Important versus Urgent?

I don't know about you, but I am not very good at taking care of the important things in life as opposed to the urgent things.  I seem to I focus on urgent issues of the day, often just to put a check mark in the box.  There are things that are urgent that we all have to take care.  There are also things that are very important that we should take care of.  It always seems urgent to answer emails, return calls, go to the grocery store, and do the laundry.  Granted those are mostly necessities and they need to be addressed.  However, there are more important things like consoling a troubled neighbor, spending quality time with your kids, mentoring a young associate, or visiting an elderly relative.  There are important things in life that we should prioritize above the urgent issues of the day.  As you plan your day, think about the important versus the urgent...

Happy Monday Morning!


Who am I?

I lost my dad way too early,
Who am I to doubt it was part of God’s plan?

His mother lived to age 98, why couldn’t he?
Who am I to question God’s timing?

He loved my mom and all of us so dearly,
Who am I to ask God why we don’t have him anymore?

He was married for 50 years, had nine grandchildren and a great grandchild,
Who am I to not thank God for the time we did have?

He had wood to carve, golf to play and trips to take,
Who am I to ask God why not?

He was kind, loved and respected,
Who am I to ask God why him?

For his disease there were no more options,
Who am I to ask God why no cure?

There were things I had not done or said,
Who am I to ask God for more time with him?

I never heard a bad word spoken towards him,
Who am I to ask God why not someone else?

He deserved so much more,
Who am I to question that God knows what he truly deserved?

I lost my dad far too soon,
Who am I to question God’s plan?

Barry D. Blanton
In loving memory of Don Blanton
January 6, 1935 – June 23, 2007

This MMM was originally issued 07.02.07.  I will repeat it as long as I write MMM’s on a Monday near the anniversary of the passing of my father.


Listening, now more than ever…

Real conversations about uncomfortable topics cannot be held without genuinely listening.  If you follow the MMM, you know my thoughts on the importance of listening.  It is a critical skill that is needed now more than ever!  As an additional follow up to the Special Edition MMM from June 3rd, consider the following…

·       Make the effort, it takes effort, to listen and understand the perspective of others

We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.  Often, we are either speaking or preparing to speak.  Think about what it means to listen with the intent to understand.  I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand.  To understand someone does not imply that you agree with them.  It means that you honor them with attentively listening and you truly care about their viewpoint. 

The issues we are facing in this country require conversations, which requires listening, which requires effort.  Take the time.  Make the effort.  Listen!


Regarding the Special Edition MMM last week, here are a couple of follow up thoughts on my suggested responses…

Be thoughtful and intentional with social media posts, and be careful about what you believe on those forums.

·   Consider the old adage, “think before you speak”, a similar thought process should be applied to social media posting, “think before you hit enter”.  There is a lot of misinformation out there, as well as just plain useless information.  Impactful social media posts are grounded in facts and well thought out opinions.  We need more of that and less one-word shares of attention getting false information.

Educate yourself with facts from a variety of sources

·      We know that many media sources are full of biases and agendas, as such we need to broaden our sources to gather various viewpoints.  Educating yourself by researching topics and verifying stories takes time, but it is necessary.  Take the time. Educate yourself.

Be blessed…


Special Edition

As if we did not have our hands already full with a pandemic, our society is now engulfed in a fragile state of racial division and violent protests.  This divisiveness is not new, but that does not make it acceptable.  The senseless killing of George Floyd is certainly not acceptable, but neither are the violence-oriented protests in response.

I am a 61-year-old white male with no idea what it feels like to be a man of color in this country.  However, I am pained by the stories of the fear felt by black men walking in their own neighborhoods and driving in their own communities. If this is not unsettling to you, it should be.  Simple answers and clarity do not come easily, but we cannot sit idly by.

A few responses seem clear to me…
  • Pray
  • Give grace and be slow to judge
  • Speak out loudly against racism and all forms of hatred
  • Make the effort, it takes effort, to listen and understand the perspective of others
  • Be inclusive and blind to ethnicity
  • Support elected officials, communities and organizations that are inclusive
  • Be thoughtful and intentional with social media posts, and be careful about what you believe on those forums
  • Educate yourself with facts from a variety of sources
  • Spread love by your actions in our communities and neighborhoods
  • Start conversations with your friends and families, with people of different races, and with people of different opinions
  • Pray

The MMM is not a current events or political blog, but a person I respect made a statement that tugged at my heart, “silence is seen as indifference”.  I am not indifferent and the MMM is not about indifference. 


