#204: Do You Need a Powerful Influencer in Your Life?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Is there a powerful influencer in your life? Do you even need one?

Powerful Influencer

Moses had one, and his advice dramatically changed the way Moses led the people of Israel for the rest of his life. Moses’ key influencer was Jethro, his father-in-law, who made a brief appearance in Exodus 18.

Many thanks to Barbara K for suggesting Jethro as the topic for this month’s “Lessons from the Lesser Known.”

The Influencer Backstory

Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, met up with Moses as they traveled. Moses recounted to Jethro all that the Lord had done for the people of Israel. Jethro proclaimed the greatness of God and brought offerings and sacrifices to God (Exodus 18:11-12).

The next day Moses resumed his usual activity judging issues between the people of Israel from morning until night (Exodus 18:13).

Jethro the Influencer

Jethro questioned Moses, asking why he was doing all the judging for the entire nation by himself. Moses explained that his role as leader was to judge disputes between the people and to teach them God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:15-16).

He bluntly told Moses his way of doing things was not good because he would wear himself out personally tending to the needs of all the people.

Jethro advised Moses to divide his responsibilities among other trusted men of God. He should appoint men over thousands, hundreds, and tens to judge the minor disputes among the people. These men were to be God-fearing, trustworthy, and hate bribes.

Moses was to continue to personally teach the people God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:17-22).

His final direction to Moses was to consult with God and act if God so directed him.

Moses listened to Jethro’s advice and did everything he told him by appointing leaders over the people, while Moses continued in his responsibility to teach the people about God.

Lessons for us About Influencers

Moses exhibited two characteristics common among type A leaders: 1) he thought he could do it all, and 2) he had lost sight of what was most important.

Many of us tend to exhibit the same two characteristics; we think we can do it all, and in the attempt to do it all we lose sight of what is most important.

This tendency is precisely why leaders need key influencers in their lives. We need someone we can trust to give us honest, sometimes blunt feedback, and keep us focused on doing what is most important.

What Should You Look for in a Key Influencer?

There are at least four important takeaways about key influencers from the example between Jethro and Moses.

  • People who we allow to be key influencers in our lives should themselves be men and women of God.
  • Key influencers should feel free to speak the truth in love, even bluntly when necessary.
  • Leaders should listen to the advice of key influencers and bring it before God in prayer.
  • Leaders need to be action oriented. Once the advice is given and confirmed by God in prayer, act. Do it now!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Is there a key influencer in your life? What criteria do you look for in a key influencer? What role do they play in decisions you make?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances

 

#203: Terrifying Boyhood Adventure Results in Valuable Life Lessons

The searing hot sun beat down us relentlessly that August, but we didn’t care because we were on a boyhood adventure.

Adventure Lessons

August in eastern Washington, where I grew up, is time for farmers to begin the wheat harvest. But for my cousins, Rick and Mike, and I it was two weeks of carefree fun exploring and playing on grandpa’s farm.

I was 10-years old, which means Rick and Mike at 11 were older and wiser when the adventure began.

We knew Grandpa had a graveyard of old farm implements down in the gulley about a half mile away from the main house so off we went. Grandpa’s graveyard of old farm tools was a veritable treasure chest for three boys on an adventure.

Our first find was two sets of iron wheels. We were thrilled to find they rotated freely on their axles. The wheels themselves were open-spoke steel and at four feet high were about as tall as we were.

We attached a rope to the first pair of wheels and slowly pulled them uphill through the soft farm dirt to the main barnyard. Returning in the afternoon, we repeated the process to retrieve the second pair of wheels.

With scavenged pieces of wood, we crafted a magnificent chariot! It was about eight feet long, five feet wide, and set about two feet off the ground.

It was time for a test ride!

We pushed our chariot out of the barnyard and down the gravel road that ran in front of grandpa’s farm. With some effort, we pushed it all the way to the top of the tallest hill on the road. We climbed aboard and off we went. Gravity did its job. We picked up speed and soon we were flying down the hill on the ride of our lives.

It was at that point that I realized our chariot had no steering mechanism.

It didn’t have brakes either!

No matter these design deficiencies. At this point, we were fully committed!

Unfortunately, our chariot started to veer to the side of the road as we approached the bottom of the hill at top speed.

To make matters worse, there was a gully on the side of the road with a ten-foot drop to the field below.

There was no escaping; our chariot was about to become an airplane with a glide path of a rock.

