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We Need More “Craveable” Leaders. Are You In?

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the-task-of-leadership-john-buchan-quotes-sayings-picturesPeople who make a real difference lead out of Influence, not Title.

And that person can be you.

Ever wish to really add value to others?  Have more friends than you know what to do with?

It’s part of our make up to want acceptance and approval from our piers.

However, few ever fully understand the real things that make us attractive to others. This is absolutely vital as we seek to be gain influence in the lives of those around us.

Artie Davis defined the term “Craveable Leader” and shares several habits that actually make people “crave” to be around you:

  1. Listen to others’ ideas.

Nobody likes a “know it all.” So get over your own ideas, and actually become interested in someone else’s ideas. We all like to talk about ourselves and what we think. So, when we find a person who cares what we think, Bam! We love to be with them!

  1. Speak only good things about others.

Let me tell you a little secret. If you think talking about others, just the things, “you heard” is going to win you juicy friends, you are in for a world of hurt!

If you talk negatively about someone else around someone, they are going to ask themselves, “what are they saying about me?” Gossip will ruin your reputation and sabotage trust in a friendship, don’t go there!

  1. Give generously when you can.

Nobody likes a “mooch!” Don’t develop a reputation as the “cheap-o” of the group.  There is a Proverb that says “everyone is a friend to him who gives gifts.”

Generosity makes people feel valued, and not used! So always pick-up one or two more checks, bring something to dinner. Be the one everyone knows will be generous. Not an issue of amount, but rather attitude!

  1. Initiate with others.

If you are sitting by the phone, waiting for the invitation.. you are in for a long wait! Get over yourself and make the contact. I know it is hard, always feeling you have to make the first move, but that’s just the way it is.

People feel appreciated and valued when we make the first move, but don’t keep score! Just always make the move. Done!

  1. Authenticity is irreplaceable!

Don’t put on a mask. Don’t try and be several different people around different groups. You will always be found out! Be yourself. Trust who God made you to be.

If they don’t like you, you don’t need them. Find, initiate and love those who love you for you! They are the only ones that will be there when you need a true friend!

These are some things I have noticed that make me attracted to others, even makes them “craveable.”   As I reflect on areas where I am growing as a leader, I keep coming back to a few seemingly basic –yet foundational habits.

These are things I am still very much learning, so I don’t pretend mastery.  Any others you have noticed?

Talent Counts, but Grit Counts Twice As Much

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gritI love the word “Grit.”

Sure, there are other words we can use:  perseverance, determination, passion, etc.

But Grit seems to embody all of these….and more.

I am reading a new book by Angela Duckworth (a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania) titled — you got it — Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  

Here’s the Bid Idea:  Talent is one thing; what you do with it is another.

We admire “naturals” – people we think have succeeded because of their innate ability. But as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.

Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals—and it is what turns talent into skill, and skill into achievement.

Angela studied GRIT in all sorts of settings, from West Point to the National Spelling Bee, in urban high school students, sales representatives, and professional athletes — and we know that it’s not so much of environment as it is values.

She goes to say “Every one of us is ambitious. We want to be our best selves. We want to be proud of what we’ve accomplished. We want to solve problems and help people. Too often, we don’t realize those ambitions because we don’t finish what we start. I believe that by emulating the beliefs and habits of exemplars of grit—I call them grit paragons—we can cultivate our own passion and perseverance.”

So true for all of us leaders and achievers.

And, a nugget for parents and influencers of young leaders: Instilling Grit in the next generation is about being both supportive and demanding. (Because being supportive without high standards is too permissive. Being demanding without offering support is too authoritarian).

Stay Focused.  Determine to Get Up if you’re knocked down.  Success is always a marathon, not a sprint.


5 Ways To Get Super-Focused When You Need Too

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1392417602-distractions-killing-flowEvery now and then, I have a need to get super-focused. It’s usually when I have an important task to accomplish like preparing a speech, coaching with another leader or solving a complex problem.

Unfortunately, I live in the same distracting world you do, where multiple voices compete for my attention. I’ve gone through days when I didn’t accomplish a single thing on my to-do list. Yet, somehow I was busy the entire time!

Recently, I found myself in this exact situation with an upcoming workshop I was preparing to facilitate, conflict resolution between two leaders, and preparing for two executive level meetings.

This got me thinking. Is it possible to turn focus on and off like a switch?

I am not sure I can say yes one hundred percent of the time. But, over the years, I have found five practices that enable me to be better focused, especially when I need to get important work done.

