Greener pastures syndrom

For most of my childhood, my family moved from city to city, state to state, job to job.  By the time I was 10, I had been enrolled in 4 different elementary school’s, my oldest sister went to at least 12 different school’s before she graduated. We weren’t a military family, we were more gypsies than anything.  My dad was always looking for a better job, better opportunity, greener pastures.  He was always trying to figure out where the “boom was on”.

I have many fond memories of my childhood and a lot of great experiences that others kids didn’t get.  Those times taught me to be adventurous and outgoing in relationships and life. They also taught me that “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, the grass is greenest where you water it most.”  The key to having a full lush thick lawn, is to give it a little fertilizer and water it regularly, the same is true about life.

As Andy Stanley says, “Go deeper not wider, commit longer not shorter, invest time not just money.”

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Real Men Facebook?

This week I had two epiphanies. The first was my Grandfather would hate most social media!  Not simply because he wouldn’t know how to use it, but because he wouldn’t understand why people use it.  He would wonder why people spend their entire day trying to figure out what other people are doing, instead of simply doing something.

There used to be a day when no one cared what other people were doing, because they were out doing things.  America was built by these men and women (The Rockefeller’s, Henry Ford, Susan B. Anthony, Hank Aarron, Martin Luther King, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln…etc. ) and their are great books written about them that are longer, more intriguing reads than the 3 second post’s on most social media sites.

The second epiphany was how ineffective I was becoming as a leader as a result of the time I was spending on social media.  I think we all know that social media can be an effective tool, but as any tool it is only as effective as those that use it.  The problem with social media is it also can become a frivolous addiction and when you find yourself consumed by trying to figure out what others are doing… you are no longer doing what you should be doing.

5 Signs You Spend To Much Time On Social Media

1. You have stopped reading books.

2. You continually check facebook throughout your day.

3. After a post, you continually check to see if anyone responded to your post.

4. You care way too much about what people think of your post.

5. You find yourself having a harder time completing task and you feel distracted.

4 Simple suggestions…

1. Do something to make your Grandfather proud, set some goals.

2. Delete the social media from your phone or tablet.

3. Make a promise to someone close to you and ask them to check up with you.

4. Read a book (preferably not digital)

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The Law of the Lid

One of my favorite leadership authors has to be John Maxwell.  When I came across his writings as a young leader I had very little experience.  His simple and direct approach to leadership has been invaluable to me.  His teachings have helped me to navigate some very tough waters and identify some very real problems.

However; if I could only pass down one of his leadership principles it would have to be…

  “The Law Of The Lid”

This law states: “Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness.”

This simply means you will never be more effective than your leadership ability. Many people want to be in charge, but they never learn to develop their leadership gifts; they do not take the time to read books, attend conferences or practice leading others.

Some people have a natural bent towards leadership, they may have a charismatic personality combined with a strong sense of direction; however, Leadership is learned as much as it is earned.  Many people want positions of leadership not because they have developed their leadership skills but because they are poor followers.

There are many problems that occur when poor leaders are given charge because of The Law of The Lid.  Leaders will never be able to lead people who have greater leadership skills than themselves.

  • If your leadership level is a 5 – The best you can ever hope for is to surround yourself with a bunch of 4’s.
  • If your leadership level is a 7 – You will surround yourself with 5’s and 6’s.

The Law of the Lid is important because it helps us recognize where our leadership lid is.  If you struggle to retrain good strong leaders, my guess is the problem is not with them, but with You.  Anybody who has a greater leadership lid will eventually get frustrated and leave.

There are three ways to increase your leadership capacity:

1.  Become a reader – Dale Carnigie said, “leaders are readers.”  Make a list of 12 leadership books you will read in 2012, put them all on your desk.  Listen to audio books, take in as much information as you can.

2. Become a learner –   “Leadership is Learned as much as it is Earned.”  Become a student of leadership; surround yourself with great leaders and don’t be afraid to ask them questions.  Attend a great conference; every year we try to take our team to the Global Leadership Summit, hosted by Willow Creek Community Church.

3.  Get a Coach – Have you ever noticed that every professional athlete has at least 3 coaches?  Coaches help you to recognize your weaknesses, they also give you tools to improve your skills. If you want be a better leader, you have to improve your skills.

Leadership isn’t hard, but it is difficult!

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I want to play a game with you.

On a scale of 1-10 how much do you love or hate your job?

When you consistently find yourself doing something you hate at work, what do you daydream about doing? (Causing any sort of mayhem should not be on the list.)

Let me ask the question a different way.

When your life is out of balance and going to work is miserable, what in your mind’s eye do you see yourself doing so you don’t have to do what you are doing?

How do you stop the pain?

As an entrepreneur, when I feel myself drowning at work, I begin to fantasize about owning my own business.  A business that is incredibly different than the one I have currently created.

My fantasy doesn’t have any paid employees and everyone is strictly commission with cash paying customers.  To be even more specific, I daydream about owning a little neighborhood barbershop where guys come in for a good hair cut. While they wait, we tell stories, laugh, and shoot the bull. In my imagination, every customer becomes a friend and every friend leaves with a smile on their face and a skip in their step.

The only real problem with this is… it is a fantasy and fantasies are what we create when we can’t deal with reality. Fantasies are the great escape!

