Why Your Big Dreams May Die Young

 

I’m at a place in life now where I no longer want to build to impress.  I want to build to last. It took me longer to get here than I’d like to admit, but I’m glad I finally woke up to this idea. If you’re losing hope in your dream you’re probably trying to build to impress instead of building to last. Let me tell you why.

LOSING HOPE IN YOUR DREAM?

As a pastor I sit with many friends, students and even some strangers who share with me about their journey. Due to just how I’m wired I suppose, we inevitably get to talking about dreams and passion and pursuing who God’s made us to be. More and more, I hear people tell me about how they’re losing hope in their dream. How the thing they were once passionate about, even willing to sacrifice for, they’re now considering walking away from. Just giving up on it. They share many different reasons for why, but ultimately it almost always comes down to this: “Paul, it’s just not happening fast enough. I thought I’d be much further along by now.”

I’m not saying that everyone of them are wrong for coming to their conclusion, I just think there’s more to it. Here’s what I’m trying to get at. Building to last means thinking long term. It means embracing the process as much as the product.  We’re all aware that anything of worth having in life takes time so I won’t beat that idea any further. However, it’s evident that there is one idea that we haven’t fully grasped.

TOO MUCH, TOO SOON

We seem to forget that if we’re given too much too soon, it’ll most likely crush us. Like getting a 12-year-old a Mustang GT or a 5-year-old a power tool. Neither of them had the time to develop what’s necessary to handle those gifts. They’ll hurt, or worse, they’ll kill themselves and potentially others. And if your dreams are as big as they should be, the same principle applies. It’ll take time to grow the character and discipline necessary to sustain the responsibilities that come with your dream. Arriving too soon isn’t a blessing, it’s a time-bomb waiting to blow.

Now I get that this isn’t a popular idea. You know, embracing the process. It’s probably more frustrating than anything else to be honest. I mean, we live in an age where someone who’s practiced and worked hard for an opportunity can be passed up for someone who, though less talented or disciplined, get the opportunity because they have more views or followers. So I can imagine that the appeal to push through the drudgery of practice or rehearsal isn’t great when compared to making goofy videos and hoping for a big break.

When you build to impress the people around you, you give your power away. They become the shaper of your direction and ultimately your destination. 

Now before you open a new tab and start heading down the rabbit hole of cat videos. Consider this quote from Hip-Hop artist Lecrae, “If you live for their acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” The other trap in building to impress, instead of building to last is that it encourages you to pretend you’re much further along than you actually are. Losing hope in your real dream is a natural result.

See, when you build to impress the people around you, you give your power away. They become the shaper of your direction, your pace, and ultimately your destination. This frantic rush to present the right image to them forces you to forfeit real substance for a facade. Causing you to try to skip the painful lessons of life experience. Which, by the way, is what legends and icons are made of.

ARE YOU REALLY READY?

Ultimately, this approach causes us to never actually be ready when the opportunities we’ve dreamed of arrives . Make no mistake, your opportunity most likely will show up one day. The question is, will you be ready for it, or just look like you’re ready? Will all of your faking be exposed by you dream coming true?

Just pause and really consider this. What if your golden opportunity showed up at your door today? The dream job, dream spouse, dream gig, etc. What if today it was placed right in front of you? Are you really ready? Or do you honestly only look ready? Would it crush you or catapult you towards your ultimate goal? This is the difference between the person who builds to last instead of to impress.

Arriving too soon isn’t a blessing, it’s a time-bomb waiting to blow!

HOW TO APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE

At this point, you may be asking what now? How do you apply this idea of building to last, instead of to impress? You build to last by prioritizing private disciplines over public perception. In other words, you take your power back!

Now, before we jump into exactly what that means, I need to let you know something upfront. This point can sound so deceptively simple that many are tempted to brush it aside. Often thinking it’s too simple of an idea to make a big impact. So to emphasize just how impactful small changes can be, I want you to read the next two sentences out loud.

  1. I like cooking my family and my pets!
  2. I like cooking, my family, and my pets!

Building to last is a matter of making small adjustments in key areas of life that lead to a big impact.

Now, if a comma can be the difference between psychopath and love, imagine what a small adjustment to your daily routine can do? Yes, that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point. Building to last is a matter of making small adjustments in key areas of life that lead to a big impact.

PRIVATE DISCIPLINES OVER PUBLIC PERCEPTION

This is the equivalent of prioritizing practice over performance. Think athletes, ballerina’s, or even competitive baristas. It’s choosing to develop discipline and strength when people aren’t watching or cheering. So when you’re called to a public stage you’ve developed what’s necessary, not to perform, but to thrive. It’s practicing your sermons, speeches or songs in the quite of your home when there is no audience, so that when they arrive, you’re simply doing what comes naturally to you. No anxiety about being found out as a fraud or slipping up and sabotaging an opportunity you’ve dreamed for. Just doing what you’ve done a million times before.

