Abraham Lincoln Statue

Growing Leaders

I’m becoming a huge fan behind the idea of “Dynamic Leadership.”

More than influential, this is transformative.

For the individual, the team, and the organization. Most importantly, it’s also highly transformative from a customer experience.

To be dynamic simply means to be in constant change, to make progress, or to be characterized by energy and new ideas.

Isn’t that what we want from leaders.

Isn’t that what we want to be as leaders?

Dynamic Leadership

One great example of dynamic leadership is Abraham Lincoln. Viewed as one of the greatest presidents in American history, I’m amazed at his leadership journey. From a small town, this largely self-educated individual rose to lead the nation through the greatest turmoil it ever experienced.

In total, some 620,000 American soldiers died in the conflict. To date, 1.2 million soldiers have died in war. This means that nearly 50% of all American soldier deaths happened during the Civil War.

It’s an amazing statistic and a wild time in our history from start to finish. In August of 2019, I started listening to Shelby Foote’s three-volume series on the Civil War.

In addition to other articles, books, and journals, I have become fascinated by the leadership story of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln’s overriding commitment throughout the Civil War was the preservation of the Union. That is, he wanted above all else, a continued united group of states.

But throughout the war, his vision of what this was and how it needed to look changed dramatically.

Changing Morals

One big area of change, thanks to the influence of Frederick Douglas, was his stance of slavery. Lincoln went from fairly apathetic about it to strongly convinced of its evils and the need to abolish it.

His values changed. Abraham Lincoln Statue

The experiences of his life changed him.

He was open to others, listened to their experiences, and became convinced of the need to change his stance.

Lincoln was a dynamic leader.

Compelled more by the conviction to lead, help, or serve he was willing to personally be wrong in order to accomplish what was right. Many of his correspondences with military leaders gave them his input or insight, but he deferred to them to do what they thought. In short, he trusted their expertise, more than his own, to accomplish the mission.

This was true, despite the increasing pressure and opposition from friend and foe and in spite of personal losses and setbacks.

Becoming Dynamic

Becoming a dynamic leader isn’t easy … but it is worth it.

Dynamic Leadership allows us to lead both up and down an organization.

Dynamic Leadership promotes humility, service, open-mindedness, and grace.

Most importantly, dynamic leadership leads to the transformation of individuals, teams, organizations, cultures, and yes, countries.

If you’re interested in becoming a dynamic leader, let me know. I’m preparing to launch a fully online leadership course in dynamic leadership where we’ll talk about growth points, visionary leadership, and team dynamics.

A Name on the Back of a Jersey

Every jersey comes with a name on the back. It is an identification of the player. More than the team, more than a number, this is a particular someone.

Jones.

Brady.

Manning.

Mahomes.

Davis.

Let me tell you why I’ve given up wearing jerseys.

A Life of Passion

I love sports. More than anything else, I love all things Nebraska. Husker volleyball, baseball, wrestling, basketball, and football. If they have a team, I’ve watched it on tv. I’ve been to several sporting events in person.

I plan on dressing up as Scott Frost, the football coach, for Halloween.

My wife was appalled at my petition to name some of our kids after Husker greats.

I love all things Huskers.

Along with this, comes several decades worth of memorabilia. Shirts, cards, magazines, autographs. My parents have a “Husker Hall of Fame” in my childhood home.

But I’ll never wear a jersey, Husker or otherwise, again.

It comes down to me, about a shifting philosophy in my own thinking.

The Name on the Back

The short version is that it comes down to the name on the back. I’ve got nothing against the team, the number, or the player. Instead, it comes down to my own sense of identity.

I root hard for my team, but for years I wrestled with the belief that I should root that hard for myself. I’ve learned that I need to root for my own success and my own victory. 

Every season is a fresh start to be special. Sitting at 0-0 I carry the belief every fall that my favorite football team will finish 14-0. A Name on the Back of a Jersey

But for years, I struggled with bringing that same belief into my own life.

I was, so I thought, a victim of my identity. I was trapped by my past. My belief was that I was stuck in a predetermined path and that any changes I made would be minor at best.

While my team could do great things, I could not. 

