INTELLECT…Am I challenging my mind?

LEADING THINKERS AND THINKING LEADERS
LEADING THINKERS AND THINKING LEADERS

Man cannot live by bread alone. He also needs some facts. Did you know your intellect craves facts like your body craves food? And just as there are all kinds of foods to choose from, there are all kinds of “facts” available for your consumption. But I’m wondering…

Has your mind been fed intellectual junk food? 

Remember the commercial ad campaign that made this tagline famous: “Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste”? I do and I believe it.

The life of a leader’s mind is important. So many skills converge to make leadership work, but the intellect is the source and head of that fountain. These days, I’m concerned that this fountain is in danger of drying up.

When was the last time you read Jesus? Shakespeare? Plato? Aristotle? Homer? Thoreau? Emerson? Whitman? Tolstoy? To name only a few… 

Barren. This is the word many critics would use to describe the intellectual life of the average American today. And what about our leaders? Are our leaders engaging their minds in ways that move beyond task-thinking or project-managing? Do our leader’s thoughts venture out in search of beauty or are they controlled merely by the grind of duty?

I’m talking about leading beyond behavior modification. We leaders are preached to about changing the culture where we work, ad nauseam. But I want to go deeper into the minds and hearts of those we lead, including myself. As leaders, we don’t just aim to change culture, we aim to change the thinking that creates the unwanted culture.

“The biggest puzzle is not solving and fixing problems, per se, it is fixing the thinking that causes the problems.” – Michael LeGault

We don’t just need more leader-doers, we need more thinking leaders; with the ability to use logic and reason to draw meaning out of the complexities of modern-day living. This is not a luxury! As leaders, we need better critical thinking skills to guide us and our followers through the turbulent waters of globalism and topsy-turvy economic times. Real consequences are attached to stupidity and poor thinking!

How can you and I become better thinkers?

1. Read

Read. Widely.  J. Oswald Sanders quipped, “Leaders are readers”. Take into your mind great literature, poetry, sacred scripture. Lessen the time you spend consuming t.v. and trash culture.

2. Reflect

Ask yourself questions about what you read and learn. Examine claims and counter-claims, concepts, opinions. Also ask yourself questions about what you’re experiencing in your life. Cull from them life-lessons.

 “He who learns but does not think, is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” – Confucius

3. Reason

“Leaders are so action-oriented and have so many responsibilities that they are often guilty of moving all the time and neglecting to stop and take time to think. Yet this is one of the most important things leaders can do. A minute of thought is worth more than an hour of talk.” – John Maxwell  

Now I need to go take my own advice!

 

 

 

IMPRESSIONS…What is God saying to me?”

What is God saying to me?
What is God saying to me?

When the devil gives us an idea it’s called temptation. When God gives us an idea we call it an impression. An impression is not a feeling, but more like an inner sensing, an inward urging or pressure, an internal breeze of wind rustling the leaves of your spirit, emotions and will, inviting you to listen with your heart to God’s still small voice.  How do you know when it’s God speaking to you?

Like gravity, I can’t see God but I experience the results of His actions. I confess this makes it hard sometimes. I wish I could see God like I see other people. How can we get to a place where we become sensitive enough to know when its God speaking to us? Here’s the reality…

YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT

Figure it out means think it out. Thankfully, not by yourself. God knew that we humans would struggle with the subjective nature of our relationship with Him. So, not only did God come to earth in human form in Jesus, but He also gave us a book, The Bible, to be an objective source of authority where we can go to find true information about Him.

Figuring it out means going to God’s Word, the Bible, and reading and studying what it says. God will never contradict His Word. God will never tell you to do something that goes against what He’s already told us in The Bible. One way of figuring out if it’s God’s voice I’m hearing is to check my impressions (what I’m sensing on the inside) with the truths of God’s Word. As you do this…

YOU HAVE TO WORK IT OUT

Very often, when Jesus Christ would teach and preach, people failed to understand His message. The Gospel of John records this insight: “Jesus gave this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them.” Jesus was teaching and even using stories to make clear the meaning of his message…and still people didn’t get it.