I think it’s also important to note that because this is easy to understand, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to apply. It will take time, practice, and reorienting your perspective of public perception.

For me, as a Christian, I hold this to close heart. The Apostle Paul wrote to a young Pastor named Timothy saying this, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In other words, do the private work in order to present, not just a public life, but deeper than that, a genuine competence of responsibility and integrity character before God Himself. Whether you believe in God or not, you can probably imagine that you can’t fake it with Him.

Powerful people prioritize private disciplines over public perception.

This principle is applicable across the spectrum of professions. Whether you’re a business professional, athlete, performer, lawyer, consultant, or mom. This principle applies to you.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

If you’re losing hope in your dream you’re probably building to impress instead of building to last. You’ve given you’re power to persevere towards your dream away to the very people you’re trying to impress. You need to reverse this. You need to take your power back! It’s time to start prioritizing private disciplines over public perception. This is what powerful people do. They do not release the power to choose their direction, pace, or destination to people around them, they give that power to God alone.

Now, go take your power back!

Thanks for reading! I hope this post helped to expand your potential and contributed to your personal growth. Be sure to share this with a friend and follow this blog by subscribing below via email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership, leave a comment below. I’d love to learn from you!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

No one should ever feel like they’re living out someone elses to-do list. Having to deal with overwhelm and stress, more consistently and unnecessarily than anyone should ever have to. The only plan we should ever live out that comes from someone else, is the plan that God has for our lives.

With that said, the One-Page Daily Planner is a tool that helps you to take back control of you daily life. It’s perfect for busy people who need a simple tool to keep them clear, focused and grounded through the day. Additionally, to help them move towards a bigger goal with navigating their daily life. The One-Page Planner is for the person who wants to make progess towards their goals and not just be productive at work.

The One-Page Planner is designed with you in mind. Simple, thoughtful, and reflective. Helping to keep your priorities centered and your personal growth in mind daily. And all this – On. One. Page.

So, let me walk you through how this works. 

Section One – Start with Gratitude

After writing the date, of course, the very first section in the One-Page planner is a place to write out a statement of gratitude. It’s important to start with this element before diving into the busy of your day. This is an exercise that helps to orient your perspective before you tackle the day. 

There are many articles that outline the many attributes of grateful people, but here are just a few of the ones I thought was most profound:

  • Share their joy.
  • Value the small things in life.
  • Spend more time with loved ones and fiends.
  • See’s “good fortune” as God’s blessings.
  • Are more optimistic during hardships.
  • Serve others more freely.

Section Two – Articulate your Top Priorities (include time and place)

The second section of your planner is what’s going to set you apart from the rest. It’s also why the planner is titled Todays P3. In this section of your planner you will write out your top 3 priorities for the day. These three items are items that are non-negotiable tasks that will guarantee you progress in addition to productiveness. You start by identifying these top priorities and then you build the rest of your day around them.

The reason for three priority items is simple actually – focus. One of the biggest hurdles to remaining productive during our days is making everything too important. Subsequently, we try to focus on too many things at once and the result is that nothing really gets our full potential.

An additional step to solidifying these items as priority in your day is writing out the place and time you’ll be doing these tasks. I would even suggest putting this information in your phone and setting reminders once you’ve written them down. 

To stress how incredibly important this is, I’ll say this, if you skip this portion you’ve lost 50% of the power of this planner. So just don’t skip it. 

Section Three – Other things to do

This section is where your “other To-Do’s” will live. While we only highlight three items as absolute top priority, it’s foolith to think that we’ll only have threee things to accomplish that day. This section is where I would include your day-to-day items that you simply don’t want to overlook as you move through your day.

“You don’t learn from experience, that’s a myth. You only learn from evaluated experience.”

– Andy Stanley

Section Four – Identify Priority People

This is something that I’m surprised I have found in ANY OTHER PLANNER. A section or place to note your priority people for the day. Priority people are the people connected to helping or ensuring you accomplish your P3 or top three priority for that day. They are your biggest variable simply because you can’t control other people. So there’s no guarantee that they’ll be, do, say, or go to, what you need them to. 

As a result, it’s important that you see them as your priority people. Recognize when and where you need to be more communicative to them or slow down to help to bring them along. There may even be times when you’ll need to make more time for someone on your Priority People list because failing to help them along will have a direct impact on your ability to make progress.

So, who’s on your Priority People list today?

Bonus Section – Evaluate your day

Andy Stanley puts it this way, “You don’t learn from experience, that’s a myth. You only learn from evaluated experience.” So I say, why not evaluate daily?

