#223: Let Us Stop and Remember Whose We Are

A Memorial Day Tribute

Today is Memorial Day. It is a day when tens of thousands of small American flags mark the final resting place of soldiers who paid the ultimate price; who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Remember the sacrifice

Memorial Day began in 1868 as a day to remember the fallen in America’s civil war. But since then, Memorial Day expanded as a day to remember and honor all those who served and died defending our country over the years.

But a day of remembrance is not unique around the world. Many nations set aside one day to remember those who served and fell. The list includes England, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada just to name a few.

Neither is a day of remembrance a modern institution. There are several examples of memorials established in the Bible.

  • Rainbow. God established the rainbow as a sign of a covenant with Noah that He would not flood the earth again (Genesis 9:8-17).
  • Passover. The final plague visited upon the Egyptians brought the angel of death to every home in the land except for those with a mark of blood on the doorposts. Upon seeing the blood on the doorpost, the angel passed over the house. Passover feasts today are celebrations in remembrance of this event (Exodus 12, 13).
  • Crossing the Jordan. The Lord caused the water of the Jordan River to stop so the Israelites could pass over with the Ark of the Covenant into the Promised Land. A member of each tribe brought a stone out of the river and stacked on the far side of the river as a memorial to future generations of what the Lord had done that day (Joshua 3).
  • Communion. Paul passed on Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper as he explained both the purpose and procedure of celebrating communion. It is a memorial done in remembrance of Jesus’ life and death on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:17-26).

Each of these Biblical examples is a reminder to future generations of God’s love and provision for His people.

Memorial Day is a reminder of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

The Greatest Expression of Love is Sacrifice

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, explained some might sacrifice their lives for a just man or a good man.

“For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die” (Romans 5:7).

But, said Paul, God proves His love for us and has sacrificed even more for us.

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus said the greatest expression of love is in the willingness to lay down one’s own life for his friends.

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13).

Jesus said that knowing the fate of his followers; that many of them would lay down their lives because of their love for Him and one another.

Jesus said that knowing his own fate on the cross loomed ever closer. Yet, He went to the cross. He sacrificed His life for us that those who believe in Him might have eternal life.

Let Us Remember

This Memorial Day let us remember the importance of sacrifice.

First, it is fitting and proper that we remember and honor all those who came before us and laid down their lives defending our freedom. And in the words of Abraham Lincoln let us, “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Let us never forget the valiant sacrifice of all those who gave the last full measure of devotion to this country that we might live free.

Second, remember that God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us. There is no greater love and no greater sacrifice than this.

In remembering Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, let us remember whose we are!

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Category: Personal Development | Humility

#222: Is This Standing in the Way of Your Success?

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right! Ford’s point is your attitude often determines whether you succeed or fail.

Success

If you convince yourself that you will be victorious, you are more likely to be successful. If, however, you convince yourself that you are doomed to fail, then likely, you will fail.

I guarantee you, when Michael Phelps (28 Olympic Medals) stepped up on the starting block at the end of the pool he saw himself swimming all out, defeating his opponents. He did not picture himself belly flopping and coming in second!

When Larisa Latynina (18 Olympic Medals) mounted a balance beam, she pictured herself executing a flawless routine. She certainly didn’t imagine herself falling off the beam.

If you’re a golfer, you know if you are driving over water and you think, “don’t hit the water, don’t hit the water” the next sound you’ll hear is kerplunk as your ball hits the water!

Our Attitude Does Make a Difference!

Yes, our attitude does make a difference. A negative attitude almost always precedes a negative outcome. So, negative attitudes limit our success.

The thing is, many of our negative attitudes are distortions of reality and thus are false beliefs. John Townshend, in his book Leadership Beyond Reason, describes what he calls cognitive distortions, that limit our success:

  • “I’ve tried, and nothing helps/works. There is nothing left to try.
  • Afraid to take the initiative. You’re waiting for someone else to decide or do something.
  • Fear of failure. This causes you to focus only on the negative. You may justify it as just being realistic, but it is anything but reality.
  • Defensive thinking. You won’t own your part of a problem, and you rationalize your position.
  • All-or-nothing thinking. You believe there is only one solution to a problem and can’t accept there might be other ways to handle a situation.
  • False self-thinking. You try to be someone you’re not to fit an image you’re trying to project or to please others.

In each case, these cognitive distortions, or limiting beliefs, prevent us from seeing ourselves the way we really are. We don’t see a situation the way it really is. The result is limited success or outright failure.

