Look behind you.
Not literally; behind me right now is the back of a chair.
Metaphorically speaking, look behind you, and you’ll probably find somebody following you. They may be following your instructions, following your example, or even following your dreams. They may be following your words and images on social media, but that’s not the same thing.
Look beside you and guess what? You’ll find people following there, too. They may position themselves more as friends or colleagues, but they make sure to stay in your orbit. In NASCAR they call this “side drafting.” And people are probably side drafting you, whether you realize it or not.
Let me pause here to roll my eyes and tell you – again – that even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader, you are. Everybody influences somebody. Somebody looks to you as the person to obey, the example to follow, the partner to collaborate with, or the sense maker in their times of uncertainty or confusion.
That leads to the Big Question then… Where are you leading them?
All you need to do to find the answer to that question is look ahead. [click to continue…]
Someone once asked General Norman Schwarzkopf the secret of his success. His reply was simple: “I never walk past a problem.”
That’s the difference between a leader and a politician. Between a leader and a poser. Between a leader and a follower. Between a leader and a talker.
Leaders – those who influence people to take massive action to accomplish a goal or mission – expect problems. But rather than moan about them or wring their hands over how complex they are – rather than kicking the can down the road with Band Aid fixes so a future generation can deal with the real issues – leaders approach problems with the expectation and commitment to solving them.
Anybody can point out problems. Influencers – real leaders – produce solutions. Better still, they challenge others on the team or in the organization to solve problems. So how do you recognize a problem-solving leader or potential leader when you see one? Here are five ways to tell – even if you’re looking in the mirror to find one. [click to continue…]
It was a funny exercise. The memory-making type of thing that happens randomly when you spend time hanging out with kids. Or in my case, grandkids.
Laura Kate and Shepherd (#1 and #3 of 9 if you’re keeping score) were in the back seat and we were headed home from a VBS family night. With everybody’s schedule crossways on this particular night, I got to be the “family.” We’d had the program, topped off by some awesome brain-freezing shaved ice. They had played in the bounce houses some, and now we had escaped the Alabama humidity and were back in the truck headed to their house.
We got to talking about different sounds that animals make, and I was asking them if they could imitate them. Then, on a whim, I asked, “Can you imitate Fischer?”
Fischer is their four-year-old little brother.
Laura Kate popped up: “Mama, Shepuhd and Sistuh huht my feewings.”
You just had to be there… It was dead-on and hysterically funny.
We went from that to others, like their parents, but the first one was the hit of the night.
Who doesn’t love a good impression – especially a funny one? And it’s true, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – even to an 8-year-old.
It’s also a raw demonstration of leadership at a very fundamental level. [click to continue…]
(Life in the Public Eye Edition)
I’ve been listening to a lot of professional communicators lately. I’ve also been seeing a lot of people in the public eye, for better or worse. Politicians. Preachers. Entertainers. Protesters. Prophets of doom. Leaders, or leader wannabes. Victims or those pretending to be victims.
I’ve had some thoughts about all that. Wildly accurate thoughts, of course, because hey, they were mine. But rather than blather on about my forgettable opinions, I thought I would share some real wisdom.
As I have mentioned in previous posts like this one, I get a front row seat to some amazing writing, all sent like these with the hopes of earning an A on a paper or discussion forum.
(I get plenty of bad writing too, but I’m saving that for another day.)
So I’ve been keeping a file of my favorite student quotations for quite some time now, and today I would like to share a powerful collection with you. All of these are about something to do with living in the public eye, either as a leader or as a public servant or communicator. Sooner or later this could be you in your 15 minutes of you-know-what.
Read on (it’s a quick read) and brace for impact. You will be impressed and blessed by these insights. [click to continue…]
Here we go again.
Another call for leadership.
Another round of half-mast flags…
Another set of news-bite wags…
A fresh supply of new #hashtags…
And another call for leadership.
More outrage at this
More outrage at your outrage at that,
Another mad rush of the gun shop owners to the bank…
And another call for leadership.
What do we mourn when we bemoan the lack of leadership?
Do we really know what are we calling for? [click to continue…]
Happy (Traditional) Tax Day! So… Stick with me on this.
Last week, in news you probably missed, some engineering experts sounded a major alarm to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The subject: Self-driving cars.
The concern: We’re not ready yet.
The evidence: Unresolved technical issues, including some accidents.
The request: Please, Dear Government Agency slow down your aggressive approach to issuing guidance for technology that is not ready for guidance yet.
That seems reasonable. Safe. Wise for someone whose name has the word “Safety” in it.
That creates some tension for the agency, however. After all, they have a job to do – a service to the American people. So Mark Rosekind, Director of the NHTSA, commented:
“Everybody asks, ‘When are they (self-driving cars) going to be ready?’ I keep saying they’re not coming; they are here now.”
Then he added this little revealing gem: [click to continue…]
(Celebrating Jesus Christ Edition)
One of the joys of teaching in Christian universities is that I get to read the research and reflections of students who freely and openly follow Jesus Christ. They are still learning from Him and in offering their insights (almost always for a grade!), they continue to teach me.
In this edition of quotes from actual papers and assignments from students from all over the world, I celebrate the life, death, resurrection, return, and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Read on… you’ll be as blessed and challenged as I was.
+++++++ [click to continue…]
One of Laura Kate’s many insertions.
Take a gander at my seven-year-old granddaughter’s impressive collection of books and you’ll find something very interesting. In volume after volume, page after page, she has drawn a picture of herself.
Ask her why, and she’ll reply, matter-of-factly, “I wanted to draw myself into the story.”
This isn’t just about a second-grader’s imagination. It’s about an entire culture. Laura Kate is just one poster child among millions who have quietly (or not-so-quietly) gone about rewriting the rules for just about everything, from entertainment to technology, to politics and even religion.
I wanted to draw myself into the story. [click to continue…]
You lose the right to privacy when you fail to be ordinary.
If you stand out, you’d better be ready to stand up.
Spectacular successes and epic face-plants invite public scrutiny…
And endless reminders that people like you…
The alternative? [click to continue…]
“If only I could see them again.”
Night and day he thought about that.
Obsessed about it.
Prayed and prayed and prayed for it – night and day and night and day.
“Please, God, let me see them again.”
God had other plans.
Again, he asked – night and day and night and day, he asked.
“Please God, let me see them again.”
God had other plans.
I should point out that as well as anybody can know the motives of the heart, his intentions were honorable. He didn’t want any of their money. He wasn’t fishing for a stroke to his ego. He wasn’t needy or, best I can tell, all that lonely. But he was anxious, if not desperate, for more face time with these people.
Because on their last encounter, there were some missing pieces that were left hanging. And these people were in a vulnerable spot. They just needed more time together, and he knew if only he could get back there, his concerns could be resolved. It would be a win-win for everybody. Couldn’t the Lord see that?
Apparently not. He had… well, you know. [click to continue…]