#162: How Distrust, Conjecture, and Hasty Actions Lead to Disaster

It seems like every day reading my news feed I see a story about some executive who acted impulsively and their actions led to disaster.


You know the type. They are the “Ready, Fire, Aim” guys. The “Shoot first and ask questions later guys.”

It turns out this is not a new phenomenon among leaders.

While reading Joshua 22, I noticed how some “Ready, Fire, Aim” leaders combined with the unholy trinity of distrust, conjecture, and hasty action nearly led to civil war between the Israelites.

The Israelites had driven out the inhabitants of the Promised land over a period of several years. When they were done, the eastern tribes left the western tribes to journey back across the Jordan River to occupy their land.

The eastern tribes built a large altar after they crossed the Jordan and when the western tribes heard about it, they all assembled to go to war against their eastern tribe brothers.

They assumed that the eastern tribes were planning on making sacrifices at the altar. This was in direct violation of God’s command to only offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle.

We’re not told who, but someone decided to assemble a delegation of leaders from the ten western tribes and go talk to the leaders of the eastern tribes.

They immediately accused eastern tribes saying the altar they built was a sign of their rebellion against God. They assumed the altar was built to offer sacrifices in violation of God’s command. They concluded that God would be angry and judge the entire nation of Israel because of their rebellion.

The eastern tribes explained the assumptions and conclusion reached by the leaders of the western tribes were all false. They built the altar, not for sacrifices, but as a witness between their people of their special relationship to God. It was to serve as a reminder to future generations how they shared in the great blessings of God.

The situation between the western and eastern tribes of Israel reveals the deadly nature of distrust, conjecture, and hasty actions, and how a decision to ask questions and listen avoided disaster:

  1. No one sought God’s counsel. The western tribes were greatly concerned when they thought the eastern tribes were rebelling against God. Nowhere though do we see that they sought God’s counsel.
  2. Distrust and conjecture are a dangerous combination. The western tribes had been fighting alongside their eastern brothers for several years, yet they immediately distrusted them when they heard about the altar and assumed the worst.
  3. Based on incomplete information they hastily prepared for war. Having concluded the eastern tribes were rebelling against God, the western tribes prepared to go to war against their eastern brothers.
  4. Cooler heads prevailed. A summit between the western and eastern leaders was held.
  5. Someone finally listened. The western tribes immediately made their accusations. As the eastern tribes explained their reasoning behind building the altar, the western tribe leaders finally understood and returned home in peace.

A civil war was nearly fought between brothers all because of a lack of trust, wild conjecture that led to false assumptions and conclusions, followed by a hasty decision to act.

The wisdom of Proverbs 18:13 comes to mind, He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame.”

As Christians who bear the responsibility of leading, we should never assume we have all the facts in a given situation. Basing actions on incomplete information, assumptions, and conjecture will almost always be to our folly and shame.

Mr. Covey was right when he said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you encountered situations in which leaders made hasty decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete information? What impact did it have on the organization?


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Category: Skills | Communication Skills





#058: 21 Habits of Incredibly Successful Salespeople

Teaching Your Organization to Sell

A not-to-recent issue of Success magazine was entitled “Everybody Sells.” They are absolutely right. Anyone working for a living, sells, for that matter so does everyone else.

Selling, Sells

Think about it. The stay at home mom or dad is selling an activity plan for the day to the kids. Selling your 7-year old on why they don’t need the most recent fad toy is harder than any sale faced in the business world. The executive is selling an idea or a vision when they give the end of the year motivation speech to the troops. Pastors are selling when they deliver a message to a congregation because they are trying to get you to understand how a point of scripture relates to your life. And of course, there are the professional salespeople who sell products, services, and ideas for a living.

