You Probably Tie Your Shoes Wrong – What Does That Mean?

I am a marathoner. I am a marathoner in the sense that I have run marathons in the past. My theory is that once you run a marathon you are forever a marathoner. The fact that I have not run one in a few years doesn’t really matter. Throughout all of my marathon training I learned many valuable lessons. One lesson, however, stands above all the rest:

I have been tying my shoes wrong for most of my life. 

Chances are that you are too…regardless of age, educational background, or the amount of silver spoons that were in your mouth when you were born. I want to teach you how to tie your shoes correctly. This is what we do at ryaneller.com, we change lives one shoelace at a time.

Once I learned this neat trick, I started thinking about all of the other things I might be wrong about. This turned my world upside down! I found out that I also open my bananas incorrectly. What??

Throughout this self-discovery process I started thinking about how my misconceptions about shoes and bananas was directly related to leadership. I want to share these with you, because of course, I know you care!

1. Ask Questions: Ask questions about things you have known your whole life.  Just because you were taught something as a child does not mean it is correct. Start to rethink the things you assume are 100% true.

2. Be Open to New Ideas. You don’t have to be a pessimist, or even a realist about the things you know. When someone provides you with a new way to look at something, try to look from their viewpoint.

3. Do Some Research. If I would have watched the video above years ago, I wouldn’t have so many untied shoes in my life. Start looking for ways to improve upon all of the things you know. Read books, watch videos, listen to seminars.

I hope these lessons help you along on your journey. What types of things have you learned that completely changed your viewpoint? Please share in the comments below!

Greatest Speeches of All Time

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. Surveys consistently rank speaking in front of a group as our number one fear. One of the ways to combat this fear is to watch videos of the best orators ever delivering their top speeches. Below I have gathered some of my favorite addresses for you to watch. If you want to become a great public speaker, or just want to start overcoming a fear…start watching your favorite speakers.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt – First Inaugural Address

Jimmy Valvano – 1993 ESPY Speech

Winston Churchill – We Shall Fight on the Beaches (AKA Never Give Up, Never Surrender)

Lou Gehrig –  Farewell to Baseball

John F. Kennedy – Inauguration Address

Ronald Reagan – Remarks at the Brandenberg Gate

Martin Luther King, Jr – I Have a Dream

Which one of these speeches is your favorite? Do you have a speech that inspires you? Let me know in the comments below.

What To Do When Words Fail

I love to talk. I enjoy talking so much that I have made a career around it. When I get going, I am like the Fed Ex Fast Talking Guy:

However, there are times when words fail. When tragedy strikes. When the world stands still. When our beautiful language fails to comprehend the moment.

During these times we should be silent. We should stand tall and be confident in our Creator. We love each other and help the brokenhearted. We take action for those who are weak.

When words fail:

Be strong.

Be loving.

Be there for others.

 

The Source of All Your Problems

I can’t say this enough:

We are all 100% responsible for our actions. 

That’s it. Plain and simple. You are responsible for your mistakes. I am responsible for my shortcomings. No one else. When bad things start to happen in our lives, it is easy to point fingers and place blame on others.

I shouldn’t have failed that class. The professor was too hard and didn’t like me.

I am not getting promoted because my boss only works closely with the “good ‘ole boys.”

It’s not my fault that I didn’t get the bill in on time, the system is broken.

The sooner we can all start taking ownership of our actions, mistakes, and shortcomings, the sooner we can start truly living. You make your own luck in this world. You strap up your sleeves, work hard, and take advantage of your opportunities when they present themselves.

The great news:

When you are 100% responsible for your actions, you can start creating positive outcomes. 

This is your life, and it is a very short one. Take ownership of it now.

You Only Need To Do These Two Things To Become a Better Leader Today

I have been on the road facilitate team-building and leadership workshops this week, and I have challenged each group to do the same two things to become a better leader within the day.

1. Focus on a strength you do well and make a concerted effort to become better for the rest of the day.

2. Focus on something you need to improve upon and learn how to make yourself better by the end of the day.

If you can work on those two items for the rest of the day…you can become a better leader. Try the same thing tomorrow…and you will hopefully improve before the end of the week. Keep this up for a few weeks and it may just become a habit.

What two items are you working on today?

What Leadership Is Not

This is a guest post by my good friend Derek Reed, a veteran leader of the 20 Leadership Camp. You can follow his blog by clicking here, or follow him on Twitter by clicking here

If I was to travel back in time and ask President Eisenhower what he thought about leadership, he would respond, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” This means that a leader inspires people.

eisenhower-leadership

So how does one go about inspiring others? Is it listening to others? Or is it picking up slack? Is it learning to delegate tasks and work with others? Or is it standing up for someone or something? Does leadership tell you what to do and how to think? Or does leadership cause you to think? And we could go on for days asking questions, finding answers to the questions, and then asking more questions based on the answers that we found. But let me share an example of something a leader is not…

One of my favorite game shows as a young boy doesn’t run on T.V. anymore. However, if you listen closely to the world around you, you might still hear the show’s catch phrase today – “You are the weakest link…Goodbye!” The Weakest Link was a game show in which nine people would work together answering questions, building a sum of money. At the end of each timed round, players would choose to vote off one person that they thought was the worst player of the game, hence the catchphrase. I had always wanted to be on the show.

you-are-the-weakest-link-goodbye

Good leadership does not eliminate the weakest link of the team. Instead the leader inspires the weakest link to become better, to work harder, and to strive for excellence. Good leadership goes beyond barking orders or finding followers, but works alongside others. A leader listens more than talks, and shows other what to do through their actions, not just words. Leadership recognizes its strengths and weaknesses, and doesn’t boast in either, but accepts both as integral parts of them.

