Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quick Decisions

This is an article that I received that is just very practical when having to make a quick decision.  

By Elias Kanaris

Ever had that super glue feeling?  They say that you should be careful when you use super glue because it can permanently set in a matter of a few seconds.  Yet, how many of us when using super glue to fix a broken item have made a rash decision when opening the tube with our teeth or squeezing it too hard and you end up with too much super glue and nowhere to put it…

In life, we can tend to make the equivalent of this super glue mistake by making rash decisions that we might regret.

There is a particularly unusual story that I came across recently.  It turns out that a man came in to the local ER department with his eyes closed. Evidently, his wife had accused him of looking at other women and they got into a quarrel. Being the macho man that he was, he decided that he could prove that he wasn’t looking at other women by super-gluing his eyes closed.

Unfortunately, after the glue dried, he began to think it wasn’t such a great idea and got some people to drive him to the emergency room. I suspect that the doctors and nurses laughed at him for a while and then gave him Vaseline to rub in his eyes.

I pray you never get so caught up in the moment that you end up being carried away in the spirit of the thought and you follow in this man’s footsteps, doing something that you’ll instantly regret!

So, before you do anything rash, here are five simple steps you should consider before you make your decision that leaves you like concrete - all mixed up and set in your ways:

1. Step away.
Whatever you do, if you feel that you’re about to make a rash decision, take a step back and give yourself the five minute rule.  Allow yourself five minutes to think through the consequences of your action to ensure that you don’t “stuff it up”.

2. Sleep on it.
If you have to make a decision and you feel that you’re running out of time and it’s getting late, ask yourself, “Does it really have to go out tonight, or can it wait till the morning?” Put the item on hold and get yourself to bed, where you can get a good night’s sleep so that you can look at it again with clear and fresh eyes in the morning.

3. Spend time in prayer.
If in doubt – pray about it – and then wait to hear that still, small voice in your head!  They say that prayer is us talking to the Grand Overall Designer.  And that the still, small voice is Him talking back to you!

4. Seek counsel.
Get together with your inner circle, a group of trusted advisers, and ask them to validate your decision.  There is a wise ancient proverb that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so does the countenance of a good friend.”  That’s exactly what your inner circle will give you with their counsel.

5. Strike a compromise.
When you are aiming for perfection, you might need to head for a middle-of-the-road compromise.  Perfection may not always be attainable, but it’s worth using the old builders adage of “Measure twice, cut once!” This will save you heaps of wastage in the long term.

When rushing to make a decision, take a step back and use these five simple steps to keep you from making the wrong decision that leaves you stuck like concrete.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grow by Sharing

One key to your own personal growth and development is to share.  According to Jim Rohn it is the key to making your life unique and worthwhile.  He says, “If you share an idea with ten different people, they get to hear it once, and you get to hear it ten times. So here’s part of self-interest for yourself, getting you even better prepared for the future.  Share ideas.  Share with your family, share with the people around you, share with other employees, share with your colleagues.”

By sharing, two things happen.
1. You add value to yourself.
2. You add value to others.

I have found in my own life that by sharing with others what I am learning, I am actually cementing the truth into my own life.  We learn by repetition.

I have learned that the more I teach it, the more I hear it.  The more I hear it, the more I retain it.  The more I retain it, the more I can apply it.  The more I apply it, the more effective I am.

Jim Rohn also says that sharing makes room for more.  “If the glass is full of water, can it hold any more?  And the answer is yes, if you pour some out.  If you want more, you’ve got to pour out what you’ve got, and then you have the opportunity to receive more.  Now, unlike the glass that remains the same size when you pour some out, it’s not so in the consciousness of human beings.  Your capacity will increase the more you share. You’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Getting bigger and bigger and bigger is called growth.  And the best part of this is that by sharing what you are learning not only you grow but you are giving others an opportunity to grow as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Attitude Makes The Difference

Zig Ziglar constantly teaches that “Attitude makes the difference.”  It really does.  Attitudes are such a difference maker in our lives that Jesus began His most famous sermon by talking about the attitudes we should have.  We know them as the “Beatitudes.”

Most people believe attitudes just happen. They don't. Attitudes are formed by the thoughts we hold in our minds over a period of time.  Negative thoughts, such as doubt, fear, or bitterness, produce a negative attitude thereby producing negative actions which produce negative results.  Positive thoughts produce a positive attitude which produces positive actions thereby producing positive results.

It's not easy to change our negative attitudes.  This is why Paul said in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Paul says we can choose how we think, therefore we can choose our attitude.  Attitude is a choice.  The ability to choose our thoughts and thereby control our attitude is one of our greatest blessings.

How can we change negative thoughts into positive ones, thereby producing a positive attitude?  
First and foremost surround yourself with positive people.  Also read positive, inspirational books, and listen to positive messages.

I love “The Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership” written by Kent M. Keith because they speak of us having a positive attitude in a negative world.  Follow these and you will most certainly stand out.

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest man with the biggest ideas can be shot down
by the smallest men with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building can be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them.
Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world your best anyway.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Leaders Strive For Excellence

In history, the word "excellence" has been used as a title of honor.  It derives from the word “excel” which means to go beyond average.   

John Gardner said: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

If you think excellence is not that significant, consider this...  If 99.9% is good enough then:

2 million documents will be lost by the IRS this year.
22,000 checks will be deducted from wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes.
1,314 telephone calls will be misplaced by telecommunications services every minute.
12 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.
2,488 books will be shipped with the wrong cover on them.
Over 5 ½ million cases of soft drinks will be produced that will be flat.
20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written in the next 12 months.

How do you become a person of excellence?  First of all you must value excellence. Zig Ziglar said; “Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.”

Valuing excellence means never settling for average.   When we really begin to rise above average and have a desire to be a little bit better, we distinguish ourselves very quickly.

