Influence (Part 1)

In today’s world, it’s not a question of are you being influenced, but rather by whom are you  being influenced. We are bombarded by information every day, and that information has only one goal: to influence. With social media in our pockets and numerous media outlets to watch and listen to, being influenced is a part of life. After all, we now have something called “Influencers” on social media who make their living influencing their audience. With all of the influences we encounter on a daily, hourly, and even minute by minute basis, have you stopped and asked yourself who’s influencing you?

You don’t have to be in a room full of people to be influenced. You can turn on your phone and immediately start walking the path of being influenced. With social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and so many others, being influenced is only a click away. It’s easy to pick up your phone, tablet, what have you, and start flipping through your social media accounts. Everything from politics, celebrities, music, and even cat videos are influencing us. What kind of influencers are you allowing into your life? Whose voice are you listening to the most? 

You might say that you are someone who chooses not to be influenced by anything, but in reality, humans are bent on being influenced. It started at the dawn of time with Adam and Eve being influenced by the serpent in the garden. They allowed themselves to be persuaded by sweet words, but in the end, ended up losing almost everything. If we are not careful, our circle of influence could destroy all that is good in us and cause us to lose everything that really matters. 

It is critical that we become aware of the influences we allow into our lives. We have all heard the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” I heard this when I was a child, but never understood what it meant. It wasn’t until I was in college that I had a full grasp of its meaning. In short, we become who we allow in our lives. If you surround yourself with selfish, self centered, and manipulative people, then that is who you will become. I was watching a video podcast the other day, and the guest on the show said, “My father told me, ‘Show me your friends, and I will tell you what type of man you will be.’” The company we keep has a direct correlation with the type of person we become. This is why the Apostle Paul quoted the Greek poet Menender in his letter to the Corinthians, “Bad company corrupts good character.” 

I challenge you to disconnect from the world and determine who is influencing you. If you are allowing negative, selfish, and/or self centered ideologies to infiltrate your mind and shape your thinking, you need to turn off the noises that are influencing you. You need to seek positive influence. Find the voices that encourage you to become better. Find the voices that promote selflessness, integrity and humility. Find the voices that push you to keep going when it gets hard. Choose wisely what you allow to influence you. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Picking Up The Pieces

As a leader, walking into a situation where trust and relationships have been broken and being expected to make things right can be daunting and painful.  Stepping into a situation like this means your predecessor failed at their job and responsibilities, and you have been asked to fix that which has been broken. However, picking up the pieces to rebuild comes with great opportunity and growth. Do not let the foundation that was set before you be the foundation in which you think you need to build on. 

If you are walking into a toxic leadership situation, take a moment and just observe before you take any actions or make any decisions. One of the best assets a leader can have is the ability to observe and reflect. Take pause of the situation and just observe. Instead of seeking to immediately fix things, observe your team, ask questions, and be willing to listen. Through observation and reflection you will be able to make better, more well informed decisions. You will also have a better understanding of what truly happened before you arrived. 

When you walk into a situation where you are the new leader, and the previous leader has destroyed relationships, seek to rebuild those relationships before you do anything else.The key to any leadership situation is to build relationships with your team. As the new kid on the block, your team will test you to see where you stand and what they can and can’t do with you in charge. Be prepared to be tried by your team. Do not respond with an authoritative response, rather observe, listen, and ask questions. Seek to understand your team. This doesn’t mean you give up your authority. It means you allow your authority to be seen through humility and service. Being patient will have a better outcome than being commanding and demanding. A team that is built on relationships will be stronger and more productive than a team built on authoritative dictatorship.

There is a good chance that your predecessor led with fake promises. In other words, they spoke pretty words but did little to follow up what they spoke. There is a chance that they might have seen leadership as a title or position and expected respect rather than earned the respect of the team. If this is the case, there is a good chance that your predecessor led with a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. I see this as a critical failure in leadership. Not only does this sow contempt within the team, but it places a void between leadership and the rest of the team. If you are walking into a situation where your predecessor led in this way, the best thing you can do is to never be seen behind your desk. Be among your team. Stand in the trenches with them, and again, listen and observe. Do not expect things from your team that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.

