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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: leadership

Are You A "3-Dimensional" Leader?

Dan LeMoine

Each year a group of amazing individuals gathers to push into the question of how to become transformational leaders and coaches within their organizations, teams, and community.

This past March I had the honor to be the keynote at their small gathering of about 60 high capacity business leaders. These men and women  are connected to the organization Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Washington state and the event was graciously hosted by a good friend Glenn Powell at The Bank of the Pacific.

The content of the talk is built around the 3 Dimensional Coaching framework created by Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Jeff Dukes.  In a nutshell 3 Dimensional Coaching is a method of coaching athletes which addresses the players beyond just on-field performance, and looks holistically at the body, mind, and heart of the players. It’s a powerful framework which helps to meet their emotional and even spiritual needs.

This group of change-makers I was honored to address is working to take this from a coaching-only framework and build it beyond; to co-opt it and grow it into a leadership framework.

WATCH the 3-Dimensional Leadership Summit Keynote - Part 1 >>
WATCH the 3-Dimensional Leadership Summit Keynote - Part 2 >>

Below you’ll find my succinct talking points as well as a replay of the event.


Introduction — What's at stake, Biblical Principles Actually Work

The stakes are high if we don’t engage our employees!

I've used this metaphor here before — imagine for a moment that you’re in a rowboat.  

Say you’ve got 10 people in your boat.
You’ve got 3 people actively paddling;
5 people will paddle if asked, but if you look away they will be on their phones, playing with their oars, splashing in the water, etc.;
and you have 2 people in the back of the boat actively drilling holes causing the boat to actively take on water.

(If you haven't connected the dots by now, the boat is your business, or your nonprofit, or your kid's school.)

Gallup recently published a survey and those were the findings.

  • You've got 3 people actively engaged working to grow your organization and win.

  • You've got 5 people who are disengaged for whatever reason.

  • You've got 2 who are actively undermining your culture and vision.

Think about this for a moment — in America right now, the average org has 70% of its workforce disengaged. 70%!!

To win, we must start looking strategically at our employee engagement and how it impacts our performance as organizations.

Biblical Principles Actually Work!

Because of what's at stake, it’s imperative that we find ways to engage our teammates and employees. And I believe that Biblical principles—treating our employees with dignity, and engaging them on the heart-level, viewing them as created with value and purpose—are not only what we ought to do, but they happen to be highly effective way to engage our employees. This framework of what we're calling 3 Dimensional Leadership has the ability to catalyze our staff to bring their best selves to work, win for the organization, and mark them for the better as a result!

If 70% of our employees are disengaged, we will habitually turn over top talent, produce mediocre results, fail to innovate, and lose profits over long-term. We will be missing a massive opportunity to create organizations which move out of the transactional, carrot-and-stick culture, and into transformational places to work.

The aforementioned Gallup survey paints the picture of what's happening on average.

But we’re not in this to be average.  

By focusing on the whole employee—body, mind, spirit—applying the 3 Dimensional Coaching framework to our personal and organizational leadership, addressing employees beyond simply managing for results, will move people from disengaged to engaged, and help us win.

The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of 3 Dimensional Leadership

Here are the basic characteristics of coaching at each of the 3 Dimensions as structured by Jeff Dukes’s 3 Dimensional Coaching, and what these dimensions look like through an organizational perspective. This is what we're calling 3 Dimensional Leadership.

WHAT is 3 Dimensional Leadership

FUNDAMENTALS (or “Body”) — 1st Dimension

In sports this is things like: teaching technique, play assignments, speed, quickness, strength, and agility. The skills and abilities you must have in order to perform.

In your organization this may look like: sales training, process improvement, systems, and structure. Training and equipping your teammates to carry out the responsibilities found in their job description.

PSYCHOLOGY (or “Mind”) — 2nd Dimension

In sports this looks like: motivating your players, helping them channel their emotions, teamwork and team cohesion. Professional teams even have “mental coaches” whose sole role is to help players forge a bulletproof and unflappable mindset.

In your organization this may look like: helping your salesforce be better trained and more confident, creating an atmosphere of recognition and safety in which employees feel well thanked and well heard, conflict resolution, finding synergies between departments, forming solid team dynamics, regular feedback so evaluations don’t become this scary punishment-thing, but are seen as opportunities for growth.

HEART (or “Spirit”) — 3rd Dimension

In sports this looks like allowing the game to be a context to help players understand where their true value, identity, significance, character, worth lie (hint: it’s not in the sport itself). The best coaches in my life cared about me beyond what I could produce on the field, and I knew it. Paradoxically, that motivated me to want to exceed expectations.

In our organizations we have the ability to lead in a transformative way as well—where employees are highly engaged in the mission of the organization because they feel like they’re growing and receiving just as much.

[**There are many amazing resources out there to help you deep dive into the specific tactics and strategies to achieve each of these 3 Dimensions which would be beyond the overall purpose of this overview/talking points. My purpose is to give you a general overview of the framework, how it's been used in the coaching world, and begin to cast a vision and connect the dots for how we may start understanding how this applies to our organizations.]

3 Dimensional Leadership STARTS WITH SEEING people. Seeing them as capable and seeing them as worth pouring into.

Where to start

 Transformational, 3 Dimensional Leadership STARTS WITH SEEING people.  

In essence — “I see you as capable, and I want to pour into you.”

Transformational leadership boils down to choosing the paradigm of seeing employees as whole humans—body, mind, and spirit.

Choosing to see them as capable and worthy of pouring into. Choosing to care about them enough to guide them to success in their area of responsibility within your organization. To guide them to the life-changing revelations that since they are valued and can succeed at work, that they can do other things well in areas of their life beyond work.

Relational Work = Hard Work

Here’s the catch: This is freaking hard work.

There is no magic formula or cookie cutter process — it's messy and hard. God’s created us each with uniqueness, our employees each bring a life of experiences, and scars, and joys, and tastes, and worries and anxieties and insecurities to the workplace which we as leaders must navigate.

You will make mistakes. I make them every week.

As a mentor of mine, Zach Clark taught me, mistakes are opportunities for building relationships. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and vulnerable — i.e. 'human' — when leading your employees because you might make mistakes.

Back yourself.

Trust God will honor our messy attempts at loving our employees well and intentionally working to create a culture where others flourish.

The alternative to doing the hard work is doing what the average manager/owner/organization does: viewing work simply as a transactional, 1 dimensional world. A shut-up-sit-down-do-your-task-clock-out work environment. Viewing your employees as units of production.