These false views that limit our success are the work of Satan. They are not the attitudes that God desires for us.

God’s Desire for Our Attitude

As we read through the Scripture, we encounter people with limiting beliefs over and over again. Adam was defensive. At times Moses acted helpless and negative. Nehemiah had to deal with city leaders who were passive and thought falsely about themselves. The list of characters exhibiting one of these limiting beliefs goes on and on.

But this is not God’s plan. In fact, with nearly every case of a limiting belief, we see God refuting the limiting belief and encouraging the person to have faith in their success.

So how should we respond when faced with the unexpected, the frustrations, and the difficult, exasperating situations of life?

Paul wrote that no matter what happens we should respond with a Christ-like attitude.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27a).

Paul also said our attitude should be the same as Jesus’.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).

And Paul encouraged us to be imitators of Christ.

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)

We know there will be difficulties in this life. We need to respond with a Christ-like attitude, being imitators of Christ.

God did not give us an attitude of fearfulness, but of power. Paul reminded Timothy, his young protégé of this very fact.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” 2 Timothy 1:7).

So let’s cast aside these limiting beliefs that are preventing us from achieving all that God has for us and instead let us be imitators of Christ with a spirit of fearlessness and power!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever faced a limiting belief that affected your ability to accomplish a goal or to be successful in some aspect of your life? If so did you overcome it?

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

 

#221: Surprise! Someone Is Preparing to Lead A Rebellion In Your Organization!

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Being a leader is like playing “King of the Hill.” King of the Hill was a game we played as kids.

Rebellion

There was a mound of dirt on the playground. Whoever is at the top of the hill is king. Everyone else playing the game tries to knock the king off the top of the hill, and then they become king. That is until the next person comes along and knocks them off the hill so they can be king.

Being a leader in real life is a bit like playing king of the hill, but the stakes are much higher. Those in positions of leadership are regularly targeted by rebels who oppose your leadership. It can happen to anyone, even those appointed by God to lead His people. For example, rebels challenged Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership on several occasions.

God called on Moses & Aaron to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. They were not gone long before a rebellion led by a man named Korah threatened the entire nation. If it happened to Moses and Aaron, it could happen to us!

Here’s the backstory of Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16).

Korah’s Rebellion

A prominent man named Korah assembled a coalition of 250 other leading men to challenge Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership of the Israelites.

Korah accused Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves above everyone else. Korah wanted the people to have more input because God dwelled with them all and God had described the people as a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3-6).

What Korah said publicly in accusing Moses and Aaron was designed to rally his supporters, but it hid the real reason for his rebellion. When someone rebels against a leader there is usually a stated reason and a hidden reason for the rebellion.

The Stated Reason

In Korah’s case, his stated reason was he wanted more democracy inside the camp. He wanted the people to have a say in running things because God lived among all of them and described them as a kingdom of priests.

His logic was, “If God lives among the entire nation of Israel who does Moses and Aaron think they are elevating themselves above the rest of us, telling us what to do?”

The Hidden Reason

Korah’s real reason for starting the rebellion against Moses and Aaron was hidden. He didn’t want to be someone who just helped the priests in the service of the Lord. He wanted to be a priest!

His logic was, “If we are all priests as God says, why should Aaron and his people be the only ones to get to offer sacrifices to God? I want to be a priest and offer sacrifices too!”

What Drove Korah’s Rebellion?

Understanding what drove Korah’s rebellion gives us an important clue to what causes rebellion today.

Korah was envious of Moses and Aaron. God had appointed them to lead the nation, and Korah wasn’t satisfied with the role God had assigned him. His envy drove his selfish ambition to be something God had not called him to do.

James warned us of this very thing when he wrote, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

How Did Moses Respond to the Rebellion?

Moses responded to the rebellion in a way that demonstrated he understood Korah’s public accusation as well as Korah’s selfish ambition:

  • He humbled himself before the Lord. When Moses heard the accusations against he fell on his face before the Lord (Numbers 16:4, 22).
  • He interceded for the people in prayer. When the Lord was ready to judge the people, Moses prayed asking the Lord not to punish all the people for the sins of the few (Numbers 16:22).
  • He faced his accusers directly. Moses reasoned directly with the rebels explaining what they were doing was in direct opposition to God (Numbers 16:5-11).
  • He left the final judgment to God. When the rebels refused to back down, Moses left final judgment of who should lead the Israelites up to God (Numbers 16:16-55).