So, in this section of your planner I’ve included a bonus section for evaluating at the end of each day. It’s also short and sweet. Just answer these two questions at the end of each day and watch yourself began to master the art of maximizing your potential!

If you’ve followed me for a little while now you know that I believe that growth is a leaders’ fountain of youth. As such, it’s important for us to find a constistent and affordable way to grow regularly. This is by far the most consistent and cheapest (I mean, it’s free!) way to grow consistently. And it really is as simple as evaluating your experience daily at the end of each day. 

Ready for the best part of all of this? Because I’m committed to helping you grow personally and maximize your potential, I want you to have the One-Page Planner for FREE! No catch, no gimmicks. Subscribe below and download your planner on the spot. Once downloaded, you can print as many as you like to use forever!

Purchase your planner here!

Or Subscribe below and get it for FREE!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

People are over church and leaving!

Unpopular Observation: people are leaving Christian churches in America. More and more, I am noticing America is becoming a place that is over church. (Note, this is something happening in much of the West. It’s a whole different story in the East, but that’s for your own google search another day.)

A bit of my background/experience with Christianity and church: I’ve been following Jesus since I was 23 years old. So I’ve been involved with church and church culture for only six years. During my faith journey (and before), I’ve experienced my share of the unfair, people hurt, church hurt, loss, pain, depression, and manic mood swings to name a few. So keep that in mind as you continue to read along.

Now to the matter at hand. Americans, especially young adults, are leaving churches in droves. From those that I know that have walked away from church, I found recurring themes:

  1. The Lack of Community
  2. Opposing Worldview
  3. Impractical Application

*Note: This is all based on personal and anecdotal experiences. However, there are statistic to back me up.*

1 The Lack of Community

The Christian faith began with Middle Eastern people witnessing the resurrection of a man, Jesus of Nazareth, that claimed to be fully God. That was the starting point. He predicted it and then did it. This group of people then began to tell everyone they could about it and live in a way that matched with what this man, Jesus, said while He was on the earth in their presence. These early followers were meeting together on the regular, eating together, doing life closely together, and dying together.

The community and sense of “togetherness” was undeniable in those early gatherings of Jesus followers. Fast forward to now and you can easily find church buildings, but the sense of awe and community is hard to spot. Why does that matter?

God made us communal beings. (“It is not good for man to be alone.”) Regrettably, what once was the rule, has now become the exception. People sit and listen to teaching from a pulpit, have an encounter with God, but sadly have no one to do this new life in Christ with.

The Christian faith began with Middle Eastern people witnessing the resurrection of a man, Jesus of Nazareth, that claimed to be fully God. That was the starting point. He predicted it and then did it.

There is a saying “belong before you believe.” Unfortunately, many church-goers have a hard time finding belonging even after believing. We all desire acceptance and community. It is hard to stick around and be part of a family that you don’t feel connected to.

2 Opposing Worldview

Here’s the thing about being a follower of Jesus: we still have all of our mental capacities and life experiences that have shaped our reality and view of the world. Also, while following Jesus, the external factors that help shape our worldview are still there, shaping our worldview.

Why does this matter? It matters because our opinions on right and wrong are still there. I’ve encountered plenty of young adults ditching church or downplaying their relationship with Jesus because He offends something they hold to be a core belief.

From personal experience, there are things that Jesus is documented as saying that are HARD! Love your enemy? Put God and others before myself? Rejoice in persecution for His sake? Who wants to do any of that!?

These examples sound very noble and righteous. However, there are other parts of the Bible that clash directly with views many have in the current culture. Same-sex attraction, sex outside of marriage, abortion, gender identity, and any other topic that’s causing division. What is someone supposed to do when their views on these areas go against what they are being told from the platform?

From personal experience, there are things that Jesus is documented as saying that are HARD! Love your enemy? Put God and others before myself? Rejoice in persecution for His sake? Who wants to do any of that!?

When the struggle between what we hold to be true and what the words of Jesus say becomes too much, people are choosing to walk away. With the lack of community, specifically discipleship, it is hard to have real conversations surrounding these topics.

If we don’t have genuine relationships, we have not earned the right to try to change someone’s mind about anything.

3 Non-Practical Application

We have access to thousands of men and women teaching on the word of God through the miracle of the internet. No matter our preferred style, we can find teaching and preaching to match whatever we like. Shouldn’t this be growing church attendance? Many are exiting church because they cannot see how the teachings have any implications on their day to day.

Why does that matter? Without application, teaching is not relevant. We have access to more information than any other people at any other point in history. All of that extra knowledge does not guarantee a life changed.

Many are exiting church because they cannot see how the teachings have any implications on their day to day.