This ugly alternative is what we get unless we work with intention to craft a work culture we’re proud of. A work culture that matters.

Why I left the business world...and why I’m returning.

5 years ago, I left the business world jaded and lacking a vision of how (or if) God could use business in his redemptive work in culture.

Profit is a subset of sustainability.
— Brent Warwick, Partner at ipsoCreative

We’ve missed the mark if our purpose starts and ends with maximizing our bank accounts.

Especially when that pursuit pollutes how we operate. When it leads to us treating employees as mere units of production, and treating customers as bundles of emotions we need to manipulate to buy more widgets. I realize now that’s a very 1 Dimensional approach to business leadership (at best).

Profit is a subset of sustainability, not an end in and of itself. And the environment which leads to sustainability over the long-term is when organizational health is prioritized and people are well-engaged and well-cared for.

As it turns out, RESULTS and TRANSFORMATION are not mutually exclusive.

We can achieve exceptional and tangible results AND make work a place where people can flourish.  

God does indeed have a place for business in advancing the common good.

3 Dimensional Leadership provides a great starting framework for finding our part in God’s vision to use business as a force to shape culture for his purposes.

WHY 3D LEADERSHIP IS IMPORTANT

Aside from the obvious employee engagement which we talked about above with what’s at stake, I believe there are two "Why’s" behind this concept of leading the whole person:

1. We are each made in image of God, with dignity and value

2. Each human has a purpose as part of the creation mandate found in Genesis 1:28

Reason #1: Made in Image of God (Loving doesn’t equal nice)

It's not just important to lead well to engage people so we don’t become the sinking boat example. It's important because each person is made in the image of God and we are called to recognize this and respond in love.  But that’s not a call to just “love” them — in the like, “yeah yeah I love you, bro. But I’ll never call you out or help you achieve growth”-kind of way.

We’re not called to stop there. I think we sometimes use that as a cop-out because we’re not working to love them into their truest selves. Too often we allow our desires to be “nice” or “popular.” And that’s not truly loving them. Loving people means keeping them accountable.

Reason #2: Purpose

The creation or cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28 to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth is the purpose of all humankind. It is the very first commandment, if you will. In essence this calls us to go create — to build businesses, organize departments, marshal our resources to solve problems and add value, compose music, design computers, start companies, manage banks, etc. Business is central to the creation mandate.

We’re called to lead our organizations in a way which empowers people to do their best work and find joy and purpose in doing this work they’ve been called and assigned to within your organization. We have a responsibility to create work environments where people flourish and can fulfill their work and this creation mandate well.

HOW to become a 3 Dimensional Leader

This is by no means a definitive guide, but good place to start might be with some rapid fire case examples where we can see this working well (and not-so-well) and apply it to our own workplaces.

1st Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS

At the end of the day I was just managing and punishing bad behavior...

I recently had the opportunity to serve as a Spanish translator on a medical mission. I had a conversation with a gentleman who was recently retired from the Parks and Rec Dept. He talked about his retirement with a twinge of sadness, saying "I was just managing and punishing bad behavior." This is an example of a very 1-Dimensional workplace (at best) — just lording over the disengaged employees to get them to comply. No buy-in, there’s no sense of team or safety. It’s transactional.

If we stay at this dimension as leaders and organizations, we will lose.

2nd Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS + MIND

CONFIDENCE: Built through recognition, big and small. Casting and helping others live into an identity—a “future self” as Tim Keller puts it.

TEAM COHESION: We all have a longing for community, to be known and to know. Culture of recognition where teammates are praising each other, not just some top-down awards thing.

“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” - Norman Hidle

SAFETY: This is a base motivation. If people don’t feel like they can do their job without fear of punishment when speaking their mind or taking appropriate risk, they will not feel safe. When they do, we’ve tapped into this second dimension.

Recognition and team and confidence can be accomplished by being present. Visiting with employees at the office or outside of it. In the same way that 3D Coaching mandates that we must be able to enter the life of an athlete away from the locker room and field, we must find creative and authentic ways to do this in our jobs. This will create the space for authenticity and vulnerability which I’ve found to be key for helping others see leaders as human and relatable and worthy of following.

MOTIVATION: Money can be motivating. Rules and policy can be motivating. But only extrinsically and only so much. Over-communicating that the purpose of any policy or rules is for the highest good, through transparency.

But be careful: "Ultimately rules without relationship lead to rebellion." as Josh McDowell puts it. Each individual is different. What motivates one, doesn’t for the other. Finding out what motivates your different players or employees is key.

CELEBRATION: "Follow the bright spots" as the Heath brothers say in their amazing book "Switch: How to change things when change is hard". Find what’s already working and support and celebrate the crap out of it. Find the sparks — who/what is going well — and do everything you can to lift that up and oxygen to that spark to light a fire!

3rd Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS + MIND + HEART:

The most powerful motivating force in the universe is the force of LOVE.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7

How to become a leader at the 3rd Dimension boils down to this — 
That your employees know you care about them beyond what they can produce. That they are cared for, and that sometimes means doing the unpleasant or unpopular things for the greater good, but ultimately over the longterm your heart for them will be made transparent and communicated well.

Example—Reaching the 3rd Dimensional remember reading a story a number of years ago about a top high school recruit who was making a decision between USC and Ohio State. He ended up deciding on OSU. The player’s rationale: “both schools have exceptional football programs — you go to either school to become a great football player. But you go to Ohio State to become a great man.” We have this same power in our organizations, and here’s just one example:

Recently, a few friends of mine who own their own business were telling me how they had to scale back and let a few people go. They gave the employees being let go the hard news that it was their last day and they'd be paid 2 weeks pay. 

Now this is where it gets good...

One project manager who was being let go came back to the partners and said, "Hey, I'm going to be fine, but I know that Sally could use more time and money to land on her feet and find her next gig. My husband and I will be fine — why don't you give my 2 weeks pay to her."

Wow! I mean, if that doesn't speak to the culture of their business, I don't know what does.

My philosophy has been deeply shaped by these guys and other business owners I've been blessed to call friends who are trying to revolutionize how we view work and build work cultures that matter. They have insanely inspired staff who are themselves raving fans and brand ambassadors, and believe so deeply that business is to help others flourish that they'll even give up their severance!

FINAL CHARGE — WE NEED YOU TO LEAD US!

I think we all recognize that the world has changed.

We, the very people you’re leading, are no longer getting the support we once did from our communities and families. The world is a broken place, and many of your employees are looking to their work to be more than it once was. They’re looking to their work to help support and fulfill them, not only financially (of course financially, that’s a given!) but emotionally and even spiritually.

