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Choosing to Live an Exceptional Life

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” Roy T. Bennett

I’ve made many poor choices when I was younger, and, in some cases, it took a long time to recover from the outcomes. I then decided to make four daily foundational choices on which I can build a meaningful, exceptional life, and those choices have served me well thus far.

1. Choose to Love “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

I’ve been approaching life with simple confidence, following simple instructions, receiving extraordinary results for many years before ever teaching about it. I know from experience that living and leading in the power of love is a game-changer.

When you live in the power of love, respecting all people, empowering them to be a positive influence on those around them, you’re well on your way to leaving an inspiring legacy. When you choose to love as a lifestyle, you’ll naturally be others oriented, always giving in a manner that exceeds expectations.

The golden rule, “Treat others as you want others to treat you,” is the highest level of living because it requires always giving people your best. I have never met, read, or heard of anyone who lived and led in the power of love, that failed to add value to those around them.

2. Choose Excellence and Good Values

Great leadership starts with a spirit of excellence, and that begins at home. If I cannot successfully lead myself, I cannot successfully lead anyone else. The genuine deliverable’s of exceptional leadership are the intangibles. Love, respect, honesty, integrity, and empathy are not techniques; they’re values.

Excellence, the high standard of love, respect, honesty, and personal integrity, are driving forces behind positively influencing others. If you pursue excellence, you’ll be taking good care of yourself, and both those who live with you and those who work with you. Such high standards may seem unimportant to those with double standards or no standards at all.

Author John Gardner says, “The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

3. Choose to Develop Your Thinking “Stopping to think about where it’s all going will save us from having to stop and think about where it all went.”- JSP

It’s a learned discipline to periodically slow down and take some quality time to think about what we’re doing and where we’re going. The idea that time is money will serve us well if we understand that “quality think time” is an invaluable investment in our future. (1)

Quality think time will help you solve problems, solving problems will make you a more valuable person, and that assures you a promising future. In his book “How Successful People Think,” John C. Maxwell lists 11 keys to successful thinking:

1. Cultivate Big-Picture Thinking 2. Engage in Focused Thinking 3. Harness Creative Thinking 4. Employ Realistic Thinking 5. Utilize Strategic Thinking 6. Explore Possibility Thinking 7. Learn from Reflective Thinking 8. Question Popular Thinking 9. Benefit from Shared Thinking 10. Practice Unselfish Thinking 11. Rely on Bottom-Line Thinking

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” – Voltaire

4. Choose to Put Your Family First Leaders may agree that putting family first is important, but many aren’t giving their family top priority. Leaders may measure their success in life by pointing to their accomplishments, yet, many “successful” leaders have sacrificed their families for the sake of their business, nothing exceptional about that.

Who we are at home is who we are, I may be fooling myself to believe I can lead an organization while incapable of leading my family. The leadership principles required to assemble a team successfully lead a business are the same principles foundational to building and maintaining a family.

If I’m unable to earn the love and respect of those who live with me, how will I, in all honesty, earn the love and respect of those who work with me?

Choosing to live in the power of love requires putting others before myself. The golden rule; “Treat others as you want others to treat you” calls for giving people your best. Why would I ever go to great lengths to add value to those I work with and give anything less to those I live with?

These four choices have the synergistic power to produce exceptional character. Our choices determine our outcomes, and they reflect our values, which forges our character, which drives our conduct. I encourage you to assess the foundational values you’ve decided to live by; those values are either helping you or preventing you from living an exceptional life.

“You don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make decisions because they are cheap; you don’t make decisions because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.” – Theodore Hesburgh

(1)The Value of Quality Think Time” by John S. Picarello

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