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LEE RILEY

Q. If you could have one gigantic billboard with anything on it, what would it say and why?

“Be the change you want to see in others.” I like this one because it places the emphasis squarely on my shoulders as a place to begin. It’s easy to want the world around me to change to fit my expectations – this takes no courage, personal strength or humility. What’s difficult is owning the fact that I play a part in making my world whatever it is, and this is where my attention should go first. I find that when I shift my focus in this way, I see my own faults more clearly and am more generous with those around me.

Q. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

While not new, learning to forgive others has become more important to me in recent years. I find that petty offenses “stick” to me a little easier than they used to, so I must work harder to not let them strangle my soul. I’ve discovered that resentment (that is, rehearsing wounds from the past) is a sure-fire way to kill your enthusiasm, confidence and peace.

Q. What advice would you give a smart, driven college student about to enter the "real world"? What advice should they ignore?

Develop these 5 core disciplines and take them with you wherever you go:

  • Wake up early and have a plan for your day

  • Be fiscally responsible and content to live within your means

  • Always keep a clean slate with others – forgive them and ask their forgiveness of you

  • Make exercise and eating well a priority

  • Learn to go inside yourself and come to grips with what you see. Meditate and reflect on who you are now and what you want to become

Q. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Like most everyone in this industry, I enjoy helping others find clarity for how to lead, live and be an overall better human being. If I’ve discovered anything while on my own imperfect journey toward this goal, it’s that personal change takes a lot of two things: humility and hard work. Because of this, I’m suspicious of any perspective or advice that implies there’s a hack or shortcut that guarantees success without genuine effort and a hard look at oneself.

Q. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

First, I resist the urge to panic and remind myself that I’ve been here before…and will be here again. During the struggle it’s easy to believe that this temporary state is now here to stay. Also, I’ve come to identify—and fight—my “panic responses.” These are the subtly self-destructive behaviors that creep in during times of stress or doubt and only serve to affirm that I have, in fact, lost focus. Finally, I go back to the disciplines that affirm my core person: meditation and prayer, a long trail run, reading my favorite authors, having coffee with a close friend. I can’t control everything that my emotions send my way but if I stick to what my mind knows is true, in time I’ll find myself back on track.