Knowing what Jesus said and what He meant are two different things. What He said is easy enough, but knowing what He meant is the part where we work it out. Paul, the Apostle, instructed first century Christians: “So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Thankfully, God has given Christ-followers His very own Spirit to live within us and to teach us the truth. Working out your own salvation with fear and trembling means working with God’s Holy Spirit to understand truth. The Apostle John explains this when he says, However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He (God’s Spirit) will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. – John 16:13 (NKJV)

Once we begin figuring it out and working it out…the natural progression of this process means…

YOU HAVE TO LIVE IT OUT

John also connects these spiritual dots for us in his book 1 John 2:27 (NLT):

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

The third person of the Holy Trinity, The Holy Spirit, lives and dwells inside every true believer empowering us to figure out our own inner impressions, working out our own understanding of what God is saying to us and to live out the faith we possess.

THE IDEAL LEADER…

THE IDEAL LEADER
THE IDEAL LEADER

There is no such thing as ‘The Ideal Leader’, but there are leaders with ideals! Ideals guide our lives like rudders direct ships. The captain chooses which way to turn the rudder (which ideals to live by) and then that rudder (ideal) steers the ship in the set direction. Our ideals are the rudders in our lives. We choose our values, then our values steer us.

While there is no such thing as ‘The Ideal Leader’, there are leaders with ideals. Socrates lived for his ideal of wisdom. The founder of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, lived for his ideal of “justification by faith alone”. Gandhi lived for his ideal of freedom. Martin Luther King lived for his ideal of justice. President Reagan lived for his ideal of a restored America. Billy Graham lives for his ideal of salvation in Jesus for every person in the world.

“The great men and women of history were not great because of what they earned and owned, but rather for what they gave their lives to accomplish.” – Dr. John Maxwell

So, what ideals are you living for? Perhaps when you hear the word ‘ideal’ you’re tempted to blow it off as pie-in-the-sky, ivory tower, only for dreamers kind of non-sense. You’ve heard the label ‘idealist’ thrown around as a criticism against someone and you’ve concluded that ideals just aren’t practical. “There’s the ideal” you say, “and then there’s the real.”

We all have to deal with the gap between what’s real and what’s ideal; with what is and the way we wish things were. Ideals, for some, feel more like wishful thinking.

A practical way for you and I to think about ‘ideals’ is to see them in their solid form, as when water freezes and turns to ice. Ideals (liquid concepts) harden into solid substances the way water turns from liquid to ice. Ideals in liquid form are concepts. But in solid form they become our expectations. For us, the ideal becomes what’s real.

Let me explain. When I was growing up, my mom taught me to hang up my clothes in my closet in a certain way…the hanger was hung in a specific direction. When I got married, my wife hung my clothes in my closet one day in the exact opposite way my mom had showed me. When I mentioned it to her (NOT the ideal thing to do:), she said, “Well, then, you can just do it yourself!”

What happened here? The way my mother showed me how to hang clothes in my closet had morphed into a solid expectation for me. I came to see the way my mom hung clothes as ‘the ideal’. Without realizing it, I had made my mom’s method ‘ my ideal’ and it had solidified into a solid expectation. The ideal (Brad, here’s how you can hang your clothes in your closet) became my expectation (Here’s how clothes SHOULD be hung in a closet).

NOT ALL IDEALS ARE CREATED EQUAL

I’ve matured since then, and now understand that not all ideals are equally important. I choose my family over my career. I try to choose what’s right over what’s wrong. I value what’s true instead of what’s false. I prefer to honor people rather than dishonor them. I decide to be better not bitter. These are just a few of my ideals. What are some of yours?

