Archive for August, 2009

Keep Your Commitments!

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

This is the second in a series of articles on character, excerpted from my new book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business. Last week’s article was, Are Your Pants on Fire? This week I will discuss keeping commitments and swearing to your own hurt.

Many leaders make casual promises. Some, they never intend to keep: “I’ll call you later and we’ll talk about it.” “If you keep doing a good job, we’ll take a hard look at you when the next management slot opens up.” Other commitments they intend to fulfill, but go back on their word when the price gets too high. They have no trouble justifying their failure to follow through as they explain that “things have changed”. I’m speaking from experience in this regard, and there is one particular incident where I didn’t fulfill my commitment that continues to cause me regret.

I had volunteered to teach a leadership course in Moscow, twice per year, for three years. There were hundreds of leaders who came to the first five of six seminars I had agreed to conduct. However, the leadership team in Moscow that hosted me had been skimming money from the organization that put on the events, as well as from me personally as they double-billed the sponsor and me for like expenses. We had confronted them over these issues twice, as they plead ignorance and promised to put stricter measures in place to ensure it didn’t happen again. When it did happen again during my fifth journey to Russia, I decided that I had enough and that I would not return. I was indignant at being cheated, used every logical argument for not returning and convinced myself that not completing my sixth seminar would serve as a lesson that might encourage more ethical behavior in the future. The problem with my decision, is that regardless of how I spun it, the bottom line was that I was failing to do what I had agreed to do three years prior. I should have kept my word, even though it became unpleasant or costly. At least that’s what THE BOOK says in Psalms 15:4: He who swears to his own hurt and does not change….will never be moved.

Swearing to your own hurt, means that you’ll do what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it and how you said you’d do it, even if it becomes more costly, inconvenient or time-consuming than you estimated. In retrospect, I should have returned to Moscow, conducted my final conference, dismissed the corrupt board and then announced that no one from the organization I represented would ever return to work in their city again until there are ethical leaders in place to work with.

Cutting Expenses or Breaking a Promise? In tough economic times, business leaders may be tempted to compromise their character in order to save a buck or two. They begin to back out of agreements they signed their name to; a name that was accepted and assumed as honorable by the other party. Under the guise of “cutting back” they renege on promises to customers, vendors and employees. If in the good times, your mouth wrote checks that your bank account can no longer cash, carefully weigh both the legal and moral cost of breaking your word. Cutting expenses is necessary and understandable, but breaking promises is not. It cheapens and diminishes you both as an organization and as a human being. Anyone failing to fulfill an agreement they signed becomes a certifiable liar and a probable cheat.

To build a rock-solid character, do the following:

  1. Count the cost. Before you commit to anything, make certain that you can live with the worst case scenario resulting from what you’re saying “yes” to. Understand that there are no “little” commitments to the person you’re committing to!
  2. Seek God’s wisdom before deciding. Check with trusted counselors who have nothing to gain or lose, either way, from your decision.
  3. Follow through. Do what you said you’d do. Regardless of the cost—and don’t let those last four words cause you to compromise your character!

Excerpted from How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Organization.” 

View free video clips of lessons from How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK at our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/Learn2Lead.

For ordering information and details on receiving a free, one-year subscription to the How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK Newsletter! (A $99 value!) CLICK HERE.

Are Your Pants on Fire?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

As a society, we’ve become accustomed to watching talented and successful people self-destruct because of character issues. Ultimately, they make poor choices, and choices are a big part of what makes up the mental and moral issues that forge our character and distinguish us as human beings. For an example of how ubiquitous character-induced falls from grace are, consider the following headlines that appeared in just a seven-day period as I originally wrote this chapter on character in my new book, How to Run Your Business by the BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business : two nominees for cabinet positions in the United States government were discovered to have failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in income taxes, a third candidate for a cabinet position is unable to pay nearly six million dollars in campaign debt, a world champion Olympian and national hero was photographed smoking marijuana, a major league baseball player admitted to stealing memorabilia from his former stadium and a slew of CEO’s continue to defend seven and eight figure bonuses from companies they ran into the ground. While it may not make the evening news, each of us is susceptible to the same type of poor judgment and decline in our own lives if we don’t continually work at building a character that produces right values and elicits correct choices.

As I examine my own career and personal life, I realize that during the times when my world wasn’t “right”, it was because I wasn’t right. And don’t be naïve: just because you attend church, or read the Bible, or pray each day doesn’t mean that you are “right”. There’s a significant gap between knowing what is right and actually doing it! Until you close that gap, you’ll continue to fall short of building the character that makes you a leader who is both effective today and will last over the long haul.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover five common areas where business leaders fall short on character issues. There are dozens more that I could add to this list, but I chose these five because they are taken too casually by many leaders or are not even considered as a true character flaw at all when compared to treachery like stealing, substance abuse and adultery. You will find that some of the choices I urge you to make concerning these five character issues go against conventional wisdom in the bare-knuckle world of business competition. However, understanding what THE BOOK has to say about these “lesser” matters should encourage you to improve your decisions concerning them and to coach your team to do likewise.

