Do you like receiving recognition? I’ll bet you do. Me, too! Just about everyone I know appreciates a pat on the back once in a while. Recognition is emotional oxygen! That’s why it’s a leader’s greatest weapon in working with people.

I believe there are at least 3 RESULTS OF RECOGNITION. As a leader try to remember that…


The #1 method for showing followers what you expect from them is to model the behavior yourself. The second best way is to offer recognition when they do it themselves!

Leadership expert, John Maxwell, teaches leaders to “catch followers doing something right”. Instead of noticing only when someone makes a mistake or does something the wrong way, make it a point to notice when they do something right. For example…

  • When a child or teenager playing sports reaches down to help another player stand back up after they’ve fallen, applaud that young person’s good sportsmanship!
  • When your employee handles a sensitive situation with a customer in a way that expresses and embodies your company’s core values, let them know how much you appreciate them for it.
  • When you see your spouse working hard to make changes in their life to improve and work on the relationship, thank them for it.

Recognizing people is one way of checking in with them so they won’t check out. As Dr. Elmer Towns says…

“People don’t do what’s expected, they do what’s inspected.”

Secondly, remind yourself that as a leader…


“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Dr. John Maxwell

Undercover Boss is a great reality tv show. One of the reasons people like the show is the premise behind it. The boss disguises himself/herself and goes to a location to work for a time in the position of one of his/her employees. By doing this the boss is able to see all that’s required for their employees to “get the job done”. Invariably, at the end of the show, not only does an employee walk away with a heightened sense that they’re cared for, but the boss walks away having gained a new perspective which produces more empathy for the “plight” of their employees.

Thirdly, as a leader try to bear in mind that…


I believe that a compliment does much more than merely feed positive emotions, I believe it actually releases physical energy within the person receiving the recognition.

“Leaders incorrectly assume their most important leadership asset is their time. I humbly disagree. I believe it is a leader’s energy and ability to energize other people and new initiatives…What is unique about a leader is their energizing capabilities…Who or what are you energizing?” – Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor, Willowcreek Community Church

I believe that one of the surest ways to energize those you lead is by giving them recognition.

“I can live for two months on a good compliment” – Mark Twain



“If you’re feeling powerless in any aspect of your life, you can change! You can move beyond powerlessness and regain the power you feel you lost or never had.”  With those words, Dr. Blaine Lee begins the 3rd chapter in his foundational book The Power Principle: Influence with Honor, offering hope to all those who’ve ever felt helpless to change their life.

Power.  What is it? Where does it come from? How do I get more of it? How can I use it to improve my life? These questions swim below the surface of our every day lives much like a shark in the ocean, giving only the occasional sight of its fin breaking the surface of the water.

In fact, this is how many people view power…like it’s a predator to be feared (I’m assuming we share a basic human fear of sharks here:) My apologies if we don’t and you love sharks like they’re pound puppies.

Back to power.  Many see it as bad.  Truth is: it can be.  We’ve all felt the sharp needled pain of getting the raw end of some deal where we lost our power. From simply losing an argument, to losing our job, to even much bigger things like losing in divorce court; power-loss is felt by each of us.

How do you feel about power? Does it scare you?  Intrigue you? Draw you? As Dr. Blaine Lee says:

“We all want power.  We may not want to rule nations or run corporations, but we do want to get results in our lives. We want our children to listen to us; we want our co-workers to work with us rather than against us; we want our friends to respect us.”

Allow me to make 3 observations about leaders and power.

Natural Leaders Have A POWER BIAS.

What is power?  Dr. Blaine Lee defines power as “the potential to influence others for good or evil, to be a blessing or a scourge.” Leaders “see the world” through a lens of “power and influence”.  When they look at people, when they’re sizing up situations, leaders naturally perceive reality in light of a power bias.  They ask: Who is influencing whom?  Who has the power in this situation?  Who is leading and who is following? How are people being influenced and decisions being made?  As Dr. Lee points out, “We seem to have an innate ability to measure power in our fellow man.” 

All leaders Choose A POWER BASE.