Most importantly, your team needs to know they can trust you and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to build relationships with them. Picking up the pieces from a toxic leadership situation comes with a multitude of challenges. However, the foundation that was set before you does not have to be the foundation you continue to build on. Lay a new foundation, and build a team centered environment. Serve your people with humility and respect. Listen to what they say. You might be surprised at what you hear and learn from your people. You will also be able to tell those who are willing to move forward to seek a new direction and healing apart from those who encourage the toxicity and will continue to be damaging to the team if not dealt with appropriately and professionally.  

When you have to come in and pick up the pieces from the chaos that came before, be sure to walk in willing to listen and observe with a humble spirit and a willingness to serve. My guess is that your team was never served in the first place. 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

From Where Should We Lead

There are many ideas that express from which position one should lead. Some say true leadership can only occur from the front. Others say leading from the rear is what’s best. And finally, there are those who say leading from within is the most admirable form of leadership.  So which is it? From which place is it best to lead? Honestly, I believe the best answer is…all of them. Every position holds value, and leadership should never be confined to one place. Leadership should be fluid. Each position of leadership mentioned above has a purpose, and no position is more important than the other. Let’s take a moment and discuss the value in each position from which we should lead. 

Let’s begin with the position most people would claim to be the most important… leading from the front. Leadership conducted from the front can hold significant power and influence if done correctly. Firstly, frontal leadership is about leading by example. When leading from the front you are giving your people the example they should imitate. This is why frontal leadership is so powerful. At the front, you set the standard. You set the expectation for the rest of the team. Where this can potentially fall apart is when you state the expectation for others but disregard your own set of standards for yourself. It’s the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. This is when frontal leadership becomes an abuse of power. Instead of commanding how people should act, a great leader leads by example. They express the expectations and standards and then turn around and live them out. This way,  when others say, “It can’t be done,” the leadership up front proves that it can. Another potential issue of front leadership is focusing too much on where you need to be that you leave your team behind. With a forward gaze, you don’t know the struggles and issues that your team may be dealing with. It is important that leadership from the front constantly looks back to check in with their team. Don’t leave your team behind.

Let’s go to the opposite position…leadership from the rear. There is a picture circulating on the internet of a pack of wolves and where each part of the pack is located. At the front of the pack are the younger,  more youthful wolves,  the middle is filled with the older wolves,  and in the rear is the alpha, leader wolf. The alpha’s job is to protect the pack,  and he does this by watching everyone’s six (that’s military lingo for the back). It’s from the rear that other predators will sneak up and attack. In other words, rear leadership protects their people from potential dangers and problems. They always have their head on a swivel; ready to take on whatever might come for their team. Rear leadership holds a lot of responsibility. They must always be looking out for potential issues and problems that might have a negative impact on their team. They must be quick to act and strong enough to get their team moving if needed. Rear leadership gives a full view of the team and the progress that is being made. However, just like front leadership, rear leadership can be potentially harmful. It’s easy to get lazy when bringing up the rear. There’s no one watching you or pushing you to lead. It’s easy to bark commands and then sit back and do nothing. Lack of attention will lead to failure and devastation for the rest of the team. It is critical that rear leadership stays mindful, focused,  and alert. 

