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Win by Controlling What You Can

Every great leader I have ever worked with in business, politics or ministry have all had an incredible ability to focus.

It is this ability that rise above the noise or separate the wheat from the chaff that keeps them moving forward when others get distracted or get knocked back by circumstances completely beyond their ability to affect.

So the key question is what can you actually control? How do you stay focused on what matters?

Whether it is my son’s 10 year-old flag football team, a global sales force, or an executive counterpart, every team and person I have had the privilege to lead has heard me mention and repeat the following (over and over.)

The Key to Success is controlling what you can and the only things you can control is your:

·    Attitude – Your attitude will determine your experience.

·     Effort – Your Effort reflects your willingness to fight.

·     Preparation– Your preparation allows you to make the most of the opportunity when it comes.

Notice what is not on this list:

You cannot control:

·     The Result – Sometimes you lose the game, don’t get the deal. Lean what you can and prepare better next time.

·     Other People (As Much as We would like to) – Some people will not like you, their choice. You control your attitude toward them.

·     Timing – Sometimes people get sick or in accidents. Will this distract you or will you put the effort in and get back to work.

As a leader, people are looking to you. They key is you can help them more effectively fail-forward if you can look at a set-back and say, “Next Time, do we need to improve our attitude, Effort or Preparedness?”

A great cake is made of great ingredients. You don’t fix the cake, you fix the what goes into the cake. Same applies here.

Stuff Happen and most of it you can’t control… Get over it and don’t get so paralyzed by the outcome that you don’t learn from the process.

You will see a multiplication of results by putting your and your team’s focus and attention on what you can actually affect.  Let’s go get better.

We Heal Together

One at a Time… A Call to Heal.

Fear crushes people.  You see the evidence all over social media and the news today.  Many of my friends who are the brightest lights in their communities are struggling to make sense of what is going on, struggling with anger and struggling with people who think or act differently.  Their words show the struggle is real as we try and make sense of killings that are not rational.  It can all seem so out of control and like it will get worse before it gets better.

My heart breaks for the people in our nation… From Ferguson to Baton Rouge to Chicago to St. Paul to Dallas, My heart breaks.   My heart breaks for the families, for that poor woman who filmed the man dying in the car, for families of police officers and for the communities of West Chicago where people are afraid to go outside.

together-we-heal-617x347Praying can sometimes seem so futile in the face of rage, hurt, killings but Prayer is the only place where light starts to break through the darkness.  I have no answers but I am learning where to direct my questions.

Words spoken to others make you feel better.  They won’t bring back those whose lives are lost.  They won’t stop men from bleeding on the streets.  They won’t stop the bullets.   Words spoken to God, change hearts and move mountains.

Blame doesn’t matter.  Labels don’t cure and yelling don’t heal.

Bringing people to justice makes us feel better and gives us a time to rally. Until the next time.  Justice is so limited and taken to an extreme demands a life for a life.  We need better than that or this crazy cycle we are on never stops.   It is all temporary until the heart changes.  Our love for each other has got to be greater than fear or each other.  Our Love for each other has to louder than that shouts of hate and fear.

There is no Fear found in Love.  Love actually pushes fear away.  God wasn’t screwing around.  He told us that is we love each other, pray for each other than this crap stops.  If we don’t, there are not enough marches in the world to unite us.

Love is not a feeling.  It is a decision.  A decision to fight for and with the one next to me, not against them.

One Life touches immeasurable people… One Death too early, even more.  Neither can or should be summed up in hashtag.  People’s lives are not a political forum.

Start with you… Are your words bringing people together or are your words filled with the same fear that already divides. Your words amplify bringing us together or being right in your rage.  One Unifies and One Divides.

You can be a bridge or you can be a wall.  Not both.

Control what you can.  Today, God Knows, that does not feel like much.  Today, I can control My words, My prayers and My love for people.  I can hug those around me begin building.  Seems like a place to start.\

Praying for you.

Orlando…Healing Together Starts by Grieving Together.

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Healing Together Starts by Grieving Together.

Yesterday, I was in line at my favorite BBQ place on my way to church when I saw the news. 50 people dead in the largest mass shooting in American history. My day and in someways, my life will never be the same.

My heart is broken as a city grieves. Afterward, talking with people and reading the news, people quickly wanted to turn attention to the topics of gun control, politics, radical Islam, or the gay, lesbian, transgender community.

