Category: Leadership

011: One Secret Of Good Leadership

011: One Secret Of Good Leadership

Leadership is a precious gift to business, home and community. While there are different types of leaders, there is one secret that all good leaders have in common. That’s the topic today on The Take Back Your Life Podcast


I’ve been a leadership junkie for years.  Some of my favorite  Rory Vaden’s ‘Take the Stairs, Malcom Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ and my friend, John Nemo’s ‘Fired Up’.  (See below for links to these books).

Jim collins wrote ‘Good to Great’ and in it, he talks about 5 levels of leadership.  Here is a graphic to describe these levels:
Level 5 leadership — consists of the duality, some would consider to be paradoxical, of 2 key attributes:
  • Professional will —
  1. Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
  2. Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
  3. Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
  4. Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
  • Personal humility —
  1. Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
  2. Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  3. Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
  4. Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company-to other people, external factors, and good luck.

This one — Personal Humility — I call selflessness.

Selfless doesn’t mean, being a milk toast, non decisive or strong leader.  Selfless means someone who is confident in their abilities, is a competent decision maker, but makes decisions based on what is best for the organization – OR for their family not themselves.

For example, Nelson Mandela, Warren Buffett and the greatest selfless leader of all time,  Jesus Christ.  Even if you’re not a religious person and I know many of you listening aren’t, If you read about what he taught and how he lived and ultimately what he sacrificed for the world…  selfless.  He would put himself in situations where he knew he was going to be ridiculed or his reputation would be scared, but he did it for the cause.  He did it for his mission and that was to find people who were broken and offer hope.  Ultimately, the offered his life so that people could be back in a relationship with God.

Think about your leadership…  I believe everyone is a leader.  And the first person you lead is yourself. Are you adding value to them or are you giving yourself praise?  When you go to work, are you only thinking of how it will benefit you are how you can used your gifts and talents to benefit the mission of your company and organization.

Remember that being a selfless leader is the highest goal of good leadership.  2 ways to begin to become a selfless leader.

  1. Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses – confirming and admitting both. This will help give you the confidence and humility that selfless leaders exhibit.
  2. Always take the blame and give away the credit.

Remember that this takes time to develop.


007: One Secret To Breaking Procrastination

007: One Secret To Breaking Procrastination


Show Notes: (Audio attached at the end of the post)

Procrastination means to put something off that you simply don’t want to do. All of us procrastinate but there is one simple secret to breaking procrastination — Cracking The Egg.

Why we procrastinate:
  • Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.
  • Procrastinators are made not born.  science suggests that the more creative a personality, the more likely you are to procrastinate.
  • finding much of it has to do your family upbringing. a hard disciplinarian is more likely to produce procrastination.
  • Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” 
  • Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part.  checking email (i do this…)  creative=i work on something that is more along my bent…  
  • Procrastinators can change their behavior.  we can learn tricks and tips to help us past our procrastination.
“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”  Christopher Parker
Why I’m Sick Of The Church Bashing And You Should Be Too

Why I’m Sick Of The Church Bashing And You Should Be Too

I heard another rant recently.  This one on the lack of relevance that the church has in today’s society.  The ‘rager’ relentlessly blabbed on about the large percentage of young people leaving the church and the impending ‘death of Christianity’ in the United States.  

I get it.  Church attendance has been declining over the decades and fewer churches seem to care. 

I get it.  Church leaders are afraid to push lazy congregations to do more, be more and impact more because it might take change. 

I get it, but I’m sick of it and I’ll tell you why. 

First, a bit of understanding.  For those of you who don’t know, the church is both organism and organization.  The organism-church is the alive, active movement of the people of God living in Jesus on the breath of the Holy Spirit. God describes the organism-church as the ‘bride of Christ’ and likens it to a body.  Seen and unseen, it is the Christ-followers that seek piety, purpose, and impact in our families, communities and world.  

The organization-church is the organism-church, gathered in clusters — big and small — around the globe.  These are the institutions.  These are the church buildings.  These are the budgets, programs and ministries that operate as a business hopefully with the intention of supporting and furthering the work of God in the world through the organism-church.

Organism and Organization.  Woven together in a beautifully messy dance that stumbles across the stage of a fallen world.   

No, we’re not perfect.  (Duh – palm slap my forehead).  We are human and humans are fallen.  We get lazy.  We get comfortable.  We are selfish and sometimes rude.  But we are the church and — whether you know this or not — most of us in leadership are trying to move the needle.  We see the stats.  We watching the dwindle.  We encourage our staff and the organized church toward mission.  Some don’t.  Many do.  

For me, I love the ambiguity of the thing called the local church.  I love how, even in our frailty, the Holy Spirit changes lives.   

