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.

INTELLECT…Am I challenging my mind?


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!






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










Warren Bennis states:“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” But what does it take to bridge that gap; the gap between the ideal and the real? I believe it requires leaders to memorize and repeat often two vital words: I INSIST!

It’s a principle I call THE LAW OF INSISTENCE. The Law of Insistence says:

“A Leader Must Insist On What He Wants To Exist.”

Whatever it is that you want to bring into existence, will only be brought  into existence at the leader’s insistence. As a result, there are three times when every leader must use insistence as a tool of his or her leadership.

1. Leaders Must Insist When They Want Something To Exist!

Jesus, the greatest leader and spiritual teacher who ever lived, was destined to fulfill His vision. What was his vision? Matthew 16:21-23 tells us:

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” – Matthew 16:21 (NKJV)

Jesus’ purpose was to die for the sins of all people and then to resurrect from the dead to reign as the one true God.  Jesus insisted on this vision! How do we know? Because Matthew tells us, “Jesus began to show His disciples that He must…”. That word ‘must’ is a word of insistence. I MUST do this! I HAVE to do this! THIS MATTERS!

As a leader of people, if you want a certain something to exist, then you’re going to have to insist on it, strengthen your resolve, and make it happen.

2. Leaders Must Insist Even When Followers Resist!

Notice what happens after Jesus declares His purpose and vision.

“Then Peter took Him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You’!” – Matthew 16:22 (NKJV)

Peter meant well. But Peter was wrong. He had good intentions but he didn’t know he was resisting the plan of God. Jesus loved Peter. Jesus knew Peter meant well. But Jesus also knew that He Himself “must” fulfill His God-given vision. So, what does Jesus do? He insists! Watch Jesus’ passion…

“But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” – Matthew 16:23 (NKJV)

Whoa! Strong words, wouldn’t you say? But Jesus wasn’t angry at Peter, He was passionate about His purpose and vision. Jesus insisted like the leader He is; with compassion for Peter’s misunderstanding and passion for God’s plan for His life.  Sometimes, as a leader, you’ve just got to insist on it!

I’m not talking about being rude or acting like a bully, but about the fine art of insisting kindly but firmly.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” — Jim Rohn

3. Leaders Must Insist Until People Assist

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)

You may have to stand by yourself for a while, at least until someone decides to roll up their sleeves and start helping you accomplish your vision. Great leaders are always willing to stand alone if that’s what it takes!

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone.” – General Douglas MacArthur

To sum it up: As a leader you’ve got to insist, even when people resist, and persist so your vision will exist:) It’s just that simple. Are you willing?




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.”