Success is defined by each of us in
different ways. It should be a very personal definition, not shaped
by others' opinions, the media or society. It should include components
of faith, family and helping those around us. Success should be viewed as
a journey and not a specific destination. It likely changes over time and
with age It does not have to include financial or materialistic goals,
although it may. Success is simply a recipe for contentment. What
is your definition of success? Below are a few good keys in my mind...
What do people say about you when
you leave? I don’t mean when you leave
the table or a meeting. People talking
behind your back is not what I am getting at either. What do people say when they are no longer
around you on a regular basis? How do
they talk about you when you move out of a community? What is said about you when you leave a
job? How are you thought of by someone
when they leave your company or neighborhood and no longer get to interact with
you regularly? What do people say when
you roll off of a Board of Directors?
The answer to those questions is
the true measurement of your influence and your impact.
Currently I serve as Chairman of the
Board of Leadership Montgomery County (LMC).
It is an organization dedicated to developing leaders in our community
and it holds a special place in my heart.
One of the core values of LMC is “We Leave Our Mark.” We challenge ourselves and others to make a
lasting impression. We should all leave
our mark. The answers to the above
questions are your report card. How will
people remember you when you leave?
True leadership is about
influence.It is not about titles or
positions. True leadership is the ability to influence others in a positive way
and towards a common goal. It is not magic and usually does not happen
naturally.It requires deliberate and
intentional behaviors and practices.Influential people move through life with a purpose.They are constantly aware of how their
actions and behaviors influence others.Great leaders look for way to intentionally use their influence to help
Do you use your influence
Note:The MMM actually began in 2004.Thanks for all our diligent followers who
pointed out the 2014 typo last week.
I wrote the first Monday Morning
Minute on November 21, 2004.This month
marks fifteen years of sharing thoughts and challenges with you all on a weekly
basis.I hope somewhere along the way
you have found something motivating, encouraging or challenging, maybe all
Wishing you and yours a very Happy
Thanksgiving and a great start to the holiday season.Be blessed my friends…
Character is the sum-total of a
lifetime of everyday choices.It cannot
be built overnight.It can, however, be
destroyed in a minute by dishonesty.We
make choices each and every day which either build or destroy our
character.Many of you have heard me say
before…“Do the right thing, even when
nobody is looking!”It is a matter of
integrity and it builds character.A
trustworthy leader has a much easier time generating momentum than a leader
with a reputation of being manipulative and deceitful.Great leaders know how to be a momentum maker
not a momentum breaker.
A portion of this MMM was taken
from an article by Dr. John C. Maxwell.
Everybody has heard the saying "take the high road", and
most people probably have their own idea as to what it means.Recently, I read some thoughts by John
Maxwell on this phrase.Consider the
following simple thoughts regarding taking the high road...
·Don't keep score
·Getting even is not the goal
It involves being humble and selfless and what's even harder, not
holding a grudge.Life is too short,
take the high road!
Life is made up of a series of
choices.We make choices each day of our
life by prioritizing activities and choosing courses of action.It is often frustrating and challenging to
make those choices.The alternatives are
equally appealing, and the ramifications of the decisions seem so serious.The best we can do at any one point in time
is to make a choice with the information and knowledge available to us at that
point in time. Consider your alternatives, study your options, seek spiritual
guidance and make an educated decision.Once a choice has been made, go on down the road of life.There is no value to be gained from beating
ourselves up over past choices and poor decisions.Sure, we should learn from past decisions,
but there really is no need to re-live poor choices or to constantly second
guess ourselves.Learn from those
choices and grow. Make the best choice you can with the information available
to you at the time.
Do you ever put off doing
something because you want to make sure you do it just right? You
know you must do it. You know it is the right thing to do, but you put it
off because you don't think you are ready to do it exactly the right way.
I have a problem with this. I am a little anal and I want to see things
done pretty much perfect. As a result, I procrastinate. I put
things off until I think I can do them just right. The problem is, I
never get around to doing some of these things because I don't have time to do
Often, it is better to go with
something less than perfect than to never go with it at all. It is better
to get something accomplished less than perfectly than to never get anything
accomplished at all. Sometimes, you simply must start something in order
to get it done instead of putting it off until you think you have enough time
to do it perfectly.
“Don't be so concerned about
wrapping the gift that you never give it.”
It is an interesting thought and
really quite simple. If you do not take a shot, you will not score.
You must make an attempt in order to give yourself a shot at winning.
