Archive for August, 2010

Day 54 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Key to Change!

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Question: “What is the hardest part about changing myself or something about my organization?”

Answer: “Acknowledging that it must be changed.”

The seventy challenges I tackle in, How to Lead by THE BOOK will require that the reader changes something in order to improve results: his thinking, leadership style, perception, strategy, and the like. But before anyone can change anything, they must first admit there is a problem. And therein lies the biggest challenge of all, because the natural tendency is to minimize our faults, trivialize the dangers of living with the status quo, and continue to dwell in denial. We forget that if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

This was one of the most frustrating challenges Jesus had in dealing with the religious “experts” of his day, the Pharisees. In John 9, after healing a man blind from birth, the Pharisees refused to acknowledge that God worked through Jesus, labeling Him instead as a sinner. They could not deny the miracle, but they steadfastly denied Christ’s role in performing it. They insisted that they saw, even though they remained blind to truth. This is why Jesus declared to them in verse 41:

If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, “We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

In other words, if they honestly didn’t know in their hearts that God was working through Christ, they could plead ignorance. But because they knew in their hearts that this was true, but refused to acknowledge it, their guilt and shame remained.

The simple truth is this: you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. While you may intuitively know the areas you must change within yourself or your organization, until you confess the problem and face these issues, you cannot fix them.

Living in denial is dangerous. Denial stifles your potential, kills your dreams, and can eventually even kill you. Just as a cancer victim can deny their lump is abnormal until it is too late, you can sanitize your faults and shortcomings right up until the point when the bottom falls out of your life or business.

Paradoxically, as long as you live in denial yet insist that you “see”, you will remain blind. But truly “seeing” means that you face reality about what is wrong with your life and act upon it with as much speed as you possibly can.

Day 53 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Recipe for Success or Failure!

Monday, August 30th, 2010

In yesterday’s post, I outlined the connection between first ordering your personal life, and then being able to successfully work within the discipline of priorities on the job. In How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll present several parallels between success or failure in your spiritual life and success or failure in the workplace.  In fact, the recipe for failure spiritually and in business are very similar. Here is my simple definition of failure in either endeavor, a definition I learned from Jim Rohn many years ago: “A few errors in judgment repeated every day.”

You might wonder why someone would make an error in judgment and be foolish enough to repeat it every day. The answer: they think it doesn’t matter! On their own, our daily acts don’t seem that important. A let up in discipline, a wasted hour, a poor decision, a few careless words don’t normally result in an instant negative outcome. Most of the time, there is no immediate consequence that results from our action. But while the consequences don’t show up over night, they do manifest over time!

Someone who eats too many of the wrong foods or never exercises won’t develop an immediate weight or health issue, but they do plant the seeds for future problems. Likewise, if you haven’t read the Bible in the past sixty days, your lack of discipline may not seem to have any immediate impact on your life. However, as your spiritual connection and convictions fade, you become more susceptible to worldly attractions and walk blindly into situations God would never approve of. In your business, you can skip a training meeting once, only to see it become a habit. But since you don’t see an immediate downfall in production, it’s easy to think that training doesn’t matter and persist in neglecting to develop your people. But you are setting yourself up for gross underachievement as your people become sloppy, unpolished, undisciplined, and lose skills they once had mastered.

As you can see, the Law of Sowing and Reaping creates failures as well as successes! While failure is defined as a “few errors in judgment repeated every day”, success is defined as “right decisions done daily.” Only as you become more focused on your future will you discipline yourself to do more of what is right today. This is why people in any endeavor who strictly “live for the moment” leave a legacy of mediocrity. They add value to nothing and impact no one. They failed to chose the pain of discipline, so instead they live with the pain of regret.

Pay careful attention to your daily decisions because they define your future. In fact, wherever you are in life right now is a product of your past decisions. Thus, to predict your future you need only to look at the decisions you’re making today. Go to your Bible and underline Galatians 6:7. Better yet, memorize it and apply it to all aspects of your life.

Day 52 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Time Management Mandate!

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I included an entire chapter on time management principles in, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. In, How to Lead by THE BOOK I will offer a time management mandate that builds upon those principles.

The time management principle most business people never learn is this: you cannot expect to prioritize your work day and manage time with any degree of proficiency until you first learn to live within the discipline of priorities in your personal life! In other words, if you live life away from the job without clear boundaries, values, and priorities, you won’t have the discipline to structure your day effectively in the workplace.

A Christian’s first and foremost priority in life is to follow the greatest commandment as Jesus spelled it out in Matthew 22:37. This is THE Time management mandate! Jeremiah 29:13 underscores and supports the importance of this focus. The reward for this diligence is spelled out in 2 Chronicles 26:5.

