#171: Me and My Extraordinarily Big Mouth!

I am pretty sure Solomon had me in mind when he said, A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Proverbs 18:7).

Big, Mouth, Speech

Early in my management career, but far enough into it that I should have known better, I made a huge mistake because I failed to keep my mouth shut!

I discovered a younger manager was mishandling company funds. I mentioned my concerns and the need to terminate the younger manager to a peer, ostensibly for his advice in handling the situation.

That evening my peer mentioned the situation to a peer of his who was a good friend of the younger manager about to get fired. The younger manager called my boss, irate that people were discussing his termination. All this transpired over a period of just three hours.

Needless to say, the next morning I endured a rather unpleasant meeting with my boss, who informed me of the potential issues caused by my breach of confidence.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I had no business discussing this employee’s situation with anyone outside HR or my boss, but I just couldn’t keep my extraordinarily big mouth shut.

That situation occurred over 30 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday!

What is it that makes it so hard to control what we say?

James, the half-brother of Jesus, said any man who can control what he says is a perfect man (James 3:2). He uses three illustrations to make his point about how influential the small tongue can be (James 3:3-6):

  • He compares the tongue to a bit placed in a horse’s mouth. A small bit placed in a horse’s mouth is used to control the direction of the entire animal.
  • He likens the tongue to a rudder on a ship. The rudder is small but it directs the course of even the largest of ships. Similarly, the tongue is small but directs the whole man.
  • He also says the tongue is like a spark that sets a whole forest on fire. It corrupts the whole person and sets his life on fire.

Any questions? The tongue, yours and mine, are out of control. What can we do?

  • Recognize our speech can get us into trouble. King David exhorted the people to, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” (Proverbs 34:13).
  • Focus on Godly speech. Paul writing to the Colossians instructed them to, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
  • Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul, this time writing to the Galatians said, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
  • Pray for the Lord to guide your speech. King David prayed to the Lord, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” Proverbs 19:14).

If we recognize that our speech can get us into trouble and that we have difficulty saying the right thing at the right time, then we know we need to shift our focus to Godly speech. But we will never be successful on our own. We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to direct us, and pray for the Lord to guide us!

Do these four things and you won’t be the person Solomon referred to when he said, “A fool’s mouth will be his undoing!”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble by something you said? What tips will you share that help you control what you say?

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 | Self-Discipline

 

 

 

 

#170: 7 Surprising Things I learned from My Gen Z Students

Stand aside Millennials, the Gen Z’s are coming! This year’s college graduating class marks the beginning of the wave of Gen Z students entering the workforce that will continue for the next fifteen years.

Gen Z Class of 2016

Gen Z kids grew up post 9/11 and lived through a recession that saw a quarter of American kids living in poverty. At the same time, mobile technology continued to expand. These and other factors contribute to the Gen Z’s being different in many ways from their Millennial predecessors.

As a result, leaders will need to be prepared. Forewarned is forearmed!

7 Surprising Things I learned from my Gen Z Students

I was invited to teach a class in sales and sales management at a local university this spring. Three years and they keep asking me back! Go figure!

My class this year was composed of 21 students; about half juniors and the rest seniors. All Gen Z’s! While outwardly they look a lot like prior classes of Millennials, I found there are a number differences.

  • They are screen-obsessed. Millennials grew up with chips in their cribs and got used to using three screens. Gen Z’s are even more screen dependent using an average of five screens: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and an i-Pad. A full 79% of Gen Z’s suffer distress when kept from their electronic devices!
  • They have the attention span of an excited puppy. Scratch that. Puppies have a longer attention span! Studies show the average attention span of a Gen Z is about 8 seconds!
  • They are socially aware and engaged. Gen Z’s are aware of social issues and even more focused than Millennials on having jobs that impact the world.
  • They expect their careers to span several companies. Like Millennials, Gen Z’s expect to work for an average of 4 companies over the course of their careers.
  • They have an entrepreneurial mindset. Nearly three-fourths of Gen Z’s want to own their businesses.
  • They like to self-educate. Ask a question and Gen Z’s will dive for their favorite device and Google the requested information in seconds. If they need to learn something they have no qualms about using internet resources to teach themselves.
  • They are aspirational but skeptical. They know they will have to work hard to succeed and about one-third would like to retire by the time they are 60-years old. But, less than 20% think that is achievable.

