Archives For Leadership

……….Each year holds the possibility of a new dream.

……..Each month serves as a yardstick to measure our progress.

……Each week offers a game-plan to live intentionally.

….Each day beckons us to realize its gift.

.Each moment crystalizes into meaning as we recognize its worth.

Life, leadership and significance are determined by our reverence of each moment.

Unlikely Teachers

November 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Losses are teachers, if we will listen.

Sometimes we ignore their lessons, and the costs mount.

Pride can block our ability to hear the truth that echoes from our losses.

It robs us of the opportunity —

…to evaluate what happened

…to take responsibility for our role

…to learn what to do next time

…to learn what to avoid

…to lead.

Humility is the cotton swab that tackles the Pride problem.

An attitude of humility helps us —

… to ask better questions

… to listen more

… to focus on what, not who

… to discover

… to learn

… to grow

… to change

… to lead.

Subdue pride, model humility and lead by learning from your losses.

Leadership Time

October 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Vintage pocket watch and hour 21896729

Leaders see farther than others see,

they see before others see,

they see more than others see.

 

Leadership takes clarity.

Clarity takes focus.

Focus takes thought.

Thought takes time.

 

Are you setting aside time to think?

Great leadership requires it.

Clowns and Questions

September 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Years ago when we lived in Dallas, we took our kids to the circus. We loaded up the car and headed to Reunion Arena, where we had a great time watching “The Greatest Show on Earth”. At certain times during the show, my wife and I noticed that our third-born, Zach, was not enjoying the experience as much as the other children. He seemed particularly focused on the clowns.

After the circus ended, we were walking back to the car when we caught a whiff of some pretty potent elephant dung. We were all talking about the smell when Zach asked a question that will forever live on in Beshear family history. He turned to me and asked “Dad, do clowns poop?” After we stopped laughing and caught our breath, we explained that clowns were simply people dressed up in costumes and painted faces. The question was hilarious, but I think it provides some insight into the area of asking questions.

Asking Questions Requires Courage.

We must become vulnerable in order to ask the best questions. Imagine if my son had simply asked me “Dad, are you afraid of clowns?” I would have waxed eloquent about how clowns are nice and I am not afraid of them. But, such an alternate question and answer exchange would have missed the root cause of Zach’s misunderstanding about the strange fellows called clowns. Likewise, we must exemplify courage to sometimes ask the most basic of questions in order to fully understand a topic or point of view.

Asking questions unlocks the door that is currently prohibiting our growth.

Zach was not going to ever have the correct perspective on clowns if he persisted to believe that they were some sort of other-worldly creatures. Likewise, particular things that we don’t know about our surroundings, work or relationships can effectively keep us locked in a room of misinformation. There are even things that we need to discover about ourselves through self-directed questions that, when answered, will escort us out of our current situation and into the next, more meaningful and rich experience.

Asking questions takes us to a new place of understanding.

Asking questions helps to eliminate fear.

Asking questions requires humility, which is a great position from-which to learn, grow and excel.

The number of questions asked in a group, company or family is directly proportional to the health of the organization. As a leader, are you fostering an atmosphere that encourages questions?

What questions will you ask today?

Survive or Thrive?

June 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Weed Growing Through Crack In 43558846

I was in a conversation lately where one person made the comment that the goal of every business is to survive. That got me to thinking.

Is my goal to survive or thrive?

I think it is an important question. How we answer determines the vision that we cast as leaders.

Survival implies defense. To thrive implies offense.

Survival tends toward reaction. To thrive encourages proactive thinking.

Surviving exists in a context of rations and scarcity.

Thriving exists in a context of options and abundance.

Do you think most often think about surviving or thriving?

Your answer will almost certainly predict the impact of your life and your business.

Persistence

May 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Persistence. It is the engine that drives all substantial progress.

The triathlete must train daily to even dream of competing.

The student must attend today’s class – must complete this semester’s requirements – and then do it again and again to obtain the diploma.

The business must serve today’s customers well, and prepare to serve tomorrow’s.

Overnight success is a myth. Success is the result of focused persistence.

Leadership is the culmination of daily decisions and habits – it is today’s intentional moves stacked upon tomorrow’s.

How will you persist today?

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Last Saturday was a great day to cycle.  A friend and I had registered for a local ride and were excited to do the 35-mile route on a cool, north Texas spring morning.

The start of the ride pushed 200 cyclists into motion. My riding buddy and I fell into our normal drafting routine. He would lead for a few minutes, then I would advance to the front and break the wind for him.

About six miles into the race, I was drafting behind him, and I noticed that my bike was too close to his.  Our tires had over-lapped which can wreak havoc on an otherwise peaceful bike ride.

I started to ease back to create a safe buffer between us, and our tires merged. That is the last thing that I remember about that bike ride.

They say I hit the pavement hard – planting the right side of my head and body firmly into the asphalt of the two-lane farm-to-market road.

They say I lay motionless. Groaning.  They say I eventually talked to those around me and greeted them by name — over and over again.

I can’t remember anything about what actually happened.  All I know is that my head hurts and my body aches.  As best I can tell, I lost about an hour of my memory last Saturday morning.

Thankfully, I did not sustain any severe injuries. No bones were broken. I am a little bruised and scraped, but my body and mind remain largely intact!

(I have had some fun with Karen this week.  I occasionally approach her, introduce myself, comment on her good looks, and ask her out on a date!)

This whole incident got me to thinking.  How many times do we “lose an hour” of our life by failing to recognize and engage the people around us?

Sure, I lost an hour of my memory from last Saturday.  It’s absence underscores the intensity of the impact my head sustained on the road.  I would like to suggest, though, that the impact that comes from our lack of awareness has an even greater effect on our lives.

