Are you limited or empowered by your mindset?

Are you limited or empowered by your mindset?

What do you think of when you hear the word mindset?

Our mindsets shape our perspectives, guide our decisions, and greatly affect how we live our lives.

The dictionary definition of mindset is, “a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.”

Three ways to keep growing all summer long ☀

Three ways to keep growing all summer long ☀

Summer is the season known for its barbecues on the deck, trips to the beach, and time for unplugging from the normal grind of life. However, summer for a leader can be much more.

Before being tempted to totally unplug this summer, let me suggest that this season can be a one of tremendous growth if you’re intentional about it.

Let’s get real for a second — leadership is difficult

Leadership has its rewards, but these rewards come at a cost. The cost of leadership can be incredibly exhausting on your resources of time, energy, and enthusiasm if you’re not being intentionally refueled. 

Powerful strategies to actually get out of bed at 5AM (Part 2)

Powerful strategies to actually get out of bed at 5AM (Part 2)

Just last week I conducted a poll on Facebook and LinkedIn to find out what time people get up in the morning and got a huge response. I could tell I hit a nerve.

But how many of us make strategies around this subject? 

I’ve learned that if I really want to succeed at what’s most important in life, I have to develop strategies. 

Three Vital Steps to Manage those Unruly Emotions

Three Vital Steps to Manage those Unruly Emotions

I have always been the type of person who wears my emotions on my sleeve.  

Sometimes this can be a really good thing, like when I’m cheering on my son’s basketball team from the stands in a close game. My outward passion and excitement can help motivate the team to bring their best and play at a higher level--especially in critical moments.

However, there other times (like in the story I wrote to you about last week when I reacted angrily to my wife after she pointed out that the kitchen faucet didn’t work properly after I had tried to repair it...twice) when wearing my emotions on my sleeve can serve as damaging and destructive.

How to uncover potentially destructive leadership blind spots 😳

How to uncover potentially destructive leadership blind spots 😳

Do you ask questions like this:

  • “Am I a good leader?” 

  • “What am I doing or not doing that might be limiting my effectiveness as a leader?”

  • “Does my team feel good about how they are being led?”

These are legitimate questions that every leader asks at one point in time. Those who seek to get better as a leader probably ask them often.  

Something that every leader has that can be really dangerous...

I can empathize when I hear people say things like...

  • “Now that I have received this promotion, how am I going to be able to meet the new demands placed on me?”

  • “If my team doesn’t come through on this assignment, I may lose my job.  How can I lead my team better so this doesn’t happen?”

  • “Can I really meet the sales goals this quarter?  The last two quarters have been brutal.”

  • “Will I ever get promoted?”

These are real concerns that keep real people like you and I up at night.

An exercise to help you make the most of 2019 🙌

An exercise to help you make the most of 2019  🙌

John Piper, one of my favorite authors, recently wrote: 

“Aimlessness is akin to lifelessness. Dead leaves in the backyard may move around more than anything else — more than the dog, more than the children. The wind blows this way, they go this way. The wind blows that way, they go that way. They tumble, they bounce, they skip, they press against a fence, but they have no aim whatsoever. They are full of motion and empty of life.”


Have you ever felt like that leaf that John describes -- full of motion, but empty of life and purpose?

Overcoming Failure (Part 2)

Overcoming Failure (Part 2)

Napoleon Hill once wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”  Failure can be a wonderful gift of opportunity to grow in character (patience, humility, appropriate grounded-ness, wisdom) and become more resilient.  

But how do we do that?

Today's big question: How do you overcome failure and disappointment?

Today's big question: How do you overcome failure and disappointment?

If you are like me, you are no stranger to failure and disappointment. In fact, it was traveling through a season of personal failure and disappointment that served as the primary catalyst for launching my coaching business.

Do you belong to a great team? Use this checklist to find out...