When Politics becomes a religion or idol, it seems to infest everything and people want to quickly blame, categorize and move on. Politics makes us feel better and shifts responsibility away from us. I pray as a nation, we can feel this one and come together for those in need. Let’s not be so quick this time.

All of the above issues are important, but not as important as we think. This week, let’s grieve for the people, for the community of Orlando and all the families those who were affected. We should pray for those still in need of healing and unleash generosity on those in need of blood, counseling and donations. Let’s not be too quick to move our focus away from the faces, the stories, and the sorrow.

Today, some of the names are starting to come out as we see the faces of the victims, the families and come to the grips with the reality of this tragedy. Any life cut short, has a domino affect and this one will rattle Orlando and this entire nation.

We grieve with those who are grieving and our most important gift is to love and help each other. There are issues to discuss but they fall tremendously short of the importance of us coming together and realizing that none of these issues will comfort the families and friends who has their word ripped apart.

If we let this moment be another issue that divide us. hate wins. Let our response be greater that that, let our response be to love our neighbor, to send whatever is needed to Orlando and then to reach out to a neighbor where ever you are and let them know you are for them, no matter how different you are. If you don’t know where t start, try, “How can I help?”

We grieve together, we live together, we pray together and if we are willing to really love each other, we win as we step out of the darkness and toward the light together. Love is way more powerful and I know it can sound naïve but when applied, Love Wins every time, we just need to take some time to show it.

Pray: Pray for physical healing for victims, Pray for healing for families, Pray for peace and Pray for communities coming together.

Give: For those who want to donate to help victims.. Click https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund

2016 – Give the Gift of Feedback

Throughout the workplace, people are emerging back from vacations, turning their calendars and perhaps wishing they could push the snooze button for one more day…. Just perhaps

The dawn of 2016 also opens the season of annual performance reviews.  This tends to make people want to crawl back under the covers as managers deliver 10-20 of these reports.

Can I challenge you to embrace this season and encourage you to see feedback as a gift that is worth giving; not just once or twice a year?  Let’s make 2016 the year you give people continual and concrete feedback.  Creating a feedback rich environment will cement your culture as a place where “everyone gets better everyday.”

As a leader, it is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase the level of performance, alignment and satisfaction of your employees and co-workers.

Why is this:

  1. Most people are never told, specifically, that they are doing well and where they can improve. You might be the first person to give them effective feedback.
  2. Most people are never shown the outcome of their behavior.
  3. Most people never get supportive feedback that is specific and applicable.
  4. Most people are never told of their blind-spots, until it is too late.
  5. Most people crave it… Certainly the kids of people you want on your team do.

If any of the above is true, why don’t we do it more.

Carole Rubin states it this way..  “But providing feedback to a colleague or a friend can be difficult and scary, especially when it concerns something that is hurting your company or your relationship with that person. That fear, Robin says, is based on a belief that many hold that constructive criticism will harm the relationship…. The reality is that feedback can actually strengthen a relationship, because knowing that another person is going to tell it to you straight creates and builds trust….Taking the risk of providing feedback shows the other person that you are invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help fix the issue.”

No matter where you have been…Here are some places to start….

  1. Feedback Needs to be Constructive:

Feedback is applying how actions contributed or detracted from the team and its overall performance. Random criticism and nit-picking is not the feedback that will get you anywhere.  Might make you feel better but it not worth the cost.

There is an urban legend of IBM founder Thomas Watson….  The legend goes that a top salesman lost $5 million on a project he’d been working on.

Called to see the boss, the salesman prepared to be fired. However, once he was ushered into Watson’s office, he was surprised to find that Watson cheerfully started discussing the next big project they were planning.

Dazed and confused the salesman asked Watson if he was going to fire him for the loss.  “Fire you?” responded Watson. “Why would we want to fire you when we’ve just spent $5 million training you up?”

The Point:  There are times, you will have to fire someone but if you want an open environment where people get better, you have to do it together, and you have to lead this from the top.  Feedback is not shaming, it is an opportunity to get better.

2.  Feedback Needs to be Consistent

If Feedback is saved for a couple times and year and worse yet, tied to the same time of pay increases, people are so geared up for it that they can not really take it in.  There is just too much emotion.  People also need feedback more quickly on behavior so that these changes can be applied and recognized.

