From the category archives:

Protecting Your Investment

Quicksand

Ever have a conversation like this?

Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.

Not sure.  Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.

I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.

The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal.  If it were easy, anybody could do it.  But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.

At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.

At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.

Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]

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Lighthouse 3

A lighthouse in a harbor stands on solid ground,
Declaring simple truth to all who would see.
“Here I stand,” it calls to the ocean.
“No wave formed against me will ever prosper
I bow at the mercy of no storm or sea.”
On a firm foundation the Lighthouse in the Harbor
Refuses to surrender, sound the retreat or compromise.
It stands in simple splendor, against the tide.
Though it may show signs of wear and aging,
Though it may look unimpressive to untrained eyes,
The Lighthouse in the Harbor yet still stands upon a rock –
And you… yes, you… are that Lighthouse in the Harbor. [click to continue…]

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Anchor

In a world that’s fall-down-drunk on the idea of self-everything I have some good news that may not come across as good news.

You have a keeper.

Not like keep-you-in-a-cage, though I’m quite sure that’s how some people would interpret it.

More like faithful protector, watcher, provider, attender.  And keeping for your Keeper is as natural as being human is for you.

The Lord  keeps all who love Him…( Ps 145:20a).

I love Psalm 145 because it contains a long list of the practical attributes of God, as His followers experience Him.  Things like gracious and merciful and righteous and sustaining, to name a few.  But here’s one I’ve never paid much attention to before now.  It is the Lord’s nature and faithful character to keep those who love Him. [click to continue…]

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waterfall 10

It all started with that “Welcome to Mobile” sinus headache.

Ever go to bed with a mild ache that says, “You should probably address this before you get in bed?”

Yeah, about that.

I had this dull ache that turned into an evil roar at 3:30 in the morning.  Sinuses. Head. Neck.  Attitude.  Everything was in pain.

I didn’t want to wake people up, and didn’t have a lot of options, so I tried taking a shower.  That’s when my wife came in to see what was up.

Did I want some pain medicine, she asked?

Boy, did I.

Now I should mention that the “pain medicine” she referred to isn’t your basic over-the-counter pablum.  This was he-man stuff… soon I’d be pain-free and loving everybody.

I should also mention that it isn’t wise to take this on an empty stomach.  Bad things can happen. [click to continue…]

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Diligent Leadership

Here’s a good conversation starter for you.  If you could identify one thing in a prospective leader that would ensure success, what would it be?

Or if you are currently in a place of influence, what’s the one thing you should strive for, today and every day?

Let the suggestions roll in… discussions like these will yield stand-by favorites such as vision, compassion, examples, character, communication, inspiration, encouragement and the like.  All good answers.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know there’s a Bible answer for that.  In fact, there are several, if you dig deeply enough.  But there’s one place where the Bible – particularly the Apostle Paul – addresses leaders. And there he could have used any word in the language of his day to challenge them.  So what one word did he use?  See for yourself: [click to continue…]

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Marbles

It’s one of the most haunting verses in the Bible.  Sad, because it actually happened.  Haunting, because it could also happen to you and me.

The verse:

Then all the disciples forsook him and fled (Matthew 26:56).

What’s interesting is that a few verses earlier, they all had chimed in with their spokesman, Peter:

“Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you” (Matthew 26:35).

Wow. I think that may still be a record turnaround.  So what went wrong?  Are there any lessons to be learned? Any warnings to be heeded for our moments of testing?  I think so.  Put in proverbial terms,

Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

And on any given day, for any reason, you and I are just as capable of setting ourselves up for a blowout as Peter and the gang were.

Looking back on Peter’s attitudes and expressions, it’s easy to do a post-mortem on his ego trip.  To be fair, it isn’t quite as easy when we’re the ones doing the strutting.  See if you can related to any of these symptoms: [click to continue…]

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Anxiety2

Found myself making a list the other day.  It was really helpful, and I suggest you do the same.  It’ll be good, clean fun. So grab that pen or loosen up those fingers and let’s brainstorm.

Ready?

Make a list of all the things you still don’t know.