Did you know that a 2015 Gallup survey revealed that, The percentage of U.S. workers in 2015 who Gallup considered engaged in their jobs averaged 32%. The majority (50.8%) of employees were "not engaged," while another 17.2% were "actively disengaged."


When you consider the number of workers who are checked out, this is astounding. On many levels this is a problematic statistic -- however, we won't wade too deep into this today. 


Although, I do have a question for you.  


Which category would you place yourself in — engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged with your job?  And furthermore, if you are part of the majority of folks who are disengaged, what factors have contributed to your disengagement?  


My guess is that there are multiple issues in play.  I’ll even bet that one of the contributing factors involves the dynamics of the team that you are part of.  


Are you part of a highly engaged, kick butt (in a good way) team or one that is creating significant stress and draining the life right out of you through the bottom of your feet?  


How can you know whether you are part of a cohesive team or a dysfunctional team?  I’m glad you asked. 


Patrick Lencioni provides a simple checklist in his book, The Advantage, that you can use to determine whether or not you are part of a high-functioning, cohesive team.  


Read through the following six statements and check all that apply:


  • The leadership team is small enough (three to ten people) to be effective.

  • Members of the team trust one another and can be genuinely vulnerable with each other.

  • Team members regularly engage in productive, unfiltered conflict around important issues.

  • The team leaves meetings with clear-cut, active, and specific agreements around decisions.

  • Team members hold one another accountable to commitments and behaviors.

  • Members of the leadership team are focused on team number one. They put the collective priorities and needs of the larger organization ahead of their own departments.


So, how many statements were relevant to your situation?  If your answer is three or fewer statements, there is a solid reason to feel the way you do.


If you would like to create some great discussion with other members of your team, pass this checklist on to them and see how many statements they agree with.  

**Please be sure to clear this with the leader of your team first :-)


Chances are, your team can do better.  And if it does, imagine the positive impact it could have on your life and everyone around you.  Imagine how much happier, healthier and more productive you would be.


Here’s to creating legacy cultures.

Today's big question: how will you find significance in each moment?

Today's big question.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Wow! Where has the time gone?”  Maybe it was after a great evening with friends or when you watched your child graduate from high school or turned 50 (like me…)?

As November kicks off and I look back over another summer that has come and gone, I find myself asking this question once again.

Your time...whatever your perception of it is, whether dragging along (like my son in school right now) or flying by (like I feel at 51) is your life.  Your time IS your life.

Although we cannot control the speed at which life approaches, we CAN control our intentionality to be fully present in each moment.

I had a conversation with a very close friend this past week who longs to be able to have more time with her grandchildren.  She felt frustrated that her time with them never seemed enough.  I could tell that she was feeling a sense of lost opportunity and regret.  I told her, “The reality is you have very little control (because of your unique circumstances in life) over how much time you have with them, but you have total control over making the most of the moments you do have.  Just embrace those moments.  Let your heart be completely open.  Be fully present.  Make these moments as intentional as you can and be grateful for every interaction you have with them, even if they are brief.”

There is a life to be lived in each present moment.  

Tolstoy said it best in his short story called "Three Questions." He said, “Remember then: there is only one time that is important. Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”  

If being present in each moment is of utmost importance -- how will you find significance in each moment today

Priorities...or priority?

Have you ever noticed that truly successful people, whether personally professionally, all have at least one thing in common?  They have a very clear sense of their priorities AND they align their lives around them on a consistent daily basis.  

Check this out, though.  The word  Priorities is an interesting word. Originally there was no plural form of the word priority. The origin of priority dates back to the 14th century where it simply meant the first or prime thing to be done or notice.  Think about it...if there is more than one, then it ceases to be primary.

Let’s make this a little more personal.  How about you? Do you wake up each day with a clear sense of what is first or primary (besides that first cup of coffee obviously)?

And if you don’t, how do you get to the place where you are really clear on what is most important, on what is priority?  

Taking it even further, how can we get to the place where that priority is so important to us that it compels us to get out of bed in the morning with a deep sense of purpose?

