Say hello

Use the form on the right to contact me.

Please let me know if you'd like to connect or if I can help you in any way.

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

CAFE AND PEN.jpg

Articles

Daniel LeMoine is a social entrepreneur, change-maker, and writer. Here he writes at the intersection of faith, work, & building a matterful career.

Filtering by Category: career

Hold Loosely To Your Plans -- Here's Why and How

Dan LeMoine

A friend of mine is looking to start his first business. 

He and his wife have been in a limbo of decision between two different geographical locations and weighing the ups and downs of each in light of what makes sense from both a business perspective as well as family needs and the desire to be in a flourishing community.

[We should all commend him — the mere fact that he is concerned about the community his family will be in, the ministries they will pour into, the people they will serve with their time and resources and love, and the needs of his growing family speaks to this guys heart and rightly-oriented priorities. We need more leaders in the business world with this right focus.]

Have you ever been “bogged down in quandary about God’s will for your life,” as John Piper puts it?

As many of us who are working hard to make an impact and forge a purposeful path have experienced, making decisions between multiple good options can be really tough.

In making these tough decisions and discerning where to go and what to do, and how to keep moving forward in the face of uncertainty or ambiguity, I’ve found somethings to be particularly helpful. Things like: learning to hold loosely to your plans, moving forward in the face of uncertainty, and what “waiting on God” needs to looks like sometimes.

Regardless of the stage of career or life you’re in or what decisions you’re currently facing or plans you’re currently making, I hope this may help you as you grow in authentic leadership of your family and your organization:

We must hold loosely to our plans.

Plans are good. I love plans. I think they’re pretty fond of me too. It’s a nice thing me and Plans got going. I’m thinking about buying a ring soon...

Really though, plans are great. Who doesn’t love a good plan.

But, as I think we’d all agree, we must hold loosely to our plans. (Cue .38 Special’s Hold on Loosely)

As my friend reminded me during one of our mastermind conversations about his business decision — God's ways are higher than our ways.

We must tethering ourselves to the truth that God’s got us — identifying and reminding ourselves that he has provided, is providing, and will provide for all our financial, emotional, physical, physiological needs. Why? Because this creates powerful freedom and confidence which in turn allowing us to be our best selves and allocate clear mindshare to making these plans and decisions.

Why is this valuable from a leadership and entrepreneurial perspective?

Letting go of our need to control every minute detail, holding loosely to our decisions and plans allows us to do two things:

1). grow in contentedness, and
2). build tolerance with ambiguity.

The latter being a key aptitude of entrepreneurial success. As far as I can tell, every successful leader I know can tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty very well.

Entrepreneurs and courageous leaders still make plans of course, but holding loosely allows us to adapt and overcome when the inevitable happens — reality.

Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.
— Mike Tyson

There’s only so much you can plan for, and something always goes contrary to our plans. Holding loosely helps mitigate the shock and discouragement which comes when things don’t go as we plan. It also allows us to be more nimble when God calls us into somewhere we weren’t expecting.

Holding loosely is simple, but not easy to do. Here’s some tactics to help deploy this strategy and grow in this ability of "holding loosely."

Do stuff.

Sometimes when planning and decision-making we can tend to get a little bogged down. When making our plans and setting our intentions we can get paralyzed into inaction. “Analysis paralysis” some call it.

Holding loosely to your plans does not mean doing nothing.

Simply choosing to make a decision, and moving forward in a decision while being open to God changing our plans is one of the most powerful tactics in making things happen. It’s been key to helping me creating a career I’m proud of.

I believe God honors our plan-making, but it doesn’t mean he always will honor it in the way we expect or want. Thus we must hold loosely keeping open the option for him to "call an audible."

Proverbs 16:9 should be comforting: 

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. 

He will honor our plan-making by establishing where that planning and subsequent doing takes us. We mustn’t hold too tightly to our exact plans or our idea of what the destination has to look like. Let me give you an example...

Tale of Two Countries

In 2012 we clearly experienced God "establishing our steps" while moving forward in a plan we made. We had decided to make a big career move which would’ve taken us from Cleveland to Atlanta. I had weighed different options, made multiple “vision trips” to ATL, and diligently planned our next chapter, and we were moving forward with it.

Throughout the process we were committing our endeavours to God. In this moving forward God audibled our plans and used the momentum we’d already established to move us instead to the Dominican Republic.

The truth is, if we hadn’t started moving forward into our plan and begun transitioning into the uncomfortable season of changing careers and geographies, we’d not have been ready for what God really had for us. But since we’d already “pulled up anchor and cast off all the bowlines” in deciding on and planning our move to Atlanta, it readied us to hear and follow his call for us in the D.R. that much more doable. 

I think there’s a Chinese proverb that says something like: the path reveals itself as you walk it. (I’m writing this in the back of a van, in the Dominican, during Hurricane Matthew...so fact checking my Chinese-proverb efficacy isn’t an option at the moment).

So, make your plans, but be sure to start and keep moving forward. It is a powerful way to make stuff happen.

[ProTip: If you’re feeling stuck and not having clarity on a decision, try giving yourself a deadline on that decision. When the deadline arrives, move forward with your decision while being open to God establishing your steps.]

Maybe you’re asking: But what’s this “moving forward while holding loosely” strategy look like? How will I know where to go, what to do, what decisions to make?

"Close doors” vs. “Give me a sign"

Have you ever asked God to “give you a sign” of affirmation? I have. I still do — “God make it abundantly clear what we should do.” I also know that God’s ways don’t always (read: rarely) fit my fickle wants and narrow perspectives. So we’ve gotten in the habit of asking him to close doors while we’re moving forward in our best plan. We pray this especially if the decision is between multiple good options. Because at some point you just have to decide and get moving.

In my opinion and experience, this is a slightly better approach than the “God give me a clear sign of what to do” while you twiddle your thumbs doing nothing. Actively asking Him to close doors if you’re not moving in the direction is sometimes a superior option. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me — there is a time to wait in discernment. Yet often we get hamstrung and paralyzed making our plans or trying to make a choice or decision. Sometimes we may have the opposite problem and we need to slam on the breaks and do a little waiting because we're making big decisions in haste. I know friends who are more of the "ready-fire-aim-if-aim-at-all"-types who a bit of intentional slowing down might serve well.

Self awareness here is key — if you tend to make “hasties”, then waiting and asking God to make it abundantly apparent which decision is best is for you is a good approach. But, if you’re like me, and tend to fall on the slower and more intentional side of pulling the trigger, you may be susceptible to analysis-paralysis and possibly need to be actively moving forward while asking Him to close a door if you’re not moving in the right direction.

Ultimately, as John Piper aptly reminds us, God isn’t concerned with some of the decisions we’re preoccupied with. 

"The text [Galatians 5:15] begins with a clear and refreshing statement of Christ's will for our lives. Sometimes we get bogged down in a quandary about God's will. And often we worry about decisions which are simply not a great issue with God (where to go to school, what job to take, where to live, etc.). [Dan: where to hang my shingle.]

We need to orient our lives on the clear statements of Scripture regarding God's will. And here is one: "For freedom Christ has set us free." Christ's will for you is that you enjoy freedom. Where you go to school, what job you do, where you live, etc., are not nearly so crucial as whether you stand fast in freedom. If they were, the Bible would have commanded those things as clearly as it here commands freedom. But it doesn’t.” (bolding mine)

So continue making plans and making decisions. But hold loosely to your plans and continue to pray through your plans, giving them to God, and asking he right your path or close doors if you've taken a wrong turn.

Keep moving forward and keep holding loosely,

Dan

P.S. Here’s a bit more intensity on Planning and Doing from my friend and mentor Zach Clark.


ARTICLE NO. 77/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Structure and Discipline Equals True Freedom

Dan LeMoine

As Americans we idolize the fiercely independent-, pull yourself up by your bootstraps-, make your own way-type spirit and mentality. We love our freedom (even when we become slaves to it…but that’s a different conversation entirely).

Our natural reaction to imposed structure, routine, or authority is to resist it, to resent it, or to downright fight against it. It’s this culturally fuelledknee-jerk reaction which may be robbing us of our ability to achieve what we say we want to in work and life.

Each summer over the last several years, my wife and I have had a good amount of unstructured time during the summer which we've chosen to spend in the States with friends and family. We still have certain work responsibilities and deliverables, but these are much more fluid and doable from coffee shops, libraries, or home of family members. This gives us a ton of autonomy and freedom to do, really, whatever the heck we want.

We enter each summer with grandiose plans of hitting the gym, buying healthy food we don't often get in the D.R., spending time in the Word, catching up on sleep, putting energy into our friend/family relationships which may have atrophied slightly while living abroad, reading, resting, finally spending time on some personal passion project which may have been marginalized, and sticking to daily success habits (like this writing!).

And all of this “un-structure" leaves us no room for excuses for not executing against the things we say we want to do and be about. In theory, all of those above things should be easier to accomplish. 

Yet, unfortunately, the opposite generally occurs.

The diet slips. Workout routines go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks. The end of summer arrives and we realize we didn’t see any of the friends we dreamed of sharing time with. We let our quiet times with God get interrupted and shortened. And we too often end up longing for the routine and structure of home. 