How many times do we fail to engage in the lives of our friends, spouses or children?  Often, they beckon us to enter, to acknowledge, to listen.

When we don’t meet them where they are, we loose an opportunity.  We lose a memory that otherwise could have been meaningful to them and us.

As leaders, we are called to the difficult tasks of leadership.  Leadership is not easy. People only follow those they trust and respect.

Trust and respect are not the result of a title. They must be earned.  What better way to earn your stripes as a leader than to engage those who you lead?  People want to be heard.  They need to be heard.

The more we acknowledge humanity, the more we affirm the perspective and contribution of those around us, the greater we impact them.  Conversely, disengagement creates apathy and disillusionment.

And so, you don’t need a bump on your head to lose precious time, memories and influence. Be intentional about the opportunities to engage those around you. When tomorrow comes, will you remember today?  The choice is yours.

 

Leaving Lessons

May 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

Bigstock Antique Luggage leaving home

 

I had lunch with a friend yesterday. He and his family are about to move to another state. It’s been years since we sat down together.

The funny thing is, we’ve lived in the same town for seven years, and in the same neighborhood for two or three years.

I guess it’s not so funny. We let the busy-ness of life crowd out intentional, one-on-one time.

We had a great visit. We talked about the challenges of moving, our common interest in real estate, leading our families, and our faith.

Near the end of our lunch, my friend made an astute observation. “You know, one thing that I have learned with this move- Don’t wait till you’re leaving to say what is on your heart. Take the time to connect and communicate with people as life happens.”

What a lesson for all of us.

When you value someone, speak it.

When you sense that a friend is down, connect and encourage.

When you observe a worthy word spoken or deed done, affirm it.

 

How will you be intentional with people today?

 

 

 

I recently attended a father daughter weekend with my 13-year-old daughter, Clara. We had a great time, and grew closer to each other in the process.

Saturday night we had a special dinner with just she and I sitting at a small table. We ate, laughed and enjoyed our food.

After dinner, the camp director announced that we would be learning some dance moves and then hitting the dance floor with our daughters. I immediately tensed up. Me? Dance? This is not exactly an area of strength in my life.

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Well, after some instruction, Clara and I took to the dance floor. We had a blast two-stepping through several songs. While I won’t be dancing with the stars any time soon (or ever), the time together was priceless.

This experience illustrates some important leadership principles:

1) You cannot lead, or improve, if you never start. Although a little hesitant, we stepped out on the dance floor and started to mimic our instructors.

As leaders, once we start the project or major initiative, we create opportunities to lead and improve ourselves and others.

2) Good leaders appreciate the process while they advance toward the goal. About the third time around the dance floor, I realized that this was more than trying not to step on Clara’s feet.

I was able to enjoy the grandness of learning how to dance with my 13-year-old and appreciate the moment for what it was – a special time to be with her.

Leaders know that progress comes from employing the right processes. Embracing the process helps the leader create an atmosphere of joyful engagement.

3) Leaders succeed by continual improvement. As we shuffled to the music, our steps gradually synchronized and we began to see improvements. Confidence in the basic steps allowed us to branch out into some fancy spins.

Business is like that. We secure our future success by improving upon yesterday’s performance. Leaders know the power of continual improvement.

The music is playing. The time is now. How will you dance today?

 

Recently, I sent an Amazon gift card via email to my brother-in-law for his birthday. I decided to upload a picture taken from the deck of his lake house to customize the image of the card. This did not take long, and I thought he would like the personal picture better than the Amazon logo that is emblazoned on their standard gift card.

Communication Breakdown Tin CansAfter I pressed send on the e-gift card, we called him, asking him to check his email inbox for the incoming gift-card email.
“Did you get it?”,
“No”.
“Why don’t you check your junk email folder, it could be in there.”
“No, I don’t see anything.”
“Check your email trash.”
“Nothing”

“Well, maybe Amazon has not sent it out yet.”
“Maybe”
“Let’s give it some time and see”

Days later I remembered to check back — still no email!

I decided to investigate. I logged onto Amazon and checked my list of completed orders. Sure enough, the gift card order was at the top of the list.

I began to scrutinize the original gift card order and message. I checked the ‘send to’ email address that I had used and compared it to my contacts database on my computer.

Uh-oh, I found two slightly different email addresses for my brother-in-law. I quickly resent the card using the other email address and called to see if it went through.

Success! The belated gift had finally arrived at its destination – the inbox of my brother-in-law.

I learned three things from this experience.

1) Small details make a huge difference on our ability to communicate. It turns out that I transposed just two letters in the entire email address. This one mistake prevented me from **any** communication with the intended party.

Certain things we say or do can totally mute our message as we try to communicate and connect with others. One racial or otherwise inappropriate comment or joke can effectively send our targeted messages strait to the trash can in people’s minds.

2) If you’re not connecting with others, it is most likely your fault. My first response is typically to assign blame elsewhere. That is what I did with the gift card situation.

I only looked at the area under my control as a last resort. If we focus on others behaviors, we are focusing on things that we can not inherently control. Also, I wasted a lot of time looking for other’s mistakes when the source of the problem was right under my nose!

It is far more effective for us to look first within and evaluate our own thoughts, beliefs and actions. This is the area that we can control.

Good leaders take ownership of the situation at hand. This means leading and guiding by example. When we focus on our own thoughts and behaviors, we become a powerful role model to lead and guide those who follow our lead.

3) Small things can make a big impact on our ability to communicate. My brother-in-law loved his customized gift card image.

It took a couple of minutes to find the image on my computer and upload it to Amazon, but it made a special impression on the recipient.

This one small customization transformed the gesture from merely communicating to connecting. Communication delivers information, connection touches the recipient at an emotional level and has far more impact.

How do you communicate and connect with those around you?