Decisions Matter - Lead Your Life First

led by CEO & Executive Coach Daniel Harkavy

February 2015

Those around you are constantly watching. They watch how you deal with people, crisis, conflict, unmet expectations, success and failure. They see your outward actions and make decisions about who you are on the inside - including whether or not to follow you.

Join Building Champions CEO Daniel Harkavy as he shares best practices for aligning your actions, so you can improve your ability to influence others while living a life of meaning.

You will walk away from this webinar with improved decision making skills, and tools for developing stronger relationships and influencing people. With a clear destination in mind, you can identify what outcomes you want to see in the major areas of your life.

Webinar Transcript

I’m Daniel Harkavy, CEO and executive Coach at Building Champions. Welcome to this months’ Champion’s Edge webinar. I’m very much looking forward to speaking with each and every one of you on today’s topic. Today I am going to be talking about leading you first but before I do, I know there are some of you on the call who may have read one of the emails that we sent out or you heard about this through blog or Facebook or through some other means and you may not know exactly who Building Champions and what it is that we do.

Before I get in to the topic, let me just let you know that Building Champions is a coaching company. What we do is we work with our clients really in 2 primary ways. First and foremost is our one-on-one coaching offerings and we’ve been doing this now for 2 decades. For the last 2 decades, myself and our team of coaches have been working with thousands of leaders just like you to improve how you think, how you make decisions, how you influence and how you execute also that you get better results in business and in your life. Not only do we do one-on-one coaching, we do one-to-many coaching and that can look like executive retreats. It can look like workshops. It can look our public event, the Experience, or events that we with others on like Dr. Henry Cloud. We’re going to be doing a one-to-many event next month called Elevate down in California. One-to-many is when we coaches are working with a few of you all the way on up to a few thousand of you depending upon what the engagement might look like.

Let’s jump in to today’s topic. Today, I want to talk to you about Life Planning. For those of you who have been listening to me, working with us for the past few decades, you know that Life Planning goes hand in hand with Building Champions and the reason for that is because we believe that self-leadership always precedes team leadership. How you lead yourself impacts how you lead others so I want to talk about why Life Planning and I want to talk about self-leadership to build the case for why you need to be doing this and then I’ll explain to those of you who might be new to Building Champions I’ll explain to you how to go about it. The for those of you who’ve been with us for a good long time, I’m going to again remind you as to how to use the Life Plan so that you can improve your leadership effectiveness, your leadership influence and the results that you get in your business and in your life.

Let’s talk about why Life Planning for a little bit. Here’s my belief is that Life Planning helps you to improve your decision making. Really, when you look at the story of your life, when you look at the story of your business, it’s going to be told as a result of the story you live. The story you live is going to be the result of all of the little decisions you make. Life Planning puts you in the driver’s seat. I know from spending the last few decades of doing what I get to do, I know that a lot of you feel that you can’t keep up. I know a lot of you feel like there’s way too much on your plate. You feel like you’re in the back seat and have no ability to reach over and grab the stirring wheel of your day and of your life, so as a result of that you feel behind.

Often times the way that manifests itself is that it causes you to be not present when you’re face-to-face in business meetings, when you’re face-to-face with your direct reports. Truthfully, worse of than that you’re not present when you’re with your spouses, your kids, your friends and your family members. Life Planning puts you in the driver’s seat. Life Planning is all about helping you to be proactive and intentional in all the decisions that you make. So you life plan because it will help you to make better decisions and to be more present. Again, our life, all these little decisions that we make, each and everyday the hundreds of decisions, over and over again they will tell the story of our life.

You know the cool thing is that I’ve shared with many of you in the last few years we’ve been doing more work with Dr. Henry Cloud and Henry is always one to tell me why the brain science behind what it is that we do and why it works. You know what I understand about Life Planning is the life planning process helps the brain to be clear on what matters most. If you’re clear on what matters most, then it enables your executive functions to work as they should. It enables you to be more peaceful, more clam and to make better decisions because you’ve gone to the process of identifying to you what matters most in every area of your life and of your business.