I saw and experienced all these characteristics play out in my class:

  • I think the average student carried two screen devices with them at all times. Their smartphone was the go-to device for convenience but they would break out the iPad or laptop for serious research.
  • I expected the short attention span issue because I saw it last semester. I tried to break up my three-hour class into shorter chunks that included a mix of lecture, role-plays, Q & A, quizzes with discussion, and a break. Even so, I could sense I was stretching their ability to focus. I thought about taking the class outside on the campus lawn, but figured I’d lose them even faster!
  • I noted that several of the students were already involved as volunteers in a variety of social causes. As I discussed potential companies for careers with several students it was clear they were most interested in companies who had a strong social responsibility presence.
  • The entrepreneurial versus the big company career question did not seem to cause a concern. Several of the students expressed an interest in working for a large company or two to learn certain skills and then strike out on their own. Whether as leaders in big companies or as owners of their own smaller businesses, it was clear these folks want to be in a position to influence others!
  • I split the class into small groups and asked questions for a case study that required internet research. Within minutes, these folks had divided up the task, visited a variety of relevant websites, gathered information, and synthesized it so that it could be reported back to the rest of the class.
  • The one somewhat somber point that arose during the semester with some students is the fact that they see themselves as having to work harder to be successful than their predecessors, with a low likelihood of being able to enjoy a long retirement.

Lessons for Leaders

Some of the lessons important for leading Gen Z’s are similar to those I noted last year for the Millennials:

  • Short attention spans mean leaders need to be careful to design work for Gen Z’s that will keep them engaged and productive.
  • Given Gen Z’s fondness for any electronic device with a screen, it makes sense to leverage this skill set for research and learning tasks.
  • Large companies need to offer a variety of career paths to keep the Gen Z’s happy. Convince them they can get all the experience they need right where they are or pretty soon you’ll be looking for their replacement.
  • Large companies also need to integrate social responsibility efforts where it makes sense and give their employees a chance to contribute as volunteers.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of these seven insights resonates with you? What advice do you have for leaders of Gen Z’s??

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: Skills | Human Resource Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

#169: Ambition, Avarice and Lot’s Lost Life in the World

Lessons from the Lesser Known

Benjamin Franklin, speaking in 1787 before the Continental Congress said there were two passions which had the most powerful influence over men; ambition and avarice.

Ambition Avarice Lot

“[T]here are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice—the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall, at the same time, be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it.”

Franklin was speaking from experience with the British government in which men spent their lives in pursuit of power and money.

Mankind has been struggling with the twin demons of the love of power and the love of money throughout our history. Beginning in Genesis 13 we see what happened to Abraham’s nephew, Lot, who spent much of his life in the pursuit of power and money and in the end, lost it all. Lot’s story provides lessons for all of us today.

The Seeds of Ambition and Avarice

Abraham was a man of God. Lot was his nephew. Abraham had become a wealthy, powerful man because he obeyed God and was blessed by God. Lot, who travelled with his uncle, had also become wealthy.

I’m guessing here, but I suspect Lot envied his uncle’s position of power and his relationship with God.

When they arrived in the land of Canaan, Lot’s people argued with Abraham’s people over the care of their herds. To avoid quarreling between the families, Abraham suggested they separate and gave his nephew first choice over the land. Rather than deferring to his uncle, Lot looked at the land and selfishly selected the best portion of the Jordan Valley for himself.

Lot moved his herds and settled in the city of Sodom, despite the fact that Sodom was well known for their sins against God.

Sodom was attacked by neighboring kings and Lot and all his possessions were carried off. When Abraham heard about it, he rallied his men and rescued Lot and all of his possessions. Rather than moving, Lot settled right back where he had been in Sodom.

The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were so evil the Lord decided to bring judgement upon them. God sent two angels to Sodom who met Lot sitting in a place of honor at the city gates. Lot invited the angels to stay with him and the angels warned Lot of God’s plan to destroy the city the next day.

Lot went through the city to warn his sons-in-law and daughters of the impending judgement of God, but the sons-in-law did not believe him. The next day the angels escorted Lot, his wife, and his two daughters out of the city. When they were away from the city, God reigned down judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah destroying them both.

Lot escaped the city with the clothes on his back and lost everything else. His wife was dead. His daughter’s husbands died in the city. All the wealth and all the power were gone in the span of a single day. He lived out his days hiding in a cave in the mountains.