 “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” ― Louisa May Alcott

IF-THEN THINKING…THE MOTHER OF ALL LEADERSHIP SKILLS

INFERENCES...'IF-THEN' THINKING

Just as a golfer picks which club to use based on the kind of shot he’s facing, leaders choose which type of thoughts they’ll use depending on the situation facing them. Of all the types of thinking, perhaps none are more important than ‘If-Then’ thinking.

“A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.” – James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

What is ‘If-Then’ thinking? To think ‘If-Then’ is to infer.  ‘If-Then’ thinking is inferring something from something else. For example, when my young son enters the house sweating profusely, face beet-red, huffing and puffing and plops down on the couch, I infer something from what I observe. I infer that his sweating means its hot outside, that he likely ran to get here and that he needs a little rest. Brilliant, I know:)

But what happens if I’m wrong? If I mis-think, then what? I’ve listed below 15 ‘If-Then’ mental mistakes every leader should avoid.

  1. ‘If-Then’ Filtering: IF I get one B on my report card, THEN I can’t be happy.
  2. ‘If-Then’ Black or White: IF I’m not totally good, THEN I’m  totally bad.
  3. ‘If-Then’ Overgeneralization: IF this date doesn’t go well, THEN no dates in the future will go well either.
  4. ‘If-Then’ Jumping to Conclusions: If she doesn’t smile at me, THEN she’s mad at me.
  5. ‘If-Then’ Catastrophizing: IF a thief robbed my neighbor’s house, THEN they’re sure to rob mine.
  6. ‘If-Then’ Personalization: IF we arrive late to the party, THEN the hostess will overcook the meal.
  7. ‘If-Then’ Control Fallacies: IF my work is poor in quality, THEN it’s because my boss is demanding too much over time from me.
  8. ‘If-Then’ Fallacy of Fairness: IF I don’t make the basketball team, THEN I’m not being treated fairly.
  9. ‘If-Then’ Blame: IF I feel bad about myself, THEN it’s because you made fun of me.
  10. ‘If-Then’ Shoulds: IF I enter the race, THEN I should win.
  11. ‘If-Then’ Emotional Reasoning: IF I feel stupid, THEN I must really be stupid.
  12. ‘If-Then’ Fallacy of Change: IF I say the right thing, THEN that will make him give me what I want.
  13. ‘If-Then’ Labeling: IF I fail, THEN I’m a failure.
  14. ‘If-Then’ Always being right: IF I say it’s true, THEN it’s true.
  15. ‘If-Then’ Reward Fallacy: IF I pay my dues, THEN I’ll be recognized eventually.

Gauge, guard and guide your ‘If-Then’ thinking as a leader. Pay attention to it. How? Go deep inside yourself and discover what you’re telling yourself. You’ll come to better understand yourself as you practice 3 Disciplines:

1. Meditation – Go to a quiet place. Get into a comfortable sitting position. Slow your breathing. Quiet your mind…

2. Introspection – Begin to focus on how you’re feeling. Hear what you’re saying. Ask yourself questions. Have a conversation with yourself. Commune with your spirit and with God…

3. Reflection – Sense what you’re experiencing. Consider what you’re learning. Review what was revealed to you during your time of introspection. Record your insights in a journal.

The ancient proverbs reminds us, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” As you think ‘If-Then’ thoughts, so you will be!

 

THE UPTAKE ON INTAKE…What are you putting into your mind, spirit and body?

What are you allowing into your mind, body and spirit?
What are you allowing into your mind, body and spirit?

The law of gravity says, “What goes up must come down.” The Law of Intake states, “What goes in must comes out.”

INTAKE IS A DISCIPLINE OF SELF-LEADERSHIP

When I say intake, I’m referring to what and who you expose yourself to; the images you see, the words and noises you hear, the tactile surfaces you touch and feel, the aromas and odors you smell, the food and objects you taste, and the people you spend time with.  Anything and everything you take in, according to the law of intake, will eventually come out.

WHAT’S AT STAKE WITH INTAKE IS WHO YOU WILL BECOME

Jim Rohn once quipped, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He meant, of course, that we catch attitudes from people like we catch colds.  We rub off on each other. Artist Austin Kleon puts it more plainly:

“You are, in fact, a mashup of everything you choose to let into your life.”

