Archive for August, 2007

Thursday Quick Hits

• I received an interesting question yesterday from a new reader of the blog. Apparently, they disagree with my (and leading experts) opinions that leaders are made not born. Folks, I am personal proof that you are not born with leadership abilities. If I had been born with the leadership gene I don’t think I would have made and continue make mistakes in leadership. I am a firm believer that leadership is a journey, a process.

• While conversing with a friend I felt the need to encourage him to get out of his comfort zone and realize he was a leader at his place of employment. He had the typical response, “I’m not in management, I can’t lead.” Unfortunately that’s exactly what we’ve been brainwashed into believing…if you’re not at the top of the chain then you’re not a leader. Mark Sanborn in his book “You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader,” discusses this topic in detail and explains that leadership is influence and not merely your position. If you positively influence others, if you inspire others, if you work to achieve goals by working with or coordinating the efforts of others, then you’re a leader. Don’t know about you but I think that pretty much takes care of everyone, from the middle school drama student all the way to Grandma’s bridge club. If you haven’t read Sanborn’s book PLEASE do so immediately…it should be required reading for anyone with a pulse.

• It always amazes me how seasons come and go in our lives. For the past few years I have poured my heart and soul into the leadership development of others. I found out long ago that the best way for me to learn is to teach. But for whatever reason, over the past few months more people who are going through some pretty tough situations have crossed my path. It’s becoming more apparent to me that I’m entering a season that will have me assist them in restoring their dreams, their finances, and their life. I’m pretty juiced about it too!

• College football season is upon us. Living in the south I can’t help but be biased toward the SEC and its 12 teams. So, I’m definitely pumped that tonight’s LSU/Mississippi State game marks the commencement of another season. Let’s just hope the bullies have some bite for the Bengal Tigers.

• I’m currently involved in a pretty radical project to assist in energizing and equipping members of a church to become small group leaders. Over the past few weeks we’ve tweaked the game plan and have what I believe will be the tools for a successful project. However, in order for us to win this game we actually need to kick it off. Good ideas are just that as long as we wait and twiddle our thumbs waiting for the right time to kick this thing off. Success requires action and I’ve about had it with the inaction of not getting this party started. The inaction of the churches leader’s is so loud I can’t hear a darn word their saying!

• May all of you have a tremendous and safe Labor Day Weekend.

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Drugs, Porn and Rock-n-Roll Don’t Make You Happy?

This question has been posed millions of times before but a recent poll conducted by MTV and the Associated Press dives deeper into the cause of happiness and the results are not too surprising to me but I’m sure some parents of teenagers were awestruck. The poll queried MTV’s target audience of male and females between the ages of 18-24.

Participants of the poll were asked over 100 questions concerning their personal happiness. As the pollsters began examining the answers an overwhelming theme began to emerge. Not sex, not drugs, not gangs, not rock-n-roll. The number one way this generation finds happiness is when they spend time with family. Number two, spending time with friends, three…spending time with others. Almost 75% of all polled said their relationship with their parents make them happy.

I’m encouraged but not surprised with the results of the poll. I have the awesome opportunity of working with this age group on a weekly basis. Yes, many of them are currently or were involved in sexual activity, have used or at least sampled illegal drugs, they’re current and former gang members, and many are what you would call quintessential rebels. When one develops a personal relationship with these so-called “troubled” youngsters you quickly realize they’re searching for that one key to happiness…family.

Admit it, that’s what we’re all looking for. Teenagers may look for it in different ways than adults. Teenagers often look to sex, drugs and alcohol to fill their need for family. Adults often look to porn, their buddies at they gym or an extra-marital affair. Whatever the case, we’re all searching for family. Through the cloud filled haze of drugs we are searching for family. Through the fantasy of porn, we are looking for family.

Belated as it may be, here are a couple of hip pointers to leadersHIP.

Keepin’ it real

I’m preaching to the choir on this one. I suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to organization. I often over organize and miss out on giving others and myself the opportunity to sit back and soak in the effects our action. Often times after I’ve organized a task or event myself and those who work with me are on to the next thing and do not take the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. That’s not too hip.

For all the arrows that are shot toward the present and next generation, one attribute these generations share cannot be overlooked and that attribute is get-in-your-grill, John Wayne type honesty. People of these generations can spot a fake 20 miles away. They want us to be real and often times that means not over organizing. It means we have to ditch the daily walkthrough meet and greet.

