Monday, December 29, 2014

Doing what you can…

One of my favorite parts about this season is all of the gift cards that I receive.  Most people know now to just give me anything that can get more books into my arsenal.  I’m pretty tight with my money, but when it comes to personal and professional development, my mentors have always told me to spend as much money as I can on materials that will help me develop my skills.  Such expenses are investments.

Of the many leadership books I’m reading right now, I recently began one that has some pretty sweet anecdotes.  The book, in fact, is a compilation of awesome stories that pull a bunch of leadership understandings from each instance.  One quote that I recently came across was the following:

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can.” ~S. Smith

This reminds me of way back when I first began my professional leadership journey.  When Kevin Cobb brought me on to work for him some 20+ years ago, little did I know that I would be entering a leadership journey that would last a lifetime.  It was then that I ran across some of my favorite leadership authors.  It’s not that I was looking for leadership principles necessarily, it was just that those were the kind of books that I would gravitate towards.

The above quote reminds me of the struggles that I went through early on in my leadership journey.  I felt so insignificant in what I was doing.  Even though I was given a lot of leeway and authority, I still wanted more.  I want to the destination without the journey.  But, Kevin helped me understand that working with what I had at any given moment in time was exactly what I needed to be applying.  It was that principle I took with me and was reminded again today, so many years later.

I guess my question is: are you doing what you can with what you have in the present?  I do a lot of leadership development with people of all ages, professional status, and the like.  What I continue to find is the frustrations that people have because they want to be doing more.  What that relays to me is that these people want more influence.  But the only way that you get more influence is to do what you can with what you have.  Are you doing that?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gracious (Romans 3:21-23)

Good morning all,

The word of the day is "gracious.”  I have been in a study of Romans lately and love to read about the stuff that Paul has to say to the believers in Rome.  He spends the first few chapters talking about all the stuff that is going wrong.  But then he gets to the good news.  The reason we know that God's news is so good is because by ourselves we have such bad news.  This is how we know God is gracious. 

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
~Rom 3:21-23

My prayer this morning is that you learn a little bit more what it means to live a righteous life through faith in the Creator. He is the one who brings that good news as it is explained by at how rebellious gods people are but the cool thing is that Paul reveals and reaffirms to each of the centers in Rome, and us today, that God is gracious and wants to give us his righteousness.

Praying for you,


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Have some tact…

I meet often with people who are better than me.  It's the only way to stay sharp.  In fact, I was meeting with someone, who has been in his industry for quite some time, just a couple weeks ago.  I have great respect for this man.  However, he said something that really disturbed me.  During one of our sessions together, part of his advice to me was: "I'm just very blunt.  I tell people the way it is."  Now, a lot of people might see this as a noble gesture.  He wears it as a badge of honor… a kind of unconventional way of breaking barriers and helping people understand exactly where they are coming from.  Unfortunately, I do not agree with him at all.  Dale Carnegie said this,

“If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don't want to be. ” ~D. Carnagie

What that man communicated to me in that one exchange was that he is unwilling to continue to get better.  I am not saying that he does not care about people, but what I do know from a comment like that is you take away your ability to change and become better as soon as you make that kind of comment.  So, this is what I took away from that.  Have some tact. 

As leaders we are called on by others to continually better ourselves, in hopes that we might be able to influence them to become better at what they do.  Another man, whom has my upmost respect, gave some advice that was very different from my blunt friend.  He said this: always put relationship at the very top, because at the end of the day that's all you have.  I guess my question to each of you is: where do you fall on the spectrum… are you the blunt all telling no-nonsense person?  Or do you achieve the same goals, while using a little bit of tact?  The choice is ours.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reasons MO Coaches #140519 - The Varsity Letter

Coaching is one of the most fun jobs in the entire world.  I guess I am prone to activities that cause a high level of stress.  But every now and again, I have a moment of genuine ashtonishment.  One of those came at a not so typical moment recently.  We had our high school swim team banquet a couple of weeks ago.  Some of the kids swam both junior varsity and varsity all year.  But, they are not really sure if they will receive the varsity letter.  We kind of keep this a little bit of a surprise.  Most of the athletes are very appreciative when they receive the varsity letter, and some expect it because they figure they earned it.  And then, there are instances like the one we had at this past banquet.

