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Showing posts from 2017

Set A Goal - Then Aim Higher

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I've started setting a reading goal each year, to motivate me to pick away at the stacks of books I want to read. My goal for 2017 was 18 books either about business and leadership or walking out my Christian Faith better. I'm not sure I'll get another one done for the year so here are the final results:


When I look back through the titles I read I can recall nuggets I pulled from each and how they altered something in me, helping to continually mold me, hopefully into a better person. It gets me excited for 2018 and some of the titles I have lined up.

Most people I talk to say they aren't readers, they don't have the time or other reasons that I don't buy. If you read 10 pages a day you can make it through 300 pages in a month, that is the vast majority of books you would probably pick up. That will take you between 10-20 minutes a day (depending on font and page size). Spend less time in front of a screen and pick up a book instead. If you aren't sure wha…

Being Blessed By A Flat Tire

We had a little bit of an adventure this past Christmas weekend. We are on the way to see my mom, driving on the interstate when my rear tire basically completely shreds. I spend an hour an a half going to buy myself a Christmas present of 4 new tires, not what I was expecting. While that is usually the type of thing that most people, myself included, would be very annoyed by I was surprised how aware I was of the many blessings I saw in the situation:

Having a tire blow out while going 70 mph could be a very dangerous thing. I never felt like we were in any danger, I was easily able to keep it under control and get to a safe location.It happened right before an exit ramp so I was able to pull off and change the tire without having to worry about vehicles screaming by me.The exit was the road that is the back way to my mom's house so I was able to drive slower on the spare tire and arrived in about 15 minutes. It happened on December 23rd, so it wasn't on a day when more stores…

What I Learned From The Mountain Climber

I have never in my life gone surfing or rock climbing. The real rock climbing that is, not the kind with the plastic walls and the harness with the person assigned to ensure you don't fall. I don't think I ever will either, too many other interests to do in my life. So I really had no draw to read Let My People Go Surfing, but for some reason a book I had won years ago was the one that I happened to pick up off my shelf and was very quickly drawn in by.

It is the story of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. It takes you through the history of the company and how it established its values. The second part of the book expounds on the philosophies that Yvon keeps as the focus of his life and what his business stands for. If you are in business there are obvious examples that you can take out for yourself, help to guide you on developing your own philosophies to guide you. But the really intriguing part for me is how it has made me rethink how I shop and how I'm going to…

A Bump In The Road

Every day we have challenges that get thrown our way. A project that is due that doesn't go according to plan. Pieces you have no control over not going the way you need them to. People not doing the things you need them to. How you react to these situations will determine a lot about your life. The bumps will always come. What you can control is how you react to them in the moment. Learn from them and prepare better for next time. Is every bump along the way a challenge for you? Or is every bump an opportunity to learn and get better? It is often your attitude that determines what happens next.

The Time You Give To Other People

To me it is the ultimate sign of respect. I believe that you can learn a lot about what people think of you based on the time they give you. Take some time and reflect on the time you give people you work with and are friends with.

Do you show up late to their meetings?Do you cut off conversations?Do you decline a meeting at the last minute because something better came up?Do you have lunch with only certain people? Do you look around and generally not pay attention when others are talking? (Checking your email while they are talking is not paying attention. I don't care how good at multi-tasking you think you are.)Are you unable to recap what a person is explaining and figure out how it is relevant to you? Of course everyone has their own responsibilities and their own task list which are the most important items to them. But at work it is rare to be able to get anything done without help from others. When someone asks you a question or is looking for feedback they are dealing wit…

Live To Forgive

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I recently had the opportunity to read the soon to be released book Live to Forgive: Moving Forward When Those We Love Hurt Us by Jason Romano. I have to admit that when I was first given the opportunity I came up with lots of reasons not to volunteer. When I realized the real reason I didn't want to read it was because I was trying to hide the unforgiveness in my heart I knew it was God's way of ensuring that I did read it. I'm willing to bet that if you stopped to think about yourself, there is at least one person that comes to mind that has hurt you and you just can't bring yourself to forgive. If you thought of a person then this book is for you.
"Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive." - C.S. LewisLive to Forgive is Jason's personal story about his life and ultimate forgiveness of his alcoholic father. He winds us through an emotional tale that is very easy to relate to. Yes you may not have had a relationshi…

What Our Basic Needs Become

Air, food, water and shelter. We all know the essentials we need to survive. If you remember learning about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs you know that after the basic physical and safety needs are met you move into belonging, love and respect needs. We are so blessed to live in a world where the basic needs of life are almost guaranteed that this sense of belonging can be critical because it can be the thing that people most need. For the people in your life that you care about, do they have that sense of belonging? If you aren't sure, here are some ways to help a person feel a greater sense of belonging:Respect - Show the person admiration for what they do. Trust them, believe in them.Support - Nothing makes a person feel better then knowing that someone has their back. That they will stand up for them and help them out when they need it.Forgiveness - People make mistakes and they can cause hurts without realizing it. Forgive and move forward.Kindness - Finding the little ways…

What Is Your Biggest Obstacle?

