Luxury

Luxury

I don’t remember taking vacations as a kid. I can remember some awkward visits to see some relatives in Dallas, sleeping on the floor, and going to an amusement park one day. I remember my dad taking me on a one-day business trip with him to a bigger city and taking in a new movie called “Star Wars”.

But I never really gave it much thought. I remember a distant memory of spending time on a deserted island and a trip to Hawaii, only to realize that I was blurring my recollections…

Contending

Contending

Cinderella Man is one of the great all-time movies about one of the great all-time stories.  It is about a mid-ranked fighter in the depression era America losing everything and then clawing his way back into the ring and into the championship fight. He is the ultimate underdog because everyone else down on their luck is identifying with his success.

In a way, he is not only contending for his family, but for every man and woman who is suffering.  When his wife Mae (who hates him fighting) shows up at their local parish to pray for Jim…

Escape

Escape

I was having a conversation with a wise, mature, and Kingdom-minded leader. I’ve known him for about five years and really gotten to know him through working with him and his company over the last couple.

He was talking about turning 60 and what he was feeling about this next season of his life.  He was contrasting what most of the people he knew were doing at his age with what he desired to do. They were planning increasing amounts of vacations to increasingly exotic places.

He isn’t.  Nor will he be.

Don’t get me wrong, this guy likes vacations…

Choices

Choices

Most leaders we talk with feel pretty captive to their circumstances. As if there were something cosmic or predetermined about their situation that is beyond them and cannot be altered. I certainly know that feeling. There is a good chance you have felt it as well. Maybe it is the predominant operating system you are under right now.

It is interesting how fanciful a series of books like “Choose Your Own Adventure” feels. The idea that by making a simple series of choices could result in a completely different story sounds preposterous when you apply…

Circus

Circus

I recently met with a friend of mine and he described his life as a circus.  

Can you relate?

I shifted to asking him about each of the three rings of that circus:

  • Professional

  • Personal

  • Spiritual

We are all spiritual beings and all of us have a personal life and a professional life we are trying to balance. Interestingly enough, when we surveyed over 100 business owners a few years ago and asked them about their needs and challenges, they not only described their lives as something akin to a “circus”..

Treasures

Treasures

A couple of months ago, I was part of a team that led 40 or so of us through a weekend to uncover much of that treasure. It is a weekend that I have been a part of at least a dozen and a half times. The progression of the weekend goes something like this:

Awaken core desires in the heart of a man...

So that he can find how perfectly those desires of his heart fit in an authentic re-telling of the gospel...

In order that the dissonance between the life he lives and the one intended might be revealed...

So that he might have the courage to walk backwards into his story and see all the broken and incomplete places...

True

True

You can know a lot of things about me.  Other people can know a lot about you.  And they all have value in terms of understanding. They are all pieces of the puzzle.

But unless you know someone at the level of identity...  

Unless you know their story...

Until you understand the unique role they were created to play, the gifting they carry, or the purpose of their life…

…you don’t really know them.

You don’t know the truest things about them. You are likely unaware of the things that mobilize, inspire, or encourage them to contribute greater and more. The things that prompt engagement, energy, and contribution. Without knowing…

Teams

Teams

What the heck is Stitch Fix and who is Katrina Lake?  Well, Katrina is the youngest woman to ever take a company public, and at 34 has an estimated net worth of $500 million dollars.  (Probably the only CEO to have her 1-year-old son ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange as well.)  She does know a thing or two about starting a successful business. In her world of venture funding, web platforms, data mining, strategic partnerships, etc., starting a business probably is a "team sport."

But for almost every other business I know, it’s not.

Most businesses I come into contact with started with just one person. One person making all the decisions, wearing all the hats…

Crazy

Crazy

My son-and-law and I were circling back to get our car parked quite a ways from the enormous crowd that had gathered at the Pearl Brewery.  We were talking about what a revelation that entire area has become.   We talked about the level of both genius and crazy it took to bring about that kind of change.  To have that kind of idea.

To see possibility where others see none.

To claim the opportunity missed or maybe just not taken by others.

Ironically, whether it is of a cultural, political, spiritual, or economic nature, most genius is first identified as “crazy”.  If you’ll remember from the famous Apple ad quoted above, some

Balance

Balance

One of the most important lessons college taught me was balance. It was all about aggressively multi-tasking. I was sleeping little and spending inordinate amounts of time going to class and studying, pursuing relationships, growing in my faith, having lots of fun, and working.  