In short, I would’ve been embarrassed to wear a jersey with my name on it. I was comfortable rooting for other people, but not for myself.

If my team can go 14-0, why can’t I?

Wear Your Own Jersey

So I’ve changed my philosophy on wearing jerseys. I wake up every day with the notion that I want to wear my own. I don’t want to champion someone else’s skills, abilities, or passions more than my own.

This isn’t arrogance, this is assurance.

I was created for a purpose. I have passion. In this world, I am capable of unleashing great good.

My investment in myself will benefit me, my family, and those around me.

I also unwaveringly believe the same thing about you.

You were created for a purpose You have a deep passion. You are capable of unleashing great good in the world. Your commitment to you will benefit you, your loved ones, and those around you.

Wake up every day and put on a jersey that has your name on it. Commit to living your best values and transforming the circumstances around you.

We aren’t victims, we are overcomers.

We aren’t stuck, we are capable of great transformation.

If you need someone willing to champion you and come alongside you as you learn to put on your own jersey, reach out to me. I’d love to help

Steering the Ship - Setting Your Intentions Blog Cover Photo

Like a ship without a rudder is a leader without a compelling goal.

Steer the Ship

Next week, I will be teaching a master’s level course in ethical leadership. I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing for lectures, reading, assignments, and everything that goes into making a class like this successful.

Honestly, I think I’m the most excited to hear from everyone in the class. What their goals are, what their vision for the world is, and how they see themselves developing into world-changing leaders.

It’s also forced me to reflect on my own life.

That led me to the thought that just as a boat without a rudder is unable to steer or navigate, so too will leaders be incapable of change without a clear or compelling goal.

It is pointless for a captain to steer the ship if the rudder is broken.

It is similarly pointless for a leader to expect change without a target goal in mind.

Working Hard

This has been a frequent musing of mine lately. Some days, if I’m honest, I struggle to stay engaged with my work. I love what I do and it meets many of my deepest core convictions and desires in life. Steering the Ship - Setting Your Intentions Blog Cover Photo

Other days, I wake up with a fire in my soul. I spend the day fanning that flame and watch the world around me light up.

What’s the difference?

For a long time, I wasn’t sure. Recently, over a load of dishes, I made a discovery. That particular day, I had a clear goal in mind. I knew exactly what I had to do to make that day a success. It was quite clearly going to be a ‘win’ or a ‘lose’ kind of day.

In contrast to that, I had also been struggling recently. One day, in particular, was a real drag. The only thing that sounded remotely interesting was over-consuming food and seeing how many games of Madden I could paly in 24 hours.

That day, as you may have guessed, was one without a clear goal. I had hopes. Expectations. Longings. Things that ‘would have been nice’ to get done. What I didn’t have, was a clear, concise, or compelling goal to draw me forward.

Ultimately, that’s the mission. I want to fill my life with a clear and compelling mission. A vision of what the world could be if I were fully awake and engage. My desire is to create a series of goals that better me, my family, our community, and ultimately the world.

We can, only do that if we set a clear and concise goal each day. Otherwise, we drift like a boat without a rudder. We chase every mildly exciting thing that ultimately distracts us from our true goals, identity, and ultimate sense of accomplishment.

Set The Intention

My goal for this class is to help them further that voice inside of them that is urging them forward. I want to equip them as leaders to continue to make a difference in the lives of those around them. 

To help you, here are three things you can do to set the intention for each day.

1.) Set long-term goals … then distill them into short term ones.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt and his Full Focus Planner.

(If this is your first post here, two things: 1.) Welcome and 2.) Now You Know)

One of the genius ideas behind his system is the goal breakdown. Yearly goals become quarterly goals become daily objectives.

Simple, but it works.

The point is to find something outside of yourself that allows you to wake up determined to reach a goal and hungry enough to get after it.

2.) Create an accountability system.

Hire a coach.

Find a mentor.

Seek accountability.

Join a group or mastermind.

Implement a system of rewards (or punishments) if goals aren’t met. I had a client once that kept neglecting an important task. I gave them a goal of completing it by our next session or paying me an additional $500. The ending? By our next session, their goal was completed. (And I was genuinely more excited for him to complete the goal than I would have been about the money).

3.) Keep a record of where you’ve been.