There are plenty of obstacles and challenges that come our way in life. Obstacles that prevent us from achieving our goals, our hopes and our dreams. The worst obstacles are the ones that we put on ourselves because those are most likely the ones that stop us from achieving something great.

Are you sick or do you not feel well?Are you injured or are you hurt?Are you exhausted or are you tired?Are you starving or are you hungry?
One of the items in each comparison needs to be resolved before you can move on. The other is noticeable but it isn't a barrier to accomplishing what you want. Too often we put limits on ourselves, we tell ourselves that we can't do something when we have all the capabilities in the world to do far greater than we allow ourselves to think.

You are destined for great things, allow yourself to believe it.



Pride Comes Before The Fall

All parents at some point tell their kids that they are proud of them. I've done it before, but it is something that I've consciously tried to remove from my conversations with them after reading a number of articles like this one in the Huffington Post. Saying "I'm proud of you." really becomes more about me rather than my kid, just look who is first mentioned in that sentence. If my kids accomplish anything it is really about them, yes I play a part in raising them but it should be about them.

It is a similar stance I try really hard to take at work as a manager. Yes, my job is to lead a team of people, but what they accomplish isn't about what I've done. I try not to say "my team", instead it is "the team". Whenever I want to give praise or recognition to anyone, I think about the words that I use because there is power in them. The focus needs to be on them and what they accomplish. 
Pride is something we all should avoid, after al…

Learning How To Learn

As my kids get older and they are doing homework at the kitchen table or with their friends I hear the question, "When am I ever going to use this?" I love it when this topic comes up because I love opportunities to teach my kids what the real world is like.

My first response is, "You are probably never actually going to use it in real life." That really gets them going as they wonder what the point is. Inevitably I end up sharing these points in some format.

You need to learn how to learn. I guarantee that in life you will have to learn new things. Starting a new job. Moving to a new place. Interacting with people from different cultures. There are countless opportunities in your life where what you already know doesn't help you. Do you know how to acquire new knowledge?You need to learn how to study in a subject that you aren't good at. If you hate math or English you can probably find a job that isn't reliant on those skills. However I guarantee you t…

Be A Soldier, Athlete and Farmer

I recently read a short passage that got me thinking about the roles that we all need to play to a degree if we want to be successful.

Soldier - I've never served so I can't begin to understand what people go through that do. What I have seen there are certain truths for almost everyone that does serve.They endure a lot - The life of a soldier isn't glamorous, sometimes sleeping on a cot is considered a great night. They fight through the hardships to accomplish the mission.Develop comradery- The men and women that serve together have a bond. They endure and fight alongside each other to have a bond that is unbreakable.Ability to fight - They don't back down when it comes time to fight.Athlete - If you want to win the game it starts with practice. It doesn't matter how good you are, or what your natural abilities are, you need to continue to practice and get better. You also have to play by the rules if you want to win.Farmer - When there is a job to be done, farmer…

Make Your Communication CUTE

Every day communication trips me up at work. People not understanding instructions because they weren't clear. Projects not getting done right because the requirements weren't detailed enough. Not getting responses to questions that are asked. These are all things that I control. Beyond that I'm also responsible for other team members, so I have to coach and help them without resorting to statements like, "Do as I say not as I do." There is always room to get better at communication.

I know I've written on the subject before, different days provide new insights to me. What I've come up with today is that communication needs to be CUTE:

Comprehensive - complete, every point is covered. Often you hear it is important to be concise. I agree, when fewer words are sufficient to get the point across. But you should never favor being concise if it isn't a complete picture.Understandable - don't use a bunch of jargon, if it is confusing them you are not co…

Why Are We So Stressed Out?

I don't remember being in school and feeling stressed. I cannot fathom having someone ask me how things were going and the response at any point being that I feel stressed out. Yet my kids have responded that way to me at different times in their life. Of course understanding what the real world is like I laugh at what they see as stress and then I worry if they are going to be able to handle it when real stress hits. I think our society has created a generation that is passing on to our children the need to be anxious about far too much in our lives.

It is easy to see why things seem so stressful. Our jobs continue to be more demanding in the always on, graying of the lines between work and home life world. Turn on any media outlet or your favorite social media destination and there is an onslaught of stories that can't help but make you sick to your stomach over what is going on in the world. We talk about stress and portray to our kids that it is normal to be stressed.