The world needs leaders to lead us — we need YOU to lead us! This 3-Dimensional Framework is a great roadmap to start guiding your path.

Thank You for the opportunity to be part of transforming this framework for leaders within the workplace.


Going Deeper

ACCESS the Leadership Discussion Questions from my talk HERE.

WATCH "Measuring what makes life worthwhile" TED talk by Chip Conley

READ: Peak by Chip Conley 
Chip beautifully and practically transforms Maslow's hierarchy of needs to fit the employee, customer, and investor and makes a case for how all three are connected and how our organzations can be massive forces for good (and profit). 

READ: Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard

Related Articles, Inspiration & Acknowledgements:

ARTICLE: Is Your Boat Taking on Water? (Culture Guardianship Is Everyone's Responsibility)

Bill Latham & MeTeor Education (meteoreducation.com) — Bill was the first to point me to the Gallup example and highlight what's truly at stake right now in the American workforce. He's on a mission to create a culture that matters at MeTeor and in doing so, rethink the 21st century classroom. Check out his new book (co-authored with Rex Miller!) Humanizing the Education Machine: How to create schools that turn disengaged kids into inspired learners.

ipsoCreative (ipsocreative.com) — they're a boutique web agency who's state (and lived) purpose is: "Business is not to maximize shareholder value. The purpose of business is to help humans flourish." The great thing is — they're winning.

Zach Clark (developmentandleadership.org) — Zach runs a business called Development and Leadership Coaching and has taught me so much on how self leadership and nonprofit development is an amazing laboratory for learning to lead other well.

Gallup survey on disengaged workers — http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx

 FCA/Jeff Duke's 3 Dimensional Coaching Institute (3dinstitute.com)

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.

Use This Tactic To Become A More Effective Conflict Resolver

Dan LeMoine

If you’re in any form of leadership (or have any human interaction in your work or personal lives really) you’ve no doubt had to have crucial conversations or been put in situations where you’ve had to lead through icky stuff. There’s no way around it. As your organization or your team grows, and you collectively seek to solve meaningful problems you will run into times where you need to resolve and work through conflict.

On the far side of conflict can be intimacy and continuity. Conversely, there can also be destruction and disunity. A big factor in where you end up as you work through conflict and seek to resolve issues depends on your approach.

We must approach situations — whether it’s an office gossip, questionable or destructive behavior, lack of representing our brand well, irresponsibility, slipping performance, whatever it may be — with the focus on seeking the highest good for those involved.

Confront what you know, question what you suspect.

One tactic which I’ve found extremely helpful in clarifying and getting to underlying issues is: Confront what you know, question what you suspect.[1]

This approach is extremely powerful in slowing us down and to avoid jumping to conclusions, make hasty assumptions, presume that others have horrible or negative intentions, and allowing my mindset to be put into a reactive or defensive state.

By confronting what we already know, and questioning with gentleness and loose assumptions what we may suspect, we are able to navigate situations with a fresher level of empathy, compassion, pity, and mercy than if we simply assume the worst and default into ‘fight or flight’ mode in our conflict resolution.

What tactics have you used in confronting other in awkward or hard situations which you’ve found effective?


[1] Hat tip to my buddy Curtis Powell for teaching and showing me this framework.

ARTICLE NO. 75/100 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's In Your Code of Character? (You've got one, right?)

Dan LeMoine

At the school I serve we have a Code of Character for our students.

We work to point our students towards these attributes — encouraging and fostering them to berevolutionary, servant leaders, wise, relational, courageous, and perseverant. We even have these beautifully designed posters representing each one in classrooms and around campus as visual cues to remind ourselves to live into these things.

These traits (and thier foundatioanal and key verses are so powerful that I’ve begun to intentionally setting my own mind on these different attributes throughout the day, not just encourage our students in this way, but to actively work these into my own peronsal operating system as well.  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
— Philippians 4:8

Below I’ve shared each with you in hope that several may ping you and you may find them valuable in pursuing your best work.

As a disciple of Christ, in my work and life, I am...

Revolutionary

I seek first God’s kingdom and am transformed in how I think and act in all areas of my life.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

Servant leader

I lead using power, authority, and influence to love and serve others because Jesus first loved and served me.

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Wise

I can distinguish where, when and how to apply my knowledge and understanding of God’s teachings to not just my personal life, but my professional life as well.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!" Psalm 111:10

Relational

I celebrate that I am designed for connection to God and others, reflecting the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Courageous

I risk doing what is right and good when faced with challenges, big or small.

"The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

Perseverant

I move forward in confidence no matter the situation or possible outcome, trusting that God is good and in control.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Wouldn't you agree that these are character traits necessary to win at both business and life in a way which honors God? So we set our minds on Truth and marshall our energies to compound these character traits in our lives.

Any traits I’ve missed which are worth adding to this list?

There's value in defining our character so we know when we are acting in accordance with or out of- character. 

Recently there's a great example where Cincinnati Reds' 1st Baseman Joey Votto self-admittedly acts "out of character." The fact that he admits this and corrects course to makes amends with a fan shows us he's defined what character is and what his character goals are.

With a clear idea of the character he is striving for, Votto knows when he is not acting in accordance with who he knows himself to be. 


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Haters Gonna Hate: Leading Through Input, Criticism, and Suggestion

Dan LeMoine

Whenever you lead up, whenever you seek to solve meaningful problems, whenever you take intentional steps to build a career that matters, there will be no lack of people giving you feedback and “input.”

From what I can tell, whenever you do the emotional work of putting yourself out there, taking responsibility for an unmet need or problem, there will likely be someone there scoffing or suggesting. And too yet often, these suggesters are unwilling to get dirty and provide a solution with their critiques or jump in the trenches with you.

From my experience, we humans love to complain and criticize without proactively being part of a solution. It’s the path of least resistance. My challenge to myself (and you!), is that when we have criticism or suggestions, we bring them with possible solutions and we find ways we can contribute to the solutions we offer.  Every A-players I know takes responsibility and spends less time criticising, complaining or blindly suggesting and more time actually doing.

There will never be a lack of armchair critics, idea-only people, and well-intentioned fools unsolicitedly offering their ’shoulds’, yet failing to step up, take responsibility, and and actually do the work to make change happen.

And guess what, that’s okay. It’s part of life.

The skill we must develop as leaders is figuring out how to make these friends feel validated and significant.  Yet we must be self aware enough to know who to listen to. We must become adept at knowing when to take input to heart, and when to kindly acknowledge the input, make the input-er feel heard, then swiftly get back to crushing it.

