Though I typically write several thousand words a week, I have never been a consistent journaler. I’ve tried. I have friends who swear by it. It’s just never worked for me.
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My wife Gail and I have been on an extended vacation for the past two weeks. We have been tucked away in the mountains of East Tennessee on the edge of a beautiful lake.
The lead story in the news a little more than a year ago was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity. Apparently, he has fathered at least one child out-of-wedlock. There are likely more.
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To be honest, this whole thing made me angry, especially when I consider the impact this had on his wife and children. He is also one more negative example for our own children and grandchildren.
Leadership is a verb, and productive leadership is an art. The art part is when you use your experience and judgment to apply proven practices to the situation you are in to produce effective results.
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While you can always wing it, or luck into success, you can use patterns and practices to find the shortcuts and make your success more repeatable.
Presentation software can be a wonderful tool if used correctly. It can also be a dangerous distraction that interferes with communication rather than facilitating it. The line between the two is thin.
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Over the course of my career, I have sat through hundreds of presentations. Most of them were done with PowerPoint. Most of them are done poorly.
This past year I have noticed how my vocabulary impacts my attitude. Words have power. They impact others, of course, but they can also have an impact on us.
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For example, several weeks ago, I was headed out of town to a speaking engagement. A friend called and asked me where I was going. I said, “Oh, I’m headed to San Jose. I have to speak at a convention.” I said it with a little resignation in my voice.
As a leader, the health of your marriage directly affects the impact of your leadership. (Click here to tweet that.) I have witnessed this time and time again. Being effective at work or in ministry begins by being effective at home.
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Early in our marriage, Gail and I attended a church led by a dynamic, thirty-something pastor. He was an extraordinary communicator. He was a wise and empathetic counselor. As a result, the church grew rapidly.
Many people have written on what it means to be a leader. Almost everyone identifies influence as the primary characteristic. By definition, this means that leadership and position are two different things. You can have a title, and a position of power, but this does not mean that you are a leader. Even people without these things can exert influence and thus leadership.
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But leadership is more than influence. It certainly includes influence, but it is more. I believe it includes at least five characteristics. When I speak on this topic, I call these “the five marks of authentic leadership”:
I awoke this morning to the dragon’s hot breath on my face. I was disoriented, not quite knowing where I was. I struggled to open one eye. Then another.
And there he was. A dragon. A very big dragon. With three heads. Sitting in my bedroom, like so many mornings before, he was waiting. His heads swerved back and forth, dancing in the dim light. Each head alternately belching fire and hissing smoke.
There will probably be no more iconic symbol for failure in our lifetime than the picture of the Costa Concordia cruise ship listing while aground off the shore of Italy. At least seventeen people died in the tragedy after the captain of the ship (apparently) intentionally moved closer to the shore than is safe for ships of that size.
It is easy to compare the Costa Concordia with the Titanic, another cruise liner disaster from long ago. But there are some key differences. And it is in those differences that we can learn a few lessons to navigate life.
The more successful you become as a leader, the more other people will demand of your time. As a result, if you are going to maintain margin for your most important priorities, you will have to make some difficult decisions about your accessibility.
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Recently, I was listening to Andy Stanley talk about this very topic. He said,
Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Nothing can stand in the way of the man who focuses his entire self on a problem” (from The Power of Positive Thinking).
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If you have a problem worth solving or a prize worth pursuing, it’s not enough to just put your mind to fulfilling that purpose. It is not just a matter of putting your heart into it either.