Make One Change

The world as we know it has drastically changed over the last 120 days.  What have we learned from all of this?  I am not talking about how to use Zoom or buy groceries online.  What have you learned about yourself?  Has being at home with your family presented some growth opportunities?  Does working remotely lead to more efficiency or more frustration?  Think about how you have changed and what you have learned.  What positive change do you plan to take with you from this experience.  Pick one significant change; make it meaningful and challenging for your personal growth.  It can be like a New Year’s resolution made on June 1st instead of January 1st. 

Make one positive change from these challenging times…


Happy Memorial Day!

The purpose for Memorial Day remains the same, don’t forget that, but this one is totally different.  It still marks the beginning of summer, but we will not be celebrating in normal fashion.  Graduations abound this time of year, but they are not being held the same way.  Vacations usually begin next week, but will they?  It is time for outdoor concerts and festivals, but not this year.  It feels different because our world is different. 

Memorial Day is the day to remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.  Celebrate safely and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Their sacrifice puts our being stuck at home a few weeks into perspective.


Life’s normal heartaches have not stopped…

The emotional drain and weight of these times are significant.  I am not even sure we know how this pandemic is really impacting our mental state. There is uncertainty, disruption, and financial pressure. We do not have our normal social outlets available to us. This is all on top of life’s routine challenges.  People are still losing loved ones and marriages are in turmoil.  Kids are dealing with chemical dependency and new cancer diagnoses are made daily.  Mental illness, poverty and hunger continue to plague people. Our friends, families and associates all have their normal baggage.  Now they have a pandemic on top of it!  People are crumbling under the weight of it all. 

Two thoughts…
1.    Be kind to yourself.  Don’t ignore the signs of stress.  As leaders we want to be strong, but it is okay to not be okay (MMM 3.30.2020). Give yourself a break; this is uncharted territory.
2.       Be there for others.  People are hurting due to the crisis but still challenged by life’s normal heartaches.  You might not be able to hug them, but you can still be there for them. 


Mother's Day

If you did not talk to your mother on Mother’s Day, do it today.
If you have not recently told your mother that you love her, tell her.
If you have not seen your mother recently, plan a trip.
If you need to reconcile with your mother, just do it.
If your mother is not in your life or no longer alive, love someone like a mother.
If you need to forgive your mother, do it.
If you need to ask your mother for forgiveness, ask.
If you are a mother, bless you.

In loving memory of Barbara Ward Taylor (1940 -2008) - My mother-in-law lost her battle with lung cancer just one week before Mother’s Day.  She was a loving mother, wife, grandparent, friend and family member.  She had a wonderful zest for life and a love for people. 


Right Under Your Nose…

How many of you have discovered something new over the last six weeks that was right under your nose?  Maybe it was a new friend in the neighborhood or a re-kindled relationship far away?  Did you discover a new author, love for a card game or a new board game?  Have you taken up a new hobby?  Was that five-year-old puzzle finally put together?  Possibly, you have learned something totally new about a loved one under your roof.

I will share mine…  My wife and some friends in the neighborhood have turned me on to this incredible green space right down the street.  I knew it was there, but I had never been back there in 20 years!  It is not just your normal greenbelt; it is a huge, natural, open space that stretches from one end of the neighborhood all way to the other and down to a golf course.  Parts of it follow a man-made drainage way, but part follows a natural creek.  It is like a nature preserve filled with a variety of plants and wildlife.  It has a great trail that has become almost a daily walk route for me.  I also have added part of it to a run route.  It is a great way to get back to nature and experience God’s handiwork.  Often, my days begin and end with walks through my newfound nature sanctuary.  It was right there under my nose all this time…


We Can, and We Will

This pandemic will end, and we can learn from it. Our job as leaders is to guide businesses, organizations and families, through to the end. To get there we need to be positive and encouraging, while promoting growth and positive change. A good friend recently reminded me the power of the simple words, “can” and “will”. These small words completely change how a message is received. Consider a few messages we can send as leaders…
·       Our team can be productive from home
·       We will be a closer family
·       You can adapt under pressure
·       We will maintain relationships with clients
·       You can grow as a person through this crisis
·       Our business will have better contingency plans
·       We can work more efficiently 
·       Our non-profit will survive and adapt
·       We will be better off on the back side of this
·       I can make a difference by being a leader
We can and will get through these crazy times. Our challenge as leaders is to ensure that our teams grow, learn and change for the better!