If you listen to no one, you can become myopic and proud, unchecked and inflexible. And if you listen to them all, you’ll find yourself mired in self-doubt, unsureness, fomo, and with soft resolve. This selective listening while maintaining focus is a skill; one that matures the more you face criticism and suggestions as you do meaningful work.

The conventional wisdom I’m seeing from many other thought leaders is to rid your life of these type of people. They tell us to get rid of negative people, ignore the haters completely, and scoff at the scoffers. But I’d like to challenge that.

I’ve seen it done differently. Sure, hatin’ the haters is the easy route (just like complaining or criticising — it’s the other side of the same coin in some ways). And yes, there is a time to tune out this feedback completely. It may even be biblical (see Proverbs 9:8 below). But we must have grace and choose to engage. How will we ever invite others into a higher good — a better story — in their work and life, if all we do brush them off.

I’m learning that leadership isn’t just leading the agreeables, the playmakers, and the responsibility-takers. It means working to seek the highest good of even the criticizers, the scoffers, and the suggesters. 

Haters gonna hate.
— Proverbs 9:8a, paraphrased by yours truly[1]

Onward,

DL


[1] This of course is a paraphrase. Proverbs 9:8a is "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you..."

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How to Better Execute Against Your Goals & Actually Stick to Success Habits

Dan LeMoine

I was recently asked: How are you able to execute? In other words, How am I disciplined with sticking to things (habits, commitments, ambitions, etc.)

The short answer is to create leverage and decrease resistance.

I. Creating Leverage

I try to find ways to make myself do the things I should be doing (and to avoid the things which distract me). If I get leverage on something, it means I am applying force to get movement in the direction I want.

So I try to find ways — both implicitly (internally) or explicitly (externally) — to make sure I’m doing what I say I want to be doing, and to help create an environment of execution of my goals and ambitions.

a. External Leverage

For certain habits I need more explicit or external motivators to force myself to stick with things. I have someone else counting on me to deliver and execute in certain areas which keep me honest and true to doing the right things. For example, a few years ago my writing was sporadic at best. I wrote whenever I felt like it, whenever the “spirit moved me” to do so. It wasn’t until I took over the blog of a company I’m closely associated with, did my body of work really take off — my writing become tighter, clearer, and more consistent. The fact that the partners at this company expect a post published each week leverages me to shut up, sit down, and type.

We all have these external levers in some areas of our lives; we get up each morning for work whether we feel like it or not because there is someone (or many someones) who are counting on our input, leadership, and work, and because we need to provide for our families. We go to practice when we don’t feel like it because our teammates are expecting us to and because they’re going too. We go to the gym at 5:30a because our workout partner is there waiting on us.

What areas of your life (spiritually, physically, financially, professionally, relationally) could you build in some external leverage?

Maybe it’s finding a workout buddy, or an accountability partner who will ask you the hard questions no one else will. Maybe it’s finding a part-time or freelance opportunity in a desired industry where you’ll be expected to deliver — “forced" to produce work which will build your connections and body of work in preparation for a full blown career move.

b. Internal Leverage

For other things, or as our success habits begin to stick and become routine, our motivation shifts — at least in part — to more implicit internal motivation. 

This internal leverage is when we need less of an outside force to compel us to do the right things. We generally have a deeper understanding of why I must do a thing, or the success routine has become a full blown habit. 

I began lifting weights in middle school for sports. I have maintained a pretty consistent workout routine since then. Sports (mainly football and rugby) took up the majority of my athletic bandwidth until several years after college. These high school, collegiate, and mens athletic programs which I was a part of where great external motivators for staying fit. There was an expectation of athleticism which helped leverage me to get my butt in the gym. But somewhere along the way over the last 17 years I stopped needing that external lever as much.

Yet, while I’m no longer part of any official athletic program (no more external leverage), I still consistently hit the gym several times a week because I’ve conditioned myself to love it. I intrinsically know and feel the benefits (both short- and long-term) when I’m consistent with this habit. The leverage to get to the gym is much more internal.

We must also recognize that the need for external and internal leverage fluctuates and is not mutually exclusive. In some season, it seems like I need a workout partner to get myself out of bed at 5:30a, in other seasons I seem to have no problem making it happen from internal motivation. 

From my experience it’s a massively powerful spot when you’ve achieve both layers to help you execute against your goals and be successful in the things you want to achieve. Stoking the internal fire while also having someone else keeping you accountable to actively fanning the flame is when big momentum and movement begins to take place. 

After a while, once something becomes a habit, the external leverage (like a workout partner or hard deadline) is more of a safety measure and barometer rather than the primary source of leverage. That’s because once something becomes a habit, we’ve conditioned ourselves to automatically and implicitly motivate ourselves to do a thing.

II. Decreasing Resistance

a. Visual cues and line of sight.

The second aspect of execution which I’ve found highly valuable is decreasing resistance. It’s insane how keeping something out of sight does often keep it out of mind. For the morning routine, setting my gym clothes out the night before takes one more step out of the process between waking up at 5:30 and getting the gym. Putting my vitamins out on the counter instead of in the drawer help me to remember to take them.

b. Remove distraction.

I’ve also heard of writers who, in order to get right into writing at the onset of their day, make sure their word processing software is open when they turn on their computer in the morning. No email or social to distract, just right into putting thoughts on paper. 

Remove ambiguity by breaking down into bite-sized tasks

Clearly breaking down larger projects or goals in to small bite sized tasks helps remove ambiguity which is a form of subconscious resistance.

c. Schedule your intentions

Another way to decrease resistance as well is to give give it a time and place to live on your calendar. "If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist” as my friend Joshua says.

I’ve probably quoted James Clear on this countless times, but I’ll over communicate for the sake of driving the point home:

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

Researchers found that people who filled out this sentence were 2x to 3x more likely to actually exercise compared to a control group who did not make plans for their future behavior. Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behaviour. [1]

Where can you remove ambiguity, distraction or resistance in the different areas of your life?

Now, I don’t get it right all the time. There are moments where I don’t operate as I’ve intended for a multitude of reasons. These are just a few strategies I’ve used to help me execute and implement what I say I want to be doing to make progress in different areas of my life. I hope they help! 


[1] James Clear, "The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time" (www.jamesclear.com/master-one-thing)

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There’s No Automating Authenticity — Strategies in Making Raving Fans

Dan LeMoine

I’m all for tools of automation to make doing work easier. There is serious credence which should be paid to the whole maxim “work smarter not harder” maxim. 

