Dreams without Discipline is Fantasy

To find success as a leader we must desire the discipline of execution more than just the rush of the idea!

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The Biggest Weakness of Most Leaders (People)

I would venture to say that over the years I’ve found that one of the biggest excuses I hear people tell is “I just don’t have enough time”.  I would say out of all the weaknesses there are, time management is probably the biggest, or pretty close to being the biggest weakness for most leaders or people in general.  The crazy thing is that this is the one commodity that every single person has the same amount given as every other person.  Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Larry Page – the list could go on and on; all had just 24 hours a day just like you and me.

The radical difference between someone who is productive and someone who is not is the way they choose to use this precious commodity of time.  Time is the most precious commodity because once it is gone it is gone forever and too many of us are spending our time instead of investing it in areas that have an ROI.  I heard it best described that we are all given 86,400 seconds in a day, and let’s look at each second like it is a dollar.  So we are given $86,400 a day and told we must use all of it everyday because none of it can roll over, but how we use it is extremely important.  We could spend it on things that have little long term value and once spent is literally gone forever. However, we can invest it in areas that will produce long term gains towards a bigger goal, and we can get the benefit of compound interest in the future because we were wise in how we spent it in the past.  It is easy to waste time because we are “live in the moment” people with little to no cognitive thoughts about where we will be 5 or 10 years from now. But unless we change our perspective, 5 or 10 years will pass and we will still be in the exact same place in life!

So how can we maximize this commodity called time? Well let’s look at 4 ways to get an ROI out of your time:

1. You control your calendar.  Your calendar does not control you.

As driven people in our search for success we can easily become workaholics because we love what we do, but in doing so we destroy the greatest loves in our lives.  When we allow our calendar to control us we are slaves to our work instead of masters of our work.  What I mean when I talk about our calendar controlling us is that our true priorities are taking a back seat to every other activity that is already scheduled.  You MUST schedule your “top priorities” first and there is no compromise in this area.  Listen if you just try to fit in your so called “top priorities” it is expressing to yourself and the people around you that work is actually your “top priority” and everything else is filler.

So how do you discover what is the most important areas or priorities in life?  Well, I ask myself,  “What will impact me in heaven a thousand years from now?”; because that is what should be at the top of my list when it comes to my priorities.  Those two things are my relationship with God and my family.  I can’t take my business, my money, my cars, or my homes with me; but I can take people with me and I will get to spend forever with Jesus.  So those two areas ALWAYS come first in my calendar because I can be the most successful on paper, but if spiritually I am bankrupted and my relationships are strained it is all meaningless!

2. Schedule Everything!

You must put everything in your calendar.  Every meeting, lunch, haircut, appointment, all has to go into a calendar, and what is on the schedule always comes first. (Now a side note: I am not talking about family emergencies). What will throw a schedule completely out of whack is several 20 to 45 unplanned meetings that people need to have with you.  The next thing you know you are running behind and are late to your scheduled appointments, which is extremely rude to the person you are scheduled to meet. If someone needs to meet with you, schedule them in or block out a certain amount of time that is built for random meetings, but either way it is scheduled in your calendar.

3. Maximize empty slots.

Now that you have your priorities in your calendar and you are scheduling every meeting, you will see where you have empty slots in your schedule.  These moments are where we can either invest or spend our time.  We can either hop on Facebook or turn on Netflix or we can start chipping away at our goals.  The choice is yours and you have to have the discipline to choose wisely. If you can develop this discipline you will maximize your progress at a speed that most in this world do not, and this is where you separate yourself from the pack.