Basically, there are 3 paths people take to influence one another. These 3 paths are: Force, Negotiation, and/or Honor.

Force?  Another word for it is: Coercive Power.  This is when we attempt to control others; whether through physical force, or through psychological intimidation and fear. Some leaders I’ve known used this as their primary means of leading. The reason people did what these leaders said was because they were afraid not to. Obviously this is inferior and will only last as long as the threat seems credible. In reality it is a very weak position to influence from.

Negotiation? Another word for it is: Utility Power. You have something I want and I have something you want. This is the predominant way adults in America deal with one another. We negotiate. We make deals. This is not bad, but it is inferior. It works, until one of us finds a better deal.

Honor? This is the way of love. Instead of trying to make someone do what they don’t want to do, you focus on shared values and vision. People follow this kind of leader because they believe in him/her and what they’re trying to accomplish. This is lasting influence, enduring power. This is not power over others but with others. Agreement. Teamwork. Win-Win relationships. These are the results of choosing a power base of honor.

As a leader, you and I choose which of these three power bases we will lead from.  Force/Fear, Negotiation, or Honor. As Blaine Lee affirms,

“The wise leader recognizes that a real leadership choice is made when you choose a power base.”

Great Leaders Provide A POWER BOOST.

Great leaders give away their power to others. How? They encourage others. Encouragement is empowerment. Great leaders enlighten others. Enlightenment is empowerment. Great leaders authorize others. Sharing authority is empowerment. As one wise man has said, “Boast less. Boost more.”  I’m trying to grow and improve in this area.

Personally, I believe that all power comes from and belongs to God. God’s power enables leaders to stop boasting and start boosting others.

God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. – Psalm 62:11 (KJV)

For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another. – Psalm 75:6-7 (TLB)


Carry Your Own Weight Every person carries the weight of their world upon their shoulders. Each person you meet, carries a silent but important set of burdens invisible to others.  Growing as a person often comes as the result of learning “to carry” certain things in life. For example,  you’ll grow when you learn to…

CARRY YOUR OWN WEIGHT…This is an issue of self-awareness (Perception), self-evaluation (Reflection) and self-leadership (Motivation).

Reflection, the ability to reflect back on past experiences, is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind.  Through reflection we learn, we grow wise, we mature.  To sit down and intentionally remember something you’ve experienced in order to learn from it is one of the surest ways of prompting personal growth.  Reflection is cousin to meditation.  Fixing something in your mind and dwelling on it for some time in order to analyze it and learn from it is one way we learn to carry our own weight as independent adults. How did I handle that situation at work?  Could I have handled it differently?  Better?  What will I do differently next time? What grade would I give myself as a husband/wife, mother/father, daughter/son, sister/brother?

As you reflect, you expand your “field of sight” enhancing your awareness and points of reference. You see further, deeper, clearer. Connecting with past events gives continuity to yourself, putting together the pieces of the puzzle that lead to your wholeness. As you grow your awareness of yourself, you can lead yourself better.  As John Maxwell says, “You can’t grow yourself if you don’t know yourself.”

CARRY THE BALL FOR YOUR TEAM…This is an issue of responsibility (What am I willing to do?), capacity (What am I able to do?) and contribution (What difference will I make?)

Brian Tracy encourages ambitious knowledge workers to go to their bosses and ask to be given more and greater responsibility.  He encourages up-and-coming stars to position themselves as the “Go to Guy or Gal”.  Their willingness to “take the ball and run with it” will impress their bosses and earn them a reputation of being dependable and able to make things happen. This continual stretching for more and more responsibility in turn stretches their capacity, their ability to handle stuff. Of course all of this enables them to contribute and really make a difference.  It’s a decision you make as a member of the team.  Even if no one else goes with me…I’m going to take the ball and head for the end zone!

CARRY YOUR CROSS…This is an issue of spiritual submission (What great cause or person will I surrender my life to?), self-sacrifice (What will I give up to get there?) and single-mindedness (What one thing will I focus on?).