John Maxwell says, excellence can be attained if you...

Care more than others think wise.
Risk more than others think safe.
Dream more than others think practical.
Expect more than others think possible.
Work more than others think necessary.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Leadership and Discouragement

Have you ever been discouraged as a leader?  Of course you have.  Here are some facts about discouragement.

1. Everyone Gets Discouraged.
Leaders are not immune from discouragement.

2. Discouragement is Contagious.
We all know what it is like to get around a discouraged person.  It pulls us down as well.  When you get discouraged as a leader, it can affect those you lead.

3. Discouragement Keeps Us From Being Effective.
When we are discouraged we are not what we could be.  We are not operating at 100% for those around us (our families, our co-workers, etc).  This is because discouragement causes us to focus on our self instead of those we are leading.  Discouragement causes us to take our eyes off of our goals, our dreams, our priorities.  It also causes us to take our eyes of the needs of those who are following us.

Following are some tips for dealing with discouragement as leaders.

1) Determine what is causing you to be discouraged. 
This may sound simplistic but many people feel discouraged and do not know why.  Identify the source of the discouragement so that you can determine what you need to do next.

2) Determine what you can and cannot control about the cause of your discouragement.

3) Take action on the things that you can control.
Ask yourself, "What could I do differently than I have done to this point to overcome this obstacle."  “What can I do now to change what is causing my discouragement?”

4) Eat right, rest, and exercise.
It is amazing how your physical health affects your emotional and mental health.

5) Encourage others.
When you encourage others, you find that the words of encouragement you give to them encourage you as well.

6) Count your blessings. 
Make a list of all the things for which you are grateful.  Often times, we focus on the one thing that’s wrong and overlook the ninety-nine things that are going well.  When you make a conscious effort to write down what’s good in your life, it helps you to put things into perspective.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Leadership and Stress

Stress happens. It is a part of life.  It always has been and always will be.  For those in leadership, stress can be especially problematic.  Because of your position, everything you say and do influences the lives of others.  Every decision not only affects the organization, but everyone around you.

I recently came across a Center for Creative Leadership White Paper entitled “The Stress of Leadership.”  Their study revealed that...

Work is a primary source of stress for leaders and that having a leadership role in the work place  increases the level of stress.

Most organizations do not provide leaders with the tools they need to manage stress.

Most leaders say their stress level is higher today than it was five years ago.

The fact is, leadership can be stressful.  Combine your personal stress with leadership stress, and you have compounded the pressure. How do you deal with stress?

Ten Tips to Reduce Leadership Stress

1. Prioritize! Don't try to get everything done at the same time. Attack the most important items first.

2. When you get interrupted by someone at work, put them on your schedule and tell them you will get back to them at an agreed-upon time. Maintain ownership of your own time.

3. Don't eat lunch at your desk, and don't bring work with you to lunch. Schedule some down time.

4. Use deep-breathing exercises or relaxation techniques to de-stress during the day. Go for a 20 minute walk every day.

5. Reduce the noise in your environment by shutting your office door if you have one. Take control of your environment.

6. Don't keep things bottled up. Let co-workers know if something they're doing is causing you stress. Address things calmly and professionally.

7. Eat right, sleep right and exercise regularly (with your doctor's permission).

8. Try leaving the radio off in your car on the way home. Many people find that the quiet helps them unwind and is a basic stress management practice.

9. When at home, don't dwell on work-related problems. Write them down, put them out of your mind and add them to your schedule the next day. Understand that there is a time and a place for everything.

10. Use peers and associates as a sounding board for discussing work-related issues and  minimize bringing issues into the family home.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Productively Deal with Failure

In America we idolize success.  As a result failure is almost the unpardonable sin.  Nobody wants to fail.  It creates great stress on people.  The fear of failure can cause you to be indecisive.  You can't make decisions because you are afraid you are going to make the wrong one.  The fear of failure can make you a workaholic.  You never slow down because you're afraid of failing.  The fear of failure can cause you to lower your morals and ethics because winning is everything.

Here are three things you can do to productively deal with failure.

1.  Remember that Everybody Fails
Have you ever made a mistake?  Welcome to the human race.  Nobody is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Everybody fails.  You are not perfect and you never will be.  You are not God.  The first step to dealing with failure productively is to accept that failure is a part of life.

2.  Realize it’s Not Fatal
We vastly over exaggerate the effects of failure.  Failing is not the end of the world.  The fear of failure is actually more damaging than failing itself.  Successful people are not people who never fail. They are simply people who get up again and keep going.

Failure is not failing to reach your goal.  Several years ago we set a goal to have an attendance of 800 on Easter Sunday.  We did not make it.  Failure is not failing to reach your goal.  Failure is not setting a goal.  Failure is not achieving your dream.  Failure is not having a dream.  Failure is not falling down.  Failure is refusing to get up again.  The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson said: "The way to succeed is to double your failure rate."

3.  Recognize the Benefits
Wise people know how to take advantage of failure.  They make the most of it.  How?

Let failure educate you.
Mistakes are simply learning experiences.  There are some things we only learn through failure.  Thomas Edison said "There is only one good idea in 100 so I want to discover the 99 failures as quick as possible."

Let failure motivate you.
We did not reach 800 on that Easter Sunday but we did have the highest attendance in the history of the church.  As a result we were more motivated than ever to reach 800. The very next Easter we surpassed 800 in worship.

Let failure build your character.
Failure has a way of maturing us.  Failure makes you less judgmental and more sympathetic to people around you.  It does not automatically grow your character, however.  Failure builds your character only when you respond to it correctly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How To Attract Friends

I like the story about the guy who was celebrating his one hundredth birthday.  A reporter was interviewing him. He said, “Here you are celebrating your hundredth birthday today, what are you most proud of?”  “Well,” the man said, “I don’t have an enemy in the world.”  The reporter was moved. He said, “What a beautiful thought! How inspirational!”  “Yep,” said the old man, “I’ve outlived every last one of them.”

