The Right Kind of Discontentment

The Right Kind of Discontentment

The world is ugly when you’re filled with discontentment.

Discontentment with the past drags you into helplessness. But dissatisfaction with the present is opportunity to change the future.

Wallowing in displeasure defeats leaders.

The world is ugly when you're filled with discontentment. Image of a grumpy child.

The wrong kind of discontentment:

Forget about “can’t do” and “don’t have.”

Forget about changing people. Expect people to change themselves. Trying to change people makes you a manipulator.

  1. Give feedback.
  2. Explain expectations.
  3. Offer support.
  4. Practice mutual accountability.

The right kind of discontentment:

#1. Radical acceptance:

Accept the world as it is. Resistance is futile.

Anger at injustice becomes an excuse to act unjustly.

#2. Reject passivity:

Acceptance isn’t passivity.

#3. Clear focus:

Focus on things you have power over. What’s within your control? If you want to end the day exhausted, try to corral the wind.

The secret to focus is eliminating distraction. Image of a person creating a point of focus.

#4. Graceful confrontation.

Confront recurring offenses. Don’t tolerate negative patterns. Everyone screws up. Patterns are the problem.  

#5. Criticize less.

#6. Explore perspectives.

Perhaps discontent comes from a cloudy perspective. You don’t see the whole picture.

#7. Focus on response.

Think less about what others should do and more about things you should do. What are you going to do about that?

Bonus: Enjoy the view even if the window is dirty.

What distinctions do you see between healthy and unhealthy discontentment?

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The Five Opportunities of Good Fortune

The Five Opportunities of Good Fortune

Don’t wait for good fortune but welcome it when it knocks.

Jay Elliot became a Sr. VP at Apple because he struck up a conversation with a stranger in the waiting area of a restaurant. The stranger was Steve Jobs. (The full story is in the book, “The Steve Jobs Way.”)

You honor good fortune when you share it. Image of a ladybug on a daisy.

5 opportunities of good fortune:

  1. Humility. Fools take credit for unexpected benefits.
  2. Gratitude. Few things are more lovely than someone saying, “I’ve been fortunate.”
  3. Responsibility. How will you advantage others with your own good fortune?
  4. Generosity. Hoarding your advantages shrinks your soul.
  5. Compassion. You honor good fortune when you share it. The weight of holding what you have shrinks life.

What if good fortune neglects you?

5 advantages of disadvantage:

#1. Wisdom.

You learn wisdom in the dark chapters of life. In that sense, disadvantage is advantageous.

“For these two things are, as it were, at opposite poles – good fortune and good sense; that is why we are wiser when in the midst of adversity. It is prosperity that takes away our righteousness (moral integrity).” Seneca

Success gives the illusion of brilliance.

#2. Compassion.

Those who suffer well are tender toward those who suffer.

#3. Growth.

Bitterness makes you rigid and brittle. The other side of rigidity is openness. Disappointment enables growth when it opens your heart.

#4. Humility.

Difficulties are opportunities when you realize you could be wrong. Doubt that paralyzes defeats. But a dash of doubt sweetens life.

#5. Creativity.

You find advantage in difficulty when you explore new methods. You can rage against troubles, or you can get creative.

What are some opportunities of good fortune?

Which advantage of adversity do you find most interesting?

3 Advantages of an Enemy

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Five Heart Habits of Uncommon Leaders

Five Heart Habits of Uncommon Leaders

It’s another great book giveaway.

20 copies available!!

Leave a comment on this guest post by Mark Miller to become eligible for one of 20 complimentary copies of his new book, “Uncommon Greatness: Five Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership.”

Deadline for eligibility is 03/03/2024. International winners will receive electronic version.

Over a career spanning more than four decades, I’ve noticed something about leaders: Most of them are chasing greatness.

Here’s a second observation: Most of the leaders who achieve any measure of greatness discover it is not what they hoped it would be. The recognition, excitement, joy, and fans are fleeting.

I believe every human being was created for another form of greatness: Uncommon Greatness. When pursuing this goal, the leader’s focus is on serving others, not themselves. In the process, the leader elicits greatness from their followers. This rare form of greatness also provides real satisfaction and has an enduring impact.