Leaders beware! There will be those who, out of envy and selfish ambition will rebel against you. They will speak falsely. They will lie about you. They will say and do whatever it takes to become king of the hill.

The first step in thwarting a rebellion is to understand its cause; envy and selfish ambition. The second step is to respond like Moses; humble yourself, spend time in prayer, face your accusers directly, and know the final judgment will come from God.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has anyone rebelled against your leadership? What steps did you take to manage the situation?

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: Skill | Conflict Management

 

#220: It Turns Out You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

It turns out old dogs like me can learn a lot from the young crop of Gen Z students emerging from our college campuses.

Old Dog New Tricks

This was my fourth year teaching a class in Sales and Sales Management at Azusa Pacific University. This year’s class of 40 dwarfed last year’s class of 20 students and was equally divided between juniors and seniors.

Feedback from the students last year made it clear they wanted a diverse mix of teaching methods. Given their short attention span, hour-long lectures in a three-hour class just didn’t cut it. Variety is not only the spice of life; it is absolutely necessary for a classroom of Gen Z’s!

My goal this year was to really mix it up by making the class far more experiential and less dependent on lecture:

  • To create a simulated workplace team environment, I divided the class into eight teams of five students each based on their Strengthfinders results. Students were assigned to groups so that each of the four Strengthfinder Leadership Domains (Executing, Influencing, Relationship, and Strategic Thinking) were represented in each group.
  • The teams worked together on two major assignments: creating a sales training manual for a company of their choosing and teaching their fellow students by presenting the contents of one chapter of our text.
  • Role play exercises in six of our 13 sessions were designed to give the students an opportunity to practice selling skills in the classroom.
  • In one class session, students were required to present key learnings to the class gleaned from a published article on sales.
  • Three sales training videos demonstrating elements of the sales process were used to show how selling skills discussed in class came to life in a selling situation.
  • Short quizzes were given covering the material in each chapter every week. Scheduling quizzes as we covered material ensured that students stayed up to date and eliminated the need to “cram” for a midterm or a final exam.
  • Students were each required to write six short case study papers over the course of the semester.

Overall, the objective of this mix of group and independent work assignments was to give students an opportunity to learn while also developing their presentation skills with the support of their peers.

What I Learned from Their Feedback

I give my students a feedback form during our last class session asking three questions 1) What was helpful that we should keep doing, 2) What was unhelpful that we should stop doing, and 3) What would you do differently?

1) What should we keep doing? The interactive exercises, especially the role plays, were a hit with the majority of the students. Students also liked having the weekly quizzes following the lecture because it helped reinforce what they learned that week.

2) What should we stop doing? Long (45-60 minute) lectures were mentioned several times as pushing the limits of their attention span. Allowing student groups to teach a chapter was not as effective as I’d hoped because other students felt they didn’t learn as much. Finally, the training videos were somewhat dated and failed to impress this YouTube generation.

3) What would you do differently? The class had a number of excellent suggestions for improving the learning environment in the class. Several students thought a guest speaker who was currently in a sales role would be a great addition to the learning experience. Doing even more role plays and doing them in small groups rather than as a whole class was suggested to allow more people to get more practice. Finally, several students suggested in-class discussions of the case studies as a way of reinforcing what was taught in the text.

What I’ll Do as a Result

As always, the student’s feedback is a valuable tool for me to improve as a teacher and to develop a learning framework that will be beneficial for the majority of the students. My plans for next semester include:

  • Reducing the lecture time even more to allow more time for interactive role plays and class discussion.
  • Maintain the weekly quiz schedule and the requirement to write case studies.
  • Devote time during the class to discussion of the weekly case study.
  • Bring in a sales representative one week to teach the class and talk about their personal experiences.
  • Abandon the dated videos. I’ll look for something that is relevant to the material in the class with a higher production value.
  • Rethink the way the team projects are completed. Although it was intended to get them to work together, this group did most of their “teamwork” independently and then just assembled the results.

Lesson for Leaders

Peter exhorted believers to “…use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

Leaders, to be effective, we need to learn and adapt to the changing environment. We need to stay on top of our game by using the gifts God has given us to serve others.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this year’s class is that every class is different. What worked well last year may not work well at all this year. Building relationships and engaging with the people in our organizations is the very best way to ensure that we are serving them well.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What lessons about developing and leading people have you learned from others?

