Have you ever heard a quote that made a profound impact on your life? Perhaps you wrote it on a sticky note or napkin? Perhaps it is now your screen saver? Perhaps it’s tattooed on your forearm? Whatever your method to remember it is, a quote can inspire us and even change us – if we let it.
Here are a few of my all-time favorite quotes:
“Always give 100% and expect nothing in return.”
“When life is too hard to stand, kneel.”
“Tell me who you love and I will tell you who you are.”
“Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.”
I recently heard a quote, by Bob Doll, a former executive at BlackRock and Merrill Lynch, that moved me deeply. And it inspired me to make significant changes in my life.
“Focus on the best at the expense of the good.”
It took me a few times to read this quote to fully understand it. OK, maybe more than a few times!
What Mr. Doll is saying is that the best requires sacrifice.
The best requires sacrifice. And sometimes we must sacrifice the “good” in our lives to obtain the “great” and become our “best” selves.
Last month I lived out this quote. I was feeling overwhelmed with all the obligations I have in my life – beyond that of my wife, family and work. I took out a piece of paper and listed them all. Thirty-three of them to be exact. Thirty-three “good” things in my life. Non-profit boards, advisory boards, civic clubs, etc. All “good” things in my life preventing me from becoming “great” – to become my “best” self.
And then I did something last month that I’ve never done before. I contacted thirty-two of my thirty- three “obligations” and politely resigned. Told them I needed time to refocus, re-calibrate and reconsider how I focus my time. Not one of them handled my resignation without love, grace and understanding. I was amazed by people’s reactions.
The next day I woke up with a new step in my stride. I found energy in my life that I forgot was missing. I felt the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders. And I started focusing on what I need to do in life to be the best. The best husband, father, thought leader, author, speaker and coach.
I once heard of a CEO, who after merging his company with another, asked all 500 employees to resign the following Monday and then he rehired most of them back on Tuesday.
Sometimes we need to hit reset in our lives. Sometimes we need to fire things in our lives on Monday and rehire some of them on Tuesday. Sometimes we need to reevaluate our obligations. Sometimes we need to do an audit on how we spend our time. Because Bob Doll is right, we all have so much good in our lives. But sometimes the good is getting in the way of the great – to become our best selves.
Amazing – how one simple quote can change our lives – if we let it.