Lessons for Us

Lot’s slide into a worldly life driven by ambition and avarice apart from God occurred over time:

  1. Lot separated himself from God. Lot allowed strife to separate him from his godly uncle, Abraham. Rather than seeking God’s wisdom or deferring to his uncle, Lot separated himself from the one godly influence in his life.
  2. Lot allowed selfish desires to control his choices. Lot looked around and selfishly chose the best land for himself. He wanted more wealth for himself and he needed the best land to obtain it.
  3. Lot rejected his second chance. Even after Lot was taken captive and nearly lost everything, only to be rescued by his uncle, he stubbornly resumed his quest for power and wealth by settling back in Sodom.
  4. Lot chose to live surrounded by sin. Lot knowingly chose to live in a sinful city because it allowed him a place of honor at the city gates. He allowed his daughters to marry men who did not know or believe in God.
  5. Lot never turned to God. Despite the warnings of the judgement of God from the angels, Lot never turned to God to repent of his actions.

On the plus side,

  1. Lot believed the angels. He tried to convince his son-in-law of the impending judgement, but they didn’t believe him.
  2. Lot obeyed the angels. When the angels said it was time to go or face God’s wrath, Lot hesitated but followed the angels out of the city.

Mr. Franklin was right wasn’t he? Ambition and avarice, the love of power and money, cause us to make some really bad decisions.

It is so easy to allow the quest for power and money to separate us from God. We make selfish decisions. We even ignore warnings from God and reject our second chances thinking we are on the path to power and money we so richly deserve. We even put ourselves in sinful situations and justify what we are doing. Sadly, and all too often, we fail to see the signs of God’s impending judgement until it is too late. We lose it all. All the worldly wealth and power is gone in the blink of an eye.

Don’t miss this one point. When Lot hesitated in leaving Sodom, God held back the destruction of Sodom because he cared for Lot. Despite all of Lot’s poor decisions over a period of years, God still cared so much for him that he waited for Lot to get away safely.

Yes, Lot suffered the loss of all the worldly possessions, his power, and prestige, but he never stopped being a child of God. Neither do we!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know men or women like Lot, whose love of power and money caused them to make poor decisions? What happened in their lives as a result?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#168: Why Are More Professional Relationships Crashing Every Day?

The state of our professional and personal relationships is in decline. And that has me worried.

Relationships Plane Crash

I see two factors contributing to the decline.

The first is technology. We have email, instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other technologies that allow us to communicate without actually connecting.

The second cause is an outgrowth of the first, and that is the increasing trend to work remotely, away from the office. The 2010 American Cities Survey completed by the Census bureau states that just under 10 million workers work from home full-time and another 4 million work from home at least part-time. The total of 14 million people working at home is an increase of 35% over the prior decade. Imagine what the number is today, six years later!?

What is missing from relationships built on this technology is the depth that comes from actual contact with our fellow man. We check in with someone via a two-sentence email, an instant message or a Tweet, and then we are on to the next thing. We cannot establish a meaningful connection with anyone this way.

I liken this technologically driven relational contact to what pilots call a “touch and go.” Touch and goes are when you come in for a landing, the wheels touch the runway, then you power up and take off again.

Many of our relationships today are built on touch and goes. Email, instant messenger, Twitter and all the rest allow us to execute touch and goes. We can connect frequently and with ease and still not build a relationship.

Building Relationships

Real relationships, the kind that can stand the test of time, are built on solid a foundation. The foundation of strong relationships is on display throughout the Scripture. As Christians, we should set an example for everyone to see. Here are five ways we can build relationships on a solid foundation:

  • Love one another. Jesus, teaching the disciples said, Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
  • Encourage one another. Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Respect one another. Peter, writing a series of instructions to believers living among Gentiles said, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
  • Invest in one another. Paul writing to the Romans said, We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
  • Pray for one another. Paul, this time writing to Timothy said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Let me be clear. I am not against the use of technology. I am, in fact, a closet geek. I use email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. But here’s the thing. As great as these tools are, they are just tools. The communication they support is not a substitute for deep relationships built one-on-one, face-to-face.

