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. https://www.facebook.com/pages/B-N-Leadership/293897774031884

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?