Learning to Focus

Zig Ziglar writes, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it everytime.”

A lesson that I continue to learn everyday is the ability to FOCUS.  It’s hard to focus.  There are so many distractions coming at us everyday that this is almost impossible.  When we’re being bombarded with information, with opportunities, with obstacles and with simple distractions, it’s difficult to remain focused.

I remember when my daughter was 5 years old and she was playing t-ball (baseball) for the first time.  In one of her more glorious moments, the ball was hit to right field where she was playing, and it rolled right past her feet.  I was yelling across the field to her to get the ball, and she was looking at a flower that was in the grass, completely oblivious to everything that was going on around her.  As the rest of the team all ran out to right field to get the ball (that’s what 5 year olds do when playing t-ball), they ran the ball in, and she continued to look at the flower and I just laughed.  I was upset that she had missed the play by staring at the flower.  She was actually 100% focused on something that was much more important to her than a baseball game…. the flower!

3 things that will help you learn to FOCUS:

#1)  STOP

You can’t focus when you’re moving at a rapid pace.  Stop and look closely at where you want to go.

#2)  GO

When you’re able to see clearly, start moving.  Fix your eyes and your heart on where you need to go, and go.

This tip sheet will give you some practical steps to focusing better.    On Staying Focused

#3)  GET HELP

Find some people that will come alongside you.  These friends will be able to remind you, encourage you, push you, protect you and will help you focus on the things you’ve determined you need to focus on.  Find the right people and it will really help!

This sounds so simple, but it’s not.  Everyday I’m reminded that I need to focus on the task at hand.  I make my list, I set my course, I work my goals…. then I get distracted when something interesting or more exciting comes across my desk and I forget what it is that I was trying to do.  FOCUS!

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with:

Learning about Partnerships

I’ve been in partnership with many different people and countless organizations over the past 25 years.  In some ways, I would even call myself some kind of an “expert” in partnerships.  I know how they work and I see great value in the collaboration that comes from a good partnership, but I am also learning that great damage can come from unhealthy partnerships.  I’m not sure I’ve really understood the risks, however over the past year I’ve seen a number of partnerships dissolve, and I’m still trying to figure out why this happened.

I remember years ago when I was serving as a youth pastor how excited I was to hear that other churches in our community wanted to partner together to reach the larger population of young people, and we shared together how if we worked together, we could impact these kids!  I then remember month after month how disappointed I got when I showed up to our meetings and only 2 other guys showed up. What happened to the other 15 leaders that had just shared their desire to partner?  Why didn’t they see the value?  Month after month we trudged along, and we actually were able to do some significant things, but imagine what could have happened if ALL of us would have come together and done what we said we would do?

I’m learning that there are 2 major issues with partnership:

First, a good partnership has to have a foundation of trust and honesty at it’s core.  If you can’t do what you said you would do, say it.  If what you committed to do is beyond your ability, then admit it.  When there’s trust and honesty, partnerships have the ability to grow and expand.  One partner can help you in areas that you’re weak, but if you’re not willing to share that vulnerability, then how can they help?  Partnerships will never work unless there’s a solid base of trust and honesty.

Second, a good partnership has be Kingdom focused.  This means that it’s not about you, your abilities and what you bring to the table.  It has to be about the greater cause, it can’t be about building your own kingdom, but building His Kingdom!  Over and over again, partnerships fail because we selfishly want to promote our own agenda, and we don’t realize what we could really accomplish if we focused on the big picture.

There’s much more to healthy partnerships, but this is a start.

Where are you at in your partnerships?  Do you even want to work with others?

If you do, then start with these 2 issues and work them out in our own mind and heart before you get involved with others.  Then, look for others that share these 2 issues with you.  You will form partnerships that will not only be effective, but these partnerships will encourage you, build your ministry & organization, and you’ll build relationships that will last!

Recently I ran into one of the guys from our small network of youth pastors.  It was so fun to reminisce and talk about all that we were able to do together because we had trust and our commitment was focused on His Kingdom, not our own.

Posted in Leadership Coaching Tagged with: , , , ,

Living Busy

Have you ever walked up to someone and ask them how they are and they respond, “busy”?  Do you immediately think that they must be really important?  Do you wish you could be busy too?  Do you wish that others could see you as being so important that you are “so” busy?

