One of the most frequent phrases I tell myself is to, “Work With Purpose.”
Every day, I am given the chance to do something meaningful and make a difference for others. Through coaching and consulting, I help my clients break through their mental barriers and experience a real and lasting transformation.
But there’s more to it than that.
I remind myself that working with purpose affects every area of life.
The way I parent.
How I interact with my spouse.
The type of community member I am.
Where I spend my free time and volunteer hours.
Each and every component of who I am gets run through the grid of what it means to work with purpose. To help me stay focused, I ask myself three primary questions.
Question One: Does it bring meaning and purpose?
Behind this question is the idea of joy in the work I do. It reminds me to engage with work that I deem as significant.
Question Two: Does it bring long-lasting consequences?
Want to live a wasted life? Think only in terms of short-term, instant-gratification results.
Want to work with purpose? Think long term. Now thing longer.
I’m not talking about six months or a year. I’m talking 10, 20, or 50 years from now. Some of the decisions I make today are because I’ve intentionally thought about the effect this may have on my grandkids when they are working.
My actions are filtered through an eternal perspective.
To work with purpose, I think less in terms of what feels good now, and instead how good discipline in the moment, however unwanted, produces long-term fruit that can be harvested for several generations.
Question Three: Does it help someone else?
This last question is about service. I don’t want to engage in work that is only (or even predominately) self-service. I want to help others. One of the clearest calls and commands in my life is that I am here for the benefit of others.
It’s why I coach, teach, consult, podcast, parent, write, speak, and volunteer.
I want my work to be filled with meaning and purpose.
I want it to bless those that come after me
And I want it to have an immediate impact on those around me.
That’s what it means to engage in work with purpose.
As a leader, one of the things you’re responsible for is increasing the creativity for you and your team.
Settling on Solutions
As leaders, our natural disposition can be to settle on solutions. That’s leadership, right? We know the problem, tackle the solution, and keep pushing forward.
In fact, quite the opposite is true.
Leaders who are expected to know and have all the answers create two primary problems.
First, they limit the effectiveness and full potential of their teams.
Second, they are subject to burnout.
Because of this, a large part of great leadership is not just about providing answers but creating an environment where our team can come up with better ones. Increacsing creativity happens thorugh an intentional delay.
Instead of seeking answers to questions like, “What’s probable?” as a question like, “What’s possible?”
Creativity is about “What’s Possible”
One of the necessary shifts in leadership thinking is to encourage and facilitate questions around what’s possible.
Instead of moving to solution-oriented ideas and tasks, entertain possibilities of the wild and extravagant.
Imagine a customer writing your business praising you for your new product that helped them. What did they say, feel, or experience? Once you know what that end destination is, then you can work backwards to create the product you just visualized.
Pretend a new company pops up and exploits your weaknesses, what would they do? Now that you know your biggest weaknesses, you can discover new ways to beat them.
Plan how you would operate your business if you were operating at ten times your current profit margin. Once you are aware of that, continue the discovery processes by dreaming up those new products and services. Start testing those and implement big change.
Implementing a creative making process for your team or organization benefits everyone.
The team will be more productive.
Your customers will have a better experience.
The community will experience greater blessing.
You will have less stress and more productivity.
However the process looks for you, take time to implement that creative process time
Bring together multiple disciplines.
Research seemingly unrelated fields or areas of interest.
Understanding branding, the image you present to your community, is the final piece to a growing and successful business.
In many ways, this is the ‘sexy’ part of business ownership. At the very least, it’s the component people think about first. Branding is about marketing, your public image, and advertising. Understanding branding, however, is about knowing the ways in which you need to line up with that image. If you as the business owner aren’t in congruence with the image you want to present, your business will fail.
Marketing can’t fix a broken financial model or dysfunctional operations. Marketing can’t help a company with an unclear vision or that doesn’t live up to its values. Marketing can’t overcome a product that does not deliver value or a terrible standard of service or a poor sales process. Marketing is a mirror of the truth for the business.*
Failing the Image Test
Part of my story includes being a pastor. There were many parts of that job that I loved. I can also acknowledge that it had more than its fair share of hardships and trials.