  • Give yourself a deadline. Though I often dislike them, the truth is I usually perform better when I have a clear deadline. It provides clarity, efficiency, and the ability to persist until I am done—even when it is totally self-imposed.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Don’t you find yourself more unfocused when you are tired? You may have to reread the same paragraph four times to get the meaning. Being fully rested just makes you more productive.
  • Find Quiet and Turn Off.   This is just common sense, but find a quiet, distraction free environment—or one that has consistent background noise that quickly turns to white noise. Turn off the Internet or at least the social parts, like Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail that endlessly ping you.
  • Focus on one task. Multi-tasking is a myth. In fact, it’s impossible. What you are really doing is serial tasking—shifting from one task to another. The problem is that this actually destroys productivity. It is sometimes necessary but never efficient. When you are trying to focus, you need to work on one task at a time and set everything else aside.
  • Take periodic breaks. The key to staying focused is to adopt a rhythm of work and rest or what Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz call “the pulse of high performance” in their book, The Power of Full Engagement.   One key idea that works for me is working for 50 minutes and then break for 10 minutes.

There’s not much we can do to affect our external environment. But we can shape our internal one by following these seven practices.

Stop Stealing Resilience from Next-Generation Leaders

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112514-BBK-MAR-GOS-NEG-269Over the years, we’ve seen lots of changes in both high school and college sports. Better equipment, stronger pads and helmets, even better rules to foster sportsmanship among the players.

But in my opinion, the last move made in Wisconsin is a well-intended mistake.

Author and speaker Tim Elmore commented on this decision.  He states:   “The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association stated that certain chants are officially banned at games. Now, on the surface, this rule may sound logical—such as excluding off-color remarks or profanity. But this ruling goes far beyond inappropriate language. The ban prevents chants like:

  • “Air Ball.”
  • “You Can’t Do That.”
  • “Scoreboard.”
  • “We Can’t Hear You.”
  • “Overrated.”

Why has the WIAA officially banned such words from the fans?

Well, it might hurt a player’s feelings.

They’re called “infractions” by the WIAA. The fans are not even allowed to sing the popular song, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” song.”

Why I Don’t Agree

Yes, we need to build empathy into the values emerging leaders.

However, whenever we solve teens’ problems by getting other people to do it for them, it simply weakens their resolve. They become conditioned to look for rules from the outside to make life better. It actually fosters entitlement. Teens eventually find themselves saying, “We need a new policy,” or “It’s the school’s fault that I don’t have good self-esteem,” or “I deserve a reward, since I’m a victim.”

It’s a victim mindset that later produces an adult who looks to someone else to solve the problems he or she has internally.

We prepare the path for the child, instead of the child for the path.

Today, I am concerned we’ve cultivated such a fragile generation that they will need special rules on the job, or special favors or personal days, or special perks because they are… well, special. This is not a good thing.

 Roll Back the Tape

Tim Elmore goes on (and I agree)  “If I was a coach in Wisconsin and heard those banned chants from the crowd during an away game in a gym, I would meet with my players afterward and teach them the right way to respond to such chants:

  • Reflect – What can we learn from this?
  • Resolve – Let’s decide we won’t let it happen again.
  • Resilience – Let’s bounce back and succeed.

The WIAA gave no indication it intends to change the rules, but state representative Dale Kooyenga — a former basketball player in the system — wrote the association a letter, urging it to do so. The letter is logical and heartfelt, and the best line of his letter, in my opinion, was, “If you think a high school student section is rough, try playing basketball on a playground on the south side of Chicago.”

Let’s go build some future leaders who are ready for the real world.

(New Post) Being Fully Empowered Starts Here

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Image of young businessman showing superhero suit underneath hisEmpowerment – it’s such a buzzword. And yet few experience it because they are depending on someone else to empower them.

Your empowerment starts with you and is birthed by high-impact questions that shift your thinking.

I appreciate what Tony Robbins said recently: “The difference in the quality of people’s lives often comes down to the difference in the questions they consistently ask themselves.

If you ask a disempowering question — such as, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ — your mental computer will look for an answer, and to satisfy the question, your subconscious may even make something up, such as “Because you aren’t good enough” or “Because you are not smart enough.”

But if you start asking yourself empowering questions, such as “How can I use this experience to grow and learn more?” your brain will look for answers to this question and often come up with an answer that not only energizes you, but energize those around you also – family, friends and co-workers.

This is why making the shift towards powerful questions is so important. Because powerful questions create a powerful life. They direct our mental focus and ultimately determine how we think and feel. The key is to develop a pattern of questions that empower your life and leadership.

For example, try focusing on powerful questions such as:

  •  What am I most excited about in my life now?
  •  What am I most proud about in my life now?
  •  What am I most grateful about in my life now?
  •  What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
  •  What am I committed to in my life right now?
  •  Who do I love?