I remember years ago when one of my mentors, Jim Burns, shared this thought:

“Being busy isn’t a sign of success.  It’s a sin.”

When you think about this, it’s true, however it’s very counter-cultural.  Our culture places value on people that are busy, on people that have a lot of responsibility, on people that run from one thing to the next.  The reality is that while some may see this as a sign of success, it’s really a sign of their inability to manage their lives, to maintain a healthy schedule, and to know what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO once quoted:  “Success comes from saying no to 1000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”   He’s right!  Sometimes it’s not about what we say “yes” to , it’s about what we say “no” to.

How are you doing today?  Are you wrapped up in the busyness of life?  There’s not a problem with having a lot to do or having a lot on your plate.  I’m talking about our continued decisions to live life without margin, without purpose and without a break.  Sometimes life is just really full.

Don’t let your life be like that all the time.  Create some space to stop, to think, to listen, to dream, to sleep, to evaluate, to ponder, to question, and to change.

Learn to say “NO” to things that are distractions in your life, in your work and in your calling.

 

For more this topic, check out the tip sheet:   On Being Busy

 

 

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Learning to Lead Quickly

While standing at the airline counter, I was forced to make a decision.  My flight had been delayed 6 times that afternoon, and there was no guarantee that I would get home that day, so I had to decide if I should take a different flight out of the storm ridden city, or take my chances on getting out.  I had about 1 minute to make the decision, and I made it.  I was able to fly to another city, stay in a hotel for the night, then get home early the next morning.  Later I learned that the airport I was in closed on and off all night, and the flight I would have taken had also been canceled.  Good decision!

Sometimes in leadership we’re forced to make quick decisions.  Most of the time they are much more important than which flight to take.  These decisions often involve people lives.

As leaders, we’re taught to not make “hasty” decisions, and I think we assume that this means we should never make “quick” decisions.  There’s a difference between the 2. A “hasty” decision is often defined as a “hurried” decision or one that we’re forced to make when we’re not ready to make it. I’ll define a “quick” decision as a decision that is made in a very short time, but a decision that is made with the support around you to make it.

I want to encourage you to learn how to make quick decisions and as leaders, sometimes we have to be able to make quick decisions, not hasty decisions, but quick ones.

Here are some things that can help you to be ready to make quick decisions:

• Surround yourself with people you trust.  Learn to listen to them.

• Learn to determine the essential.  Get rid of the things that make decision making complicated and focus on the most important thing. Sometimes we can’t make a decision because we can’t even determine what the real issue is.

• Don’t be afraid of failure.  You will make wrong decisions.  Someone once told me “I’d rather you make a wrong decision than be afraid to make any decision.”  When you make a wrong decision, admit it, clean up the mess and move on!

•Trust yourself and the leading of God within you.  You are never alone.  Trust your experience, trust your expertise and trust God who is working in you and through you. Learn to hear His voice first.

 

I encourage you to practice with smaller decisions you need to make. Figure out what you need to make good, quick decisions and try it!

You will face a time when as a leader, you will be called on to make a quick decision.  Be ready for that.  Be willing to lead through that decision.

Posted in Leadership Coaching Tagged with: , , ,

The Word LEADER

I have been thinking about the word “leader”.

I have been called a “leader” most of my life as I have held several “leadership” positions for the past 50 years.

However, the very word is confusing to me!  You ask anyone and they will explain that the leader is the person in front, the guy in charge, the man with the title “President,” “Pastor,” “Director.”  That is usually why we are called leaders!

Yet, there are three verses in scripture that say that being in front or being in charge does not make us a leader.  It makes us a “follower.” We have a leader and He is the one in charge and, in fact, we should spend our time working on being followers.

Verse #1  Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…and He will direct your paths.”  Who doesn’t want God to direct their path even if they are a “leader?”

Verse #2 Proverbs 16:9 “Man plan his course,  but the Lord’s way will prevail.”  Sure, make plans, but realize God has the last word. Satan cannot do anything without God’s permission.  God’s way will prevail.

Verse #3 Romans 8:28 “We know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him…”   Even in tough times, it can turn out good!

There are a lot of lessons in all three verses, but let me tell you what jumped out at me recently.
1.       Bottom line:  Do I really trust God?  Even during tough times?  When things don’t go my way? When I have no answers? Do I really believe that He will show me the way through each situation, opportunity, problem?  I really need His leadership in my life because, most of the time, I do not know the way.