Finally, there is leadership from within, or leadership from the middle. This position of leadership is humbling and enlightening. How leadership thinks and acts changes when they get down in the mud with their team. Middle leadership brings a perspective that front and rear leadership miss; the perspective of the individuals within their team. Middle leadership learns about their people.  They learn their strengths and weaknesses. They learn their struggles and victories. Middle leadership is personable. The closer you get to your team the more influential you can become,  and from the middle, you can meet people where they’re at. Of course, middle leadership can be potentially dangerous as well. Leading from the middle can blind you to your leadership responsibilities. Instead of encouraging and supporting your team as you lead beside them, you will begin doing the work that your team is responsible for. When this happens, you can no longer focus on the needs of the whole team. Instead, you are focused on the work that you have taken away from your team. This alienates others, and it takes your attention away from those who matter most. As a leader in the middle, you have to be strong and keep control of your urges to want to fix it all. You need to be okay with letting people struggle and fail. This doesn’t mean you abandon them. On the contrary, this is when you come alongside your team and guide them to success. Remember, this doesn’t mean you do their work. This means you guide them in their work. In fact, you might need to take a front leadership position during this time, so that your team has an example to follow.

Leadership should never be fixated on one position. Leadership should be fluid; moving from place to place. Each position holds value and is critical to the overall well being of the team. At times, you will need to take up a front leadership position to set the standards and expectations for the rest of the team and lead by example. At other times, you might need to lead from the rear. You will need to protect your team from potential problems and issues. You might need to step in and fend off those that want to cause harm to your team. Finally, you should always seek to be in the midst of your team. Take up a middle leadership position as often as possible. Invest in your team, gain perspective, and encourage and guide your team to success. Through it all, no matter what position you take up, never forget what is most important…your team.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Last To Speak

The other day I was watching a quick video about the importance of listening from Simon Sinek. I loved what he had to say. He uses an example of a leader walking into a boardroom and saying, “Here’s the problem, here’s what I think, but I want to hear your ideas. Let’s go around the room.” Sinek said that at this point, it’s too late. He goes on to say, “The skill to hold your opinion to yourself until everyone has spoken does two things. First, it gives everyone the feeling that they have been heard, and it gives everyone the ability to feel that they have contributed. Second, it gives you the benefit of hearing what everyone has to think before rendering your opinion.” The goal is to keep your opinion to yourself; something many of us struggle with these days.

There is great value in learning when to talk. Just because we have an opinion doesn’t mean we need to be the first to share it. When we think that we need to share our opinion first, we alienate everyone around us, or we create an environment that doesn’t welcome free thinking and sharing. Think about it. When the boss enters the room, states a problem, shares what their opinion is about solving the problem, and then opens up the floor to other’s ideas about the problem, how many people will actually want to say something different from the boss? The agenda has been made clear; the boss sees a problem and wants to solve it their way. There really isn’t any discussion to be had, as the boss has made their intentions clear. A potentially productive meeting turned into a table of head nods and compliance. 

When we keep our opinions to ourselves, ask questions, and listen earnestly to what others have to say, we are given information that can help us make a more well informed decision. Simon goes on to say, “The goal is to really keep your opinions to yourself. Simply sit there, take it all in, and the only thing you are allowed to do is to ask questions, so you can understand what your people mean and why they have the opinion that they have.You must understand from where they are speaking, why they have the opinion they have, and not just what they are saying.” When we learn to engage and invest in those we lead, keep an open mind, and listen intently to what they are saying, we create an environment that allows people to safely share ideas and opinions without feeling the need to just follow along. 

A good leader recognizes that they are not the smartest person in the room. Rather, they are willing to learn from the expertise of others. This goes back to the understanding that leadership has nothing to do with titles and positions. Being the CEO doesn’t mean you are a good leader. Being a CEO and listening to the people who are in the trenches, while keeping your thoughts and opinions to yourself, is a start in the right direction. Some of the most highly paid individuals in a company or organization may lack the knowledge or experience needed to problem solve. Sometimes the lowest, hardest working individual just might hold the secret to overcome some of the most difficult obstacles. The question we should be asking is if leadership is willing to stop and listen to what their employees think and understand from where they are speaking and why they have the opinion they do? 

