Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

As this year draws to a close I hope that the MMM has played a small role in challenging you to be a better you over the last twelve months.  Enjoy your time with family and friends this week and prepare to hit the ground running for 2017 next week!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


What are you known for?

Certain cities are known for specific things, like food, culture, and architecture.  Celebrities and politicians are often famous for specific good deeds, or maybe more often, certain indiscretions.  Years in history are known for what happened during them.  What are you know for?

It is a question often discussed in real time about public figures, but for a lot of us it does not come up until someone leaves this earth.  We tend to discuss legacies only once someone passes away.  But we are known for who we are now, and what we do while we are alive!  Our regular daily behavior leads us to have a certain reputation.  Our legacy is being built daily as we speak and act.  It can be changed before we die!

How will you be remembered for “the dash” of your life?  What will you be known for during the years between your birth and death?  If you don’t like the answer, get to work on how to change it while you still can!


Be The Best You Can Be

Are you a different person in certain circumstances?  Does your personality literally change in some situations?  I tend to be incredibly impatient behind the wheel of my car.  Patience is not my strength at any time, but it is even worse when I am driving.  I need to work on that part of my life.  (And probably several others as well.)  It is not good if there are situations that bring out the worst in you.  Are you different when you have been drinking?  What about when you are under stress or frustrated?  Or just when you are running behind schedule?  Maybe you are really different around certain people?  Do you change who you are when you get home from work? 

We should strive to be the best we can be in all situations.  Circumstances should not dictate our personality or values.  Granted, certain circumstances require different types of responses, but they should not totally change our behavior for the worse.  Be the best you that you can be in every situation.



 Life is hard, I said that a few weeks ago.  We are not promised happiness but we have some influence over it.  Life happens to us daily, and we chose how to handle and react to it.  Even our thoughts are not totally under our control.  Doesn’t your mind race with things that you would rather not think of or worry about?  You cannot control the thoughts that come into your mind.  But you can control the ones you dwell on.  We should intentionally chose to dwell on positive thoughts and minimize the negative ones.  I understand that is not easy.  And mental illness for some of us makes it impossible.  But many of us can control the thoughts we focus on.  We can choose to be positive.  It may take practice.  Don’t let your negative thought life overwhelm you.



 As Thanksgiving approaches it is important to consider the true meaning of being grateful.  Being thankful means to have gratitude or be appreciative.  But if you look up the definition of thankful you get into a circular reference between grateful, thankful and appreciative.  All of those definitions refer to one another.  Being truly thankful is a state of mind.  It is the basic understanding that not all of what we have, and enjoy, is the result of our own doing.  God blesses us daily with the people, places and circumstances in our lives.  Consider your life and be thankful this week.  Make sure that those who positively impact you know that you appreciate them.  Teach your family how to truly understand their blessings and to be grateful for them.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!



The Monday Morning Minute was born twelve years ago this week.  It began as an encouraging internal communication at Fleetwood Retail Corp., a former employer that that is long since gone.  Since then it has grown to a widely distributed communication with the goal of starting your week with a challenging or encouraging thought.  People need a jump start on Monday morning to get back into a work mode.  We all need some reminder about our leadership roles in life as we begin each week.  More importantly, we must continuously learn and grow.  Some of you have been along for the ride from the very beginning, others have joined more recently.  Many of you I know, some of you I do not.  Whatever the case, I hope you get a little something from my shared thoughts each Monday morning.  I hope that you gain at least a slightly different perspective for your week.  I look forward to many Monday Morning Minutes to come…


Life Is Hard

When I hear somebody say that life is hard, I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?" 
       --Sydney J. Harris

This is a very thought provoking quote.  Life may be hard.  I don’t think we have any real right to complain about that.  We are not promised otherwise, but it is not always hard.  Actually, most of us are incredibly blessed.  When we think life is too hard what exactly would we like it to be?  I know, there a lot of easy answers to that... trouble free, healthy, stable, happy, comfortable, and less challenging.  But that is not life is it?   