By making quality questions part of your daily ritual, you will be able to access your most empowering emotional states.  And, you will be engaged with those around you.

And over time, as you consistently practice doing so, you will be able to create mental highways to excitement, pride, gratitude, joy, commitment and love — which is who you are at your core.



Start With a Dream, Then Develop a Plan

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Some of us love to plan.

Some of us love to dream.

However, those that dream and plan will be those influencers that change culture and add real value to people.

I have many dreams. I have some plans. Only the dreams that are followed by planning will be accomplished.

First dream then plan.  A dream by itself is just a fantasy. Execute on the dream to make a real difference.

We need to do both.  And in the right order.

The world needs your dreams. For some of those dreams, you should stop dreaming and start planning. Get to work. Start hustling to see those dreams come to life.

Simon Sinek says

Leaders dream. Leaders stand for a cause greater than themselves. Leaders are remembered. Leaders have a legacy that lives on through all those they touch and inspire.

Improve Service and Influence By Avoiding The “B” Word

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hi_so_busyThere’s this word that our culture uses all the time. It’s a seemingly harmless word — close to meaningless, really — but it’s slowly, subversively tainting our influence and relationships.

Look back over any recent texts and emails you’ve sent to friends, associates or your team. If they look something like this, you’re caught in this word’s trap:

“I’d love to…. but I’m really busy.”
“Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier! I’ve been so busy.”
“What’s going on with me? Just busy as usual!”

You guessed it. The single-word saboteur is BUSY.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with actually being busy: People can certainly have many obligations and still maintain great relationships. And it’s not being busy that drives people away; it’s the word itself.

  1. Everyone is busy.

These days, saying you’re busy is basically like saying you’re alive.

Being busy may once have been an indicator of importance; it may once have implied that many people and projects relied on you. Now, it’s a filler word that can be applied to any situation: You could be 10 years into your job and be “busy.” You could be between jobs and be “busy.” You could be vacationing and be “busy.” The word itself no longer relates to any specific, making it basically meaningless — and meaningless language is a problem for relationships because it doesn’t help other people understand what, specifically, you’re going through. It actually impedes mutual understanding.

  1. It’s open to (negative) interpretation.

The vague nature of “I’m really busy” leaves the real reason why you’re being unavailable open to interpretation. While many people will accept “being busy” as enough of a reason for not meeting for coffee, eventually your team (or friends or family) will see it as a veil over a more sinister reason for staying away.

In other words, “busy” allows others to fill in the blank of your true intentions. Often, they will fill that blank with a negative assumption. In a worst-case scenario, friends may feel like your “busy” is a way of blowing them off without having to state a reason for doing so.

  1. It means “not right now.”

Often, “busy” simply means that you have higher priorities right now than seeing friends — which is totally fine. You may be caring for a child or launching a new product; there are lots of legitimate reasons why friendships fall down one’s list of priorities. The issue is that “being busy” doesn’t communicate any of that.

Saying “not right now” when someone tries to engage with you is a relationship killer because it fosters a feeling of rejection. “Busy” is the friendship equivalent of “not right now.” It lacks a sense of caring about the other person and fosters distance as a result.

Three better options:

  1. Be more specific

There’s an easy way to eliminate the vagueness of “busy” and that’s telling others specifically what you’re busy doing. Of course, this takes more of your time and effort — something that can be challenging when you’re already really swamped. But it’s worth doing because the difference in how the message is received is significant.

  1. Set a time frame.

If you’re busy because of an especially difficult crunch time either at work or at home, it’s helpful to make others aware of just how long this “busy” time will last. For example, if you know your project will wrap up in a month and your schedule will open up soon after, communicate your desire to reconnect with everyone then. Even if that month turns into two, your friends will appreciate that you expressed the desire to be together again as soon as possible.

    3. Determine if you need to have a crucial conversation.

And now, it’s time to confront the dark side of “busy.” As we all know, “being busy” can be a method by which we disengage from a relationship we no longer want to have. If you’re using “busy” in this way, it’s worth determining if you need to have that difficult conversation with someone you’ve been avoiding.


When You Transact in a Relationship, Don’t Say “I Had To Ask.”

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confused_question_iStock_000012695159XSmall“I had to ask!”

No, you didn’t.

You wanted to ask and there’s a big difference between those two things.

Your personal influence is really your leadership in all types of relationships -regardless of title.  Relationships sometime involve “transactions” – when we sometimes give and also sometimes receive.