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” – Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)

Are you willing to carry your cross?  By the way, what cross do you bear? What great cause, mission, service, are you giving your life for?  Make sure that the work you do, the things you give your attention, affection and time to are worthy things.

Remember, the greatest burden in life is having none to carry!

HAS YOUR EXPECTOR EXPIRED? (Thanks to Dr. John Maxwell for this title)


Quick, take a guess without looking at the end of the next sentence!  What word…begins with the letter ‘H’, is a four-letter word (Hint: it’s not a curse word) and determines whether your live or die?  What’s your guess?

“You can go forty days without food and three days without water and you can go eight minutes without air.  But you can’t go a single second without hope.  You need hope to cope.” – Rick Warren

Hope.  H.O.P.E.  Did you guess correctly?  It’s a small word with big impact. It’s hard to overstate the impact this word has on our daily lives.  Hope colors our every perception; from the way we see people and events, to the way we think about our future.  It’s the umpire in our decision-making, helping us decide whether to “steal home” or “keep our foot on base”.  As they say, “You can’t steal second with your foot on first (It’s a baseball thing…since we’re now into the 2104 Spring Baseball Season).” Hope is the determining factor in whether you “play it safe” or “go for it” in your life. What is hope?  Hope is expectation.  Specifically, it’s the expectation that things will get better.  That no matter how hard, difficult, challenging, frustrating or demoralizing your set of circumstances may feel, tomorrow will be better than today.  Hope is more than ‘wishful thinking’ or ‘the power of positive thinking’.  It’s a deep, inner belief; the conviction that you have the ability to change things within and around you for the better. Sometimes, when I see the four letters that make up the word HOPE, it makes me wonder: Has Our Passion Expired?  Or to put it another way: has our expector expired?  Have we stopped believing in a better future? Have we given up on our being able to improve things?  Obviously, this differs from person to person…but what about you?  Do you have hope?

“It’s asked everyday by thousands of people in thousands of different situations. When you’re sitting in the doctor’s office awaiting tests, you hear the question, “Is there hope?” When you’re standing by the bedside at the hospital, you hear the question, “Is there hope?” When a couple who’ve put months and months into marriage counselors sitting there and get nowhere, they’re thinking in their minds, “Is there hope?” When you’re dealing with a tax accountant in a bankruptcy court, you ask “Is there hope?” When you lose a loved one and you’re overwhelmed with grief, you say to yourself, “Is there hope?” – Rick Warren

Where does hope come from?  I guess I have only one answer.  God.  It comes from God.  God created us with the capacity to hope for things; to expect things, to wish for things.  To exist is to be alive with expectations. If your heart is beating, you’re hoping! I want to conclude by sharing 3 HOPE HINTS:

1. LIFE’S DELAYS ARE NOT NECESSARILY DENIALS. No matter how long you’ve waited for something…don’t give up hope just because it hasn’t happened yet.  To God, there’s a big difference between ‘No’ and ‘Not Yet’!  Be patient.  Persevere.  If it’s worth having, it’ll be worth waiting for.

2. LIFE’S DETOURS MAY ACTUALLY BE OUR DESTINY. When we think all hope is lost, that we’ve gone so far off course that we could never get back to where we want to be…this may actually be God’s plan in action.  Has God ever messed up your plans?  He has mine!  In fact the ancient Proverb says:

 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

No matter how far off course you feel you are, in that moment you can find the Lord.  And when you sense God, you see Hope.  God doesn’t just give you hope, He is hope!  With God anything is possible.  Take heart, you might just be right where God has always wanted you!

3.  GOD’S NOT DONE WITH YOU SO KEEP DREAMING! If you’re breathing, there’s a reason.  If you’re still on this earth, there’s a purpose God has for you.  There’s something you still need to do!  God’s not through with you yet!  Take heart!  Take hope from that truth!

“Nothing in life happens to you, it happens for you.  God wouldn’t have allowed it if He didn’t have a purpose.” – Pastor Joel Osteen

God has placed a dream inside of you.  If you haven’t gotten your dream done yet, God isn’t done.  Keep dreaming!