A well spoken sermon can make anyone “feel” something. However, what does the message mean for people’s bills, debt, relationship issues, family drama, and anxiety? Jesus may have spoken to a woman at a well that was messy, but how does that relate to my daddy issues? Despite the urge, people are not looking for flashy, people truly want to know the truth and what it means for them.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

These three reasons are just my thoughts based on my own experience and that of others I know. Are there solutions? Yes, bring community back! The easiest way to disciple, have the tough conversations, and learn from one another, is through community. The Gospel is still good news worth sharing and living by. But it is displayed best, when lived out together.

So tell me what you think. Have you noticed the same things? Do you think other things turn people off from church? If so, share below.

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

Great leaders are all about maximizing potential, leaving a legacy and efficient use of their time. They are focused, fast paced and forward thinking. While all of these attributes have their pros and cons, there is one undeniable result from the combination of them all. Great leaders love leading other potential leaders!

CAN YOU KEEP UP?

At this point in my journey, I’d say I’m pretty far from being a great leader. I’m not being modest or humble in saying that, I seriously have a lot to learn. Either way, I do pray that I’m at least heading in the right direction. Yet, even at my level of leadership, I’ve already narrowed my focus, increased my speed and developed a strong dislike of time-wasters (people and things).

I find that I naturally gravitate to people who can “keep up”. Meaning, those who are able to see where we are and where we are trying to get to, but in addition to that, are self-starters in doing the work needed to get there. People who are great leaders of themselves require less “hand-holding”, which can be an unwanted break in a leaders’ pace. Self-leaders also glean best from on the job coaching, because they always looking for ways to build their experience. They do well at watching the leader, asking great questions, and testing their findings in order to boost their growth.

I find that this trait of leading leaders is a characteristic displayed clearly in the leaders I study and I’m certain, the leaders you study as well.

Great leaders love leading other leaders!

POTENTIAL IS ATTRACTIVE

The Cheap Secret of Savvy Leaders

Great leaders have a habit for recognizing other potentially great leaders and gravitating towards them. They desire to lead and pour into the young but potentially great leader because they know that the young leader will be able to go further than they ever could if prepared properly. It’s in the DNA of a great leader to ensure a great legacy, and this is primarily done by developing other. You could imagine then that the work is slightly easier with others who have taken the initiative to build their experience and seek personal growth. The thought or idea of having to lead someone who has not shown this kind of self-starting initiative simply communicates as more work with potentially fewer results. Not that great leaders are unwilling to take on this task, it simply isn’t their first preference. On rare occasions, a leader may see an opportunity to mold an inexperienced young leader for specific reasons. But that is the exception, not the rule. An additional thought to remember is that while the potential is attractive, it is not enough. Potential may open the door to great opportunities with great leaders, but work ethic keeps the opportunity alive. Self-leaders not only take initiative but are results oriented as well. The aptitude to be a self-starter or to take initiative is a valuable leadership skill at all levels. However, if you are unable to finish what you start or finish well, that skill loses it’s appeal quickly. The ability not just get things started, but to get things done well is a sign to those in leadership that you are interested in growth and ready for more responsibility.

While the potential is attractive it is not enough! Potential may open the door to opportunities with great leaders, but work ethic keeps the opportunity alive.

SELF-LEADER, NOT SELFISH

One final note on being a leader that great leaders love to lead. You’re not a leader if no one is following! Here’s what I mean. Young leaders often get so caught up with impressing superiors that they forget their peers. Leadership is a team sport! Keep in mind that almost every professional athlete trains both individually and with their team. If you find that you can’t work well with others to accomplish a single goal or task, it should be your priority to improve that skill. Otherwise, you risk bringing your poor people skills into great leadership opportunities and needless to say, that never ends well… for anyone. Working well with others serves as an indicator to great leaders about your leadership skill and can create more growth opportunities for you. The goal in leading yourself well is not to undercut the strengths of others but to recognize and develop your own. This allows you to do a few important things. First, you will be able to easily recognize your own weaknesses as you work on your strengths and determine more clearly the skills you need on your team to compensate for what you lack. Second, you will be positioned well to encourage the growth and development of the people on your team instead of being intimidated by them. Finally, leading yourself well releases you from relying solely on those ahead of you for creating opportunities for personal growth and development. Meaning, your potential will not be limited by your position.

The goal in leading yourself well is not to undercut the strengths of others but to recognize and develop your own.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

The leadership secret you need to know is that great leaders love leading other leaders. If you’re hoping to grow into a greater leadership opportunity, then start by becoming a great self-leader. Identify the vision, mission or goal set before your team and begin to work stubbornly towards it. Begin small by taking initiative, planning ahead and finishing your small goal well. Pinpoint areas you can grow in, like working well with others and even leading projects in a way that allows the strengths of your team to shine. Determine to win as a team and your team will want you to win as their leader.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by subscribing with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

Leading well begins with self. Finishing well in leadership begins by growing personally today in how you lead you in the areas that no one can see. So here are 21 key questions you can ask yourself in order to assess where you may need to grow the most.

