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  • We All Need One Another

    “I can do what you cannot, and you can do what I cannot; together, we can do great things.” — Mother Teresa The year is 2020. And as the world holds its breath in the face of the coronavirus, a remarkable thing is happening behind the scenes. Businesses pivot from making dresses, pizza, snowboards, helmets, lawn furniture, etc., to making goggles, gloves, sanitizer, and face masks to fill the employment and supply needs. Communities band together to provide encouragement to essential works, assist the marginalized, feed the hungry, decorate their neighborhoods to entertain children, and demonstrate that when we work together, great things can be achieved even in the most difficult of times. If you want to make a difference, together is better. It may seem easier to go it alone, knowing, as we do, how complicated and messy human relations can be, but in the end, a team will always take you farther than you could go by yourself. "We" is More Important Than "Me" What transforms a group of people into the type of team that could change the world one small corner at a time? This type of team begins to form when the participants transition their thinking from "What can the group do for me?" to "What can I do for the group?" Unless the members of the team are able to put "we" before "me," change will only be able to go so far. Who is More Crucial than how It is our human tendency to think that more is better, even when creating a team of people to join us in our cause (or our business). But teams will only work cohesively if the right people are on them, individuals on the same page, sharing the same values, working for the same cause, and willing to bear with and fight for one another. If not, you will not have unity, alignment, or effectiveness, and you and they will just be frustrated. “It's not the load that weighs you down; it's the way you carry it.” – Unknown What Unites is Greater than What Divides Once you find the right people on your team, don't allow your differences (because there will still be many) to divide you. As John Maxwell says in the book, "What we focus on expands. If we focus on our differences, our differences increase. If we focus on what unites us, then our unity increases." What You Have is More than What You Lack What assets do you bring to the team? When selecting members of your difference-making team, you want to be sure to be aware of what you are bringing to the table and not try to be someone you are not. What you may lack, your team can make up for. Collaboration is More Valuable than Cooperation When you compare cooperation with collaboration, cooperation shows itself to be more an act of resignation than unity -- "Let's just get along, or else nothing will get done." But collaboration is the true mark of unity because participants are "intentionally going in the same direction, helping one another to achieve something they all feel is worthwhile. -- 'Let's work together because this has to be done." This week, consider the following questions: Do the people on your team have a "we" mindset? Do the people on your team on the same page, sharing the same values, working for the same cause, and willing to bear with and fight for one another?

  • Become a Catalyst for Change

    “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” — Michael Jordan Have you ever seen a need and thought, “I wish someone would do something to make a change”? (Raise hands here.) Maybe you were thinking that “someone” was the government, or the education system, or a nonprofit, or a church leader, or your boss, or… or… or… You're right to think that “someone” needs to do something because “without the actions of some person, change doesn’t happen.” But instead of looking for a superhero in the crowd, turn and look in the mirror. Whether it’s solving world hunger, advocating for 153 million orphans worldwide, establishing fair trade practices, stemming the tide of pollution, manufacturing safety equipment in the midst of a health crisis, educating third graders, pastoring a church, providing employment opportunities, volunteering in a soup kitchen, visiting a home-bound neighbor, or adopting an abandoned kitten — there is ample opportunity in your community and your world to be a catalyst for change. “When it comes to making a positive difference in the world, change occurs only when someone, somewhere, takes responsibility for changing themselves and takes action to help others change too.” Why not you? Now, I know you have a million and one reasons why not you (I do too) – you’re just one person, the problem is too big for you, you don’t know where to start, or there is someone more qualified than you out there, just to name a few – but I’m here to tell you that change always starts with one person who says, “I can do something;” then it ripples outward. But it doesn’t happen until one person takes a stand. We often think that for us to bring about any type of change, we have to do something big – big plans, big resources, big team – but if you care, you have all you need to get started. In fact, big actions may make a huge splash, but it’s the small actions, done consistently, that lead to the biggest change. So how can you become a catalyst for change? INTENTIONALITY Instead of GOOD INTENTION John Maxwell has often shared the story of his father’s riddle about five frogs sitting on a log. He would say, “Four decided to jump off. How many are left on the log.” John’s answer as a boy was one, but his father would reply, “There are five. Deciding is not doing. You have to do more than decide. You have to take action.” Intentional action means finding deliberate, consistent, and thoughtful ways of adding value to others. It “represents the dividing line between words and results.” POSSIBILITIES Instead of OBSTACLES As a change catalyst, it’s important that you recognize that while something needs to be fixed, there are possibilities! Too often, we only see the obstacles and fail before we even get started. But if you look for the possibilities or the opportunities, you won’t lose hope, passion, or momentum even when the going gets tough. If you can answer yes to these questions, you are a possibilities seeker: Do you think progress is possible but not easy? Do you see things as they are but not get discouraged? Are you willing to look away from problems that move you? Are you willing to do what you can to make your world a better place? “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are usually the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs VISION Instead of EXCUSES Is your vision for a better world big enough and vivid enough to overcome all the excuses for why you shouldn’t get involved? Several years ago, I was working for an abusive employer who didn’t understand himself or his team. He had no interest (at least that I could see) in creating a work environment in which his employees could thrive and his business would flourish as a result. It was during that time that I first had a vision for what a workplace could look like if healthy relationships with self, others, and work were promoted and encouraged. I eventually found better employment opportunities, but still, the vision never left me. I had a million excuses why I wasn’t the person to solve the problem of toxic work environments (and some of them were really compelling). I certainly would have had an easier time and more security had I not taken the leap to start a business that helps other businesses develop healthy relationships within the workplace. Still, security wasn’t my vision for a better world. In all honesty, there have been days when I’ve considered closing my metaphorical doors, but my vision is so much bigger than my excuses, doubts, and fears. STRENGTHS Instead of WEAKNESSES There may come a time when you become aware of a need, but it’s not yours to solve. As we’ve already acknowledged, there is an abundance of needs in our world today, and while you may not be able to change everything, you can change something. However, you cannot be all things to all causes. Because you have been given unique strengths, talents, skills, personality traits, and passions, you will be most effective and make the biggest difference when you work out of these things. Ask yourself: What can I change? What do I do exceptionally well? What do I get excited or passionate about? When am I at my best? Together Instead of Alone As Simon Sinek says, “If you have the opportunity to do amazing things in your life, I strongly encourage you to invite someone to join you.” When you become a catalyst for change, look for and invite others to join you. You’re right when you think that you’re just one person and you can’t do it all alone. Lasting change requires a team of people with different skills, strengths, and personalities to get the job done. You are simply responsible for starting and then “give everyone who joins you permission to operate in their gifting” to keep the ripples expanding outward. This week, consider the following questions: What need do you see? How can your strengths, personality, and skills be used to make a change for that need? Who can you bring along with you?