Jesus taught, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” What he meant is that what your eyes look at “goes into” your body and your being. If you’re viewing good things (light), then good things will “go into” your body and being.

GUARD WHAT YOU TAKE INTO YOUR LIFE

An ancient proverb says, “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.” How do I apply this? A few examples…

  • Pornagraphy is a poor choice. It causes men to objectify women and women to degrade men. It ruins relationships.  Don’t take in porn.
  • Some drugs, the illegal kind, are poison. It steals your awareness and diminishes your capacities. Stop putting poison in your body.
  • Gossip magazines are less intellectually nourishing than novels. Read People less and Tolstoy more. It’s about intake; what you’re taking into your self, your being.
  • Positive thoughts feel better than negative thoughts. Take in more positive and less negative.
  • Swallow your pride and you’ll sweat humility out of your emotional pores. This is a good thing. Humble people go far with others.
  • Should kids play violent video games? Studies go both ways. It’s worth examining.
  • Does a child raised by an abuser necessarily become one, too?Intake matters to all of us, regardless of age.

INTAKE SPELLS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PREPARING OR REPAIRING

“If you are preparing today, chances are, you will not be repairing tomorrow.” – Dr. John Maxwell

A good tomorrow starts with a good today. What I will be tomorrow I am becoming now. Therefore, I will either be spending tomorrow reaping the benefits of the good things I did today or repairing the damage from the bad things I did today.

Let me conclude by sharing what I believe healthy intake looks like. Healthy intake for leaders usually means…

  1. Serving the right God
  2. Having the right priorities
  3. Thinking the right thoughts
  4. Saying the right words
  5. Praying the right prayers
  6. Making the right choices
  7. Reading the right books
  8. Learning the right lessons
  9. Listening to the right people
  10. Attending the right events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 SECRETS TURNING 40 HAS TAUGHT ME

TURNING 40 HAS TAUGHT ME...
TURNING 40 HAS TAUGHT ME..

1. I can FINALLY grow a beard:)..sort of

2. In 3 to 5 years I’ll be considered smart (My dad told me this:)

3. The world is bigger than our perceptions of it (Thks to Thoreau)

4. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail. – Proverbs 19:21

5. Control is an illusion; people are largely self-directed.

6. I’ll always need my mom.

7. Beliefs, and the behaviors that follow from them, should be based on strong reasons not just strong emotions.

8. Some people walk around on the outside but live in emotional wheelchairs on the inside…Accept that fact and show mercy.

9. I can’t fix something on the inside using something from the outside.

10. I CAN fix and repair mechanical things (Thks. M. Scott Peck)

11. I can’t talk my way out of problems I behaved my way into (Thks Stephen Covey)

12. I am stronger than the doubts that linger.

13. Love. Period.

14. In relationships efficiency is not very effective…take time.

15. Honor given by me to others and to me from others is power.

16. I always have a choice.

17. Our happiness begins with the identifying of true and false things.

18. What I eat in private I wear in public (ouch!)

19. It’s easier to get into something than it is to get out.

20. If anything can be misunderstood, it will be misunderstood…so OVER-communicate if I need to.

21. When it comes to raising children…the days are long but the years are short.

22. I can connect what I’m learning with what I already know to create foundational knowledge.

23. Personal growth can make me feel foolish as I admit my ignorance, but that’s the price of admission to the school of success.