Experts are telling us that Americans have fewer close friends today than just a couple of decades ago.  Why is that?  Let me give you some thoughts on why we live in such an unfriendly world.

1. We get distracted by our own personal agendas and schedules. - We have become so busy that we don’t take time to be a friend to someone else.

2. Selfishness. - While we want others to do for us, we really do not want to go out of our way for others.

3. Unforgiveness. - Friends are human.  They make mistakes that can sometimes hurt us.  If you can’t forgive, you’re not going to have friends for very long.

How do we have friends?

1. Be a Friend.
An ancient proverbs says, “To have friends you must first be a friend.”  Many people don’t have friends simply because they are not “friendly.”  It is hard to make friends if you’re critical, negative, or fault-finding.  A lot of people are like Charlie Brown.  Charlie Brown asked Linus one day, "What would you do if you felt that nobody liked you?"  Linus says, "Well, Charlie Brown, I guess I would take a real hard look at myself, ask if I am doing anything that turns people off, How can I improve myself?  Do I need to change in some way?  That’s my answer"  Charlie Brown says, "I hate that answer."

2. Make Sacrifices for Others.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  A friend is willing to make sacrifices when you need them.

3. See the Best in Others.
A true friend sees good in us that others can not.  A friend encourages you by saying, "I believe in you."  A true friend seeks the best in others.

4. Practice Loyalty.
In the Bible the Proverbs writer states, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Elsewhere he states, “A friend loves at all times.”  A friend loves in the good times and in the bad times.  A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend.  Thousands of answers were submitted but the winning answer was: “A friend is one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”

5. Seek the Success of Others.
I am really surprised when a friend becomes jealous over the success of another friend.  A true friend will rejoice when others succeed.  Ronald Reagan once said “There’s no limit to what we can accomplish if we don’t care who gets the credit.”

6. Speak the Truth.
The Proverbs writer in the Bible said, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”  A true friend will always tell the truth because he/she want what’s best for you.  Oscar Wilde said “A true friend stabs you in the front.”  You want a friend to be honest with you.  You don’t want a friend who tells you only what you want to hear or agrees with you even if you’re wrong or heading in the wrong direction.  A true friend is honest and truthful even when it hurts. 

7. Stands Up for Others.
King Solomon of ancient Israel said, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.”  Life is a series of battles.  We all know what it is like to be attacked.  A true friend is there to stand up for others who cannot stand up for themselves and when others are attacking.

If you practice these seven things you will have many friends because you will be known as a friendly person.

I would like to invite you to "Like" my B N Leadership Facebook Page.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dealing with Criticism

When I became a pastor over 26 years ago  and was, for the first time, in a real leadership position, my greatest desire was to please everybody all the time.  I worked hard to do that.  It did not take long for that dream to die a quick death.  The first time I was faced with criticism, I was devastated.  As hard as I was working to please people, I could not understand why someone would question my actions - or even worse, question my motives.  That was a defining moment in my life.

I learned the hard way that if you are a leader you will be criticized.  And criticism will come from those within your organization and from those outside of your organization.  Criticism will come from enemies, from friends, even from complete strangers.  Some of the criticism will be true, some will be false, and some may be outright malicious.  But as one wise person said, “If you’re getting kicked in the rear it means you’re out in front.”  If you’re going to be a leader, you’re going to be criticized.  So you better learn how to handle criticism constructively.

Here are four things I would encourage you to consider when handling criticism.

1. Consider Yourself
Know your strengths and weaknesses.  Know your purpose and passion.  When you are faced with a critic who says to you, “Let me tell you what you are not good at” if they are correct you can look at them and say, “I agree, can you help me in this area?”

2. Consider the Critic
Is the critic friend or foe?  If it is a person who is simply out to hurt you, then you may not need to give much weight to the criticism.  If the critic is a friend or loved one who has your best interest in mind then you need to give more weight to what he or she is saying.

3. Consider the Criticism.
How was it given?  Were the words judgmental or did they give me the benefit of the doubt?  What was the spirit in which the criticism was given?  Was it given to inflict a personal hurt or for my benefit?  Even if the criticism is from someone who is out to hurt me, is there an element of truth in their criticism?  I have found that there is some truth in every criticism no matter who it comes from.

4. Reconsider Yourself
If there is any truth in the criticism, take note of it, quit whining, and make the necessary changes.  I have become a better leader because of changes I made as a result of criticism.  If you will handle the critic this way, even the person who was out to simply hurt you has actually helped you.

The truth is: criticism will never stop.  If you are able to get to this fourth step, criticism won’t have a negative effect in your life.  Remember, “If you’re getting kicked in the rear, it means you’re out front.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Leadership Lessons From the Olympics

I enjoyed watching the 2012 Olympic games in London this summer.  Why are we so interested in the Olympic games? We love to watch winners.  As I watched the athletes and heard their stories, I found four things that every winner had in common. All four of these characteristics are applicable to every area of life; not just sports.  If you really want to excel, if you want to be winner;  it requires these four qualities.

I. Passion
As I watched interviews of the different athletes during the Olympics, there was one thing they all had in common: Their passion to win.  They had a passion to do their best, to achieve.

What are you passionate about?  What is it that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and run to win.  The reality is most people live mediocre lives.  They don’t run to win.  They trot to retire.  That’s a wasted life.  If you want to make your life count, run the race to win.  Run it with passion.

2. Purpose
Every athlete had a goal.  All of them had one common goal - to win gold.  But each one had individual goals as well, to be the fastest, strongest, or best in their particular event.  Unfortunately most people today are just playing around in life with no goal.  If most people drove their cars the way they planned their lives they’d never get out of the driveway.  What is your purpose?  What are you shooting for in life?  If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.