So use the tools that are right for you, but remember too that God made us as relational beings. We need to be in relation with one another. We need to love one another, to encourage one another, to respect one another, to invest in one another, and to pray for one another. When we do these five things we will build strong relationships that will be a light to the world.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your reaction to the premise that the use of technology is weakening our ability to build strong relationships?

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 | Interpersonal Relationships

#167: 6 Keys to Making Important Changes in Your Life Stick

Most of us realize that we are not perfect. In this imperfect state we recognize the need to change; to refine ourselves in some way to become better. But what is better? And how do we make changes in ourselves that will stick over time? While the answers to these questions aren’t hard to get, making the changes stick is hard.

Rowboat, Changes

6 Keys to Making Important Changes in Your Life Stick

1. Looking Backward to See Ahead

There is a Japanese proverb that may be roughly paraphrased, “A man in a rowboat looks behind to see where he is going.” If you’ve ever tried to maneuver a rowboat you know it is a constant exercise in turning around to see where you’re going and turning back around you to see where you’ve been. By picking out a point in front and behind you can draw an imaginary line between the two that helps keep the boat on course.

The first step in making positive, lasting change in your life is to understand where you have been. Like rowing the boat, it is important to look back at where you’ve been to help understand where you are going.

2. Behavior Reflects Values

Another thing we can learn from our past is what our values are (not what we would like to think they are). Our values are reflected in our behavior. For example, you may say you value persistence but you frequently quit projects before they are completed. So your behavior reflects your true values. If you don’t like what you see in the values mirror, there is a behavior you need to change.

Values that are important in the world are not values that are important to God. Men value power, possessions, and prestige. But these are not God’s values, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world” (I John 2:16).

3. Develop A Values Based Vision

One author described vision as what you hope would be said at your funeral: “He was a man of great integrity” versus “He was an inconsiderate, self-centered jerk.”

A vision is a picture of what you want to achieve by the end of your life. Paul writing again to the Romans said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Our personal vision should be based on the values that we have established for ourselves.

When we have a values-based vision firmly in mind we can put into place the changes we want to make in our lives. As the change is enacted we gain strength from our relationship with God, “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

4. Surround Yourself with the Right People

Making change stick is tough, but you can enhance your chances significantly if you surround yourself with the right people. Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17).

We need to surround ourselves with people who understand what we are trying to do, who will challenge us, hold us accountable, and encourage us. These people may be part of our work team, peers, mentors, or members of a more formal accountability group. Whoever they are and whatever role they play in our lives, we need to enroll people who can aid our change process.

5. Prepare Yourself for Adversity

The change will not come without difficulty. Work habits and social habits are learned over a long period of time so don’t expect to change without struggling. We should not avoid trying to change because of worry, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). So in the midst of your struggle to change, keep God involved through prayer.

When the time comes that you suffer a setback, remember that even in our difficulties God will bring some good, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

6. Trust in God

Here is the most difficult step in making a lasting change. Trusting in God. Especially at work, we want to believe that we can control everything and don’t think about needing God’s help, but nothing could be further from the truth. God wants us to trust in Him to help make these changes, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).

God is not, as some people fear, a cosmic killjoy. He wants us to lead good lives that honor Him, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).

One Final Thought

Deciding what to change may be laborious but it is not particularly difficult. Making the changes in our lives and making them last is the really hard part.

There is one over-riding principle that we must keep in mind throughout the whole analysis and change process, and that is we need to make changes that honor God. Don’t worry about making changes in your life that make you more acceptable to the “world.” Rather, focus on making changes that make you more acceptable to God.

Paul writing to the Galatians said, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want (Gal 5:16-17). If you struggle with the change that you know is from God, then recognize that it is your sinful nature. Keep your attention focused on God and His plan for your life. When you do, you will have God’s power to help you, and who could possibly be a better mentor than God?

Bonus WhitePaper

This week’s post is excerpted from an 11-page whitepaper entitled “Under Construction–How to make Changes in Your Life.”

This whitepaper is a broader discussion of how to make important changes in your life, including:

  • 5 practical things to focus on as you begin to make important changes in your life.
  • 3 steps to help clarify your values.
  • a case study.
  • meeting notes to help employees identify what they want to change.
  • 10 tips to help you determine what and how to get started.
  • some great quotes to keep you motivated.

You can download the free 11-page whitepaper here: “Under Construction–How to make Changes in Your Life.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What barriers have you have struggled with to make important changes in your life stick?

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: Skills | Change