24. Success has many definitions.

25. Money does have its uses…and abuses.

26. People grow by “decision-managing” more than “decision-making”.

27. Life expands or contracts in proportion to my willingness to act courageously.

28. I can make my point without making an enemy.

29. There’s more than my way of doing things.

30. God does exist and Jesus is God.

31. It’s more emotionally fulfilling to serve than to have someone serve me.

32. Thinking is hard work.

33. Wealthy people have large libraries not just big tv’s (Thks Jim Rohn)

34. Doing what’s taboo isn’t as much fun as it looks.

35. Faithfulness is worth fighting for in faith and relationships.

36. Finding mentors to help coach me to go to the next level has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

37. This present pain is temporary.

38. I know how hard it is to beat addiction.

39. Thoughts cause emotions. Control your thoughts and you direct your emotions.

40. Heaven exists.

AND ONE BONUS SECRET…

41. He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO YOU ‘BUY’ THIS LIE?

 

Are You 'Buying' This Lie?
Are You ‘Buying’ This Lie?

There is a lie many people buy…and it’s defeating them! They die under the weight of this lie:  Here’s the lie…

WORTHINESS = USEFULNESS

In other words, this lie says that how much you’re worth depends on how useful you are to somebody. You’re only as valuable as you are useful. Have you ever heard that? Do you ever feel…that you’re only as good as your last performance?

I believe this is pragmatism at its worst! What is pragmatism? Pragmatism has been called America’s philosophical contribution to the world. Pragmatism is the belief that everything should be viewed in terms of its practical uses and successes. If you’re useful, then you’re valuable…If you’re not useful then, according to some pragmatists, you’re not worth much.

In this kind of twisted thinking human life is reduced to the measure of its usefulness. The less useful you are the less valuable you are. The recent V.A. scandal is evidence. “Useful” people make it to the top of medical waiting lists. Unborn babies are treated as commodities to be discarded through abortion. And the elderly are viewed as dispensable and mainly ignored or worse, made to feel irrelevant.

Another branch stemming from this lie is the equally undignified baloney which says, “You’re only as valuable as you are beautiful.”In this mentality, your worth = your girth (I like rhyming:) Put another way, “If they don’t like your waist, they think you’re a waste.” It’s sad but this attitude is everywhere.

A third consequence of this line of thinking is the often believed logic which implies, “You’re only valuable if you’re likable.” We’re back to usefulness again. If a person likes you, then you become worth something in their eyes; useful. But what if you’re not everything they expect you to be? What then? The sad reality is that you’re deemed less valuable.

An equally pervasive consequence of ‘buying’ this lie is that people confuse NET WORTH = SELF WORTH. In this kind of thinking, self-worth is something to be earned. You must justify your existence and prove you’re worthy “to take up space and breathe in air.” If you don’t produce? Well, then you’re out!

I’ve described one way to live. Allow me to suggest another. I am choosing to live in God’s World not the Pragmatists World. I believe God’s world is more realistic! In God’s world, my worth is not earned but bestowed. My value is based on my relationship with the Lord not on what I can afford. My worth draws its breath from my creator not my behavior.

Personally I believe that it’s not what you do that makes you valuable, it’s what you are: God’s Creation. God doesn’t love you because you’re useful, He loves you because you’re His! God loves you because you’re wonderful…Did you know that? You’re wonderful because you were wonderfully made! David said in Psalm 139:13-14(HCSB):

For it was You (God) who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.”

 
David said he was wonderfully made. So was I. So are you! This means you’re more than your usefulness, beauty or personality. You’re more than your productivity. You’re more than your “To-Do” list. You’re more than your paycheck. Your worth, your value is not conditional. Romans 8 tells us:

“I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in this present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.”

Romans 8 says nothing can separate us from God’s love. Why? Because God’s love isn’t contingent on your being useful or beautiful or likeable; but on His being faithful! The reason nothing can separate us from God’s love is because God separates our worth from our behavior. Do you? Can you? You can and here’s why:

You are not what you do. You are who God says you are!

Wow! This changes my life! As I reject this lie I can go to work and do my job without the pressure of feeling like I have to EARN God’s acceptance by my performance. If I fail today, I am just as valuable as if I’d succeeded. If I succeed today, I’m no more valuable than if I’d failed.   

Here’s my conclusion.  Bottom line: Never base your worth on anything from earth. If you are a Christ-Worshipper then your citizenship is in heaven!