Jumping off our chariot onto a gravel road didn’t seem like a practical solution to our dilemma, so we held on as we went airborne off the side of the road.

Happily, we landed right-side up, still on our chariot, and the soft dirt of the farm land brought us to a slow stop.

What a grand adventure! Being boys we were ready to repeat the ride but wisely determined to make some modifications to our chariot before attempting a second test run.

We pushed our chariot all the way back to the farm planning to make the needed modifications the next day.

At dinner, Rick, Mike, and I regaled grandma, grandpa, and my uncle Dick with the story of our grand adventure of our chariot turned airplane. For some reason, they failed to appreciate the wonder and excitement of our adventure.

The adults expressed, in no uncertain terms, that no further test runs would be allowed. Our chariot was to be hauled back down to the implement graveyard the next day.

Important Life Lessons

A lot of valuable life lessons occur in our formative years. Here are five lessons I took away from my boyhood adventure that hot August week on grandpa’s’ farm.

Life is an Adventure. Our day began as an adventure. We didn’t know what we would find or what we would do. Not having everything determined in advance made the adventure all the more fun. Kids seem to know how to experience the joy of adventure, but as adults, many of us have forgotten how to experience daily life as an adventure.

Create Alignment Around a Vision. As soon as we found those wheels we all envisioned our magnificent chariot. Most truly breakthrough discoveries are the result of a team of people aligned to a shared vision.

Live your Passion. If we hadn’t been passionate about the prospects of riding our chariot down the hill, we would have found a million excuses for why we wouldn’t be successful. That negativity would have doomed us before we even got started.

Determination. We would never have struggled to pull those wheels up through the dirt, build the chariot, or get it out on the road for a test ride if we had not been determined as a group to see the work to completion.

Courage/Risk-Taking. You never know how things will turn out when you’re doing something you’ve never done before. Living life as an adventure takes courage and the willingness to risk failure.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What life lessons have you learned through childhood adventures?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Vision

 

#202: Resolutions Are a Complete Waste of Time!

And So Are Most Goals...

Resolutions are a complete waste of time. And for that matter, so are most goals we set for ourselves!

Resolutions

If you’ve followed me for at least a year, this proclamation probably comes as a surprise since I’ve written about goals here and just last week here. Don’t worry; I am not against setting goals. I do it for myself every year and have for many years. But they have to be the right kind of goals!

Resolutions are a waste of time because of the 62% of American who set resolutions, 25% give up by the end of the first week! A full third of people give up in only two weeks!

Those that set goals are no better. A whopping 92% fail at whatever goal they set!

Why aren’t more of us more successful at achieving our goals? The answer, I think, is that we usually set the wrong kind of goals.

Michael Hyatt identified three kinds of goals: goals in the comfort zone, goals in the discomfort zone, and goals in the delusional zone.

1) Comfort zone goals are ones you know you can achieve. Nothing truly meaningful happens in the comfort zone. I bet some the goals people report achieving were right smack dab in the middle of the comfort zone.

2) Discomfort zone goals are goals that will stretch you. You may not know how you will achieve them, but achieving them will make a big impact in your life.

3) Delusional zone goals are the goals that are never going to happen, and you should know it! I have never played a round of golf scoring under 100, so a goal to play on the senior tour is downright delusional.

Goals that will make a difference in your life and mine are not the comfort zone or delusional zone goals. The big difference in our lives will always come from achieving discomfort zone goals. Life changing goals are somewhere between the comfort zone, “I got this” and the delusional zone, “You got to be smoking something.”

SMART Goals are the Best Goals

The SMART goal acronym has been around in business circles for a while, but if you are unfamiliar with it, it stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific. A goal to “lose weight” is not specific. How will you know if you have succeeded? A goal to “Lose ten pounds” is specific.
  • Measurable. A goal to “lower my golf score” is not specific enough and it doesn’t quantify success. Is a lower score of one stroke success, or is a lower score by ten strokes success?
  • Achievable. A goal for me to play professional baseball is not achievable (anyone who saw me play high school ball would agree). A goal to “lose 100-lbs. in 30 days” is specific and measurable but it is not achievable.
  • Relevant. A goal that is relevant to me is one that will support the accomplishment of other goals, or at a minimum, not distract from your ability to achieve other important goals.
  • Time-bound. A goal with a deadline has a sense of urgency. Without a deadline, a goal could go on forever and never be accomplished.