2.       If I trust God, can I admit that He makes the final decisions? Not me, not the devil, not circumstances…it is God who determines what happens.  Am I OK with that?

3.       If I can trust God at all times, and let Him be in charge, do I really believe that He has my best in His mind?  That ALL will turn out good?

There is an old song that I often sing to myself…”My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow!  My Lord know the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. Strength for today is mine always, and all that I need for tomorrow.  My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow!”

We have an awesome Leader!  Let’s make sure we trust Him at all times!  Let’s be good “followers.” That will make us better leaders!

Posted in Leadership Coaching Tagged with: , ,

Do you value COMMUNITY?

I’m reminded today of the story in Mark 2 when Jesus heals the paralytic man that was brought to him to be healed.  This guys friends couldn’t get in the front door, so they climbed up on the roof, cut a hole in it, and lowered their friend down to Jesus to be healed.  Jesus responded by forgiving him of his sins, and by telling him to get up and walk!  The man leaves completely changed.

I remember hearing a message on this story years ago that didn’t focus on Jesus’ power to forgive and to heal, but focused on the faith of this guys friends.  They believed that Jesus could heal their friend, and they weren’t going to let a crowded room keep them from getting their friend to Jesus.

Their faith put their friend in position to be healed by Jesus.  Their faith caught Jesus’ attention.  Their faith wasn’t limited to what was convenient and what was conventional.  They carried their friend to Jesus and to Life.

This is an incredible image of “Community”.  People caring for each other at all costs.  People risking themselves for a friend.  Faith and love that drives you to do something bizarre.  Community.

Do you value community?  I’m talking about “real” community where people go out of their way to support, encourage and share life with others.  I’m talking about “real” community where people can be honest and vulnerable and genuine.  I’m talking about “real” community where there’s safety, where there’s comfort and where there’s acceptance.  Do you have that?

Again, I remember being challenged with this question:   “If you were laying on that stretcher, hurting and in trouble, do you have people that would come to carry you to help and healing?  Who’s stretcher would you carry?  Who would you drop everything for?

Today, think about your “community”.  Invest in these relationships.  Look for ways to serve and care those in your community.  Build a foundation of trust and relationship.

There will be a time when you’re going to need this community.  Don’t be standing alone.

Posted in Leadership Community Tagged with: , ,

What I’ve Learned about Leadership

I serve as a missionary in Ecuador.  My husband and I live in Quito, the capital, but my work takes me to the far corners of this small South American country.  Over the past few months especially, I have been impacted by the simple role of leadership.

That sounds vague and almost silly, but let me explain.  In March, I was with a group of college students who had come to Ecuador over their spring break to serve.  We were partnering with a church in a coastal town and had spent two days moving dump trucks full of dirt to fill in and level out their ground so they would be able to start construction for their own church.  The last day we were there, Pastor Josue wanted to do community outreach in the adjoining neighborhood. He took us to a concrete ‘cancha’ or playing field area and asked us to start picking up trash, to pull the weeds emerging from the cracks in the cement, and to paint new lines on the soccer court.

None of this is hard or specialized work.  In my mind, I wondered why those who lived around the court had not already done this?  We had seen firsthand that every night the court area was jam-packed with soccer players and their families and friends and, considering this is South America, that means it is the center of neighborhood socialization.

We set about the work and, without exaggeration, it was less than 90 seconds when children started coming out to join us. That was not a surprise at all; children are naturally curious and a group of pale-skinned strangers is worth seeing. But what was a surprise was when the teenagers, teenaged boys, came out of the neighboring houses and got in the act.  They even started correcting what we had inadvertently done wrong (dumping grass in an empty lot) and I saw two young men buying their own trash bags from the corner micro-market to join in.

Within ten minutes are so, all those who came to ‘work’ were out of jobs and were left hanging around waiting for the children and teenagers to finish so that maybe they would play a game.  The shoe was on the other foot, so to speak.

This simple day at the park reminded me of the importance of leadership.  Those young people, even the children, just needed someone to say, “Hey, let’s do this.”  How often do we all wait around until someone gives direction, a vision, leadership.  How easy and common place it is to just wait. Sometimes waiting is what is called for, but I have seen over and over again that sometimes it is because people don’t know what to do, where to start, or how to move forward.  They are waiting for a leader.