Said differently, we cannot be afraid to try. We shouldn’t be so
conservative that we never give ourselves a real chance to accomplish
something.Oftentimes, I fall prey to
this myself and tend to be somewhat cautious and conservative. In order
to grow, I need to learn to take more shots. I am not just referring to
the big decisions in life such as spouses and careers. This certainly
applies to those decisions, but this analogy also applies to little things
throughout the day.Maybe you need to
take a shot at meeting someone new, at changing something at work, at becoming
more involved in your community.
Take a shot.Give yourself a chance to score in the game
Some days are in fact
diamonds.Those are the days when all
seems to be right with the world. Other days are more like rough uncut
stones, when nothing seems to go smoothly. Most days fall somewhere in
between. There are rough spots during the day offset by bright spots at
other times.Some days we even have
opportunities to turn stones into diamonds. For the most part we learn to take
the good with the bad and roll with the flow, knowing that there are always
more diamonds to come.Maybe not
tomorrow or next week but there are more days of diamonds.Remember however, the stones will likely never
totally go away.
How well do you lead yourself?Recently we talked about how leadership
starts at home, and it does.Beyond that
however, it truly starts with leading oneself.It is very difficult to truly lead at home, in the community or at work
without first leading yourself.I find
this to be challenging personally.I encourage
and often portray discipline, yet I am not very disciplined myself.Many of my greatest leadership failures have
been related to leading myself and my family.For some reason it seems okay to let ourselves down but not others.Truly great leadership does begin at
home.It begins at home with
oneself.When was your last conversation
with yourself about you leading you?
Go make it a great week.Start by leading yourself first!
Eighteen years ago, on this
Wednesday, The United States of America was changed forever.Those old enough will remember exactly where
they were that morning.The attack, now
known simply by the date of its occurrence as 9/11, was nothing like this
country had ever seen before, and hopefully will never again.The images were horrifying and
unforgettable.We were unified as a
country and we rallied together in the subsequent days, weeks and months.Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of that
unity has faded away, but that is a story for a different day.
Two years ago, I had the
opportunity to visit the 9/II Memorial & Museum in New York City.It is a fascinating collection of stories and
memorabilia located at the base of the Twin Towers.I found it to be incredibly well done,
powerful, but somber and reverent.My
granddaughter, who was not even born at the date of the attacks, was
riveted.She came home with an
understanding, and true feel for that tragedy that she will never get from a
textbook.I encourage you to visit if
you have the chance.
Take a moment today to recall the
events of eighteen years ago.Think
about the lives lost.Ponder the unity
that grew out of tragedy.Reflect on the
actions of the first responders.Consider where we are in the war on terror.Ensure that the events of that day are not
forgotten by the next generation.Most
of all be proud of the great country we live in and the freedom we enjoy.
We have all seen pictures
and statuettes of the three monkeys that symbolize the above phase, and we
have probably heard that phrase hundreds of times. Parts of the phrase
seem to take on a life of their own. How many of you have said, "My
mom told me if I can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all”? The
speak no evil part just seems so logical and understandable. Words are
powerful, but they can also be hurtful. So, what about the Hear and See
no evil? I think those are just as important. They mean to not let
evil influence your life. Don't watch evil on TV. Don't listen to
evil music. Don't hang out with evil people. Don't go into business
with evil partners. Don't put yourselves in situations where evil is
prevalent. Humans tend to take on the characteristics of the environment
in which they live. As such we should stay away from evil environments.
Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no
evil. Be all three monkeys at one time!
It’s okay to be wrong,
everyone is, and it is important to admit it when we are.More important is the need for leaders to
allow those who work for them to admit their mistakes.Good leaders give people permission to be
wrong.Most people don't admit their
mistakes because of fear. They're afraid they won't be forgiven1.Good leaders let their followers know that
it's okay.Great leaders even share
their own stories of failure.It shows
that they care and allows them to be human.This permission to be wrong leads to stronger relationships between
leaders and followers.It leads to
humility and transparency.
There are few guarantees
in life, making mistakes is one of them.Allow yourself to be wrong and admit it.More importantly, allow those around you to be wrong and admit it.