3. Preparation
As I watched the biographical stories of the athletes I noticed that all of them paid a price to be where they were.  Their preparation was intense.  They made huge  sacrifices in order to get to the Olympics.

The reason that success alludes so many people is because they are not willing to prepare, to pay the price.  The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.  Successful people understand that it takes preparation and discipline.  We want well built bodies without well planned diet and exercise.  We want wealth without work.  We want success without sacrifice. It doesn’t happen that way.  It takes a great deal of preparation to be the best at something.

4. Perseverance.
Every athlete had times they wanted to quit but did not.  Great people are ordinary people who don’t know how to quit.  Most people give up too soon.  In the race of life you’re going to have times when you stumble, when you fall, when you feel beaten, battered, and bruised.  Everyone has times when all they want to do is get out of the race.  Winners never quit.

In the 1924 Olympics, all eyes were on runner Eric Liddell.  In the 400 meter race he was favored to win.  As he began to break for the lead he got tangled with another runner and he crashed to the infield grass.  As he looked up at the pack of disappearing runners he felt the defeat, the pain, the anguish of having gone down.  Nevertheless, he got up, caught up, and still won the race.  Why?  Because he didn’t quit in spite of falling.

Four Qualities of Winners:  Passion-Purpose-Preparation-Perseverance

Go for the Gold!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Becoming a Difference Maker at Work

Everybody wants to make a difference.  One place that people tend to forget that they can make a huge difference is in the workplace.  I would like to share with you three things you can do to be a difference maker at work.

1.  Strive for Excellence
Employers are desperate today for employees who will strive for excellence.  Too many employees just want to punch the clock and watch the time.  It you want to shine like a bright star on a dark night and get noticed by leaders do your absolute best.

Practical Ways of Bringing Excellence into Your Life:

Always give more and do more than what is expected of you.
Have a passion for what you do.
Approach each day with the attitude that “I will be better today than I was yesterday.”
Believe that what you do matters.
Challenge yourself to be the best.
Expect the best of everyone around you.
Always follow through and follow up.
Be teachable.  Learn from every experience and learn from others.

Living a life of excellence is not difficult, it is an attitude.  Decide right now to give your best everyday and you will be amazed at the return.

2.  Have A Positive Attitude.
We live in a world where most people have bad, negative attitudes.  One of the biggest problems I hear from employers is that it is hard to find people who have positive attitudes.  If you want to stand out in the work place and make a difference, heed the instructions of the Apostle Paul in the Bible, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:14-15).

If you will maintain a positive attitude while everybody around you is being cynical, sarcastic, negative, and complaining about everything from the work conditions to the boss and their pay;  you’ll shine like a bright star on a dark night.  People will notice.

3. Love People
The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”  When people see that you really care for them and others, they stand up and take notice.  The number one reason people are fired today is not because of their incompetence, but because of their inability to relate well to others.

Be a difference maker in the work place. Strive for excellence, have a positive attitude, and love people.  What are some other ways you can think of to make a difference in the work place?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Becoming a Difference Maker

I have never met anyone who admitted that they did not want to make a difference in this world.  While I have met some whose lives demonstrate otherwise, most people would say that they do want to make a difference in the world, at least in the lives of those in their world.  The problem is that most people don’t know how.  Here are four essentials to becoming a difference maker.

1.  Determine You’re Identity.
You must clarify exactly who and what you are.  Have you ever had an identity crises?  Charles Haffey of Lake City, FL did.  He wanted to change his name.  He petitioned the Columbia County Court for a name change.  They turned him down because he wanted to change his name to God.

There are many definitions of success.  Here is my definition of success.  Success is...

Knowing my identity: being who God created me to be.
Fulfilling my purpose: doing what God created me to do.

The first part of that definition is key because before you can fulfill your purpose in life, you must be who God created you to be.  Do not try to be someone else.

2.  Determine To Take Responsibility
I cannot blame others for my life’s circumstances or direction.  I must take responsibility for my own life.  We live in a time where everybody is a victim.  People cry out, “I’m a victim because life isn't fair.”  Well, no kidding.  Here’s a newsflash.  Life is not fair.  This is not heaven.  We live in an imperfect world.  If you really want to be a difference maker, you must take responsibility for the direction of your life.

3.  Determine Your Priorities.
I've got to settle the question, What is really important in life?  In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” one of the laws that John Maxwell mentions is “The Law of Sacrifice.”  The Law of Sacrifice says “I must give up to go up.”  Maxwell calls it a leadership law, but I believe it’s simply a law of life.  If you want to move up in life,  if you’re going to fulfill your God given purpose and reach your God given potential,  you’re going to be faced with some tough decisions of sacrifice - “What am I going to give up so I can move up?”

4.  Determine Your Authority.
Everybody lives under authority.  That’s not a choice.  We all live under some authority. But we do have a choice in who the ultimate authority in our life will be.  I can choose who's going to be in charge of my life.  That's the bottom line.  That's the issue of authority.  Who's really going to be in charge of my life?  Jesus said You cannot have two masters in life.  One day you will stand before God and you will give an account of your life.  He's going to ask, "Who was in charge of your life?  Who was number one in your life?  I made you but I gave you the choice.  Who or what did you choose?"

Friday, August 17, 2012

No Confidence - No Leadership

Without confidence leadership does not exist. Trying to lead without having the confidence to lead is like building a house on a foundation of sand.  Leadership will eventually come crumbling down.  When all is said and done leadership is about having the confidence to make decisions. Fear in decision making will ultimately lead to failure in leadership. Confidence is contagious.  If the leader is confident then those he or she leads will grow to have confidence in the leader.