Keep in mind that your answers to these questions aren’t meant to be shared with anyone except potentially your personal mentor.

21 Self-Leadership Questions

  1. How do I deal with negative people?
  2. How much self-control do I have with things that I know are bad for me, but tend to indulge in?
  3. Who am I accountable to when no one is watching?*
  4. How do I respond to situations that I have no control over?
  5. How do I respond when plans change or plans get canceled without my say so?
  6. How do I deal with stressful situations? Do I tend to worry a lot? What else do I do?
  7. How do I respond to situations that force me to get out of my comfort zone?
  8. How do I deal with setbacks?
  9. How do I deal with being misperceived or misunderstood?*
  10. How well do I follow through on what I promise?
  11. How do I deal with emotional pain?*
  12. How do I respond when I make a mistake or when I fail at something?
  13. How do I deal with other people’s mistakes and unpleasant behavior?
  14. How do I deal with uncertainty, the unknown or a future event that I have no control over?
  15. How do I deal with people who have hurt me in the past?
  16. How do I take care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
  17. How do I spend my free time?*
  18. How do I deal with the violence, hate, and suffering in the world?
  19. How do I recharge, rejuvenate, and replenish my energy?
  20. How fulfilling is my everyday life?
  21. How am I investing in myself physically, mentally and emotionally?

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

Growth is a leaders fountain of youth. Your responsibility is to pursue growth as much as you pursue your purpose. The key, however, is knowing when and where growth is most needed. Use these questions to help you assess and target your energy in a specific area to grow in.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email so you’ll never miss a post. In the comments below share about what question challenged you the most and which one was the most motivating!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

When I was in college I read the book Great Leaders Grow by Kenneth H Blanchard for the first time.  It was the first time in my life that I can remember feeling overwhelmingly inspired to become a great leader. I knew that in many of the circles that I found myself in, that I often emerged as the leader. This was exciting to me, but I had no idea how it happened or even how to navigate it well. There was no hope (or intention for that matter) of retaining my place as a leader in any place I earned the role.

Then came Kenneth H Blanchard. In a very simple way, he shares about leadership longevity and how to achieve it. I won’t quote you the whole book, but there was a quote that reshaped my approach to leadership and legacy building. In the book, Mr. Blanchard wrote that “Growth is a leaders fountain of youth”. This wasn’t new information to me. It was just stated in a way that stuck!

“Growth is a leaders fountain of youth.” – Kenneth H Blanchard

The Cost of Coffee

As leaders, whether of ourselves or others, we have a responsibility to stay relevant. It is our job to be informed about how times are changing and learn what needs to change with it and stay ahead of it. This means we need to find a consistent and hopefully cheap way to grow! Now we can look into costly classes, impersonal podcasts, or even building a library of leadership books we may find the time to read eventually. None of these are bad, but rarely do they work out to be consistent or cost effective long term.

“As leaders, it is our job to stay informed about how times are changing and learn what needs to change with it and stay ahead of it.”

Starbucks Coffee

This is where we get to the cost of a cup of coffee. A decent cup of coffee may cost you about $3.00 depending on where you go. I know that a freshly brewed Venti at Starbucks is currently about $2.45. Now you and I are both aware there are people in our lives that we can learn from. People who are either exactly where we want to be or heading in the same direction and just happen to be a little ahead of us. Don’t ignore those people!

I’ve found that cheapest and most consistent growing experiences available to us is a cup of coffee with someone more experienced than us. Someone who doesn’t mind allowing us to learn from their experience so that we can go further, faster. A few minutes over a cup of coffee could have saved me thousands of dollars in a bad business move as an artist last year, but I chose to learn the hard way. Never again!

“I’ve found that the cheapest, and most consistent way to keep growing is getting a cup of coffee with someone who will let you learn from their experiences, good or bad.”

Don’t get me wrong, I listen to leadership podcasts, audiobooks, read physical books and more. However, there’s value to being able to ask situation-specific questions and get real-life experience answers. Also, it’s important to be able to get objective feedback on a risky decision from someone who knows where you want to go and how to help you get there.

“Growing is sometimes as simple as getting a better handle on an area of life that seems to always get the best of you.”

I must confess that I’m not actually a “coffee” kind of guy, but I really enjoy a hot cup of tea. So this is my suggestion, take the initiative to grab someone you know you can grow from and grab a cup of coffee (or tea) together and ask them the tough questions. Get a better insight on different aspects of life. Work, play, relationships. Prepare specific questions that are tied to the areas you’re determined to grow in and don’t forget, pay for their coffee! It’s the least we can do for the time their giving to us.