Compounding that difficulty was the fact that I worked in what’s often labeled a ‘turnaround church.’ The short version of it is: Turnaround churches are small and often (but not always) mired in conflict. They reflect fondly on their ‘glory days’ of being a bigger church with a large influence. There are many reasons churches go from large to small but the more common reasons are a changing demographic in the community, pastoral conflict, and the inevitable lifecycle of organizations.
Think of it like this. The church declined because the community changed (and they didn’t), the leaders can’t agree on how to proceed, and an older generation fails to reach a younger one.
Creating Your Public Image
I loved working in turnaround churches. I enjoyed the challenge, even though statistically they almost all fail for one reason or another.
In my years of turnaround churches, I realized one key problem facing all of them. As the pastor, I was, in many ways, given the ‘image’ of the church. That is, I stepped into a deeply entrenched culture. These people already had a way of thinking, behaving, and interacting with one another.
The flip side of that is church planting. Instead of being a part of an existing church, it is, in many ways, easier to start a new one. As a pastor of a new church, I get to create whatever culture I want.
Those examples are true in churches and in businesses.
Stepping into an organizational culture has its benefits, but also its fair share of obstacles.
Creating a new business (entrepreneurship) gives you the power to create whatever culture you want. That also has its benefits and challenges.
When we begin the process towards understanding branding, we begin to understand the ways in which we, both publicly and privately, need to represent our businesses.
A Way Forward
For business owners, the challenge of understanding branding is about bringing alignment to the stated and the actual culture and public image of the company.
One of the more common things I tell new entrepreneurs is that they need to solve a problem. Their product is cool, but if they don’t solve a problem, they won’t have sales.
If you don’t have sales, all the marketing in the world won’t save you.
When your marketing is failing, it’s often because people don’t sense that you solve their problem.
It can be a vicious cycle. As Wiley states, “Marketing depends on all other concepts, but it is the most comprehensive and customer-facing of them.”*
So, how do we create a way forward?
Make sure all aspects of your business are lined up. I once received feedback from a trusted friend and business owner. He said, “In your last video, I saw you were wearing a cutoff and a hat. As a business owner, I knew you were talking to me but I couldn’t take it. I turned you off almost instantly.”
He liked the content (at least the little bit that he heard) but I lost him in the process.
My image and my stated goals weren’t in harmony.
As business owners, we must make sure that all parts of our businesses are in alignment. You are in control of your image.
All of it.
Stay on top of your company and make sure everyone presents the image you want.
It takes time. In a social media filled world of instant gratification, we can fail to see the larger picture of building momentum and quality leads over time.
We expect to run a Facebook ad in the morning and have sales by lunch.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Stay committed to long term vision and planning. Give thought to a campaign that builds over time. Educate your customers on your product, the market, and the evolving ways you meet their needs.
Seek feedback. As your customers what they like (and don’t like!) about your product.
Build a tribe of loyal followers and fierce fans.
Ask Question. Listen intently. Create an experience.
In a world of artificial likes and fake followers, building a deep community radical shapes the way we do business. More than that, it gives people a place to belong. Finally, it creates a culture for your team to thrive.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.
Today, we’re beginning a new series where we examine eight core concepts to help you grow your business. These eight core concepts come from Marcus Whitney’s book Create and Orchestrate. You can currently pick up a copy on Amazon Kindle for only $.99.
In his book, Whitney outlines eight core concepts that every business owner must track, measure, and invest in in order to grow their business.
In this series, I’m not going to rehash his points (you can read his book to know what he thinks). Instead, I want to use it as an outline as a frame for what I do with business owners and leaders in the context of coaching. I agree with much of what Marcus said and want to springboard off of that to give you some additional insights, pointers, tips, and business tricks on your entrepreneurial journey.
A software engineer by trade, Marcus outlines his eight core concepts in terms of ‘priority’ and ‘inheritance.’