I re…

Three Steps To Changing Our World

I believe we are at an interesting time in our country and the history of our world. There are countless narratives going on now that are dividing our country. I don't want to get into a political debate, so if you are wondering what I'm talking about read any news stories that have a connection to race, religion, gender, political party, sexual orientation, nationality, class, etc. The list goes on and on when it comes to topics that people feel passionately about and argue endlessly.
As all of these things are swirling, the thought enters my mind about what I want to teach my children. As part of the next generation what will they believe and know about the discord in the world? 
Before they try to determine who is right and who is wrong, I would hope they remember these 3 things: Don't judge others - all of us are human and susceptible to our sinful nature. Even though we want to believe there are levels to how bad a sin is, there is no differentiation between any sin. …

When It Is Okay To Be Scared

A lot has been written lately about Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi after he took over at the end of August. It is a fascinating look at a person coming into a role specifically to change the culture and philosophy of an organization. As I was reading, the most interesting part for me was when he announced to his former company Expedia, which he ran for over 12 years, that he was leaving to take this new role. He sent an email to his now former employees stating, "I have to tell you I am scared."

We operate in such a macho world where everyone has to put on an air of having all of the answers. Acting as if you have all of the answers even when you don't. Never to show any sign of weakness. For most people vulnerability is weakness.

Vulnerability is what is needed for teams to be successful though. To admit when you are scared, or don't have an answer shows that you trust the others on your team. If you as a leader can admit things that could be better and even a…

Garbage In - Garbage Out

Most people probably view themselves as a positive person, really the only way to know for sure is learning how others describe you. However, there is one test that you can do yourself that I feel is pretty accurate in determining how positive you are. Analyze what you consume. Is it more positive or more negative? It is so easy to get lost in social media, news, comments and forums all talking about how bad everything is. People arguing about any topic, trying to tell you how everything is broken. Take the time to analyze the things you read, keep a tally about things that are presented in a positive way versus negative. If you consume more positive than negative I'm willing to bet more people would describe you as a positive person. If you consume more negative, I'm willing to bet it is the opposite. It isn't hard to see that when you take garbage in you generally end up getting garbage out. Once you know your ratio, work on flipping it, keep the scales tipped in favor o…

Be Encouraging Every Day

If you looked up the numbers on how many positive comments a person needs to negative you will probably see numbers like 5 positive comments for every negative. I'm sure people are different and situations are different, but no matter which study you go with the fact remains that people need to hear more positive comments than we typically do. When we think about who is responsible for taking action on this we look to the managers and leaders where we work. I believe that managers have a responsibility in this area, but we would see more impact if everyone looked to how they could be more positive and encouraging to those they interact with, regardless of position or title.

I challenge everyone to get in the habit of giving 5 positive comments throughout each day to different people. This isn't about giving feedback and trying to give more positive comments than negative, this is about going out of your way to encourage someone. The only words that you speak in these emails or…

What You Want And What You Need

I came across an interesting article recently, one that I would never have sought out but it reminded me that you can find hidden gems of information and common ground if you take the time to look. The article was about amor fati, Latin for "love of fate", and apparently it is a common saying in Stoicism. The only thing I knew about Stoicism was there was some contention with the early Christian Church and Stoics of that age.

The article opens with a story about Thomas Edison losing everything in a massive fire, destroying his life's work at the age of 67. His reaction to his son as he watched the inferno, "Go get your mother and all her friends. They will never see a fire like this again." and "We got rid of a lot of rubbish." Edison didn't get angry, lament for days or cry uncontrollably in the fetal position in his home. He took the hand that he was dealt and made the best of it. By the end of the first year after the fire the company had gener…

We All Make Mistakes

We fail daily. Every one of us has a number of mistakes we make every day. A misinterpreted statement, a lie we think is innocent, hurting someone we love, or not doing our jobs correctly. Each one of us is an imperfect human being, yet we love to point out the mistakes of others. We daily forget to support each other in our imperfect human nature. To always remember to let those without sin be the ones to throw the first stone.

Whenever we complain about a mistake someone else makes, the challenge I pose is to catch yourself in that moment and do something that helps the person. A simple yet effective way is to tell the person, without any trace of accusation or belittling, "I'm sorry for what happened. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help." Then follow through the best you can.

You never know, maybe one of those people will come beside you the next time you make a mistake and support you.

Find Your Path And Stay The Course

There are times when it is a good thing to change, the old ways just don't work anymore. Too often though we are quick to change without an idea of where we want to go. We try to copy others that we think are successful, if it worked for them it should work for me. Waffling from one thing to another.The football coach that can't decide if they are going to be a run first or pass heavy offense.The manager that changes between the charismatic "I want to be your friend" and the task driven "this is the job we need to get done."The basketball coach switching between the fast break, high scoring team and the half court, defensive minded team.The teacher that sometimes runs their classroom as very structured and other times opens it up and lets the kids learn what they want to. All of these people are basically saying they don't know who they are. You are never going to succeed if you try to copy others and keep changing things. 
Who are you? You need to iden…

Don't Let Hate Win

I am appalled and remorseful of what has become of our country. The things that have transpired the past few months and the conversation around them: Charlottesville, Las Vegas, and the protests of the treatment of fellow citizens of this country, just to name a few. Think of your social media feed and the comments section on the articles you read about it. Never ending arguments of I'm right, they are wrong, here is a post to like that says you agree with me. Everyone is building a wall, every post is a brick that makes it higher and thicker, keep your enemies out and separate from those that think like you. It breaks my heart that we are a country building walls because we are so divided and so outspoken about our hatred of those that have a different opinion.