I love the Boomerangs and Buffers of the world, and any other tool which assist in simplifying my life and help us do things more efficiently. I mean, who doesn't?

But lest we forget that it is too easy to let efficiency undermine our effectiveness.

You can’t automate authenticity

I was reminded of a story a friend told me of his favorite clothing company Mizzen + Main. He said he is a raving fan and has no issue dropping $130 on a shirt because of the quality and the authenticity of the company. It’s not uncommon for him to receive personal handwritten notes in with his orders, thanking him by name for his support and patronage. More than once the ladies and gents at Mizzen + Main have sent him personalized videos telling him about a sale or offer they’re running which he may be interested in based on his previous purchases.

It’s personal. It’s honest. It’s human. It’s authentic.

This level of authenticity, which is not automate-able, is the exact thing that has created a life-long raving fan for Mizzen + Main.

Because you cannot automate authenticity.

Doing the most human thing is, albeit paradoxically, necessary to scale and grow.

When to Automate

What and when should we automate, then?

When I asked him how he would split his time between relationship building and the digital content creation side of development and advancement of our nonprofit/ministry, my friend Zach Clark helped me clarify a subtle distinction —

Automate so that you can be authentic.

In other words, automate the tasks and responsibilities which get in the way of doing the real work of building meaningful relationships in order to grow your influence and organization.


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Is Your Boat Taking On Water? Here's What To Do If It Is...

Dan LeMoine

I recently got to know an inspiring new friend by the name of Bill Latham.

Bill gave a keynote alongside my wife at a recent conference, where he spoke on creating a culture of transformation. He (and his company Meteor) are leading the way in disrupting their industry, rethinking the 21st century classroom, and innovating in creating high impact learning environments for schools across the nation. When my wife Danae told me about Bill and the mission he is on, I couldn’t not reach out.  

During a recent chat we had, the topic of culture and employee engagement inevitably arose.

Based on recent GALLUP findings [1] on employee engagement, Bill painted an analogy of a boat:

“Say you’ve got 10 people in your boat.
You’ve got 3 people actively paddling;
5 people will paddle if asked, but if you look away they will be on their phones, playing with their oars, splashing in the water, etc.;
and you have 2 people in the back of the boat actively drilling holes causing the boat to actively take on water."

This is what is actually happening in our workforce today — according to the GALLUP findings, of every ten workers:

  • 3 people are positively and actively engaged,
  • 5 people are not engaged, and
  • 2 people are actively disengaged.

This means 70% of customers are being underserved, 70% of kids are receiving an inadequate education, 70% of hospital patients are not getting the treatment they deserve, 70% of public servants are underserving the taxpayer…you get the idea.

Bill continued by asking, "What would you do with the two people drilling holes in the boat?"

My answer: “Well, you’d get them to stop.” 

Bill: “And if they don’t?"

Me: “Throw 'em overboard."

We talk about making culture and fancy ourselves "culture-makers," at least to some extent. Yet we overlook, ignore, or forget our responsibility to, not only make culture, but to protect and guard the shared set of values as well.

[Of course, the caveat and important first step is creating a clearly defined set of values which are communicated effectively and shared corporately among your team.]

He reminded me that cultural guardianship is a responsibility of everyone in the boat.

It’s not just for the leader, or for a few zealous rah-rah culture police. Each one of us must take an active role in the creation, championing, and guarding of the cultural environment we desire to operate within. We have this amazing choice, opportunity, and responsibility to ensure that what we do aligns with the corporate identity we want to live out and into. As leaders, we are all vanguards of culture.

It’s real easy to complain that the boat is taking on water while sitting and doing nothing about it. It’s another thing entirely to guard the boat from those people who are actively engaged in drilling holes.

We have a duty to keep the boat afloat and moving in the right direction.


[1] "Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014": http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx
 

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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

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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
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Calmness as a Competitive Advantage

Dan LeMoine

The more I grow and mature, and the more messy experiences I have in life (in relationships, work, marriage, faith, etc.) the more I’m convinced remaining calm and collected under confronting circumstances is a massive variable to success.

Unfortunately, the only real way to grow this is by pushing out of your comfort zone, leading up, taking responsibility, and otherwise putting yourself into situations where chaos, uncertainty, strife, harm, sabotage and/or mass panic by others is likely.

It’s the only way to build a true tolerance to these things and grow this muscle of calmness. Fortunately these things seem to be inevitable when trying to solve matterful problems in the world, so we don’t have to try to seek these things out — as change-makers they will find us.

People will oppose us, doubt us, or try to thwart us. Broken systems and bad habits work to undermine us. Those antibodies to change will resist and sandbag. Well intentioned fools will distract us. Critics will moan and tempt us to lose focus. But if we have sangfroid, we do not react emotionally; we remain calm and have clarity in our calling and direction. 

I think this is why I find ROMWOD stretching so valuable. Not only do I end the ‘workouts’ completely relaxed and feeling totally open, but during the sessions I’m actively growing my “calmness muscle” by focusing on taming my mind and my body despite being in uncomfortable positions. Trying to remain passive, control my breathing, and accept and embrace the otherwise confronting moves and deep breaths, helps me to not only train my range of motion but my mind as well, if ever so slightly. 

“When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. They just react—not to what they need to react to, but to the survival hormones that are coursing through their veins. 

Welcome to the source of most of our problems down here on Earth. Everything is planned down to the letter, then something goes wrong and the first thing we do is trade in our plan for a good ol’ emotional freak-out. Some of us almost crave sounding the alarm, because it’s easier than dealing with whatever is staring us in the face.”

— Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

Calmness of mind must be trained.

Yet, this isn’t something we ever really train for. It seems our whole lives revolve around controlling and avoiding uncomfortable, chaotic, or hard situations. We rarely work to control the one thing we can fully control, our emotions. We have the choice to continually (re)focus our identity on who we are in Christ — fully safe, fully known, fully accepted as is, fully loved. Which, for me at least, does wonders in bringing perspective, defusings worry, and calming my anxieties in even the most dire of moments. But it's hard work to do this in the middle of a trying time or chaotic moment or when someone crosses you. It takes work. It takes practice. 

It's this very calmness and cool-headedness which seems to be a powerful advantage when those around us are losing it, freaking out, or being driven by in anxious, hurried, and irrational thoughts.

Next time we find ourselves in a tough spot, let’s pause, breath, and know that this is a perfect opportunity to flex and grow our calmness muscle.

How can you better prioritize self-awareness, controlling our emotions in order to stay calm under pressure?