So if you can’t afford to attend the next John Maxwell Conference, or personally meet with Andy Stanley then let this be another option for you or in addition to those.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

If growth is a leaders fountain of youth, then we need to make sure we secure an inexpensive and consistent means of continual growth. Paying for one or two cups of coffee a month for someone we can learn and grow from is by far one of the most accessible and cheap methods to keep growing today.

  1. Grab yourself a Joe (or Pete, or Sarah, or whatever the person’s name is) and ask them to commit to meeting with you once (or twice) a month for at least 3 months.
  2. Have questions ready for them and be prepared to learn.
  3. Finally, check back here after the three months and let me know how it went!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email so you’ll never miss a post. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

Mentors are NOT one size fits all.

This something I learned early as an ambitious young leader. I was ALWAYS looking (and still am) for who I could learn from next. This, by the way, is a good trait to have. However, I was never taught that not everyone who happens to know more than me in my field of work, or an area of life that I wanted to grow in, was the right mentor for me. As a result of my ignorance in this I had a few unfortunate coffee dates with potential mentors where we both walked away probably thinking, “Let’s NEVER do that again!” While there were others that I happened upon that was the perfect fit!

“Mentors are NOT one size fits all.”

Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well. I eventually realized that some intentionality should go into selecting the people we’re asking to invest time and knowledge in us. We all need a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor that we can learn from. While we can be informally mentored throughout our lives, formal mentorship takes intentionality.

“Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well.”

My foundational filter for selecting a mentor is two-fold. First, I look for someone who is living a principle that I want to learn. Whether it’s for becoming a better husband, a better son, a better employee or another area of life. If they’re living it out that’s my first ✓. The second thing I look for if I am unable to find someone who is already where I want to go is someone who is headed in the same direction but just ahead of me. That’s the second ✓. Then to those two, I add the following three filters.

1 KNOW HOW YOU LEARN BEST

old-1130743

The first thing we have to ask is, “How do I learn best?” This question is key. How we learn is essentially the container that we’ll use to help us hold on to the knowledge that our mentor passes on. Are you a hands-on learner? Are you visual? Are you an auditory learner? Knowing the answer to this question will help us walk away from that mentorship with the most growth possible. It will help you and your mentor determine how to best navigate the teaching, coaching and learning experience.

Tip: An easy indicator of whether or not you know the answer is to think about how often you’ve wondered to yourself about why you learn really well sometimes but not all the time. If you think about that a lot, chances are you don’t yet know how you best learn and need to spend time figuring that out.

2 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO LEARN

A common mistake people often make when entering into mentorship is thinking that they’re going to somehow learn everything from the mentor. This is unrealistic. The mentor will not be able to do that nor will we be able to learn it all. especially in short-term mentoring relationships. I learned that identifying a specific an item that I’d like to walk away with is far more successful.

For example, if you’re a Christian and you admire the spiritual walk of a more mature believer. Instead of trying to learn how to be as spiritual as they are. Try narrowing your focus to learning how to find consistency in your walk with God.

Here’s another example, if you’re new on the job with lots to learn, take few minutes to identify the area you feel the most pressure to deliver on. Identify a core item you can learn and use to improve that specific area on the job. After you’ve done this filtering, then go find a mentor to guide your learning that ONE thing. If you learn other things great!

3 KNOW THE TIME YOU NEED

This third and final filter will likely be one of the most practical tools for both you and your mentor DURING your mentorship. Before we identify a mentor to help us learn, we need to get a clear idea of just how long it may take you to learn it. A couple of hours? Days? Maybe months? My point is that Formal Mentorship should never have an indefinite timeline. That can turn into a dreadful thing for both parties. Whenever we’re entering into a mentoring relationship we should always establish a clear timeline.

If you’re both able to commit to an hour meeting once a month and you know you’ll need at least 3 hours to fully learn the idea or topic well, ask for four meetings. The fourth will reduce the pressure on the first three and allow room for flexibility.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

Since mentorship is such an integral part of continuing to develop as a leader, we should have a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor for ourselves. The following three are my filters.

  1. Know how you learn best
  2. Know what you want to learn
  3. Know the time you need

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

When it comes to self-leadership, people get frustrated with themselves very easily, and rightfully so. It’s REALLY hard sometimes! It also doesn’t help that people who seem to do it well, do a poor job at helping the rest of us grow in it. They often give us the practices they use to maintain healthy self-leadership but not how they got to dig deep roots in the very importance of it.

Today, I’m going to give you the secret sauce and the King of the Jungle is going to help.

The King of the Jungle.

The Lion is championed as the King of the Jungle, and rightly so. Lions are fierce, powerful and yet still beautiful creatures. The first and foremost reason lions get this title is the mane that male lions develop as they mature. It’s recognized as their crown. The second is that they remain at the top of the food chain because they are willing to take on prey much bigger than they are.