Three Great Escape Strategies

1.       Fantasies help us recognize that our life is out of balance! 

As a pastor and public speaker, I am constantly helping others.  When my life gets out of balance I use what I call, “the grass rule”.  If my grass is getting too long, it is a sign that I have become too busy to take care of my own life, so if I am too busy to take care of my life, I am most definitely too busy to take care of anyone else’s life.  During this time, I cancel all my late night meetings and extracurricular activities until I can effectively manage my home and my family.

2.      Fantasies are not reality.

If I were to drop everything and open up a barbershop, I would soon find myself with a whole new set of problems.  Instead of fantasizing about how good life could be, deal with reality; solve the problems you have.  Remember every job has problems and every problem has a solution.

3.       Create a beautiful reality.  

Fantasies are often the very things that keep us from creating a beautiful reality.  When people spend time thinking about a dream, it can be enough of an escape to actually keep them from accomplishing a dream.  Make real plans, with real goals; life is too short to spend your days dreaming about what could be.

If you are going to escape, escape to reality!

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Owners VS Renters

Linnea and I rented our very first apartment in 1988, two weeks after we got married.  It was a one bedroom with a grand total of 650 square feet. The living room and dinning room were the same room and the fully furnished kitchen came with all the latest amenities.  The bathroom was split which allowed us to get ready and have privacy… If you know what I mean (We were young and shy), but it was incredibly fun.

Renting had some real benefits, anytime something was broken a professional handy man came and fixed it.  Sure we had to lug all our clothes to the second floor to wash them, but at least their was a pool we could swim in during the 2 hour process.

Renting also had some real draw backs, besides the fact that the place wasn’t yours and never would be.  When your renting, your helping someone else get ahead in life, your making someone else mortgage payment, which is why we decided to buy.

In 1995 Linnea and I bought our very first home for a wapping $45,000. It wasn’t nearly as nice as the homes we had rented, but it was ours and for the very first time in our lives we felt like we were in control of our destiny.  Now sixteen years later, that first house taught me a lot about leadership and management.

As a boss I always encourage our people to be owners not renters.

1. Owners take what they have and make it better renters are biding their time until    they find some place better.

2. Owners solve their own problems, renters look for other people to solve their problems.

3. Owners want to make a difference they want to be in control of their own destiny,  renters are satisfied working for someone else, they want security and a pay check.

I understand that most people start out renting, but it shouldn’t be your life’s ambition to be a renter.  When your renting, your helping someone else reach their financial dreams, your helping them live in a nice big house and drive a nice beautiful car.

The world is in need of owners, people who solve problems and make this world a better place. People who are in control of their destiny.



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False Responsibility

I often write on the subject of leadership, I believe it to be one of the single most important pieces of any organization.  Your company can have all the latest bells and whistles an organization desires, you can hire the best and brightest employees and have the fastest and slickest product available with the largest budget, but as Solomon says…

Where there is no vision the people PERISH.”

Proverbs 29:18

John Maxwell constantly states that, “Everything rises and falls on leadership!”  When organizations lack leadership everyone suffers; employees suffer, customers suffer, and even the bottom line suffers.

Listed below our four attributes that undermine a leaders credibility.

       1.  Leaders that give people responsibility without authority.

       2.  Leaders who constantly change their course.

       3.  Leaders who lack the “cojones” to have difficult conversations.

       4.  Leaders that lack a compelling vision.

I believe that poor leadership is often easy to spot, but difficult to change.  Great leaders don’t simply recognize poor leadership, they do everything in their power to change it and surround themselves with great leaders.

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Time To Make A Change

About this time of year, I do a lot of reflecting.  I take time to rethink through the previous 12 months and look ahead to the next 12, making plans and adjusting the course.

Peter Drucker said, “It is the job of an executive to be effective.”  

As a leader I have never been one to struggle in the area of making plans. Plans are easy for me, plans are simply dreams that have not had the breath of life blown into them yet, and I love to breathe life into dreams.

Making plans allows me to do the work I love, calendaring goals, gathering teams and building organizations.  It allows me to train and coach leaders, and solve problems.

However; as I reflected over this year, I discovered that I struggled to effectively use my time.  Because I am very social, I enjoy hanging out and talking.  I am the guy that likes roaming from office to office checking in on everyone and encouraging staff members.  I was consistently dropping in on others and  also allowing staff members and people to drop in on me to discuss issues at length.

The problem is, I am the Executive, and as Peter Drucker said, “It is the job of the executive to be effective.”  This year I made four simple changes to my schedule that I have found incredibly helpful.

1.  Show up to work early! (My staff gets there at 9 am, I usually arrive between 7am -7:30.)

2. Schedule your day, before you start. (Schedule every minute of your day!  Schedule your appointments; when you will read and respond to e-mails, lunch and breaks. This allows you to gracefully excuse yourself from being interpreted and keeps you on task so that you are not the unnecessary interruption.)

3. Keep a list of “things to do.”  (This is very simple, as you schedule your day, simply write out all the things in your head you would like to make head way on… Phone calls, e-mails, things that need to be finished, processes that need to be written.   Begin working on the items that are most important and then as you get tired, simply take a break and knock out a couple of the smaller items.)

4. Go Home! The job will always be there. If you are truly being effective, you should be able to turn off the lights at 5pm and go home.  I have found that most people work late not because they are champions, but because they are ineffective.

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