The challenge of being a
leader is walking a fine line that requires incredible balance and
sensitivity.Great leadership qualities
can’t be taken to extremes, they have to be balanced.The challenge is to be…
·strong, but not rude
·kind, but not weak
·bold, but not overbearing
·humble, but not timid
·proud , but not arrogant
Successful leaders are good
at balancing these qualities.How about
We live in a fast paced world,
especially in this country.To go along
with that pace we tend to be a bit impatient.We expect quick service, easy answers, and immediate solutions.We believe, happiness should be constant and
easy.We look for a pill or a doctor to
fix our woes.We seek diets or
lifestyles that will improve our health and state of mind.We grab onto fads and trends to make us feel
good about ourselves.It seems to be
all about finding the easy answer, the key to happiness.
There is no “key” to
happiness.There is no one thing that
will make you happy and keep you happy.Life is comprised of challenges and struggles.I do not believe that we were meant to be
happy all the time, but we can be happier by choice.We can be more positive by choice.We can live a better life by choice.It takes a little determination and hard work.It is not a quick fix.There are certain things that can help us be
happy in life; faith, family and health. However, each of those have challenges
as well.Happiness is a process, a door
to walk thru again and again every day. Happiness is a choice to make.
Stop looking for a key to happiness
and walk thru the door, by choice, each and every day!
Problems, we all have them.Anyone who tells you they have no problems is
lying.How we deal with our problems is
the challenge.It is often a natural
reaction to want to avoid and ignore the obstacles in our lives.Unfortunately, most of them don’t simply
disappear when ignored.That would be
nice right?So we have to face our
challenges.We must tackle our
challenges.We need to overcome our
obstacles.Understandably, it is easier
said than done, but there is no benefit to avoiding them!Consider this quote…
Avoid problems, and you'll never be the one who overcame them.
Listening is a favorite topic of
the MMM.People can listen at a rate of 600
words per minute, but they can only talk only at 100 to 150 words per
minute.As a result listeners are easily
distracted, they can process more information than a person speaking to them
can deliver.The challenge is to use the
extra time, the extra processing capacity, to listen more productively.Unfortunately, most people start planning
what they are going to say next instead of listening to the speaker’s
concluding words.Ironically, the last
sentence, which usually contains the meat or most important point, is totally
missed by most listeners.Think about
it, how often are you planning a response and not listening to someone speaking
What does it mean to have
integrity?How would you describe people
that you believe have integrity?The
first thought that comes to my mind about integrity is...Do the right thing even when nobody is
looking.Integrity is not about
doing the right thing for someone else.It is about doing the right thing because it is the right thing to
What is the right thing?Two things to consider when making decision
about the right thing to do...
- What would your mother think if
you told her your decision?
- Make your decision as if it will
be on the front page tomorrow.
Keep those thoughts in mind and you
will know the right thing to do. Strive
to do the right thing all the time, especially when nobody is looking.
Several years ago my wife, Fran, and I spent the 4th of July in
the birthplace of this great country.We
were in Philadelphia and toured Independence Hall and visited the Liberty
Bell.It was really special to actually
be there on the 4th!It is hard to
fathom that we were in the same building where our founding fathers literally
crafted our independence over 200 years ago.
Their story is one of incredible courage and unbelievable
foresight.At the time no country in the
world was ruled “by the people” the way they conceived this country to be.They had to be courageous to stand up against
the British.They had to have foresight
to see the great potential of a free country ruled by its’ people.They also had to have an understanding of the
potential impact of what they were doing.
Leaders who do not see their potential impact may actually miss
leadership opportunities altogether.I
am thankful for, and actually in awe of, how our forefathers made thoughtful,
courageous and impactful decisions.Those decisions have served this country well over the years.While our own individual impact may not be
quite so far reaching (although you never know) we certainly can impact the
world around us.To do so we have to be
courageous.We must think and act with
foresight.Most of all, we need to grasp
the potential impact of our leadership decisions.
Our founding fathers took decisive action in the face of a
leadership opportunity over 200 years ago.Today we live in the greatest country in the world as a result of their
Birthday USA!Have a great 4th
of July holiday and may God bless America!
tip!The establishment of clear goals is
so important.They should be specific,
time bound and measurable.However, the
real key is actually doing the follow up and measuring the results.Human nature is an interesting thing.People behave differently when they know that
their actions will be monitored and measured.For some it is a motivator, for others maybe just an obligation.Whatever the case, what gets measured gets
done.It is just a matter of human
nature.Goals must be set, clearly
communicated and then measured.