The benefits at work for putting God first in your personal life are many. Here is a sample:

1. You’ll value people more, and spend more time developing them as a result.

2. You’ll develop and live within the parameters of core values within your organization.

3. You’ll serve employees and customers at a higher level.

4. You will do what is right, rather than what is temporarily convenient.

An obstacle to making God a priority: The problem with most Christian business people is that they make little time for God in their daily routine. It is the halfhearted, casual interest most people have in God that makes them very vulnerable to the temptations, distractions and worries of the world around them. Jesus addressed this when he offered the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4. He referred to His word as seed that fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. He explained to His disciples that in this instance He was referring to people who hear the word, but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things chokes out their love for God, their thirst for His word, their desire to prioritize their lives in a manner that would cause them to want to seek and place Him first in their lives.

Frankly, if one cannot organize his life around the priority of knowing, loving, and seeking God first then they have little chance of being able to decide what is most important on the job. As a result, they will major in minor things, and spend minor time on the majors. By immersing themselves in a swirl of activity they will attempt to disguise the fact that they are unfocused, undisciplined, uncommitted, and unable to put first things first.

Do you want to get your act together on the job and work with more focus, efficiency, and effectiveness? You can start by getting your life together away from work by moving your walk with God from sideshow status to the main event.

Day 51 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Don’t Fall for False Teachers!

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Jude was a half-brother of Jesus. He wrote the shortest book in the New Testament. Its one chapter contains only twenty-five verses. However, he packed a powerful punch in his brief letter to correct errors in the early church. False teachers had crept into the church, peddling a philosophy that contradicted scripture. The errant doctrine Jude confronted promoted a “do what you want and ask forgiveness because grace is free” philosophy that corrupted the scriptures promises of punishment for unbelief, disobedience, immorality and rebellion.

False teachers continue to twist biblical truths today. Among other lies, they espouse that there are multiple paths to heaven, despite what Jesus said in John 3:16-18 and John 14:6. Some of these false teachers have broad and well known platforms that range from best-selling books to popular talk shows. They teach that Jesus was a good man, but that He wasn’t God, that there is no literal hell, that a good God would never send people to hell, and the list of goes on.

In How to Lead by THE BOOK, I will encourage readers to evaluate each of the 70 strategies I present against biblical truth in order to weigh its absolute veracity and potential power. I encourage you to do the same as you hear everyone from best-selling authors, to Oprah Winfrey, to Donald Trump and various gurus, politicians, pastors, and celebrities offer advice on money, success, relationships, eternity, gay marriage, abortion and more. Measure their words and wisdom against what God says is true in the Bible. If what they say measures up, listen to them. If not, run the other way. Otherwise, you may find yourself following the modern day version of false teachers that Jude warned us about 2,000 years ago. They haven’t changed much since his time. They must still be considered as wolves in sheep’s clothing who, enamored with their own wisdom, lead the flock astray and into eventual destruction.

Day 50 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Your 100% Success Guarantee!

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Common questions I heard during press interviews after writing How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK were:

“Do the biblical principles you place in your book still work today?”

“Are the Bible’s promises relevant in this age? So much has changed since they were written.”

“Weren’t the miraculous workings of God and Jesus focused on a certain period of time in order to help launch the church? Is that same power really available for me today in my life and in my business?”

I’m sure I’ll hear similar questions as I am interviewed on radio and in print after How to Lead by THE BOOK is published in June. I did over 100 interviews in the months following my last book and I would expect no less amount of activity this time around.

Frankly, these are legitimate questions that anyone should contemplate before deciding to put into practice ancient strategies offered by any author. However, my own opinion concerning the power or veracity of the 70 biblically-based strategies I will recommend in my book are irrelevant. A reader should insist on a higher authority than the author to prove the power of what he is suggesting. Because of this, I recoomend reading the following scriptures to reinforce and give credence to every paragraph of advice you will find in How to Lead by THE BOOK. If you have any doubts about the reliability of what God has promised, or the relevance of Jesus Christ today, as compared to long ago, these should clear it up:

Numbers 23:19

1 Samuel 15:29

2 Samuel 7:28

Titus 1:2

Hebrews 6:18

And the best one of all…Hebrews 13:8.

If what God says and promises is true, and if He is the same today as He has always been, then you can rest in the confidence that doing what He instructs brings a 100% guarantee of success for those whose hearts belong to him as commanded in Matthew 22:37! Knowing what to do is clear. Now, go do it!

Day 49 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Be Solution-Oriented!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

One of the fastest ways to gain leadership in any endeavor is to solve problems. In an age where so many invest their energies into pointing out and complaining about what is wrong, those who offer solutions can quickly become standouts, gain influence and esteem.