When a women comes to me after the service in tears because our organism-church gathered as the organization-church has been praying for her family and she has started to see change, that’s when I love the church.  When people who have been marginalized by society can find a place of welcome, friendship and purpose, that’s when I love the church.  When a student realizes that when they die, they know without a doubt that they’ll be in heaven, not because of their efforts or by simply being a good person, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus, that’s when I love the church.  In all her brokenness

Ranter, we hear you, but lighten up.  Yes, we have a lot of work to do — work that is getter heavier with every passing generation.  But your battle isn’t against flesh and blood.  Your flamed cries of negativity deflates instead of inspires.  Spend your energy storming the gates of heaven with us, asking for a revival.  Put your relationship with the Spirit ahead of your ratings with the readers.  

Some day, we will celebrate together the fact that God never let his church — in all of her imperfection — be wiped off the face of the planet.  


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(Special Announcement!  I’m pleased to announce that a brand new podcast will be starting next week on my site called, “Take Back Your Life.”  For a summary, click here

What Wisdom Can Do For You

What Wisdom Can Do For You

next_level_wisdom.001“What is Wisdom and why is it such a big deal?”

The music dribbles from the small black speakers that hide in the shadows of the exposed rafters of the coffee shop.  One young gal is in the corner, chewing on her pencil as she bounces from scanning the Chemistry 101 book in front of her to squinting at the screen that illuminates her fair-skinned cheeks.

There are several like her here.  Some studying out of duty.  Others seem to possess a deep thirst for mastery.  It forces me to ask, “Am I a learner?”

John Maxwell said that “All Leaders are Learners” and since I believe that everyone leads someone — even if it is only themselves — I hold firm that I must be on a constant hunt for wisdom.

Wisdom is greater than knowledge.  Wisdom takes facts and breathes life into them by adding experience.  Wisdom hides in the dry pages of books, film and local communal observation.  Wisdom is more precious than gold and understanding more desirous than silver (Proverbs 16:16).

So take knowledge, put it into action and wisdom is quick to follow.  Take advice, tips and learnings and apply them to life and understanding will soon appear.  Be a lifelong learner.  Learn, grow and give and wisdom is sure to take your life to the next level.



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What Might Be Happening When Your Leader Does Nothing

What Might Be Happening When Your Leader Does Nothing

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 6.54.31 AMI was sitting at a stoplight waiting to turn right – 3rd in line.  The light turned green but the lead car didn’t move.  It just sat there. My brow furrow, thinking that the large SUV driver was on the phone or daydreaming or flipping radio stations.  However, I was more patient than the young man behind him, in front of me, who laid on the horn – first in short blasts, then in long drones.

Still the SUV didn’t move, green light and all.

As I watched and began to fume, from the front of the SUV, a young mom pushing a stroller that held a sleeping 2yr-old came into view, crossing past the SUV and onto the sidewalk.  The honking stopped.  All of us drivers exhaled and we realized that waiting was the smartest thing for the leader to do.  Had the leader charged ahead, tragedy would ensue.

If you’ve been in leadership, you know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing.  You can’t make a decision because you are needing to see what the market is going to do.  You have to wait on moving forward with an initiative because you don’t have the right people in place.  You hold back on saying ‘yes’ to one department because you know that it would decimate the goals of another.

Sometimes leaders have to wait.

The problem comes for those who are following – for those who don’t or can’t see the big picture.  We become upset with our leader and think that they are indecisive, lazy or afraid.  We ‘honk our horns’ in frustration and wonder why he or she won’t approve a spending request.  We become myopic in our quest to further that which has been entrusted to us.

If you’re in that situation, here are three questions to ask yourself if your leader seems to be doing nothing:

  1. Is there something that I’m not seeing that he is?  Maybe there is better option coming into view that I can’t see yet.
  2. If my leader moved forward right now, what other departments or people may be affected?  Maybe approving your venture would slow down or stop the off-shore team that is about to launch into a new area.
  3. What else can I do to cast vision about the importance of my initiative?  Maybe my leader doesn’t know what I need.

Of course there are leaders who are lazy or procrastinate unnecessarily, but unless there’s a pattern, always give them the benefit of the doubt.  In other words, lay off your horn.  

Add to the conversation by making a comment below … 



By the way, here is a video of what could have happened if the SUV when forward:  CLICK HERE.

How To Get Things Done Through Your Team

How To Get Things Done Through Your Team

3003010-poster-942-how-official-getting-things-done-app-will-free-your-mind-and-empty-your-inboxesHave you ever been in a team meeting and there is a problem that someone identifies that your team agrees needs to be fixed.  Lot’s of ideas are thrown out and the conversation basically ends with a “yes, let’s work on that” and then nothing happens.  If you’re a leader, especially one that has a team with great ideas, this describes a pitfall that you want to watch for.  It is the lack of assignment to ideas that the team has decided to implement.  If other words, WHO is going to be the point person and WHEN is it going to come into reality.  This is especially true in a ministry setting with very little staff or volunteers.  (By the way, I’m still working on this one – ask my team!)

Let’s say your team thinks its a good idea to reorganize the look of the entry way of your welcome area.  The environment is outdated, cluttered and unorganized.  Everyone on your team says its a great idea and then dives into what should be done.  “I  think the couch should be on the right side wall instead of the left side,” one person says.  “I think if we take down that wall, it will feel more welcoming,” another says.  Again, everyone agrees that something needs to be done and begins to offer ideas.  They’ve jumped into the WHAT and even the HOW.