This naturally happens without structure and the discipline of routine. This is because discipline and structure creates room for these things to flourish. And that’s true freedom.

I have a friend who has been extremely successful in his real estate business which affords him extreme flexibility in his time and finances. He told me recently, "I used to think that freedom was getting to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. But I ended up realizing that that is not freedom...I ended up being a slave to my emotions and passions." Wow.

It’s funny how a lack of to-dos, a lack of mission, a lack of routine and structure — the things we often resent or complain about — lead to a lack of discipline and thus a lack of freedom and a lack of accomplishing the things we say we want to achieve in our work and life. This fantasy of full-on autonomy with no accountability is toxic to productivity and purpose, building bulletproof habits, and building your body of work. Lack of structure sabotages success.

I’ve found that I am incredibly more creative and productive in all areas of my life when I have an appropriately full plate.

Regardless of whether you’re in a super full season, or a more unstructured season like our summers — taking a few minutes to set your daily/weekly intentions, outlining your game plan for executing on them, and scheduling your routine and habits, making sure to align them with your overall goals — is key to success. Without structure and intentional routine, we end up allowing ourselves to compromise and operate at a sub-optimal state.

Too often we hear about the athlete who retires, only to return a season later out of sheer boredom. Or the ambitious high-achiever working their whole lives for this loosely defined “retirement” only to have a feeling of purposelessness and loss of direction once they get their.

Having purpose in your days starts with structure and routine and discipline. We may say we want full un-fettered freedom and autonomy, yet deep down we all crave structure. Our independent American spirit is something we can harness for such good, but let’s not let our craving for freedom and autonomy rob us of doing what we ought, or from structuring our time and energy for optimal output in doing the work we were created for. 

Do you find yourself resenting structure or routine? Is there a way you can leverage structure and routine in your life to cultivate discipline and crush your goals? 


ARTICLE NO. 70/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Change: Why We Hate It & What To Do About It

Dan LeMoine

When asked if he was concerned that he would confuse the market when they decided to split popular check-in app Foursquare into two separate apps, founder Dennis Crowley told Inc.

“Initially, we heard a mix of complaints and praise. But 90 percent of Foursquare users adopted Swarm for check-ins within a matter of weeks, we we think we’re on strategy. On the internet people don’t like to change until they experience it.” [1]

I don’t think this is limited to user habits on the internet.

In the 4 years my wife has been in leadership at the world-changing school we help run, she often receives (as most leaders do) complaints and criticism from different stakeholders about “all the change” they’ve experienced over the years. But when asked what specific changes they’re unsettled with, rarely can they come up with specific changes they are discontent with.

It’s not because things haven’t changed. It’s just that, rationally speaking, they (read: we) love positive change (and our staffers tell us as much). Yet emotionally there is a resistance to change.

Rationally, we see the need for improvement and organization and change. Emotionally, our reaction to change (or the mere suggestion of it), at least initially, is often in opposition of it.

Change is rarely the path of least resistance, which is the path we’ve been conditioned to want and too often take. Embracing change is never a default mode in our comfort zone. Change is scary because with it comes an innate sense of ambiguity and uncertainty — two variables our control-addicted culture resists. Tolerance of these things is a feature we must cultivate and learn to love (or at least manage) if we want to grow and develop as leaders and as humans. Embracing and navigating and initiating change is a key ingredient if we’re looking to move from a fixed mindset to a growth-mindset.

Fortunately, we always have a choice when change is upon us.

We can choose to scream, cry, rage, complain, and criticize, get angry, dig our heels in, sandbag, or run away...

Or we can choose to observe the changing landscape as objectively as possible and ask ourselves: how can I use the change to benefit, grow, further our mission and further my calling?

We can choose to be paralyzed by the shifting state of affairs. Or we can choose to leverage this uncertainty and ambiguity (and the paralysis of others) to connect more, impact more, drive more value.

Tolerance of change, ambiguity, and uncertainty seems to be a common denominator of the successful and effective leaders in almost any sphere of culture. It allows our best leaders to remain relevant, connect with others, and seize opportunity. 

Questions to Push You Towards Leadership In Change

Here are a few more probing and guiding questions we can ask ourselves when we confront change:

What can I control here? 

In what ways can I be part of leading this change? How can I be proactive in the change versus being driven by it or reactive to it?

Why am I finding myself resistant? What do I feel like I’m losing by changing? Is there anyway to embrace this change while maintaining the best things from what we were doing?

Is it helpful and beneficial to complain, criticize, get angry or mad? If not, how can I take captive those emotions and harness them to my advantage?

How could this change actually spur me to grow? Is there a way I can frame this to develop more grit, resilience, perseverance, strength of character? 

Where is the opportunity here (to love, to profit, to connect, to impact, etc.)?

Does this change inhibit my ability to live out the gospel — that is to love God and love others? Or does it create more/new opportunities to shake things up and do so.


Quoted from Inc. Magazine in an article by Scott Gerber, October 2014

Further Perspective on Change

Explained: Why We Don’t Like Change, Huffington Post article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, PHd

---

ARTICLE NO. 68/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

 

On Your Quest For Big You Become Bigger

Dan LeMoine

I touched on this yesterday, but we must divorce ourselves from the idea that success and scale looks like a straight line cleanly moving up and to the right.

To truly grow as leaders and grow our organizations in a healthy way, we must embrace the tension that comes with pushing your boundaries to grow while constantly battling the urge to tie our worth to how clean or successful our path looks. When we can embrace our imperfections, reframe failure as a key ingredient in growth that is when we flourish, regardless of the outcome.

The result of doing (even if it might not work)

With our identity placed in something (or Someone) other than the outcome of our efforts we are freed to be audacious. As we push into the possibility of failure in the name of curiosity, embrace the rollercoaster path, seek learning, and develop our understanding of what is possible, growth occurs.

The worst thing we can allow ourselves is to be paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. By pushing into the possibility of failure (or embarrassment or confronting past demons and failures), and embracing this truth that the path is not up-and-to-the-right, the mountain we thought we were trying to scale now seems like a mole hill. 

When we realize the journey is full of false peaks on the way to a larger destination it helps us achieve new levels of growth. And each new level of growth we achieve by ruthlessly confronting these fears with our rightly framed expectation of what the journey looks like, gives us a right perspective on our work and what we're working to achieve. It gives us a perspective we'd never even have gotten if we had never started.

In your quest for big you become bigger.
— Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan in The One Thing

Start. Do. Fail. Grow. (Repeat)


ARTICLE NO. 67/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Is True Growth Always Up-And-To-The-Right?

Dan LeMoine

The word ’scale’ in a business context is usually synonymous with boundless growth. 

James Clear showed us that growth is hardly ever linear and often is either exponential (growth increases faster as time progresses) or logarithmic (growth slows as time progresses) depending on the area of your business or life you are trying to grow. And if we zoom in, we may also see that growth laden with valleys and false peaks and plateaus and stalls.

I have friends whose primary goal when launching their business was to hit critical mass as quickly as possible. This allowed them to establish and ‘trade’ on their company's reputation and portfolio of work rather than the connections and networks of our founding partners. They were seeking growth and scale relentlessly. They have achieved growth but if you'd ask them, they'd tell you it was anything but linear. Or where it may seem boundless and neat, that neatness came at the expense of some other area of their business or lives. 

We so badly want to make our path (in work and life) nice and neat and graph-ready. When we frame our expectations for up-and-to-the-right-type growth we are setting ourselves up for failure. What if we realize growth is more like scaling a mountain than an up-and-to-the-right linear path. What if we realize true growth comes with false peaks, detours, getting lost, being found, only to realize you were lost in the first place.

There is a lot of credence to learning from others who have gone before you; to following the path and listening to the wise sages that will help you identify and navigate the obstacles in your business and life. It’s natural to avoid hard stuff and constantly looking for the clean, easy, safe, and sanitized path that promises boundless linear growth in our careers and lives. But it may be much more effective to embrace obstacles and failures as necessary milestones to achieving lasting growth.

Want Growth? Then do, even if it might fail.

Sometimes we have to do a thing to find out the reason for it.
— John LeCarre

Part of growing is doing a thing even or especially if it may fail. We hear a lot about this in the start-up world — fail fast. fail often. Yet we still tend to avoid this in other areas of our lives we want to grow in.

So there in lies the growth. It’s not enough to just know the reason for something, we must DO. To grow we need the inquiry and learning, data-points, iteration, and intuition and intelligence which only come from doing.


ARTICLE NO. 66/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What Guides Us in the Marketplace?

Dan LeMoine

There’s a proverb that instructs:

“Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” [1]

Do we functionally acknowledge, consider, and think about Him when making decisions in our business, voting for public officials, marketing our product or service, revisiting conflict at the office, or making crucial people decisions?
Or do we simply adopt the standards and methods which everyone else uses?

Do we work to allow Him to guide us?
Or do we thoughtlessly rush into things allowing our default modus operandi be driven by our pop-culture and the latest business gurus?

Do we trust Him that making decisions in the name of Jesus and for the sake of what is right, and which might cost us something, will put us on right paths? Are we really ready to let our faith inform our work in a way which is costly?
Or do we just say we trust him with our whole lives, but when the rubber meets the road we adopt “secular” practices which, and if we were honest with ourselves, are not the ways God would have us do it.