The greatest accomplishment of any leader is knowing when to speak. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean it needs to be shared, neither does it mean that it is the right opinion. It would behoove leadership to listen to their staff and gather their ideas and opinions before making a decision. Thinking our opinion is fool proof doesn’t make it so. We must keep an open mind and be willing to listen and change our understanding of a situation. Please don’t misunderstand me, this doesn’t mean we remove common sense, nor am I suggesting we become pushovers and allow others to direct our decision making. Rather, we should be willing to listen to others before we make a decision. We must use common sense in our decision making and base our decisions on factual evidence rather than overly charged emotions. 

Be willing to listen. Try and understand why people think the way they do and from where they are coming from. Be open minded and willing to change course if needed. Humble yourself as a leader and practice being the last to speak!

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Outlook

Another year has gone, and a new one has begun. On new years eve, while laying in bed trying to recuperate from being sick, I was scrolling through social media. I was astonished at how depressing it was to read about people’s ideas and opinions about 2021. Some wrote that it was one of the worst years they went through. Others said that this next year had to be better than this last one. Overall, the perspectives that were being shared were discouraging, depressing, and disappointing. In fact, I didn’t read anything positive on social media regarding 2021. How can we ever expect to be more, become more, and hope for more, if all we focus on is the negative? I might go as far as to say that your outlook on last year might easily determine your future success in the coming year. Our outlook on life, both past and present, will determine our success and fulfillment in the days to come.

What’s the point of always seeing the negative in things? What good will it do you or anyone around you? Negativity begets more negativity. The more we focus on the negative, the more our outlook on life will be negative. I’m going to be honest here, last year had its ups and downs. There were definitely times that were more difficult than others, but why should those times outweigh the good? I have been called a cynic many times, and cynics are known for seeing the negativity in life. However, cynics will tell you that they are actually “realists”. I know this, because that’s what I would say when I was accused of being cynical. In truth, cynicism is a disease, and it is one I must constantly fight against. I am bent toward cynicism, and I hate it. I have tried hard in the past few years to change my outlook on life. 

The outlook we have in life will determine our mental, emotional, and even our spiritual health. The more we focus on the negatives, the more negative our life will be. We can say we have a “realistic” outlook, but in reality, we choose whether or not our “reality” is negative or positive. It all depends on our mindset and our outlook. When was the last time you actually reflected on all the positives in your life? Did you know there is a direct correlation between how we view our circumstances and our outlook on life? The more negativity we focus on, the more depressed, isolated, and hopeless we feel. This means that our mental health depends on our outlook on life. If all we see is the negative in our life, then we are setting ourselves up for mental anguish and frustration.

Along with mental health is our emotional health. Always focusing on the negativity in life creates unhealthy, negative emotions. Negative emotions keep us from thinking rationally and keep us in a state of paranoia and fear. Negative emotions also make us irrational and lose all sense of logic and reason. Negative emotions keep us fixated on only the negative aspects of life and keep us from seeing the whole picture. The more negativity we focus on, the unhealthier we become.  Please don’t misunderstand me, negative emotions are part of the human experience, but when we choose to focus on only the negative, our emotional health begins to erode away. We need to keep a healthy balance of negative and positive emotions in our life, and that happens by having an outlook on life that is not entirely cynical.

Our outlook on life can most definitely affect our spiritual health as well. The more cynical we become, the less hope we tend to feel. I do not consider myself to be a spiritual person. Rather, I hold fast to the value and importance of being in a relationship with YHWH. However, just like in any relationship, if all we focus on is the negativity, the relationship begins to deteriorate. It is hard to see the hope that is promised in Christ when all I focus on is the negative aspects in life. I can easily begin to lose my faith; all because of my cynical outlook on life. In reality, the more I fixate on the negative, the more I isolate myself from my God. It should be during the hard times in life that I should draw near to my God and remember His promises. However, a negative outlook produces a fatalistic mindset, which in turn removes all hope in one’s life.