  • We Can't Wait for Change

    "Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, courage to see that they do not remain as they are." -- Augustine of Hippo I started this blog with a book about changing yourself, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Next, we moved on to a book about how to change your relationships with the people you interact with daily, Be a People Person. And now, it's time to pull a new book from the library, and this time, we're going to learn how to change the world, Change Your World. This progression is the essence of what it means to create positive ripples. It starts with the drop (you), and the change ripples outward, with each consecutive ripple getting bigger and moving further. The other day, I was sitting at the dinner table, listening to the conversation around me. It was probably much like the conversations you hear regularly: the world is full of problems, and nothing changes unless it worsens. Every day we see things -- in the government, health care, education, economics, business, media, entertainment, religious institutions -- that we wish were better than they are. But I'm here (with John C. Maxwell and Rob Hoskins) to tell you that positive change is possible! First, Change Your Thinking In their book, The Art of Possibility, Rosamund and Benjamin Zander write, "The frames of our minds create and define -- and confine -- what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and the problems vanish, while new opportunities appear." I love the quote by Henry Ford, "Whether you think you or think you can't, you're right." The saying goes for your ability to change your world; if you think you can't make a difference, you're right, but if you believe you can do something about the problems you see, the world will change around you. You can make a difference no matter who you are, where you are, or what you have. Then, Harness Your Hope "Optimism is the belief that things will be better. Hope is the faith that, together, we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue; hope, an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope." Have hope for yourself The world doesn't need more dreamers. It needs more dream-makers who don't just think about change but make it happen. Have hope for others Be positive and focus on the positive change you can create, not the negative situation you want to eliminate. Have hope for a better future Dale Carnegie says it best, "Most of the things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." "If you want a better world, composed of better nations, inhabited by better states, filled with better counties, made up of better cities, comprised of better neighborhoods, illuminated by better churches, populated by better families, then you have to start by becoming a better person." -- Tony Evans Use That Hope to Fuel Your Urgency The title of this chapter, "We Can't Wait for Change," can be read in two ways. One, we can't wait for someone else to start making the changes we want to see. But also, we can't wait for change, much like a child can't wait for Christmas or some other great expectation. There needs to be an urgency to your anticipation and your action. Urgency starts within As Ralph Marston says, "Success requires both urgency and patience. Be urgent about making the effort and patient about seeing the results." Urgency feeds desire When you use your hope for a better future (for yourself and others) and tap into your sense of urgency for the change, it increases your desire for that change. In the words of Jim Rohn, "Without a sense of urgency, a desire loses its value." Urgency inspires courage "Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. It takes courage to believe the best is yet to come." And we find that courage when we allow ourselves to feel the urgency of change. Start Making a Difference You get a call to action when you add hope and urgency together. But maybe you're still thinking, "It's too big for me. I wouldn't know where to start. Is it even possible?" You can make excuses, or you can make changes, but you can't do both. "It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter what you have or haven't done yet. It's never too late to do something to change your world." And as Simon Sinek says, "Dream big. Start small. But most of all, just start. The hardest part is starting. Once we get that out of the way, we'll find the rest of the journey much easier." Stay tuned as we explore how to start changing your world! This week, consider the following questions: Name one need or problem you see around you. How would the lives around you be better if positive change was made?