You chose to be read this post because you are a leader. I know that in one way or another, you want to be an example to others. I challenge you to try to develop your leadership to the max of your ability. That could be stepping back and letting someone else take charge, or that could be kindly taking charge, or this could mean that through your actions, you exemplify what it means to be a leader. You may feel like the weakest link, or you may see someone else that is the weakest link, but instead of writing off either, you choose to encourage and inspire. We are the leaders of the future. Be the cause.

The Top Tweets From The 2013 Chick-Fil-A Leadercast

Yesterday I attended the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast conference where I was able to listen to some of the most powerful leaders from across the world. The speaker line-up included Condoleezza Rice, John C. Maxwell, Michael Hyatt, David Allen, and many more. Of course, I live-tweeted the event, and these are some of my favorite tweets from the Leadercast. I encourage you to follow these famous tweeters for powerful leadership tidbits and information.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed our recap of the day’s events. Once again, follow these tweeps on Twitter! What was your favorite line from the day?

Why You Should Be Way More Careful Finding Friends

Friends. We all have them, but how did we become close to them in the first place? Proximity? I know that it is hard to have friends that live in China if you live in Oklahoma. Some of my best friends lived near me at some point in either high school or college. Common interests? Are we friends with people because we have something in common? What happens when our interests change? Do we remain friends?

Man…that was a lot of questions, however, I think it is important to ask these type of questions about our friends. It is vital, some would even say life-changing, to consistently evaluate our friendships.

According to capecodonline.com, people with a strong social network are more likely to survive a major illness such as a heart attack or cancer. Human companionship can also help reduce the effects of stress on the body, protect against illness, and help us heal when we do get sick.

The most important factor in friendship just might be their influence on you. Many people think of themselves as influence machines. Just imagine all of the knowledge, advice, and just plain awesomeness you impart on your friends. Research has proven otherwise when considering your inner circle of friends.

Todd Cartmell’s entertaining book Project Dad focuses on the differences between “Inner Circles” of friends versus “Outer Circles” of friends. Think of your inner circle as the people you spend the most time with…your Rat Pack, Super Friends, or even disciples. According to Cartmell, you must choose these friends wisely.

Typically you do not influence your inner circle, they influence you. Think about all of the inner circle friends you have had in your life, if they all went on a diet, you probably went on a diet. If they were all active in church, your would probably be active in church. Since you seek acceptance from your closest friends, you develop a need to accept the social norms associated with your inner circle…hence their influence on you (don’t worry, you influence them too if you are in their inner circle).

Your outer circle is where you bestow your influence. An outer circle includes everyone you interact with who are not in your inner circle. An outer circle could include your acquaintances at work, a distant neighbor, or even the UPS driver. You probably don’t care too much about their acceptance, so you won’t cave into their social norms.

Have as many friends as you want in your outer circle, but spend an extensive amount of time before you allow someone into your inner circle. I personally want friends in my inner circle who are positive, encouraging, motivated, and empowering. When I am around these people I too start displaying these traits. It is win-win for everyone involved.

Have you thought about the friends you have surrounded yourself with? Has it been a matter of convenience or do strategically surround yourself with people you aspire to emulate? What traits to you desire in a friendship?

This is Why Leadership is Exactly Like Calculus

I love leadership. I don’t care much for calculus. Regardless, I believe there is a direct relationship between the two subjects and how students of calculus are just like students of leadership.

Some people have innate traits that help them learn math. They can stay focused for long periods of times, they have a strategic mind that solves problems efficiently, and they were born with the resolve to finish a tough task. Although some people are born with skills to aid them in calculus, most people must practice, practice, practice.

A math student starts with easy problems and moves toward algebra and trigonometry before even attempting calculus. They attend classes with teachers and professors to get better at math before mastering the harder subject. They receive tutoring, learn from others, and read many books. They practice their work often and have it graded depending on their skill level. Most students have been honing their math skills for over a decade before they try their hand at calculus.

Leadership skills are much the same way. If you want to be a good listener (or communicator, teammate, etc.), you must practice your skills, ask for feedback from teachers, attend seminars, read books, and stay focused for years. People assume leadership is a natural-born trait, but most people are born with skills that aid in leadership…not actual leadership ability.

So…if you want to be a good leader? Think about it like calculus.