A new year is upon us, and as Brad Paisley said one new year’s eve, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Every book will have its ups and downs, but no one enjoys reading a story that only focuses on the negative situations in life. Place just as much emphasis, if not more, on the positive parts throughout your life. Start simple. You woke up to a new day with breath in your lungs. Keep your perspective. Nothing is ever as bad as we think. As the saying goes, “Things could always be worse.” If you journal, make a list of the positive things that happened throughout the day/week. Force yourself to reflect on the good in your life. When negativity comes, instead of sharing these times on social media, find something to be grateful for, and share that. Your outlook on life will determine your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and your outlook on life is completely in your hands.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Keep It Professional

No matter where you work, you will have some kind of confrontation take place. Confrontation is inevitable when you have multiple personality types working together. Confrontation is not a bad thing, but how you deal with it separates the weak companies from the strong ones. There are two things you must always keep in mind when confrontation occurs: 1) Always be respectful; and 2) Keep it professional.

Confrontation happens; that’s a given. How we deal with confrontation will say more about us than it does the issue in question. One thing that will make our character and ability to respect others come into question is our ego. This three letter word has the power to destroy everything we have worked for. It has the power to alienate us and make us paranoid. The ego is the conspicuous friend who whispers sweet little lies into our ear.

If we do not have our ego in check, confrontation will most likely be caused by our own doing. When we feel threatened or think we have to be right, our ego will push us to disrespect those for whom we are in conflict. At that moment, we will have lost the battle, but continue to fight as if we think we have won. The moment disrespect enters into any confrontations, the character of the individual showing disrespect begins to erode away. This is why respect must always be at the forefront of our mind as we enter into confrontation, and we must beat our ego into submission. 

If we, as adults, cannot have a respectful conversation over something we do not agree on, then we should not entertain the idea of opening our mouths in the first place. The old adage holds true, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Disrespect is just as bad as ego, but it destroys relationships much more quickly than our ego. We must remember that confrontation is not a battle between individuals, but over ideas and thinking. We must respect others while gently sharing our ideas and thoughts during confrontation.

Disrespect also lends itself to unprofessionalism. When confrontation turns into berating, yelling, or even physical contact, professionalism is lost, and so is the respect anyone had for the person acting in such ways. This is most detrimental if we are in a leadership position. Not only does this show our lack of leadership ability, but it shows our true character. Leadership should be built on the foundation of selfless service for those we lead. If we build leadership upon any other foundation, our leadership will eventually lead to egotistical leadership and our demise.

Confrontation happens. Disagreements happen. Personalities will inevitably clash in the workplace. Through it all, we must always strive to show respect and keep everything professional. If you find yourself losing control during a confrontation, shut your mouth and walk away. It is better to have a bruised ego than it is to have loss of respect. And never forget, you are not as amazing as your ego claims you to be. Keep yourself in check and stay professional.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Not All Days Are Good Days

Life is hard. Not all days are good days. Don’t let all the positive posts on social media fool you. No one, and I mean no one, has good days every day. The truth is that life comes with both darkness and light; hills and valleys. There will be days where darkness is all that you feel, and the valleys can feel like hell. There will be days when hope seems bleak, and joy seems near impossible to find. There will be days where you question everything and struggle finding purpose and meaning. There will be days where you are ready to throw in the towel, and you want to quit. I want to tell you that there is a secret weapon to combat these feelings, but in reality, there isn’t. This is where your mindset will either keep you going or fail you miserably. 

You may have heard, or even been told, all you need to do is keep a positive mindset. Let’s be honest, that’s not always easy or realistic. As the Dread Pirate Roberts, Wesley, one said, “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something” (Princes Bride, 1987). There is some truth in Wesley’s statement. Life is filled with pain; mental, emotional, physical. But the problem in his statement is the all encompassing statement that ALL of life is pain. Pain is part of life, but life is not encompassed by pain. We all have our moments where mental, emotional, and/or physical pain has encroached on our lives. We may be exhausted, tired, hurt, confused, etc., and these feelings unveil pain. However, these are only snippets in our life.