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How To Develop Our Self Awareness To Be More Effective Communicators

Dan LeMoine

Yesterday we talked about how the way we say things is as, if not more, important than what we’re saying. In short, how we say things is just as matterful as what we’re saying.

But practically, how do we make sure the way we’re saying and doing things is God-honoring? Sometimes it is extremely difficult to view ourselves objectively, or two gauge how we come across and are perceived by others. I know that my directness or intensity has, in the past, come across as condescending or too fuerte for some. I may think I’m saying something one way, but it’s being heard another. It’s hard in the moment to evaluate how my nonverbals, my tone, my pace, and my communication structure form the experience and essence of what I’m trying to communicate to others.

It really boils down to your self-awareness and your empathy for how others are receiving what you're saying.

Self awareness is an invaluable trait worth developing in order to make sure our means match our messaging, our way matches our what. But how do we develop this?

Here’s how I’ve grown and developed this area of my leadership in recent years.

Post mortem (self-feedback)

Reflecting is an important tool to improving in your self awareness and getting invaluable data points on your journey to delivering your communication in an empathetic, compassionate and effective way. Pausing after a talk or an interaction and asking: “How do I think that went? How was it received? Did the way I delivered what I was saying honor God or was it manipulative, device or self-motivated in some way?"

Sometimes answering these questions is hard to do on your own, so it also helps to process situations in a safe environment with someone who knows you well, will shoot you straight, and help point out aspects or factors you may be overlooking or unaware of in your reflection and processing. 

Community feedback

Having (or building) a culture of vulnerability and transparency where conflict is dealt with healthily and where you can get feedback you can learn from is absolutely invaluable. For me, my wife is a huge help for me in processing situations I’m in, conversations I had, or presentations I’ve made. She helps me see how what I was saying was actually heard, and how my messaging was actually perceived. Was it understood? How did it come across? Was I too direct? Did I only touch on the rationale? Did I win them over?  Are all questions having a third person's perspective is massive advantage.

I also have several close friends who will give me no-B.S. feedback about how I’m coming across or challenge me to improve in the way I go about saying or doing something.

Who do you have in your inner circle to help you grow in making sure the way you’re saying things is just as effective as what you’re saying?


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How We Do Things Trumps What We're Doing

Dan LeMoine

(Yes, the pun was intended)

It’s safe to say that the current presidential election happenings in the United States are/have been…well, interesting to say the least. I’m just going to leave it at that.

trump.gif

Recently, I found myself in a half-heated discussion (in reality it was my counterpart who was heated, I was unflustered and staying cool, like the Fonz) about our respective voting preferences and rationale behind each preference.

My friend was arguing that his candidate's way of saying things — in a very direct, unfiltered, and un-politically correct way — offends the politically overcorrect and overly sensative. His argument was that much of what his candidate is say has merit and isn’t as device or hate-mongery or facist-y as the pundits portray.

That may be true (it also may very well not be), but I’m not going to opine on the accuracy or rightness of any particular candidate's stances in this article. But here is what my counter-argument to my friend was, which I believe is relevant to all of us as leaders...

The what we say (and don’t say) is important. But how we say things — the way in which we bring our thoughts to the world — is equally, if not more, important. The What is the vehicle for truth and justice, but How we say something creates the medium for grace and love and mercy to abound. Unfortunately, the second half of that equation is the one we often neglect. And if we desire to reflect Christ to the world (which, if you call yourself a Christian, you doctrinally do), that second part matters immensely.

How we say things matters, and the way we do says more about our heart and our intentions in advancing the common good than the What ever will. It's simply not enough to have good intention (even if we’re “right”). 

The bottom line is that each one of us must prioritize how we say things just as much as what we’re saying; the way we do things matters as much as what we’re doing. Aside from looking for this trait in our political leaders, at the individual level, each one of us can increase our own effectiveness as leaders when we prioritize this way. 

Is there any area of your leadership where you know your messaging can be improved if only you refined and developed the way in which you are doing things?

 

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


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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.

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The Difference Between Managing & Leading

Dan LeMoine

There is a difference between managing and leading. 

Managing is checking people's work, doing progress reviews, having strict structure. Managing is generally for employees that are collecting paycheck and punching the clock. Not always, much of the time it is.

Leading is casting a vision and removing obstacles in order to maximize the efforts of already self-motivated people who arepassionate about their work, have a sense of ownership or investment, and are passionate about the organization’s vision.

When you get the right people in place, it ends up being less about managing and more about leadership. 

The difference is often subtle but is muy importante.

One isn’t neessarily better than the other. There is a place for both in organizational development.

People need to be led in seasons and managed in others. People need leadership in certain areas of their work and management in others. While I may be framing managing in a less-than-ideal light — as if managing something to avoid or never have in your organization — I do very much think it has an important place in helping your people move from a “punch-the-clock” mentality to being self-motivated and invested.

Effective managers create rule and order to help move people along that spectrum and create room for good things to run wild in and among their team which benefit the company.

The risk we run is being unaware of which hat to be wearing in a situation or with a certain teammate. If we go in wearing the leadership hat when we really needed to be wearing the managing hat we can end up walking away frustrated, disappointed, or angry (at them or ourselves as leaders).

As Christian leaders trying to push the envelope of excellence we need to be clear about the distinction between the two and think critically on how to best move someone along this spectrum of needing to be managed to wanting to be led.


*Thanks to Rich Landa and Dave Franco for helping me clarify this distinction.

ARTICLE NO. 47/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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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.

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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.

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How To Be More Intentional: Balance Action & Contemplation

Dan LeMoine

One of the tensions I’ve been working to strike is the one between Action and Contemplation.

ipso’s lead partner Brent Warwick says, “If beauty and freedom and culture truly matter to us, then...well that means a lot of things, starting with taking the time to consider our purpose. Genuinely asking the question “why” until we get to the root of our underlying intentions.”

Recipe for intentionality: mix equal parts action and contemplation, splash of bitters and garnish with an orange peel.

In order to challenge the conventional understandings of the purpose of business we need more than just action. We must balance our action with contemplation, and visa versa. This Action-Contemplation balancing results is intentionality.

Thoughtless action is folly and results in risks that will eventually undermine your ability to make wise decisions and results in erosion of the ability to be effective. Yet, contemplation with no action will never results in anything meaningful because nothing is actually being done with that contemplation— no impact will be had, no matterful connection will be made, no momentum will be gained. This is why it is a creative tension we must strike, and a question to live.

We believe intentionality is closely tied to having purpose.