Resilience & Adaptability

Humans are incredibly resilient and more adaptable than we think. Proof of this can be observed during this time of crisis. We have figured out totally new ways to conduct business and interact with others. Companies have pivoted their entire business models, some to move products into areas of need and others to make entirely new products. Working from home has taken on a whole new, and very serious, meaning. We have learned to home-school, social distance, Zoom, and even cook better. Our family relationships, both virtual and in the confines of our homes has changed, and hopefully improved.

The uplifting part of this resilience and adaptability manifests itself in how we have rallied to the cause. The emotional stories about special things being done for healthcare workers are overwhelming. Our acknowledgement of environmental staff and truck drivers and their importance to our world is amazing. The donation of time and talents across this country is truly impressive.

This change in our way of lives has not been easy and has become tiresome. However, we are surviving this because we are resilient, and we have adapted.


Coming out of this better…

There is a lot of commentary out there on how things will be different after COVID-19.  Certainly, we are learning what we miss the most and what we deem to be really important.  Discovering creative ways to work from home and how to be flexible are daily challenges.  Of course, we are also being reminded of the importance of health care workers, first responders, truck drivers and grocery store staff.  Oh, and maybe most importantly, Teachers! 

But what are you doing to come out of this a better person?
·       Are you going to have better family relationships?
·       Will you learn a new craft or skill?
·       Are you growing in your faith?
·       Have you discovered new ways to give back in your community?
·       Will you be more serious about saving of 2-3 months of living expenses?
·       Has your perspective about work/life balance changed?
·       Do you have new goals and objectives for the balance of the year?
·       Will you bring a new level of commitment and energy to your job or your business?
·       Have you read a business or self help book you have been putting off?

This is not over, but most of the above take some time.  Take advantage of the opportunity of time. What are you doing to make sure you come out of this a better person? Think about it.


What Day is it?

The weekends used to include soccer, church and nights out.  A normal weekday included a work schedule and human interaction, outside of immediate family.  Days were recognized by fixed meetings, happy hours or workout schedules.  Monday was often dreaded, while Friday celebrated.  But now?  Things are different; how is one day really much different from another?  What does it even mean to say, “Enjoy your weekend”?

Our “normal” is changing and we are learning to adapt.  Some people have said they do not like the concept of this being “the new normal”, they prefer to think of it as the temporary normal.  A lot of this change is temporary.  Our routines will come back, and our schedules will return.  We will eventually get back to knowing what day it is!  But I do not think our lives, or this country will ever be the same. 

Does it matter if the MMM is really issued on Monday?  What day is it?  


It’s Okay…

It is okay to not be okay.  These are crazy challenging times.  You would be unique if you were perfectly fine.  Our lives, families, businesses and finances are all being impacted by this virus.  We are in uncharted territory and none of us really know how we are supposed to handle this.  We need to instill hope for our families, employees and organizations.  We know it is important to continue to lead.  We will get through this! 

It is okay to not be okay.  Don’t fret if you feel worried.  Who isn’t somewhat depressed? I know I feel overwhelmed.  Business owners are facing tough decisions. Uncertainty is prevalent and none of this is comfortable.  It is okay to be frustrated, even angry, by these feelings.  You have permission to breakdown occasionally.  A good cry might be a healthy thing.  However, you can’t let it overtake you.  Yes, we need to be strong for our kids, but we don’t have to be strong 100% of the time.  Crawling in a deep dark hole is not an option.  We need to be realistic without constantly succumbing to the negativity.  Acknowledge your feelings; respect the challenge you are facing and get back at it.  Don’t let the negativity overwhelm you.

It is okay to not be okay.


Trying Times

These times will test our souls.  Our faith will be tested, but it will become our rock.  Our resolve will be stretched but it will support us. Our businesses and economy will be damaged, but they will survive.  Our friends and families may be separated, but we will hold them tightly. 

Leaders are purveyors of hope.  Now is the time for us to step up.  Our employees, friends and followers need to see hope in our eyes and positivity in our voices.  It will not be easy.  They need to hear us say the things above.  They need to know there is an end to this and better days will come.  They need to know this is survivable.  It is time to instill hope.  It is time to step up as leaders.  It is time for us to pass the test of leadership.

