Last night on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon mentioned that the #1 ranked song in america right now is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams


My kids love the song!  They said it makes them ‘feel good’.  My wife loves this song. Who doesn’t love this song? Furthermore, who doesn’t love feeling happy? Do you want to be happy?  Jesus said happy people share 8 common traits.



“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus

Because we are ‘poor in spirit’ and because God needs nothing from us, the happiest people admit they have nothing to offer God and everything to receive from Him. Admitting we have nothing to offer God means we stop thinking we’re doing God a favor when we pray or serve Him.  We’re blessed, most happy, when we simply come to God out of weakness and need.  God promises us heaven if we trust in Jesus.


“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” – Jesus

Happy people know little of ‘unhealthy pressure or anxiety’ that comes from worrying about what might happen and what you might lose.  Happy people know that even if something they have ‘goes away’, God will replace it with something better. God promises to comfort us.


“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” – Jesus

Meekness is not weakness.  Meekness is ‘strength under control’; like a racehorse guided and controlled by a rider.  All of that horsepower is under guided control.  That’s meekness.  Meek people are happy people.  They don’t walk around feeling like they constantly have to prove themselves. They know that the earth is their oyster (they inherit the earth).  God promises we can find happiness here on earth.


“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” – Jesus

The best people long for justice.  They want to become a person of honor who does what is right not just what is easy or popular.  And they should not doubt that they will find that God rewards them for their desire to be and do good.  God promises to fill them.


“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” – Jesus

It’s not my job to condemn others.  Only God holds the keys to heaven and hell.  Therefore, I know that because I am in constant need of God’s mercy toward me, I need to choose to show it toward others.  It’s simple reciprocity: we tend to receive what we give out.  A smile given is often met by a smile returned.  Opening the door for someone else often results in someone opening a door for you. God promises we’ll be treated with mercy if we show it to others.


“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” – Jesus

My Pastor, Bobby Edwards, used to say, “Live as if everything you do today is going to be read by everyone in the newspaper tomorrow morning.”  In other words, live with integrity.  Don’t keep a bunch of secrets.  Be transparent.  It’s the finest way to keep a clear conscience.  God promises to let pure people see Him.


“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” – Jesus

Conflict in relationships often comes because people try to change each other instead of just accept one other.  I love what Billy Graham’s wife once said upon being asked by a journalist about whether she had ever considered divorce.  Ruth Graham quipped, “Divorce?  No.  Murder?  Yes!” She quickly followed up by saying, “It’s not my job to change Billy.  That’s God’s job.  My job is to love Billy.”  God promises peacemakers a godly reputation.


“Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Jesus

When you surrender to a cause greater than yourself, you willingly give all.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Mahatma Gandhi. Mother Theresa. Nelson Mandela. Billy Graham.  Each of them faced difficulties in their respective causes: MLK to end racism, Gandhi to fee India, Mother Theresa to help the poor, Mandela to end Apartheid, and Billy Graham to spread the good news about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.  Once you’re willing to die for something, you’re ready to live for it!  God promises reward for those who face persecution.

NTOffer + NTLose + NTProve + NTDoubt + NTJudge + NTHide + NTChange + NTFear = HAPPINESS




Tired or Wired?
Are You Tired, Wired, & Tied up in “NOTS”?

These days I find my life’s cursor toggling between two extremes: tired or wired? Just completely exhausted and fatigued on the one hand, or totally “on edge” and hyper on the other. Know what I mean? For example, I either sleep deeply (as in drool from the mouth deeply:) or not at all. I either want to jump on the treadmill with “all my heart” or not at all. I either want to write this blog post…or not at all (right now I feel like writing:)

Is this healthy? Is this sustainable? This up and down roller-coaster; where does it lead?  My personality has always been fairly All-or-Nothing; extremely one way or the other.  But there is “a promised land” in between all-or-nothing that I am learning about.  And no, it’s not called “No Man’s Land”.  It’s called: Margin.

In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, And Time Reserves To Overloaded Lives, Dr. Richard Swenson vividly describes this land “flowing with milk and honey”:

  • Marginless is the baby crying and the phone ringing at the same time; margin is Grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. 
  • Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift: margin is a friend to carry half the burden. 
  • Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having time to read it twice. 
  • Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy.
  • Margin is red ink; margin is black ink.
  • Marginless is hurry; margin is calm.
  • Marginless is anxiety; margin is security.
  • Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture.
  • Marginless is reality; margin is remedy.

Can you relate to this? Time-starved, emotionally raw, mentally frayed, while your feet ache, eyes burn, ears ring and muscles tense up.  These are just a few of the physical symptoms of having no margin!