To blame or not to blame?  There are appropriate times to seek and place blame.  Like when lives have been lost or harmed, and when property is damaged.  But often in matters of somewhat less importance, but significant none the less, we try too hard to blame others.  Admirable is the notion of taking responsibility for ones’ action.  It is too easy to place blame, point the finger, or deny responsibility.  We all do it to some degree, but in highly visibly situations, on important issues and in teaching moments, great leaders pass on blaming others (even if somewhat justified).  The high road is one taken without blaming others and a wise choice to make.  Think about that at home in the example we set for our kids.  Unfortunately our younger generation seems extremely quick to lay blame.  Take responsibility for whom and what you are.  Pass up the finger pointing opportunity and lead by example.  Consider this quote…

“The search for someone to blame is always successful.”
      - Robert Half


Outside the Box Thinking

 Did you know that sticker burrs (yes like you find in a field of weeds) were the inspiration for the fastener we now know as Velcro?  Makes sense, but I sure would not have thought of it.  When we look at the familiar with fresh eyes we really open our minds to creativity.  I am not the most creative guy around but I try and look at business problems with an open mind.  It is very easy to get caught in a rut, to live with blinders on.  We tend to only see things within the parameters we are accustomed.  But wild ideas are often really very creative solutions.  “Thinking outside the box” is an overused phrase but it is a necessary way of thinking.  It does not come naturally.  We have to consciously force ourselves to see with fresh eyes and think outside of the box.

How will you see things this week?  



In our hurried world I feel like we overlook the importance of kindness.  We easily forget the power of a simple kind word or gesture.  With so much technology at our finger tips it is important to remember that this is still a world made up of people with real human emotions.  Below are some great reminders about the importance of the simple art of heartfelt kindness.  Exhibit some genuine kindness this week.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
-          Plato

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
-          Leo F. Buscaglia

"The measure of a truly great man is the courtesy with which he treats lesser men."
-          Anonymous

"If you can't feed a hundred people, just feed one.”

-          Mother Teresa


The Lost Art of the "Blinker"

There is a nifty feature on automobiles and trucks that allows one to indicate, by a flashing light, their intention to turn or switch lanes.  These turn signals were invented in the early 1900’s and patented in 1938.  By the 1960’s they were pretty much standard on all cars produced in the US.  There is one in your car, I am sure of it.  Yes I said 1960, which is over 50 years ago.  I find it interesting, okay frustrating, that this device has been in place for this long and it still has not gained total acceptance within our society.  It is so simple to indicate to those of us around you what your directional intentions while driving.  In my experience the act of turning and switching lanes without the use of a “blinker” happens all too often.  Do we think that some people do not understand how to use the device?  Or are they simply too inconvenienced to flip their wrist or just a finger?  (Maybe they are just on their phone!)  I am thinking there may even be a law requiring the use of this device…

The use of the blinker, a lost art indeed…

(Not your typical leadership challenging MMM, but an important topic none the less, at least to me)


Your Word?

 Often we talk of others in terms of being able to take them for their word.  A common compliment is “He is a man of his word.”  Today let’s think about that concept by looking in the mirror?  Are you a man or woman of your word?  Can others take you at your word?  More importantly would you trust your own words?  Do you communicate with integrity and the intention to stand behind your word?  Words are powerful tools.  Trust is built on words supported by honesty and integrity.  Trust can be destroyed by words of deceit and misrepresentation.  Our word is one of the few things we have that we totally control, can’t be taken from us, and will always play a role in how we impact the lives of those around us. 



Take The High Road

Everybody has heard the saying "take the high road", and most people probably have their own idea as to what it means.  I recently read some thoughts by John Maxwell on this phrase.  Consider the following simple thoughts regarding taking the high road...

·         Don't keep score
·         Forgive quickly
·         Serve others
·         Don't worry about getting even

It involves being humble and selfless and what's even harder, not holding a grudge.  
Life is too short, take the high road!



Success is defined by each of us in different ways.  It should be a personal definition, not shaped by society, the media or others' opinions.  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 should be practiced daily not something we believe we reach and we are done.  One’s success does not have to be about financial or materialistic achievements.  Success is a recipe for contentment.  What is your definition of success?  Below are a few good keys in my mind...
  • Tell the truth
  • Be willing to do your part
  • Get mad but don't be stupid
  • Tell the devil to go to Hell (but nobody else)
  • Be a giver not a taker
  • Seek God
  • Encourage people
  • Pass along your strengths, not your weaknesses, to your kids
  • Be kind and tenderhearted
  • Forgive
  • Grant and accept grace
  • Be humble

* Portions taken from Keith A. Craft on Leadershipology.com.