1. Don’t tell “white lies”. 

Are your pants on fire? Have you ever instructed your receptionist to tell a caller that you weren’t in the office, even though you were? If so, then you’re a liar. Now, don’t get defensive! You will likely claim that such an insignificant falsehood falls under the Oxford Dictionary definition of a white lie, which is to: tell a harmless or trivial untruth. However, I challenge you to find anywhere in THE BOOK, where a lie of any sort is sanctioned by God as harmless or trivial. Like so many sins, if you begin to explain away a “lesser” form of it through rationalization, soon you can begin to justify graduated infractions that lead you to major lapses in judgment bringing devastating consequences that ruin your life. For instance, men have written off as “harmless” the practice of “just looking” as they lustily stare down an attractive woman. “Ain’t no crime in looking!” they say with a laugh. But a “harmless” leer can lead to “harmless” small talk, which leads to buying one “harmless” drink, which elicits a “harmless” good night kiss, which brings the desire for “harmless”—and secret—follow up phone calls, which concludes in a rendezvous that costs you and your family all that you hold dear and thought was sacred.

If you’re going to start classifying lies as “white” or “whoppers”, you may as well go ahead and categorize different levels of adultery too. What would be an adulterous equivalent of a white lie? Maybe a gentle squeeze or swat on the behind? Or how about a parting hug that is two degrees tighter and three seconds longer than is appropriate? While you’re at it, you could justify stealing from the company as well. The white lie version of embezzlement could be taking a few dollars worth of office supplies home with you, or mailing personal correspondence with company postage or making personal copies on the company Xerox machine. Face the facts. According to THE BOOK, if you tell a lie of any kind, you are a liar and, since Satan is referred to as the “father of lies”, a liar’s label isn’t something you should want as part of your reputation.

Excerpted from How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Organization.”

View free video clips of lessons from How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK at our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/Learn2Lead

For ordering information and details on receiving a free, one-year subscription to the How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK Newsletter! (A $99 value!) CLICK HERE.

Stand by Your Man? Maybe. Maybe Not!

Friday, August 14th, 2009

This piece should probably be written by a woman, but a slew of revelations concerning the arrogant escapades of unfaithful, high profile men has riled me to a point where I find myself thinking that the smitten wives should do three things: forgive their husbands, dump them and move on with their lives. Now before you cry ‘foul”, consider the fact that forgiving them and then dumping them are not at odds with each other. Forgiveness benefits the offended more than the offender because it releases bitterness, anger and resentment. Forgiveness is healthy and mandated by Scripture. But forgiveness does not mean freedom from consequences. And frankly, who could be more deserving of consequences like pain, rejection and betrayal than pathetic, perfidious, narcissistic  horndogs like these adulterers?

Frankly a “man” who can father a love-child with another woman while his wife of three decades is a cancer patient should be dumped. A “man” that, after being married for twenty years, is caught in a one-year affair, declares that the other woman is his soul mate and whines that he’ll try to fall back in love with his wife should be dumped. A “man” and father of five that has sex with another woman on a restaurant table, pays $3,000 for her abortion and then refers to the incident as a mere “indiscretion” should be dumped.

I’m not suggesting that one spouse should automatically dump the other over matters of infidelity . But nor do I believe that the offended spouse should automatically be expected by the offender or by a social norm to suck it up and learn to live with their partner’s betrayal. On a personal note, my wife has informed me that if I ever emulate the actions of these creeps that I could count on her standing behind me–with a loaded shotgun!

It’s not my place to judge these men. However, agreeing with what the Scriptures condemn as wrong—in this case adultery and more—is merely affirming a truth. In one sense I admire the sleazebag’s wives for “standing by their man”. Yet, I also believe that you teach people how to treat you and that these “men”, and others like them, don’t deserve the women that supported them, birthed and raised their children and in many cases, sacrificed and subordinated their own dreams and aspirations to their husband’s ambitions.

Ladies, if you decide to stay the course, I hope it works out for you. But living the rest of your life immersed in suspicion and doubt and questioning where you went wrong, what you did wrong or what’s wrong with you, can be a slow march to misery. I will take the liberty of giving you the benefit of the doubt and tell you that you didn’t go wrong, you didn’t do anything deserving of this and there is nothing wrong with you. So move on! You can do better! And since he doesn’t like to wear his pants, take the shirt off his back on the way out!

Contact info: dave@learntolead.com www.learntolead.com