Maybe you have heard, “Count your blessings.” Again, good advice, but not always the easiest when you feel surrounded by darkness and defeat. Do we have blessings in our life? Yes. Are they always easy to recognize? Not always. I tend to focus on the simple and try to expand outward. Blessing number one – I woke up today, even if I didn’t feel like waking up. Another day is another chance to do something. There are times that our darkness becomes so cold that another day seems impossible. It is during these times that, if we aren’t careful, we will be consumed by the darkness rather than fight our way through it. But how do we fight when the battle feels unwinnable?

Winning a daunting battle is not easy. It takes perseverance, courage, and a growth mindset. And most importantly, it takes us breaking down our walls of selfishness. Darkness gets darker when we focus on ourselves. Whether we are struggling with depression, mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion, or what have you, we tend to focus on ourselves and our “pain”. When we keep this focus, the harder it is to win the battle. 

I struggle with depression and with having feelings of “What’s the point?”. My battle comes and goes, and there are days when the battle seems unbeatable; where the day is dark and hope is hard to find. It is easy for me to drift into a mental state of “Me”. My focus and attention begins to erode into negative thoughts. Nothing seems to be going well. I begin to feel stuck, and life’s direction seems pretty bleak. This leads to anxiety and more negative thoughts. To be honest, it is hard to come out of these deep mental valleys. I can put on a good face and trick everyone into thinking all is good, but behind the façade is a struggling human being. And the more I wage war on the inside, the harder it is to keep the façade going. Days are long and very hard to get through. My motivation is gone, and I don’t want to invest energy into anything. Living life this way is brutal, but there are days when this is life.

Not all days are good days, but I refuse to lose the battle. I refuse to give up on the war. Life comes with “pain”, but pain is temporary if we are willing to put in the time. Earlier I talked about “counting your blessings.” When the darkness comes and life’s pain creeps in, I force myself to think beyond myself, especially since I don’t want to at the time. I think about my wife and my children. I think about how they need me, and in the midst of darkness, they are the light that shines hope. I force myself to reflect on who I want to be and the legacy I want to leave behind. I consider what is closest to me first, and how I am needed in the lives that mean the most.

I examine how my choices and actions are showing my children how to persevere, be courageous, and push through hard times. When I begin to consider that which is closest to me, and means the most to me, the “pain” begins to subside.

Not everyone may have a wife, husband, or children in their life, but we all have that one friend that sticks closer than a brother or sister. We all have someone in our life that we respect and feel valued by. When the darkness comes, and it will, remember these people. Remember how they make you feel and the fulfillment they bring to your life. Fight the desire of wanting to hide away. The more we focus on ourselves, the darker things become. Force yourself outside of yourself. Realize that your presence in this world is significant. Out of all of the combinations and chances in the universe, you were the one that beat ALL the odds. Your life is not an accident. You have something to give and share, but if we only focus on ourselves and our “pain”, we miss out on the opportunity to give and share; and we miss out on living this gift we have been given. 

No matter what you are going through, please know that you are not alone. Not all days are good days, and I am one that understands that clearly. Keep fighting the battle, and look for that small glimmer of hope that is shining in the darkness – it’s there. I promise. You are not here by accident. You have purpose and meaning. There may be times that you don’t think your life has purpose and meaning, but I assure you, it does. Just because we are not doing what the world considers to be “great” doesn’t mean that your interactions, words of encouragement, and service to others aren’t great. Greatness comes from the heart and in the choices we make. No battle is greater than you. No war is unbeatable. Focus on what you can do for others. Focus on how one interaction with someone might be the hope they are needing to win their battle. You just don’t know which interaction that might be. 

As always, stay humble, serve well, and keep fighting!