Let’s do this together. Take one day at a time and lead with hope!   



Action is the difference between an idea and results.  No idea, thought, concept or plan goes anywhere without action.  Lots of people have great ideas; few people take the required action steps to turn ideas into results.  You know how the director of a film or TV show calls out “Action” as the filming begins?  That is the step that takes a script from something on paper to a finished product, a result that we can see.  Good ideas constantly cross our minds and enter our thoughts.  We think of ways to improve things at work, how to change things with our kids, how we might make a difference in the lives of people around us.  As ideas alone they accomplish nothing.  As ideas combined with action, they create results.  The greatest of ideas goes nowhere until an action step is taken.  Make an idea turn into results.  Take action today!


Who’s in Charge?

Sometimes I will walk into my office, a meeting, or even my own home with the somewhat joking greeting of, “Who’s in charge?”  Reactions vary, sometimes I get “You are”, or maybe, “not me”.  Then there is always someone who names another person in the room that is in charge.

I was thinking about this rhetorical question last week.  Who is really in charge?  For many of us it is our God, but on a day to day basis, we are in charge of our lives and the decisions we make.  Our faith, morals and values guide those choices, but we must act upon them. Our daily choices have results and consequences. We decide our attitude for the day.  How positively we impact others is a decision we make.  Individually, each day we choose what we eat, when or if we workout, and like these decisions we all are in control of our own productivity at work and at home.  Every single one of us is in charge.  The answer to the question is, “I am!”   

You are in Charge!



Procrastination is a problem for me. Just as the people that work for me.   I am not near as productive as I should be.  There are always good excuses to put things off.  Sound familiar? I feel a little bit like I am writing this MMM directly to myself!  There are two specific things I need to remind myself in order to become more productive…

Stop planning, start doing!
I am a great planner. There are a lot of plans in my head, notes in my desk, and lists on my computer.  I have regular work projects that need completion. There are books to write and businesses to start.  Planning is important but at some point, you have to just do it.  Plan appropriately, but don’t let the planning become the work.  More importantly, don’t let planning be your excuse for procrastination.

Don’t be a perfectionist!
Chasing perfection causes me to take longer to complete tasks.  It just takes more time to be perfect and it is almost never required.  This is actually a bigger challenge for those of us that are self-employed.  We don’t have others to impose deadlines and demand completion despite imperfections.  Just know that it always takes longer to be perfect and the payoff for that perfection seldom offsets the time it takes.


How Are Your Investments Doing? (part 2)

No, I am still not referring to your stock portfolio.  This time I am talking about your investment in your community.  Where are you giving back?  What organizations are benefitting from your time and talents?  What kind of an investment are you making in the community that supports your business?  Will you leave a legacy? 

Communities and organizations do not grow without the support of good leaders.  Just like we invest in others we should invest in our community.  The greatest thing about giving back is what you learn and how you grow by doing so.  We have all heard it said, those who give back get more than they give.  It is true, that is why it is an investment.  Be involved in your community.  Support a cause you are passionate about.  Share your time and skills for a worthwhile cause.  Make your community a better place to live.

We are meant to live in community.  We are designed to support others and be supported by others.  Be intentional about investing in your community.  Trust me, you will see a return on your investment.

How are your investments doing?


How Are Your Investments Doing?

No, I am not talking about your stock portfolio.  I am talking about your investment in other people!  One of the most important investments we make is in other humans.  We invest time, love and attention into people around us every day.  (If you are not positively investing in others you should be.)  The most valuable thing that we can give others is our time and our undivided attention.  As leaders it is our responsibility to invest in people.  We invest time with people who want to understand our careers.  Time should be dedicated to helping others avoid our mistakes.  We spend time mentoring.  Sharing the wisdom of our experiences is an investment in someone else.  Helping people through difficult personal or professional times is an investment in them.  Building meaningful and lasting relationships is a significant investment. 

We are meant to live in community.  We are designed to support others and be supported by others.  Be intentional about investing in people.  Make relationship investing a part of who you are. Trust me, you will see a return on your investment.

How are your investments doing?