I don't know where I found it but an article by Zoe Zorka about our culture of hate perfectly captures what I'm thinking. It is so easy today to spread hate, and social media makes it easier than ever. It isn't…

A Challenge That Faces Every Leader

If you are in a leadership position of any kind you will eventually run across someone that doesn't believe in you. Maybe you got promoted from within and a former peer thinks they deserve the job more. Or you came into a leadership position from the outside and one on your team thinks the old boss was better. That you aren't even needed, they were getting along just fine without you.

You are in this position for a reason. The person that hired you, or promoted you, did so for a reason. Romans 13:1 says "all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God." You have earned this, claim that. Everyone is going to have critics. Most people don't like change and you represent change that they are still trying to work through.

Don't let what others say or feel distract you or change you. The person you are earned you the right to be in that position, don't adapt to try and please everyone because you won't. Just …

The Person To Help You Reach Your Goals

Most of us have goals in life that we want to accomplish, but most of our goals are just our own. There isn't a manager telling us what we need to do each day to achieve our diet and exercise goals. There isn't someone helping create a reading plan that leads us to finishing that book that will make us better. Nobody is with us in the store telling us what we can and can't buy to remain within our budget so we can save up for that vacation we want to take. As for someone to remind us that we wanted to spend more time with our family rather than spending time in front of the TV or on social media, no one is there either.

Think of the best manager you've had, the one that could encourage you to do your best, correct you when you were getting of course and just make you want to perform at your absolute best. Those that achieve great things in life are those that can speak a positive word into themselves when they look in the mirror. What do you tell yourself if you aren&#…

Oh The Number Of Lives We Impact!

In my last post I talked about culture and about how we treat people, that it is important because our jobs are usually not about life and death. I've used that actual statement in my work before telling people that at the end of the day nobody dies, nobody's life is completely turned upside down by the work we do.

Most of us work in jobs that lives are not dependent on us. Unfortunately that often leads to some people thinking their work doesn't matter. Just punch a clock and earn your paycheck. What is the point of giving any extra effort? The problem is that even if it isn't a matter of life and death, lives are most certainly impacted by the work you do.

Everyone has a customer - someone that pays you money. For the organization I work for it is about printed materials, without them their business can't tell their story, stand out from their competition and help their customers. They don't get sales they could lose their jobs.

Everyone has employees, even i…

Your Culture Is The Greatest Strategic Advantage

I love finding stories about companies and how they do things differently in their culture. This story about the culture of Trader Joe's was a great read. The best was how their manager's will often tell their employees that "it's just groceries." Most of us probably work in a field where it isn't about life and death, yet we act like it is. Cracking the proverbial whip on employees to get that order out the door that the customer absolutely needs. Is it really worth it to make employees feel miserable? The Trader Joe's example shows us that it all comes down to caring about people. That means caring about the whole person, not just caring that the person can get the job done.

Is Trader Joe's perfect? I'm sure not. You can probably easily find people that worked for the organization that didn't have such great experiences. There are bad managers everywhere but I'm guessing an organization that has defined cultural values can quickly find a…

Love

I have three girls, ages 5 to 14 and there is something interesting that I've observed in the older two. The way they talk to their friends in person and on social media, the word love is used frequently. It isn't just my girls, they all talk that way with each other.
"Love ya!"
"I love you so much ____!"
"Love you too!" When I first heard it, I will admit it made me uncomfortable, it seemed a little odd to me. I was asking myself if they could really understand what love was as they threw the word around as easily as hello. Then I remembered that as a guy, I really don't understand girls. I never have and have determined I probably never will. So I decided to ask my wife. I didn't remember ever hearing girls talk to each other like this but maybe it was some secret girl thing that they couldn't let boys in on. She didn't recall hearing the word love used a lot between friends when she was in school. From my observation the next ge…

The Losing Side Of An Argument

I came across this tweet from Brent Beshore:
If your goal is to "win" an argument, you've already lost and just don't know it yet. This is such a true statement that we all need to be mindful of with what is going on with the narrative in our country today. There are a lot of people speaking out, giving their opinions - which they all have every right to do. As I read most of them they sound to me like the person is trying to win the argument. Trying to prove why the other side is wrong and they are right. Maybe that is why in so many ways it feels like we've already lost.

It isn't just about political or social issues. It can happen at work, with your friends and the people you love. Have the conversation, share knowledge, listen to others. But when you see that it has become an argument work to change the tone back to something productive.

Is That Seriously The Best You Can Do?