Accountability

Have you ever done something, without thinking about what you might actually be doing, and think nothing of it? In your mind it was nothing, but what you actually did might not have been the best choice. Who brought your actions to your attention? Did anyone? And if your actions were brought to your attention, what did you do? As a leader, and someone who should be living with integrity, accountability is one of the most critical components to ensure we are living right. It can get uncomfortable, and we might want to make excuses for our words and actions, but in the end, being held accountable should humble us and remind us that we make mistakes and have work to do.

I had this exact thing happen to me not too long ago. I did something that I didn’t think anything of, but in reality it could have created a big issue. I received a text message that read, “Call me when you get a chance.” When I called, I was told that I did something that was not okay, and it needed to be corrected. I was taken back a little, not because I was being held accountable to my actions, but that I didn’t even think about what my actions caused. I am grateful that the person that asked me to call told me what had happened and brought to light my error. I was quick to correct my error, and I now have better awareness of the situation so that I won’t repeat the same mistake. 

This post is two fold: 1. “How do you respond when you are held accountable for your actions and choices?”, and 2. “Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?” Both of these questions are important to reflect upon. Let’s start with the first: “How do you respond to being held accountable?” When I was made aware of the problems my actions had caused, I had two choices. I could have either pointed fingers, blamed others, and not taken ownership of my actions, or I could have done what I did; take ownership and set things right. The difference between the two reactions is that one focuses on being a victim while the other focuses on being better. How we respond to being held accountable says a lot about our character. What type of character do you want to have, and what kind of legacy do you want to live? 

The second question is just as important as the first: “Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?” If you answered no one, then my next question is, “Are you holding yourself accountable?” It is vital that we have people in our life that are willing to hold us accountable to our words and actions. If we are never held accountable, we begin to make excuses for our poor decisions and behaviors. We begin to play the role of the victim rather than looking for ways to better ourselves. Being held accountable is not always comfortable, but it is a necessity.  

We need to learn that being humbled is an opportunity for personal growth. We must be careful how we react when we are held accountable to our words and actions. We need to let go of our pride and ego and be open minded to instruction and constructive criticism. Again, it’s not always easy, but it is a necessity. Our goal should always be to become better, and becoming better is a never ending process. 

As leaders, we also need to remember that our words and actions are always being scrutinized, whether we think so or not. We also need to remember that our goal is to better those around us, and one way we can do that is by humbly accepting constructive feedback from those who hold us accountable to our words and actions. We need to relinquish our want to be right and accept that we may need to make changes in our character. We must listen, without becoming defensive, and be willing to take ownership of our words and actions.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

The Voice

The other morning, I walked into my boss’s office to chat with her. Through our conversation, I was told that I needed to take some items that I had to one of my colleagues. I foolishly opened my mouth and said, “I’m not here to serve those that need something from me. If they want it, they know where I am.” I know, not one of my most shining moments, and to be honest I am embarrassed, annoyed, and very disappointed with myself. Nothing else was said, and the conversation progressed to other topics. Within seconds of saying what I said, I had a small voice inside me telling me that I was wrong for having said what I did. I wanted to fight the voice. I wanted to justify my statement. But in reality, I knew that the voice was right. I knew that I had messed up, said something I don’t actually believe in, and showed a side of me that I am not proud of. 

An hour after that conversation, I opened my email and wrote an apology to my boss for uttering those words. I expressed my disappointment in myself and in the words I chose to use. I wrote that I would never allow those words to escape my lips again. I was, and still am, disappointed in myself. However, I am grateful that I listened to that still, small voice inside that told me I was wrong. I am grateful that what I said was only between me and my boss and not in front of a group of my peers. I am grateful that my boss did not condemn me for my choice of words but allowed me the opportunity to wrestle with them. In the end, I took the items over to my colleague and apologized for not providing them sooner.