Just as important as looking forward, is reminding yourself where you’ve been. Just as a ship keeps logs and maps, we must do the same. Part of knowing where you’re going is to know where you’ve been.

What obstacles have you overcome? world map, cropped

How have your previous experiences been a blessing?

Where are there parts of your story that need to be retold or reexamined?

When was a time you felt most alive?

Conclusion

One of my wavering beliefs is that we have all been called to something great. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a client say, “You don’t doubt that I can do this?”

Never for a second.

You were called to something great, something world-changing. Don’t lose sight of that and miss your goal. Set your intentions and make them clear.

I believe in you.

KC Chiefs Logo

Last night, the Kansas City Chiefs were crowned the champions of the NFL season.

As a lifelong fan of the Chiefs, I beyond thrilled. I’ve been able to witness the postseason droughts end for both the Royals and the Chiefs in recent years.

As a sports fan, what a game last night! An even chess match in the first half, a good third quarter for the 49ers and a steller six minutes for Kansas City that saw them storm back from ten down to win.

We threw a party last night with several families and their kids coming over. We at tons of food and enjoyed some laughs at the commercials as well.

Celebrating Championship win
(c) Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

But enough of that, on this channel, we talk about mental performance and how to get better so I’ll keep my fanboy squeals to a minimum. Let’s analyze the game and use it to pursue our goals.

1.) Preparation is Key

There are two weeks between conference championships and the championship game. Each team spent time analyzing the other. Learning their tendencies. Scripting new plays. Figuring out weaknesses. They paid attention to detail.

We need to do the same thing. Life is a battle. There is a struggle going on inside of us. Preparation is key.

When I worked in the fitness industry, I did a lot of first day consultations for new gym members. I walked them through the gym, talk about equipment, and give them some tips and strategies for success.

One of the big ones was preparing food ahead of time. If you go shopping when you’re already hungry, it’s too late. You’ll make bad choices and not meet your fitness goals.

Life works in much the same way. Committing to self-improvement and success takes planning. We must look at the details of our life. Just like how the food we eat fuels us (good fuel equals good energy), our commitment to planning the details of our lives leads to breakthrough success.

2.) Unwavering Belief

Listening to the player interviews after the game is usually a fascinating experience. While some dislike their need for media appearances, most do it it willingly and provide great insight. One player, when asked about their fourth-quarter ten-point deficit how they handled it on the sideline. Their response? “We never lost hope or belief. We know what we are capable of.”

It worked. Multiple times in fact. The Chiefs were down ten points in all three of their postseason games. While nervewracking for a fan, it never was for them.

Their preparation (see point one) had given them one extra benefit: an unwavering belief in themselves. They were still positive. They knew how to handle this situation. The ultimate destination of the game was in their full control.

Confidence is key. But confidence comes from being ready.

When preparation and opportunity meet, success is bred.

3.) “Finish the Game!”

Late in the game, playing with the lead that would ultimately give them the win, the camera cut to the Chiefs sideline. Patrick Mahomes was imploring his teammates to, “Finish the Game!” The defense needed one more stop to all but ensure a victory. Though San Francisco had three timeouts, it was a two-possession game. One good stop could get the Chiefs the ball back where they could hopefully run out the clock.

Patrick Mahomes Scramble

(c) Al Bello | Getty Images

They did one better.

The defense did get the stop. Kansas City got the ball back with about ninety seconds left. I was on the phone with my dad and my brother at the time, anticipating the outcome.

“One first down,” I said, “That’s what we need to seal the deal.”

Instead, the Chiefs scored again on a run to the left side. Now, instead of a four-point lead, it was eleven.

From down by ten to up by eleven in six minutes.

Why?

Because they had a plan. They were committed, and they chose to finish the game.

Starting things is easy.

People start new years resolutions every year.

Very few complete them. I heard one report recently that suggested that 80% quit trying within the first month.

Combat that. With everything that you have.

Make An Action Plan

Pay attention to detail.

Have unwavering belief.

“Finish the game!”

That’s a recipe for success. For the Chiefs, and for us.

The Death of Kobe Bryant

The world is dealing this week with the death of Kobe Bryant.

