Vince Lombardi is considered one of the greatest football coaches of all time. He coached 10 seasons in the NFL: 9 with the Green Bay Packers and 1 one with the Washington Redskins. He had a record of 105 wins, 35 losses and 6 ties. That record also encompassed winning 5 of the 6 World Championship games his teams played in (including the 2 first Super Bowls). Amazingly, his postseason record of 9 victories and 1 loss is unrivaled in professional football.
What was Lombardi's secret to living his potential?
He had some hard and fast boundaries about how he lived his life that allowed him to understand who he was and to maximize the gifts he brought to the party. He knew how to develop Champions.
Here is one of Lombardi's most important rules:
Know yourself: You can't improve on something you don't understand.
Lombardi believed that this rule was the first step toward self improvement. He felt like "life decisions can be good decisions only if they hit your own personal bedrock."
The challenge here: most of us don't have a comprehensive, gut level feel for who we are! Our decisions are not representative of who we are at the core because we don't know who that is!
Why do we care to know who we are? As Vince Lombardi offered, "you can't improve on something you don't understand." To be better, I must know who I am. Additionally, knowing who I am allows me to know where you end and I begin. It strengthens our relationships with others and allows us to love more deeply.
As I see it, the basics of understanding Who am I?" has three parts.
Part one of knowing "Who am I?" is knowing what I value. Whether you are aware of it or not, your top 5 values shape your behavior and drive many of your decisions. However, because many of us don't know what our top 5 values are, we don't make life choices that are congruent with or align with those values. We may feel compromised and not know why.
Part two of "Who am I?" is knowing the boundaries that act as the fences on my values. The boundaries of my values are (1) where my values intersect with each other and (2) where my values intersect with the definitive line for all of my life choices: is the action I am about to take the best or wisest choice for me? As you gain awareness of your values, it is important to understand how those values show up in your life.
The best way to do that is to write down your top 5 values and translate them into boundaries that fall into one of the three following categories: (a) what I will allow in my space, (b) what I will allow in my space but don't like, and (c) what I won't allow in my space. Let me offer examples. One of my top 5 values is integrity. As I was establishing my boundaries, I translated that value into what I won't allow in my space: lying, cheating, stealing and infidelity. I also value fun. Thus, I allow laughter, humor, lots of chocolate (because chocolate is fun) and fun activities in my space.
I recently chatted with a fellow who found himself in quite a quandary. This fellow values doing the right thing. At the moment we were talking, he was in distress because doing the right thing meant taking on a task he found extremely repugnant. He and I talked about his value of doing the right thing in terms of the limits on that value. That discussion meant he had to ask himself this question: "Is doing the right thing in this scenario the best/wisest choice for me?" Which leads us to Part Three of answering "Who am I?".
Part three is the decision making model to be used when answering values/boundary questions. In the past I made decisions looking at the implications and consequences of my choices in the short-term, mid-term and long-term. It wasn't an exciting process but I did it. Suzy Welch's book 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea provides a catchier and sexier way to do the same analysis. Welch's model analyzes how a choice impacts me in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years by looking at the pros and cons of the choice at those specific moments in time. My new friend, who was stuck in his values dilemma of doing the right thing, and I quickly 10-10-10'd his dilemma by putting the dilemma in the form of a question: Should I _________? Within 3 minutes he saw the best choice for him. It was a choice that honored all of his values and did not allow his need to do the right thing override the decision making process. That is the beauty of the 10-10-10 process - seeing the interplay of all of your values, letting all of the core values influence the decision, and limiting that interplay with the boundary of doing what is best for you, not only in this moment but over the long haul.
Making life decisions using this methodology offers you a high level of self awareness and results in good life decisions because, as Vince Lombardi said, "they hit your own personal bedrock."
The basics of know yourself - just another way to build winning ways so you can be a champion!
To learn more about know yourself, check out Dr. Tomi's book (written under the pen name Tomi Llama) What's Your Superpower? Available on Amazon.