Joshua in the Bible took over the reigns of leadership from Moses.  At first he didn’t have confidence.  Many times God had to encourage Joshua to “be strong and courageous.”   Joshua lacked confidence for two reasons; the person he followed and the task that was given him.  First, he followed the greatest leader in the Old Testament - Moses.  He had big shoes to fill.  He wasn’t sure he could lead as well as Moses.  Secondly, God had given him the task of going in and taking “The Promised Land.”  This land was occupied by seven other nations much larger and stronger than Israel.  Joshua wasn’t sure he was up to the task.  How did he ultimately gain the confidence to lead and complete the task?  How can you create confidence?

1. Get rid of doubt: Doubt is the single greatest enemy of confidence.  It limits your potential.  It causes procrastination.  Most people believe their doubts and doubt their beliefs.  Why don't you believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts?

2. Forget past failures: Fear of failure paralyzes too many people.  We all fail.  Failing does not make one a failure.  Failing to get up and move on is what makes one a failure.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others: When we start comparing ourselves to others we will always find some who are better than us and we can always find some who are not as good as us.  You were born with a personality, gifts, and talents that make you uniquely you.  Only you can lead like you.  Start leading the way you were created to lead.

4. Start Leading: There comes a point in time where you have to make the move.  As the old Nike slogan says, “Just Do It!”  You will never gain confidence in leadership until you start leading.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Winning Team

I have really enjoyed watching the first week of the Olympics.  It has been fun to watch Michael Phelps add four gold and two silver medals to his count.  It was amazing to watch Gabrielle Douglas win gold in the women’s gymnastics all around finals.  I enjoyed watching Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt, Ryan Lochte, and all the others win gold in swimming.

I am impressed with all of these who won individual events, but when you look at the story behind each one of these individual medal winners, they all have one common characteristic.  They didn’t reach this level of achievement on their own.  They were a part of a larger team of people who helped them to reach gold.  As I watched interviews following their victories, virtually everyone of these gold medalists credited their success to others who helped them along the way.  They admitted that without the help of family, coaches, teammates, training partners, etc., they would not have been able to win.

John Maxwell states in his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, “The belief that one person can do something great is a myth.”  He goes on to write, “Frontiersman Daniel Boone had companions from the Transylvania Company as he blazed the Wilderness Road.  Sheriff Wyatt Earp had his two brothers and Doc Holliday looking out for him.  Aviator Charles Lindbergh had nine businessmen from St. Louis and the services of Ryan Aeronautical Company, which built his plane.”  The truth is, no one reaches success without the help of others.

How do you build a winning team?  What makes a winning team?  Why do some teams seem to go straight to the top while others seem to go nowhere?  These are the questions we will be seeking to answer in my new Mastermind Course on John Maxwell’s book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork.   My passion is to help teams win.  If you want to learn how to build a winning team let me encourage you to sign up for this course. Go to

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Books That Have Made an Impact On My Life

While I was in Romania last week, I was asked the question “What books have had the most impact on your life?”  I get asked this question on a regular basis.  For this article I thought I would list the top ten leadership books that, up to this point, have added the most value to my life in the area of leadership.

1.  The Bible: This one is obvious.  More than any other book, the Bible has changed me and continues to change me.  The Bible is the Word of God and no other book has the potential to change us like the Bible.  It is, by far, the greatest leadership book in the world.  Most everything I have learned about leadership, I have learned from the Bible.

2.  Spiritual Leadership (J. Oswald Chambers): Spiritual Leadership is the best book I've read on Christian leadership.  No other book, other than the Bible, has influenced my life the way this one has.  This book does not borrow principles of leadership from the world and try to force them to fit the Bible, but rather derives principles of leadership for every area of life and work from the Scriptures.

3.  Developing the Leader Within You (John C. Maxwell): I list this book, not because it is the best book I’ve read on leadership, but because it was the first book I read in the area of leadership.  This book awakened me to the subject of leadership and introduced me to John Maxwell.

4.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey) This book is simply one of the best leadership development books of all time.  Covey shares 7 habits to improve every relationship in your work and private life.  My productivity increased tremendously when I began to apply the lessons learned from this book.

5.  The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John C. Maxwell): This book is among the best books ever written on leadership.  The content here is good and it's practical.  I teach this book on a regular basis.  I believe it is the foundational book for anyone desiring to raise their leadership lid.  I keep this book and a typed list of the 21 laws taught in this book on my desk at all times.

6.  Good to Great (Jim Collins): This book is fascinating.  Also considered one of the best leadership books of all time.  Jim Collins highlighted eleven companies and how they made the leap from good to great.

7.  The Leadership Challenge (James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner): John Maxwell considers this to be the best leadership book of all time.  Kouzes and Posner show how leadership can be learned and mastered by all of us.  I could hardly put this book down once I started reading.

8.  Today Matters (John Maxwell): John teaches you how to seize the day with 12 daily practices to help you control your daily agenda, make time for people you love, and find success in your career.  A very practical book.

9.  The Bible on Leadership (Lorin Woolfe): I am actually reading this book now for the first time.  It certainly will not be the last.  This book is full of leadership wisdom.  I have marked this book up to capture many quotes, thoughts, and stories.  This is a must read book for anyone who desires to grow in leadership.

10.  The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey): While not a book on leadership, this book has made a huge impact on my life.  Following Ramsey’s baby step approach to being debt free allowed my wife and I to experience the liberty of having no debt (with the exception of our house).  Becoming more disciplined in our finances challenged us to become more disciplined in other areas of our lives as well. Leaders are looked up to. Leaders should set the example in the area of money management.  It adds credibility to their leadership.  If you are heavy in debt this book is a must.