So, how can a leader shift their focus from common to uncommon greatness? There is only one path: Uncommon Leadership.

For decades, I’ve been searching, studying, stumbling, practicing, and learning, all while attempting to apply the Fundamentals of Uncommon Leadership. These Fundamentals can be divided into two distinct categories: Skills and Heart. Today, let’s examine your heart.

If you want to become a leader people want to follow, you will need to Embody a Leader’s Heart. If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills.

Uncommon Leaders cultivate 5 heart habits:

Hunger for Wisdom – An unquenchable desire to learn and grow

Expect the Best – A spirit of optimism while remaining grounded in reality

Accept Responsibility –To accept that we, as leaders, are accountable for any shortcomings in the performance of those we lead

Respond with Courage –A willingness to consistently do hard things with grace

Think Others First – The ability to put the needs of others above your own

How’s your heart?

“When you learn to do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” George Washington Carver.

Be Uncommon… Start with your heart!

Which of the above heart habits are most relevant to you today?

What heart habits do you seen in uncommon leaders?

Mark Miller is a bestselling author of 12 books, speaker, and leadership expert. He is the co-founder of Lead Every Day ( His latest book, Uncommon Greatness: Five Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership (Matt Holt), launches today. 

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Do This to Bring Meaning to Work

Do This to Bring Meaning to Work

Your boss can’t give you meaning. Neither can your organization. You can work in healthcare and feel work is meaningless. You can work on an assembly line and find meaning in monotonous work.

Meaning doesn’t come from delivering babies or peeling potatoes.

Meaning comes from within. Activities can be useful or destructive, moral or immoral, difficult or easy, energizing or monotonous.

We don’t find meaning at work. We bring meaning to work.

We don't find meaning at work. We bring meaning to work. Image of a person getting ready to paint.

Viktor Frankl said, “What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms.”

Frankl echoes words found in Ecclesiastes. “[God has] put eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done…” We know there’s more to life, but you can’t figure it out.  

Do this to bring meaning to work:

#1. Own it:

Meaning doesn’t jump from behind the door yelling, “Ta Dah! I’m here.”

Belief that meaning is “out there” creates anxiety. The search is futile because you’re looking in the wrong place.

#2. Make it:

Meaning is based on personal values and beliefs.

#3. Reflect on it:

Bringing meaning to work requires self-reflection. No one does it for you.

  1. What are your beliefs? Jews, Muslims, and Christians believe meaning is about honoring God. But you don’t have to be religious to live a meaningful life.
  2. What are your values? Meaningful living aligns with your values. Boring work is meaningful when you value providing for your family, for example.

Meaning is energy to run a painful race. Image of a person running down a lane of trees.

#4. Grow it:

Meaning isn’t magic. Even if you believe life is about honoring God, you still must work out what that means. Sometimes it’s clear. Other times it’s foggy.

How do we bring meaning to work?

What are the downsides of expecting work to bring us meaning?

Still curious:

Find Meaning and Purpose at Work – I Don’t Think So

Simple Practices That Will Change Your Life

How to Find Meaning When Your Job Feels Meaningless

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10 Questions Reveal Trustworthy Leaders

10 Questions Reveal Trustworthy Leaders

Be trustworthy if you aspire to matter in the world.

“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” Seth Godin

Trustworthy leaders: Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest. Image of a high-five.

10 questions:

How do your team members answer the following questions when they think of you?

  1. Would your team members recommend you as a boss for a family member?
  2. Can people count on you to have their backs?
  3. Do you understand each team member’s aspirations and goals?
  4. Will you show up when someone needs you?
  5. Are people confident you protect their confidence?
  6. Do people believe you are fair?
  7. Will you freely share information?
  8. Do you have a hidden agenda?
  9. Are they sure you will never throw them under the bus?
  10. Will you give them credit for their ideas?

I prefer questions that begin with “how” or “what”. But trust is fundamentally a “yes” or “no” issue. You either trust someone or you don’t.

5 Simple ways to be trustworthy:

#1. Listen to people.

The best way to be trustworthy is to understand people. Let them know you’re listening.