4. Wake up early.

I know this one is definitely not sexy and no one likes to wake up early, but I feel it is imperative to success.  On top of the studies that say you work better in the mornings, I do it for a few different reasons beyond that. First, it takes discipline to wake up early.  Secondly, when I wake up early and I have already been productive before the day begins I feel accomplished and that builds momentum into my psyche.  Thirdly, I am more presentable for the day in my appearance and in my attitude.  When we roll out of bed straight to work and we look like we have been run over by a truck, it does not boost confidence or respect from our team.  It also takes time for your brain to wake up and you are losing valuable productive work time.  Fourthly, nothing causes stress or ruins your mood like rushing out the door as you are running late. Lastly, as a married man my wife cares much more about us going to bed together than us waking up together.  There is something meaningful about going to bed at the same time with your spouse instead of working late, going to bed separately, and then sleeping late.

I know life can seem busy and you may be working a job that is not in your future while trying to pursue your dreams, but trust me it is still possible to manage your time so you can be productive moving forward. I am speaking from a first hand experience, and it can be done if you have the discipline to make it happen!

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Problem-Oriented vs. Solution-Oriented

Let’s be honest problems will arise in your organization and you have two choices to make.  Will you become a problem-oriented leader or a solution-oriented leader.  Most people fall into the the first category which is problem-oriented.  They are good at identifying a problem or they know that their organization is struggling, but that is as far as it goes.  They panic, they ignore, they complain, they blame, but they don’t not change.  However, there are those who are solution-oriented that not only see the problems, but react in a manner that figures out the solution.  They take responsibility for their organization, they understand that a decision has to be made, and they rally the team to help move the ball forward.

So lets look very quickly at 5 steps to become a solution-oriented leader when problems arise:

1. Stop & Breathe

Listen very quickly EVERY organization has problems that pop up.  I know you may be sitting here and saying, “you don’t know what I have to deal with” and you are right I don’t. However, I can promise you that I have felt that overwhelming feeling before and I know many other leaders that have felt that way also.  Problems come up and sometimes they are huge and sometimes they feel more like annoyances, but they are problems none the less and problems are just a part of running an organization.  You are not alone and you are not a failure because you have to deal with the issues at hand.  However, I do have some bad news for you… The problems only get bigger as your organization grows, but the sooner you develop this mentality the more resilient you become to those problems.  Stop and breathe!

2. Pray

This sounds cliche to some, but the reality is God is practical just as much as He is spiritual.  Check out James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” He gives wisdom and He gives peace, but you have to stop and ask. There is something that happens in the heart and mind of a leader that walks around knowing that God always has your best intentions at heart and that He guides those that listens.  You have a peace and joy in the midst of the greatest storms that the world just cannot understand!

3. Hunger for Growth

You have to develop in your spirit that good enough is NEVER good enough.  I celebrate wins, but I am always anticipating greater wins.  I never have a heart that wants to settle and I’m always looking for opportunities to grow and learn.  Build in your mindset the understanding that progress builds happiness and that stagnation kills purpose.

4. Get the Facts

Do not put your head in the sand and ignore the facts.  Most leaders don’t like to look at the numbers or hear the truth because they feel that the facts reveal that they are failures.  So they develop an out of sight and out of mind mentality.  The reality is the only thing that will define you as a failure is not whether you have a problem, but what you do with those problems.  You cannot solve a problem that you don’t have a clear picture of what the problem really is.  Gather facts and face the reality of the situation and I promise you and your organization will be better for it in the future.

5. Take Steps 

As leaders we have this tendency to think that we need a HUGE answer to solve our problems.  If I got “x” amount of dollars in, hired this person, or landed that account all my problems would be fixed. That is a big fat lie because you didn’t actually change anything you just put a bandaid over the problem and sooner or later that bandaid will fall off and reveal the problem all over again.  You have to take this thing one step at a time.  If you remember anything remember this that small changes over time leads to a big change in your organization. Think of it like this that if you fixed or changed one thing a week you would be 52 steps closer to a solution than if you just sat around hoping for a miracle.  Not only that but you are developing a culture that will prevent that certain problem from arising again in the future or preventing it from rising to the magnitude that you know it as today!

We all face problems, we all have to grow, and we all have to learn so remember that you are not in this thing alone.  Stop, pray, desire change, get the facts, and start taking steps toward your solution!  The future looks bright you just have to start walking towards it!