People can only absorb 1-2 things at at time.  If changing behavior was easy…  well, then it would be easy.  It is just not.  Until the robots are ready…  Anyway, think about how you like to get feedback and start there.

Too often we put off giving feedback when someone does something that bugs us. We say, “it’s not a big deal.”  Over time, the person does the same thing again, and again. Now we are hacked off at the person.  This is a leadership issue, not a behavioral one.

The Point.  What gets measured, gets done.  When we focus on constant, consistent feedback, we take the emotion out of it and put the focus on constant and consistent improvement.

3.  Feedback Needs to Focused on Person and Progress

In order for someone to receive and apply feedback, there are a couple of vitals.

They Trust You

OK, there is really ONE vital element for feedback to be effective.

How do you build this trust?

  • Tie Feedback to Their Goals.  Example.”  I know you want to lead this team one day….
  • Make the Feedback Behavior Specific.  This behavior caused this reaction. Specific feedback influences specific behavior.  General feedback changes general behavior.
  • Balance Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Be Transparent – Be open to talking about your journey
  • Be Open and Seek Out Feedback about yourself.

Giving effective come more naturally for some then others but there is no excuse. you may have to practice.  So get out there and practice.  Ask for forgiveness if you come on too strong or unintentionally offend someone.  Let’s get better… Everyday.

Gloriously Inconvenient Christmas

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

God is in the Miracle Business. He creates worlds, creates stars, and created us.

God also is Truth. He doesn’t speak truth, He is truth. It is impossible for God to lie. Everything He says, happens.

So when He says that He has good plans for us, we can believe this and even more. We can believe that He has a plan that is better than we can ask or imagine.

This week, we will celebrate the Miracle of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus. We will celebrate that through God’s love and perfect plan he created a way for us to know him and have eternal life.

He has a good plan, but let’s look at the other word of God’s promise in Jeremiah.… He says His plan will not lead to Disaster.   He did not promise he would not not inconvenience us, He promised, He wouldn’t ruin us.

So, let’s look closer at the Christmas story.

  • Angel comes to a young Girl…. Bam!!! You’re Pregnant.
  • Hey Fiancée, “I ‘m Pregnant.” It’s God’s…you know… The Messiah.
  • Hey Family… Guess What
  • Oh Babe, You’re 8 Months pregnant. Get ready for a mule ride to Bethlehem
  • We’re here… There are no rooms.
  • It’s OK babe, I found a barn for us to have the baby.
  • Yeah, I ‘m sorry no family is here, but we have some shepherds.

The Christmas story is full of inconveniences, some HUGE, some small. Each time the person chose to believe that God’s plan would not lead to disaster but to a fulfillment of His promise. He promise, made 700 years before in the Book of Micah is that the Savior of the world would be born to a virgin in Bethlehem.

But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village among all the people of Judah.Yet a ruler of Israel,… And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And He will be the source of peace.”

Many today have bought into a philosophy that God would not want us to be inconvenienced; God would not want to disrupt our good lives.   Actually, that is exactly what He is looking to do.

Look again at the Christmas Story, and throughout history and you will see where God asks this question. “Do you want relationship with me more than your current schedule or plan?” He is in the disrupting business because our plans would not lead to Him, but His plan leads to an eternal life with Him for us and for others.

Aren’t we glad that Mary and Joseph said, “Yes.”

In this Christmas week, I am praying that we all embrace a little holy disruption to our tradition and that we open that God’s great promise is worth a detour or two.

 

 

 

 

You have Everything You Need

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1:3

I get asked where my confidence in God comes through. I am not much of a “Rah, Rah” guy but I am that annoying one who looks at what you have, good or bad and says two things:

1.  What are you going to do now? – Your bus is parked wherever you drove it, if you don’t like it, get back in the bus and drive it somewhere else.

2.  What do you need to get moving?  Most of the times, we don’t recognize how much we have.  We need to take an attitude of abundance and get rid ofour attitude of scarcity.  God has given us more than enough to accomplish what He has asked us to do.

I was not born with an unshakeable faith.  I don’t even think I have it yet.  It has become stronger because I realize that I am loved more than I can imagine no matter what and since God loves me that much, He would never set me up to fail.

Do we sometime s feel like:  We Failed, We are not worthy, We would rather not, sure but this shows more about our nature, not His.

