Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thinking Chair

I read in John Maxwell’s Thinking for a Change (2003) some years ago that he is very specific about the way he does his thinking. I mean this guy has a process that is crazy. But I guess when you are a national speaker who is on the go all the time you gotta have your madness in line. One of the things that he emphasizes is that of having a thinking chair. He does all of his main thinking in the same place. Now whether that is a chair, swing, table, bathtub, or whatever in your life… you need to have that place.

The place that I do most of my thinking is in the pool. I can swim for a long time and think about absolutely nothing. One of my mentors tells me that I am what I am thinking about when I am not thinking about anything. Wow, get your mind around that, I know. All great peeps, from musicians to teachers and ordinary thugs like you and me have a process that we have to go through. What makes you successful? Where do you find your best thoughts and ideas? Do you write them down?

One of the homies does tons of driving in his bidness and so he does not get to stop a whole lot to just chill and think. This guy is on the road sometimes for like twelve hours at a time. And we all know that when we are starring at the white lines on the road is when we get some good stuff that pops in our heads. For him, he has a voice recorder so that he can pretty much talk to himself. I found this method to be useful in my own life, since I find myself talking to no one in particular much of the time.

The point is that you do not want to miss the good ideas that you have. One of my boys is a comedian and is always looking for good material. He carries a full-on notebook in his back pocket to write stuff down as it comes to him. So, where is your “thinking chair”? Are you consistent in your thinking time? You should be doing this every day. Get one of your peeps to hold you accountable and see what kind of crazy madness you come up with – you’ll surprise yourself… I did, and still do.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The rules have changed... again.

I talk to a lot of leaders that get very unhappy about the stuff they have to deal with. They are in an organization where the boss does not really run a fair ship. It seems that they are doing a lot of work that is not theirs. Or they are pulling weight that is not theirs. I know, it sucks. But here is the thing... if you have chosen to be in your particular field at your specific company and you do not like the way that they are doing stuff then you have a couple of choices. The first and most easy is to quit and go somewhere else where you agree with the doctrine and you like the peeps. The other is harder.

The other path you can choose is to accept the rules for what they are and adapt to them. It's like being in a competition or game or whatever. If you find out that the referee sucks then you can either quit or find out what needs to be done in order to win... and then win! It is funny to see how many peeps spend so much time and energy complaining when they just need to accept the rules for what they are and get on it. Life is not fair and there are times when you are going to be thrown down or have it harder than others. Are you going to complain? Or are you going to get it done?

When you are a leader you do not have the luxury of making excuses. The bottom line is that at the end of a deadline or project it is either done or it is not. It is either good or it isn't. You have the choice. A batter who is unhappy with a horrible umpire has the choice to either cry about the strike zone or adapt to it. A good leader will adapt to all situations and make the necessary adjustments to get the job done. We all have the opportunity to go one way or the other. Don't play the part of the victim – no one likes a complainer... play the part of a leader. This will cause others to rise up and reach their potential, and there is nothing better than seeing others succeed.

There are no bad teams

One of my favrit movies is GI Jane because Demi Moore totally tears it up in her quest to become the first woman Navy SEAL. At one point of the movie she is put in charge of her team and is reluctant to take the position. Master Chief John Urgayle responds to her by saying, “ There are no bad crews, only bad leaders.” Pretty much, he told her to suck it up and get the job done. And of course she does. But that quote really stuck out to me. There are to many leaders in organizations that like to blame everyone else besides himself or herself. And what I have to say to that is... suck it up.

When you became the leader of your team you decided to take all of the responsibility and none of the credit. Everything that goes right is because of the peeps on your team and eveything that goes wrong is because you screwed up. And when I say that I mean even if someone on your team did something that was “less than informed” and it is their fault – you better check yourself and realize that ultimately it is a lack of good leadership on your part that let it happen. I know you are gonna say that you did all you could that was in your power and that there was no way that you could prevent it. Whatever it is... it happened and it happened on your watch.

John Wooden (2003) has two sets of three that he lives by and teaches. The first of those is “Don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses.” so check this out. If you expect your team to perform at the highest level then you have to first do it yourself. When you give yourself the OK to violate any of those principles then you are giving your team licence to do the same but at a much worse level. When you become a leader you automatically accept responsibility. So stop blaming others and get the job done.

Listen Intently...

Cobb rolled into town this past week and was all over the place doing stuff with all the peeps. I don't know anyone who is more intentional than him. We were supposed to connect. I had tons of stuff going on and it looked as if we were not going to make it happen. He hit me up on Twitter the nite before he was going to peace out back to MI and was like, “hey are we going to connect?” then I realized the opportunity that I was going to miss. We ended up getting together the following nite.

Here is the thing though. I know that his last nite in town was going to be a time for family, you know, for goodbyes and stuff. I begin this blog by expressing how honored I feel that he would include me in that time. You see, Cobb has always been one to seek others out who he thought had potential. I am one of those peeps. For more on mentoring and why you need to find a mentor you should check out my homies blog on this subject ( In that blog, Lem talks about how there are a select few mentors who actually seek others to give time to and add value. Have you been lucky enough to be one of those peeps? If you are, then you really need to take advantage of that time and respect and honor the time that you receive from that mentor in your life.

When I was out with Cobb the other nite my leadership radar was up and ready. I knew that I only had a certain amount of time with him and that I was not sure when I was going to see him next. I was very intentional with the questions that I asked. I wanted to gain wisdom and insight into ministry and life and I know that he was willing to give it – he is always willing to give advice to those who will listen. And after many years of shedding my pompous “I am the man” atttude, I am slowly beginning to learng what it means to move my leadership to the next level by listening to guys like Cobb.

So the question is, are you listening? And you seeking out a mentor who can speak into you life? And if someone is seeking you out because he or she sees potential in you, take what you can get. You will speed up your journey toward being a leader.