Let me submit  3 thoughts that could lead you into this promised land called Margin:


What do I mean?  What could I mean other than ignore “the screen”!  You know “the screen”: the computer screen, tablet screen, smart phone screen, tv screen.  Shut down your digital world for a little while. “For how long?” you ask?  As long as it takes.  As long as you need to be able to recharge, replenish and refuel.


What are the issues, people, problems, situations that currently have you “all tied up in ‘NOTS'”?  Tied up in “Nots” means being hindered by “can nots”.  I’m talking about that little voice inside your head that tells you what you cannot do. “Nots” like: I can NOT handle this pressure!  I can NOT catch a break! I can NOT get away, there’s just no time.

More importantly, what are you believing about them? For example, if you believe that you’re indispensable at work and that you’re the only one who can get your job done, then you’re less likely to delegate work to other capable people, which would then provide you with much-needed “life-margin”.  Vacation, anyone?

One way to untie the lie is to write down your thoughts in a journal. Dawson Trotman said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.”  Untie the lie “and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.


For example, one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind is the beauty of nature. He’s given us trees to enjoy, to climb up in or just to sit under their shade on a calm breezy day.  He’s created fragrant flowers, tall grass, and a sky above us that radiates (UNC Tarheel “blue”…further proof that God is a Carolina Fan:)

Nature offers us immediate recreation (RE-creation) if we will only notice it, wonder about it, and breathe its essence in and out of our lungs. Sounds galore.  Things to touch that awaken our senses.  These are God’s gifts to us. Not to notice nature is like being presented with a packaged gift that we never unwrap.  Nature is merely one of God’s gifts!

God’s greatest gift was sending His son, Jesus, who once said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Unwrap this gift and you’ll receive ultimate rest: salvation!


Listening to God
Listening to God

Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, says:

 “Leaders need to ask God to give them Samuel’s ear.”

Samuel was a Prophet written about in the Old Testament of the Bible. He had a reputation of being a man who often heard from God. His ability to hear from God began when he was a young child. Samuel’s mother had dedicated him to become involved officially in the Lord’s service.

As a young boy, he began to hear the whispers of God. Samuel was sensitive but had to learn awareness. The first 3 times God spoke to Samuel, it was in the middle of the night, and he did not recognize that it was God. But as this continued, on the 4th time, Samuel responded understanding that it was God himself. The ancient scripture says:

“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’.” – 1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)

I once read a story about Joan of Arc.  It’s said that on one occasion someone asked her why God only spoke to her.  It is said that she answered, “Sir, you are wrong.  God speaks to everyone.  I just listen!”

Thanks for that, Joan!  But how?  How do I hear God’s voice?  Unlike most other things in life, I don’t want to offer you a formula.  Like, if you do this + that + this other thing, then you’ll hear God’s voice.  I’m not interested in turning prayer into a formula.  Where’s the mystery and fun in that?

At the risk of sounding like I’m offering “just another” formula, let me share 3 thoughts:


Are you open to the possibility that God is saying something to you? Is your mind already made up?  Do you have an open mind or a closed mind toward God?  Without the right attitude, we may never “receive” the messages God is sending our way.

God could be knocking on our door (And He frequently does) but if we don’t get up and open the door to invite Him in, then we miss Him. Open your mind.  Open your heart.  Open your ears.  And listen…


Noise makes it hard to hear.  A persistent beating of background chaos crowds out “the still small voice of God”.  You hear what you want to hear in life.  You see what you want to see.  We have the gift of attention and we can place our focus anywhere we like.  It’s our choice.

“Be still, and know that I am God…” – Psalm 46:10a 

Silent.  Quiet.  Peaceful.  These are the environments that heighten our spiritual senses and orient our inner life God-ward.  Why not try it? Go by yourself to a garden, a park, the woods, somewhere, anywhere you can find some “stolen silence”.  Who knows, you just might hear God speak!


You know what I mean!  Servitude…your willingness to do something about what God tells you.  I guess, the biggest question about hearing from God is, “Is that what you really want?”.  I mean, what if I don’t like what God says?

If you aren’t doing what God has already told you to do, why would He speak to you about anything else?  Do what you know He’s told you to do already, and then wait to hear more from God.  Take the scriptures, The Bible, which is God’s Word, and pray them out loud back to God.  Then do what they say.  I’ll bet you’ll start hearing from God a lot more!