Then by having that tool completed, you get to review it over and over and over again. That’s where a lot of people fall down–it’s in the discipline of review but if you can master the discipline of review and if you can review your life plan for the first 90 days after you’ve completed or weekly from then on into the future forever, what it’s going to do is it’s going to help you to be mindful of what matters most . Then you’ll star to see that your calendar and your schedule will match your Life Plan. You’ll start filling your day with more of the activities that matter most. You will improve your execution. You will improve the results you get in your business, in your life and at the end of it you’re going to live a better life story. So that’s why we created the tool and the process for you to benefit from. For the last 20 years, we have watched people’s lives transform, marriages improve, leadership improve, parenting improve, health, finance, fitness–all of it. We’ve seen people and have countless, countless testimonies from people just like you who are living better life stories because they’ve gone through the process of Life Planning. My hope for you today is that you are going to listen to every bit of this, that you’re going to take full advantage of the tool that I’m going to give you, that you’re going to follow through, you’re going to take the time to build or revise your Life Plan so that it’s both compelling and clear and then through review, you’re going to start to adjust your days so that they mirror the plan that you and you alone are in control of for your life.

You know there’s a Hebrew scripture that I always share when I talk Life Planning. I know I’ve got some long-time friends on this webinar and you guys could finish this sentence for me but I tell you in the Psalms 90:12 it says, “So teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Our days are numbered. I was with my executive assistant, Lyn Brown, yesterday and I told Lyn “I want to create a “remember board. ” This remember board is going to be a large frame and in this large frame, I want to have pictures of all of my friends and family members that are not here anymore because I want to remember the brevity of life. I want pictures of little baby Syd and I want that to remind me of the fact that life is so fragile that even young ones can pass. I want pictures of Mike and Cindy and Bryan on there because I want to be reminded that young people such as 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds, their days are numbered. Then I want to put our past coach, Michelle there. I’ve got a picture of her right outside the conference room because I want to remember.

The reason I want to remember is because I want to have a heart of wisdom. I want to live each and everyday knowing that at the end of the day, I did what matters most. I served who mattered most. I gave the best that I could so that I could make the greatest difference in the life of everybody around me. I fall short everyday but the Life Planning process helps me to be more mindful of it. Our days are numbered. Life is fragile do not buy the lie that you’ll have the opportunity to get to what matters most tom. There is no guarantee of tomorrow so we’ve got to be absolutely present, proactive and intentional in today. Self-leadership always precedes team leadership. You need to lead you before you lead anybody else. Every one of us are influencers and difference-makers. Every one of us–our lives can have a positive, amazing impact on the lives of everybody around us but are we intentional? Are we proactive or are we just coasting, reacting and responding in all relationships, in all situations dependent upon emotion and how we feel? I’m telling you if that is the pilot of your life, if you’re allowing emotion and circumstances to drive your life, you’re going to live a life of regret because we cannot trust emotions. What we have to do is we have to be intentional and really aware of all the areas of our life where we want to make the most positive contribution. I’m speaking to every one of you and I’m speaking to myself–we all need to improve our game.

Let’s talk about what Life Planning is. Life Planning is a major part of our Core Four. I told you with do this one-to-one coaching thing and our one-to-many coaching thing and much of it is steeped in this process. All of us speak the same language here at Building Champions and we think that life planning is the very foundation of what we walk our client through because we have to help you gain clarity on your own priorities and how you’re going to lead yourself before we can help you to move into strategy which Business Vision is always the beginning of strategy. Before we can move you into Business Vision, we need to understand how your business fits into your life. We start people off in Life Planning before we walk them through long-term strategy and Business Vision and then Business Planning, which incorporates current reality and the year ahead. Then once we’ve got the Life Plan done, Business Vision done and Business Planning done, now we are in a much better place to help you to manage your priorities because now you’re clear on what you’re priorities are.

Often times, we don’t know what our priorities are or our priorities are shifting depending upon whatever’s coming our way. It’s always responsive, it’s always reactive instead of being proactive and intentional. You see in this model and in this framework that Life Planning matters. It’s the foundation for how we develop people like you, leaders, top performers and influencers. It’s critical. What I want to do is I want to further explain what Life Planning is. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because we sent you the Life Planning tool and it’s self-explanatory. It explains how to go through each step and I’ll walk through it real quickly. Then I’m going to give you some tips on how to make this thing work for you.