We can get there by answering some bigger and more foundational questions.  I’ll leave you with a few as I close…

  1. What do you want out of life? I mean, what is it that you really, really want?  In order to understand what is most important, you need to first understand what you really want out of life.  Maybe it’s wealth, popularity or acceptance. Maybe you really desire companionship in a certain relationship. Or maybe you have a strong desire to make a difference in the world. Whatever it is, take a few minutes to stop and reflect and honestly answer that question.  Take your time. I’ll wait :-)

  2. Bigger question...Why is that so important to you?  Be honest.

  3. And why is that important to you?

  4. And why is that important to you?

As John Maxwell has written, “When you find your why you find your way.”

The reason that truly successful people have such a clear sense of what is most important is that at an even deeper level they understand WHY that is so important to them.

And when you get clear on your “Why”, you gain a very powerful and added benefit.  You gain a clarity of purpose that serves as the overarching compass for every decision, every investment of money, every expenditure of time, every relationship you build, and every career path you choose.

3 things that cause leaders to lose their way...

We are experiencing a crisis of integrity in our culture today and it starts with leaders.  You've probably heard the phrase, "Speed of the leader, speed of the team."  I think it applies here.  Just last week we've learned of another story in the news reporting on sexual allegations against one of the highest ranking officials at the Vatican.  I am deeply disheartened every time I read a story like that.  And unfortunately, stories like that are not limited to religious leaders.

In a 2002 Barna Research poll participants were asked "whether they had complete confidence that leaders from various professions would consistently make job-related decisions that are morally appropriate."  Here is a breakdown of the percentages of those who agreed:
3% - Executives of large corporations
3% - Elected government officials
3% - Film and TV producers, directors and writers
5% - News Reporters and journalists
8% - small business owners
11% - ministers, priests and clergy
14% - teachers
Those numbers should give all of us pause for personal reflection.  Let's face it.  It's easy to watch or read the news and see the problems "out there" in the world.  We're all professionals at spotting character flaws in others, especially those in leadership...but not nearly as adept when it comes to identifying the blind spots in our own character.   

To illustrate this point, a recent study conducted with college students revealed that 84% of those polled believe the US is experiencing a business crisis.  And 77% believe CEOs should be held responsible for it.  However (this is pretty funny), 59% of those same students admit to having cheated on a test.

I believe that most leaders start out well with a desire to do the right thing, to build something of lasting value, and make a positive difference in the lives of others, but not all leaders finish well.  So what causes leaders to lose their way?  There are potentially many factors, but I'm going to talk about 3 of the most significant that I have seen.

  1. The wrong definition of success - I love John Maxwell's definition of success.  He defines success as, "knowing my purpose in life, growing to my full potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others."  How different would our world be if that was the vision of success that people were striving for?  Far too often, however, the pervading definition of success centers more around doing whatever it takes to win and stepping on whoever I need to step on along the way.  If you want to get a vivid understanding of what I mean by this, I encourage you to watch the movie, The Founder.  It's the story of how Ray Kroc built McDonald's into one of the largest restaurant franchises in the world.  I was pretty depressed after watching it.
  2. Insecurity - Are you solid in who you are at the core?  Do you like who you are?  Are you clear on your values?  Do you know who you aren't?  Insecure leaders will often make decisions based on the desires, expectations, and values of others rather than aligning their decisions with their own values.  They will often do things to be liked.  They will try to be someone that they aren't.   An insecure leader is like a ship without a rudder.
  3. Choosing convenience over character - Doing the right thing often means doing the hard thing.  It means choosing principles over pleasure.  Our world is being devastated by the philosophy of situational ethics, doing what serves us best in the moment.  The Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit organization that exists to improve the ethical quality of society, states:  “Ethics is about how we meet the challenge of doing the right thing when that will cost more than we want to pay."

Bill George, in his book, True North wrote, “Real integrity results from integrating all aspects of your life so that you are true to yourself in all settings.

