IMITATION…Who are you following?


Who Do You Look Up To?

I asked my 7-yr. old daughter, “Emma, who do you want to be like when you grow up?” She answered, “Gabby Douglas; and mommy. And you a little bit”:)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short leadership journey so far, it’s this:


Regardless of who you are, I believe every individual looks for and finds a person to help inspire them toward growth and achievement. For some, it’s their parents. For others it’s a favorite athlete or musician. Still, for a few, it’s a teacher or a coach. Everyone needs someone to follow!

Paul, a 1st century terrorist-turned-Christian evangelist, once made this statement to a group of Christ-followers living in the ancient city of Corinth:

“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT)

It’s been said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. I also believe it is the truest form of growing. After all…

A true leader isn’t looking to be flattered but to be followed.

It’s the nature of leaders to gather followers. But did you know that even leaders need someone to lead them?

John Maxwell has a great quote which says, “It’s hard to lead if you only have yourself to follow.” For example, every great player needs an equally great coach. Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson. Tom Brady needs Bill Belichick. And Ben needed Jerry:) Every great leader, or ice cream maker, needs other leaders to follow.

Since everyone follows someone, it’s important to make sure that the person you’ve linked up with is worthy of your following. What qualifies a person to serve as your model for patterning your life after?

Ask yourself these 3 questions and see if your hero passes the test!

1. Is their lifestyle worth emulating?

Does the person you are attempting to “be like” make choices that command your respect? I’m really thankful my daughter said she wanted to be like Gabrielle Douglas and not Marilyn Manson. Both are famous. Both are looked up to by a certain group of people. But both do not necessarily make equally good life decisions.

2. Is their message worth sharing?

Everyone has a message they’re sharing whether they know it or not. Each of us is communicating constantly through verbal and non-verbal cues, gestures, postures and movements. So, what message is the person you’re trying to imitate sending by his or her words and actions? Some messages are more worthy than others. All ideas are not created equal. You’ve got to discern and decide which ones are healthy, true and worthy of your attention.

3. Is their legacy worth remembering?

Each of us is leaving behind a ripple effect, a wake in the water of our existence, that will be remembered for good or bad. Is this person that you are trying to “be like” living for values that you share deep down? I’m talking about values that last far beyond the grave, that last far longer than our short earthly life. Shared values makes for a powerful Leader-Follower connection.

As you seek out mentors, leaders, and sponsors to help show you the way…ask yourself these 3 questions to make sure you’re following a worthy leader.

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.”


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.


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.


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.


“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













Leadership is a balancing act! You’re constantly juggling, working on multiple tracks at the same time. How do we stay balanced with so many people, projects and processes to juggle?


It all starts with you; where you’re focusing your attention. What’s got your attention ? What are you focusing on?

“What you focus on expands. So focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.” – Esther Jno-Charles

I offer you a checklist to focus on. Ask yourself these 52 questions and reflect on your current skill level in each. Really go deep inside yourself as a leader while you seek the answers to these 52 questions. You may even want to record your thoughts in a Self-Leadership Journal. From one leader to another…


  1. INTAKE – What images/words/substances am I taking into my mind, spirit and body?
  2. IMPRESSIONS – What is Jesus saying to me?
  3. INSIGHTS – What principles am I observing and learning?
  4. INTENT – What is motivating my feelings and choices at this moment?
  5. INTENTIONALITY – Am I choosing to be proactive or passive?
  6. INSISTENCE – Am I summoning the will to follow through?
  7. IMAGINATION – Am I visualizing success or failure?
  8. INTERNAL COMMITMENTS – What unspoken agreements have I made with myself?
  9. INFORMATION – What’s my system for collecting and managing information?
  10. INJURIES – Am I harboring any resentments? 
  11. INCOMPLETES – What open loops are pulling at my attention?
  12. INTENSITY – Am I balancing the serious with the hilarious?
  13. INTELLECT – Am I challenging my mind?
  14. INTEGRITY – Am I congruent in what I think, feel, say and do?
  15. INTANGIBLES – Am I paying attention to morale?
  16. IMPLICATIONS – Am I asking and answering the “So, what?” question?
  17. IMMATURITY – Am I being defensive or teachable?
  18. IMBALANCE – Are my emotions under control?
  19. INSECURITIES – Am I healing wounds and overcoming fears?
  20. INITIATIVE – Am I making the first move, taking the first step accepting appropriate risk?
  21. INDUSTRIOUS – Have I decided to be productive today?
  22. INFERENCES – Is my “if-then” thinking accurate?
  23. INTERPRETATIONS – What is my paradigm for filtering my experience of reality?
  24. IMPULSES – Am I directing my desires to healthy ends?
  25. IDEALS – What values guide my actions?
  26. IDOLS – Am I putting God first?
  27. INSTINCTS – Is my sense of timing improving?
  28. INTUITION – Am I working from my strengths?
  29. INTERNALIZATIONS – What beliefs am I allowing to take root in my head and heart?
  30. INSPIRATION – How am I keeping my fire burning?
  31. ILLUSTRATIONS – Am I turning today’s experiences into stories I can tell?