Everyone knows that cable TV is dying. People want options and control over what they want to watch without being tied into 2 year contracts and paying crazy fees. The people running the cable companies know this and it seems like instead of trying to re-imagine themselves and build a service that people actually want they make it harder and more confusing, frustrating people to find some way of reducing their service even more.

I have limited options for Internet Service, so I go through my cable company. Overall the service and quality has been pretty good. Not perfect but nothing really is, so I really can't complain about it. What I can complain about is the fact that I wanted to go online and see what the different speed and cost options were for me. I'm an existing customer. I log into my account and I can't find it anywhere on their site. I search. I enter my address to generate service options. All of them are for bundled services. They tell me I can save more mone…

Three Common Excuses That Keep Us In A State Of Mediocrity

One thing that every person or organization has to be mindful of is getting complacent after they achieve a goal. After setting a goal and working really hard to improve it, I believe it is natural to stick with the same goal, stagnating and therefore falling behind in many ways. 
Here are three examples that I've heard too many times in my career and how we need to change the conversation.
It will never be perfect. This is common in goals where the target should be 100%. Be it up time performance, on time delivery or customer retention; a perfect world the number would be 100%. While nobody and no business is perfect, there is always room for improvement. If your goal was 90% and you have been hovering around it for a while, it is time to increase it to 95%. If you are at 99.9%, try and get five 9's (99.999%). Response - "No, it might not ever be perfect, but how fun would it be if it were? Let's figure out how to blow the doors off our old number."It is way bett…

Find The Differences To Discover Greatness

One of my favorite words is dichotomy, for me it tells a story about life. Dichotomy describes two things that are completely opposite from each other, things that are mutually exclusive. But sometimes those opposing things become complementary.

Take for example hot and cold. They seem contradictory but with the right elements they become great. Put ice cream on a chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven and you have a magical dessert that is way better together.

When you find things that seem like they are opposite, finding a way to make them compliment each other is usually when greatness emerges. A marriage between a man and a woman. Various departments in a business. Offense and defense on a team. These work the best when the two sides realize they are on the same team and find ways to work together, make the other side better.

Our world continues to get more divided where each side of every issue expends all of their energy proving why they are right and the "enemy" …

Just Say It Already

I've had a number of conversations recently where I have learned some things where I've walked away feeling a little upset. It wasn't the words that were said that were upsetting, it was the fact that I wish they would have just told me sooner. I wish that I had more of that information earlier as I probably would have made some different decisions.

I'm not sure if it is the Minnesota nice culture here but we seem to not want to tell people the truth about how we feel. I know there have been plenty of times that I've held things back, kept my feelings to myself, figuring it was better to not say anything.

Always remember that nobody can tell you how to feel. They can debate your actions or behaviors, but they can't argue how you are feeling. Speak the truth in love, but we need to speak up more about how we feel and continue to build the bridge between the people we care about and want to have relationships with in our family, friends and work.

Here is the real…

An Opportunity To Learn No Matter Where You Go

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As my kids go back to school I am reminded of the fact that everyday you aren't learning something is a day wasted. There is always something to educate yourself with and one of the things I really enjoy in life is finding little things from books, movies, sports or businesses that form connections and I can bring into my life, family and work. Even from something like taking a vacation to the Happiest Place On Earth. I've read a number of things about Disney and I am well aware of their attention to detail, but every visit I find new things that simply amaze me.

The first from our most recent trip was from a bell hop that greeted us when we first arrived. I chatted with him for a moment as they unloaded our bags from the bus and he talked about how he retired and moved down to work at Disney three days a week because he loved that every day he was able to serve the families visiting to make their vacation as magical as possible. Listening to him reinforced my goal to one day …

For Every Dad That Has A Daughter

I vaguely remember the story of Mo Isom when she was trying out to kick for the LSU Tigers in 2012. At the time I didn't know her name, only that she was a soccer player and was attempting to kick for a Division 1 football powerhouse. Five years later I heard her whole story through the Sports Spectrum Podcast (episode #4 if interested). Jason Romano interviewed her where she told an amazing story of tragedy and triumph. Her life includes battling eating disorders in high school, a father's suicide, a horrific automobile accident that she miraculously survived and a life full of bad choices in her words as she tried to make sense of more than most people deal with in a whole lifetime. Listening to her tell her story in that interview and when I later read her book, it was amazing the grit and perseverance this young woman possesses to face everything and through it all develop a deep faith that she shares with anyone that is willing to take the time to listen.

As I hear her st…

It All Started With A Mouse

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It is no secret that I'm a big fan of Disney, the man, the company, the parks and the movies. Are any of those areas perfect? Not at all. Read about the life of Walt Disney and you will see, for all of the great things he accomplished he alienated a lot of people in his life. While not perfect and throughout the mistakes he made, he never let it stop him. I think that is one of the things I love most about both the man and the company, they aren't perfect but they don't let their setbacks hold them back.