It’s March Madness. Let’s talk B-ball. Uno.  Dos.  Tres.  It’s known as  “the triple-threat position” and I learned it in high school. Anytime the ball was passed to me while playing high school basketball my coach taught me to “catch then crouch” into a ready stance.

From this position I always had 3 options for what to do next with the ball.  I could 1) dribble it 2) shoot it or 3) pass it (preferably to someone on my team:). The defender guarding me wouldn’t know which one of these 3 options I would choose making it more difficult to guard me. In other words, in this crouching, ready stance, I became “a triple-threat”.  Hold on: I think there’s a leadership lesson here!

Basketball players aren’t the only ones who can use this “triple-threat” stance.  Leaders can, too!  As a leader, you and I must be willing to “carry the ball” for our teams.  Have you noticed how champions always want the ball when the game is on the line?  Think Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning…oh, wait a minute…scratch that; not Peyton Manning:)  Effective leaders want the ball…in their hands.

But what do you do once it’s in your hands?How do you learn not to fumble it or turn it over to the wrong team? More importantly, as a leader, how can you learn to put the ball into the hands of your “star” players? I’ve observed that Triple-Threat Leaders practice 3 Rituals…

1. Triple-Threat Leaders Practice Triple-Threat Reading.

J. Oswald Sanders has wisely said, “Leaders are readers.” Leaders, growing ones at least, read voraciously.  Consuming enriching content that feeds their mind, nourishes their soul and enriches their spirit is paramount.  Why?  Because inputs lead to outputs.  Because we reap what we sow.  Garbage in, garbage out, right? Triple-Threat reading, at least for me, means I read in a Triple-Threat Cycle in 3 directions: 1) Scholarship 2) Discipleship and 3) Leadership.

First, I read books that are scholarly and hard-hitting; serious works done by serious thinkers.  Why?  To grow my mind. I read leading thinkers so I’ll become a thinking leader!  Philosophy, Logic, History, and Science are a few disciplines that come to mind.  When I’m finished with that book, I move to a book that deals with Discipleship.

I go from feeding my mind with great ideas to nourishing my heart with words of faith, hope and love. Discipleship helps me, as a follower of Jesus Christ, to learn how to become more like Him. You may not be a Christian, but I bet you’re a spiritual person.  Not religious, but spiritual.  And so I encourage you to read books that stir your soul’s conscience as part of a Triple-Threat Reading Cycle.

Thirdly, I move on and read about the subject of Leadership; which for me is the practical application of what’s in my head and heart.  John Maxwell. Warren Bennis.  Jack Welch.  Jim Collins.  Colin Powell. Rudy Guliani.  Patrick Lencioni.  Malcolm Gladwell.  Whatever “Leadership/Management Guru” you connect with, make it a point to read their stuff.

2. Triple-Threat Leaders Practice Triple-Threat Learning.

Pastor Rick Warren has rightly said, “Leaders are learners.”  Triple-Threat Learning means that we are constantly learning in 3 areas: 1) Vision 2) Knowledge and 3) Skills.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” goes the Proverb.   Vision lifts the fog.  Vision shines light on “the road less traveled”. Vision gives hope when we’re struggling to cope.

“My people die for lack of knowledge.”  God said this.  Leaders, heed this!  Triple-Threat Learning means we “keep seeking new information, constantly reality-checking our own perceptions, so that we can transform what we’re receiving into wisdom.

“We live in the Information Age, an era in which we are bombarded by data and drowning in information yet starved for knowledge.” – Robert W. Bly

“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.”  Wise Solomon penned these words.  Skill is the practical application of the knowledge you have obtained.  Skill is action.  Skill is decisive.  Skill moves. Skill is being strategic, intentional, and disciplined.  Triple-Threat Learning consists in gaining new and useful skills as a leader.  Sometimes, the leader focuses on ‘people skills’ (Resolving conflict, Inspiring others, Getting along well).  Other times, he/she turns their attention to technical skills like planning, delegating or project execution; all in an effort to learn “the skillz that pay the billz”!      

3. Triple-Threat Leaders Practice Triple-Threat Serving.

Robert K. Greenleaf wrote, “The Servant-Leader is servant first…” Triple-Threat Serving functions along 3 lines: 1) Equipping 2) Developing and 3) Empowering.

Equipping is teaching someone how to do a job or learn a new skill.

When a teacher helps a student learn the skill of typing proficiently, they are equipping them.  When a boss teaches a new employee how to use the Customer Relationship Management software they’ll be using in the office as part of their job, that’s equipping.  When a parent teaches his/her child how to tie their shoes or ride a bike, that’s equipping.  In the business world, equipping most often takes the form of training programs and skills classes offered to help employees improve their work performance.  That’s equipping. Developing people is different.