Posted in Personal Leadership

A Global Leadership Community

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit.  It was 2 days of fabulous teaching about leadership issues, and as I sat and soaked in this teaching, I was reminded of this larger “global leadership community” that longs for this kind of training, teaching and encouragement.  I was one of the privileged that was able to attend the main site, then the Summit was broadcast to cities around the world, and thousands of people were able to participate. I came back home filled up, encouraged and really challenged in my personal leadership in in the organization I work for.

Today I’m reminded of the people that weren’t able to attend this Summit or others like it.  There’s still a great need for training and resources, and there are so many leaders that long for this kind of event, but they’re unable to attend because of their geography, there economic status, their language, or the political situation in their country.  How can we reach them?  How can we train them?

I’m reminded of the verse in 2 Timothy 2:2   “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  We were told in the Word to pass on the things we have learned.  We were told by Paul to be multipliers and to teach others who will teach others.

We are a part of a “Global Leadership Community”.  Let’s share what we have learned.  Let’s pass along things that have helped us become better leaders to young leaders that are longing to learn.  don’t be selfish with the knowledge you have, but be generous and give it away!  Let’s help those that don’t have access to this kind of training to be connected, informed, trained and encouraged.  Let’s be a “Community”.

The Leadon Esource Pages exist for this purpose.  Share your tips.  Share your lessons learned.  Share your knowledge.  Multiply yourself!

 

 

Posted in Leadership Community Tagged with: , , ,

What does “Leadon” mean?

I’ve met many leaders around the world that I would classify as “reluctant leaders”.  A “reluctant leader” is someone who has the ability and a faculties to lead, but they hesitate or they have to be pulled into leadership.

There is a classic illustration of a reluctant leader in the Bible in Exodus chapter 3.  God comes to meet Moses, and in verse 7, God tells Moses about a plan He has to bring His people out of captivity in Egypt.  Moses begins his response to God in verse 11, questioning the plan, questioning who he was, and the conversation continues with Moses trying to come up with excuses to keep him from having to respond to God’s plan.  In chapter 4 verse 13 after much debate, Moses pleads with God to just send someone else.  God isn’t happy. He’s prepared Moses for this time, for this opportunity in leadership.  This is the day!  Moses finally agrees to go, and we know the rest of the story.  God uses Moses to bring His people out of captivity.  God’s plan prevails!

Are you a reluctant leader?  Do you have to be convinced to lead?  Are you unable to make quick and bold decisions?  Does someone need to drag you into the leadership role you’ve been created to do?

I remember sitting with a leader in Asia, and after a long discussion, I simply said to him…. “LEADON”.  What I was saying was:  stop making excuses, stop waiting for other people, stop assuming that others will lead with the same passion you have…. LEADON!

For the reluctant leader in you, leadon.  Don’t  wait, don’t force others to force you.  If you’ve been given an opportunity to lead, leadon!

The Leadon Esource Pages have been created to give tools, resources and support to emerging leaders around the world that need some help and encouragement.  Instead of making excuses, learn from others and LEADON!

Posted in Leadership Coaching Tagged with: , , , ,

Leadon Launch

After talking to leaders around the world, we’ve identified that they have 4 basic needs in common with other leaders.

The need for:

1)   Training

2)  Resources

3)  Coaching

4)  Community

While there are many other needs out there, these 4 they have in common.

The Leadon Esource Pages will help meet the need for numbers 1 and 2.  We’ve been working for years on developing a way to deliver ongoing resources and distance training to leaders around the world, and this is the launch of that plan.

Global Leaders are often lonely.  They are disconnected from others by geography, political boundaries and economic limitations, yet they all desire to be the best leaders they can be!

The Leadon Esource Pages will begin to provide tip sheets and leadership tools;  we’ll provide online training tools and deeper training courses;  we’ll provide prospective from a great group of global leaders and experienced leaders that want to serve and be a resource;  we’ll provide regular journal entries on a wide variety of topics and themes that will encourage, challenge and embrace leadership.

We simply want to connect and help to address these needs.

You can help us!

*Share these pages with leaders, organizations and any global community you’re connected to.

*Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and with our Blog.  Engage with us!

*Contribute to these resource pages.  If you have links, resources, tools and help that you’d like to extend to this community, send it our way.

August 1st, 2011 is day #1.

Be a part of this journey!

 

Russ for Leadon Esource

www.leadonesource.org

 

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