There’s nothing wrong with learning from others, seeking counsel, or even learning frameworks and best practices from the world around us (because unfortunately there’s no book in the bible that talks about effective cold emailing tactics). But until we learn to filter all that we take in and then all that we do — that is, our actions and decisions and intentions — through a Christ-centered worldview, then why would we believe we are on the right path?

Until we recalibrate the framework through which we conduct ourselves outside the walls of the church and in our daily lives, continually asking ‘why' until we get to our underlying intentions and weigh these intentions against the highest good of those around us, then why would we believe we’re heading in the right direction?

If you’re reading this, then you likely desire to be an intentional leader who walks with integrity and honor. Let’s let our intention inform the way we approach business through the lens of our faith as well.


[1] Proverbs 3:6 HCSB
---

ARTICLE NO. 63/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

My Online Brand Building Strategy

Dan LeMoine

By the end of July, when I finish the 100 Day Project, I’ll have written about 150 posts here — mostly on topics at the intersection of faith and work, building a career and body of meaningful work, and how to forge a faith for Monday (not just Sunday). Not a bad little base of content to play with, wouldn’t you say?

I got a question from a friend recently who receives my newsletter:

“[W]hat is your process for identifying and building your online brand?"

While right now my focus has been on putting in the reps, doing the work and writing everyday, that is not where it will stop. I have put some thought into this. Here’s the actions I plan to take to grow awareness and exposure of the ideas I publish here on this blog.  

My Personal Brand Building & Content Distribution Strategy

Here are the tactics and actions I plan to implement, in no particular order (unless otherwise indicated).

Move to a 1-2x/week Publishing Schedule

Daily writing is an excellent habit. Daily publishing is not where I’d like to stay. Moving to a 1-2x/week fixed publishing schedule will allow for more researched and well structured and articles. 

Cross Post Featured Posts to Medium

Medium is a massive platform with lots of eyeballs. Cross publishing there will generate more view and greater brand presence. A business partner and I deployed a similar strategy with The Beach Shirt when we began selling one of our products on Etsy. The number of eyeballs that get to your things on these larger platforms is a game-changer. It’s the difference between the farmer who waits for people to come buy his produce and the one who goes to sell it at the market where 100s of people come each weekend to buy.

Footer Call To Action on Medium

As I cross post to Medium, adding a footer call to action may be a good way to increase engagement and give people the opportunity to go deeper by linking back to my home blog. Something like:

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! You're a champion! :) If you enjoyed it, hit that heart button below. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

FYI: this article originally appeared on my website.

[*Hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk for this framework.]

Using Buffer, Systematically Share and Re/Post Articles on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn

I don’t have the time nor desire to be on Facebook and Twitter everyday, let alone multiple times per day. Enter Buffer app and the beauty of batch processing! The plan is to set aside a chunk of time and batch schedule the articles to be posted throughout the coming weeks, months.

Use @ Mentions On Twitter To Tag/Credit/Honor Thought Leaders

Mentioning and giving credit to the thought leaders, authors, and mentor who inspired or were quoted in a post would be a good way to both honor them, and gain some exposure. It may even open up the possibility of collaboration or a retweet here or there. Who Inspired Or 

Something like: “@chipconley thanks for inspiring this post! [title] [link]" or "@ScottBritton have you seen this post you inspired?! Thanks!"

‘Passive’ Call To Action in my Email Signature

Adding a subtle call to action on my personal email signature may drive a few more reads from people I’m already in communication with who otherwise do not know about this blog on faith and works. I’ve used this tactic successfully in the past for other ventures and projects, and this project is no different.

Something like:

--
Dan LeMoine
danlemoine.co
330.620.3597
P.S. Check out: “26 Game-Changing Tools You Need To Be Using” 

Using Pablo, Create Instagram Quote Cards From Posts I’ve Published

Pull out select quotes or ideas from the work I’m most proud of and begin sharing those visual images on Instagram and Twitter. Buffer launched an amazing tool called Pablo which allows anyone to create these quickly, easily, and beautifully — not being a designer is no longer an excuse not to incorporate well designed visual media into your marketing strategy!

Make Blogs More Consumable

I’ve already taken a step towards making blogs easier to consume on the site with the use of the search bar at top right. As well, creating a “Best Of” and/or “Start Here” pages where readers can quickly jump into topics or articles relevant to them, not just the most recently published.

Other Ideas I May or May Not Pursue:

  • Read short quote from a post on Anchor to drive awareness and traffic and build authority.
  • Seek out guest post opportunities on like-minded blogs, thought leaders, or online communities.
  • Submit articles to publication like Relevant magazine.
  • Repurpose several posts into a downloadable free ebook.

--

The rationale behind building my online “brand presence” is two-fold.

First, I have this goal of trying to never need to use a résumé to get hired again. I desire to leverage meaningful connections I’ve made and the work I’ve produced. This blog helps highlight the later and showcase my journey of growth, curiosity, learning and becoming a change-agent. I have this intuition that to get any job I’d love, it’d be much more effective to point someone to a well designed website highlighting my body of work and meaningful projects I’ve been involved in, rather than a list of where I’ve worked and bullet points trying to beef up what impact I had. In my opinion, résumés are somewhat antiquated. 

Secondly, I have put a great amount of time and thought into the posts and ideas found here. I believe there are others out there who my writing would connect with and they’d say, “this is what i’ve been looking for all along.” I believe if more professionals started really trying to align their beliefs on Sunday with their actions in the marketplace we’d have better leaders, better organizations, and a better world. And I’m hoping a few of these thoughts move that needle, if ever so slightly, in the right direction. But they never will if they never get shared.

So, there you have it. That’s my approach and my rationale. 

Any other ideas on how to build your personal online brand presence?

(P.S. if you know anyone who is working to build a matterful career in a way that is informed by and glorifies God, please send ‘em my way!)


ARTICLE NO. 62/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

One of the most entrepreneurial things you can do

Dan LeMoine

I think the most entrepreneurial thing someone can do is move to countries where they don’t speak the local language...
— Entrepreneur Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO, COMPASS

As someone who has moved to a country where I did not speak the language I have some inside perspective on this quote. Below are several entrepreneurial traits and qualities which are magnified and grown by living in a culture outside your own. Living in a culture which does not speak your native language forces you to:

Be resourceful.

You will find effective solutions for your everyday habits and routines which will inevitably be shaken up. You will find the best way to learn the culture and language quickly for you. You’ll identify your strengths and weaknesses and find tools and resources and routines to help you navigate based on those strengths. When you have no easy way to communicate, you will be forced to be more scrappy and gritty in order to communicate your message and intentions to survive. 

Think on your feet.

When you have to find the bathroom or you get thrown in front of local television cameras with no notice (#truestory) you will need to react quickly. To navigate another language and culture being adaptable is paramount. This think-on-your-feet adaptability is also a quality highly prized in the entrepreneurial ventures and positions.

Gain perspective (which results in empathy).

In the same way a fish likely doesn't even know what water is (video link), we often don’t know the wonderful, horrible, beautiful, ugly, amazing, broken, admirable and disgraceful aspects of our own culture. Not until we spend some significant time outside of it, can we have a more rightly oriented perspective of the best and worse parts of our own culture (and the culture we’re in). This more-realistic perspective results in empathy and critical thought as to how to bring the best of both cultures into your work and life.

Take risks (which grow your comfort zone). 

A friend told me about a conference where the keynote asked the audience to give a four-letter word which described how to be happy. Answers of love, cash, golf, abounded. The word the keynote speaker then offered was “risk.” Lives of fulfilment and happiness often have a healthy level of risk. Beyond fulfilment entrepreneurs are often very savvy at weighing and navigating risk within and for their organizations.

There’s risk in living in and navigating another culture. There’s risk in trying to speak a new languageYou’re forced to take risks everyday. Not to sound overly cliché, but the saying holds true in this regard: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."[1]

Determination in doing hard things.

There is massive value in doing hard things, in life and career. Not only does it expand your comfort zone, but it teaches us dependence, which is a virtue we don’t put much weight in in the Western world. Opening yourself to uncomfortableness, trials, situations where failure (if only social) is imminentcircumstances outside our control, and even suffering is something we tend to avoid at all costs.

This is unfortunate because these thing actually produce perseverance, endurance, emotional aptitude, self-awareness, and understanding. Moving to a culture where they do not speak your language exposes you to all of these things. I can’t help but think of Hebrews 12: 

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

To Develop and learn. 

Entrepreneurs crave learning and developing. Just like in the entrepreneurial landscape, in new culture, if you don’t develop you atrophy and die (not literally, I hope). I’ve found that the higher up and deeper into the Caribbean-Latino culture of the Dominican Republic I go, the more I crave (and need) to develop my linguistic and cultural knowledge. Where I am with my Spanish today is what I would have considered fluent four years ago, but not that I’m here, my definition of fluency has changed. I want more. I desire to continue growing out of a love for this language and the power it holds in allowing me to connect with others in this culture. Continual development is key to avoiding plateau and mediocrity.

To grow your confidence.