I know this will seem too simple, but to put the HIP in leadership with these generations we must seek and take advantage of those opportunities when we are one on one people. Group recognition is great, but with these generations it’s more about being genuine and the best way to be genuine is to get in their grill with true and open leadership. Encourage them face-to-face, correct them face-to-face. If we’re too organized it dulls the shine of genuine leadership.

HIP action: Utilize the 30 second rule made famous by leadership expert John Maxwell. Folks, I know this works! Make it a habit to engage those whom you meet for the first time of any given day for at least 30 seconds. Ask them how their evening went, ask them about their game, family and upcoming weekend. 30 seconds isn’t along time especially when you’re asking from them 8 or more hours of personal sacrifice.

Amazed…

I know I shouldn’t be amazed at what God can do but every time I think He’s through with me he opens another door. I don’t understand it. I have failed mutliple times. Hurt those closest to me. Have not been the friend I should. But someway, somehow, and for a reason I’m still searching for, God continues to bless me beyond measure. I try to be honest as possible with this blog and that’s something for which I will continually strive.

Being a contract employee with several different companies has its perks. I don’t have a set time to be at work unless I have a meeting. I don’t have a set numbers of hours to work, just get the job done. It also has its negatives. And for the past month I’ve seen several of those negatives. It all starts with all but one company holding payment for my services. Like most people, this has put a financial strain on my family. We’ve had to tighten the strings on our budget and being the head of the household I’m always a little nervous when I have to ask the rest of the family to alter their lifestyles.

But for some reason, today came with a sense that everything’s going to be all right. Factually, we’ve got to continue to try and pull the rest of this month together financially. Faithfully, I feel like a millionaire. So I don’t know how he’ll do it or when for that matter but I do believe in a God who takes care of his children. Always on time, always the right place and always in the right way.

Leadership v. Management

Here’s another example of how important it is for us to realize the difference between leadership and management. As evidenced below, a person can choose two ways to manage, correctly or incorrectly, management or mismanagement. True leadership is black and white, it either is or it isn’t. You’re either a leader or not. There’s no such thing as a misleader. This story exemplifies management with the absence of leadership.

While working out at the gym yesterday I couldn’t help but overhear an employee’s phone conversation. Apparently, he had heard through another employee that management would come later in the day for a termination meeting. As expected the soon to be fired employee was fuming and the fire could be heard throughout the gym. Paying closer attention to the one sided conversation I couldn’t help but be amazed at what I was hearing. Management had thought it would be a great idea to let another employee tip the soon-to-be-terminated employee of his impending doom. Management believed by doing this the terminated employee would resign his position before being terminated.

I’m amazed! Never in my life, especially in these days of increased work violence, have I heard of a more illogical approach to termination. By their mismanagement and illogical approach to termination they have thrown gas onto what was already a volatile situation. Hopefully, they have not put the safety of employees, customers and themselves in jeopardy.

Later in the day I’m gonna share with you some hip ways we can lead. Check it out.

A Man Who Defined Forgiveness: Rev. Wade Watts

Reverend Wade WattsWhen hurt by someone all of us find it hard to forgive, forget and move forward. The thought of making a positive change in the life of the person who has hurt you would be the farthest from our minds. The story of Reverend Wade Watts is one that shows us the power of forgiveness and how the results of forgiveness cannot only change your attacker but the entire world. Below is the account given from the person who was transformed from his attacker to his best friend.

Wade was very prominent in community affairs, shaping the destiny of Oklahoma from 1968 to 1984 serving as both the Oklahoma State President of the N.A.A.C.P and Executive Director.

During his many years of community service he was appointed to the Civil Rights Commission under President Lyndon B. Johnson where he served five years. He served four years on the Oklahoma Crime Commission, five years as Chaplain at the Okla. State Penitentiary and Human Rights Commission. Throughout his career, he received numerous awards and commendations. He retired as Labor Inspector from the Oklahoma State Labor Commission in 1982. Although retired from an 8-5 job, he never gave up his desire for active public service. He continued to Pastor the Jerusalem Baptist Church in McAlester, Ok. until his health failed him.
Rev. Watts was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1965 participated with Dr. King in the march for freedom, justice, and equality in Selma, Alabama.

As a civil rights leader, Reverend Watts had his share of trouble with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan marched around his house and burned a cross on his lawn. The Klan burned one of his churches down and tried to burn another one a few years later. Wade had taken the Klan on in court and won by getting an injunction against the Klan that stopped them from burning a 45 foot cross on the outskirts of McAlester. Wade was surrounded by the Klan in a roadside diner where he was told by the Imperial Wizard at that time “whatever you do to the chicken on your plate, the Klan will do to you.’