  • 11. Developing a Winning Team

    Learning How to Help Others Become Successful "Uniformity is not the key to successful teamwork. The glue that holds a team together is unity of purpose." -- John C. Maxwell We’ve come to the end of our book, Be a People Person, by John C. Maxwell. Before we explore the final chapter, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far. To be a People Person, we must understand: What draws me to people What draws others to me How to be confident with others How to be an effective leader How to motivate others for their benefit How to be a person others respect How to encourage others How to handle criticism How to be a person others trust As a business and leadership coach, one of the things that I focus on is personal development (i.e. learning to be a People Person) not only for your own benefit but also for the benefit of those around you; this is how we are able to intentionally create positive ripples through our world. In business and life, people will always be your greatest struggle and your greatest asset. So how can you use what we’ve learned so far to develop a winning team (personal or professional)? John Maxwell gives us four characteristics of a winning team. A Winning Team Keeps Improving It’s easy to look at others — another leader, another team, another business — as the competition, but in business (and life), the only competition that matters is being better today than you were yesterday. Winning teams understand that when they stop improving themselves, they stop winning. A Winning Team Plays to Win Whatever your industry, you can only win if you are on mission and playing on purpose, and the only way to do that is to maintain an intentional attitude. Simon Sinek once said, “Most of us live our lives by accident — we live as it happens. Fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose.” and the same can be said of business. “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” — Simon Sinek A Winning Team Takes Risks Risks are part of life and business; if you and your team try to play it safe, you will never win. A winning team realizes that it’s far better to try and fail than to fail to try. If you and your team are playing on purpose and constantly looking for ways to improve, failure is just another opportunity to grow. A Winning Team is Made Up of People Persons If you and your team understand what it takes to be a People Person and are intentional about working for the success of each of the members instead of just looking out for yourselves, then you will go far. Winning teams are made up of individuals who are willing and able to invest in each other. This week, consider the following questions: Do you have a winning team? What steps can you take to encourage and strengthen your team?

  • 10. Being a Person People Trust

    Building Integrity Into Your Relationships "We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are." -- John C. Maxwell Trust doesn’t come easily for me, perhaps because of my personality, but more likely because of a worldview that was shaped by my childhood experiences. As a result of this, I need to preface this post with two encouragements. First, in order to become a person people trust, you need to learn to be a person who trusts others. Please don’t read that statement as an instruction to trust all people because there are people in the world that you should not trust (i.e. the opposite of our points on being a person people trust to follow), but what I mean is that you need to learn to be open to trusting others. As I’ve already stated, trust doesn’t come easily for me; but for a large part of my life, I wore that truth like a badge of honor, proud of my ability to hold everyone at arm's length. But it has taken years of self-reflection and growth to realize that if I want to be in a relationship with someone, I need to take the hard road and be open to trusting them, even if there is a chance that I will get hurt or disappointed. Second, in order to become a person people trust, you also need to be a person that you, yourself, can trust. As we explore the five points to being a person people trust, consider how you apply them to yourself — how do you think about yourself, how do you talk to yourself, do you believe in yourself, etc. I recommend this again because of personal experience, the same experiences that taught me that it was easier not to trust others. But as John Maxwell says, “It’s important to be what [we] ask others to do. We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.” With that, let’s get into how you can be a person that others trust! Appreciate people for who they are Often we appreciate people for what they do, not for who they are. We appreciate them when they achieve, produce, or perform in a way that makes our lives easier or makes us look good to others. But the people in our homes, our workplaces, our churches, and our communities have value because they are unique. They have their own personalities and strengths, and each person has something to contribute to the world because of their intrinsic value. To be a People Person others trust, you must learn to see people for who they are, not just for what they can do. Encouragement causes growth The saying, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar,” rings true when developing trusting relationships with others. Do you know someone whose criticism or faultfinding is like vinegar to your life? Do you feel good about yourself and others after being in their company? Do they help build your confidence, or do they tear it down? Obviously, we all have faults and shortcomings, but encouragement promotes growth, while criticism merely breaks the spirit. To be a People Person others trust, find ways to encourage others to give them the confidence to reach new heights. Believe the best John Maxwell often says, “how we view a person is reflected by how we treat them. If we have a high expectation level and believe in people, we will encourage them.” This doesn’t mean that you hold them to an impossible standard, rather that you understand their value, recognize their potential, and respond to them “not as they are, but as they can be.” Many people have low expectations of themselves, but to be a People Person others trust, treat everyone like they are top of the line, or in John’s words, “like a 10”; see their potential, and help them see it for themselves by how you respond to them. "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." -- John C. Maxwell Help others be successful Have you ever tried something hard and succeeded? “Winning increases our self-image, our outlook on life, and lifts our expectation level. It gives us the confidence that we can succeed again.” The best way to help others be successful is to align their personality, strengths, and abilities to their tasks; otherwise, you are just setting them up for failure. As a People Person others trust, learn to discern the preferences, strengths, and desires of others and match them to the available opportunities. Equip people for future growth One of the hardest things for people who understand the importance of growth to realize is that we can only be responsible for our own growth, we can’t force growth on anyone else. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t equip them for growth. John Maxwell gives four equipping steps for a People Person others trust to follow: Demonstrate the benefits of growth in your own life. Prove that success is possible by connecting them with others who have been where they are and grown through it successfully. Provide opportunities for growth for them to take advantage of. Stand back and encourage. This week, consider the following questions: Which of these areas do you need to develop in how you relate to yourself? What steps can you take to promote growth in this area? Which of these areas do you need to develop in how you relate to others? What steps can you take to promote growth in this area?

