Episode 168 – This is YOUR opportunity. Make the BEST of it.

Welcome to the Becoming Your Best Podcast, wherever you might be in the world today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger and the message of this podcast today is that life is good! Bad things happen as we travel the journey of life, but life is still good. And good is cumulative. There is never a good that is wasted. I rarely speak in absolutes, however dwelling on the bad never helps you. Sifting out the lessons learned, how I can get better or how you can get better and moving on, is the good. This is the part of your opportunity. Claim the good, and leave the bad behind. This is at the very heart of Becoming Your Best. No one said it would be easy. It is a continual focus on the principles that wins, and not the circumstances. It’s what you do with those circumstances that make all the difference in the world and the outcome impacts your health, your happiness, joy, prosperity, and success in life and business. And the fact is, you look around and you have certain responsibilities, certain opportunities, a place in life where you are today. Seize those opportunities!

A good way to describe this sentiment or this message is from the story of Ben-Hur. And let’s take a moment to review some of the highlights of this inspiring story over 2000 years ago on the ancient city of Antioch. There was a young Jew, by the name of Judah Ben-Hur. He was very successful, he’d come from a wealthy, but had been falsely accused of a crime and was sentenced to hard labor on the galleys in the Roman ships. And all day long he was chained to the bench. Right over his head was the Roman overseers. The galley oars were placed in his hands and the roman whip was over his head. When his companions were rebellious or revengeful, they brought down the wrath upon themselves, the lashes of their Roman overseers, their Roman masters. But Ben-Hur was not rebellious. And he asked only that he’d be alternated from one side of the ship to the other so that his muscles could be evenly developed. Ben-Hur had a positive attitude, upbeat. Whatever circumstances that he was placed in, he tried to carry out, to seize the opportunity and make the best of it. And so, Ben-Hur did more work than even his captors expected or even asked him to. And every stroke helped to build a more well-developed powerful body. And not only did he grow physically strong, but his positive, upbeat spirit and his great attitude built up literally a winning personality, an aura about him. And he won the admiration, the respect and the friendship of his masters and his own self-respect.

One day, there was a devastating shipwreck. As the story goes, the Romans were engaged in a major ocean military battle and all was lost in the roman fleet. Ben-Hur was able to save the life of one of the roman tributes and his heroism and excellence really won for him the capacity to go free and to return to his homeland, where he had a score of the settle. Then came the day of the great chariot races and because he was in a position to help a fellow who had sponsored a chariot, this gave him the opportunity, actually, to get what he thought was revenge and even to score against those who put him in the galleys, against a lifelong friend of his, who he considered almost to be a brother, who went on through the roman pathway. He was not Jewish. They’d ended up in their courses in a very different way. As the race was about to begin, Ben-Hur had the opportunity to drive one of the great chariots in the race. He realized that this was perilous, that could cost him his life, but this was his opportunity, once again, to make things right. And so, he started the race. And as he started the race he followed the counsel of the person who’s chariot he was driving, who had coached him and done a great job and so he held back at the beginning of the race. And many of the other race drivers were killed as their chariots overturned and then it ended up between Ben-Hur and his other friend, who was this roman leader and officer, who had actually put him in prison, who he thought had killed his mother and his sister as well. They were down to the stretch and as it turns out, Ben-Hur won. There was a major accident and who had been equivalent to his brother before, went down in the accident and was severely injured. Ben-Hur was victorious. He was the champion of the day. And, as the story ends up, he went back and asked for forgiveness from his roman friend who also, putting things in perspective, asked forgiveness from him. And the story had a great ending, as they started a new life together.

This is a wonderful example of taking advantage of the opportunities, the positions that you’re placed in, to make the best of them. This is it! This is the message of this podcast! This is your opportunity! What you have in life today and the opportunity to make the best of it. Just think of a Ben-Hur kind of person, those who always try to do more than they get paid for and, I mean, it’s this idea, it’s the principle of things. And then, they generally get paid for more than they do as a result. They try to put more back into life than they take out. They try to give more than they receive. These people always work on going the second mile. They don’t worry about, particularly, the pay. They know, they have faith that things will work out; or even who gets the credit. To them it’s far more important to think of the good that they may do and the service that they may perform and trust ultimately then in the results.