Russell Crowe as Noah
Russell Crowe as Noah

But Noah (Russell Crowe) found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Can we start there?  With God’s grace?  Can we begin a review of this movie applying Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”?


I saw the movie ‘Noah’ last night.  I was impressed by the breadth and scale of the director’s vision.  Of course, it was of “Biblical Proportions”:)

For example, nature’s full glory and fury rise in the form of fortress-like walls and waves of water.  “Death by water” Noah’s character quips during one scene in the movie.  The landscapes were breathtaking, reminding me of “Scottish”‘ green pastures and high mountain cliffs.  The wardrobe choices were “cool”.  I expected robes.  They wore pants:) My friend said, “It’s kind of ‘Lord of the Rings'”.  I said, “Yeah, it’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Lord of the Rings!”.  We laughed.  Me a little more as I recalled Johnny Depp’s make up and costume as Captain Jack Sparrow.


But then, the movie got weird, and I was reminded that what I was watching wasn’t really God’s story as told in The Bible, but a different story; one being brought to life by Oscar Winning actors and actresses accompanied by enchanting music scores. Entertaining, yes!  But then there’s those nagging…what do we call them…facts.  Thank you, Columbo!

“Director Darren Aronofsky called his movie “the least biblical film ever made,” The Telegraph reported. He also claimed his leading character, Noah, was the “first environmentalist,” something that suggests the movie storyline doesn’t exactly follow the Bible’s.”

Because there are so many factual discrepancies in the movie itself (Both my friend and I agreed the storyline veered off into a manufactured direction) perhaps the best question is, “In what ways does the movie agree with the Biblical story in Genesis?”.  Honestly, only a few.

For instance, they did keep the main character’s name the same:)  God is involved (He’s called ‘The Creator’ in this movie), though His name is never actually spoken once. Then again, neither is God’s name mentioned in the Book of Esther in the Bible, but you certainly know He’s present in the story!  Not a big deal.  But then there was that bit about how God’s character is portrayed: as merciless and unfeeling.

I noticed that God’s motives for why He initiates the flood are misrepresented. For example, in the Bible God sends the flood because of the depth and incorrigibility of mankind’s sin.  Specifically implied in the Biblical story is that violence (Murder, Torture, Inhumane Treatment of People, Child Sacrifice and Cannibalism) and sexual immorality (Rape, Adultery, Homosexuality and Fornication) are the primary impetus for God’s wrath.

In the movie, however, God is seen as destroying people because they refuse to care for the earth or happen to be a meat-eater.  As a matter of fact, my friend said, “I felt more offended as a meat-eater than a Christian. It was like an assault on my diet!”


Viewing the movie prompted me to consider that each of us “lives within a story”. What we see when we look at the world of people and objects around us depends to a great degree on what we think and believe within us.  In other words, what I find when I look at the world is what I’ve told myself is there to see.  This becomes my story; my own personal version of reality.

Telling myself “the true story” not just “my story” is vital to faith.  Just because God first relayed the facts of creation through a book and not on an ipad does not call into question it’s reliability. The Bible may tell us “the old, old story” but it remains historically accurate, poignant and timely for 21st century conditions today.  Objective reality does exist even if I refuse to acknowledge it.  The sun will “rise and shine” whether I choose to look at it or not!


In the late 1980’s, Bono used to say at U2 concerts, “God is good. He gave us Hollywood.”  Hmm, did he?  Well, I think it’s more like God gave us stories and we built Babel with it; our own monument to ourselves.  God invented it, we just branded it.  We shaped it into our own image.

Keep in mind that ‘Noah’ is hollywood.  It’s CGI, green screens and props. It is art, after all, not archeology.  It isn’t science, nor is this movie the work of serious Theologians. It’s cleverly written and creatively imagined but in the end, it’s just a movie; flooded (pun intended:) with fake sets, cool stunts and handsome people convincingly pretending to be somebody they’re not:) Fun to experience; just don’t build your theology on it!




As the demands on you grow, is your capacity to handle it growing?