Your Life Planning tool. The first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to begin with the end in mind. I already said “Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” You have to go to the place of life being over in order to engage our head and our heart. Listen to me, you have to write out your eulogy. What would be said about you if you were to pass today? I’m having you do this because I want your head and your heart engaged. Your Life Plan needs to be birthed out of all of you, not just the cerebral. This is not goal setting. This is about you taking the time and really putting together a plan that will enable you to add maximum value and to live the greatest life you possibly can.

You’ve got to engage your head and your heart and the best way to do it is to come to grips with your mortality. At some point, this eulogy will be read and as you write it out I guarantee you, it will engage every bit of you. If you don’t like what you’ve written down, the good news is is that you’re still alive and you have an opportunity to change the course of the days, weeks and hopefuly years ahead. So we start with beginning with the end in mind and we write out our eulogy.

The next thing we do is we identify all the different accounts in our life that are important, so which areas of your life are most important to you. I like to call them accounts because the truth of the matter is if we neglect accounts then we’re not being wise stewards of those accounts and the results that we’ll get in our accounts will be completely dependent upon luck or random happenstance. But if I have different accounts such as my health account, my spiritual account, my marriage account, my family account, accounts for each of my kids–if I identify each and every one of those and the list goes on, these are accounts in my life where I have the opportunity to make deposits and to increase the net worth instead of just coasting and possibly seeing the net worth diminish in those accounts. I write out each and every account in my life.

Then the next thing that I do after that is I clarify my vision. I look forward 5, 10 years from now–what would I like to see in each and every account? What would I like to see in my marriage account? What would I like to see in my family account in another 10 years? What would I like to see for my different kids at different stages of their life? I’ve got a wide gap from my oldest 24 down to my youngest of 11, so I want to see different things for them at different times. What do I want to see? What would be ideal? I need a target and it needs to compel me. It needs to comspire me because what I’m looking for is I’m looking for change. What I’m looking for is I’m looking for something to pull me forward so that I fill my days with the right attitudes, the right mindset and then the right actions. This isn’t to create a checklist so that I can just check the box. It’s not something that impacts just my doing, this impacts my being. If you do it right, all of these accounts, you’re going to have vision for and the vision is going to be compelling for you and it’s going to inspire you.

Once you’ve identified vision for each and 3every one of your accounts, the next thing you do is you define your purpose. What’s your purpose in this account? What role do you play? What’s your purpose as husband or wife? What’s your purpose as parent or godparents? What’s your purpose as steward of you finances or your steward of your health? What’s your purpose? Get clear on that because when you understand your purpose, and it’s usually one or two sentences. It’s much easier for you to move to the next step but let me give you an example of a purpose before I move on.

I like to share from my marriage account. Sherry and I have been married for 26 years. We’ve been together since we were 11 and that’s a long time. I’m telling you it’s better today than it has ever been. I dig this woman and my purpose from my marriage account is oneness. I am to lift her up so that she can be the woman she was created to be so when I understand my purpose is to pursue oneness, I need to make sure I’m doing everything I can to connect to her oneness. My purpose is to lift her up so that she can be the woman she was created to be. I can’t get in her way. I can’t, through actions, throw attitudes, through behavior, be a guy that pushes her down. What’s your purpose?

After you’ve identified your purpose, the next thing you do is you start to identify your actions. What is 3-5 actions you can do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis to increase net worth? They’re so specific that you can lift them from the Life Plan and put them right into your calendar. Under this marriage account from Ms. Sherry is “I can have a Monday date afternoon every Monday at 4 o’clock.” Now some of you, “Whoa, Harkavy, that’s change.” Because I’ve been sharing this for years and for the last decade, Sherry and I have had Monday lunch dates at 12 o’clock. As she grows in responsibility in the home schooling of the youngest, the lunch date’s starting to cause some stress so we’ve now moved it to an afternoon dates 4 o’clock. Equally beautiful, equally fun but that is really a management date for us where we get to review calendars, we get to talk about the kids, we get to talk about things around the house. It’s a management date and we get that out of the way so that when we go on our other date in the evening during the week, it’s more of a romantic oneness-type date. It’s intentional, there’s a specific action.