Your confidence grows, not only because you’re pushing the limits within yourself, but also because the constant failure of bludgeoning through a different language forces you to decouple your value, worth, and identity from how you look or perform. You’re forced to put your identity, if even just incrementally more, into something solid — in my case, my identity in Christ — which results in a more quite, peaceful strength and confidence. In our work, what we do is important. The problems we solve, the people we connect with, the growth we facilitateBut our confidence is not rooted in something (or Someone) deeper.

Comfortable with failure.

Every entrepreneur I know understands failure is part of the game. And I can’t think of any situation more than language learning where failure is so inherent. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and to deploy that learning to grow. Like the time my friend Curtis went into the local market looking for a pineapple (piña), but ended up asking for a penis (pene). HAAA. 

In another culture we have no other option than to laugh and move on past these failures, and hopefully this translates to our comfort with failure in our professional journey as well.

--//--

My path — as a believer, a husband, and as someone looking to build a matterful career — was forever altered (for the better) when we moved to the Dominican Republic in 2012. The extent to which my spiritualrelational, emotional, and vocational trajectories have been enhanced is beyond measure, and the value of my experiences living and serving in another culture will be something I’ll be uncovering and leaning on for the rest of my life.

It is inevitable that you’ll develop the values of learning to do hard things, grow your comfort zone, learn to be resourceful and scrappy, (re)orient and expand your perspective, learn to think quick on your feet, and have ample opportunities to develop, when you ever decide to take the leap and live outside your home culture. Whether it’s a few months, a few years, or a few decades, if you have the chance to live abroad in some capacity in a culture foreign to your own, I promise you will not regret it. The growth from living in a different culture and learning a different language is already proved to be massively valuable on my own entrepreneurial journey.


[1] Author Neale Donald Walsch
[2] Robert Reffkin quote from "In it to Win it: Compass Founder on Switching Up a Business Model" Creator Magazine (Nov. 2, 2015)

ARTICLE NO. 61/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Career Contentedness May Be Closer Than You (We) Thought.

Dan LeMoine

For most of us, we spend a vast majority of our waking time working. It’s part of God’s original commandment ("subdue the earth.”) Basically he’s saying, as far as I can tell, "go out and work to beautify the world." Build computers, compose music, scrub toilets (we’ll get to that in a minute), create structure and organizations which help others flourish.

It saddens me deeply when I see others who hate what they do for work. I have friends who synonym-ize loving what you do with being a workaholic. As if you must hate your job in order to justify being more focused on your family or to do work you really want to be doing.

I think we can agree that having a career you don’t find meaningful — or worse, one you hate or resent — is a tragedy and a sign of a wasted life.

Here’s the unconventional pivot to this “follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life”-type mentality: we can learn to love just about any job we find ourselves in*.

All this stuff about finding our vocational calling, following our passion, working to our strengths, etc. is really good stuff, don’t get me wrong. But is a very new luxury we are privileged to have. In the not-so-distant past you did what you did to survive, or what your family did, or what your tribe or community needed you to do, or what you were forced to do. Choice was a tertiary consideration, if a consideration at all. 

Are we saying those who had little autonomy over their professional destinies couldn't be happy and enjoy their work? I don't think so.

Here’s a story from entrepreneur and now Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at AirBnB, Chip Conley from his iconic TED Talk:

With the youthful idealism of a 26-year-old, in 1987, I started my company and I called it Joie de Vivre, a very impractical name, because I actually was looking to create joy of life. And this first hotel that I bought, motel, was a pay-by-the-hour, no-tell motel in the inner-city of San Francisco. As I spent time with Vivian, I saw that she had sort of a joie de vivre in how she did her work. It made me question and curious: How could someone actually find joy in cleaning toilets for a living? So I spent time with Vivian, and I saw that she didn't find joy in cleaning toilets. Her job, her goal and her calling was not to become the world's greatest toilet scrubber. What counts for Vivian was the emotional connection she created with her fellow employees and our guests. And what gave her inspiration and meaning was the fact that she was taking care of people who were far away from home. Because Vivian knew what it was like to be far away from home. […]

I guess I'm sort of a curious CEO. I was also a curious economics major as an undergrad. I learned that economists measure everything in tangible units of production and consumption as if each of those tangible units is exactly the same. They aren't the same. In fact, as leaders, what we need to learn is that we can influence the quality of that unit of production by creating the conditions for our employees to live their calling. In Vivian's case, her unit of production isn't the tangible hours she works, it's the intangible difference she makes during that one hour of work.

What Chip found was that Vivian made a connection with people and found meaning in a job that many of us would deem as undeserving or even undignified.

This is/should be utterly humbling as we strive to become servant leaders within our organizations. Somewhere along the path we will be required to do work we don’t “have a passion for” or isn’t “life-giving.” We all have the power, influence, and ability to step up and own our roles, no matter how far off they may be from our dream job, and bring meaning to ourselves and others. 

This doesn’t mean we give up our goals or abandon our direction for bigger and better things. It simply means we choose to practice contentedness, we decide our mindset and how we view our circumstances, we lead-up with even the smallest amount of responsibility, and we steward what we’ve been given right now…with the vision on our ultimate professional goals and aspirations.

Happiness and contentedness and meaning in our work is a choice. This is a lesson we should not soon forget.

Note:

*Learning to be content with where I'm at on my professional journey has been a long hard lesson. It is still something I struggle with often.

I get angsty with where I'm at compared to where I want to be. Remembering that this is a marathon, not a sprint is something I constantly need to be reminding myself. Being content with where I am at even though I yearn for something more, something different, maybe even something greater, is hard. It’s a constant battle to humble myself, trust that God has got me right where I am for a purpose, and ruthlessly try to lead up and solve meaningful problems for those I’m most close to now, all while keeping my ambitions high. Most of us are privileged enough to a have a certain level of mastery of our own professional destiny living in the developed world. Most of us will never have to scrub toilets if we don't want to. We get to choose our vocation and career and think through (usually over the course of many years from high school and college) what we want our career focus to be. Learning that we are in it for the long game and to have the patience to serve well where we are at now on this journey is as much an art as it is a science.


ARTICLE NO. 50/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What To Do When You Lack Discipline & Don't Follow Through

Dan LeMoine

About 50 day ago I set our to write everyday for 100 days. I knew when I set this goal that it was somewhat audacious. What I also did was mentally prepare myself to fail. 

And I have failed. (I RACK DISCIPRINE!)

Right now, it’s been 2 days since my last post. I have not upheld my commitment to myself and my readers (that’s you!) to post each and every day. 

In the past this falling off the bandwagon would have thrown me into a negative self-fulfilling prophesy — a downward spiral of guilt, shame, and disappointment of sorts — resulting in a complete halt of progress and momentum. 

We do this often...

We go months without posting to our blog solely because we hadn’t posted on it in a while. 
We stop working on that passion project or side hustle because we stopped working on it. (<—seriously, this is the rationale we use)
We lose momentum in our gym routine because we feel horrible about ourselves for not having gone all week. 
We don’t call that friend because we should’ve called like 6 months ago. 
We feel guilty about having one too many cinnamon rolls so we abandon our whole healthy eating regimen.

Sound ridiculous but I’m sure you’ve got some habit or area of your life where this happens either at work or at home.

So how do we mitigate this sabotage to our forward progress? How do we marshal on even if we’ve had a hiccup or stumble? 

The worst thing we can do, is allow our stumble to stall us. We have immense control over our own mindset and how we react and respond to our own short comings. And that is all this is—mindset.

From my experience as someone who once battled with feeling down about false starts and unfulfilled self-commitments, one of the most powerful tactics I’ve learned is to give myself permission to fail.

You may think that this gives me permission to not uphold my commitment, but the opposite is in fact true. It is actually a very strategic (and realistic) move. It gives a sense of freedom and liberation from the guilt and shame we often feel when we fail to uphold the high standards we hold ourselves to.  Look, life happens and we don’t always follow through with what we say we want to do or be about in our work. So we must plan accordingly and craft a bulletproof mindset around this truth.

With that liberation we know we can stop the downward spiral and get back on the horse. We can decide to not allow the mental momentum to come to a stop.

So when we fumble or stumble...

We know we can do what we can do.
We have grace with ourselves (and others).
Instead of excuses, we make appropriate accommodations to have a short memory and start again.
We take note of what and how we chose something else over "turning pro.”

So rather than let our oversight feed into a negative identity and sabotage our focus, we take stock of what needs to be in place to better prioritize our creative habit going forward. 

If we value building bodies of work we’re proud of we need to make the appropriate sacrifices. In a busy season, maybe it means waking up 25 minutes earlier to get your writing done before the day whisks you away. Maybe it means taking a 15 minute lunch instead of a 45. 

What’s worse than not following through on your creative habit or discipline? Letting one (or two) missteps tank your project or scuttle your initiative. C’mon we’re better than that.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t beat yourself up over your lack of discipline — don’t be so hard on yourself and certainly don’t let it stop you from moving ahead — that does more harm than good. Simply re-start (or re-re-start), keep you head down, and forge on.

Keep moving,

Dan

//

Note: It’s hard to talk about this without talking about priorities. It’s a given that my writing habit should take a back seat to my relationship with God or my wife. It’s a bit less of a given if my writing should continually take the back seat to wine and cigars with a close friend, a workout with some buddies, golf with my brother-in-law, sleeping in an extra half hour, birthday parties, or house guests.

