IT’S HUMPDAY…AND. YOU. LOVE. THE. GAME! (Thanks Taylor Swift:)

ARE YOU WINNING?
ARE YOU WINNING?

Life has been compared to a game; “The Game of Life” we sometimes call it. At times, we may refer to office politics we’re facing at work as “playing a chess game” with our co-workers or bosses. Game analogies abound. When we really do well on a presentation or make that sell we may exclaim, “I knocked it out of the park!” or “Touchdown!”. However you choose to look at it, games are often helpful metaphors to make sense of what we experience in our lives.

I want to share three suggestions with you to help you “win the game of life” that you’re playing this week, even today, this moment. Keep these thoughts in mind:

BRING YOUR “A” GAME…BE PREPARED!

Whether you are launching a new project at work, interviewing for a new job, writing a routine report, raising kids, or just trying to maintain a packed schedule of life demands: bring your “A” game! What do I mean? I mean, do your best. Always. Make the effort. Go all in! How? Focus your reason, emotions and actions onto the task in front of you.

1. Use Your Reason. God has given you a good mind. Do your best and work with your mind. Plan. Project. Ask questions. Figure stuff out. Think! Speak up when you see something. Stand up for what is right. Don’t wait for others to do your thinking for you and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. As Immanuel Kant said:

“Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence.”

2. Program Your Emotions. Be like Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live and let your own positive words “pump you up!” By telling yourself what you can do, your emotions will follow through. Speak affirmations such as:

  • I can do it and I know I can!
  • I’ve got it and everyday I get more it!
  • I am winning at the game of life!

3.  Plan Your Actions. Bringing your “A” game means starting out with “a game plan”. In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” But in the game of life, it’s all about “preparation, preparation, preparation.” A person with a plan is a person with power! So, make one and then take action on it. Discipline yourself so others won’t have to.

LET THE GAME COME TO YOU…BE PATIENT!

As you are “working your plan”, be patient with the process. In sports, coaches often tell a player who’s not playing very well to “let the game come to them.” In other words, don’t undo your own success by “trying too hard”. As David Allen has taught, “Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.”

So, relax. Be patient. The world will unfold and release its treasures only to the patient person. All things can be mastered by one willing to submit to a process of disciplined-waiting. Adopt Arnold H. Glasow’s philosophy: “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

WIN OR LOSE, PLAY THE GAME WITH HONOR…BE PRINCIPLED!

Author Stephen Covey wrote, “…there are principles that govern human effectiveness — natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.” He went on to say:

“Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken.”

You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that matters most.” In other words, don’t lose yourself in the pursuit of success. Maintain your personal standards. Keep your integrity. Remain honest. Show respect. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. You know…all the stuff your mom taught you:)

Friend, this is how you bring your “A” game, every day in every way. At least this is how I try to do it. I often fail. In those moments I try to remember that even when I give a “F” performance, at least I can give a “A” effort!

 

INDUSTRIOUS…Am I getting things done?

INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE
INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE

Someone once told me “Brad, you get out of something what you put into it.” Now that I’m 41, I can’t say I agree 100%. Sometimes, I actually can’t control “what I get out of something”.

In our fallen world, everything’s broken. Nothing works right, at least not for very long. My car stalls out. My heater breaks. My microwave fizzles. 1+1 doesn’t always = 2. Does that make sense?

For example, If you’re a person who works in the sales industry, you can usually control what you personally “put in” to a relationship with a new client, in terms of caring, time, expertise and helpfulness. But you can’t control whether that client will “buy” from you or your company in a way that “equals” your sacrificial input. Sometimes, 4+1= 2. It can be frustrating to say the least.

But while we can’t always control what we get out of something, we can always control what we put into it. Here’s the good news: although we can’t always directly control outcomes, there are three elements of our work that we can control. You can decide to be industrious no matter what. For example, YOU CAN CONTROL…

1. Your Work Ethic…How you view and feel about the work you do.

You can “take this job and love it” or you can “take this job and shove it”! It’s up to you! And your boss, eventually:) How do you feel about your work? Do you like it? Loathe it? What?

Your work ethic is what you believe about work itself. An “ethic” is another word for your basic philosophy or belief system. Your view of “work” will determine your behavior in relation to it. For example, is work a blessing or a curse to you? Is it something you avoid at all costs or dive into as often as possible? A second element you can control is…

2. Your Work Habits…When and how you discipline yourself to do your work.

I’m always fascinated to learn the daily routines and schedules of famous people. The book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, for example, examines the daily work habits of 161 of history’s most famous creatives: men like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison; along with women such as Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keefe and Sylvia Plath. In this book he writes about their work habits. He asks and answers questions such as: What time did they get up in the morning? Where did they do their work? When did they sleep? How many breaks did they take?

What we learn is that different people had different levels of discipline. “Discipline” says Bob Proctor, “is the ability to give yourself a command and then follow it.” Each of us has daily rituals that constitute our work habits. For the most part, these are under our control. We also have a certain level of self-discipline with which we carry out our tasks. We decide these things. We get to choose. And each of us can choose to be industrious every day. You can also choose to control…

3. Your Work Rate…How much effort you give to doing your work.

We’ve all heard the cliché’, “Work smarter not harder”. It’s catchy, but not totally accurate. No matter how “smart” you work, effort is still required of you to accomplish goals and plans. It may or may not be “manual labor” but it’s almost always “mental labor”.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, NY Times best-selling author of Eat To Live and Super Immunity reminds us: “Things that have huge value require effort…great success means a significant effort is usually required.” 

Unfortunately, the word “effort” itself gets a bad rap. For many, it connotes “blood, tears, toil and sweat”, all things unpleasant to give at times. Gandhi saw it another way: “Satisfaction” he wrote“lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.” 

“Never let effort be the issue” says former NY Jets coach, Herman Edwards. Exert yourself. Leave a piece of yourself in your work. Even if you are afraid of failing, remember these words from philosopher Francis Bacon:

“There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.”

IMITATION…Who are you following?

 

Who Do You Look Up To?
WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING?

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:

EVERYONE FOLLOWS SOMEONE!

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.

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!

 

52 MUST-HAVE SKILLS FOR LEADERS…A CHECKLIST

BALANCED LEADERSHIP
LEADERSHIP IS A BALANCING ACT

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?

BLESSED ARE THE BALANCED!

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…

INNER-SELF CHECKLIST

  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?

OUTER-SELF CHECKLIST

  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?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEADERSHIP AND THE LAW OF INSISTENCE

THE LAW OF INSISTENCE
THE LAW OF INSISTENCE

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?