The Spoken Word

The spoken word is more powerful than we know.  Words can both hurt and heal.  They can tear down or build up.  What we say can educate or just berate.  Words can sting, but also 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 out words without thinking of their 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, consciously choose, today, to be positive with what you say.  


Happy Labor Day

It is not just about football season starting…

Labor Day: What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.


Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

Change is hard.  There have been many a MMM written about the need to change, the power of change and the challenge of change.  Change has to start with some specific action, because if nothing changes then nothing will change.  We have to start somewhere.  Life is a process, not a destination.  It is largely about change and adaptation to circumstances.  It is about how we improve ourselves over our lifetime.  It does not happen with ease.  Change is not easy and is not required, but it is advised.  Wanting to change, planning to change or knowing that we need to change are not enough.  We must initiate change by actually changing.  Consider the thoughts below…

"In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are."
- Max De Pree

“If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.”
- Anonymous


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 have to act upon them.  We decide our attitude for the day.  Each of us is in charge of how positively we impact others.  Individually each day we choose what we eat and 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!



Maybe it is my age, hopefully it is also the technological world we live in, but I have a hard time concentrating for an extended period of time.  There are too many distractions.  It’s incredible how quickly we learn of news events in this world of social media, smartphones and the internet.  Then there is the rest of the generally worthless information we can access immediately!  Interruptions are constantly available at our fingertips.  How important is it to overcame distractions and be able to focus?  It is critically important for success.  Times may have changed in regard to how we access news and information and what we do with it.  One thing that has not changed is that results are all that matter.  If we are not producing results in our professional life we are not succeeding.  That is largely true at home as well.  Use your time wisely.  Do not let the distractions of our instant gratification world distract you.  

“The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business; or almost anywhere else for that matter.”
-       Lee Iacocca



“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it. ”  
Lou Holtz

Seldom do I use a quote without some added comments.  I think this says it all.

What kind of attitude do you have?


Effective Leadership

“Effective leaders have an acute sense of their own strengths and weaknesses.  They know who they are – and who they are not.  They don’t try to be all things to all people.” 
-       Gallup Management Journal

What a great statement about effective leadership.  It all begins with knowing one’s self.  That means truly, objectively, and critically understanding who you are.  It means knowing enough to see what you don’t know.  It means recognizing who you are not, and never will be.  Leaders often feel some pressure to have all the answers, be everything to everybody.  Truly effective leaders see they cannot do that.  They have an understanding of their own weaknesses.  They do not pressure themselves to answer every issue.  That pressure leads to poor decisions and marginal leaders.  Be an effective leader, know yourself!



Jerry Jeff Walker sings a song entitled Too Old to Change.  I recall being in my mid to late twenties and thinking that song applied to me.  I had this notion that I was who I was, and was not likely to change much, people around me just needed to accept that.  At that point my song title should have been Too Stupid to Change.  Maybe it still should be!  We are never too old to change, we are however, often too hard headed to change.  In fact we do not grow as people if we do not change.  We must change to grow and improve ourselves.  I know this better now, even if I am still not very good at it.  Life is all about change and how we accept, embrace and adapt to it. 

Don't be too old to change!



It seems like we live in a time where nobody wants to be held accountable and everyone is pointing fingers, placing blame on others.  Owning the outcome of our own decisions seems a lost character trait.  Great leaders take responsibility and don’t use blame as a deflector.  It is honorable and respectful to be accountable; it builds character and develops loyal followers.  Accountability is the foundation to collaborative teamwork.  While it is certainly easy to always place blame elsewhere, it is seldom productive.  Are you accountable for your own actions?

“The search for someone to blame is always successful.”
--Robert Half


Leaders are Encouragers

As leaders our job is to move people to accomplish a common goal.  We are always watching and monitoring accomplishments, milestones and deadlines.  One way to do that is to nag your team about where they stand on the path to the goal.  Another way is to encourage them along the way.  Think about which way you prefer to be led.  In which circumstance are you more likely to thrive and grow?  I prefer to be encouraged, and I want to encourage others.  Encouragement can inspire, it strengthens people and spurs them to accomplishment.  Nagging on the other hand feels like berating and can be annoying and irritating.  People do not reach goals quickly when they feel annoyed and irritated.  And more importantly they do not grow.  Great leaders are encouragers.  By the way so are great parents!  Are you an encourager?