I would like to invite you to "Like" my B N Leadership Facebook Page

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Moving Beyond Mediocrity - Average Is Not Good Enough

For me, life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity.  With our life, God has given us a golden opportunity and we should use it to reach our full God-given potential.  Every person has been endowed with a certain mixture of abilities, gifts, talents, and opportunities which makes him or her unique.  There is something that God has placed within each of us that causes us to cry out to be above average and extraordinary.

Unfortunately, many people are trapped in mediocrity.  I believe one of the main reasons is that they do not dare to be different.  You must dare to be different if you want to be above average.  As someone has said:

“Excellence can be obtained if you: more than others think is wise;
...risk more than others think is safe;
...dream more than others think is practical;
...expect more than others think is possible.”

Do you dare to be different?  Your answer will make the difference between excellence and mediocrity.  Below are some questions to help you check yourself and take action:

1. Do you have a dream?
One of the main reasons people simply follow the crowd is because they don’t have a dream of their own.  They have nothing to pursue.  Having a dream is what sets you above  average.

2. Are you doing what matters to you?
Many people neither strive for or achieve excellence because what they are doing is not what they want to be doing.  They are not doing what matters to them.  What they are currently doing leaves them unmotivated.  When you do what matters to you, you are naturally motivated to achieve excellence in that area.

3. Are you working in your area of strength?
It’s hard to rise above average when what you are doing is outside of your strength zone.  You can only be successful at that which you are gifted.

4. Do you fear failure?
Failure is a part of life.  In fact, successful people always have more failure in their lives than average people do.  Only those who never try, never fail.  Anyone who is achieving anything in life is at the same time risking failure.  Everybody gets knocked down.  It’s how fast he gets up that counts.  Don’t fear failure.  Those who don’t take chances don’t make advances.

5. Are you making a difference?
I have found that when people see that what they are doing is making a difference in the lives of others, their motivation intensifies.  They are challenged to be and do the best they can because it matters to others.  There is no motivation to strive for excellence if what you are doing doesn’t matter to others.  Look for opportunities to invest in others and to help make their lives better.  You’ll find yourself striving for excellence.

I would like to invite you to "Like" my B N Leadership Facebook Page

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, law number six is the “The Law of Solid Ground.”  The law of solid ground states that “trust is the foundation of leadership.”  Leaders must always remember that if people can’t trust you, neither will they follow you.  In other words, if trust is not the foundation of our leadership, then no matter how charismatic we are, how smart or gifted we are, our leadership will come crashing down.  As one person has said, “charisma may get you in the door, but character is what keeps you in the door.”

In his book, The Case for Character, Drayton Nabers writes, “Character counts is an understatement.  Our success in family and business depends upon our character.  The strength of our nation's government and its economy rests on good character.  In fact, character is the single most important building block for quality of life in any individual, company, team, or nation.”

How many times, in recent years, have we seen leaders and their companies come crashing down because of the lack of character on the part of the leaders?  It is the responsibility of the leader to work hard to earn the trust of people and then to work even harder to keep that trust.  Trust is like a mirror, once its broken you can never look at it the same again.

Leadership operates on the basis of trust.  How do you gain the trust of people?

I would like to invite you to "Like" my B N Leadership Facebook Page.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Qualities Of An Effective Leader

I have often been asked the question, “What makes a leader effective?”  While there are many qualities that one must possess to be an effective leader, I find five qualities that are common among effective leaders.

Effective leaders value people.
There are two kinds of leaders.  Those who value others and those who don’t.  Those who use people and those who help people.  Those who power-up over people and those who empower people.  Those that lord over other people and those who serve people.  Effective leaders genuinely care about people. The best leaders are those who people follow because they choose to follow them.

Effective leaders have strong personal convictions.
Effective leaders do not compromise their convictions.  Strong leaders do not doubt.  They know who they are, what they stand for, and where they are going.  They are willing to pay the price because they are driven by their convictions.

Effective leaders recruit other leaders.
Every good leader is a good recruiter of other leaders or potential leaders.  It is one thing to draw a crowd, it takes real leadership to be able to attract other leaders or future leaders.  Effective leaders know what to look for in recruiting potential leaders.

Effective leaders equip others.
Effective leaders make leadership training a priority in their organizations.  They are highly intentional in equipping others to be leaders.  They not only know how to perform well themselves; they also know how to motivate and equip others to reach their full potential as leaders.

Effective leaders have positive attitudes.
Effective leaders understand that one’s attitude really does determine his or her altitude.  Attitude can make a leader or break a leader.  No one wants to follow a person with a sour attitude.  People flock around those who have positive attitudes.

What qualities would you add to this list?

I would like to invite you to "Like" my B N Leadership Facebook Page.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Importance of Identifying YOUR Core Values

In the movie, A Few Good Men, two marines stand on trial for killing a fellow marine. Their lawyer attempts to demonstrate that the murder was the result of an order that the two marines had received from a Colonel.  The order ended up causing his death.  When their lawyer begins to investigate, the prosecuting attorney offers to reduce the sentence from 20 years to 6 months.

The Lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, goes to tell his clients the good news.  Harold, one of the marines, refuses the plea bargain and chooses instead to stand on trial.  Cruise is mortified.  If the case went to trial, they could lose and likely spend a lifetime behind bars.  Tom Cruise looks Harold in the eye and asks him why he would refuse a plea bargain of six months.  Harold responds, “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Tom Cruise, somewhat confused says, “What?”  He repeats, “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Harold explains that this is their code.  The center of marine values is “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Harold had followed the code, and if following the code meant that he would spend the rest of his life in prison, then so be it.  Unit, Core, God, and Country were his core values and they determined everything he did.  He lived by them and he would die by them.

What are your core values?  What is it that you believe in so passionately that it dictates your actions - it’s what you will live by and it’s what you will die by?  Although it may not be stated, every person reading this has a set of core values.  If you were to let me follow you through your day for two weeks, by the end of those weeks I could tell you what your core values are.  Core values determine your actions.  Therefore, it is extremely important to have the right core values.  Wrong values will lead to wrong behavior.  Right values will lead to right behavior.