You see, God has given us everything we need to live the life He asks us to lead.  You just need to recognize what is around you and that you are not alone in your life.  Make some room and take advantage of what He gave you.

Say it with Me, “I am not alone.”

Here is a partial list of all of the resources God gave us to help us along the way..  I guarantee, it is more than you thought you have.

God’s Promises – Gold tells us to be strong and courageous because, “He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”   This is one of hundreds of promises that He is always with us, encouraging us and fighting our battles.

The Bible – God did not leave us to guess what we should do.  Get into the Bible and just see what happens.  The Word is alive and more that enough.

The Holy Spirit –  Jesus says “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[b] who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”  The Holy Spirit is your helper.

Prayer –   Prayer builds faith and your relationship with God..  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4. That’s right, start talking and then start listening.

Other People“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18. We were never intended to go through life alone. You may just be one relationship away from everything you need. If you don’t have everything you need, look around, you need to know someone else. Open yourself up and start living with the understanding We Are Better Together.

God expects us to act and move with the Humility of a follower and the confidence of a leader. This is that powerful connection that allows Him to work it all out for the good of those who love Him.

You can do this. Better yet, let’s do it together.

Excellence is Your Best Long Term Growth Strategy

My grandfather used to day that, “Excellence was its own Reward.” Sounded like an excuse not to pay me at the time.

This was reinforced by my father. He would make us go back outside and rewash the car a second time without even seeing it. He would put it this way. There is no way you could have done your best that fast. He new that rushing a job meant we cut corners and he didn’t even have to see it, to know. Man, I hated that. BTW, He didn’t pay me either… just sayin.

Of course He was right and of coarse I didn’t want to admit it.

Something must have stuck because I got my first job at the balloon shop, I would try and find ways to do my job better, sell more balloons, delight the customers and make the store a fun place to work. If I had time, I put it to work.

I didn’t make more money, but everyone had a better time and the business improved. I also had a better time at work and a job became a joy.

That experience and my grandfather’s wisdom has stayed with me throughout my life.   I find the more I help others improve, the better we all get and the fuller my life becomes.

Today, there is a lot of talk around “building your brand. “ Many want their brand to be relevant, innovative, hip, bleeding edge, a leader, people-focused, etc….

I get it, these are good and helpful. May I boldly state that the world needs most of all are people who will build their brand and companies on Excellence for the Sake of Excellence?

Apple, Tesla, Chick-Fil-A, Virgin Air are all examples of “excellence led” companies where what they produce delights and overwhelms their customers and the process they use encourage and promote innovation.

They then build systems that support you through your interaction. Their systems and product are all designed to deliver an experience that is unique and purposefully different than their competitors.

Put a Chick-Fill-A in NY and just see what happens. Long lines…. That what happens… Repeat Customers… that what happens…. Incredible Growth… That what happens. Chick-Filet and Apple releases have a ton in common. One just comes with pickles.

Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.

Here are three things to consider as you contemplate how you want to infuse excellence into your team, company, group, community, church, or non-profit.

Excellence is not Perfection – Perfectionism is nasty and not reachable. It limits thoughts, innovation and progress by only focusing on output.. Excellence is focused on doing the best you can and then getting better. Excellence drives Innovation, Open Thought and a focus on the process and output.

Excellence is not tied to Compensation, or Title – Excellence is, in fact, its own reward. Thanks grandpa… My grandfather started out working in a service station. One of his customers would come in twice a year to change his tires. He would always ask for my grand-father. This was back just after World War 2 and my grandpa had served in the army. One time, this man had come in with a proposition. He wanted to start a fuel company and he wanted my grandpa to run it.

Grandpa didn’t know anything about running a fuel company. The man said this to him. “I can teach you about fuel, but this is a people business, and I can’t teach someone to treat people with the care that you have.” They ran that business together for over 20 years.

We all work in a people business. Don’t let your job define how you act, Let your excellence infuse your job. Excellence opens doors and people are attracted to it.

Excellence is not a sometimes thing – Excellence is not limited to your job, your role and those things at your work. Excellence is a mindset of where we decide that whatever we produce, whatever we spend our time on is done to the best of our ability. It becomes a process where I measure my life and I will then commit to get a little better everyday in everything.   From being a father, husband, leader, pastor, son and friend… If it worth doing…. It is worth doing well.

Hope this helps. Now, Let’s Get Moving.