At the end of the day having a clear view of our priorities will give us a framework to help clarify our decision making in these instances, but it’s still hard. The key is to feel less guilty about hitting the pause button or saying No, even to our work, from time to time for more important things (or sometimes less important things). We just got to keep grinding, there is no room for getting down about missing a day or two.


ARTICLE NO. 49/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

2 Criteria To Build A Matterful Career

Dan LeMoine

There are two criteria we need to focus on in building a meaningful career:

  1. Doing what we love,

  2. Making an impact (feeling like we’re solving a meaningful problem

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But from the successful men and women I know, to my own experience in walking the road of building a career with purpose, these are really important pieces to the puzzles. Ideally, the bulk of our working days meet both criteria.

Doing What You Love (But Know That Love is a loose term)

The “do what you love” part sounds corny. And it is to an extent. I don’t put too much weight on this criteria because of the two, I think it’s the the weakest.

What we like and love can shift, and everyone’s tastes are different, but I do think to some extent you need to be engaged to your work, and that's why it's still a marginally important criteria in building a matterful career.

It’s why I don’t think staying in the financial sector was for me. Could I do it and do it well? Sure. But nothing about it made me come alive. It’s simply unrealistic to expect that we’ll love every moment of every day no matter what we choose. At some point even the most ideal job has aspects which are a grind (especially when you’re pushing to be a servant leader).

The caveat is that on our journey to “turn pro” we learn to love the climb. We learn to love the grind and the work itself becomes a reward. Any athlete can tell you that when they started working out it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. But somewhere among the 5am wake-ups, the make-you-puke workouts, the ice baths, and the injuries, they learned to love the lifestyle. 

While marginally important, I do think there is an uncommon approach to this "follow your passion - do what you love" maxim, which is: You can learn to love just about any job. (READ: "Career Contentedness Is Closer Than You [We] Thought") I recently heard Mike Rowe on Tim Ferriss' podcast (which I HIGHLY recommend giving a listen) validate this. Mike has a distain for the "Follow Your Passion" ideal from his years exploring people's work on Dirty Jobs, where he engaged with many wildly content and happy people doing jobs most of us would categorize as a living hell. Instead he like runs with: "Follow Opportunity and Bring Your Passion With You" approach to work. 

Making an Impact.

Of the two criteria, I believe this is foundational, or at the very least should be prioritized. From what I can see, those whose sole purpose for going to work is for the pay check, end up being miserable. I made a decision back in 2012 that if I’m going to do anything, it needed to have a deeper purpose than padding someone’s bank account (including my own). It only made sense with the amount of time we inevitably spend at work. I wanted to move the needle in a more meaningful way beyond a number on a screen proceeded by a dollar sign.

Having a deeper purpose in our work gives us vision. And that vision is a very helpful motivator when we eventually hit a season of burnout or frustration with our work (no matter how much we love/d it). There will come a season (and it’s generally just a season) when your lovely job becomes a slog. Having purpose and the sense that you’re making an impact will help propel you through those valleys.

In our darkest moments living abroad, when everything inside us wanted to quite because the job wasn’t feeling “fun,” —when we’ve been at the end of our ropes — my wife and I always came back to the questions: “At the end of the day do we still see the mission working? Are kids’ lives being changed? Do we still believe in the vision of supporting micro-entrepreneurs and the need for economic development?"

The answer was always yes, and that was incredibly massive in helping us remember to love our work again. Reminding ourselves of the problems we were trying to help solve and issues at hand — the global education crisis and empowering local entrepreneurs — was key to our longevity and why we didn't bail several years ago. 

This recalibration cultivated crucial mental perseverance and grit necessary to us laying the foundations to our careers marked by purpose and impact. 


ARTICLE NO. 45/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Are your celebrations actually complaints? One-Up Your Leadership By Making Sure They Aren’t.

Dan LeMoine

Did you know there is a way to complain while actually celebrating or encouraging someone/thing. As leaders we need to be aware of this pitfall in order to grow in our effectiveness. Let me explain by starting with a story.

I was recently in a team meeting where we were celebrating one of our teammate’s work - let’s call her Mary. Sounds like a good thing, right? And it was.

But then something interesting happened.

Another team member, we’ll call her Bethany, began celebrating in a very interesting way. She began celebrating Mary’s work by subtly putting other aspects and historical aspects of our organization down.

It was underhanded and unintentional, but it took away from the complements and celebrations being given. What’s more, it undermined and dishonored the hard work of past teammates work (many of whom are still in your organization). It was obvious Bethany had some issues with the way things had been done or where being done in other areas of our organization.

My friend Patrick always said, “What’s in the well, comes up in the bucket.” In other words, what’s in the heart will eventually seep out. If you are bitter or jaded or allow yourself to feel prideful about your work it will come it, even in your celebrations and encouragement. As leaders we must ruthlessly rid out bitterness, pride and other jadedness junk that may cause us to sneakily complain even in our celebrations.  

There is a way to celebrate and encourage which actually tears down the hard work of the past.

Unfortunately, I've been guilty of this (and maybe still am at times). As problem-solvers, we can easily see all the issues needing fixed. And when we are part of fixing them we run the risk of pridefully looking down at the past and how broken it seemed. We rarely, if ever, stop to consider how much better the past version we are judging was from the version before it (or it before its pretesessor). We don’t consider or pay homage to how much hard work was put in to get it to that point which allowed us to get to it’s current state of goodness.

As our organizations evolve and we build cultures of discipline, we must be careful to celebrate (and improve) without putting down the hard work of those from the past.

The best leaders I know are able to acknowledge and honor the totality of work which the organization has been a part of. They are able to celebrate in a way which doesn’t belittle another area of the organization or the shortcomings of a past version of the organization, department, product, or service.

Be a better leader. One way is to move closer to that goal is to be vet whether your celebrations aren’t actually just sneaky ways to be a complainer. As leaders we must honor the past of our organization while still improving upon it.


ARTICLE NO. 44/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What To Do When Prospects Go Cold (My Exact Steps & Scripts & Process)

Dan LeMoine

If you are in sales, fundraising, build relationships or drive leads via email, or do anything in email where you want timely responses (which is like, errrbody) you will get serious value from this post. It's several of my most precious and most used tactics to reigniting conversations gone cold. 

I've used these tactics during my time consulting, building our business accelerator, and I even use them in personal and organizational fundraising every week. Feel free to copy and tweak these scripts as you find valuable. Enjoy!

//

When you sign up for my email newsletter (<==you've signed up for it, right?) one of the first things that happens is that you get an email from yours truly from my personal email (not an autoresponder) welcoming and thanking you. I even include a fun .gif in there to make you chuckle. I then ask: 

What's one thing you struggle with right now in your work? 

One recent sign up replied and we ended up having a really cool interaction where I believe he walked away encouraged and a little more focused on pushing through the resistance to building a career he's proud of. It was exactly the type of value and engagement I was hoping for as evidenced by the fact that he emailed again me a week or so later asking for help. 

His Problem: Conversations gone cold

We've all been there. We have a great interaction with a client, potential sale, donor or would-be BFF and we email or call them. No answer. Maybe we even email them a couple more times...still nothing. 

It's the worst. 

That was this guy's problem — he had a group of fellow musicians working on a project but now he is getting the run around. Below is my email interaction with him where I lay out the EXACT steps and email scripts I successfully use to get responses in my past and present work. 

Here's his email (edited slightly for length):

Hey Dan, I have one thing I could really use your help on...

As I mentioned before, I'm an aspiring music producer and still in the learning process. My main project is house music and DJing, which I'm on my own in.

But I want to be a multi-genre producer to help my career. Last fall a friend of mine wanted to start a blues/folk/rock project and be the lead singer (he has a good voice) [...] So I called a piano player and a guitarist that I knew. [...] I had them over at my house a couple times to draft some songs and it was alright at first. Great chemistry.

But now they will not answer any of my calls or texts.
[...]

Anyway, how can I pull these guys together?

Here's my response (Blame YOURSELF, Presume the negative, And don't forget to give them a backdoor.)

Hey man,

I've seen similar situations in business and development (non-profit fundraising). Generally if people go unresponsive it means either they don't have a clear path on how to answer/proceed or they are avoiding giving you the unsavory news of backing out or saying 'no'.

So, here's what you can do:

1. Break down what they need to do to the smallest step possible. 

Make it easy for them to say yes. So given your situation I would email or text them saying something to the effect of: 

"Hey guys! It's been too long. Somewhere along the way it seemed like we were all really excited about creating something great. I think I dropped the ball on keeping everyone in the loop. Apologies if this is the case. Can we all find a time next week to grab a coffee or beer to catch up and see if this is still soemthing we all want to do?" 

This "blame yourself" tactic can be very effective because it often prompts the recipient to think "Wait! No no, I was the one who dropped the ball...not you!" and gets them to respond. 

(Props to Scott Britton for introducing me to some of these inbox ninja-ry moves)

2. Be sure to give them a backdoor.

When you email/text them, give them a "backdoor" to say no.