  1. Calm your spirit when others are talking.
  2. Indicate you’re listening, nod and look at them.
  3. Give your attention. Turn off distracting notifications.
  4. Sit or stand with an open posture.
  5. Clarify understanding by repeating what you hear.
  6. Don’t interrupt!
  7. Listen to understand. Don’t judge.

#2. Under-promise and over-deliver.

Trustworthy leaders keep promises. Optimistic commitments make you untrustworthy.

#3. Stay within your strengths.

Own your weaknesses. Don’t pretend you know when you don’t. Don’t pretend you can when you can’t.

#4. Apologize.

Surprising sentences that convince people you are trustworthy:

  1. I was wrong.
  2. I screwed up.
  3. I made a mistake.
  4. I apologize.
  5. Will you forgive me?

People love to see leaders who love people. Image of a duck looking at the screen.

#5. Love people.

Always strive to advantage others, even when it’s painful for them or you.

Which of the 10 questions do you find most revealing?

What suggestions do you have for being a trustworthy leader?

Still curious:

The Top 5 Tips for Building Trust and Multiplying Impact

How to B.U.I.L.D. T.R.U.S.T.

Active listening helps people trust you

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7 Ways to Prepare for One-On-Ones Like a Pro

7 Ways to Prepare for One-On-Ones Like a Pro

Beginnings shape endings.

Lack of preparation allows toxic habits to contaminate one-on-ones. You often miss when shooting from the hip.

Lack of preparation allows toxic habits to contaminate one-on-ones. Image of two people having a one-on-one conversation.

7 ways to prepare for one-on-ones like a pro:

#1. Choose your reason.

Why meet with employees? You’re busy. They’re busy. One-on-ones that don’t bring value are a waste of time.

#2. Get right with yourself.

Your baggage contaminates people when you bring it into one-on-one conversations. Set frustration with higher ups aside. Are you disappointed with yourself? Forget it. Turn your attention to the team member on the other side of the table.

#3. Calm your spirit.

Stress makes you interested in one thing and disinterested in everything else. A hurried spirit makes others feel like an inconvenience.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply for at least one minute. Write intrusive thoughts on a piece of paper and hide it. Your brain feels a little better when it knows you won’t forget pressing issues.

#4. Choose how to show up.

When you take a minute to breathe (See #3 above.) reflect on how you want to show up. I often choose curiosity. Other times I choose respectful, encouraging, and sometimes I show up to challenge.

#5. Review your notes.

Keep notes of all your one-on-ones. Do it during or after but do it. Record important topics and action items. Let people know your notes are descriptive, not prescriptive.

Say, “I reviewed my notes before you arrived.” Let employees know their conversation is important to you.

Words are hammers. Embrace the power of one-on-one communication. Image of black smith hammering.

#6. Jot down potential topics.

I often find the thing on my mind is on their mind too. You don’t have to bring up any topics that come to mind. Just jot them down.

#7. Recall three things you respect.

What do you respect about the person you are meeting with? Respect reflects a supportive mindset.

Which of the above items do you need to implement?

What items can you add to the above list?

Still curious:

4 Ways to Have Lousy One-On-Ones

Quick Strategies to Energize One-On-Ones

5 Energizing Conversation Starters for One-on-Ones

13 Ways to Get the Most Out of One-on-One meetings

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12 Ways to Dance with Disappointment

12 Ways to Dance with Disappointment

Allow disappointment to clarify what's in your heart. Image of a crucible.

12 ways to dance with disappointment:

#1. Be a scientist.

Trying things is an experiment to discover what works. Don’t be disappointed. Learn what to not do.

#2. Accept history.

Come to grips with reality. History says something will go wrong soon. The good you did yesterday doesn’t insulate you from unexpected problems today.

#3. See yourself.

Reconnect with passion. Allow disappointment to clarify what’s in your heart. What contribution do you want to make? Challenges and frustrations are windows of contribution.

#4. Own it.

Disappointment means you care.

#5. Refocus on mission.

Find a reason that makes it worthwhile to work through disappointment. Evaluate your mission when you constantly think it’s not worth it. Facing difficulty is worth it when you have a meaningful mission.

Develop a personal mission statement.