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A Million Factors

Ministry was never meant to be a solo sport & to be effective we all must be people driven! The Church works best when we work together!

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What Race Are You Running?

As we are running through this life it feels many times like a race towards our dreams, but the question that should be posed is which race are we running?  Many people are sprinting as they hope they can reach their dream with almost instant results.  Unfortunately the likely hood of that is not very probable.  Many people are pacing themselves as they understand that the race toward their dreams is more like a marathon and in many accounts that is very true.  Consistency is what build effectiveness!  However, there are those out there that are running the distance and they’re pacing themselves, but their ending is not a finish line but another runner.  Those truly successful people understand that they are not running a sprint or a marathon as they are running a relay race.  Their some total of their success lies in the legacy they leave not the material they accumulate.  Their success is not found in the organizations they built up, but the people they built up.  They will be remembered more for the great leaders they passed the baton to that ended up running the race farther than they could. Their impact is carried through the hands of every person they mentored as it becomes multiplied instead of just the individual feats they performed alone.  Life is always better defined by how you left it than how you occupied it.  Did you leave the world a better place than you came and will the work you started be carried beyond your brief time on earth through the hands of those you discipled?

The race we must run is not an individual sport, but the ability to raise up effective leaders that can continue running far after we have stopped. Unfortunately many leaders do not see it that way as they are more concerned with their trophy wall than the achievements of those around them. But I can I promise you that if we switch our thinking to understanding that the higher we elevate our people the greater heights we will reach also.

So lets look at a few important aspects of leaving an impactful legacy through the leaders you mentor.

1. Identify Them

As leaders we have to always be scanning our people for potential.  We have to see the raw greatness that can be developed.  Many leaders have their heads down in their work that they miss the future that is right in front of them.  Like Jim Collins says “We have to get the right people on the bus” and once you identify them just get them on the bus and figure out the seat later.  Some of the greatest leaders of our future are surrounding you, but you have failed to identify them and if you don’t someone else will.  Be looking for the greatness in others, be listening to their desires, and observing their interactions with others.  Once you have identified a future leader then move on to the next step.

2. Invest In Them

You have the wonderful opportunity to develop a young leader with the culture of your organization. This gives them an incredible jump start personally and it’s also deeply impactful for your organization. Many leaders over complicate investing in people and frankly panic at the thought, but the reality is the simpler the approach the more effective the results.  The most effective way of discipling is spending time with those that you are mentoring in conversation.  You know more than you think and that comes out in conversations as you discuss topics and answer questions they may have.  A great place to start is picking a book to read and discuss it together, going to a conference together, watching webinar, or going through some of your organizations training materials.

3. Care About Them

Burn out tends to take place when it is all business and their personal life becomes of no meaning to you or the organization.  Effective leaders are first effective in their homes.  As leaders we have to let our people know we care about them and simply that is shown by how we view them outside of the organization.  Are we asking how they are doing personally, figuring out the pulse of their relationships, are we noticing that they are working too many hours, do they take time off?  These are all important issues that as leaders we have to make sure we are discussing wth those that we mentor and the simple fact is that asking them on a regular basis is a boast to morale. Not only that but it is great to catch a problem before it ever arises as prevention is always the better than destruction.

4. Empower Them

You have to let them fly.  We develop them, we train them, we give them feedback, but at some point, sooner than later, you have to empower them to run with something of importance.  Many leaders are so scared to hand over the reigns because they worry they won’t do it as well as them and that may be a reality at first.  However, someone that has potential and passion will eventually surpass what you can do if and only if you give them the opportunity to do so. But what if they fail? Then you lead them as you help them learn from their mistakes and overtime their confidence will rise as they continue to grow!

5. Celebrate Them 

Stop and celebrate them! Celebrate them privately. Celebrate the publicly.  Fill their tank so full of honor on a constant basis that their value is never a question.  Honor is what breeds loyalty and also it helps fuel productivity.

What race are you going to run?  Lets leave a legacy that continues far after we are gone!