When it came time to call the name for one of the boys to receive a varsity letter, I think that he was so surprised and shocked at it that he was overcome with genuine emotion.  It wasn't that he cried or anything, but instead when I handed him the varsity letter certificate, he had the most sincere look of excitement on his face.  And that reminded me of the reasons I coach.  This kid has a ton of potential, and I hope that he continues to tap into his talent and skills.  As coaches, or a leader in any position, it is your job to read the emotions of the people under your care.  What are you doing to understand their circumstances and give them the best opportunity to succeed?  It's time for us to get out there and make a difference.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

We have seen that before...

I was reading my Kindle this morning and had to laugh a little bit.  I pretty much despise reading anything but my Kindle now.  I know that for a lot of people out there nothing comes close to holding a real book in your hands, but for me I'm about efficiency.  No matter where I am, I have a ton of books at my fingertips.  And, if I don't have my Kindle, I have the app on my phone.  Which is even more awesomer!

Not a lot of people know this, but when Jeff Bezos first pitched the idea for an e-reader to manufacturers, they all remembered the other companies that had failed not too long before Jeff decided to launch his project… “We have seen that before,” they would say.  It was so crazy that he had to keep the whole thing under wraps to make sure that a couple things didn't happen: nobody would steal his idea, and people would not begin to make assumptions before he could roll out the master plan.

I am a big believer in companies that go out on a limb.  What I like is that Bezos didn't really care about what other people were saying.  He had a goal and did whatever it took to get there.  Even when his own team did not believe in him, he pressed on anyway and made it happen.  My question is: what are the plans and goals of your heart?  There are too many people out there that are idealists.  They are always looking at what is possible.  I continue to ask myself: what is impossible.  That is what leads to innovation and greatness.  Go out and do something asinine today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Free Food...

Last night we had our team recognition dinner for those who qualified state championships.  It's always one of my most favorite events of the year.  It takes a lot for these kids to achieve the times and scores necessary to be a part of the festivities.  One of my athletes snap chatted the following picture:

I would gladly buy as many meals as needed for these athletes to put in such incredible effort.  For all of the time that they have toiled… getting yelled at, pushed harder than they ever have been before, losing sleep, living tired days…

My question is: what is the payoff for which you are striving?  Like these young athletes, each of us needs something bigger than us.  Latch onto something that brings you joy, and run for it with everything you've got.  And one day, someone just might buy you a free meal… Purchased only by your blood, sweat, and tears.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Little Fanfare...

I am taking my team captains through the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie right now.  I really enjoy going to this book.  I do it about twice a year.  When I first read it some years ago, I realized how simple most of those truths are, but at the same time how difficult to achieve.  We are coming towards the end of our swim season for high school.  This means that we need to start getting all of our banquet stuff and order.  That reminds me of one of the most important principles that I learned from Kevin, and from Dale Carnegie. 

None of us ever really understood why, but Kevin was always really big on what he used to call "closure."  Whenever somebody was going to leave our ministry back at Hillside community Church, he would always make sure that we did something really cool for that person.  I mean, not that we did it for everybody.  But if you are therefore any significant amount of time (and I'm sure you can figure what that means for your program) then you were definitely honored.

In fact, I remember when I was about to move on from the church, Kevin really made me feel special.  I have since begun to understand what it means to put into practice what it means to have good closure.  And, I guess this is why when I'm in charge of stuff like banquets and other end-of-seaon events, they always tend to go little bit longer.  I would rather err on the side of making sure that people feel appreciated than to just brush over the stuff that they did for the program.  I think that's why we have pretty good support in most of the activities that I have the privilege of running. 

When you give people the public recognition that each of us craves, it makes them want to serve more.  Not merely for the recognition, but because they feel wanted and needed.  And, if you don't think that you need to make your people feel that way, just try sending somebody off with some fanfare and see how they respond.  I think you'll be surprised and pleased.