  1. IMAGE – What image am I projecting to the world?
  2. INFLUENCE – What effect am I have on those around me?
  3. INTERACTIONS – Am I reacting to others with grace and truth?
  4. INNER CIRCLE – Am I surrounding myself with loyal, trustworthy, high-caliber people?
  5. INCOME – Am I telling my money where to go or wondering where it went?
  6. INTERCEDING – Am I praying for others’ needs?
  7. INTERESTS – Am I pursuing and enjoying hobbies? 
  8. INNOVATION – Am I finding better ways to do things?
  9. IMPLEMENTATION – What changes am I putting into place?
  10. INTIMACY – Am I emotionally available for my family and friends?
  11. ISOLATION – Am I moving toward relationships or away from them?
  12. INTRODUCTIONS – Who am I meeting and networking with?
  13. INVESTMENT – Who am I mentoring?
  14. INTERRUPTIONS – Am I limiting distractions and focusing on priorities?
  15. INPUT – Am I asking for feedback?
  16. INTERDEPENDENCE – Am I building my team or trying to do it all myself?
  17. INTERVENTIONS – With whom do I need to have a courageous conversation?
  18. INSTRUCTION – What am I teaching my children?
  19. IMPROVISATION – Am I learning to think on my feet?
  20. ISSUES – What challenges am I facing in my life right now?
  21. INTERSECTIONS – What crossroads have I reached and decisions do I need to make?



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.


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










What does it mean to have integrity? To have integrity means ‘to be in reality what I appear to be’. It means that my core beliefs are congruent with my common practice. It means my walk matches my talk and my behavior mirrors my true beliefs.

Integrity implies more than just being honest, but certainly no less. Integrity means I’m honest AND whole. Integrity is having the courage and honesty to handle the demands of life with grace and truth. To better lead myself I like to ask myself this Growth Question: INTEGRITY…Am I practicing what I teach?


What can we do to develop integrity? Do the following…
1. Tell myself that integrity is important…Value it.
2. Talk to God asking Him to give me integrity…Pray for it.
3. Make someone a promise and keep it…Work at it.
4. Ask a friend to hold me accountable to have integrity…Submit to it.
5. Read what God says about integrity in the Bible…Study it.
6. Explain to myself why integrity matters…Understand it.
7. Spend time with people who have integrity…Catch it.
8. Teach on it to others…Model it.
9. Listen to my conscience…Sense it.
10. Condition my mind with self-talk for integrity…Program it.
11. Create a document outlining what it would look like for me to have integrity…Script it.
12. Collect quotes on integrity…Seek it.
13. Read books about integrity…Read about it.
14. Listen to sermons/talks on the subject of integrity…Absorb it.
15. Dialogue with My spouse and friends about it…Discuss it.
16. Study lives of men and women who succeeded and failed at integrity…Learn it.
17. Analyze and evaluate choices where I choose not to act with integrity…Change for it.
18. Write a document describing what would happen and what life would be like if I don’t choose integrity…Contextualize it.





I can still see the smile across dad’s face. “Boy, you hit that thing a country mile.” It was the one and only baseball season I ever played. I was 8 years old and I had just smacked the leather baseball to left field. Boy was dad proud! I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. Basking in dad’s approval was like basking in the life-giving rays of the Sun. At that moment with my dad’s eyes gleaming I felt like I had conquered the world.  In that moment Dad and I had…wait for it…bonded!

Allow me to share with you two basics of bonding with the hope that it will help you be the best dad you can.

1. Bonding with your children means being with your children.

As a father of three I am learning that children spell love T.I.M.E. More than money my kids want my time. More than toys my kids want my time. More than anything my kids just want “ME”. They want me to be around, to be interested in what they are thinking, saying or playing.