What is the benefit of identifying your core values?

• Values give meaning to life.
• Values clarify purpose in life.
• Values help set vision and goals.
• Values make decisions easier.
• Values reduce stress.

How do you identify your core values?  Your core values are what is most important to you; not something you want, but something you literally live by and die by.  They are nonnegotiable.

Create a list of character qualities that are important to you.  For example: integrity, faith, excellence, truthfulness, etc.  You can google “Core Values” and find a number of lists of common personal values that will help you to think through this process.  Your first list may be very long.  That’s okay.  You'll narrow it down in the next step.

Revisit each value you listed and eliminate anything that is superficial or temporary.  Ask yourself, “Do I need it in my life to be true to God and myself?  If there's any doubt, delete it.

Repeat this process until you have a list of 6 to 12 values that are absolutely essential for life to be meaningful and fulfilling for you.  Write down your list of values and place it where you can see it every day as a reminder of the principles by which you live and make decisions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Leadership Begins in the Home

Leaders aren’t born, they’re developed and leadership development starts in the home.  Leadership is influence and parents provide the earliest influence on children.  By modeling leadership in their own lives, parents profoundly affect the kind of leaders their children become.  Training children to be leaders takes time and intentionality.  With Father’s Day approaching I want to encourage dads to be leaders at home first.  Men, I am calling you to be a model leader in your family.

Below are some ways you can be a good leader and model good leadership in your home:

Take time to know your children.
Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.  You cannot influence your children if you do not spend time to get to really know them.  Do you know your children’s personalities?  Do you know what moves them, what makes them laugh, what excites them?  Do you know what problems and issues your children are dealing with?  Do you know their strengths and weaknesses?  How can you help your children develop strengths and overcome weaknesses if you don’t know what they are?

Add value to your children.
Love your children unconditionally.  Take the time to praise your children regularly for right choices and gently point out the choice they missed when they go astray.  Give them age-appropriate responsibilities and let them stand or fall on their decisions.  Reward them when they stand, correct them and lift them up when they fall.

Demonstrate a Servant’s Heart
Take the time to involve your children in family activities and work.  Include service projects for those outside your immediate family as well.  This will help kids learn responsibility, teamwork (sharing and considering others) and a good work ethic.  In his essay titled “Three Roles of the Leader in the New Paradigm,” Stephen Covey wrote, “There is no place where [the] spirit of service can be cultivated like the home. . . . People are supposed to serve.  Life is a mission, not a career.”

Have a Teachable Spirit
When you make a mistake be the first to say, “I’m sorry.  I messed up.”  This teaches your children that it’s ok to fail.  Failing does not make one a failure.  We all fail.  Our response to failing determines whether or not we are a failure.  Saying “I’m sorry.  I messed up” shows that we understand that we are wiser today than we were yesterday.

Let your children see you learning, reading, listening to those who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you.  Your children will see that learning is a life long process.  Growth is a process not an event.

Demonstrate Faith
Teach your children how to know God, love God, and serve God.  If you want your children to grow up to serve God, then show them what serving God looks like.  If you want your children to grow up to make a difference in someone’s life for eternity, then show them how to lead a person to faith in Christ.  If you want your children to grow up to be givers, then show them what tithing and giving looks like. Teach them that leaders are givers.

Men, God has called you to be leaders in the home.  Step up!  Take the responsibility!  Lead!  Your children’s future depends on your leadership.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dealing with Distractions

Do you have any unfinished projects lying around collecting dust?  It’s so easy to get sidetracked; isn’t it?  It takes tenacity to finish what we start because there are always so many competing distractions. This became very personal for me this morning when I was working on one of my four messages I needed to prepare for this week.  As I started working and setting my mind to writing, I looked around my desk and saw how cluttered it was.  I said to myself, “Self, this desk needs cleaning off.”  I stopped working on my message to clean off my desk. As I was cleaning off my desk I saw some folders that needed filing.  So, I started filing. One non-essential task led to another and before I knew it, I had spent half the morning cleaning and filing when I should have been studying and writing.  And the sad part about all of this is - I know better.  I teach leadership lessons on how to stay focused and on task.

I was reminded that fighting distractions is a constant battle.  The fact is, sometimes distractions come disguised as harmless options or even good things.  There are many things that can distract us from what’s really important - things like meetings, TV, sports, reading, and even email.

That’s one of my biggest distractions.  I like to get up early so that I can read and pray and jump into sermon prep while I’m still fresh.  Lately however, I have found myself turning my computer on and checking email before anything else.  While that’s not really bad, it does serve as a distraction because it takes time.

What are your greatest distractions?  What are you doing to fight them?  When you walk into your office or place of employment tomorrow look around and ask yourself, “Is my desk and/or office a distraction?”  One commitment I made today is that I will work to keep my desk clear of anything that will distract me from doing what is most important each day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How Important Is Vision?

Burt Nanus, in his book Visionary Leadership, defines a vision as “a realistic, credible, attractive future for your organization.  It is your articulation of a destination toward which your organization should aim, a future that is better, more successful, or more desirable for your organization than is the present.”  John Maxwell, in his book, Put Your Dreams to the Test, defines vision (or dream) as, “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”  Nanus argues that the right vision “is an idea so energizing that it in effect jump-starts the future by calling forth the skills, talents, and resources to make it happen.” 

In speaking to the importance of vision, Michael Hyatt commented, “Vision and strategy are both important. But there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. Always. If you have a clear vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you.”

How important is vision?  I believe that those companies that do not have a clear and compelling  vision for the future are doomed to a slow demise.  Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived said, “Without vision, the people perish.”  Here are some benefits that I have found for having a clear and compelling vision.