Sometimes, when I'm emailing folks to donate to our ministry and they've gone "cold" or unresponsive, all it takes is throwing in a line like:

"Even if it's a 'not-at-this-time' type answer it would really be helpful to know either way whether you're in or out. (I promise we'll still be friends :) )" 

Give them permission to bow out. Yes, it'll suck if they do, but it would be so good for defining your next steps if you know where they stand.

3. Final chance email—Presume the negative.

If they are still unresponsive after all this it's time to cut bait and run. Something like:

"Hey So-n-So,
Been trying to get ahold of you these last couple weeks without any luck. Since I haven't heard from you about Project: [Insert Your Project Name Here], I'm going to assume this is something you're no longer interested in and you don't want to work together.

If this is NOT the case, let me know and we can hop on a 5 minute call to iron out next steps to re-ignite this project."

This is good closure for you if anything. You'll hang up your hat on working with them unless they get back to you. If they do, then you can re-set expectations and responsibilities and set some small milestones to hit to get the ball rolling again.

That's where I'd start. Keep moving,

Dan

---

These are just a few of the inbox tactic I've found to be extremely helpful in getting responses. Remember people are busy (so make it easy to say Yes), we hate conflict (so give them a backdoor and permission to say "no"), or we don't want to change unless faced with an ultimatum (so be willing to end the relationship).

I'll be sharing more business development and "sales" tactics I've found to be incredibly effective in coming posts. 


ARTICLE NO. 43/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Empower Yourself & Others With This Simple Phrase

Dan LeMoine

“Figure it out.” 

 

Few other words can strike anxiety and empowerment all in the same breath. Let me tell you a quick story.

I had just moved back from Scotland, where I’d been pursuing my goal of playing rugby at the highest level I could. It was a good run, but student loans were kicking in soon and I needed to get a ‘big boy’ job. (student loans - the killers of all things good in this world). 

Leveraging some personal connections and parlaying the relative success I had in academia and sport, I secured a position with a corporate boutique turnaround firm that I was (probably) slightly under-experienced for, though my educational pedigree said differently. But I acclimatized well enough. 

As I settled into the job, work days ebbed and flowed, and though our two partners created inevitable bottlenecks at themselves (inevitable for anyone running a persona-based firm), the other associate/analyst and I often got slammed with assignments.

4:30p would roll around, Boss’s phone would ring. We’d overhear Boss taking the call — half holding our breath as these calls sometimes meant our home-by-5 expectations would be smashed on the rocks of clients’ urgent needs. Our stomaches would sink a bit when we’d hear Boss promising to deliver something big in a near impossible turnaround time. The phone call would end and we’d inevitably hear the ambitious footsteps coming down the hall to pass along said assignment.

Mild depression sets in because there goes the evening. Sulk. Coffee. Nut up. Get to work.

And inevitabley, a problem would arise.

Balance sheets not balancing. The forty tab financial model we’d built would begin acting like the fickle mistress that it was. The finanical statements Client sent over where in PDF from and completely uneditable, uncopiable, unpastable. Ugh...You know what I’m talking about—something always would get us stuck.

My fellow associate and I were fresh out of the halls of university and had little framework for dealing with some of the advanced roadblocks. So naturally, we’d run to Boss with our obstacle in hopes that his years of experience would quickly get us unstuck and back on track.

But Boss already had a full plate of his own deliverables and other Client work to handle. There was no time to “take a quick peek at solving the problem.” So Boss would deliver the anxiety-producing words I wouldn't have wished on my worst enemies:

 

“I need you to figure it out.”

I hated that. I would be so frustrated/angry/panicked/hopeless/helpless when I’d hear that. “What do you mean, 'just figure it out'?” I tried. That’s why I came to you, because I couldn’t.” I’d think.

But now, now I couldn’t be more thankful for those words.

They forced us to push through.

They forced us to be scrappy and resourceful.

They forced us to be creative and gritty. They empowered us.

It’s kind of like bootstrapping your business—where resources are in scarce supply and you’re forced to be creative with what you’ve got. And so we were. We had to problem solve when Clients’ expectations where on the line, when the stakes were high. And that forced us to get it done. 

[I even went as far as outsourcing to a virtual assistant in Sri Lanka $30 to do some menial tasks I needed completed on a project (“I need a contact list of each concrete forming and shoring companies east of the Mississippi”) so I could focus all my energy on “just figuring it out” on another more time sensitive project.]

Now, as I’ve pushed into more leadership and am faced with similar requests, I can empathize with Boss. I wouldn't be helping my teammates if I just solved each problem for them as it arose. That doesn't empower, that doesn't grow, that doesn't better the team.

Next time you run into a roadblock or obstacle and feel the urge to fire off an email to your partner or run to your manager for a quick solution, first ask yourself: Can I try to solve this on my own first (even if I know they probably have a quicker answer); Can I “figure it out” on my own before derailing someone else whose plate is already over-full?

Figure it out.


ARTICLE NO. 37/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Connect With The "Why" To Get Important Things Done

Dan LeMoine

Yesterday I finished the "8 Strategies of Building A Culture That Sticks (or ‘Don’t Just Think About It, BE About It’)” and the 8th Strategy is: Connect Yourself (and Others) to The Why in order to truly bring to fruition the culture you desire. Here, I want to expound on this tactic a bit.

Here's a short and sweet video from the guys at Fizzle (of the above mentioned podcast) which explains this tactic very nicely. Podcast about why our work isn't getting done here: http://FizzleShow.co/163

[Serendipitously enough, I was then in the gym this afternoon and listening to one of my favorite podcasts on honest business building and the hosts hit on something that I think really drives home this approach of connecting with your why, which I'll touch on below. Watch video at right ==>]

When we (re)connect with our Why — the reason a project, objective, or to-do is important to our business — it legitimizes our otherwise non-urgent projects which often got deprioritized by all the urgent “fires" we are forced to put out in our organizations.

By connecting to the Why behind a given objective or project, we’re in essence building a business case (a strong rationale) for doing a thing, especially when that 'thing' falls into the important-but-not-urgent category. Let’s take this vague concept of culture as an example.

In the theme of the previous post, forging a culture you can be proud of falls directly into this category of “important but not often urgent."

Work/team culture is an important thing. I think we can agree on that.

But I can tell you from my time trying to upstart my own venture — intangibles like culture and team morale and whether we’re “living our values” was hard to focus time and resources on when Survival and Urgency were the two modes we operated in most.

Each time I felt the urge to cancel our weekly team pow-wows — where we checked in, enjoyed organic coffee (roasted on premises!), and sharpened each other via Seth Godin’s Krypton Course — I had to reassure myself that this “culture stuff” matters. I had to remind myself that if I wanted to build an organization I was proud of, it was this stuff (ie. the pouring into our humans) that mattered more than the emails I needed to send, the potential partners I need to call, or the interns I needed to direct.

I had to connect to the Why behind pouring into my staff in order to push through the dip of doubt of doing the important-but-not-urgent thing.

Our values are only our values if they cost us something, remember.

How I've used this strategy in brand building

The Doulos Brand Platform is another example of a project where the Why is a primary motivating factor. I’m currently championing and spearheading this project, and in all candor, it’s been a struggle to see this thing to the finish line (because it’s important but never urgent).

[For reference: a brand platform is a guide to how we look, sound, and feel as a brand. It’s the things we believe as an organization and how those practically play out into our brand messaging and how others experience our story. It’s an intentional guide and important first step to making raving fans of our donors and supporters. To get a more visual idea, you can see amazing examples of this here and here.] 

In the begining, my motivating force behind building this brand platform was because it was fun and I was excited about running point on building a delightful brand experience like those of the organizations I look up to. Then, as my zeal naturally waned, and as others stopped asking me this project, it kept being pushed lower on my to-do list.

How will I ever get excited about this again and get it done? Maybe you've asked yourself the same question on certain projects you've started on as well.

I had to reconnect with WHY it is important to our organization. I had to revisit my belief that Doulos can be an enviable brand, and that a well thought out brand will be key to making raving fans. I had to remind myself that a delightfully designed brand is a repeateable and memorable brand. I had to remind myself that our message — a beautiful message of hope and transformation through education — truly matters, and that a consistent and intentional brand message helps to spread our story and multiply our impact. 

Reconnecting with my core beliefs about how brand identity is key to building a successful organization helped me revive this project and get moving on it. 

Practically, it’s helpful to ask: Why is this project so important? (And not just once you’ve found yourself putting off a project, but before, during, and all the way to the finish line).

The guys in the podcast even go as far as advising that as you write out your project, include the desired outcome and Why right there on your task list. This way every time you look at your project task list, it’s right in your face of why this matters.

This tactic has ramifications WAY beyond work, as you can imagine. If i’m able to think through why asking humbling asking for forgiveness from my wife matters, or why revisiting a conflict I had with my parents will help us build a better relationship, or why spending two hours in the middle of my work day to “shalom and granola” with a close friend matters, well, then I’m able to execute on the important stuff that too often gets marginalized in my life. And that, my friends, is key to holistic success.


ARTICLE NO. 36/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What do you hope to accomplish?

Dan LeMoine

Who doesn't want to build a body of work they're proud of? 

I do. I also understand that takes patience. Like, decades worth of patience. I understand I won't hit the nail on the head every time I take a swing—every time I publish a post, or ship a project, or set an audacious goal to building an organization.