What’s counterintuitive about this framework is that if you get hung up on the “priority,” you’ll miss the importance of inheritance. In computer science, inheritance means that an object has all the capabilities of the object it inherits from, plus its own new capabilities. If you apply this to the Eight Core Concepts framework, it means that while marketing is the least core of the eight concepts, it is the most comprehensive. Marketing has aspects of leadership, finance, operations, growth, product, service, and sales within it. It is the only concept comprehensive of all other business concepts, and that’s why marketers are so elevated in today’s business world.*
Concepts Number One: Leadership
John Maxwell has made famous the line, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Whitney, in his book, agrees. Leadership is a necessity for any business to be successful. Without good leadership, a business is doomed.
I’ve written a lot about leadership, especially in the workplace. The higher up you are in an organization, the more good leadership is expected (and demanded) of you. In order to provide this effectively, you must be rooted in the internal and external aspects of leadership health.
The internal dynamics of coaching include your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health. Internally healthy individuals ask questions like, “Am I spending time improving and leading myself well?” Strong morals are a part of internally strong leaders, but so are times of rest, physical activity, mental stimulation through reading, coaching, therapy, and times of quiet mediation.
Externally healthy leaders are focused on the relational and financial dimensions of growth. Their finances are in order so they can live generously and their relationships are strong. These strong relationships are found both inside and outside of work. Well-rounded leaders have close friends, a vibrant relationship with family, and uplifting and positive interactions in the workplace.
Strong leaders also have their finances in order. To lead a business well, they must lead themselves well. To grow a strong financial portfolio at work, they must know how to manage their personal money first.
Growing leaders know that they can only lead others as well as they have first led themselves and they take their own growth seriously.
Grow Your Leadership Capacity
Here are three ways to grow as a leader.
Professionally, seek out good coaching. This should come as no surprise. I’m a huge advocate for coaching. Coaches provide a judgement-free zone to explore serious topics. The higher you rise in an organization, the fewer peers you have to talk to, the more you need a coach. Find a coach who either specializes in your particular niche or area of growth and commit to twelve weeks of intentional investment in yourself. You’ll be surprised how much you can grow in twelve weeks. Reassess and recommit as necessary.
Develop deep relationships. One consistent problem I see with success-minded individuals is that initially, success can be viewed fairly small. Most of the time, success is thought of in relation to our work. We can be tempted to think, “I’m successful because I’ve made XXX amount of money.” This fallacy leaves us in danger not only of burnout but of disconnect in our relationships. If you ever hear a phrase like, “Dad made a lot of money but was absent most of my childhood and a jerk when he was around” you’ve failed as a leader. Success happens one drop at a time, make sure that you spend time putting effort and success into many aspects of your life, including deep and significant personal relationships.
Just yesterday, I spent time talking with my wife about some current frustrations in my business. There are parts of my business that I know are struggling and some that need to be reevaluated. As a solopreneur, finding time to balance everything can be difficult, and I was sharing some of that frustration with her. My failure to hit some of my more significant KPI’s left me frustrated. When I asked her what I should do, she said, “Ride your motorcycle.”
It was genius advice.
For me, more stress equals more I work. That helps no one. Instead, I needed to do the opposite of what my gut told me. Private leadership development is about finding life-giving and enriching hobbies that keep us sane. When stressed, I experience less productivity, decreased creativity, poor results, and increased anger. That’s not at all the type of person I want to be. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do. Privately, find and develop hobbies. Escape your workplace. Find ways to evade work. Unplug. Recharge. Breath. The only way to keep your sanity in the midst of a difficult time is to know when to turn off your work brain and turn on your fun brain.
Make a plan: As we work through the eight core concepts, make a plan for growth. Today, pick one of the “p’s” mentioned above and write out your growth plan. How do you want to grow professionally, personally, or privately in the next twelve weeks. Find someone to hold you accountable. If you need, you can email me your plan and I’ll follow up with you personally.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.