If I had not listened to that still, small voice inside, I would be living a lie, and everything I stand for would be false. My character, my reputation, my integrity was on the line, and that small voice inside helped me save face, humbled me from the inside out, and convicted me on my actions and words. I believe we all have that voice inside of us, but we fight with it. We try to justify what we have done instead of listening to that voice. We allow our pride and arrogance to overtake our character and integrity. We would rather justify being wrong than humble ourselves and do what is right.

Have you ever had moments like this, where you say or do something and know deep down that what you said or did was wrong? Did you have something inside of you telling you that you were wrong? Did you listen to the voice and do the right thing, or did you ignore that voice and justify being wrong? I have learned that the more we try to ignore or block out that small voice, the softer it becomes until it is completely muted by our pride and arrogance. In the end, we become a person who is solely focused on ourselves and will quickly play the victim card rather than take responsibility for our actions. 

That voice inside of us, convicting us of our wrong actions or words, should never be ignored. It should be listened to, and we should be listening with our full attention. We should humble ourselves and realize when we have messed up. We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. We must recognize our mistakes and do what is needed to correct our wrongs. We must beat our mind and body into submission and only accept what is good and what is right from ourselves. We should run from the temptation of pride and selfishness and cling to integrity and humility. We should take ownership, and not just ownership, but extreme ownership, of our words and actions. 

I encourage you, never silence the voice inside. Attune yourself to listen with full attention. Humble yourself to admit your wrongs, change your actions and mindset to be better. Be an example to those around you. Take ownership of everything and leave no room for pride and arrogance.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Can’t Save Them All

Anyone who has taught or trained a group of individuals knows that there are three types of people that make up all groups: 1. Those who work hard, stay focused, and get stuff done; 2. Those who show up, struggle, try, and will eventually get work done; 3. Those who do very little to nothing at all and act like your time is a burden on their life. These three types of people make up our society as a whole. This means that within any given time, your company or organization employs all three of these types of people. The question you should ask yourself is, “Why do I allow those who do little to have such an impact on my time, money, and organization?” The answer is because we hope that they will change, or they will quit. In reality, neither will usually happen, and in turn, you will be wasting time, money, and energy on an individual who doesn’t belong in your company or organization.

This may sound harsh and a bit cruel, but in reality, people who are unwilling to help themselves rarely accept help from others. This means that we waste time and energy on individuals who will never accept what we are trying to do for them, because they aren’t willing to do what it takes to become better for themselves. Too many times, we allow the least productive people to take up the majority of our time. This not only creates an enabling environment for those who do nothing, but it keeps us from giving our attention and service to those who deserve it most. Why do we waste time and energy on the people who do the least for themselves or the company/organization?

Some of you might be thinking, “This doesn’t sound very selfless.” It all depends on how we define selflessness. Selfless leadership is not about enabling or allowing for bad behavior or bad work ethic. Selfless leadership is about serving those we lead through our actions and by giving our time and energy. If we are unable to do this because all of our time is focused on those two or three individuals that have little to no work ethic, then we are failing at selflessly leading those who need to be served the most; those who are working hard and doing their best for the company or organization. 

The individuals who are showing up, trying their best, maybe even making mistakes but are still willing to try again and be better, these are the ones who deserve our attention, time, and energy. These are the people who are invested and know what’s going on in the company. These are the people who have the ideas and imagination to take the organization or company to new heights. These are the people we should be serving in our leadership.

Bottom line, we can’t save everyone, and we must choose wisely into whom we put our time and energy. We need to learn to let go of those who are dragging their feet and not showing any desire to grow and be better. We need to learn to encourage and support those who are willing to invest, engage, and do their best for the company and organization. Selfless leadership is about serving those we lead through our actions and with our time and energy. We need to make sure all of these things are going to the right people. If we are too bogged down to serve those who need it most, because we are focused more on the one or two individuals who do little to nothing to help themselves or the company, then we need to make some adjustments in our team and our leadership.

As always, stay humble and serve well!  

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