“The most common cause of executive failure is inability or unwillingness to change with the demands of a new position.” – Peter Drucker

The knowledge, skills, and expertise that raised you to your current level of effectiveness will not be enough to take you to the next level of responsibility.  In order for you to move up, you’ll need to grow.  Makes sense, right?  Not to a lot of leaders.  Too many of us assume our current level of ability will be enough to launch us to the next level of achievement. But it won’t.  Not by a long shot. You’ve got to keep growing to keep climbing!  So, how do you change with the demands of your new level of responsibilities? Are you willing to learn, unlearn and relearn a few things in order to acquire new knowledge and skills?

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

What are you unlearning lately?  To put it another way, what old habits are you breaking by establishing new ones?  The list will differ from person to person as well as depend on each individuals temperament tendencies, but I want to list a few I’ve had to deal with in my own leadership.


One man said, “There is no completion.  There are only deadlines.”  What he meant, is that there’s no such thing as perfection in your work.  But there are deadlines that must be met with excellence.  There are 3 times when I can do my work: ahead of time, on time or when I’m out of time. Procrastination is the culprit that causes tardiness in turning in our work and meeting deadlines.  It’s also what causes us to resist the preparation required to get things done on time.

In his book The Road Ahead, Bill Gates wrote about how procrastination hurt him in the early days of Microsoft. Old habits he’d developed in college carried over into his professional life creating problems with colleagues and customers. He had to unlearn and relearn better work habits in order to obtain a certain level of success.  How did he learn this?  From unhappy customers!

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”― Bill Gates



Margin?  Recall that word?  Sure you do, we’ve just forgotten what it means and how to apply it.  Margin is the space between you and your limits.  Yes, you have limits!  I know, the self-help authors don’t want you to admit that. They want you to keep buying their books, which decreases the margin in your bank account:)

Margin is having space in your life, room to breathe, time to rest, a family to enjoy and friends to laugh with. “Life comes at you fast” the commercial says.  But do I have to sprint to keep up?  You and I need to get into a rhythm in our life without digging a rut.  It doesn’t matter how productive you think you’re being and how fast you’re accomplishing things, if they’re the wrong things, then you’re in a rut.  Regardless of how fast you’re traveling, a rut is still a rut.  You’re digging yourself a ditch…only faster and more productively:)

You’re in a rut when you feel like you’re in the rat race.  When there’s no time for leisure.  When there’s no more room for pleasure.  When there’s no quiet moments for you to steal away and be with yourself and God.  We’re built to need these things.  They’re not “nice-to-have-if-you’re-retired”. They’re for busy people; like you and me.

These are some things I’m unlearning and relearning.  What about you? What are you unlearning these days?  What are you relearning lately?


THERE YOU GROW AGAIN…When Pain Becomes Gain

There You Grow Again

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?”

It’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?  How does your garden grow?  Not your portfolio.  Not your popularity.  Not your status.  But your garden…how does it grow? When I say your garden I mean your self, your soul, your spirit, that part of you that’s living inside your body.  How do you grow as a person?

“Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

How do we get better?  Through pain.  I’m learning that without some pain in my life, I’m growing nowhere!  Jesus had a brother named James.  James said: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Instead of Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” I can hear James singing “Let It Grow, Let It Grow, Don’t hold it back anymore…” (Sorry, I have 3 kids who love “Frozen”) One of our greatest mistakes is trying to remove ourselves prematurely from uncomfortable situations before we have had a chance to grow through them.

“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” – Hebrews 5:8 (NLT)

Like a pebble in your shoe, pain forces us to “take off our shoe”  so that we can examine and deal with what’s causing the pain.  This is called processing our pain. Processing means deciding what kind of pain it is  and what it means to you.  Is it emotional pain?  Physical pain?  Relational pain?  What? Pain can mean all kinds of things to all types of people.  Pain can mean permanent defeat to the pessimist or temporary discomfort to the optimist. Pain can become our platform for serving the world or our own personal pity-party.  You may not get to choose when you feel pain, but you can choose what pain will mean to you.  As they say:

In life, pain is inevitable; misery is optional.

How are you choosing to see your pain?  Are you just going through your pain or are you growing through it?