I would not describe
myself as a wild eyed optimist.Some
might think of me as more of as a bit of a pessimist.At least that is what my kids and some of my
more entrepreneurial employers have told me.I like to consider myself more of a realist.I like to know all the possible outcomes and
understand all of my options.I like to
have backup plans in place.I like to
understand the downside risk in situations.Maybe those things do make me pessimistic, I don’t know.I do know that the ability to see
opportunities in the face of challenges is a virtue.In times like these it is a virtue we should
all strive to possess.While realism is
a good thing in troubling times, it takes optimism and hope to get through such
times.There are opportunities out
there, even in these difficult times!
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty
Do you know what I
mean?Seriously, don’t you feel like you
get really productive before you leave for vacation?I try to keep my desk at the office pretty
neat, but it is never as neat and clean as it is before I leave town.Somehow before leaving town I always find a
way to get a lot of work done; I become more productive.Some people that work for me might tell you
that I just delegate better before I leave town, maybe so but…
I really do tend to get
more focused and accomplish more right before I know I am going to be
away.Why can’t we work like that all
the time?Why can’t we always run our
lives the way we do the week before we leave the office, making decisions,
cleaning off the desk, returning calls, getting stuff done?
By the way, I am currently on
vacation.Yes, I got a lot done before I
Yes it is about the
start of the summer, with beer, BBQ and upcoming coming trips to the
beach.There is baseball, watermelon and
the kids being out of school, but don’t forget the true meaning of the holiday.People have died serving our country and
defending the freedoms we enjoy and this day is set aside to remember and honor
those sacrifices.Take a minute to think
about that.Make sure your children or
grandchildren understand the price of freedom and the reason for the holiday.
We are all leaders.We lead by our actions and reactions.We lead with the tone of our voice and our
level of caring.We lead by our attitude,
our patience and our listening skills.Don’t think you are not a leader.No title is required to lead.You
lead at home, in your neighborhood, in the PTO and at the youth sports
fields.The questions is... Is your
leadership intentional, positive, encouraging and challenging?
Do you embrace your leadership
role?Are you intentional in how you
lead?Do you recognize your ability to
influence others, both positively and negatively?Are you growing as a leader?
The fact that we are all leaders is
a given, we have the ability to influence others.What you do with that influence is what
defines you as a leader…
The spoken word is more
powerful than we know.Words can both
hurt and heal.They can destroy, but
also build up.What we simply verbalize
can educate or berate.Words can sting,
but they also have the power to soothe.We can use our words to encourage or to deflate.Our words can make someone’s day or…
The problem is that we
are often too quick to spout something off without thinking of its impact.As the saying goes we speak before we
think.This often results in our words
coming out on the negative side of all of the above options.That means we leave a trail of anger,
disappointment, and hurt feelings around us.
Consider the power of
your words.Choose them carefully.More to the point, today consciously choose
to be positive with what you say.
tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you
with their ingenuity. ~ Gen. George S. Patton
did not know that Patton said this, but it is a favorite concept of mine. I have always enjoyed finding new, improved
and more efficient ways to get things done.
I especially don’t like being confined by how things have been done in
the past. This quote especially on point
for me. It is how I have preferred to be
managed over the years and it is how I like to lead people as well. People need to understand why they are being
asked to do something. As leaders, we
should provide them the desired result upfront and let them determine the best
way to get there. If they do not get
there at all, then you have another leadership opportunity. Often they may find ways to get there that
you have not considered. They may
actually give you more than you asked for.
Not only will you get a better and possibly more creative solution, you
will have empowered your followers who will appreciate the confidence you have
placed in them. Everyone enjoys a good
challenge; give them one instead of dictating their methods.
Ironman Texas was this past
weekend in The Woodlands. It is one of
my favorite weekends of the year! There
are so many moving and powerful aspects to the weekend that I always come away
motivated and fulfilled. My two
takeaways from this weekend are…
Inspirational - What these
athletes accomplish in an Ironman is a special feat unto itself.Many of them have special circumstances,
unique stories and difficult places from which they have come.In every single case, it is absolutely
inspirational.Seeing what people overcame,
endure and push themselves to accomplish was amazing!I knew a few first timers and several returning
athletes this year.Each had their own
story and reason for this pursuit.They
have now accomplished something few others ever will.I am just proud to know them and be inspired
Volunteerism – Each year we
are in charge of an aid station on the run.It takes 120+ people and over 15 hours of hard work to put on what we
like to think of as an event for the athletes.We do it for them and we do it for the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society.It is so fulfilling!The athletes are so appreciative.We know that what we do for them can make the
difference in when, and maybe if, they finished.But what they did for us was just as
We were blessed to be part
of such an incredible event and to support such impressive athletes!