#6. Avoid.

Avoid behaviors that contribute to disappointment. Procrastinating. Avoiding tough conversations. Using ambiguous language.  

#7. Simplify.

Ask, “What’s the simplest thing I can do to improve this situation?”

#8. Refocus.

Think more about giving than getting. How can you contribute to success right now?

#9. Humble yourself.

Arrogance says, “I don’t deserve this.” You might not deserve the setbacks you’re facing. Accept them and move forward.

#10. De-personalize.

Reaffirm potential. You aren’t the mistakes you make. You made progress in the past. With work, you’ll make progress again.

#11. Make a friend.

Disappointment says build walls. Don’t listen. Connect with someone who is passionate to grow into the future. The wrong friends are deadly.

#12. Adjust expectations.

Feeling let down after pouring yourself into something is normal. Take a breather. You aren’t a super-hero.

Bonus: Reject sideline critics.

Some critics are committed to make things better. Toxic critics spray poison from the sidelines.

Never let toxic critics distract you from noble goals.

Which suggestion listed above seems most useful to you?

What can you add to the above list?

How to Keep Going When Hope Turns to Disappointment

How to Live Up to Your Aspiration

Dealing with disappointment: some strategies to make lemonade out of lemons

The Vagrant,” teaches people how to engage in structured self-reflection. I encourage you to get your copy today. The story is compelling and the exercises at the end set readers on a life-changing journey. Click here to purchase, The Vagrant, on Amazon.

Everything changes when we change the way we think about ourselves.

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Conversation Starters that Strengthen Relationships

Conversation Starters that Strengthen Relationships

Successful leaders strengthen relationships between others. They also know how to strengthen relationships with others.

Successful leaders strengthen relationships between others. Image of cogs and people.

AI generated image.

Why smart leaders strengthen relationships:

Thin relationships make everything slower, harder, and less fulfilling. Strong relationships…

  1. Boost creativity.
  2. Enhance collaboration.
  3. Increase productivity.
  4. Smooth conflict resolution.
  5. Elevate employee satisfaction.

Everything’s better when people take care of each other.

The #1 commitment that strengthens relationships:

Commit to advantage others if you hope to deliver results through relationships.

An energizing conversation starter is the difference between drudgery and delight. Image of a bored little girl.

Personal conversation starters:

#1. “I remember you’re into (name a hobby). How’s that going?” Sentences with “I remember” strengthen relationships.

#2. “How does this project impact your area?”

#3. “What challenges are you facing right now?”

#4. “I notice you’re energized when you …. What makes that energizing to you?” Sentences with “I notice” let people know you’re interested in them. Unless you’re always noticing bad things.

#5. “What’s something you love about your job?”

Team conversation starters:

Skillful leaders provide opportunities for people to strengthen relationships with each other.

Invite people to respond to one of the following questions during a team meeting.

#1. “When I see you at your best, I see you….”

Mention someone in the room and ask two or three team members to complete the above sentence with that person in mind. (Don’t force people to participate for everyone.)

#2. “You can count on me for….”

Ask each person on the call to finish the above statement.

#3. “I’m most energized when….”

Focus on work related activities one time, another time focus on non-work-related activities. Turn this question into team interaction. “You seem most energized when…”

Tip: No ad-libbing.

Say the exact words in the sentence. No embellishments. If you have time, after they complete the sentence provide opportunity to expand, but keep conversations moving.

Dull conversations weaken relationships.

What can leaders do to strengthen relationships with others? Between others?

Still currious:

Conversation Starters that Enable Conflict Resolution

5 Energizing Conversation Starters for One-on-Ones

Building Relationship Skills at Work: 4 Relationship Skills You Need | CCL

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5 Ways to Find Happiness at Work

5 Ways to Find Happiness at Work

Happiness at work escapes you when you think, “I’ll be happy when.”

I’ll be happy when I earn a promotion.

I’ll be happy when I’m on vacation.

I’ll be happy when this project is done.

Find happiness at work now. Image of a grumpy person.

The danger of “I’ll be happy when”:

“I’ll be happy when,” is dangerous when it means you can’t be happy now. You endure today’s work because tee time is at 4:30. You endure the week because the weekend is coming. Living for the weekend is no way to live.