I just read a great article (read it here) that recalled a story I had heard before about how in 1928 Walt Disney lost the rights to his characters and most of his animators. He remained optimistic, he didn't complain about his circumstances, he focused on what he could control and from that, in 1929 we were introduced to the iconic Mickey Mouse.


No matter what happens to us we always have a choice in how we react to the situation we find ourselves. Great things are ra…

Standing In The Shadow Of A Craftsman

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This past weekend I had the privilege of helping my church to build the foundation for a new storage unit on the side of the building. It was a tremendous learning experience for me and well worth the time and the sore muscles that still haven't fully recovered. I learned a little about laying a block foundation and got to try out a few things I've never done before.


The best part of the day though was getting to work beside an experienced mason. It is hard to put into words what it was like watching this man work. The effortless motions smoothly laying mortar, the quick placement of each block sitting in exact alignment, and the few strikes of a hammer to break a block to the exact size needed without measuring. All the time confident is his abilities but humble in his attitude. It was an honor to watch him work.

A couple of lessons for me in this experience. The first, which I hope to pass on to my children, whatever it is that you do in life, work hard at it and strive to b…

Leading People - Speak The Truth In Love

One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I have ever received on how to properly lead people is, "Speak the truth in love."

Now many don't want to talk about love in the same breath as managing or leading people, they don't believe in that touchy feely stuff. Others probably won't want to hear that I found it in the Bible in Ephesians 4:15. Just give me a moment though and you will see, probably from your own experiences, why it is so simple and so powerful.

Put yourself on the receiving end of some criticism, you have probably had these types of interactions with people before:

Someone that is being honest with you but it is brutal. You walk away realizing it is true but feeling worse about yourself in the process. There are feelings of anger and resentment to the person in all likelihood.Someone that says all kinds of nice things to you but you find out later that it wasn't the truth in how they really felt. You felt good at the time but you end up feeling betra…

We've Tried That Before, It Didn't Work

One phrase that I dislike more than anything is, "We've tried that before, it didn't work." I'm sure you have heard a comment like it or in some variation. I think people mean well, they want to see you succeed and help you understand the obstacles before you. They hope it is different for you but if they had to bet they would take the side of it happening just like before.

However, there is a difference this time around, why it is going to work this time. That difference is you. You weren't involved in all of those other times that failed. You weren't there to help talk others through it, help them understand things, be the cheerleader, salesperson, coach, mentor and advocate that will see it through to the end.

Most of the great breakthroughs aren't because someone had the best idea ever. The breakthroughs come from the people that have the determination and grit to drive it into being. Be that person. It might not have worked before but the differe…

Building Trust During Transitions - Oops

Today is one month since I moved into my new role. I told myself that for the first 30 days I was not going to offer any big thoughts or changes, I needed time to learn the business and the team. My goal was for this new team that I am a part of to learn about me, hopefully trust me and know that my priority is helping each person that I have the privileged to lead be successful and help the company we serve achieve the results they need. So, how did I do you ask? Not bad, but there were some things I certainly could have done better. One specific instance sticks out to me because this person was very upset by what they felt I was suggesting. Probably the only way to really summarize it is they felt like I didn't think they were doing their job.

I apologized of course but that night I was still thinking about it, not even 30 days in and creating that feeling. The next day I pulled the person aside and said again that I apologize for making them feel the way I did as it certainly w…

Love Is Greater Than Fear

I'm not sure why I'm on a fear kick lately. I've noticed that I've written a number of times recently about fear and how it consumes us (here, here and here). It is natural for humans to be afraid of things. I always thought it was okay to have a certain level of fear, like the kind of fear that makes me want to do a good job at work so I can stay employed and provide for my family. But it isn't fear that compels me, it is the love for my family that wants to provide for them. I think Jon Gordon said it best in his book The Carpenter:
"If you build your life and company with fear, it won't be worth building. In the end you'll look back and realize you didn't enjoy any of it. It will never be what it could have been and you'll likely burn out before you finish. And even if you do finish, anything built with fear will eventually crumble. ... Remember, fear is draining. Love is sustaining. Fear is short term. Love is long term. Fear appears strong…

To Everything There Is A Season

Living in Minnesota it is impossible to miss the natural order of seasons through the year. As the summer is winding down we are starting to think about the new school year and new dance season in our house. I have started a new job which is a new season in my life. Our kids are entering their last year of middle school, their last year of elementary school and their last year of preschool, there are all kinds of seasons changing around us. Seasons flow in all of our lives, some seasons are great for us, some are not the best, some we struggle through and some bring about the death of things we hold dear.