A friend of mine recently related a story of an acquaintance that had gone through many trials of life. He concluded by describing this wonderful woman, by saying, “Her circumstances were not happy, but she was happy.” This is an example of seizing the set of opportunities that she had in life and making the best of them. And so the question is, how can you consistently take advantage of the opportunities that you have today, regardless of what the station in life is, or what you’re dealt. And make the best of them. And how do you continue to progress? Again, this is really at the heart of this thinking of becoming your best. And one way that you could consistently seize your opportunities in life, to take advantage of whatever hand you’ve been dealt and make them the best, is to really be founded on correct principles, to let this be your foundation. One great individual from world history, really, who lived in the early 1800s, Joseph Smith, stated, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves” and that philosophy has continued to help bless literally millions and millions of people. What a great philosophy that is!

And some of those correct principles are the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. We’re not just left to float around in the ocean aimlessly. These principles were discovered through 40 years of research and observation. And they continue to be affirmed over and over, as people use them throughout the world. These becoming your best-related principles are definitely not about me. They are about you, and the principles, and the impact that they have 100% of the time. These correct principles we’re talking about will never fail you. They’re timeless, universal and completely predictable.

And as you contemplate the opportunities that you have in life, the cards that you’ve been dealt, where you’re at today, the good that you can do, the principles can be a bedrock that see you through to get to the very best place possible within those circumstances. They’re not only correct, but they are good. And if you have an emotional, complex, divisive, disturbing, upsetting, overwhelming issue, just go to the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders and go to work. These type of issues represent your opportunity. The Ben-Hur type. And you will overcome them to get to the best place possible. And from these, you can find peace and hope in life. So let’s just take a couple of minutes today and reflect on these 12 principles. There’s certainly others that you can add, but these are really fundamental core principles that have surfaced from this research. And as we talk about each one of these, reflect and imagine the feeling that comes with the application of each one, and what do they bring to you. The principles are really broken into three fundamental areas: Transformational Leadership – the direction, Transformational Relationship and teams, creating innovative cultures that can be highly disruptive and find solutions themselves to becoming your best as an organization, or in a relationship, and Transformational Living, in other words, doing this for a long period of time. So let’s keep in mind that good is never wasted. Focusing on the bad, never helps. Focusing on solutions, the good, does.

Okay, well let’s get started with “Transformational Leadership.” There’s four principles in each one of these three areas, to make up the 12 and Transformational Leadership, it really starts with, “Be true to character.” And I want you to imagine and think about the feeling each one of these brings. “To thine own self be true and thou canst not then be false to any man”, said Shakespeare. This is at the heart of this one, really. It’s what happens inside of us. And a person of character acts based upon the bedrock of honesty, integrity, and principle. And the fruit of doing these things is it brings confidence, perspective, and peace, as we deal with other people and issues. So, this is as much time as I’ll spend on each one, just to touch on it.

The second one is to “Lead with a vision.” The vision leads you to the direction in life, like a rudder that guides you in good weather and bad, it makes no difference. And so, as the first thing that we do, as leaders, is determine the direction. What direction do we want to go? And then, what is the vision? This literally as the torment and the turbulence comes up in life, allows us to hold a steady course that we desire. That is deliberate. That’s inspirational. And so among that would be the cards were dealt and how are we gonna respond to these cards, to the station that we’re in, regardless of what it is and making the best of those.

Here’s the third one, “Manage with a plan.” And this has to do with, the difference from vision is the direction, the goals are, “What are we going to do this year?” And remember, this is a process from year to year and it is the process of becoming better. And it represents your good and the process that happens as a perfect model of Good, Better, Best throughout our whole life. And you can see how this creates such a strong mindset that also combines with the skills set as we develop skills of how to do it, that allows us to really make the best of every circumstance and opportunity.

The fourth one is, “Prioritize your time.” This is one of the things highly successful leaders do and one of the best ways to prioritize your time and do what matters most, is to do pre-week planning through the lens of roles. And then, just identify the actions by each role, this week. What are the most significant things I can do that matter most and then just set it up, “When will I do it?” Sketch out your week, sit back and think about it.

These four principles are completely transformational in terms of leadership in your own life and also applied with your teams, relationships, and organizations. Now let’s go to the second set and that is, Transformational Leadership sets up the framework for “Transformational Relationships” and teams that can thrive. This is principle number 5. It is live the golden rule in life and business. It’s how we treat other people, it’s the respect and the kindness that we show that bring out the best in others. I was just reading the Harvard Business Review this morning in the latest issue, and it was talking about how criticizing people and giving feedback, long research now shows just doesn’t help. It doesn’t help to bring out the best in people and so, it shows a better way of how to do that. Well, living the golden rule is that better way when it combines with the other three principles here, in this area, of highly successful leaders.