Vision gives us hope.
Vision gives us direction.
Vision gives us motivation.
Vision gives us reason.
Vision gives us unity.
Vision gives us priorities.
Vision gives us energy.

What are your thoughts about vision?  Do you have one?  Have you shared it with others?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Tell Me What You Think of Me

Respect and Leadership go together.  You can't have real leadership without respect.  One can lead from position without respect, but a leadership position does not necessarily mean the holder of that position is a leader.  Dictators rely on violence and powering up on people to get them to do what they want them to do.  That’s not really leadership.  The mark of a real leader is when people choose to follow a leader because they respect him/her and in turn he/she respects them.   When leaders show respect for others - they gain respect from others.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says “gaining respect from others follows a pattern:

When people respect you as a person, they admire you.
When people respect you as a friend, they love you.
When people respect you as a leader, they will follow you.

It is wonderful when the people respect their leader, but it is even more wonderful when the leader respects his people.  The first and most important area of leadership is to show respect to others around you.

Earning Respect
One cannot demand respect.  Respect must be earned and that takes time.  Let me repeat this - Respect must be earned.  It is not given freely.  People don’t follow others by accident.  They follow individuals they respect.  One way to earn respect is to develop the traits in yourself that you admire in others.  Think about whom you respect and why?  Most people respect others that are honest, hard working, and are others centered.

I believe that one of the greatest sources of respect for a leader comes from his or her commitment to adding value to others.  This one thing is sure - followers value leaders who add value to them.  Great leaders will inspire respect in others by being a great example of showing respect.

Just as leadership and respect go together, so do success and respect go hand in hand.  My favorite definition of success is this: Success is having those closest to me love and respect me the most.  This would include my family but also those with whom I work every day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Enemies of Team Unity

I spent the day today with my team in our annual staff planning retreat this week.  We began the meeting discussing what worked well this past year, what did not work, and how we can improve.  It was a good discussion and everybody participated.  The result was a very productive time of sharing.  In reflecting on the day I was thinking about the power of staff unity for any organization.  When a team is “together” much can be accomplished.  There really is power in unity.

I read an article recently that quoted Dave Ramsey saying  “few churches or organizations experience real unity”. He then shared five enemies to unity on a church staff team.  I want to share with you these five enemies to team unity with an additional one that I added.  I want to challenge you to rate your organization in these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.  Is the unity of your team poor or strong?

1. Poor Communication
Communication is the key to a strong unified staff.  When the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, strife sets in.  I’ve heard Rick Warren state many times, “People are down on what they are not up on.”  Poor communication can lead to mis-communication which can lead to hurt feelings and anger which will ultimately lead to no communication.

2. Gossip 
Ken Sande, in his book on conflict resolution, The Peacemaker, gives the following definition for gossip. “To gossip means to betray a confidence or to discuss unfavorable personal facts about another person with someone who is not part of the problem or its solution."  There is no place for gossip in a team.  It is a major enemy of team unity.

3. Unresolved Disagreements
Disagreements are inevitable and can be beneficial if handled correctly.  A disagreement can lead to someone not making a huge mistake.  Unresolved disagreement, however, is never beneficial.  This happens when one person is not willing to listen or forgive. It may also result from a leader not knowing a disagreement exists or because of the leader’s fear of confrontation.

4. Lack of Shared Purpose
It is the responsibility of the leader to make sure that all members of the team are on the same page with the purpose and mission of the organization.  Lack of shared purpose occurs when the leader doesn't restate the goal, the vision, and the mission early and often.

5. Sanctioned Incompetence 
This happens when the leader keeps an inefficient team member because he/she feels sorry for them.  This can also happen when a team member with a bad attitude is kept on the team.

6. My Space Comes First Attitude
This is when one member of the team is more concerned about their own area than they are about the success of the whole organization.  This attitude is a major enemy to team unity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Leadership Lessons from a Tour Guide

I recently returned from a trip to Israel where we spent 9 days touring the country.  The group of 28 was led by a wonderful tour guide named David.  As I watched David I saw a number of qualities in this man that made him not only an excellent tour guide, but an excellent leader as well.

1. Leaders Serve
The Law of Solid Ground from John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, says “Leaders add value by serving others.”  David was our tour leader but he saw himself as a servant as well.  He added great value to our group.  He was available to help with any need anyone had during the entire trip.  He spent many hours going the extra mile to make sure that we had everything we needed and/or wanted.

2. Leaders Know the Way
The Law of Navigation says, “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.”  Being a first time guest in Israel, I could have never led our group of tourists to the various sites because I didn’t know the way.  David knew the way to every site and knew which sites to see first to make the most efficient use of our time.  As we traveled he would point out landmarks along the way.

3. Leaders Strive for Excellence
Our guide knew his material.  He knew the history, the facts, and the details of each site.  He gave more and shared more than was required.  After a full day of touring we would all retire to our rooms for a good nights rest.  David would spend time reviewing the schedule and reviewing his notes so that he would be well prepared to teach us the next day.  David spent many years studying and preparing to be the best tour guide he could be.  This was seen in his performance.

4. Leaders Connect with Others
The Law of Connection states, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”  David shared many personal stories that touched our hearts.  At the end of the tour, all 28 of us felt as if David was our best friend.  Each person felt that he had their best interest at heart.  We would follow David anywhere he wanted to take us.  David made a connection with the entire group.

5. Leaders Communicate with Excellence
David was an excellent communicator.  David told many stories: some that made us laugh and others that made us cry.  His humor was timed just right to perk us up when we were exhausted.  He sang.  He demanded.  He answered questions.  He asked questions.  He taught.  David talked all day everyday and we never got tired of hearing him.

As I watched David throughout the trip I saw in him the qualities that are the marks of good leadership.  We are planning another trip in two years.  If it is at all possible, David will be our tour guide.