As I reflected on this I was reminded of the following versus from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which many of you may recognize as they were the basis for a very famous song.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to b…

The Best Way You Can Start Changing The World

When I look back on my childhood I think of myself as someone that hated to read, until I was in 9th grade that is and a teacher introduced me to Michael Crichton. I could get engrossed in one of his novels and read them straight through in a day. But really what I hated about reading was reading things that didn't interest me. If a book is about a topic that interests me, or is an engaging story that pulls me in, I love to read. Flash forward to my adult life and I have maintained a healthy desire to read and according to my wife an unhealthy habit of bringing books into our house. Reading continues to inspire me, I read business books to inspire me to be a better leader in my work place, theology books that inspire me to be a better human being and books that take me into an entirely separate worlds like The Lord of the Rings.

It is frightening when you see the amount of time that people on average spend in front of a screen playing games, watching TV or surfing social media. We…

The Unfortunate Perception Of Accountability

I just went through a great training on accountability by Partners In Leadership. I thought I had a good understanding of accountability and would certainly label myself as accountable, who wouldn't? Unfortunately most of the business world has a negative view of accountability because we generally focus on the negative aspect, holding someone accountable when something goes wrong.

True accountability is part of your organizational culture and it all starts with clearly defined results that you are trying to achieve. If we are honest with ourselves as leaders those desired results are usually clear to the leadership team, but not always clear to the employees. If your employees aren't displaying the accountability you desire, if you wish they would finally take ownership of their work and the things around them, the first place you need to look is in the mirror, as it starts with us as leaders.

One of my favorite sayings is "The only person you can control is yourself.&qu…

Psychological Safety In Organizational Health: Or How Fear Restricts Teams From Being Great

I've always been a big believer in organizational health and the importance it plays in a teams success. In a recent article by Michael Schneider he discussed a research project conducted by Google of 180 teams within Google and they came up with five key characteristics of enhanced teams. Four of the characteristics seem simple enough, and something we could probably come up with on our own:

Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we're doing matters?
What was most interesting is the fifth characteristic that was the most important because it was the foundation for the other four, without it everything crumbles. It is the concept of psychological safety, having an environment where all team members feel safe to take ris…

Do The Work That Gains You More Critics

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I am convinced that the amount of success in the world is lower than we could have and the main thing that holds people back from achieving a higher level of success is that too many of us listen to the critics. If you start achieving good things, you will start to see some criticism directed at you, the more success the more the critics. Look at the recent NBA Finals, LeBron James and Stephen Curry battled for the championship and the majority of the conversation was from critics explaining why one or both wasn't as great as some say. Most seem to ignore the fact that both of them are in the top 20 basketball players of all time (I'm not going to argue where they are at, I think everyone can agree they are somewhere in the top 20).

If you have people that criticize you be happy, you are probably more successful than you think. The great tragedy is when people start believing their critics. They lower their goals, they put off their dreams, they quit before the breakthrough be…

Does My Social Media Presence Add Value?

Jon Gordon shared in a recent tweet the following statement:
Your social media platform is a blessing. Use it to add value instead of devalue. This got me thinking about my own use of social media, is the stuff I'm putting out there adding value? I hope so, but then I started thinking about what I see on my timelines and honestly how much has no value. During the last presidential election I think we can all safely say we waded through a lot of junk to find anything of value. Still today though I see a number of posts that if I took the time to look at the replies or comments you would see two sides vehemently trying to prove their point, with really no chance of swaying the other sides opinion because less face it, being open minded is a rare quality these days.

The level of hurt that comes from social media doesn't stop there. If you think about the posts that are out there, especially for the younger generations, they share everything. They post who they are out with, what …

Oh No, Not More Changes!

Change is such a fascinating thing. There are so many nuances to it:

We want a change but the change doesn't happenWe don't want a change but the change happensChange happens but it isn't what we expectWe want the change but it takes longer than we had hopedWe want the change but it happens faster than we are prepared for No matter how we view change it is inevitable that we will encounter a lot of changes in our life. We won't like all of them, we'll probably love some of them, we will be impacted by all of them.
If you are leading a change, things to remember: Communicate - Whatever amount of communication you think you need on the change, double it at a minimum. I would recommend 3-4 times the amount of communication that you would think you would need. Communicate 1-on-1, group presentations, written, visual the more ways you can communicate it the better you will be able to make it stick. Repeat - You can't just get the word out once about a change and be do…

Know How To Make An Exit

Life can bring us many new opportunities. If we choose to pursue those opportunities it often means that we need to leave some old things behind. The most obvious is when you leave one job for the next. Sometimes you might be leaving on good terms and sometimes they might not be the best of terms, if you were let go from your position for instance. No matter how those transitions go, I believe it is our responsibility to make sure we do everything within our power to make that which we leave behind as successful as possible.

