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.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING…10 Quotes That Make Me Thankful!

Thanks-Living

 

1. “If I could take one word with me into eternity, it would be ‘give’.” – Dr. Stephen Post, Why Good Things Happen To Good People

2. “In everything give thanks. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – Paul, the Apostle

3. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Jesus

4. “Give and it shall be given to you…” – Jesus

5. “You wish to be happy? Loved? Safe? Secure? You want to turn to others in tough times and count on them? You want the warmth of true connection? You’d like to walk into the world each day knowing that this is a place of benevolence and hope? Then I have one answer: give. Give daily, in small ways, and you will be happier. Give and you will be healthier. Give, and you will even live longer.” – Dr. Stephen Post, Why Good Things Happen To Good People

6.”Dad, so many things would be different in this world if kids were in charge!” – Ethan Kellum, 13 years-old

7. “Attitude determines altitude.” – Dr. John Maxwell

8. “Two of the greatest phrases you can ever utter are: please and thank you!” – Lots of people

9. “We’re never more like God than when we give.” – Pastor Frank Gribble, Pastor Emeritus of Gospel Baptist Church

10. “The greatest lesson you can ever learn in your Christian life is to be entirely dependent on God.” – Wayne Kellum, My Dad

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 

 

INFLUENCE…How am I impacting people around me?

 

INFLUENCE

“Each of us is surrounded by people who look to us, count on us, and depend on us to make a difference.” – Blaine Lee


It’s like breathing air. It’s the most personal and the most universal human experience. What am I talking about? Influence.

Every day we’re surrounded by forces trying to influence us. We breathe it in (Marketing, Media, TV, Radio, Friends, Books, Magazines, Tablets, Smartphones ), opening ourselves up to be influenced by others; and then we exhale it out (Parenting, Leading, Managing, Socializing), attempting to wield our own influence-powers. Push, pull. In, out. Give and take. We influence others and are influenced by others.

When measuring our own influence, I’ve found that most people fall into 1 of 3 categories:

1.  MANY PEOPLE UNDER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

We see it in others. It glares at us.  We recognize influence in others, but do we see it in ourselves? John Maxwell relates that according to some sociologists, even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people in their lifetime.

All day today, you’re carrying around two kinds of influence: Active and Potential. Typically, people who underestimate their own influence do not value their own potential. They doubt their ability to make a difference. So, they hold back, stay in the shadows, sell themselves short. They don’t flex their influence muscles.

2. SOME PEOPLE OVER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

David and Heather Kopp, along with Larry Wilson, define an influencer as “a living person whose life and work has far-reaching impact–whether for good or ill–in today’s world”. We also refer to these people as “World-Changers”. And who doesn’t want to be considered a world-changer?

Sadly, this desire to be thought of as important and powerful leads some people to over-reach in their attempts to exert influence on others. They’re not so much confident as arrogant. They reek of ambition and sweat forcefulness out of every pore. Unfortunately, they tend to rub their nasty sweat all over everyone else around them. And it stinks!

We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps, at times, we have been people like this. I know I have. One of the best ways to discover if you’re behaving this way is simply to ask your family, friends and co-workers for feedback. Ask them:

  • Am I overbearing?
  • Do I give advice when you don’t really want me to?
  • Do I come across as too forceful?
  • Am I tactful or too direct?
  • Do you feel respected by me?
  • How do I make you feel?

Takes courage…but it’s the quickest way to learn whether you’re overestimating your own influence.

3. A FEW PEOPLE RIGHTLY ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

The Apostle Paul taught, “…I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” 

What’s he saying? He’s saying properly estimate your own influence. Don’t over-reach and don’t under-reach. When you stand in front of the mirror, don’t ask it, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Just go to the mirror and be honest; be willing to see yourself as objectively as you can. Warts and all!

Then go out and activate your properly estimated influence to change the world!

 

 

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!

 

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?