At ipso, our leaders have spelled out exactly what we believe about how profit, sustainability, culture, and purpose all fit together:

Profit is merely a component of a company's sustainability. And sustainability is merely a component of a company's culture. And a businesses culture is merely a component of a company's purpose. And that brings us to what we, here at ipso, believe about our purpose.

We believe that the purpose of business is to help humans flourish.

Purpose and Intention are quite synonymous. To have purpose is to have intention. Our recipe for intentional business building and human flourishing is rooted in purpose, and it takes intentionality (balancing equal parts decisive action with equal parts deep contemplation) to fulfill our purpose.

//

Originally written for ipso Creative at ipsocreative.com/musings


ARTICLE NO. 42/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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What Seth Godin & Jim Collins Say About Building A Culture of Discipline

Dan LeMoine

Jim Collins on "The Culture of Discipline"

"Entrepreneurial success is fueled by creativity, imagination, bold moves into uncharted waters, and visionary zeal. As a company grows and becomes more complex, it begins to trip over its own success—too many new people, too many new customers, too many new orders, too many new products. What was once great fun becomes an unwieldy ball of disorganized stuff. Lack of planning, lack of accounting, lack of systems, and lack of hiring constraints create friction. Problems surface—with customers, with cash flow, with schedules."[1]

And to continue with a paraphrase: But then, out of a need for organization and to rein in the mess, a new wave of playmakers are brought in to bring order to the chaos, to help the organization grow into it’s next level of maturity. With them comes necessary procedure and process and structure. But if not implemented with intention, they risk killing the entrepreneurial spirit and slowly suffocating the egalitarian environment. As I’ve noted before the purpose of any policy or proceedure is to seek the highest good (for the individual and the organization).

As Jim Collins notes, veterans begin to get disenchanted that these forms and processes and procedures are slowing down the ability they once had to GTD, and the “creative magic” begins to slip away. What was once an innovative entrepreneurial culture is replaced by hierarchy and bureaucracy and mediocrity.

So how do we guard against this from happening?

How do we stay organized and efficient, but also continue to push the boundaries, innovate and be massively effective?

Here’s what Jim Collins continues with:

"…the purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline—a problem that largely goes away if you have the right people in the first place. [Yet] an alternative exists: Avoid bureaucracy and hierarchy and instead create a cultures of discipline. When you put these two complementary forces together—a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship—you get a magical alchemy of superior performance and sustained results."[1]

Similarly, this reminds me of a post by Seth Godin where he affirms this human-first approach. Seth says,

"The most important part of a race car is the tires. Good tires will always beat bad ones.

The most important part of a cup of coffee is the beans. The grinder, the machine, the barista pale in comparison to the quality of what you start with.

And the most important parts of an organization are the people you begin with. Not the systems or the policies or even the real estate. Great people make everything easier.

And yet...

And yet we spend money on 4 wheel drive instead of snow tires.

And yet we upgrade our coffee maker instead of buying from a local roaster (or roasting our own).

And mostly, we run classified ads to find the cheapest common denominator employee and spend all our time building systems to protect our customers from people who don't care..."[2]

What Jim Collins and Seth Godin are saying here has been true in my experience as well.

I have a unique perspective of serving in an organization going into it’s second chapter of maturity. I was blessed to serve under the founder and in a culture that was super scrappy entrepreneurially-driven culture. I’ve watch the transition of the founder to new leadership (my beautiful wife), and I feel we’ve played a key role in fostering a new culture — one of discipline and organization. As I reflect, the moments where a culture of discipline and a culture of innovation both seemed very far off where the moments when, looking back, we can see that we had the wrong people on the bus (or in the wrong seats).

What we’ve seen work, and what Seth and Jim have validated—

Focus on the right people (not everyone, necessarily).
Focus on building a culture where your a-team can flourish and perpetuate their 'a-team-ness'.
Build a culture your proud of — one that naturally expels the cancers, and attracts the playmakers.
Give your team freedom to navigate their way into the right positions to best serve your organization.


Notes:
[1] Jim Collins, Good To Great (p. 121)  
[2] Seth Godin, "Tires, Coffee, and People" (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/09/tires-coffee-and-people.html)

ARTICLE NO. 40/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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3 Lessons Learned Hunting Stag In The Scottish Highlands

Dan LeMoine

We’d just belly crawled over a small hill when Graeme finally spotted “the beasts” as he called them. There were about a dozen of them several hundred feet away and Graeme instructed me in a powerful Scottish whisper to take the fifth one from the left as he handed me the rifle.

We’d been stalking these Scottish Highlands for close to 6 hours in search of the famed Scottish red deer. At this time in my life (2009-10) I was still pursuing the pipe-dream of playing professional rugby and found myself living in Edinburgh, Scotland. It just so happened that one of my teammates was the son of a professional hunter, gamekeeper and former estate manager for some royalty or top Scottish muckity muck. Naturally, I did what any overconfident American would do…I invited myself hunting (read: I basically begged him to take me).

I’d taken a life before. My dad and I hunted pheasant when I was growing up and I used to be a crack shot with my trusty pellet gun, claiming a number of pigeons and even a squirrel once.

While shooting my first deer was by far the highlight of this day, second to only getting the blood of the animal smeared on my face, per Scottish tradition, the life and business lessons I learned from this epic trip are profound.

3 Lessons Learned Hunting Stag in Highlands of Scotland

Lesson #1: Life Is About the Hunt (Not the Hunted).

Sure, shooting the deer was cool.

But not as spectacular as walking in some of the most famed and fabled land in history. Tromping through the highlands, dawned in a tweed cap, freezing my royal nee-nees off, channeling my inner William Wallace not only increased my T-levels and helped me sprout a few more chest hairs, but it was one of the most magnificent settings I could’ve imagined.

We could have gotten a deer to come right up to us if we’d wanted to. These deer were accustomed to eating food from cattle troughs. It wasn’t about (just) getting the deer. It was about the hunt. The chase. The pursuit. About intentionally going into the wilderness to seek them. For the challenge.

In a life of comforts, I’m realizing the difficult experiences are often the things we end up most cherishing. (click to tweet)

The outcome was elusive that day. We had difficulty tracking the beasts and there was a time where I doubted I’d get my deer. 

But the experience as a whole — the cold, the mist, the tweed, the crisp air, the view, the scotch…God, the scotch! — was a great reminder that the journey is richest part. Deer or not, I’d have been delighted either way.

This is something I constantly need to remind myself of. I want it all now, and I forget that it really is the journey (as cliché as it sounds) is the reward. It’s the process, the hustle, the hunt, which we must wake up and relish. 