Once there was an Army
sergeant and a private who were doing survival training in the Rocky
Mountains. As they made their way through the woods, suddenly they encountered
a really big, really angry, grizzly bear.The bear was focused on attacking them! Quickly the sergeant sat
down, ripped off his heavy hiking boots, removed some running shoes
from his backpack and put them on, as he was hurriedly lacing them up, the
private stood there watching. "Excuse me, sir," he said.
"Do you really think you're going to be able to out run that
bear?" "Well, private, I don't have to out run the bear,"
replied the sergeant." "I only have to out run you."
If there had ever been
any trust in that relationship it was gone in an instant! Trust is
critical in relationships. Employee and employer relationships require
it. Husband and wife relationships are built on it. Parent and
child relationships strive for it. Trust is a foundational element of
Trust is earned through
patient investment and long association in a relationship. However, it can be
destroyed in an instant. We destroy trust in all sorts of ways...
·By not doing what we said
we would do
·By not saying what's
really on our minds
·By asking for input when
it's obvious we've already made up our minds
·By making up an answer
rather than admitting that we don't know
our actions to be inconsistent with our words
Don’t destroy the trust
you have established, it is difficult to re-build; strive to develop trust that
you may not have yet attained, it is key in relationships.Trust is what other people invest in you,
based on your integrity. Trust is their absolute confidence that you are
truthful and reliable.
Never underestimate the power
of praise.I have wrote before about
making sure that praise is given in public.More importantly, make sure that praise is given period.It is a huge motivator for people.For many it can be more powerful than money
or advancement.There is just something
warm and positive about being recognized for a job well done.For managers it may even make sense to combine
both praise and constructive feedback in the same conversation.It can lessen the impact of the negative and help
provide motivation for improvement.This
is not just about your role at work.It
applies to home life and as well as any volunteers roles you may have.You do not want to be known only as a
negative critic.The bottom line is that
praise should be a daily part of a good leader’s routine.Consider this quote…
“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did
not do better work and put forth greater effort, under a spirit of approval
than a spirit of criticism.”
leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk
the language of the visionary and the idealist.
I do not know Eric
Hoffer, but in this quote he has nailed one of the key challenges of
leadership. Good leaders must be able to
relate to all types of people and personalities. Good leaders are capable of thinking and
communicating in styles other than their natural personalities. I consider myself a very practical and
pragmatic leader. That makes it my
challenge to relate to visionaries and non-detail people. In order to be a good leader I must be able
to understand people who think and see the world differently than I do. Great leaders adapt their style. Static leaders become non-leaders. What are you doing to adjust your leadership
style to situations and personalities?
Toby Keith tells a story about a
playing golf with Clint Eastwood and their conversation that led to Keith
penning the lyrics for a song entitled, “Don’t Let The Old Man In”.As the story goes, Eastwood mentioned to
Keith that he would be turning 88 in a few days.Keith asked him what he was going to do for
his birthday and Eastwood replied that he was starting to film a new
movie.When asked how he keeps up his
energy level Eastwood replied “I get up every morning and just keep going, and
I don’t let the old man in.”That phrase
moved Keith so much that he became obsessed with writing the song.The movie is “The Mule” and it features the
song by Keith that was inspired by that conversation on the golf course.
I recently celebrated a milestone
birthday, no I am not 88, and I found the song to be quite meaningful.There are lines about loving your wife,
staying close to your friends, and toasting the sundown with wine, all things I
try to do.But the most striking lyrics
“Ask yourself how old you'd be
If you didn't know the day you were born”
What a fascinating thought.What if you did not know how old you really
are?How would you act?How would you feel?We are too focused on the numbers associated
with age, especially the ones with a “0”.Maybe we just need to wake up each day, ignore the number, keep going
and don’t let the old man in.I plan to
(Credit my friend, and local
running legend, Jim Braden for sharing the song with me.)
As a society it seems
like we tend to focus on the negative and not the positive.We seek and point out flaws and failures way
more actively than we do accomplishments and successes.I know that I am guilty of this.It is something that I have recently made a
decision to try and change.A conscious
effort is required to be positive and look for the good things in life all the
time.Some people are better at it than
others.But for some reason the world
around us seems to make it harder.The
media is certainly no help.So much of
the news is driven by negativity, failure, fraud and corruption.Even the weatherman is working against
us.Why is it that a 70% chance of
sunshine is communicated as a 30% chance of rain?We might find ourselves a little more
pleasant to be around if we sought out the positive more often than the