As you reflect on these 3 factors, which one personally challenges you the most? What needs to change in order to strengthen your character and become that leader who is "true to yourself in all settings?"



Is your life on solid ground? It's what's below the water line that sinks the ship...

Recently I started receiving Time Magazine in the mail.  Don't ask me why.  I didn't order it...just showed up in my mailbox one day.  I'll have to track that one down.  Anyhow, I couldn't help but notice the cover and feature story of the most recent edition regarding all the chaos going on at Uber, the smart phone-enabled taxi cab alternative company based in San Francisco.

It was a fascinating read that covered the Uber's start, it's meteoric rise, and the recent setbacks it has faced over the past 12 months.  This is a company that, because of the aggressiveness of its founder, Travis Kalanick, and its  ability to recognize and capitalize on the timing of several market related opportunities, grew rapidly, becoming a global force operating in 570 cities around the world in just a little more than 8 years.  As of June 2016, Uber was worth more than $67 billion, (that's right...Billion)!  That's impressive.

But, the problem is  (based on many of the details in the article), the leaders apparently  didn't possess the character needed for them to keep pace with the company's growth.  Several issues  (sexual harassment issues, unethical business strategies that have resulted in pending law suits, a "game of thrones" political power culture, etc.) would indicate that while Kalanick and many others in the organization possessed a ton of talent, they lacked the supporting character vitally needed to build something lasting and sustainable. Most recently this has led to Kalanick's resignation as CEO.

What can we as leaders learn from this?  As I reflected on the situation at Uber, it reminded me of story from history that contains a very powerful principle related to this.  Do you remember the story of the Titanic?

The Titanic was considered "the unsinkable ship."  There was no travel liner that compared to it at the beginning of the 20th century.  It was unparalleled technologically.  Apparently the the captain and his crew shared the belief that it was unsinkable as it began its maiden voyage in 1912.  

As it was sailing across the Atlantic on the night of April 14, the crew received several messages from other ships in the area, warning them of impending danger.  They had spotted several icebergs in the Titanic's path and were attempting to alert the Titanic's crew.  All of the warnings, however, were ignored.  Finally after receiving the sixth warning, the crew member from the Titanic who received the message shot back, "Shut up! I'm busy!"  They kept right on going full steam ahead, ignoring the warnings.

When the crew finally saw the ice berg, they attempted to turn the ship at the last minute.  They managed to avoid a head on collision, glancing off to the side.  Initially they thought they had avoided disaster because they were only looking at the 10% of the iceberg that was above the water line.  What they didn't see was the portion of the iceberg below the water line that ripped a gaping and fatal hole in the side of the ship under the water that doomed it to sink.  Over 1,500 people lost their lives that night.

This is very instructive for us as leaders.  Just like the iceberg, our talent (skills, personality, abilities, etc.) represents that 10% that everyone can see.  So that's what we as leaders often focus on and put all of our energy into developing.  Our character, however, represents the 90% of who we are when no one is looking.  And it is the 90% that must be solid if we intend to become the kind of leaders who build something sustainable, something that builds trust and leaves a legacy for others to follow.  If the 90% isn't solid, it will eventually sink us.

One of the laws of leadership that John Maxwell writes about in his New York Times best seller, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, is the Law of Solid Ground.  The Law of Solid Ground states that "trust is the foundation of leadership."  Without trust, leaders have no foundation from which to lead.  And without character, leaders cannot build trust.

I wonder how many of us, much like the crew from the Titanic, might be ignoring warning signs from our own life telling us that there is danger ahead because of some areas of our character (areas that no one can see) that lack integrity.  And how many of us are saying, "Shut up!  I'm busy!"

I encourage you to take some time over the next few days to do some self-reflection.  How would you evaluate your character on a scale of 1-10?  Who are you when no one is looking?  What warning signs have you potentially been ignoring?  What mid-course corrections do you need to make?

Remember, it's what's below the water line that sinks the ship...