Recently, my wife and I were enjoying some coffee in the morning when we noticed headlights pull into our driveway. This isn’t too unusual or a call for alarm as we live three blocks from her parent’s house. They will sometimes stop by in the morning to see the kids before school.
However, three minutes after noticing the lights, they hadn’t come to the door. Then, we heard the sharp screel of an angle grinder, followed immediately by our car alarm going off.
As I ran outside, there were three individuals attempting to steal our catalytic converter and turn it in for recycling money. I found out from the cops that it’s a popular crime, and one hard to track. Most of the time, car alarms don’t go off. We were able to escape any major injury or damage to the car as we called the cops and they sped off.
However, one phrase has been a recurring phrase for us in the house following the event is: “Deal with it.”
Deal With It.
While they didn’t get anything of value, it was a huge invasion of privacy. Worse than that, there were two individuals I could plainly see, one providing lookout in the car and the other cutting away beneath our vehicle. What I couldn’t see, was the third individual lurking around the corner who charged me when I stepped out my front door to see what was going on. Narrowly escaping, I pushed my wife and kids back inside to the safety of our home and called the cops once we were alerted to the danger.
That night, I noticed that I had a lot of anxiety. Worried they would come back and attempt to finish their theft, or worse, left me unable to sleep. The next several days were all stressful as we tried to process not just the attempted theft, but the invasion of privacy and safety as well.
As we process the event and deal with the consequences and trauma of the event, I realize how many times in life we don’t “deal with it” when problems arise.
Work situations are ripe with circumstances and experiences that haven’t been dealt with.
A coworker makes an inappropriate joke or demeaning remark and is never called out for it. Instead, he assumes everyone agrees with him since nothing was said.
A manager ridicules an employee unfairly and abusively. The “leadership style is defended because “that’s just the way he is.”
A brewing team conflict is allowed to simmer because of the false belief that product launch and marketing execution is more important than team health.
A series of pet-peeves builds mounting frustration towards a full-blown argument where harsh words are used.
The pressure of increased sales at work diminishes the quality of life at home, leading to personal withdrawal and isolation.
The busyness of life limits personal connection time and family bonding, leading to a fractured family unit and unspoken angst.
You get the point. You’ve also likely been there. Perhaps you even are there now. But high performers know that you can only be as strong as your weakest area of life. If you’re struggling to deal with any aspect of conflict, drama, or trauma, your success will falter and your breakthroughs will be limited.
Instead, based on the experience of the recent attempted robbery, here are three ways to help you process conflict in your life so you can deal with it appropriately.
1.) Give your emotions space.
The first step towards healing for Elise and I was to give our emotions space. We first had to acknowledge what we were feeling: sadness, anger, fear, frustration, anxiety, panic, and worry were quick to come out.
Strong leaders know they need to raise their emotional intelligence. Through consistent and deliberate practice, they engage their emotions and learn to master and express them appropriately.
2.) Share in deep conversation
You can’t deal with problems if you don’t talk about them. Once we acknowledged our emotions, we shared a conversation based around healing. What did it mean for us to deal with this situation effectively? How could we overcome those negative emotions and find hope? What did the other person need? How could we support them?
The good news is that we are all okay. The better news is that we can work for a better tomorrow. This experience provided us with the opportunity to look at our house in a new light and discover what made it a good target. Poor outside lighting contributed to the criminals picking our house. So too, did several other factors. We were able to see those, remedy them, and create a safer environment for our family.
In life and work, we can do the same. Interpersonal conflict doesn’t have to be the norm. In fact, it shouldn’t be. In his book Thrive By Design, Don Rheem tells us that we are wired to perform better in teams. Those around us should make us better. If they aren’t, we have issues to address. By addressing them, we make the team better. When we make the team better, we get better. When you get better, you can attain peak performance. By reaching peak performance, you can skyrocket your success.
It is inevitable that conflict, disagreement, and discord will arise in life. However, we don’t have to live in it constantly. Instead, we can rise above it by giving our emotions space, engaging in deep conversation, and working towards a better future.