When one leaves on bad terms they often hope for the demise of the company or department they were dismissed from. Hopeful that things are hard on them because of what they did to them. But too often it isn't the manager that feels the impact of a person leaving, it is the co-workers that suddenly are left holding the bag, trying to figure out how the dismissed person actually did their job because it doesn't make sense to them. The right thing to do is ma…

Don't Wait, It Is Time To Move

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We've all had those moments, someone at some point in time irritated us because you know they just weren't working that hard. A co-worker that we wish would just pull their own weight - a child that we swear only does the absolute minimum to get a job done that you ask them to complete or a worker at fill-in-the-blank that is taking there sweet time helping you with your request. But let's be honest, we've also all had those moments where we were trying to drag out a task to fill the time or not starting a project for some very good reason, or so we tell ourselves.

It is in those moments where we achieve our dreams. Nobody ever sees the hard work of practice, the countless hours of training, the effort put in to perfect your craft. There are no short cuts in life, if you want something different, doing just enough to get by isn't going to get the job done.


What do you want to be different? Read a book, take a class, practice your craft, perfect your art. MOVE!

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For When I Am Afraid To Fail

Recently I was talking to a friend about how there are things that I hesitate in doing because I feel inadequate. There are things that God has placed a fire inside of me for but rather than just going after it I end up talking myself out of things. I put together a list of the things I need before I can accomplish or even start on a goal. Writing was one of those things for me, I would start and stop so many times because I felt like nobody noticed or I would compare myself to others and know that I'm not as talented as they are. My friend simply stated that he believes everyone feels that way.

As I reflected on that I realized how much the devil likes to make us tell ourselves we aren't good enough. The more we are called to do something the louder that voice becomes telling us we shouldn't. God sets before us open doors, but He doesn't shove us through them, they are choices that we have to make. We have to make the effort to follow what He has placed in our hearts.…

Our Lives Are Passing Us By As We Stare At Our Screens

We live in a busy world, where we are hammered with content, advertisements and messages all day. Social media, TV, podcasts, etc. can have good information and purpose, but too often we use them as a filler that keeps us from our purpose. Don't get me started on the political and social debates that rage online, there is more division in this country than I can certainly remember in my lifetime. We need to learn to shut off the distractions more and spend time bringing good into the world. Learn to sit down and talk to people face-to-face. Learn to have healthy discussions and find common ground with others that aren't like us. As we come into a holiday weekend, spend less time in front of a screen than you typically do, especially if you are with other people.

What We Care About - There Our Focus Shall Be

Recently I have had interesting conversations with two individuals that are in very different career fields. Both conversations centered on their work place and how they feel employees continue to be treated worse. In the first conversation the person has worked for 19 years with the same organization only to continue to see benefits cut and pay increases decrease every year. The owners seem to care about the customers and demanding that their employees serve their customers, yet view their employees as just a cog in the machine. In the second conversation the employee was let go because the company sold off the part of the organization they were with and it was determined they wouldn’t be kept on. They were only with their organization for 2 years, but a colleague was there for 28 years who was also let go.

As I get older my eyes are opened up to the realities of the world we live in. We all know that in business there are times that we have to let people go. Companies grow, shrink a…

Leadership In Nature - The Wolf Pack

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There was a viral story that has been making its way around the Internet the last couple of years talking about leadership and wolf pack behavior. Here it is if you haven't seen it:

A wolf pack: the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way round, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed. Then come 5 strong ones, the front line. In the center are the rest of the pack members, then the 5 strongest following. Last is alone, the alpha. He controls everything from the rear. In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack. The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other. I loved the story and thought it was a great analogy to tie to any team. Of course, like many things on the Internet, stories can be embellished. Just a little research from experts in wolf back behavior and the story unravels. If you rea…

Focus On The Things You Can Control

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I am watching as my children grow up and finding that one of the hardest things I've had to teach them is how to worry about the things that you can control. They are like most of us in that things others do or say can drive them nuts, including their parents and their sisters. It is a good opportunity to teach them about grace, forgiving someone even though it feels like they don't deserve it, but also to remind them of what they can and can't control. The things that we can control are the things we should be focusing on because the rest will just waste our time and energy, ultimately leaving us feeling more frustrated and angry.

It is a good reminder for myself, because if I'm being honest, there are times that I do the same thing. We probably all do because we are only human. This graphic from Jon Gordon is a good reminder of where our focus should be.


So much of our lives we can't control, but the parts that we do can make a huge impact. The choices we make in…

The Power Of Transformation Based Leadership

A video is making the rounds on the Internet that was awesome. Take two minutes and watch what Sam Houston State's baseball coach Matt Deggs had to say about how he was impacted after being fired from his last job.

Matt Deggs Post Game Interview

I loved hearing the words he said about being unselfish and serving each other. Sacrificing for your teammate. When was the last time you could honestly say you sacrificed something for someone else?
There is no greater honor than the sacrifice for a brother. - Matt Deggs The best part was when he talked about moving from transaction based leadership (data, get the job done, wins and loses) to transformation based leadership. When you care more about the people that you are leading than the numbers I truly believe the people will be able to reach a higher level of success and the numbers will take care of themselves.

I hope that I am able to have the impact that he is having in people's lives. You can hear what one of his players said a…