In the news

You don’t need the Monday Morning Minute to comment on current events.  There are plenty of other sources for commentary on the news. However, I feel differently given the events of this past week. 
Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash – I was impacted by this more so than I expected.  I am not a Lakers fan, Kobe fan, or really an NBA fan. Perhaps, it was the fact that there were three 13-year-old athletic girls involved in the crash that reminded me of my granddaughter who is that age. Maybe, it was the thought of the families left behind and the outpouring of stories of support and love for those that were lost.  Whatever the case, it is a reminder of the fragile and short nature of our lives. I have already been blessed with 20 more years than Kobe got, but beyond that there is no guarantee. 
Coronavirus – The case count for this deadly virus is over 8,200 (as of this writing.)  This causes me think about how small the world truly is.  We loosely use the term “it’s a small world”, but the speed and distances of which this virus has spread, shows us the true small world we live in today.  We are incredibly connected, not just electronically, but physically through the travel and movement of people globally.  It also reminds me that medicine is still an art and not a science.  As much as we know about disease and disease prevention, this particular virus has a head-start on our professional medical community.  It is not a helicopter crash, but it is a life-threatening event outside of our control.
Life is precious, yet fragile.  Hold on to those you love closely.  Don’t put off saying what needs to be said.  Don’t delay going where you want to go.  Do the things now that you enjoy.  Live life to the fullest today. Remember, we are promised nothing beyond the moment we are currently living.


A Broader Focus

Do you spend time pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone?  Do you intentionally seek to grow in areas where you are uncomfortable?  Do you force yourself to focus on things you are not really interested in?  To grow as a truly well rounded and balanced person and leader, you need to be doing all three. 

Mark Wahlberg is featured in the current issue of “Entrepreneur”.  Consider this quote from that article…

“When I was younger, I was able to focus on things I was interested in, but I had no time and no desire to focus on or be disciplined about things I wasn’t interested in, he answered, “And I realized that I needed to be disciplined all around, in every capacity – and that would allow me to become successful, or at least have the best chance to succeed.”

The writer went on to state…As we get older, we don’t become different people – we become bigger people, understanding the many multitudes of things we must consider, and care about, and take on.  Our pathway to success isn’t just about going forward, but about going wide.

Take an interest in something new this week. Be intentional about going wide, not necessarily deep.


Do the right thing

…even when nobody is looking. The true test of integrity is to do the right thing even when it won’t be seen by others. The right thing is always the right thing.  You know it in your gut. Don’t let the bright light of the public eye, or the darkness of a solitary decision influence what you know to be the right thing. 

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day today, consider this quote attributed to him.

The time is always right to do what is right.
            -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do the right thing, even when nobody is looking.


How do you treat others?

What do you think about when you hear that question?  There are basic considerations like opening doors for others and letting people go first in line.  There are also daily pleasantries like saying “how are you” and “thank you”.  In my mind there is one true measure of how we treat people that ranks above all others; the way we speak to someone.  What we say, and often more importantly, how we say it, is the key to how we treat people.  Our words are powerful.  Our tone can be harmful.  Our decision to talk or listen sends a message. 

Never underestimate the power of the spoken work.  Unfortunately, that spoken word is easy to use in anger and retaliation. It is the first thing we use without thinking when responding to someone.  It can be made hurtful by the words we choose and the tone with which they are said.  However, the spoken word can also be used to lift someone up, to show true love and support, to encourage and to teach.  It can communicate our deepest feelings and share our most private thoughts.  The power is ours.  We make the choice about exactly how to use the power of a spoken word.  How we talk to people is the true barometer of how we treat them. 

So, when you open your mouth today think about how you really treat others?


Welcome to 2020!

Can you believe another year has flown by? This is the first full week of the new year. For that matter, it is the first full week of a new decade.  How will this year be better or different for you?  How will this decade change your life?

Have you made New Year resolutions? Do you have personal or professional goals? Maybe you have a theme or a word for the year.  What about a 2020 Bible verse? It does not matter the tool you use to motivate yourself, or the system you use to change or improve.  Sticking with it is the important thing.  If you want to make progress this year, you will need to be as interested in April and September as you are this week.  Continuous and ongoing improvement is the key.  There is nothing magical about beginning a new year.  It is, however, a great opportunity for a new outlook and some fresh thinking.  Choose what works best for you, just don’t miss the chance to make this year a great one.

How will you grow in 2020?