Wade looked at the KKK members standing about him wearing their signature K.K.K. t-shirts and calmly picked up the chicken and kissed it! Needless to say, the men did not keep their promise. Even members of the KKK broke out in laughter over Wade’s response to their threats. On another occasion, he went into a cafe in Ada, Oklahoma with his friend, Oklahoma State Senator Gene Stipe, where he was stopped at the door by the waitress. She proceeded to tell them they did not serve Negroes there! Wade told the woman, “Ma’am, I don’t eat Negroes anyway, just give me some ham and some eggs!”

Wade told Senator Stipe that he had one wish…..to meet face to face with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan. He got his wish in the form of a nationwide radio debate with the Imperial Wizard. It was the meeting that ultimately, and over some time, would change the heart of Johnny Lee Clary, Imperial Wizard of the KKK. Wade and Johnny became best friends and Johnny is even Godfather of Wade’s daughter, Tia.

Rev. Wade Watts passed away, Dec. 13th, 1998. The night he passed away, two of his daughters heard him talking as he laid in bed. They heard Wade say “Thank You, Sir!” They asked him, ” Dad, who are you talking to?”, since they were the only ones in the room with him. Wade replied, ” I am talking to Jesus. He said He is coming to take me home.” The nurse came into the room, and asked Wade what he would like for breakfast in the morning. Wade replied, “It don’t matter, hon. I’m not going to be here for breakfast because Jesus told me He is coming for me.” That night, Wade died in his sleep.

Rev. Watts was like a father to me. I am grateful for all the years I had with him, and for all the wisdom and knowledge he passed on to me. He told me that he was passing me his mantle. I do not feel worthy to take it up; however, if he thought that much of me to invest all those years of time and wisdom into me, then I owe it to the memory of him to fight racism and continue his works. Wade and I always called one another “Old Partner”. I will miss him for the rest of my life, and will never forget him.
–Johnny Lee Clary
From www.johnnyleeclary.com, the website of former KKK Imperial Wizard and present evangelist Reverend Johnny Lee Clary.

When you face trials, run toward the roar

Over the past few days I’ve received several e-mails and phone calls from friends and relatives who are facing some pretty tough situations. The problems they are facing are familiar to us all…family, medical and financial. I certainly would not call myself an expert on how to deal with tough times as I often fail to do the right thing. But as with everything I attempt to fail forward. As I’ve told those with whom I’ve communicated, I have a great friend who shared the following story with me during a time I faced some pretty tough trials.

Run toward the roar

We all know that the Lion is king of the jungle. Every creature that graces the jungle floor must surrender to the power of the lion. Every bird that thinks of flying through the jungle must get runway clearance from the lion. Yet, as the Lion rules the jungle he has his detractors. Imagine that, animals like humans, have their detractors. Each and every day the lion wakes up he must defend his right to rule. As he grows older more and more attack animals the throne of the lion. Even his closest relatives, the young and vivacious lion cubs begin an attempt to overthrow the Lion. The entire jungle is against the lion, yet he is able to hold onto his reign of the jungle. How? He continues to roar. As he gets older and older, as his mange begins to tatter and become worn, the lion roars and his attackers retreat. As he continues to rule through his old age, the very teeth that once killed the gazelle are now gone. With his mange gone, his ability to run and stalk behind him and his teeth on the floor of the very jungle he rules, the lion has only one form of protection left, his roar. As the younger lions prepare to attack, he roars and they retreat. As the gazelle near, he roars and they retreat. You see, what the lion cubs, gazelle and other animals don’t realize is that the Lion has lost everything he once used to rule the jungle. His great mange gone, his swift speed gone, his teeth gone, all that’s left is the roar.

Often times when we’re facing trials all we can he is the roar. We make initial attempts to combat the problem but we fail because once we hear the roar, we turn away. Like the young lion cubs and gazelle we don’t realize that the trials we’re facing have lost their ability to destroy and rule. The teeth of trials we face are lying at our feet. Though the roar of what we’re facing may become louder and louder, we can be encouraged to run toward the roar knowing that its ability to attack, destroy and conquer us is a thing of the past. For Christians, we must accept even more encouragement in the fact that over 2,000 years ago, Christ ripped the teeth from our trials and tribulations. Folks the teeth of your trials are beneath the very feet that will take you to overcoming your trials. Though the roar may become overbearing, run toward the roar! And, when you do…you’ll find a toothless warrior that you can easily overcome.

The next time you’re faced with trials and tribulation begin to tap a foot knowing that you’re driving the teeth of the situation into the ground.

Run toward the roar!