  • 9. How to Be a Person Who Can Handle Criticism

    Learning to Use Confrontation as an Opportunity to Grow "Criticism is something you can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." -- Aristotle Learning to correctly handle criticism, whether receiving or giving it, is one of the most difficult lessons for a People Person. No one likes to be criticized, and most of us don't like offering constructive criticism because we are afraid of confrontation. But as a People Person, effectively navigating this challenge will determine our success in our relationships with others. The first thing we need to acknowledge when facing criticism is our attitude. If we face criticism with a negative attitude or fear, we respond poorly and will likely sabotage our relationships -- with ourselves, our people, and our work. Don't allow the threat of criticism to be an obstacle on your road to development and success. If we, instead, look at criticism as an opportunity to learn, we will be better equipped to respond positively and will likely strengthen our relationships as a result; criticism is another opportunity to grow and become better as a result. We shouldn't ask, "Will I face criticism?" but rather, "How can I handle criticism well?" 6 Tips for receiving criticism 1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Consider whether the criticism is meant to build or tear you up. Consider and learn from it if it is intended to build you up. If it's intended to tear you down, let it go, and don't internalize it. 2. Don't take yourself too seriously. You will make mistakes, even silly ones. Accepting that your capacity for error doesn't change your value or skill will help you be more relaxed when receiving criticism. 3. Look beyond the criticism to see the critic. First, consider if your critic is someone with good character you respect. Second, what is their consistent attitude -- are they often critical, or are they generally positive? Third, are they alone, or are others offering the same criticism? 4. Keep physically, mentally, and emotionally in shape. Suppose you are physically exhausted, sporting a bad attitude, or emotionally triggered. In that case, your response will likely not be at its best because your view of the world and ability to cope will be distorted. 5. Surround yourself with positive people. When given the option, spend as much time as possible with positive people who will build you up. If it takes three positive experiences to overcome one negative experience, give yourself every opportunity to bounce back. Also, positivity is contagious, so it will help you ward off a critical spirit too. 6. Concentrate on your mission, change your mistakes. Recognize that you can do hard things, even if you make mistakes. It is often easier to give up in the face of criticism. But keep your mission in mind, acknowledge that you will make mistakes, learn from every one, and finish well. "Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower." -- Goethe 6 Tips for offering criticism 1. Check your motive. The goal of any criticism should be to help, not harm. Consider if the issue personally impacts you, if you are trying to make yourself look better, and how your criticism will help the person grow and develop. 2. Make sure the issue is worthy of criticism. Are you being critical, or will your criticism matter? Don't get distracted by petty complaints, but keep your eyes on the goal of adding value to others and helping them reach their potential. 3. Be specific and timely. Remember to always criticize in private and be specific -- tactfully say precisely what you mean and give relevant examples to offer context. 4. Attack the problem, not the person. Remember that the person has value, whether or not they are getting everything right. Ensure your criticism is about finding a solution, not making a personal attack. This will not only build up the person you are criticizing but also help you maintain your credibility. 5. Don't compare one person with another. Comparisons will always cause resentment and hostility. Recognize that not everyone is the same -- in personality, strengths, or methods -- and tailor your constructive criticism to the individual and not based on anyone else. 6. Look at yourself before looking at others. John Maxwell always says, "Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place." Consider the situation from the other person's point of view before offering criticism, and you might find that you need to change instead. Consider the following questions: When was the last time you received criticism? How could you have handled it better? How can you grow from that experience? When was the last time you offered criticism? How could you have handled it better? How can you grow from that experience?