One of the strategies I’ll include in How to Lead by THE BOOK is a sequence of steps to quickly and efficiently solve problems. There does come a time you have to stop discussing and decide, cease studying the race and join it, go past “sticking your toes in” and take the plunge.

David was a teenager when he slew Goliath. He had no official title at the time. Nor did he have any influence amongst the Israeli people. However, while everyone else was afraid of Goliath, and invested their energies in hiding from and fearing him, David solved the problem with one well placed stone to Goliath’s forehead!

If you want to become a better problem solver, here are three case studies to read, learn lessons from and apply. It will take you less than 20 minutes to peruse the three scriptures I’m listing. As you read these passages look for the lessons I’ve listed under each passage and you’ll develop a fresh perspective and effective system for solving any problem in your business or personal life.

1. Daniel Chapter 1.

Lessons to look for:

A. The importance of having pre-established values that make decision-making easier.

B. How to make wise appeals to someone with authority over you.

C. God’s rewards for obedience to His ways.

2. Matthew 14:15-21.

Lessons to look for:

A. How to consider different options and make a decision that is best for the organization overall, rather than do what is easiest for you in the short term.

B. How to focus on what you have to solve a problem, rather than lament about what you lack.

3. Acts 3:1-10.

Lessons to look for:

A. How to strike at the root of the problem and solve it once-and-for-all, rather than solve a short-term need that would repeat itself again and again.

B. Solving a problem doesn’t always mean giving someone what they ask for or expect.

C. Solving problems can bring immense glory to God for those who are the instruments of His work.

Day 48 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Rewards of Humility & Obedience!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

We received great news yesterday that, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK was #16 on the Hudson Airport Stores Bestseller list….a nice 16 week run so far. We’ll celebrate the book’s one year anniversary on August 29th. As I traveled from LAX, through Atlanta, to Columbia, South Carolina, I was delighted to see the book displayed prominently in stores in all three airports. Thank you for your continued support!

People who don’t know much about the Bible often ask where the best place to start reading is. I normally recommend the Book of John. John was the last Gospel written, and includes insights not found in Matthew, Mark or Luke. John was also Jesus’ best friend, so he saw, heard, and absorbed lessons the others missed. Two of my favorite miracles are in the Book of John. They are the healing at Bethesda (John 5), which I wrote about last week on Day 43, and the healing at the Pool of Siloam.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll relate four key lessons from the healing at the Pool of Siloam. You can read about it in John 9. It’s worth your time. In fact, it is unique in that the entire chapter is taken up with this miracle. Read it and see how many leadership lessons you find. Here are three to look for examples of. 1. The importance of humility, immediate obedience, and follow up. When we visited Israel with John Maxwell in March, we stopped by the Pool of Siloam. While it was an unassuming, simple place the truly profound took place there.

As you read the chapter, put yourself in the place of the blind man. Would you have been humble enough to follow the instructions given to you even though they seemed ridiculous, or would you have become insulted or angered? Before you answer, you may want to consider how many of His “crazy sounding” values and instructions that you follow today. It could serve as a wake up call and reminder of the rewards of obedience.

Day 47 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Go Fishing!

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

In a few hours, I’ll take a flight from Los Angeles to South Carolina to spend three days fishing with my younger brother and two nephews. We only see each other once per year, so there will be a lot of catching up to do, stories to swap and, hopefully, some fish to catch!

Jesus had several fishermen among his team of disciples. In fact, when He recruited them He promised to make them fishers of men. Many business leaders today are afraid to “fish for men” in their workplace. After all, the world has gotten so politically correct and sensitive that increasingly high numbers of people are hostile to any talk of “religion”. But fishing for men doesn’t mean that you have to debate, cajole, pursue, or pressure people into improving their walk with God. Some of the best evangelism is done each day as men and women in the workplace demonstrate godly character and lead by example. In fact, if you’re a Christian, you may be successfully fishing for men and not even realize it. In today’s posting I’m including some examples of  simple, positive, daily behaviors that others can’t help but notice. These actions make others wonder what you’ve “got” that they don’t. And when they come to you to find out, you’ll have a chance to share your own story and testimony.