Yet my hope over the long haul, is that I will build a body of meaningful work which connects with others on a similar pursuit...

Others looking to build businesses and nonprofits that focus on people first.
Others rethinking the nature of relationships within and outside their organizations.
Others who want to win the right way, win in a God-honoring, and a counter-cultural way that make a statment.
Others who want to do right even if it may cost them. Others striving to make an impact, even the most micro engagement.

But, WHERE IS THE BLUEPRINT?

Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone out there laying a blueprint on how to do this in business and work. Sure there is some faith and work stuff out there from Tim Keller and some other thought leaders, but I'm talking about practical and tactical stuff (which I hope this blog develops into more of) but with the practices and tactics firmly rooted in a Christ-honoring way. 

I haven't seen anyone opening the hood on organizational development approached from a solid Christian worldview. Sure, I've been blessed to align myself with other change-makers who love Jesus and are working to rethink the way business is done and do it from a redemptive, restorative, and renewing way, but their roadmap is not public. 

I haven't found a resource that is both relevant and practical AND solidly biblical. What I see is either one or the other — super pragmatic and practical -OR- super Christian-ese (read: lame-o) and lacking in real-world substance and business-world relevance. 

I know it can be a both/and, I'm hoping my body of work will show that. That's why I write here. That's why I manage the blog of a business who is doing this successfully—not because they are paying me a few shekels here and there, but because others need to see this framework being implemented. The world needs to see that biblical principles are not just some Sunday school nicety, but actually work in the real world, and create an effective and life-giving framework to operate from.

DOCUMENTING THE PROCESS

I'm not trying to build a self-serving body of work. I'm working to document the process of winning in business while focusing on others-first and without sacrificing my spiritual identity. This is in hopes that it will help others do the same.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching videos of entrepreneur/personality Gary Vaynerchuk. While I don't agree with everything he says or how he says them, and I don't always agree with his underlying worldview from which he approaches things, he does deliver a ton of value which can be reframed and filtered through a worldview rooted in the Gospel. Here's something he said recently which speaks to building a body of work:

"If I can put out a body of work 40 years from now that showed the process of a young man that put in the work, had the vision, did it the right way, tried to help people along the way—because he was trying to build the biggest building in town by building it, not by tearing everybody else's buildings down. And then I actually accomplish it, well that becomes a real great american dream story...That becomes legacy..."

SO, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?

Our work here and now has eternal impact. We learned in recent a bible study that our best work—our most self-less, God-honoring, work-as-worship work will be perfected and present in our redeemed residing place we call heaven.

We get to be part of "planting the trees of Eden" which will have a role in beautifying eternity. We are called to do this now with our lives and with our work.

Really, think about that for a moment...what a privilege! That's why we want to build a body of meaningful work rather than simply pull a paycheck (though those are nice too...I've got nothing against paychecks y'all). That's what we want to accomplish with being excellent in our work and making an impact. 


ARTICLE NO. 26/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What is a "meaningful problem" anyway?

Dan LeMoine

We talk a lot about solving meaningful problems with our work. If you’re reading this you likely desire or are actively working to have purpose in your career, and make it more than a paycheck provider, and solve a problem that matters to someone.

But what makes a problem “meaningful"? How do we define meaningfulness?

Great question.

"Meaningful"

“Meaningful” means having a serious, important, or useful quality. Having a purpose. Having substance beyond the obvious, beyond face value. 

"Problem"

As for what constitutes a problem—a problem is a need being unmet, an itch being unscratched, an injustice being unresolved, an obstacle to right relationship going undestroyed.

Does a problem have meaning if it’s something it isn’t a necessity? if it's a want and not really a need, per se?

I think yes. Especially if you focus on the WAY you go about solving the problem, meeting the need, satisfying the want, or destroying the obstacle to right relationship in your work.

Uber didn't invent something completely knew in terms of transportation, but they've found a new way to solve an already met problem (getting from point A to point B via car or cab). And they found a way to do it in a seamless and delightful way—in a way the market sees as more meaningful. 

They disrupted the mediocre status quo. They democratized the private black car experience for all of us serfs—which is, arguably, slightly more transformational and slightly less transactional than hailing a cab. As a client you feel a bit less like you're buying a commodity (taxi) and more like you're part of an experience (private car). They've discovered meaningfulness in an already existent problem in the marketplace.

I can't help but think of my friends who run a boutique web agency. The quest they are on goes beyond their conquest against poorly designed websites. Their purpose and meaning goes deeper than just being able to visually and beautifully articulate a brand on the web.

They define themselves as seekers. In an email from one of their partners he said: "We seek to be on the forefront of establishing credibility in the web design & development world. We don’t just want to accomplish this for ourselves. We want to be a catalyst for raising standards in this market." 

If that's not meaning enough, they define their purpose as: to help humans flourish. You'd expect that from a charitable nonprofit or a ministry, but from a web agency?! Dang son, that's good stuff. And I can tell you from experience they truly strive to live that purpose. From the way they treat their employees, to the developing neighborhoods they choose to set up shop in, to the dreams they have for growth — these are some uncommon people finding a fresh, deep, and meaningful way to solve a common problem already being solved by others.

In the same way we can take the smallest amount of influence and create impact, we can take the tiniest unsolved problem and make it meaningful. It just takes a little intention. There's no cookie cutter answer on how to build this meaning but the recipe seems to involve delight, intentionality, doing the most human thing, and focusing on How we're solving a problem above and beyond the problem itself. 

[READ: HOW TO FIND AND FRAME YOUR DEEPER PURPOSE AS A BUSINESS]


ARTICLE NO. 25/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

F*#@ Convention! [A Rant]

Dan LeMoine

Excuse my French, but f*#@ convention.

Or, well, at the very least challenge it ruthlessly to discern what is true and good.

I overheard a conversationg where a mother was lamenting to a friend how her son wanted to major in digital media when he attends university in the fall.

“What will he do with a degree in digital media?! We’re try hard to encouraging him to do something more practical like accounting or pre-law."

Follow the God-given yarn of passions and interests

This conventional wisdom saddens and enrages me. Not only is this an absolute first-world problem we have no business lamenting over (#champagneproblem), but moreover, if someone you care about has an inclination of what they may like to focus on when starting their higher education journey, breath life into that! Trust that God has laid some thread or interest or passion or intuition on them (which they likely can’t fully articulate yet, because they are appropriately immature). Then encourage the h-e-double-hockeysticks out of them to follow that yarn and see where He leads.

This mother was complaining how her and her husband wanted Little Johnny to pursue somehting more conventional, more mainstream, more “safe.” I know it was well intended, but it’s foolish. It’s foolish because these concerns/complaints are clearly root in fear. Not only is that never the appropriate response, but and her fear will stifle Little Johnny’s ability to flourish and live into his vocational calling and into the best and most true version of himeslf.

[READ NEXT: How "Throwing Away My Career" Was The Best Move I Ever Made. Seriously Though. ]

…now wait, I'm not done yet. (It’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to.)

Marketing in the World We Actually Live In

My indignation gets much more granular and goes beyond the 30,000 foot, dont-let-fear-drive-you-trust-God view.

My specific response (in my head) was: “In what world are you living in lady?!” What could be more relevant than a career which capitalizes and builds into one of the most prolific revolution (The Digital Revolution) we’ve seen in the last several hundred years. Go to any coffee shop, trains station, airport — ANYWHERE where people are — and you’ll see 99.9999% of the humans on thier phone or some digital equivalent. And what are they doing? Consuming media! Digital. Media! The path little Johnny wants to pursue is the new convention! In today’s digitally-driven world, I can’t think of a more relevant area to focus your craft on. Any organization not working to find unique ways to connect and cultivate its tribe online (largely through digital media!) will likely fizzle, fumble, fail.

[HUGE CAVEAT: Now, I’m not a parent. I don’t know what crushing fears I’ll have to battle as my kids grow into young adults and begin processing thier vocational direction. I’m sure I will worry about ev-er-y-thing when it comes to the peace and happiness of my children. This good desire will likely make me say and do and want very silly things as a parent...] 

Don’t just take my word for it

But don’t just take my antecdotal evidence for bucking convention. According to Robert Greene’s extensive and powerful book Mastery, pushing hard and fast into your interests, even if they fly in the face of convetion or the traditional path, is a massive key to reaching mastery within your craft. The masters innovate and learn at the cross sections of industries, moving into areas and uncharted specializations. This journey comes from following the yarn of interest and ability and instinct they listen to.

The people who I look up to: people who are flourishing, and joyful, and have delightful bodies of work which connects with others, and solve meaningful problems, all have something in common. The common denominator is that these playmakers pressed into the adventure of moving from one project to another, one interest to another, discovering how each new skill aquired, knowledge gained, connection made weaves itself into this beautiful masterpeice of a career well built. Rarely were these people’s path’s conventional. 


ARTICLE NO. 14/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

15 Actions, Habits, & Routines to Feel More Powerful, Peaceful, & Productive

Dan LeMoine

The last 4 or 5 years I’ve really been coming into my own in terms of routines and habits. It’s been a thrash—experimenting with different approaches and tactics, and finding what works for me and what doesn’t. A.M. workouts vs. P.M. workouts. Breakfast or no breakfast. So much is trial and error and finding out what feels most like me. As you experiment with your own habits and routines and disciplines, here are some of the actions that, for me, result in me feeling powerful, peaceful, and productive—little wins throughout the day which help build and maintain good momentum and good vibes.