  • 8. Loving Difficult People

    Understanding and Helping Difficult Personalities "When you realize that people treat you according to how they see themselves rather than how you really are, you are less likely to take personally their behavior toward you." -- John C. Maxwell People will always be our biggest struggle and greatest asset; it's true in our personal and professional circles. The beauty of humanity is that we are all so diverse, but that same diversity often causes our greatest conflicts. While healthy relationships with difficult people can seem impossible, it's not outside the realm of possibilities if you are willing to have the right perspective and respond intentionally to the challenge. I've realized in both my personal and professional life that the key to getting along with people is first understanding myself -- my personality, my emotional triggers, my stories, and my preferences -- so I can control how I respond to others. Only then can I clearly turn my attention to them -- their personality, their emotional triggers, their stories, and their preferences -- so I can better understand why they are responding a certain way to me. As you continue to read, I want you to envision someone with whom you don't have an ideal relationship and consider how you might be able to improve that relationship by considering our main points. What is my Perspective? John Maxwell writes, "Most of the time, our relational problems stem from the fact that we ourselves have problems or issues that haven't been resolved." You see, most of us respond to others the same way we see ourselves, and we can't hope to improve our relationships until we can view ourselves more clearly and work at resolving our own stories, insecurities, obsessions, desires, and needs. You are not responsible for how others treat you, only for how you treat others, because while you can't choose how others will respond, you can decide how you will respond. How Do I Understand Personalities? In today's world, there are a myriad of personality assessments that can help develop your understanding of yourself and others. One of my favorites of these assessments is the DISC assessment which assigns the participant with a primary and secondary personality theme -- Dominance, Influence, Steady, and Compliant. Each theme has specific traits that may cause challenges or conflict within our relationships if we don't understand them -- task-oriented versus people-oriented, active versus reflective, open to change versus likes consistency, more communication versus less talkative, etc. Personalities are not good or bad in and of themselves; it all depends on how we understand and use them. For more information about the DISC and other assessments I offer to help you develop a healthy awareness of yourself and others, please check out our website. "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." -- Viktor Frankl How Do I Handle Problems? Problems in your relationships are inevitable; if you handle them correctly, you can strengthen your relationship; if not, it can cause frustration, stress, division, and hurt feelings. Your ultimate goal in addressing problems should be to present the truth in such a way that builds the relationship up rather than tear it down. Unfortunately, unless both parties are willing to work on the problem, it is unlikely that a lasting resolution will take place, and eventually, ending the relationship is the only solution; however, this should always be the last choice once you have ensured you have done everything you can to handle the problem well. The whole story will never be pieced together accurately unless everyone involved comes together. Site facts rather than impressions or emotions. Ensure you control your emotions; the angrier you are, the less objective you'll be. Be specific; let the other person know exactly what the problem is. Always allow the other person to tell their side of the story. Don't hold a grudge; find a resolution and act accordingly. Consider the following questions. How do you need to take responsibility in your relationships this week? How can you better understand yourself and the other person to improve the relationship? What steps can you take to reconcile a current relationship problem?

  • 7. You Can Be An Encourager

    Using Your Skills to Inspire Others to Excellence "The key to encouragement is knowing what gives people courage, what spurs them on to action." -- John C. Maxwell Too often, we focus -- as leaders and as peers -- on what others are doing wrong. But what would happen in our homes, businesses, and communities if we got more excited about the potential in others than their failures and encouraged them in their strengths rather than exert our energy and theirs in attempting to fix their weaknesses? Research shows that our brains more quickly recognize a negative experience and that for every negative experience, it takes three genuinely positive experiences to counter the emotional and psychological effects. Consider that for a moment, for every discouragement you feel or express to another; it takes three encouragements for our brains to recognize the positive emotion. While you may not consider encouragement to be a big deal, it can have a tremendous effect on someone's life. So as a people person, encouragement is your key to helping others succeed, so how can you incorporate it into your daily interactions? As a business and leadership coach, I will focus our attention on how this applies specifically to being an encouraging people person in the workplace. Still, the general principles apply to all areas of our lives. When Can I Be an Encourager? As a general rule, encouragement should be given when: Someone achieves a goal or accomplishes a difficult task. Someone is feeling discouraged or low. Someone is trying something new or stretching outside their comfort zone. Someone is facing a complex or challenging situation. Someone exhibits a valued behavior or attitude. Notice that only two of these incidents are related to when a person is already in a positive state, but more often than not, we need to offer encouragement when it is hardest and the person is likely not at their best. What qualities should I encourage? When encouraging someone to reinforce a desired behavior or attitude, you must first identify the factors associated with long-term success and aim for quality, not just quick fixes. These qualities might include the following: A positive attitude Loyalty Personal growth Creativity Risk-taking Decisive action Innovation Productivity Teamwork Dependability Consistency "When you encourage others, you, in the process, are encouraged because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life. Encouragement really does make a difference." --Zig Ziglar How can I offer encouragement? While encouragement is more of an art than a science, you must develop an understanding and sensitivity to those around you to offer genuine and meaningful encouragement. Meaningful encouragement means that not everyone will feel encouraged in the same way, and you need to recognize the different ways you can offer encouragement in the moment. These methods may include: Recognition (public or private) for a job well done or effort put forth Monetary or gift rewards Autonomy in tasks Personal growth opportunities Quality time together Words of affirmation Offers of support or assistance Promotion or increased responsibility Consider who you can intentionally encourage this week. While you may think that encouragement should be spontaneous (and it can be), it is a good practice in intentionality to plan. Write down the names of those you want to encourage, along with how and when you will encourage them. Be specific. Be intentional.