Okay, from the sound of those crickets, I’m assuming that may be a bit too broad.  So hone in on one specific area.

The economy? That’s a good one.

Your kids of family?  Excellent.

Your work situation?  Awesome.

Regardless of the venue, when you allow your mind to focus on what you still don’t know because the future is uncertain, you’re giving yourself a heart-engraved invitation to be anxious in the purest sense of the word.  We experience anxiety whenever we are pulled in different directions.  That’s literally what the word means.  Anxiety certainly includes worry, but it isn’t limited to that.  Any emotional impasse can be classified as anxiety.

Recently I was reading the prayer of a really anxious man, and got a whole new perspective on what to do when I’m feeling anxious. [click to continue…]

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Compassionate Leader

After surveying more than 10,000 people, the Gallup organization learned that people want four things from their leaders: trust, compassion, stability, and hope.  Whether you consider yourself as the “touchy-feely type” or not, you can greatly influence others by showing you care and are willing to take action on the concerns and joys of somebody else.  In short, regardless of your position, your influence rises and falls with the level of your compassion.

So how’s your level of compassion?  Here are eleven questions to help you explore that: [click to continue…]

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Dark and Light

For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light” (Mark 4:22).

It’s amazing how much we live with the quiet assumption that we can have secret lives.  There’s no such thing.  There are only those secrets that are known today, and those that are discovered later.

The illusion of secrecy springs from the illusion of control and avoidance of consequences.  I want to do what I want to do, without having to face the consequences of my actions should they be negative.  I also want to hold on to my insecurities my false beliefs – those things that keep me tethered to a fear of failure or a fear of rejection.

Good luck with that. [click to continue…]

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Wreck

This is about the time I tried to climb a tree.

In a car.

I did not succeed.

I walked away (literally).  Neither the car nor the tree were very appreciative.

Fayette, Alabama, early 90s. I was minding my own business when…

What?

Oh.  OK. Starting over…

Fayette, Alabama, early 90s.  I wasn’t paying attention.

(How was that?)

I was making the little run from my house to the office – something I did every day at least twice a day.  In between one neighborhood and another was a stretch of about half a mile that was sort of woodsy and country.

And there was this little ditch.

I’d never noticed it before.  But you can be sure I never ignored it again after this day.  The ditch was just wide enough for my right tires to slip right in.  And slip they did.

What I’m describing to you happened at about 30 miles per hour in a matter of seconds.  The car slipped off the road and the wheels slipped into a ditch as if I were in an oversized slot car game.

I should probably point out here that while my car, like most cars, had two foot pedals, I always figured the big one was mostly for decoration.  So like most oops-the-road situations, I didn’t hit the brakes – I just tried to wheel my way back out of the ditch.

That wasn’t happening.

What was happening was the sudden appearance of this massive oak tree. Y’all, it just jumped out of nowhere.  It saw me coming and the acorns went to work. Next thing I knew the ditch forced me to introduce myself to the tree.  I swear I had nothing to do with it.

That what I explained to the insurance company anyway.  They sorta looked at me like I left my brain back at the oak tree.

Anyway, rewinding… still moving along about 25 mph, I kept trying to wheel my way out of my slot-shaped ditch.  The thought didn’t occur to me – not once – to hit the brakes.  So yes, I wound up ramming my car into the tree and actually fender-climbing it a bit.

Nothing hurt but my pride.  Well, and the car, which I never drove again.                                            

This real-life experience has become a metaphor for me for what can often happen in life.  I’ve seen it happen to people’s careers.  Their influence.  Their personal lives at whatever level. Their relationships.  Somewhere, somehow, without wanting to, they hit the ditch.  And they’re stuck, and powerless, and a bit wrecked or hurt, and they’re halfway up a tree and without help, they ain’t going nowhere.

Yes, I’ve seen it happen to me.

Nobody sets out to wreck their lives or loves by hitting the ditch.  But in a state of mass humanization, it can happen – easily – to the best of us.  With a bit of a rewind and post-car-mortem, maybe there are a few things we can learn about that experience. [click to continue…]

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