“People have a way of becoming what you encourage
to them to be, not what you nag them to be.”
                                                               --Scudder N. Parker



You Can't Please Everybody...

Why is it that we feel like leaders have to please everyone?  That is not possible.  Our world is made up of an incredible variety of personalities and opinions.  As leaders we have to work with concepts that move the majority, plans that can gain consensus, and a style that has a broad appeal.  Leaders cannot win over every single person and attempting to do so is a waste of effort and time.  Don’t spend too much energy on that last negative holdout.  Some people are just never happy.  For that matter some are simply unwilling to get behind good leadership.  Consider this quote…

Don’t try to win over the haters. 
You’re not the jackass whisperer.
                                            --Scott Stratten


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 is repeated from one originally issued 07.02.07.  It will continue be repeated as long as I write MMM’s on the Monday closest to the anniversary of the passing of my father.)



We are all leaders.  Some are formal leaders with titles, others informal leaders with influence.  We lead at home, church, in our community and at work.  We lead our children, our peers and our employees.  If you do not consider yourself a leader you are ignoring an opportunity to influence those around you. 

For the last seven weeks we have explored traits of great leadership.  These qualities should be important to us.  We should strive to embody them.  They are summarized below.  Embrace these and be a great leader! 

  •  Hope - Great leaders give people hope for a better tomorrow.
  •  Consistency - When followers never know what to expect from a leader they will stop expecting anything.
  •  Influence - People do not respond well when pushed, forced or directed, they respond best when influenced by a leader they respect. 
  •  Honesty & Trust - Trust and honesty are established when words and actions match up.
  •  Accountability - Leaders understand that followers need to see leaders who are willing to be accountable. 
  • Humility - As leaders we should be concerned with what is right, not if we are right. 
  • Respect & Caring - People do not care what you know until they know that you care.



Leadership - Respect & Caring

People do not care what you know until they know that you care.  I think that may be a John Maxwell quote, but I have heard it from multiple sources.  It is true that followers respond better when they know that leaders genuinely care.  In addition people respond even more positively when treated with respect.  I believe that respect is a fundamental right to which all people are entitled.  As leaders we do not get to trample on people and forget the respect they are due as humans.  Basic caring and respect is a great trait for true leaders.  There are many leaders who do not possess these characteristics.  They may appear to be successful, and may in fact be some of the time, however long term they will not maintain loyalty.  Ultimately they will not be respected.  Our goal as leaders is to move people towards a common goal.  People tend to be more willing to move when they feel respected and they work better for leaders they respect.  Goals are reached more easily when all members of a team respect one another, leaders and followers alike.  Make sure you lead with caring and respect…


Leadership - Humility

Leadership – Humility

Consider these two great quotes regarding humility and why it is a key to quality leadership.

"Humility is not about thinking less of yourself; it is about thinking about yourself less."

Humility is a great virtue, but it does not mean you have to think less of yourself.  Being humble means thinking of others more than yourself.  That does not mean that you think less of yourself.  As the matter of fact it you can feel a whole lot better about yourself by thinking more about others.  You may not associate humility with great leadership but truly exceptional leaders understand the importance of humility. 

“Pride is concerned with who is right.  Humility is concerned with what is right.”
            -Ezra Taft Benson

As leaders we should be concerned with what is right, not if we are right.  What a great world it would be if we were all more concerned with what is right than who is right.  We spend a lot of time defending our position, arguing our viewpoint and building our own individual case.  Is our position always what is right?  That seems doubtful.  There are times we may be arguing for what is right, but often we are just concerned with being right.  Sometimes we even know that we are not right, but we just can’t bring ourselves to admit that we are wrong.  It should not be about being wrong.  It should be about what is right.  This is a tough one for many leaders.  Often leaders think they are supposed to be right and always have the answers.   