Focusing on the process produces patience and love for the grind and the climb; it’s “the happiness of pursuit” as Chris Guillebeau puts it (vs. the pursuit of happiness).

Don't just take my word for it. David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) fame wrote an amazing article about reaching "The Dream" of becoming a millionaire (aptly titled "The day I became a millionaire").

"It was like I had pulled back the curtain on that millionaire’s dream and found, to my surprise, that most of the things on the other side were things I already had. Equal parts shock and awe, but ultimately deeply reassuring.

Chiefly because I couldn’t lose those things. Barring any grand calamity, I could afford to fall off the puffy pink cloud of cash, and I’d land where I started. Back in that small 450 sq feet apartment in Copenhagen. My interests and curiosity intact. My passions as fit as ever. I traveled across a broad swath of the first world spectrum of wealth, and both ends were not only livable, but enjoyable. That was a revelation." - DHH

He reminds us that getting to whatever end we're chasing won't "move the needle of deep satisfaction." He says, "We humans acclimate to our surroundings incredibly quickly. The buzz is not going to last. Until you realize the next rung of the ladder isn’t where salvation hides, the siren song will keep playing."

Life Lesson #1b: hold looseLy to expectations.

There came a moment in the early afternoon where we were thinking we may not get the deer. Which would’ve been unfortunate as it was the only day we had scheduled to be on the hunt. I was getting a bit disappointed about this could-be outcome because without a deer to show for myself all I really had then was a story of walking in some hills (or so I thought, note lesson learned above).

Yet once I came to grips with the possibility of not getting my first blood, I was free to really just enjoy my life in that moment regardless of the outcome of the day. 

This is an area of weakness that I’m still getting stronger in. Even when we say we don’t have expectations, we really do.

Happiness is often deeply tied to the gap between our expectations and reality. If I’ve learned anything it’s been this:

we often don’t realize the expectations we have until they are not met.

 

As DHH mentions in the above mentioned article, "Expectations, not outcomes, govern the happiness of your perceived reality."

The ramifications of this lesson— in marriage and family, career and business, faith and our relationship with God, diet and health—are massive. Growing in our understanding of the play between expectations, reality, and our mood will drive significant value (and gratitude) in our lives. My intuition tells me that taking the time to grow in this way will pay huge dividends in my long-term overall happiness. 

Lesson #2: It’s (More Than) Okay To Accept Help.

This was one of the more profound lesson learned, so listen up kids.

During our stalking of the beasts we were climbing our way higher up into the highlands near Invercargill and came to a small frozen creek. Graeme was first over and was offering a helping hand to his son as he crossed the creek, then to the other hunter we were accompanied by.

It was now my turn to cross. Don’t mess up now. Don’t embarrass yourself.

His hand was outstretched to me as well. Fancying myself as the spry physical specimen I was (note the lingering hubris), I ignored his outstretched hand and leapt successfully across the creek (I was at the peak of my athletic career after all).

But instead of getting along our merry way, we paused for a bit of a pow-wow. Graeme began his lesson and I got the panicky feeling I was the focal point of the lesson. Shoot. What did I do?

Apparently I was risking his life. Dang it.

He explained that I was putting all of our lives in danger by not accepting help. Sounds a bit melodramatic, right? Wrong!

He continued to explain if by chance I rolled or broke an ankle it would become very difficult for them to navigate the rough terrain carrying me out, putting at risk the safety of the others. God forbid more than one of us were injured because of a refusal to accept help we would likely die of exposure if we had to spend the night outside in the elements. 

The combination of his serious tone, full tweed outfit, rifle on shoulder, and professional hunter status commanded my immediate and future compliance of any help offered.

I think (especially as Americans) we’re out of practice receiving help, let alone asking for it. Staunch individualism is for Hollywood and Marlboro commercials, not for real life. 

One guy I look up to online, James Clear, in his 2015 annual review vulnerably reflected on this “syndrome” and how correcting it resulted in not only personal growth, but business growth as well. He notes:

Like many entrepreneurs, I repeatedly fall victim to “superhero syndrome” and attempt to do everything myself. I improved in this area in 2015 by surrounding myself with a great team. I hired an executive coach, signed with a fantastic book agent, hired a world-class book editor, and added a few assistants to take repetitive tasks off my plate. The result? Revenue tripled this year. I still have a long way to go when it comes to becoming a great team leader, but this year would not have been what it was without Charlie, Lisa, David, Peter, Susan, Walter. Thank you all!

We are called to live in community, not in isolation. Unfortunately, one of the ugly side effects of the wonderful tools and technology we have at our disposal is the ease to which we can become isolated, too self-reliant, and pridefully individualistic.

Dependence is often synonymous with weakness in our culture. Graeme  — probably one of the more manly men on the planet — taught me that this is in fact untrue. There is, in fact, immense value (implicit and explicit) in having a healthy level of dependence in your life. 

Dependence results in intimacy, trust, and strength.

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and accept help even when you think you don't. (click to tweet)

Lesson #3: Celebrate Life’s Victories (Or “Whiskey makes things wonderful.”)

After killing the beast and having its blood smeared on my face (which does wonderful things for your complexion), we commemorated the event with a strong pour of some fine single malt scotch whiskey. Let’s be honest it tasted like a bonfire in my throat but I can’t think of a more fitting ending to celebrate the day.

Author Donald Miller, in his book A Million Miles In a Thousand Years notes how in the Old Testament times, when big events happened along their many journeys, God’s people would build small alters or monuments out of rocks. He mused about how God probably isn’t that impressed by a pile of rocks. Creating these alters was a way for his people to remember and to celebrate these significant moments in their spiritual and physical history walking with Him.

If we always are rushing along from project to project, adventure to adventure, job to job, and we never stop to reflect, celebrate, and remember the victories we’ve had, then we’re robbing ourselves of experiencing the fullness of where God has assigned us. This applies equally to our day-to-day small victories and our big life milestones.

Whether this celebration is pausing for 5 minutes at the end of the day to journal what went well, reflecting on what you learned from a given experience (ergo, this post),  throwing a big dinner party, or having a dram of whiskey with some Scots, don’t forget to identify and celebrate your victories.

//

I will always appreciate Callum and his father Graeme for one of the most memorable adventures I've had the privilege to experience. Not just for the deer, or the amazing scotch, or the amazing dinners of venison medallions, qual eggs and ratatouille, but for facilitating an experience which is informing my life. 

What experience is waiting for you to reflect on, learn from, and celebrate?


ARTICLE NO. 39/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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