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Category: Skills | Human Resource Development

#219: Can Feedback Really Help Drive Growth in My Business?

If you want to see the effect of feedback, look at a child. Imagine the excited four-year-old who runs to her father to show off her most recent artistic achievement.

Feedback in Business

If you speak harshly, discussing the need to color within the lines and use the correct colors, you will see a child’s smile fade, enthusiasm will wane, and she will not be as likely to come running to show off her work in the future.

If, however, you tell her what a beautiful picture she has made and show her how if she colors slowly she can stay in the lines you will see a smile broaden as she runs off to create an even more beautiful masterpiece for her father.

Feedback with employees has the same effect; it will either build an employee up or decimate their spirit.

Constructive Feedback

All feedback should be constructive. It should be done in such a way that the employee is motivated to improve performance or continue to do excellent work.

Paul emphasized this point in Romans 15:1, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

Getting Started

Here are eight guidelines to help you develop and use your feedback skills more effectively:

1) Use Common Definitions and Simple Language

Make sure that you are using common definitions. Even the simplest words in our vocabulary have multiple meanings.

The more complicated your vocabulary, the more likely misunderstandings will occur. Be specific, be concise, and use simple terms to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

2) Avoid the Use of Garbage Words and Slang

Use of garbage words can add confusion to a conversation. Words like “hmm,” “uh-huh,” and grunts and groans convey different meanings depending on your tone of voice, your facial expressions, and your body language.

3) Be Observant

People usually use a fairly consistent set of verbal and non-verbal cues. I had one boss who was so tuned in to me that he could see the wheels turning in my head, and knew when I didn’t agree or when I had an idea. He said he could tell when I was thinking something over by my facial expressions, and when I had something to say because my posture changed. He was rarely wrong.

4) Behavior Versus the Person

The purpose of feedback is to improve employee productivity. Feedback for behavior that needs correction should be focused on the behavior, not the individual.

Jesus gives us an excellent example of providing feedback for the behavior rather than the individual in Matthew 26. The Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus when Peter boldly stepped forward and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place for all who draw the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).”

5) Feedback Timing

Feedback to reinforce or correct employee behavior is best when given as soon as possible.

Luke 19 provides an example of prompt feedback. The day after Jesus re-entered Jerusalem he went to the temple and found men selling. He did not put the matter on the agenda for the next disciples meeting. He immediately overturned the money changers tables and drove them out of the temple. As they departed, he said, “My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’ (Luke 19:46).”

6) Spoken Versus Written

If the feedback you are giving is corrective, it should be verbal and in private. To make sure that future expectations of performance are very clear you should follow-up in writing.

Verbal praise for a job well done is nice, but the feeling usually fades after a few days. Written praise is more concrete, and it gives you the opportunity to publicize the employees’ success. Copy the written praise to the peer group and upper management. There’s nothing quite like getting a personal note from a senior manager who expresses appreciation for good work as a motivational tool.

7) Don’t Assume Understanding

Do you remember the phrase, “I know you think you understand what I said, but I’m not so sure that what you heard I what I meant?” People often nod agreement or say “I know exactly how you feel,” without really knowing how the other person feels, what frame of reference they’re coming from, etc.

Use your communications skills to ensure that what you think you heard is what the other person meant to say! At any point in a conversation asking questions is the best way to make sure that you heard correctly.

8) Sincerity

Contrary to popular belief flattery will not get you everywhere. People quickly see through insincere remarks. Always provide feedback that is sincere. Praise earned for hard work will always motivate more than the hollow flattery of praise for work that the employee knows is not up to standard.

One Final Thought

Feedback is like a powerful sports car, it is a pleasure to drive, but in the hands of a drunk, it is a lethal weapon.

Before you fire off that next missile chastising an employee, before you bring him or her into your office for a thorough tongue lashing, remember the purpose of feedback is to motivate the employee to improve performance. Employees will want to learn how to do a better job and will be motivated to do better if the feedback they receive from you is always timely, balanced, and constructive.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Motivate with Feedback—Build Your Business by Building Up Your Employees.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of using feedback to motivate and build up your employees:

  • A definition of feedback appropriate for the business environment,
  • Types of feedback, and
  • Feedback as a motivational tool.

You can download the whitepaper here: Motivate with Feedback—Build Your Business by Building Up Your Employees.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What kinds of feedback have you received? Have there been times when you received feedback that was motivating or disheartening?

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| Management of Human Resources