This characteristic of being willing to take on prey sometimes more than 6 times their size has caused people to think of them as fearless or courageous animals. I think the truth is that they’re just stubborn. They see a meal that they are determined to have and are unwilling to let it slip from their grasp without a fight.

“Stubbornness is the secret sauce of self-leadership.”

Great Leaders Are Stubborn

Great leaders are stubborn about the right things. Sure, sometimes there’s a bit of selflessness and courage, but beneath it all is stubbornness. They are doggedly focused on a preferred future that they’re willing to sacrifice even their life for. The appearance of selflessness or courage is the result of the clarity and confidence that comes with such a sharp focus.

“This kind of stubbornness exposes how serving others without expecting much in return is freedom from disappointment and motivation to work smarter.”

Clarity puts things in the right perspective and focus helps you ignore the things that would be a waste of your time. When you’re stubborn about a preferred future, then clarity and focus will motivate clear decisions and surface needed sacrifices. This kind of stubbornness exposes how serving others without expecting much in return, for example, is freedom from disappointment and motivation to work smarter. It creates inside of the leader a concrete hope in the future they’re aiming to create and an unwillingness to give up on it without a fight.

Great leaders like Nelson Mandela, President Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are some of the greatest examples of this on a larger scale. Each one was stubborn about a united future for their country. Their decisions were difficult but clear. Their sacrifices were undesirable but I’m certain they saw them as necessary. They were stubborn about a future they simply could not give up on.

“Great leaders are stubborn about the right things.”

The Pocket Potential

The secret sauce of self-leadership is stubbornness. Identify the preferred future you can be stubborn about. It may be a personal fitness goal, a target for your next quarter at work, the restoration of a relationship or success of your business. It’s the future you’re willing to fight for and that you’re dying to create. A future you’d be willing to sacrifice for. When you’ve identified this future, be stubborn about seeing it come to life.

In the next 6 months, where do you hope to be in life professionally, relationally or physically?

  1. Write down a 1 to 2 sentence statement that clearly articulates your goal.
    • Example: 6 Months from now I want to have more energy throughout the day and not feel sluggish. I don’t need to be “buff” but I want to be fit in a healthy way.
  2. Below that statement, write down what you think it would look like if you were stubborn about getting there.
    • Example: I need to be stubborn about getting more sleep at night so I can wake up earlier. Also, I want to work out at least twice a week.
  3. Finally, identify and share your goal with someone you can trust to encourage you to remain stubborn about it until you get there.
    • My accountability would probably be my wife, but a close friend, coworker, or family member is also encouraged.

What will you be stubborn about?

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required

“There’s no in team.” At least that’s how the saying goes. It’s a saying that was always unsettling to me, but I never really thought about challenging it before. I never saw it’s connection to poor leadership. Actually, for a long time, I thought it was just my ever out-of-check pride that wanted some attention. It felt like I was the only one with a problem that the “I” was getting tossed to the side for the sake of the “we”. When the “I” was supposed to work hard for the success of the “we”. See my dilemma?

Losing the I in the We

This subtle but growing tension inside me kept swelling. I became secretly critical of team leaders and wondered if many of them really knew what they were doing. Some “Christian” I am, right? But, truth is truth and this was a real issue for me. I wanted to be certain that wherever I was, that I was being led well.

Over time I learned that this was not an individual issue. There are others who are tired and frustrated with being neglected for “we” and then expected to perform at 110% on an “I” level for the sake of we. Point is, there are more people who are looking for a place where they would be nurtured as a part of the team. Not discarded or overlooked by poor leadership in the name of corporate success.

Jesus and the Eye

Now, having been a Christian for a little while I knew that God had to have something to say about this. So I went searching through the pages of the Bible and lo and behold, a solution to my problem!

In Matthew Chapter 7, verses 3 to 5 Jesus makes a statement that I think many of us, Christian or not, know by heart. In this passage, Jesus is addressing the legalistic spiritual leaders of his day. Most of them were well-known for being extremely judgemental of other people’s relationship with God but Jesus was not having it. He very directly and sharply reprimanded this behavior.

This is what he said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but does not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:3-5 ESV

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

In this context, Jesus is specifically talking about legalistically judging the spiritual walk of others in a demeaning or prideful way. The big idea was that how you judge others in this context, you will also be judged by God.

“Rarely, if ever, did I stop to ask if I was a good leader, or more specifically, am I a good leader of me?”

Are You under Poor Leadership?

For such a long time I had been so focused on being led well that the only things I was able to see were the gaps in other people’s leadership skills. Rarely, if ever, did I stop to ask if I was a good leader, and more specifically, am I a good leader of me? I was picking at the speck in other people’s leadership but ignorant of the log of my poor self-leadership.