Accountability and the Why of My 2017 Goals

Along with establishing SMART goals, another aspect of people who are more successful in achieving their goals is to have an accountability partner; someone or several people who can hold you accountable for your progress. Once I’ve established my 2017 goals, I will share them with a couple of people I trust who will hold me accountable for my progress.

The final aspect of successfully increasing the rate of goal success is to know your “why.” Your “why” ties you to your goal. I didn’t achieve my weight goal last year because I lost track of why I wanted to lose the weight. If you don’t know and internalize your “why” you are doomed. This year once I have written out my SMART goals I will include a statement that reinforces the “why” of each goal. This will help remind me of why I set each goal when I get into a slump and feel my motivation waning.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. If you set goals for yourself which zone are your goals in? Do you set SMART goals? Do you know the “why” of each goal?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Personal Development | Priorities

ILM #026: Watch Out for the Careless Worker

 

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 18:9: One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.”           

This proverb is pretty straightforward. Here Solomon is saying a person whose work is careless or sloppy is as bad as someone who intentionally destroys what has been built.

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Solomon’s equating the person who does sloppy work with someone who intentionally destroys as harsh, but think about it.

We don’t tolerate people in our organizations who purposely destroy what we are working to build because they impede the progress of the organization.

What about the person or is careless or sloppy in their work? Their work has to be corrected or completely redone. You expend precious additional resources to make up for their sloppy work.

Everybody makes mistakes. Goodness knows I’ve made gazillions of them over the course of my career. So let’s be gracious as leaders and help people correct mistakes they make and learn from them.

But when the need arises, and someone is habitually careless or sloppy in their work, it is best to find other work that suits them better, or even help them find a new career.

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#201: Key Learning from My After-Action Review

There is a Chinese proverb that loosely translates, “You must look to where you have been to see where you are going.” The proverb is about a man seated in a rowboat who looks where he has been to row the boat to where he wants to go.

After-Action Review

I love this image of looking where you’ve been as a guide where you are going.

The military calls a review of the past an “After-Action Review” (AAR). The purpose of an AAR is to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better.

As the year ends, I began the After-Action Review for my 2016 goals.

Here are my original 6-goals for 2016

  1. Achieve weight goal of 200 lbs. by 6/30/16. OK, so I got close on this one. I finally settled in bouncing between 205 and 208-lbs for the last 6-months. I made it through Halloween’s candy fest, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without gaining weight, so that is a major win for me. Considering my exercise routine, I’m surprised more weight hasn’t come off, but my clothes all fit better, so I’m happy about that. My diet during the day is very clean and well-balanced. What kills me is the evening primetime “snacking hours.”
  2. Take one long and two mini-vacations by 12/31/16. Man, I really missed on this one! My plan was to convince my bride to take a spring and fall vacation, but I’m not as good a salesman as I thought. She and I got away for just one vacation, and that wasn’t until fall. I did manage to take time off work when my family came to visit on and off for about three weeks, but my real goal of getting away wasn’t met.
  3. Read through the Bible by 12/31/16. This was a no-brainer. I read through the Bible as I edited and expanded my Bible Study notes from last year. I completed the project by May, and my notes ended up at 908 pages. Can you call 908 pages “notes”? If you want to see what 908 pages of Bible study notes looks like visit my other website, http://biblestudydaily.org/ .
  4. Read ten books by 12/31/16. I killed this one! I finished reading 21 books through the course of the year, and I am so glad I did! I am convinced reading helps keep my mind sharp, it helps me be a better writer, and I got a ton of ideas for my blog topics.
  5. Attend 1-Day Business Breakthrough (Schedule TBD). This goal had to be modified. I never did hear about this conference being scheduled, so I opted for two other conferences. They were both outstanding! I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in August, and the Faith@Work Summit in October. I’ll attend both of them again if at all possible.
  6. Develop Inspired Leadership Minute Video by 06/30/16. I nailed this one! My plan was to release one 2-3-minute video each week focused on a single Proverb from the Bible and how it relates to us as leaders. I batch produced these 13 at a time and hired an editor to produce the videos for me. They were released weekly during the July – September quarter. I did the same thing in September for the October-December quarter. I believe in the power of video, but I am not convinced I have found the right formula. I will take the first three months of 2017 off to evaluate and possibly develop a new format.

During the year, I made the decision to add one goal to my list:

  1. Create a Genesis – Revelation Chronological Bible Study by 12/31/16. This goal is a multi-part effort. I had to rearrange all 908 pages of my Bible Study notes into chronological order. Each day’s reading needed to be posted onto the http://biblestudydaily.org/ website and scheduled for release throughout the year. All the notes were rearranged in chronological order by July and uploaded to the website in December.