Your kids are no different. No matter how old your children are they still want your time. Relationships take time to build. You can’t build a relationship without spending time on it. You can’t bond with a child without spending time with them. Bonding with our kids requires us to be with our kids. That may sound obvious but how many overworked and overcommitted men do you know that can’t seem to find time to spend with their children? And yet not one of those overworked, overstressed, and overcommitted dads would say on his deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

2. Bonding with your children means building up your children.

Dad, building them up means complimenting them. It means catching them doing something right instead of always mentioning when they do something wrong. It means intentionally taking your son or daughter aside and telling them why they are so special to you.

Dr. Phil suggests asking your son or daughter this question, “Honey, what did I do right to deserve such a good little girl as you?” “Son, what did dad do to deserve such a good boy as you?” Even if they are young they will feel your heart as you say it. And if they are older then they will be amazed and encouraged by the sincerity of your heart.

General Douglas MacArthur, one of the greatest military leaders of all time, once said in a speech he gave:

“By profession, I am a soldier and take great pride in that fact. But I am prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build. A father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death, the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle, but in the home.”




Whenever you find yourself needing to influence another person (Maybe your kids, spouse, boss or friend:) you have more than one method at your disposal. The following 14 strategies are taken and adapted from Stephen Grave’s and Thomas Addington’s insightful book, Clout: Tapping Spiritual Wisdom To Become A Person of Influence.

1. CONSEQUENCE – Tell them what is likely to happen if they do what you are asking. Tell them what might happen if they don’t do what you ask. Use the consequence as a reason to urge them to act on your request.

2. ALTERNATIVE – Ask them, “If we don’t do what I’m proposing/planning to do, what will happen?” In other words, what’s the alternative to not doing what you’re urging them to do?

3. TIME FRAMES – Use time as a deciding factor in whether or not to take action. For example, you might say, “We’re running out of time, the longer we wait the tighter the window is closing on our opportunity.”

4. MOTIVE – Consider the motive as the underlying reason why a person should or should not take a certain action. For example, letting people know that you’re motive for asking them to do something is out of concern for their reputation is a true and wonderful way to influence someone (But only if that’s your real motive…don’t be fake).

5. PRECEDENT – This approach uses information from a previous decision or action to argue for or against a proposed action. For example, you might convey, “The last three times I’ve asked you to do this for me, you’ve said you were busy, do you think you could make an exception this time?”

6. INCONSISTENCY – This method looks for any discrepancy in data, word, evidence or action. For example, you could comment, “Yesterday you said you wanted me to be more responsive, but today you say you need me to back off.  You can’t have it both ways.”

7. DEFINING TERMS – This method uses the same term as the other person on the other side of the argument but defines it differently. For example, you’re wise to note, “I agree that we should enforce the company policies with (fairness). However, saying we should enforce the policies with (fairness) does not mean we should stop giving our top achievers higher bonuses when appropriate.”

8. MODIFYING KEY WORDS – This strategy includes altering a word or phrase to make a point and help redirect attention toward your argument. For example, during Bill Clinton’s Presidency, conservative radio commentators called Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was from, Arksylvania. They called Al Gore, Bill Clinton’s Vice President of the United States, Algore, after Igor the deformed assistant of famed Dr. Frankenstein. And Bill Clinton was called Count Taxula.

9. DIVIDING TOPICS – This line of argument divides an issue into smaller parts and deals with each segment separately. For example, “There are two parts to this problem/situation: the technical part and the personnel part. Let’s deal with them one at a time.”

10. FALSE IMPRESSION – This strategy seeks to inform the other party that things are not as they seem. For example, you might say, “I know this looks bad. But may I have a chance to explain? You’re not seeing the whole picture here. Things are not always as they appear to be.”

11. CHANGING MINDS – People tend to change their minds over time. In this instance you might say, “Hey, would you think it over? We’ll get back together and talk again, okay?”

12. SPEAKING PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY – There is often a difference between what people approve of privately and what they endorse publicly. For example, You might ask, “Are we ‘off the record’ in this conversation?”

13. GREATER TO LESSER – If two events are under discussion and the more difficult of the two has already been accomplished, then the less difficult and more believable event seems possible. For example, you might charmingly say to your child, “If you can get an A+ on your school science project, then you can certainly clean your room before dinner time.”

14. CAUSE AND EFFECT – This line of argument enables you to argue forward from the cause to the effect or backward from the effect to the cause. For example, “We’ve made it this far. If we will just stick to the plan, in the end, we’ll receive the reward we’ve been hoping for.”