This is my bottom line: Great team-players are committed self-leaders. They recognize that a personal commitment to healthy self-leadership of “I” will result in less frustration and more success with “we“.

Being a team leader myself at the moment, this couldn’t be a more pertinent truth. I currently lead a team of about 30 people that is still growing. My team is dynamic and fluid. Ranging from college students to those who are old and wise enough to replace me if needed. I learned quickly that if I am going to lead my team well, I need to learn to lead me well. No one else is going to take responsibility for my personal growth and development, that is my job.

Our growth in time management, physical fitness, psychological and emotional balance, spiritual maturity, or even healthy dietary habits, all of which are essential to longevity in anything we do, is never going to be someone else’s responsibility(or priority). Not to mention the need to attain or sharpen the skills necessary for the particular career or field of work we’re in or desire to be in. It’s vital then, that we make sure these needed skills are on our radar and are in good health and growing consistently. The more efficient we are at leading ourselves, the more effective we become at leading others.

The Principle of Self-Leadership

“I learned quickly that if I am going to lead my team well, I need to learn to lead me well.”

What’s also great about this, is that it’s what I would like to call a life principle. Meaning, it’s transferable to other areas of life. Whether you’re hoping to improve your relationship with friends, family, spouse, colleagues, classmates or business partners, this principle is applicable. Wherever we function as an individual part of a larger team, we can employ the principle of self-leadership. It will reduce frustration and increase the success of the whole.

When I think about this principle, I often think about people like Lebron James, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Or Ben Roethlisberger, who is the current Quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Great athletes like Lebron and Ben, understand this principle well because it is necessary to achieve greatness in team sports. Poor leadership gets you fired in these arenas! These athletes commit to intense personal practice regiments in order grow as an asset to the team they belong to. When every team member shares this personal commitment, you’ve got a championship winning team.

“Great team players are committed self leaders.”

Where To Begin

So what’s next? How do we even begin to lead ourselves and overcome poor leadership? I suggest this simple activity you can use to begin so that you can achieve more success and reduce frustration.

This year I made an internal commitment to personal leadership and growth for the sake of others. This internal commitment has externally reshaped how I approach life, work, relationships and even leisure. I’m not suggesting you make the same commitment but I’ll share a key thing I did to get started. This activity will give you more clarity in how (and where) to begin to lead yourself. My hope is also to spark something inside of you that gets you going in a direction you’re excited about.

For this practice, you’ll need to create a three column – three-row document. Whether is a notebook or on a computer, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you’ll see it regularly.

Column 1

In this column, you’ll need to write down three areas of life where you’re a part of a “team”. I suggest three so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. You can tackle more if you want. These areas can include family, work, a volunteer team, or an organization that you lead as a part of team.

  1. Example 1: Family (Relationship with wife)
  2. Example 2: Work

Column 2

Use this column to identify and note one major area you need to grow in or be better led in. An area where your poor leadership is apparen – whether internal or external.

  1. Example 1: Family (Relationship with wife) –  “I want a more fun relationship with my wife.”
  2. Example 2: Work – “We need better training on how to use the new software.”

Column 3

This column is for you to write down what you can do to provide better leadership for yourself. This can include reading a book, taking a class, watching tutorials, finding a mentor, or just asking better questions.

  1. Example 1: Family (Relationship with wife) – “I can purchase a book on how to plan more creative dates.” (Or google it and find great ideas on Pinterest!)
  2. Example 2: Work – “I can find some tutorials on YouTube and share with my coworkers what I pick up.” or “I can ask Joe, who installed it if he’d be willing to walk me through it over lunch.”

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

The Pocket Potential for today:  If you’re frustrated with how you’re being led or really need to have more success in working with others, it may be time to take a look at how well you’re leading yourself. Poor leadership can be internal or external. Remembering that great team players are committed leaders of themselves. They have a personal commitment to self-leadership so that they can gain greater success with others. Unlock the potential of your team, personal relationships or organization by applying this principle daily.

How to Make it Count

Write it down – Don’t do this in your head. Our memories may be great, but let’s be real, they’re not that amazing. And if you’re like me, it just straight up sucks.

Be honest with you – This exercise isn’t to see how great or horrible we are. It’s also not meant to be shared with everyone. It’s about identifying how we can become greater than we are. In order to do that we have to take an objective look at where growth is needed. If necessary, find a trusted friend and ask them to provide feedback on areas where you can grow.

Plan with dates – Make a plan, put it somewhere you’ll see it and make sure you have deadlines! Set dates to start, dates to check in, and of course dates to celebrate. However you choose to do it, just make sure you put it on the calendar!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email so you never miss a post. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment. I’d love to learn from you!

Subscribe today and receive the One-Page Planner for free! (downloadable version)

Subscribe

* indicates required