Developing is helping someone become a better person.  

When a wife helps her husband learn to be more patient with the kids, she’s developing him (Guys, isn’t that why they married us in the first place…not to change us but to help us…uhm, develop:).  When a parent helps his/her child acquire self-discipline, they are developing them to become a better human being.  Empowering goes further.

Empowering is giving someone your permission to make decisions and take action.

When a leader authorizes someone to “take charge” of a group of people or to assume responsibility for the completion of an important project, this leader is practicing empowerment.  He/She is giving power to this person.  Triple-Threat Leaders do this.  On a regular basis.  As a lifestyle.  It’s part of who they are.  They’re secure, so they give their power away to the people worthy of their trust.

Are you a TRIPLE-THREAT LEADER?  What could you do to begin practicing these 3 rituals right now?


Pick your spot and go for it!
Pick your spot and go for it!
Okay…moment of truth!  Opportunity slipping, slipping, sliding out of your hands…you’ve got seconds, minutes to decide whether you’re going to grab on to it. Your options? Go back-and-forth or just go for it?

It’s a defining moment; when ‘normal’ bleeds into a ‘new normal’ and we either ride on top of that wave or sink beneath gasping for air. And it’s all about timing: Doing the right thing at the right moment, when it counts.

To succeed in any situation you’ve got to “pick your spots”.  Winners know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run:)  How do you do that? I suggest doing a S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS on yourself and your situation to help you succeed.  Have you heard of S.W.O.T.?  It stands for: S-Strengths/W-Weaknesses/O-Opportunities/T-Threats.  Here’s how it works.  In your current situation try making the following 4 observations:


There’s always a bright spot!  You’ve gotta believe that.  No matter how negative your situation, there is always hope hidden somewhere. In your current situation ask yourself this question: What are you doing, right now, that is currently ‘working for you’?   Prayerfully (Yes, include God in this process) scan your surroundings for clues for what’s yielding positive results; the results you really want. What are the things you feel good about right now?  There’s something…you just have to look long enough, hard enough.  Looking for the bright spots will provide you with raw information that you can then transform into wisdom using the following key question and insight process.

  • Key Question: What should I KEEP doing?
  • Key Insight: Based on my analysis of the BRIGHT SPOTS, I will KEEP ________________________.


There’s always a blind spot!  No matter how smart, sensitive or self-aware we believe we are our rear-view mirror just isn’t big enough to show us everything!  The fact is…

None of us ‘sees’ everything.  But each of us ‘sees’ something.  Together, we can see what needs to be seen in order to succeed. (tweet that)

Why don’t you ask your spouse, a friend, or a co-worker to share with you areas of your life that they think you need to grow in. There’s a reason ‘feedback’ is the breakfast of champions!  It takes courage to ask for honest feedback, but even greater courage to act on the responses you receive! The feedback you receive will give you “the nuts and bolts” of what you’ve been missing because it’s in your blind spot.  You can take that “raw” data and turn it into “news you can use” by following the key question/key insight process…

  • Key Question: What should I STOP doing?
  • Key Insight: Based on my analysis of the BLIND SPOTS, I will STOP_________________________. 


We’re not really taught in our formal education how to “spot opportunities”.  Our public education system primarily focuses on problem-solving, teaching us to “trouble-shoot”; to become problem-spotters.  We believe if we spot and then remove the cause of the problem, we’ll resolve the problem.  Sometimes that’s true.  But not always.  Many times success requires you to have the ability to spot and seize “an opportune moment” more than solve some nagging problem.  As Diane Ravitch has said:

“The person who knows “how” will always have a job.  The person who knows “why” will always be his boss.”

People who understand the ‘why’ know the value of spotting the opportunities and not merely the problems.  Use the key question/key insight approach and you can learn…

  • Key Question: What should I START doing?
  • Key Insight: Based on my analysis of the HOT SPOTS, I will START_______________________.


In a globally competitive culture such as ours, we need to be aware of the dangers if we (our brand, company, mission, cause) is to survive and thrive.  What or who threatens to undermine our success?  What could happen (to us, around us, within us), that if it did happen, would spell certain disaster to our enterprise?

Are we in danger of losing money, talented employees, market share, the goodwill of our customers, public trust or some other needed resource?  Do we have our priorities straight?  Aligned?  Answering these questions according to the key question/key insight method shows us…

  • Key Question: What should I PREPARE to do?
  • Key Insight: Based on my analysis of the TIGHT SPOTS, I will PREPARE myself to ______________.