“I’ll be happy when” is a lie.

Desire runs one step ahead of attainment. Earning a promotion is a temporary bump in happiness. Before long, you think about the next promotion. The end of this vacation makes you count the days till the next.

The more you get the more you want and want is dissatisfaction in disguise.

Why not let yourself be happy? Image of a sad puppy.

5 Ways to find happiness at work:

#1. Stop worrying about happiness.

Worrying about happiness makes you unhappy. Focus on contributing what you have to offer.

#2. Choose happiness now.

Reasons to be unhappy are everywhere.

Find reasons to be happy now. Don’t ignore difficulties and challenges. Find reasons to enjoy work anyway. Notice the taste of coffee. Appreciate that people showed up. Respect people who want to do well.

#3. Focus on things you control.

Don’t focus on making others perform. Focus on being a leader who brings out the best in others.

#4. Enjoy small wins. Reach for big goals.

You don’t need a touchdown. You need a first down.

Image of a rocky coastline.

#5. Choose today’s big rock.

What’s one thing – beyond daily responsibilities – you will achieve today? Aiming at everything is exhausting.

Robert Ingersoll said, “The time to be happy is now; the place to be happy is here; and the way to be happy is to make others happy.”

What prevents happiness at work?

How can people find happiness at work?

Still curious:

Let Yourself Be Happy

7 Ways to Be a Happy Leader Today

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3 Ways to Confront Unrealistic Optimism

3 Ways to Confront Unrealistic Optimism

Positive thinking doesn’t cure cancer or prevent wars. Unrealistic optimism might actually cause wars and increase the likelihood you’ll get cancer.

You do stupid things when you underestimate the possibility of failure.

Action bursts the illusion of unrealistic optimism. Image of a bubble.

7 benefits of optimism:

Optimism is a good thing.

  1. Less stress.
  2. Better performance at work.
  3. Stronger relationships.
  4. Reduced risk of chronic diseases.
  5. Grit. Optimists try harder. Pessimists give up sooner.
  6. Constructive thinking.
  7. Better problem-solving.

One study suggests optimists live up to15% longer.

5 dangers of unrealistic optimism:

  1. Stress. Positive thinking leads to over-promising.
  2. Violated trust. Over-confidence leads to broken promises.
  3. Risky behaviors. Baseless optimism says cigarettes don’t cause cancer in everyone.
  4. Dreams without action. Meaningful goals require sweat.
  5. Lack of growth. There’s no room for you to grow when failure is other people’s fault.

Real optimists don't believe hard things are easy. Image of a field of sunflowers.

How to be a realistic optimist:

#1. Practice negative thinking when planning.

Effective planning requires pessimism. Don’t ask positive thinkers to make plans.

  1. What could go wrong?
  2. What are some hidden costs?
  3. What unexpected resistance might occur?
  4. What’s the downside?

#2. Seek input from doers.

Give unrealistic optimism a dose of reality with the voice of experience. Ask your big dreamer to interview people who have achieved success.

Positive action is useful when it feeds action. Image of a smiling baby.

#3. Design the next step.

Action bursts the illusion of unrealistic optimism. Don’t tell me your big dream. Tell me what you’re going to do today to reach it. Not tomorrow, today.

Dream dreams. Set goals. Make plans. Do something today. A goal you can’t act on today is a fantasy.

Unrealistic optimism becomes realistic when you ask, “What are you going to do today to reach that goal?” Someone says, “I’m going to be the CEO of this company by the time I’m 35.” That’s great! What will you do today – beyond day-to-day responsibilities – to achieve that goal?

Optimism without action destroys potential.

How can leaders practice realistic optimism?

What suggestions do you have for unrealistic optimists?

Still curious:

7 Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of Optimism

The Gift of Negativity: What We Gain By Faultfinding, Nitpicking, and Naysaying

The Vagrant,” teaches people how to engage in structured self-reflection. I encourage you to get your copy today. The story is compelling and the exercises at the end set readers on a life-changing journey. Click here to purchase, The Vagrant, on Amazon.

Everything changes when we change the way we think about ourselves.

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