And, your Relationships are not just something -they are everything.  Why? Because in your professional life, relationships often get you the first opportunity. Someone will take a chance on you because they know you and trust you. Someone will give you an opportunity your skills might not have earned yet because of a friendship. And phrases like “I had to ask” tend to wear away at relationships.

Author Jon Acuff states “If you say, ‘I had to ask,’ it removes the responsibility from you. Some outside force made you ask. Your hands were tied, there was nothing you could do except ask.”

So you did and the person you asked for a favor said no. You responded to his/her no with “I had to ask!” Or, instead you said, “Well, there’s no harm in asking,” only that’s not true either.

There can be harm in asking. Maybe the person you asked feels used. You barely know them and have jumped gigantic intimacy levels by overreaching with your favor request. Maybe they felt manipulated by the ask. Maybe they’ve now quietly moved you from, “People who are my friends” to “People who just want favors” bucket.

Don’t kid yourself. There’s harm in asking, especially if you do it the wrong way with the wrong person.

Does that mean you shouldn’t ask anyone for anything? Of course not. Your friends want to help you. They’re excited to help you. The time you’ve invested in that relationship completely changes the request.

Asking is hard but it’s not complicated.   Jon Acuff states that there’s a simple way to remember the right way to do it:

Ask friends for favors. Ask strangers for friendship.

How To Diagnose An Attitude

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Good and EvilHave you diagnosed the quality of the attitudes around you recently?  You probably do so intuitively and don’t realize, but consider these recent studies around the affect of Bad Attitudes:

  • People with bad attitudes have an 800% higher incident rate of being diagnosed with clinical depression.
  • People who possess a negative outlook on life are four times more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack, or be diagnosed with cancer.
  • People who have bad attitudes have more career turnover.
  • People with bad attitudes have a 50% higher divorce rate.
  • People with bad attitudes are ten times more likely to have poor relationships with their children.

How can you really diagnose an attitude?  It’s all about behaviors.   Just look at others’ behaviors.  That will tell you all you need.

Here are five questions to ask that will diagnose your own attitude and that of others:

  • Are like-ability and respect ratings low? While being a great person is not a popularity contest, the fact is that people who desire to excel are both well liked and respected.  What do you reflect, and what do people see in you? If you are not well liked and respected then you will have consistent, self-imposed obstacles placed in your path that inhibit your ability to be an effective leader.
  • Is there a pessimistic outlook on things? If you aren’t excited about the start of each day, display a “same junk…different day” attitude, or have a “glass is half empty” perspective on things, then you likely have a bad attitude.
  • Do people seek input, advice, and counsel? If people see you coming and quickly run the other way, you have an attitude problem. Great leaders are magnets that attract the attention of others. If people shy away from you versus clamor for your attention, you likely have an attitude problem.
  • Is there frustration that others don’t see it their way? Everyone can have a bad day, and while it’s okay to have a pity-party every once in a while, it is not the kind of party you want to throw very often, and never publicly. If the majority of your conversations and interactions are negative or confrontational you likely have an attitude problem.
  • Is there difficulty attracting and retaining top people? The simple truth is that people strongly desire to work with and for great leaders. The best leaders I have observed are talent magnets…people want to be led by those who have much to offer. If you struggle with recruiting, team building, and leadership development you likely have a bad attitude.

Fact:  It’s easier to notice a Bad Attitude in others far sooner than our own.

If your attitude is impeding your relationships, your talent, or your health, it might be time to consider making some changes…


Ignore This Big Lie About Working a Job You Love

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gty_popular_work_nt_130516_wmainI’ve tested the theory “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And it’s not true.

It’s actually quite terrible and the reason is that it encourages people to quit their pursuits much sooner than they should have. What happens is that you buy into the lie that chasing a dream will be one long parade of rainbows and bunnies.

The only way you’ll know when you made the right decision is that you’ll encounter a never ending assembly line of joyful tasks in your day.

When this doesn’t happen, when some part of your pursuit faces a setback (and it will) you start to feel like you failed. When faced with the inevitable work, struggle and hardship that accompanies anything you do in life, you will question yourself.

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is not true, but something even better is.  That statement should be edited. It should read:

“Do what you love and you’ll love the work you do.”

You’ll work harder than you ever have before in your life.

You’ll scale mountains that are in the way of your dreams and goals.

You’ll make hard phone calls that make you want to throw up a little bit.

You’ll put your pride aside and ask for help in ways that make you feel uncomfortable.

You’ll work and it will be difficult, but it will be meaningful.

You will see that each step has value. Even the busywork, even the stuff that is just flat out miserable matters in the light of the bigger story.

Don’t believe the motivational hype the Internet tries to serve you.

Big dreams and hard work are not enemies. They’re actually best friends and you don’t get one without the other.