The Most Important Key Learning

Part of my frustration from 2015 was I set too many goals that required far too much time. I just couldn’t do it all. Plus, I don’t like saying “no,” and that caused me to say “yes” to a couple of projects that distracted me from my main goals.

Overall, I feel much better about the goals I achieved this year. I didn’t say “yes” to any new outside projects. I also had a much shorter list of goals in 2016. These two factors allowed me to be far more focused on the goals I did establish.

The final, and perhaps most important, piece of key learning this year is to understand the “why” of each goal. I answered the question, “Why is this goal important to me?” I found the closer I was connected to the “why” of a particular goal the more passionate I was in seeing it through to completion.

From this admission, you can probably ascertain that I was far less passionate about losing the last few pounds of weight than my other goals. I still want to work on losing more weight next year but it’s clear to be successful I will need to be more focused on my “why”!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you set annual goals for yourself? If so, how do you think about evaluating your progress?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Priorities

ILM #025: Beware the Smooth-Talker and the Lying Leader

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 17:7: Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool– how much worse lying lips to a ruler!”

There is a lot to unpack in this proverb!

The phrase “arrogant lips” literally means “lips of excess” referring to someone who talks too much. The Hebrew word for “fool” means someone who lacks spiritual perception or understanding.

So the first half of this proverb, “arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool” refers to someone who talks too much and doesn’t know what they are talking about.

The second half of the proverb, “how much worse lying lips to a ruler” warns of the ruler or leader who lies. In this case, Solomon says a lying leader is even worse than the fool who talks too much!

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Christian leaders, be wary of men who talk a lot but clearly lack spiritual perception. These men are especially dangerous because often they are eloquent, persuasive speakers.

Also, be wary of any leader or official who lies. A leader should be a man or woman of integrity, honest, and trustworthy. A leader who lies does not have integrity and does not deserve our trust!

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#200: For unto Us a Child Is Born

I love that the Christmas season kicks off right after Thanksgiving because it gives me an excuse to listen to Christmas music for a whole month. Right at the top of my preferred Christmas music list are hymns with lyrics taken from portions of scripture.

Child Jesus

One of the hymns that I learned as a young lad was “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” I didn’t know it at the time, but the music was written by George Frederick Handel in 1741, and the lyrics were taken from Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a Child is born
Unto us a Son is given
And the government
Shall be upon His shoulder
And his name shall be called
Wonderful
Counselor
The Mighty God
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace.

Digging into Isaiah 9:6 we see it is rich with meaning as it refers to the Second Advent; the second coming of Jesus Christ:

“For unto us a child is born” speaks to the humanity of the Messiah.

“Unto us a Son is given” speaks to the deity of the Messiah given to the nation of Israel.

“And the government will be upon His shoulder” refers to the Second Advent; the second coming of Jesus Christ when he will reign as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

“And his name shall be called” begins a list of four attributes of Messiah’s character.

“Wonderful Counselor” The word “Wonderful” is a noun, not an adjective. “Wonderful” is His name. “Counselor,” Messiah will exhibit wisdom in His government and is the ultimate counselor to mankind.

“The Mighty God” This speaks to Messiah’s omnipotence as the supreme Ruler of the universe.

“The Everlasting Father” He is the creator, eternal, and a loving Father, He confers everlasting life on those who believe in Him.

“The Prince of Peace” The Messiah will bring peace into the world.

When we understand and appreciate the depth of meaning in this one verse, it is easy to see why Handel selected it to be part of the Messiah oratorio.

Watch the video below if you would like to listen to an incredible performance of Handel’s Messiah, “For unto As a Child Is Born” conducted by Sir Colin Davis, with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your favorite Christmas hymn? What does it mean to you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

ILM #024: Loving Others Brings Peace — Most of the Time

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Like many proverbs, this one is generally true but there are exceptions. When you fulfill the command to love your enemies you will be able to make peace with many, but there will be those that reject you and the peace of the Lord.

Certainly, when you behave in ways that please the Lord, He will care for you in this world or the next, or both.

What does that mean for us as leaders today?

Jesus said in John 15:18 the world hated Him and they will also hate us as believers because they love the world more than the Lord.

Christian leaders, remember that it is our job to please the Lord. It is the Lord’s job to convict the unbeliever. We must please the Lord by demonstrating the love of God to our enemies. Whatever happens in our life and the life of the unbeliever, be at peace, knowing that God is in control!