Whether you are a professional salesperson or not, selling is important to you. Your ability to influence others to do things is largely a reflection of your ability to sell your ideas. While selling is often viewed as an art form there are certain skills everyone can and should develop to increase their sales ability. If you don’t believe me think about the performance gains you would realize in your organization if every good idea that was generated was captured, developed, and sold. Regardless of whether you sell ideas, products, or services, if you could capitalize on just a fraction of the genius that exists in your employees all previous performance records would be broken. Would that kind of performance enhance your productivity? Your bottom line? Of course, it would! A first step in creating this kind of organization is to teach everyone to sell, and to sell well.

While most of the examples offered come from years of experience selling physical products to wholesalers or end users, you should be able to draw a correlation to your organization or business as well.

There are literally hundreds of characteristics of successful salespeople. Many of them are specific to the types of industries that people work in but the habits listed here are common to most. The 21 habits of incredibly successful sales people can be divided into three categories; personal habits, customer service habits, and work habits and skills.

Personal Habits

  • Learn to balance your work and family life.
  • Be early not just punctual.
  • Look the part of professional you are.
  • Start a little early and work a little late.
  • Enjoy the work you do.

Customer Service Habits

  • Never just say “No” to a customer.
  • Fight for your customer when they’re right.
  • Get customers to believe in you not just your product.
  • Listen to your customers.
  • Do extra things for your customer.

Work Habits and Skills

  • Practice Sales Management by Walking Around.
  • Expect continual improvement.
  • Know your competition.
  • Motivate through positive reinforcement.
  • Demand integrity from yourself and others.
  • Accept responsibility when things go wrong.
  • Give credit to others when things go well.
  • Take appropriate risks.
  • Never, never, never give up.
  • Create an intrapreneurial organization.
  • Lead first, coach second, and manage third.


The one characteristic that sets Christians apart from the rest of the world is our relationship with Christ. Success from a worldly point of view means nothing apart from our relationship with Jesus. It is this relationship that is the cornerstone of our faith. It is the foundation upon which we build our families, our careers, and the society in which we live.

As His ambassadors, we must live a life that reflects His values and principles, not the world’s. In the crush of a busy workday, it is easy to lose track of that simple fact. And because it is so easy to be distracted we must become, therefore, ever more diligent in maintaining our relationship with our Lord. Find a good church in your neighborhood and anchor yourself to it, find a group of your Christian peers in which you can confide and discuss the work issues you face, look for ways to apply God’s standards at work as you read and study His word daily. Above all remember that He is always with us to help us and guide us if we will just turn to Him.

 Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What habits of successful salespeople would you add to this list? Which one or two do you need to work on to become more effective?

Bonus Whitepaper

If you would like to go a little deeper into the 21 Habits of Incredibly Successful Salespeople  I encourage you to download the attached whitepaper. In this 10-page bonus whitepaper I’ve included:

  • A discussion of each of the 21 Habits of Incredible Successful Salespeople.
  • Meeting notes to help you focus your entire organization on the importance of selling, and the use of selling skills to enhance job productivity.
  • A collection of inspiring quotes and Scripture passages

Click below to download the bonus whitepaper:


Category: Skills | Communication Skills

#052: Six Tips for Delivering Your Next Best-Ever Presentation

Delivering a speech or a presentation to a large audience can be pretty intimidating. Public speaking is often listed in the top 10 things people fear the most, usually second only to the fear of snakes!

Presentation, Speaking

Whether you love public speaking or dread the thought, chances are good that at some point you will be called on to make a presentation or deliver a speech to a large audience. It is impossible in the space of this blog to cover anything but the barest essentials for delivering a knock-out presentation, but using these tips will at least get you pointed in the right direction!

(Last week we covered Seven Steps to Developing Your Next Best-Ever Presentation so if you missed that one you might want to go back and read it for pointers on developing your presentation.)

Here are six tips you can use to help you prepare to deliver your next best-ever presentation!

1) It’s not about you! There are three elements to every presentation or speech: the message, the audience, and you. Of these three, the least important is you!