Hopefully they can be of some help to you as well.

15 Things That Make Me Feel Powerful, Peaceful, & Productive

  1. ROMWOD or yoga—what I love about ROMWOD is that the practices only last about 10-20 minutes, and you’re left feeling like a million bucks.
  2. Morning Workout with a few buddies—getting a quick win right off the bat is key to feeling like an absolute savage during your day. Sometimes we hit it hard, other times we end up talking more about life and marriage and Jesus. Either way, it’s a blessed time.
  3. Quiet time / prayer / meditating on scripture—I'm currently using the He Reads Truth app to help facilitate this.
  4. Good views (mountains or city) — something about gazing out onto a beautiful scene jacks me up and makes me feel like I can conquer the world. 
  5. Hot coffee — freshly brewed coffee just smells like productivity. Nothing better to help you crush your day than a good cuppa.
  6. Cool fresh mountain air in the morning before the pueblo awakes—for me, this is linked to the morning quiet times, being up and at ‘em before everyone else, always gives me a solid sense I'm doing the right things.
  7. Publishing/shipping—when I’m creating and producing I feel like I’m making matterful steps towards building the career I want. Shipping blog posts, or newsletters, or creating content I hope is meaningful is a complete rush.
  8. Learning—there’s nothing like a new book or podcast or course…but I’m self aware encough to know that this can become un-empowering and unproductive if I”m not careful. The danger here is that there is endless info to consume and we can all fall into constanly learning and consuming and not actually shipping and creating.
  9. Checking things off my list (even if they're unimportant)—there’s just something about a well planned day and getting things done that makes me feel unstoppable.
  10. Paying bills, doing my taxes, budgetting, getting squared away on personal administrative tasks, etc.—I know this is weird (I mean, who actually likes paying taxes?). I don’t really like it, but getting it done and off my plate is such a good feeling, and it does kind of feel good knowing I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing — GTD on these type of perosnal administrative tasks generally leaves me with a sense of empowerment and good vibes that I’m doing the right things, paying my debts, tithing/giving generously, saving faithfully, and general feeling that we’re moving in the right direction with prudence and good stewardship.
  11. Connecting with other playmakers and world-changers—nothing like the excitement and good vibes of a new friendship, or potential in a new connection.
  12. Being appropriately rewarded by the market—not about money, but about the validation that something I created is connecting with people, providing value, and gaining traction.
  13. Cold showers and cold water plunges (especially preceeded by a solid sweaty workout).
  14. When my marriage is flourishing—When my gal is well, I’m well and feel invincible.
  15. Solid music to suit the mood and occasion.

It seems like the common thread here is doing the right things, in the right order, keeping first things first, and taking care of my responsibilities, and treating myself with respect. Some things are structuring my environment, some are habits, some are just quirks.

What things are on your powerful peace productive list?


ARTICLE NO. 10/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

"Throwing Away My Career" Was The Best Move I Ever Made. Seriously, though.

Dan LeMoine

I received this text the other day from someone close to me:   

Do you ever regret not sticking to the business path since you and Danae went to the Dominican Republic?

It’s a solid question. Here’s my response.

The short of it—Not at all. I mean, I never really left the biz path in my mind. I built a full business accelerator and coworking space, began building my body of meaningful work, and have had more business opportunity come my way in the last few years than I could’ve ever imagined if I were still on the "traditional," “safe" path.
[That’s not to say a more 'traditional' path is a bad one, I just think coming to Doulos helped me connect some dots between seeing how business can be an incredible force for good. How it can be a force in shaping culture just like we’re doing with education].

While initially, my role at Doulos was not necessarily the most logical next step in “what” I wanted to become, it was hands-down the best next step in “who” I wanted to become. And I believe God blessed that and brought the “what” in line in due time.

Serving here has been so hard in so many ways and has shaped and matured and equipped me to crush it when I re-enter the biz world full time…my business philosophy has been deeply impacted by my time serving others and trying to solve a meaningful problem in this country and give generously of my blessings to help others.

(Yea, I know it was a novel in text message terms, but they set me up for it with such a loaded question!)

When we first made the decision to buck the conventional path and move our lives to the West Indies, naturally some of our well-intentioned friends and family showed a bit more concern than they showed or shared in our excitement.

Aren’t you worried about you career path? 
How are you going to ever explain the gap in your resume?
How are you going to make money and save and buy a house!?
Couldn't you serve in your own country in your free time? #Merica!
You’re leaving a budding career to go work at a school in the third world? That’s career suicide...

Hmm...These questions aren’t bad, necessarily. But the massive problem here is that, though well-intentioned, they are rooted in fear. 

I get it, I really do. Our default mode as humans, it seems, is to be driven by fear in many areas of our lives. People get scared that someone they care for may make an irrevocable mistake or wind up in the poorhouse. They play out the worse possible outcomes and then try to steer others away from making decisions that would lead to their nightmare scenario.

But if they're honest, the fear is often more self-centered too. They get scared that if someone else in their tribe chooses an uncommon path, chooses a more meaningful story, or simply chooses adventure and life over boredom and mediocrity, that they'll be forced to question their own lives, careers, and status quo. And that’s uncomfortable and frightening. And so the response is to critically question out of fear, or worse—scoff and snicker and play the devils advocate.
[Note: I used the third person “they,” but I really mean “we” because I’m just as guilty of this fear-questioning as the next chap]

Yet, we were not given spirits of fear (cf: 2 Timothy 1:7), or mindsets of scarcity

For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
— Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week

 We are called to encourage one another (cf: 1 Thessalonians 5:11)…In other words, we’re called to leave each other full of courage, not fear. 

I’m sure you’re thinking: 

Alright, bro. But, what’s the alternative? to say nothing? never ask questions (of ourselves or others)? That doesn’t seem prudent.

Below you’ll find several guiding questions you can ask (yourself or others) in lieu of the fear-based questions.

And remember: give the benefit of the doubt to the person looking to lead-up and take a big leap—it’s likely they have already confronted and battled many of these fear-based questions, naturally. They don’t need others pointing out all the reasons not to follow a call, try to make more impact, or simply do something epic, their own Fear and Resistance does that for them already.

The Alternative: 2 Extremely Powerful Identity-Based Guiding Questions

It’s likely that if you’re reading this you are a high-achiever looking to make an impact with your career, to do something uncommon or audacious in your life, searching out the uncomfortable path of growth and learning, giving more than you're taking, and trying your darndest to avoid the safe path (not because it’s safe, but because the alternative is a more meaningful one).

As you ignore the fear-based questions, here’s a few better ones to ask yourself (or others) who are about to “lead up" into a better story:

  1. "When you and I are 80 years old, looking back at your life, will you regret NOT doing this? Will you regret not pushing into the discomfort and fear that comes with finding the truest, most matterful story to write yourself into?"
     
  2. “Will doing this align with who I want to be individuals (or as a couple)? Will this help shape me/us into the man and woman we want to become (and the marriage God is calling us to)?

Surely, taking the uncommon path might not work. But are you willing to go anyway? knowing the transformation it WILL bring to yourself and others you connect with on the uncommon path is the true reward.

A guy I look up to online confronted the same skeptical fear-based questions before he left his budding career at a NYC startup to live in Brazil. I’m sure if we asked him, he’d tell you he returned after his time of epic-ness with more focus, conviction, and energy to crush it than he would’ve had otherwise. Here’s his take on the result of choosing the uncommon path:

"When you truly understand your life’s work and your actions are in harmony with this, I sense you’ll not only reach the greatest level of happiness, but also highest levels of impact due to the zeal and consistency that you bring to your actions.” — Scott Britton

[Want more on how to avoid making horrible decisions (or indecisions)? READ NEXT: The 4 S’s of Bulletproof Decision Making]

Trading Up

Looking back, I can say with 100% confidence, zero regret, and without question — I didn’t come close to throwing away my career as predicted by some.

It didn’t even stunt my career growth. The opposite occurred, actually. In pushing into this calling, choosing obedience over comfort, God blessed me/us with more opportunity, a more true sense of who I am in light of Jesus in my work, and a grander vision of where he wants me to go.

When I take the time to reflect on the last 4+ years of living an uncommon path, my only response is gratitude. In every area of life I’m more consistent with the man I want to become, the marriage I want to have, the career I want to build, the impact I want to make. In every area the metrics are moving in the right direction.

I’m the best version of Dan LeMoine because of where I work (and who I work with). And I don’t know many people who can say that.

There is zero doubt that I traded up and am now on a completely different trajectory than I otherwise would’ve been had let the fear-questioning keep me on more conventional paths.

End with this quote from CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It’s a part of the story where Susan is about to meet Aslan and is sharing her nervousness with Mr. Beaver:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"...
"Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Leading up, choosing a better story, playing at the highest level you can, is rarely ever safe. It is never conventional, and it is never easy. But it’s good.

Happy Hunting,

Dan

P.S. By the way, if you ever want to talk about this stuff or simply need a motivating kick in the ass to take the leap - call me and I’d be happy talk it out.