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#199: Can Tremendous Results Stem from Small Acts of Faith and Prayer?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Can tremendous results stem from small acts of faith? Do the little things we do in faith really make a difference?

Eliezer and Rebekah Faith

The Bible includes countless examples of men and women who relied on God’s promises and stepped out in faith in a big way. But what about those little acts of faith? Can they have big consequences as well?

One of my favorite Bible stories of small acts of faith having enormous consequences is the story of Abraham and his chief servant, Eliezer (Genesis 15:2).

Thanks to Barbara P. for suggesting this month’s character for “Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known!”

The scene opens in Genesis 24. Abraham is 140-years old and has been blessed materially by the Lord. However, his son, Isaac, still does not have a wife to carry on the family name as God had promised (Genesis 15:18-21).

Abraham believed God’s promise to make his descendants into a great nation, so he called for Eliezer. He had Eliezer swear an oath by God that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the local Canaanites but from Abraham’s extended family.

The trouble is, Abraham’s relatives lived 500 miles away, and the journey was treacherous. Abraham promised Eliezer that one of God’s angels would accompany him on the trip. So Eliezer packed up ten camels with presents to pay a bride price for Issacs’s bride and set off.

In the second scene, Eliezer had made it all the way to where Nahor, Abraham’s brother, lived. Eliezer arrived outside the town by the water well in the evening. He prayed that God would grant him success in finding a bride for Isaac. He also asked God for a confirming sign that he had found the right young woman.

Before Eliezer had even finished praying, Rebekah, granddaughter of Nahor, arrived at the well. Her actions confirmed the sign Eliezer had asked of the Lord, proving she was the woman the Lord had sent. When he realized his journey was a success, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped the Lord, thanking God for His kindness to his master Abraham.

In the third and final scene, Eliezer met Rebekah’s family, recounted how the Lord had protected him on the journey, his meeting with Rebekah, and Abraham’s desire for a wife for his son Isaac.

Rebekah’s family gave her permission to leave and marry Isaac. Immediately Eliezer bowed down and worshiped God. He gave gifts to Rebekah and her family, and they arranged to leave to return to Abraham’s land.

Rebekah married Isaac and bore him children. Abraham’s descendants became a great nation just as the Lord had promised, tracing all the way to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1).

Small acts of faith and prayer had eternal consequences!

It began with Abraham’s faith in God’s promise. I doubt Eliezer had any sense of the role he played in the unfolding of God’s plan.

  • Believed. Abraham believed God’s promise to make him into a mighty nation and acted on that belief. Eliezer demonstrated his faith by loading ten camels with presents, assuming the Lord would bring him success.
  • Obeyed. Eliezer swore and oath to the Lord and obeyed his master, Abraham in faith.
  • Prayed. Eliezer prayed for God to give him success in his duties and even prayed for a sign of confirmation to be sure he was speaking to the right woman.
  • Worshiped. As soon as Eliezer realized God had granted him success and Rebekah was the right woman, he bowed down and worshiped the Lord. When all the arrangements were made, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped God again.

What could we accomplish as leaders in God’s kingdom if we believed and held onto God’s promises? If we obeyed Him in faith. If we prayed to the Lord for success and direction? And if we worshiped the Lord thanking Him for His grace in our lives?!

Small acts of faith and prayer will have eternal consequences in our lives as well. We may never know what difference a small act of faith and obedience will make this side of heaven. But let us be faithful in the small things so one day we will be rewarded with much!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you seen the results of small acts of faith play out in your life or the lives of others?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

ILM #023: Your Example as a Leader Reflects Your Faith

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 19:16: “He who obeys instructions guards his life, but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.”

The instruction in this proverb seems pretty clear; the person who obeys instructions preserves his life while the person who refuses to obey instructions will die.

The question is, whose instructions is Solomon referring to? He could certainly be referring to his own instructions. Since he was king he had the power of life and death over his subjects.

But I think it is far more likely that Solomon is referring to obeying God’s instructions. Thus, he is saying if a man obeys God’s instructions, he guards his life but the man who rejects God’s instructions will die.

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Christian leaders, we are called to be salt and light to the world. We are called to set an example for non-believers that honors God in such a way that others will be drawn to Him.

To set that God-honoring example, we must obey God’s instructions, and to obey God’s instructions we need to know and apply His Word to every aspect of our lives, every day

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!