Under my health account, I’ve got a specific action and that is to work on Monday through Friday. Now I get to do it on Monday through Friday at lunch. So my team knows, family knows weekdays at noon 90% of the time I’m either running at the gym. It’s so specific I can connect it right to the calendar and then I can plan other things around it because this is what’s most important for me in order for me to live the life that will enable me to add the greatest value and make the greatest difference around me.

You’ve started off, you’ve done your eulogy. You’ve identified all of your accounts. You’ve created vision. You’ve created purpose. You’ve created actions, they’re specific. You could schedule them. They’re dialed. The tool that I’m going to give you outlines every bit of it. We’ve already emailed it to you. We’ll email it to you again. You just walk through the tool. The tool and understanding the tool is the easy part. The next thing is how you’re going to go about building it. The first thing you’ve got to do if you want to be one who uses a Life Plan is you’ve got to schedule one day to complete your Life Plan. You’ve got to go somewhere where you can be truly interrupted. You can be in a creative space. This is a place where you can do the deep dive to pull these plans out.

For me, I love the coast. Sherry and I did our Life Planning day together. We were down at the beach right after the holidays and it’s the right environment. Depending upon where you live, you’ve got to go somewhere that’s extraordinary, not ordinary. It’s not the office. It’s not your kitchen table. It’s a cabin. It’s a park. It’s a nice hotel. It’s alongside of the river. It’s the coast. It’s the mountain. What you’re hearing is I’m not telling you you’ve got to make a big dollar investment. I am saying you’ve got to get outside. You’ve got to go somewhere out of your normal setting and it’s just got to be that place that’s conducive to really soul searching, diving deep and creating. I’m going to tell you that you need to do it soon.

There’s something that we call the Law of Diminishing Intent and that is the further you put this out, the lesser the probability of you following through and getting it done. The sooner you commit to doing it, the higher the probability of you following through and executing on it. I would love for you to pick a day between now and 2 weeks from now max to get your Life Plan done. For some of you who have been life planners for a good long time but you did not do the year-end refresher and the Life Plan’s a little stale. You’re not looking at it, planning from it and really benefiting from it, I want you to start over again. In the next 2 weeks, I want you to take a day and I want you to go through it.

You’ve got the tool. You’ve got a special location. You’ve got a day picked. You understand the Law of Diminishing Intent. It’s less than 2 weeks from now. You go there. You don’t bring anything else. Don’t get distracted with email. Don’t get distracted with another project. This is a day for you to put the plans of your life together and in place. Once you’ve don’t that, this is where working memory starts to kick in. You’ve got to have a discipline overview. For the first 90 days, every single morning 7 days a week read through your Life Plan. I want it to become something that you know second nature. You understand it. You know exactly the why, the what, the how you’ve been reviewing it and you’re starting to schedule it. After 90 days you’re going to know your Life Plan. You’re going to have it dialed but I still want you to commit reviewing it weekly preferably on Sunday or Monday. The reason for that is I want you to come into your week knowing what’s most important and then building your calendar around that.

There’s another tool that I would be more than happy to put into your hands and that is the Perfect Week Time Block. The Perfect Week Time Block is nothing more than a spreadsheet and it has the days of the week and the different times of the day on it. What you do is you start to take from your Life Plan these key actions and you plug them in to this perfect week. Then you work to schedule your business life and your social life and your family life around this. Now some of you might be saying, “Oh my gosh, no spontaneity.” This becomes something that becomes your master. That is not in any way shape or form true. What this becomes is your guide. This serves you, you don’t serve it. The goal is not to live this thing perfectly. The goal is to fill your days with more of the right actions, the right attitude so that yes our adding more value and really taking better care of yourself because self-leadership always precedes team leadership.