  • 6. How to Be a Person People Respect

    Understanding the Value of Your Character "Good character, with honesty and integrity at its core, is essential to success in any area of life. Without it, a person is building on shifting sand." -- John C. Maxwell The world is full of examples of leaders -- business owners, politicians, church leaders, actors, etc. -- who have been elevated only to come crashing back to earth when their shortcomings and failures come to light. Probably one of the most well-known quotes is from the world of Spider-Man; whether you know anything about the Spider-Man comics, movies, or related media, you likely know it: "With great power comes great responsibility." But despite its popularity, most people don't understand this precept or don't take responsibility for their own power, only thinking that it belongs to someone else. Many people live on the principle that they can do as they please with their choices and lives; the individual doesn't really affect the many. But the reality is that we are all connected by our choices, whether in leadership positions or not. Opportunities for failure abound, but mistakes can be avoided if you watch for the warning signs in your life. Of course, no one is perfect, but you don't have to step into every pitfall if you are alert and intentional. The following questions may alert you to the warning signs. Consider how your answers might impact others' respect for you and your character. 1. Am I Keeping My Priorities Straight? Priorities can shift if we're not paying close attention to them. For example, maybe you started your business because you wanted to spend more time with your family as a result of controlling your schedule. But if you aren't intentional in your choices and boundaries, you could easily allow the pressures of running your business to take over your priorities instead of your family. It's okay if priorities shift during different seasons of life, but you want to ensure that those shifts result from intentional choices, not simply a lack of focus. Make a list of your current priorities. How do you set boundaries and keep those priorities in focus? 2. Am I Asking Myself Difficult Questions? Whatever you do or set your mind to, consider these questions: Why am I doing this? Consider your motivation; if you're doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, you're setting yourself up for failure. How should I do this? Consider your assumptions; just because something was done a certain way before doesn't mean it should be done that way again. When should I do this? Consider your expectations; we tend to want immediate success without considering the consequences or impact or understanding the process for long-term success. Is there an area of your life where you are operating under the wrong motivation, assumptions, or expectations? Make a list of any possible stumbling blocks. 3. Am I Aware of and Honest about my Blind Spots and Tendencies? Awareness is the key to intentional action. You have unique characteristics, talents, and strengths that can either draw people to you or push them away based on your intentionality. For example, if your strength is in the area of communication, you are likely easy to talk to, able to fire up a crowd or tell a great joke or story, and draw people to your energy. But on the flip side, you may be a poor listener, an attention seeker, or a chatterbox if you aren't intentional. Take a moment to consider your blind spots and tendencies. Do they draw others to you or repel them? If they draw others to you, what do you need to watch out for if your intentionality starts to slip? If they repel others, how can you intentionally use your characteristics, talents, and strengths well? “Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can't change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing. ” — Jim Rohn 4. Am I Accountable to Someone in My Life? It's difficult for us as humans to submit ourselves to the scrutiny of someone outside of ourselves. Still, accountability helps us be honest about our lives and allows us to gain a greater perspective on our lives. Write down the name of someone you are accountable to, personally or professionally. How do they hold you accountable? How do you respond when they hold you accountable? How does this accountability help you be more intentional with your choices and actions? 5. Am I Overly Concerned with Building My Image? As a people person, it is important that you are more concerned with "walking the walk" than giving others a good impression. Being authentic in your interactions builds trust and respect with others. Answer these questions: Do I make decisions based on what is right or what is most easily accepted? Do I change my personality, speech, or actions according to the people I am with? Do I care more about who receives the credit than getting the job done well? Do I care more about looking good or serving others?