At this point, you as the leader, need to hijack the conversation and ask or assign the WHO and the WHEN before the conversation continues to spiral.  Who is going to take the lead on the remodel and when can we expect it to be accomplished (or at least a presentation of the next phase)?  You don’t assign the WHAT or HOW.  What needs to happen to the welcome area can then be a brainstorming session to expand the possibilities for the person in charge of that project.  How it happens is dependent upon the point person.  A good leader rarely, if ever, assigns the what and how unless it is critical to the functioning of the organization.

Now, the point person can take the suggestions, build his or her team and present an outline of the what, when and how.  I also suggest that the point person give a why statement that include a ‘so that’.  Using the above example, it could say something like “the purpose of this project is to update our welcome area so that our clients and employees are inspired when they encounter our company during the day.”




2 Lessons Learned From the Popes Resignation

2 Lessons Learned From the Popes Resignation

There can be a fine line between a leader and a dictator.  A leader serves others.  A dictator serves themselves.  The former is how I would describe the actions of Pope Benedict XVI who made the historic move to step down from the highest office in the Catholic Church.  His reasons?  He felt his physical limitations kept him from serving in the role to which he was called.
I’m not a Catholic but I do admire the strength of decision in this physically frail man.  Here is what I can learn as a leader from the Popes action.

  1. Good leaders give those He leads advance notice of pending changes.  To the world, it appeared sudden but to the Pope’s leadership circles, they knew that this was coming.  One of the Cardinals a few clicks away from the Pope said that the Pontiff had mentioned several times within the last 6 months that the change was on the horizon.  This “holy heads up” gave the decision makers time to start the process of finding a replacement which should be named before Easter.
  2. Good leaders get out of the way if it is for the betterment of those whom they serve.  Like I said before, dictators serve only themselves.  If the Pope was dictatorial, we wouldn’t be talking about a resignation until funeral plans were being made. Humility is a key attribute in a good leader.

I applaud the Pope.  I honor his wisdom and I’ve learned from his decision and action.



What To Do When Your Lights Go Out

What To Do When Your Lights Go Out

Superbowl 47.  Stellar performances.  Great come backs. Manly squabbles on the field.  And yes, even a “lights out” moment that changes the energy of play.  During those 34 minutes, the coaches on both sides instructed their teams to do four things while they waited in half darkness.  What the coaches told them applies you personally and if you’re leading a team.

Superbowl 2013

  1. Accept that you’re not always control – The opposing coaches (who happen to be brothers) were frantically trying to get information about what was going on but knew that there was nothing they could do to change the situation.  They accepted the reality that sometimes stuff happens but to keep their focus where it needs to be.
  2. Keep your mind straight – Much of life is mental.  The coaches told their players to keep focused on what they were there to do – win the Big Game!  Coach Jim Harbaugh was overheard going from player to player saying, “Keep your mind straight!”  His players knew what that meant and they did whatever they needed to protect their thoughts from wandering off mission.
  3. Keep moving – Both sides of the field had players laying on the turf, stretching, squatting and jogging to keep limber.  The worst thing for any team in the middle of darkness is to let laziness and status quo slip in.
  4. Stay together – They were in groups as they waiting.  Talking.  Processing.  Looking over past plays.  But each team stayed together as they huddled under a half lit dome.  They kept encouraging each other by repeating the above three actions: Accept that you’re not always in control, Keep your mind straight, Keep moving.

That is what good coaching and leadership is about.  That is what teams do.  That is what makes for success in the midst of darkness.



2 Principles on Being an Excellent Leader

2 Principles on Being an Excellent Leader

I’m forty-something years old (really, I’ve forgotten the number) and somewhat confident in what I can do.  The ref was still wiping Cheerios from her bib but she was the one the league chose for my daughter’s volleyball game.  I’ve line judged for games before, many times in fact.  But this youngster ref wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.

So a few minutes before the game she pulled me aside and “quizzed” me on my flag motions.  In front of a crowd, she said, “Ball is in – what do you do?”  I casually pointed my flag diagonally to the ground.  She shook her head.  She wanted a sharp, intentional movement.  I had to do it again.  Then another move.  Then another.  It was rather embarrassing being schooled by this toddler in front of my peers.

During the game however, it dawned on me that even though she was young, even though she took time to make sure I “got it – the right way,” her insistence on excellence made me a better at what I was doing.

Here are two lessons from my experience that can help your leadership:

  1. Work with your team to be excellent, even though it’s uncomfortable at first.  Those few moments of being uncomfortable paid off when I needed to perform.  Don’t be afraid to practice excellence with your team.
  2. Make adjustments and corrections along the way.  During the time-out’s, she would tell me if the angle of my flag wasn’t quite correct when I made certain calls.  Little corrections makes for excellence.

In the end, my daughters team won.  And so did I.  All because of a young ref who wanted this old-time-line-judge to be the best.

Question:  How have you become a more excellent leader?