On one of my walks that keep me from becoming a “beached whale” again, I observed this Colorado homeowner doing some serious pruning of a much-too-crowded, old grove of trees. My first thought was, That looks so much better. Wonder why he didn’t do it five years ago?
My second thought was, 1987.
That year my dad came from Ithaca, NY to visit Karen and me in Brooklyn Center, MN. On the last day of his visit, when I carried his suitcase to the car, I found him standing on our quiet street studying our modest split-level home. After a moment or two of reflection, he said, “You know, son, taking down that big pine tree would really open up your yard and let people see your nice home.”
But I love that tree! I thought.
Yet when I returned from the airport and stood where my father had stood and pondered his ponderings, I concluded he might have been on to something. An hour later that old pine was down, stretched lazily across our yard. I stepped into the street again.
Huh, Dad was right. It looks great!
Whenever I remember that day, this question comes to my mind:
Why is it that one person can see what another cannot?
I don’t know, but it’s a truth that speaks to the importance of granting another the power to speak of the tree in my life that needs felling. This invaluable person—call them a “coach” if it helps—can be a friend, boss, colleague, spouse, parent, underling, or offspring. A paid professional consultant is also an option. Who it is, though, matters less than our commitment to grant them this:
Complete freedom to provide me candid input without fear of defensiveness and recrimination on my part.
Here’s the purpose of finding and bringing this coach into my life:
To enable me to be outstanding in all things.
This is what we write in Outstanding! about what it means to be “outstanding”:
To be outstanding means being superior, striking, exceptional, clearly noticeable—essentially, to stand out.
Awfully hard to get there alone.
As it was with the Minnesota pine tree that needed to be removed, our behaviors, habits, and what we say, as well as how we react to problems, successes, and people are all on display in the front yard of our lives for others to see. People who “grow like a weed” do so because they’re willing to have and hear someone who has been empowered to speak candidly to them, about them.
People determined to be outstanding rarely if ever ask Incorrect Questions (IQs)* like these:
“Why don’t people just accept me the way I am?”
“When will I get the recognition I deserve?”
“Who said I need to improve?”
“Why are others so critical?”
Those lousy questions lead us away from a life of personal accountability—and it’s awfully hard to become outstanding without personal accountability.
The way to get there, however, is to ask The Question Behind the Question (QBQs*) such as:
“How can I take myself to the next level?”
“What can I do to change me?”
“How can I elevate my performance?”
“What can I do to allow someone to speak candidly into my life?”
Want to become outstanding in all things? Ask and answer those QBQs today!
Have you found a “coach”? If so, who is it and how do you receive input from this person? In what way have they helped you grow?
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