And the next one is “Building and maintaining trust.” Once again, I started this off by inviting each to think about, just listen to the feelings we have as we think about these various principles, the vibrations that you feel. And when you think about building and maintaining trust or how we treat other people, what’s the vibration? At least from my observation, it is one that is right, that’s solid, that brings the best results. Building and maintaining trust simply is this idea of what decisions can you make unilaterally that drive the trust meter to full? And when there’s a high level of trust, it changes really everything in our ability to be highly successful together. It’s one thing to live these principles individually, but when another person or a team or a whole organization starts living them, the ability to progress rapidly and take your current opportunity and help it get to a better place really is unlimited.

Here is the next principle. Principle number 7 is to “Be an effective communicator.” This is such a huge part of really living the golden rule, building and maintaining trust. When you are an effective communicator, trust levels go way up. And this is one of the things we’ve talked about in past podcasts. So just think of the two sides of a coin. And one side of the coin is, simply regardless of how intense the discussion is, you take the responsibility to be an effective communicator. And you can do this by just thanking them for sharing their point of view, whatever it was, or their feelings, even if it’s highly motional, emotional from them or provocative or they’re provoking you. If you’ll really stay true to this, it gets you to a whole another level. And that is, “Thank you for sharing these thoughts, let me just be sure I understand it.” That very simple process is such a game changer. And then, the other side of the coin is, gives you the ability to take any issue and work to get it to a better place as you work with another person, by simply saying, “I’ve been thinking about something and I’d like to get your thoughts on it. And here is what I have been thinking about and if we do this, I was thinking this may be the outcome, but how do you see it?” And then you go to work together on it. Now, that has been an effective communicator. Mindset and skill set. The mindset is their things you can do individually, regardless of what’s going on in life, with the circumstances, opportunity to move things to a better place.

And the last one of these principles in this area, the fourth one, it’s number 8 overall is, “Innovate through imagination.” And now that you have this foundation set of high trust and ability to communicate with one another, now you unleash the power of individuals wanting to make a difference. They’re excited to get up each day and go to work or to be together with you and try to find solutions, regardless of how high the bar is in terms of challenges. And so, this is a very powerful part, transformational relationships and teams and organizations seize for help.

And now that we have a solid foundation and direction, focus on execution around what matters most in a culture of high trust and high innovation, through “Transformational Living.” And this is the last of the four principles, we maximize our health, happiness, and prosperity, as a way of living both for ourselves individually and in our relationships, but also for the longevity of our organizations. And so number 9 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders is to “Be accountable.” You know this is essentially, “I don’t criticize and blame. I take responsibility.” And it’s just like Ben-Hur. He’s not gonna blame people for the fact that he’s there and his life is lost in the Roman Galleys. Just the opposite. “I take responsibility, I’ve done certain things and now I ‘m gonna make the best of this.” This is the pathway to freedom and liberation from the shackles of blaming.

Number 10 is, “Apply the power of knowledge.” I mean, you can almost feel the excitement as you do this, in every book you read, in every new thing that you learn, you just feel this. And so, you’re most successful as you keep A -gaining knowledge and B-applying that knowledge to adapt and pivot and adjust through life, to get to a better place and not get left in the dust.

Number 11 is, “Live in peace and balance.” And this principle is all about longevity and health and balance in life. It’s having plenty of energy to do what’s needed. It’s about taking care of yourself, the greatest asset that you have, that can make a difference in executing all of the other priorities that you have. That’s very significant.

Number 12, of the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders is, “Never give up.” The opposite of success is what? Well yeah, the first word that typically comes to mind is failure. But that’s really not the case when you think about it. We can learn from failure, we can improve upon our mistakes and get to a better place. It’s giving up, that is the opposite of never giving up. It’s laying there. One of the video clips that we show in our seminars is a clip from Facing the Giants. That’s about a football team and they’re starting the season off and one of the leaders of the team is Brock, but he’s not even sure they can win, and so the coach blindfolds him and has him do a death crawl, with somebody on his back across the field and Brock thinks he can go to the thirty or fifty. That’s his best. But the coach puts on a blindfold and he ends up going the entire field, making it into the end zone. Well, it is a great inspirational clip.