Having very little experience in relationships and essentially none in terms of faith, these were both revelations that there were never enough hours to satisfy or explore the boundaries...

Dignity

Dignity

My father’s parents ran a grocery store in a small south Texas town. My great uncle also owned the butcher shop nearby.  These generationally run businesses were both the victims of “progress”. They were replaced by bigger and more powerful national and regional players.

One of my father’s favorite stories about his parent's business was about something they did in the aftermath of the Great Depression. When they realized...

Gardener

Gardener

The writings of John Muir as he entered Yosemite Valley for the first time also come to mind.  There is something about being aware of the creation around us and connecting to deeper meaning that makes the Creator seem even more tangible.

In the beginning there was a garden and a man and woman placed there to tend that garden.  Any pre-schooler in a Sunday school class knows that, but it feels like we have lost some of the wonder and anticipation this reality should hold.

What that story also points toward is the idea...

Bullies

Bullies

Even the mention of the word "bully" will likely bring a person's face to mind for most people. Every schoolyard had one and you can probably remember their name. There is even a pretty good chance, however, if you can't remember who it was, that you might actually have been the bully.  I operated in the messy middle. I got my size very early and while I wasn't the bully, I didn't get messed with by them for the most part. I also didn't really do anything to prevent...

Cruel

Cruel

With regards to setting clear expectations for their employees, the almost universal response of every leader we speak with is…they know exactly what they are supposed to do, I’ve told them a thousand times.

In regards to employees being clear on those expectations, the almost universal response of every employee we speak with is…I wish I knew what was expected of me.

Shakespeare said “expectations” are the root of all heartache. We disagree. We say that “unclear expectations” are the root of all heartache, frustration, disappointment, and the source of most organizational...

Threatened

Threatened

The San Antonio Spurs miraculously landed the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery of 1997. David Robinson, an eight-year veteran had every reason to feel threatened when the team selected Tim Duncan with that magical first pick. In a superstar-driven league with relatively few 7-footers, San Antonio already had one and had just drafted another.

Not surprising to those who knew David, but very uncharacteristic to most other teams and players, David welcomed him with open arms. He was recently...

Tension

Tension

Do you ever feel stuck? Trapped? Pushed into a corner? Caught between a rock and a hard place? (insert your favorite similar expression here)

Often, the reason that leaders feel this way is related to the attitude they find in some of their most valuable team members. In extreme contrast to that idea, we watched a video the other day with several groups of leaders about the culture of the San Antonio Spurs. They said, despite what most professional franchises experience, they will not be…

Noisy

Noisy

It is really noisy out there and seems to be getting noisier all the time.  The average American spends a little over 2 hours a day on social media and an average of 35.4 hours a week watching television. That is about 7 hours a day between those two activities or 50 hours a week!

It is amazing that anything gets done around here.

There is also this imperative attached to all that consumption. We are supposed to be aware and care about just about everything. To be “enlightened” or be “human”...

Imposter

Imposter

When I was getting certified as a StoryBrand Guide last year, we were taught that every person carries a set of problems or fears.  If you are going to get their attention in an increasingly noisy world, you are going to need to identify and speak to all of them.  The three problems are:

External - physical, financial, relational, etc.

Internal - doubts, fears, insecurities, etc.

Philosophical - right and wrong, good vs evil, your values vs competitors, etc.

External problems are usually pretty clear. It is the real and obvious festering challenge staring you right in the face. And the philosophical...

Confirmation

Confirmation

“Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.”

- Wikipedia

Turns out that it is also my go-to bias.  Apparently, I am not alone.  Whether it is regarding politics, sports, religion, etc., most people tend to gravitate toward the channels of information that affirm what they already believe. Confirmations of this bias are:

People shopping doctors to get the diagnosis they want.

Leaders surrounding themselves with “yes” men or women.

Shadow

Shadow

Shadow is not the opposite of light, but a result of the obstruction of light.  This has become a powerful component of our coaching and understanding of both the best and worst things in the leaders we work with.

Lencioni’s TableGroup talks about strengths and weaknesses of leaders. In order to become a better leader, we need to be aware of what we offer that is of highest contribution and do more of that. We also need to be aware of how the weight of our leadership is most challenging to others, and do...