  • 5. Motivating People for Their Benefit

    Developing the Art of Drawing Out the Best in People "Effective Persuasion is a result of relating, not ruling. It speaks to the heart as well as to the head. Therefore, persuasion does not make use of force or intimidation." -- John C. Maxwell I sat at a table with three business owners, prepared to spend the day discussing what steps needed to be taken to increase the company's profitability. It was evident from the profit and loss reports that something needed to change in the way the field technicians tracked their material usage and charged the customer for that material. After hours of presenting ideas, identifying obstacles, and asking questions to move us forward, we finally came to a solution that everyone agreed was manageable, didn't place too much responsibility on any one person, and could be implemented as early as the next day. At least, that's what we thought when we parted ways. However, the next day, as I listened to one of the owners present the solution to the field techs, I realized that we had failed to successfully persuade this owner that the solution was best for the company and the workers. Getting people to do something without convincing them it's the right thing is not the result of effective motivation or persuasion; they are just accommodating us, often because they feel intimidated. This means that we have not convinced them, nor have we met their needs. While we often think about the negative connotation of persuasion and liken it to manipulation, true persuasion is sweet, like honey. It should be an act of relating to what the other person needs and wants and connecting with them where they are. It speaks to the heart through emotion and to the head through practicality. Persuasion is the act of drawing others to a conclusion that is in some way beneficial to them without force or intimidation. John Maxwell gives seven key principles to understand persuasion better and how you can develop it to be a people person. 1. Know Precisely What You are Trying to Accomplish Before you can persuade others on any issue, you need to know your end goal. To help you identify your objective, keep in mind the 5-C's: Consideration - What is the needed response? Credibility - What must I do to get the needed response? Content - What must I say to get the needed response? Conviction - How must I say it? Conclusion - What steps must I take to get the needed response? 2. Place Yourself in the Other Person's Shoes You don't persuade others from your perspective but by understanding their perspective. To help you put yourself in someone else's shoes, consider these three questions: What does this person know? Find out what is unique to their life experience and what is important to them. What does this person feel? People do things for their reasons, not yours; those reasons are emotional and based on what they are feeling due to their experiences. What does this person want? If they see that what you want can also give them what they want, they will be much more open and receptive to you. 3. Expose the Problems Immediately Always deal with potential problems or objections upfront. This helps to build trust and credibility. You will have to deal with the problems at some point; better to do so at the start before they have the chance to fester and create barriers and negative feelings. “You can get everything in life you want if you help enough people get what they want. ” — Zig Ziglar 4. be Prepared to Take a Risk Most people, when attempting to persuade others of their point of view, become fearful that they will fail, but that fear is then conveyed to their audience. Effective risk-taking leadership occurs when your audience senses your conviction and confidence, so make your best case and be prepared to stand by it, regardless of the consequences. 5. Appeal to the Higher Vision "Appealing to a higher vision is helping others become not only what they are capable of becoming, but what they want to become." It's your job, as the persuader, to help them understand what you are trying to accomplish and empathize with the values you are promoting so that, emotionally, they want to give you the response you are after. 6. Know When to Stop The primary reason people lose arguments is not that they are wrong but because they don't know when to quit pushing their point of view. When you belabor your point, you only weaken your position; instead, fall back on the fourth principle! 7. Cover Your Topic with Enthusiasm Enthusiasm is contagious and will often give you the edge you need. "A speech without enthusiasm is like a landscape painted entirely in shades of gray -- there is form but not color." This week, consider something that you need to be persuasive about; maybe it's a sales pitch, maybe it's team buy-in for a company change, perhaps it's convincing your spouse to take a vacation or your kids to clean their rooms; or perhaps you're not sure what you want to accomplish (though you know there is something that you need people to help you accomplish). List how you can apply these seven principles to your relationships with the people in your life this week.

  • 4. Becoming a Person People Want to Follow

    Developing the Qualities of an Effective Leader "Leadership sets the standard, whether the organization is a business, a church, or a family. The higher the standard, the more effective the leadership." -- John C. Maxwell What does it mean to be a leader? Is it a position or role that an individual fills? Is it an action or something a person does? Is it a personality or character trait? In the simplest of terms, a leader has influence with others. As such, a person may have a leadership position, but if they are not affecting the thoughts and actions of others, they aren't a leader. Did you know that you are a leader? Whether you consciously realize it or not, you have an area of influence; the true question is, are you an effective leader? Imagine that you're holding an open umbrella. Under the protection of that umbrella are all the people that you have influence over -- your family, your friends, your church, your business/workplace, your school, your community -- and the success of these circles can never, will never, rise any higher than the level at which you hold the umbrella. Leadership sets the standard, and the higher the standard, the more effective the leadership. As such, you should strive to be the most effective leader possible. John Maxwell gives us five nonnegotiable characteristics that every effective leader must have; let's explore them now! An Effective Leader Must Feel a Sense of Calling Effective leaders feel a strong sense of responsibility to take their place. People who are "called" discover something bigger than themselves, whether a mission, challenge, goal, or movement draws them to take action and bring others along with them. This calling can be defined as that "have to" feeling, a sense that they have little choice but to answer the call. An Effective Leader Must Be Able to Communicate Effective leaders can communicate their message to others and convey their strong belief in those who follow to carry it out. To be an effective leader, you must find a way to ensure that your vision is seen, implemented, and added to by others. A leader sees the big picture but understands that it cannot be made a reality without the support of others. An Effective Leader is Creative in Handling Problems The reality is that everyone faces problems, but an effective leader can creatively find solutions. The key is to use the problem as an opportunity for growth and change. Effective leaders know how to turn their challenges into learning opportunities and can help others do the same! “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant. ” — Homer An Effective Leader is a Generous Contributor One of my favorite Maxwell quotes is, "The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him [or her] but the number of people he serves." Effective leaders understand that their purpose isn't just to provide the vision and then stand back and watch others do the work; part of their calling is to roll up their sleeves and get to work with everyone else. They understand that they have something to give, and they do so freely. An Effective Leader Acts Consistently No one has ever been an effective leader for the long term without consistency. Socrates once said, "The first key to greatness is to be in reality what we appear to be." Effective leaders are consistent in how they : Respond to their people; this builds security. Demonstrate their principles or values; this provides direction. Carry out their projects or responsibilities; this builds morale. This week, consider the following questions: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the effectiveness of your influence? Have you identified your calling? If yes, how have you answered the call? How have you communicated your vision to others? How can others help you bring your vision into reality? What was the last problem you solved creatively? How did that solution impact your influence? How can you serve others this week? When will you take that action? In what areas do you need to grow your consistency? How can you implement change this week?