I’ve spent hours this week watching the news and scrolling through social media. I wanted to wake up today and have it all be a dream.

It’s not.

The Death of Kobe Bryant

In a tragic accident, Kobe, his daughter, and seven others are dead after a helicopter crash in southern California. While we wait for details to emerge, we mourn and grieve. For him, his wife, his daughters, the Lakers family, and NBA fans around the world.

I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I’m not a Lakers fan.

I do recognize and understand greatness though, and Kobe was one of the best. His attitude, consistent commitment to excellence, and drive led him to be among the greatest players of all time, in any sport.

I spent time yesterday engaging in conversations around how to handle this tragic death.

Mourn.

Weep.

Cry.

Grieve.

Pray.

Those are all valid answers.

I also have a feeling that Kobe would want us to do more. While I don’t know him personally, his life is well chronicled. He cares about excellence. He demanded it from himself, and from others.

In a celebration of life, here are three things we can do to honor the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant.

1.) Commitment to the Details

Tim Grover recounts the story of training Kobe. In part, he writes:

Each of Kobe’s workouts takes around ninety minutes, and a half hour of that is spent just working on his wrists, fingers, ankles . . . all the details. That’s how the best get better—they sweat the details … It all comes back to this, no matter what you do in life: Are you willing to make the decision to succeed? Are you going to stand by that decision or quit when it gets hard? Will you choose to keep working when everyone else tells you to quit? Pain comes in all sorts of disguises—physical, mental, emotional. Do you need to be pain-free? Or can you push past it and stand by your commitment and decision to go further? It’s your choice. The outcome is on you.”

Later, Grover reflects:

The Death of Kobe Bryant
In memory of Kobe Bryant. Photo Credit: WPMT Fox43

That’s Kobe: everything he does is all about excellence. Everything. Nothing else matters. You hear people say that all the time, “I’ll do whatever it takes!”—but he truly lives it. Every detail of his life, every hour of his day, the lonely time he spends in the gym, the people he seeks out to help him maintain that excellence, everything revolves around being on top and staying there.

Grover, Tim S. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Pursuing Excellence

What can we learn from that? Quite a bit.

Make the comparison of a 90-minute workout to your day. What are the details of your job? Do you, as the analogy goes, spend ninety minutes a day exercising your fingers, wrists, and ankles.

How does an accountant practice that? A math teacher? The stay at home parent? A busy executive. Each one has that calling, each one needs to learn to sweat the details.

If we can learn to pay attention to the details in pursuit of greatness, we too can become unstoppable.

2.) He engaged in something beyond himself.

Kobe’s Mamba mentality went beyond the game of basketball. In a GQ interview, he explained how it was his mentality in life.

“I’m not going to say our marriage is perfect, by any stretch of the imagination,” Kobe says. “We still fight, just like every married couple. But you know, my reputation as an athlete is that I’m extremely determined, and that I will work my ass off. How could I do that in my professional life if I wasn’t like that in my personal life, when it affects my kids? It wouldn’t make any sense.” The logic is weirdly airtight: If we concede that Kobe would kill himself to beat the Celtics, we must assume he’d be equally insane about keeping his family together. And he knows that we know this about him, so he uses that to his advantage.

This was due to his Catholic faith. He was very open about it and cared about it deeply. As a husband and father, he was called to something beyond himself. He threw himself into his projects deeply. Basketball, marriage, parenting, and philanthropy all got the best of him rooted in a transformative faith.

3.) Mindset Is Everything

Kobe’s book The Mamba Mentality is his reflection on the game. His game. The preparation he would make to be the best. It’s what he expected of himself … and what he expects of everyone else. 

The mindset isn’t about seeking a result—it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality.

Bryant, Kobe. The Mamba Mentality. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

He knew what part to play to get the objective done. His reflections on offense, defense, the Olympic teams, and seeking intentional mentoring proves his commitment.

Whatever it takes, all the time.

We should be inspired by this. I often have to remind my kids that we do hard things.

We especially need to do hard things.

In a culture and a society where excuses are praised, commitment to the details, passion and purpose, and a commitment to a positive mindset sets us apart.

It gives us an unprecedented opportunity, for life, growth, transformation, and happiness.