunity to ascend to a higher level.
  3. Realize that things could be worse.  Keep the Persian Proverb in mind: “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw someone with no feet.”

Forward,

Ken

Ken Williams is a speaker, trainer, author and breakthrough coach.  He is a contributing author of The Collaborative Administrator.  He is Chief Visionary Officer of Unfold The Soul, a company dedicated to helping individuals make the life they have, the life they want.  Unfold The Soul also supports teams and organizations function at peak performance.  Follow Ken on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/unfoldthesoul.  Click Here to subscribe to The Breakthrough Blog.

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