And finding your SWEET SPOT always = SUCCESS!  Remember, to win…”pick your spots”!


When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in our selves. - William Arthur Ward
When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in our selves. – William Arthur Ward

I once heard a speaker say that when people are around him, they perform at a higher level. And I wondered about myself: Do I bring out the best in others?  I want to, but do I?  And, how?

As I thought about how to bring out the best in others, I noted 4 ideas for how to make that happen.


“Mine the gold of good intentions” as Drs. Les Parrot and John C. Maxwell write in their book, 25 Ways To Win With People.  Maxwell goes on to say, “I’ve found that when I’m suspicious of others, it causes me to display wrong behavior toward them.  And it actually makes any interaction with them worse.”

I can choose to believe the best about others and “get burned” occasionally; or I can stay suspicious of everyone and never feel the warmth of joy that only real trust between friends can bring.

Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


People often do their best to “live up to” what their most respected peers think of them. In fact, as I think back over my past relationships, the people who expected success from me most often received my best efforts.  The ones who wouldn’t bet on me, the ones who expected me to lose, often ended up getting left behind as I continued growing to reach up to the high expectations of those who did believe in me.

“Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


As you lead others and seek to bring out the best in them, you do so on the premise that there is already a “best” inside of them needing to be coaxed out.  How do you draw latent greatness out of people?  You expose them to what it looks like in others.  You help them recognize it; to know it when they see it.  That way, when they are moving toward it in their own lives, they learn to see it in themselves, too.

Instead of “name-dropping” to impress others, why not introduce them to the VIP’s you know in order to help them grow?  Don’t hoard contacts or information.  Be generous.  Share.


This especially applies to the way in which you as a leader teach others.  If you’re a leader, then you’re a teacher.  You may or may not be good at it, or even like it, but you are in a situation where someone is looking to you for guidance and needs the expertise you have to share.  So, teach them!  Help them.  Pass along to them the great teaching you’ve received along the way in your life.

“I believe that whatever I’ve been given is to be shared with others. And because I have an abundance mind-set, I never worry about running out myself.” – John C. Maxwell

Remember that, act on it, and you’ll bring out the B.E.S.T. in others.


Ellen Degeneres, Host of the 86th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony
Ellen Degeneres, Host of the 86th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony

Were you one of the millions of viewers who watched the 86th Annual Academy Awards last night? I actually watched on purpose:) I usually can’t justify wasting my time sitting through this kind of programming, mainly because I get bored easily. But last night I decided to endure it with the intention of “thinking through it” and analyzing it.

I laughed.  A lot.  Ellen was funny.  The presenters made gaffe after embarrassing gaffe (John Travolta mispronouncing Idina Menzel’s name and changing it to  ‘Adele Dazeem’ being the worst).  Acceptance speeches dragged, as usual.  Most of them forgettable. Except for one: Matthew McConaughey’s.  I know, I can hear your inner monologue right now saying,“Alright, alright, alright.”  But hearing McConaughey deliver his signature “good ole’ boy ‘alrights’ wasn’t the most memorable part to me.  It was the sermon outline he gave (the one I’ll probably steal and use soon) and the way he defined success for himself.  Did you catch it?

Matthew McConaughey’s speech had 3 main points…He said, “There are a few things, 3 things to my count, that I need each day.  Uhm, one is something to look up to.  Another is something to look forward to and another is someone to chase.” He went on to say that God is the one he’s looking up to, His family are the ones he looks forward to. And a better version of himself is the one he’s chasing.  Clever, I thought.  Meaningful, too.

The culture of the Oscars is one of American free enterprise success. Self-made actors and actresses who started out poor and ended up..well, here, on stage in front of millions of fans, tell their stories of success! Success is paraded and presented as meaning good looks, being recognized for one’s work, having money (lots of it), and attention.  But is that true success?  Not to me, not to millions of Americans  and evidently not to Matthew McConaughey.  I think the best moment of the entire Oscars ceremony was when Matthew McConaughey turned, looked toward his wife and said, “To my wife, Camila, and my kids Levi, Pita, Mr. Stone.  The courage and significance you give me every day I go out the door is unparalleled. You are the four people in my life that I wanna make most proud of me.  Thank you.”

When I heard him say that, I wondered who else caught it.  To me he defined success; true success.  I remembered a definition of success Dr. John Maxwell has adopted and taught for many years:

“Success is having the people who know me best, love and respect me the most”. (tweet that)

How do you define success?  How do you know when you’re being successful in your life?