Just as shining a light upon the water draws fish to it so that you can catch them, your own attitude and character serve as light that draws others to Christ. In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll discuss the importance of “fishing for men and women” in this manner, and resisting the temptation to blend in with the crowd and conform to their values, rendering you as a nominal Christian in the process. Here are some behavioral examples of fishing for men that draw others to Christ:

1. You tell the truth, without excuse and regardless of the cost.

2. You don’t gossip or enable it by listening to it.

3. You are loyal to those not present.

4. You go the second mile and expect nothing in return.

5. You keep commitments and meet deadlines.

6. You find something positive in every problem, rather than the problem with every opportunity.

7. You maintain integrity of speech, shunning profanity, off color jokes, stories, and the like.

8. You treat others with respect and courtesy, especially those in the “lowest level” positions.

9. You quickly admit mistakes and give away credit, deflecting praise of you to God.

10. You have an abundance, rather than a scarcity, mentality.

11. You remain humble despite what you accomplish.

12. You take responsibility for your actions.

13. You quickly forgive others and seek forgiveness when you wrong someone else.

14. You maintain a teachable spirit and spend more time listening than lecturing.

The list could go on, but this is a good head start. Do you act as a light that draws others to Christ, or are you prone to behave in a manner that differentiates you little, if at all, from those who don’t know Christ? If it’s the latter, then begin anew today and commit to leading by personal example rather than personal convenience, realizing that people would rather see a sermon than hear one.

Day 46 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Send the Fearful Home!

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Yesterday, Sunday, we celebrated Rhonda’s birthday. In the two-plus decades we’ve been married, she’s never looked happier or more beautiful! We went to church and the sermon focused on the Book of Judges and contrasted the leadership style of Jesus’  and Abhimelch, who was one of the most notorious figures in the entire Old Testament. It was a powerful message, brilliantly delivered by Pastor Shawn Thornton.

One of my favorite stories from the Book of Judges with lessons we can apply in business is the story of Gideon. He had rounded up 32,000 soldiers to fight against a Midianite army with far superior numbers. God, concerned that Israel would take credit for the victory He planned to give them rather than give glory to Him, instructed Gideon with these words: “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘my own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.'” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. Judges 7: 2-3.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’m going to outline specific character traits essential for success. I’ll highlight one, in particular, that causes you to rise into a league of your own. While competence is very important, character is more so. This is because you can teach skills and knowledge, but you can’t teach character. How does this focus on character relate to what God told Gideon? Notice what God did not say:

1. Send home the incompetent.

2. Send home the inexperienced.

3. Send home the uneducated.

No, He said to send home those who lacked courage, the fearful, the afraid, those lacking heart and without the stomach for a fight. Notice also when He ordered them to leave: “let him turn and depart at once.” God didn’t want Gideon burdened for a moment longer than necessary by those who were negative, who would talk in terms of defeat, and lower the morale of the team overall. Can you see the applicability for your own business? Put a higher priority on the “heart” issues that you cannot put into someone, and then teach them the skills and knowledge they need to channel the heart into productive endeavors.

Incidentally, God continued to whittle away at Gideon’s army until it was reduced to just 300! With those 300, God lead Gideon into battle and defeated an enemy army estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. The lessons: quality prevailed over quantity and God plus His chosen few equals victory over an immoral majority.

Day 45 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Don’t Confuse Activity for Accomplishment!

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Many leaders immerse themselves in a swirl of activity each day and wind up getting very little done that is meaningful. They confuse activity with accomplishment. They sometimes resemble an octopus on roller skates: there’s a lot of movement, but very little forward motion! I wrote an entire chapter relating biblical principles for time management for, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK and will include additional time management strategies in, How to Lead by THE BOOK. Time is one of God’s most precious gifts. And you cannot help but waste it if you don’t learn to work within the discipline of priorities and put first things first.

There is a church in Florida that, I believe, is also confusing activity with accomplishment. On September 11th, they plan to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the terror attack against our country by Muslim extremists. Frankly, their time would be better spent reading their own Bibles than destroying the books of another faith. Here’s why:

1. Whenever you act out of vindictiveness, you drain your own energy, resources, and become distracted from what is most important in your life. In short, you lose sight of your true mission and purpose.

2. Burning the book of another religion will not bring one additional person to Christ. In fact, the act is far more likely to repulse people from Christianity–a religion many already perceive as too extreme and judgmental. The best way to draw others to your faith is to live it out according to the principles set forth by Christ–not to derogate or disparage other religions.

3. Whenever you persecute another religion you unify them, make them stronger, and add to their numbers. The same thing happened to the early Christian Church. Read the Book of Acts. As the church was persecuted, it grew exponentially.

Don’t miss the parallel lessons for your own enterprise, because in business we can become as easily misguided as the leaders and members of this church. We want to make a point, so we do something symbolic or dramatic and actually lose ground in the process as we deviate from our primary mission. By investing our God-given resources in low-return activities, we become poor stewards of what God has gifted to us. As a result, we are likely to see fewer opportunities and resources in the future. As Stephen Covey wrote, The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!