Last night I was visiting with one of our sons, David. He is now around 40 years old, in that age range. He’d just gone through this training, one of our workshops, one of our seminars. He’d seen it before, but this is a great repeat along with some people that he’d worked with and he had just been on the day before; so, just a couple of days ago, a serious mountain bike ride, going on some steep trails. And he related that he and his partners had just, as they reflected about the seminar, is they had a blast because they kept yelling to one another, “Good, better, best. We can do it. We have our blindfolds on. We can go further. We can do it!” And he said, “Dad, you just couldn’t believe that we went far greater distance, in a far steeper more challenging course than I had ever gone. He said, “We did it.” And so they summited an incredible height because they focused on the good and they did not give up. Do not give up! I hope you’ll never do that. Remember, the day will always turn brighter, regardless of what the challenge is, whatever the opportunity.

I have to chuckle sometimes, I was in a meeting and someone asked me if I knew what Yahoo meant. I took a stab at it, and I said, “Well, it’s the name of a tech company.” And of course that’s right, but they said, “Where did it come from?” And when the founders of Yahoo were sitting down, trying to come up with a name, it means, “You always have other options, Yahoo.” I love that! When things get tough, you’re just thinking of never giving up. Well, you may say to yourself, “Okay, I get it. I have the opportunities I have in life. Here’s the position I have, here’s the cards that I was dealt. And thank you for sharing these ideas that I take this and I can make a difference from it, I can put the rudder on it and add these other principles”, but it seems like a lot to master or remember. Well, that is sometimes a feeling people think until they realize that all they have to do is just work on one principle a week.

Just like Ben Franklin when he was a young man, 19 years old, and working as an apprentice in a print shop and on a Friday late afternoon, his boss brought him in and said, “Ben you’re the most obnoxious, hard-headed, ignorant person I know.” He said, “Nobody likes being around you.” Ben was shocked. He was wounded by this, he went home and he said, “This is not how I want to be with other people.” And he came up with 13 virtues that he wanted to learn and apply in his life. And so, he decided to work on one a week and then go to the next virtue, and the next, and the next. And at the end of 13 weeks, he would start over and 13 times 4 is 52, and that he could work on these for the rest of his life and the fact is: Ben is one of the greatest historical figures in the history of the world. And in his biography, he later wrote that this simple program had the biggest impact of helping him become the person that he did. Because it opened up so many opportunities and doors.

Well, this is the same way it is with the 12 principles. You just work on them one principle a week and then go to the next one, and then the next one. At the end of 12 weeks, you step back and assess how it went and then you start again. 13 times 4 is 52, and you can keep working on it throughout your life. Literally, there is a cumulative good that starts compounding.

I might just pause for a minute here and say that if you are not currently receiving the free weekly email messages on a principle a week, supplemented by a daily one-line inspirational thought, we can make these available to you. They are extremely powerful and just help remind you of the principles. All you have to do, if you’re not receiving those now, or have in the past and somehow it got off the list, just write to us at That is and indicate that you would like the weekly principles & daily inspirational thought. I still get them, I’m receiving these my sixth year and there’s a great variety of them and they keep stimulating you to think, and what happens is, one day you wake up and then you’ve got it! You’ve mastered these principles to a great degree of proficiency!

Well, I mentioned that this good starts compounding. As you know, compound interest is an extraordinary multiplier, and you make consistent deposits and then leave the principle alone, and with time, the principle begins growing at an exponential rate. Whatever a person puts into an account for 30 years, ends up being triple the value of what you put in, physically. And this is the way it is with our behaviors. When you make the best of the opportunities you have, and make the best of the situation and keep working on the good, as we’ve talked about today, you will end up with triple, at least, of the value throughout your life. And much, much more, because life spans are increasing and compound interest doubles at an increasing rate. And so, this, versus ending up with very little, because we didn’t live life with a purposeful, deliberate, life setting, seizing set of opportunities versus being driven around by every adversity and blaming, and being mad at people, or wishing that something didn’t happen. Of course, we don’t, but it doesn’t help us to dwell on that.

So have faith in the good and the principles. This brings hope and ultimately translates into a happier reality. Take the high road, not the low road, trust in the outcome. Correct principles will prevail and produce the very best outcomes possible throughout your life and mine. We say to you, go Ben-Hur, go win and Dee and John and Mary and Allice and Ann and Robert, David, Daniel, Thomas, Jane and a legion of people out there, names that I haven’t read. Seize the opportunities and make the very best of it! This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming your Best. Thank you for listening.

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