Let me bring this all the way back to you. How you lead yourself impacts the influence you have with your teammates, with your clients, with your spouse, with your kids, with your boss, with everybody. Everybody’s watching us and what happens is we people make decisions about others and how we feel about them, what we think about them. We make decisions based upon what we see on the outside. Our subconscious is processing all of that. for us as leaders, what we need to understand is that what we say, what we do not just at work but between the 5 at night and the 9 in the morning, that impacts the level of trust and engagement that our teammates have for us. Do they see us being as congruent individuals with integrity? Our actions match our beliefs and our thoughts. The more clear you are and the more convicted you are around what matters most and how you’re going to stay in the driver’s seat instead of completely responsive to all the opportunities and crises that come across your calendar day in and day out, the more intentional you are, the higher the level of influence because there’s more trust, there's more credibility. Make sense? Alright, that is life planning. We have to lead ourselves first.

There is an opportunity that I want to share with each and every one of you and it is the experience in Sun river. This is a public event. It’s one of the very few public events we do. September 15-18, there will be 225 business professionals. They’re going to come in to Sun river in September, one of the most beautiful places to be that time of year and we’re going to walk you through a one-to-many coaching experience where we’re going to walk you through Life Planning and self-leadership, Business Vision and Strategy, Business Planning and execution. We’re going to have several workshops that are custom-tailored for executive level, mid-level managers for entrepreneurs. We’re going to have sessions for sales professionals. It is wonderful. We started this back in ’08. We do it every year and it’s just a great way to come in to the fourth quarter. So if you want more, a real opportunity to reflect, plan and connect, that’s the Experience. Check out and you can learn more about it there.

I should let you know that we’re celebrating here at Building Champions as well because past client and friend Michael Hyatt and I have just signed the deal with the publishing company I’ve been telling you that we wrote a book together on Life Planning. We’ve signed an agreement. We’re moving forward with the publisher and now we go through the hard work with some of the edits, some of the examples and the creating of the marketing strategy but one year from March 16, you’ll have the opportunity to read the book that is all around Life Planning. It’s a long ways out. I will show you how you could show that book with you today but keep your eyes tuned for a year from now and we’ll get you that resource.

If you want more information from us, here’s how you get it: You can email us there. You can follow us on Facebook and on twitter. We have our blog site. If you just go to you’ll see all the resources that we provide. I have a few minutes left and I would love to know if any of you have questions so let’s just see here. It looks like we’ve got a few questions coming in. Why don’t you go all the way to the top and let me see that very first one. “I created a 2015 monthly calendar along these lines. How may I present this to Building Champions?” You send it, attach it at . I’d love to see it. Somebody is sharing a very real situation with their daughter and I can only imagine. My prayers are with you. I can imagine. You have an opportunity today though, to continue moving forward and making a difference in the lives of others around you and taking from this hardship and definitely, passionately pouring your life into others that want to receive the goodness that you’ve got. You want to know if this will be repeated. It has been saved and you can download it and listen to it later. Sun river, the Experience– yes, it is open to the public. You do not need to be a client to attend that so you can come. Love to have you, if you’re not a client it is a great way to immerse in how we coach leaders to best perform. Are there any other public events before the Experience? Check out our website. Dr. Henry Cloud and I are doing Elevate next month. It’s a mid-March. We’re going to be doing that down in Palace Verdes California. It’s going to be 2 days of some great content experience so that would be definitely something that you would want to attend. Let’s see, same words I’ve heard and yes I have lived for 13 years since then. How awesome is that? I’ve got somebody on the call that has been doing this for 13 years and living it so way to be intentional with how you’re living your life.

Alright, well folks we are on the money. I really appreciate you investing your time. It’s a goal of ours. We don’t feel the pressure to continually come up with brand new content. We actually feel a responsibility to deliver the content that matters most. In our webinars, we’re going to add new thought leadership. We’re going to add some of the new processes and some of the new frameworks, some of the new insights that our team of coaches are learning and experiencing with people like you but we’re also going to regularly come back to the absolute staples–the tools, the parts of the Core Four that we know if you live them out, they will enable you to lead and live a life story that is much more significant, much more successful and our hope is that we help you to continue to transform, change and improve in all aspects of your leadership. Thanks for joining.