2) Fix your attitude! Your attitude comes across in your delivery, so make sure your attitude reflects confidant assurance. If you project fear or apprehension your audience will sense it in the first few words.

3) Rehearse, rehearse, and then rehearse some more. Rehearse in an environment that allows you the freedom to practice as though you were about to go on stage. I used to practice standing up using the kitchen island as a podium. Then I borrowed a board room where there was a podium. I practiced movements, breathing, pausing, everything the way I would want to do it when it was live. Yes, it may seem corny to practice out-loud, moving your arms, and walking around, but it is amazing how much your mind will remember when it comes time, and it will seem all the more natural.

4) Edit and fine tune. As you practice in your “make believe live” setting you’ll probably need to do some more editing on your script. Some things don’t sound the same, as they read on paper.

5) Vocal Stuff. Studies say 38% of communication is the tone of voice. Keep in mind that you must speak loudly enough to be heard, clearly enough to be understood, and slowly enough for the audience to stay with you. The five elements of vocal expression that you can manipulate to deliver the desired effect include: volume, pitch, rate, articulation, and quality. Volume – loud or soft for emphasis. Pitch – vary but stay in mid ranges most of the time. Rate – speed up to excite and slow down to emphasize. Articulation – speak clearly with your full voice breathing from your core. Quality – you can be throaty, nasal, or resonant. The quality of voice needed varies with the audience.

6) Non-Vocal Stuff. Studies says 55% of communication is body language! This is why it is so important to rehearse your non-verbal expressions as much as you do the verbal. There are many non-verbal techniques you can employ, but whatever you choose make them seem natural, and avoid any that seem forced or unnatural.

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#051: Seven Steps to Developing Your Next Best-Ever Presentation

I tend to be a pretty linear thinker, so when I’ve been called on to craft a presentation or speech for a larger audience I’ve started by writing the introduction, and then plod along writing my way through to the end.

Writing Presentation

Sometimes I would get a little more sophisticated by building an outline of my speech, and then go back and fill in the gaps. Perhaps because of my years of sales training most of my presentations accomplished the desired result. But not all. In fact, some of what I thought was my best and greatest work failed to deliver the action that I wanted from my audience. What could possibly have gone wrong?!

While I was in seminary, I had the occasion to read several books on preaching (seems important that someone in ministry learn how to preach). Suddenly a light went on, and I realized that those presentations that didn’t deliver failed, because in reality, they were not crafted with the audience in mind. Preaching, by its very nature, is designed with the audience in mind. One thing the best preachers have in common is a knack for building sermons that resonate with the audience because they are crafted with the audience in mind!

Obviously developing a sermon is very different than developing a presentation for your company. But, the process used to develop a sermon combined with some solid selling techniques may be just what you need to deliver break-through.

Here are seven steps to guide the development of your next, best-ever, presentation:

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#040: What Did You Say? I Wasn’t Listening!

The conversation in the meeting was proceeding nicely when someone jumped in with a comment regarding the topic we finished discussing.

Not Listening Meeting

Someone else felt compelled to contribute by restating what had just been said by someone else. Suddenly, right in the middle of one person’s comment, someone else who can’t seem to control themselves interrupts with their idea. Quietly, across the room, with a voice just above a loud whisper, two people are discussing another idea with each other. Yet another individual was asked a question and responded, “What Did You Say? I Wasn’t Listening!”

When I attend meetings like this I have this strange desire to just get up, and bang my head against the wall, and scream “listen people, listen!” This has happened so often over my career I think I have Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome. I’ve noted five of the most common types of non-listeners:

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#037: Five Tips for Handling the Fallout from a Fiasco

Chances are, at some point in your life, you will have to deal with a fiasco. It may not have been of your making, but you will nonetheless have to deal with it.

Reconcile, Fiasco

As Christians, we should always uphold God’s principles while seeking an amicable resolution.

Here are two “how to” tips, and three “what to do” tips that will help deal with most fiascoes that come your way.

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