Leadership is not about being focused on oneself and always being right.  Leadership is about thinking more about other and what the right answer is for the situation.  Practice humility…


Leadership – Accountability

For some reason accountability seems to be lost in today’s society.  We are always looking to blame others and point fingers.  Why is it that we are so unwilling to be held accountable for our actions?  Great leaders don’t see it that way.  They are absolutely willing to be held accountable for their actions and decisions.  Accountability breeds responsibility and keeps the buck from being passed around.  Leaders understand that followers need to see leaders who are willing to be accountable.  They also understand that being accountable enables them to hold others accountable as well.  A leaders’ willingness to take responsibility for their actions builds credibility and respect.  On the other hand, the lack of accountability in leadership can undermine authority and lead others to shirk responsibility as well.  Not only is the concept of accountability important in our professional leadership roles but it is even more important at home.  Children need to learn to take responsibility for their actions; it is the only way they will grow up to become accountable leaders.  Be a great leader at work, in your community and at home.  Be accountable!


Leadership - Honesty & Trust

The great guitarist Bo Diddley once said, “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your butt can’t cash.”  Others must believe in you before they are going to follow you.  They need to know that you are going to do what you say you are going to do.  They need to believe that you are honest and can be trusted.  They need to know that your check is not going to bounce!   Honesty and trust go hand in hand with great leadership.  People must experience the leader as believable, credible and most of all, trustworthy.  Trust and honesty are established when words and actions match up.  You don’t build trust by talking about it.  You build it by achieving results, always with integrity and in a manner that shows real personal regard for the people with whom you work.  Honesty is a key to integrity and the trust building process. Trust is what other people invest in you, based on your integrity and honesty.  Trust is their absolute confidence that you are truthful and reliable.  Great leaders are honest and trustworthy!


Leadership - Influence

Have you ever tried to push a string?  It is kind of like nailing Jell-O to a tree.  Neither is really possible. Leadership is not much different.  People do not respond well when pushed, forced or directed.  They respond best when influenced by leaders they respect.  Great leaders are able to influence others, to persuade them to a higher calling.  Influence is the key to leadership, not authority. 
A leaders’ position does not grant them loyal followers, only subordinates.  The only thing a title does for a leader is buy them a little time to either gain or lose influence.  True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned.  It comes only from influence, and that can’t be mandated, it must be earned.  Leadership at its heart is not about authority.  It is about the capacity to energize human resources.  The capacity to energize human resources is influence.  Influence only comes from developing relationships and earning respect over time.

How is your leadership influence?


Leadership - Consistency

Great leaders must be consistent.  When followers never know what to expect from a leader they will stop expecting anything.  Consistency means handling similar situations with a common response.  It involves treating people fairly and being dependable.  Consistency brings stability to an organization and a situation.  Good leaders demonstrate consistency by always being there for their employees, family, volunteers and organization.  It does not mean that great leaders are not dynamic or willing to change.  In fact they must possess the ability to do those as well.  But solid and stable leadership always has some theme of consistency.  Be consistent as you lead this week.     


Leadership - Hope

Great leaders are purveyors of hope. People want a better tomorrow. They want to believe in, and be excited about, the future. Great leaders cast a vision of hope. They instill a positive outlook towards days to come. People need to be led to genuinely...

 • Hope that the team will win
 • Hope that the project will be successful
 • Hope that the tough times will get better
 • Hope that the hard work will pay off
 • Hope that the tough decisions are worthwhile

 Please don’t misunderstand; hope is not a good way to manage a business. Budgets, strategic plans, targets and forecasts are all tools that leaders use to manage a business on a day to day basis. But hope is needed to lead people. Hope is an intangible, but one that as a matter of human nature we all seek. Great leaders give people hope for a better tomorrow. Lead with hope…



What makes a great leader?  What does it take to lead people to a common goal?  To instill confidence in a team?  To accomplish more than thought possible?

I believe there are a few keys to great leadership…
·         Hope
·         Consistency
·         Influence
·         Honesty & Trust
·         Accountability
·         Humility
·         Respect & Caring

This is not a comprehensive list but a critical one.  Leaders often combine these with other important qualities and not all leaders possess them all.  Many leaders have as many strengths as they do weaknesses.  But I believe that at least some of these qualities are present in all great leaders.  Think of the people you have respected and followed willingly.  Did they not lead with some of these characteristics?    In the coming weeks we will take a look at each of these keys to leadership.   



If you have followed the MMM for very long at all, you know the value I place on listening.  It is one of the most powerful and respectful actions that we can demonstrate as humans.  As leaders, great listening skills are even more important.  Focused listening sends an unspoken message that you value what someone is saying. The more you listen the more trust and loyalty you develop with your team.  So what happens in the absence of listening?  Consider this quote…

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”
-Andy Stanley