  • 3. How to Be Confident with People

    Learning to Feel Comfortable with Others "Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone to success. It is difficult for those who don't believe in themselves to have much faith in anyone else." -- John C. Maxwell Do you remember the children's book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper? This was one of my favorite books growing up, and it remains an inspiration to me today. As the story goes, there was a little train filled with wonderful toys and treats for little boys and girls, but when it came to a mountain, it suddenly stopped and could go no further. There was something wrong with the engine! The toys ask several passing engines for help to get over the mountain, but each engine, despite its qualifications to help, refuses to do anything for the little train. Then came a little blue engine, small as can be. When the toys asked her to pull them over the mountain to the waiting boys and girls, she replied, "I am not very big. And I do not pull trains. I just work in the yards; I've never even been over the mountain." But the Little Blue Engine looked at the toys and treats and thought about the children on the other side would be missing out if the train didn't make it to the other side. She pulled up close, took hold of the little train, and said, "I think I can climb up the mountain. I think I can. I think I can." The Little Blue Engine began to pull, and slowly, the train started to move! The Little Blue Engine went up the mountain, all the while saying, "I think I can. I think I can." At last, she reached the top of the mountain, with the city lying below. "The boys and girls will be so happy," cried the toys, "all because you helped us, Little Blue Engine." The Little Blue Engine just smiled and puffed down the other side of the mountain, saying, "I thought I could. I thought I could." So why is confidence so important to your success? The first reason is that confidence offers stability in your life. John Maxwell equates confidence with contentment, which he defines as "taking your present situation -- whatever obstacles you are facing, whatever limitation you are living with, whatever chronic condition wears you down, whatever has smashed your dreams, whatever factors and circumstances in life tend to push you under -- and admitting you don't like it, but never saying 'I can't cope with it'." In other words, contentment is having the confidence that you measure up to any test you face. When you fall into despair and defeat, your life becomes unstable. The second reason is that confidence stretches you. People who lack confidence rarely stretch because they are unwilling to take risks. In a previous installment, I discussed the Law of the Rubber Band. John brings that analogy back by saying, "When insecurity keeps us from stretching and growing, we end up with a life that is as unexciting and useless as a limp rubber band." The third reason is that confidence makes you a better people person because confidence is contagious and helps you to believe in others. John writes, "Insecure people are afraid to risk building up others with compliments because they are constantly in need of compliments themselves." But a person with confidence is a person who brings out positive changes in people! So how can you boost your confidence? Acknowledge Your Value Confidence does not mean that you have an inflated view of yourself, but it does mean that you recognize your value. Do you know that you have value? If you don't acknowledge that you have genuine value and are capable beyond what you might feel, you will never grow in your confidence. You cannot consistently perform in a manner inconsistent with how you see yourself. Remember to grow through your circumstances Confidence does not result from an absence of problems; instead, it results from growing through those problems. Next time you find yourself in the midst of a circumstance that could shake your confidence, remind yourself that you have the opportunity to change and grow through that experience. Develop Friendships with Confident People There will always be someone around to remind you of what you aren't, haven't been, and never will be, but if you want to be confident, you must surround yourself with confident people who believe in you and are willing to encourage you. “Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ” — Helen Keller Quit Comparing Yourself with Others Comparisons will always leave you feeling wanting or cause you to look down on someone else. Confidence means that you can recognize your unique contribution and strengths regardless of your expectations or the expectations of others. As a person of growth, your objective is to be better today than you were yesterday, which you can have confidence in! Remember Your Past Successes Did you know remembering how you've succeeded in the past will improve your ability to succeed again? Confidence that you can overcome and grow through challenges often comes from experience. You did it before, so you can do it again! Develop Your Strengths As a people, we are often far too consumed with fixing our weaknesses or flaws rather than focusing on what is "right" with us! But what effect do you think that negative focus has on your confidence? Instead, if you focus on and develop what you do well, you will build your confidence, be more successful, and be able to recognize and encourage others to do the same. This week, consider these six ways to build your confidence: Acknowledge your value. Remember to grow through your circumstances. Develop friendships with confident people. Quit comparing yourself with others. Remember your past successes. Develop your strengths. Which of these six areas do you struggle with the most? What action can you take this week to boost your confidence in one of these areas? Which of these six areas do you do well? How does that success increase your confidence? How can you intentionally help someone in your circle increase their confidence?

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