Multiplication Always Surprises Me!

img_8892I just returned from helping to lead a leadership training event in South Africa with good friends and partners, and again, I’m surprised by how easy it is to encourage and help others!

The room was full of 40 leaders from all over South Africa that were working and serving people in some tough situations, and they came together thinking they would get some training and resources.

The left, 4 days later, with a new understanding of community and they were filled up.

*They were encouraged…

*They were challenged…

*They were given hope…

*They were able to laugh and cry…

*They were taught…

*They were listened to…

*They were connected to others going through some of the same things…

*They were affirmed…

*They were celebrated…

*They were thanked…

*They were empowered…

*They were reminded…

*They were convicted…

*They were blessed.

The secret formula to make all this happen is to simply bring people together and stop what you’re doing and share your life.

We all can do it. We all should do it.

What keeps us from investing into the lives of others?

  1. We’re Way Too Busy. We don’t know how to slow down or stop long enough to build a relationship or even to lay the foundation of relationship.
  2. We’re Way Too Distracted. We connected to our technology, and that’s become more important than the lives right in front of us. We have a hard time turning that off.
  3. We’re Way Too Critical. Instead of celebrating others, we highlight the weaknesses and faults. We forget that at one time we too were just learning. We need to focus on what’s most important, not on our personal preferences.
  4. We’re Way Too Proud. We think that we can teach from our success, when what people need and want is for us to be genuine, and even be a little vulnerable. Quit worrying about the image you’re trying to build and protect. Let your guard down and be real.
  5. We’re Way Too Competitive. We spend all of our energy building OUR Kingdom, when what we need to do is focus on HIS Kingdom. We are all working together and it’s time we begin to act like it.

Who are you investing into?

What excuses are you using when you find an opportunity to multiply yourself into someone else?

You’ll be surprised, in the same way that I’m always surprised. Learn to look for opportunities to pour into others lives, in the same way others have poured into you.

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

The Greatest Leader Must Be The Greatest Servant

images-2Psalm 23:6 – Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

We live in a world that glorifies “top dog” leadership, not servant leadership. And yet, it is incredible as one evaluates the grandest and best leaders of history and they were not “top dog” leaders but servant leaders.

4 Servant Leaders who marked our world

•Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady of the United States had been a hostess for formal gatherings before accompanying her husband to the White House. Her service attitude transformed the American expectations of first ladies as she came in to serve, not to be served. She was persistent with her human rights work and she even had a crucial part in crafting some of the United Nations declaration of human rights. She helped transform the United Nations.

•Martin Luther King, Jr´s actions and speeches on social justice transformed history in the United States. Being such a good speaker and orator he could have used all of that for personal gain. Instead he devoted himself and his life to changing a racist country into a country to serve all people. He helped transform a people group and a nation.

•Nelson Mandela served the country of South Africa by sticking with his convictions of equality for everyone. He was in jail for a long time, but when he got out instead of looking toward vengeance he worked with those who had him imprisoned to work towards a peaceful transition. He helped transform a country.

For more on World Changes, CLICK HERE

•Jesus Christ served the world. He washed people´s feet that would later deny him. He broke bread with the one who would betray him. He turned the other cheek when hit and beaten falsely. He started new sayings like – “love those who hate you,” “do good to those who persecute you,” and “love your enemies as yourself.” His message was simple – the greatest among us should be the greatest servants.

Matthew 23:11-12 “The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

You can be a world impact leader as well. Follow these verses and serve those around you. Love on them. Turn the other cheek when they abuse you. When they deny you, even when you were best friends, put up with it. Realize they are only human. When they betray you remember they did the same to Jesus. As you humble yourself maybe God will give you success. It may not come in the way you expect it – but his goodness and love will follow you all of the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6).

To be the greatest leader you must be the greatest servant.


Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Raise Up Better

images-1I got to go to church last Sunday and sit in the pew and listen to someone else preach. It doesn’t happen very often, but it did this last week.

Our Pastor was talking about Servant Leadership, and one of his points was entitled, “Raise Up Better”.

“Raise Up Better” is the idea that we’re raising other people up to be better workers than we are.

We help them by involving them and by serving them.

Servant leadership is when you, as a leader, flip your whole organization upside down.

Most organizations look like a pyramid. A huge base that gets smaller and smaller as it goes up until the top is a point. It is on that point that most leaders sit, giving directions to those below. It is a very private point, with only a few allowed to share. It is to that point that most people aspire to achieve, the ‘top’ so to speak. That’s where the boss is.

Servant leadership turns the whole organization over and the boss is really on the bottom asking questions like, “What can I do to help you do what you need to do?”, and, “What do you think about this?”, or, “What are some things we need to do?”.

Three things to help you get started in turning the pyramid. (By the way, it is a very long process with lots of resistance)

  1. Start managing by wandering. You know, walk around. Go to other people’s offices instead of having them come to yours. Have conversation about issues out in the open. Invite others to provide ideas and input. You will not be able to use everything others say, but, every once in a while, there is a real nugget.
  2. Slowdown in your decision-making. Get input even on the easy stuff. Ask what people think. Let people know the kinds of things you have to deal with. Some things must be private, but usually most of what we do can be open. This will slow things down a bit, but it will also bring people along as well.
  3. Publicly acknowledge others. Give credit for good ideas, good work, people who encourage others, the behind the scenes people, steady work habits, good attendance, continued education, for anything you can. People love to be thanked, especially by the leader. So, do it as often as you can, always privately and as public as possible.

These three things will help you find people who you can invest it, people you can “Raise up better”. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave behind a number of people who can lead better than you did?

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , ,

Invest in Obscurity

imagesOur pastor, Todd Proctor,  was recently talking about humility, and he used this line:  “Invest In Obscurity”.

The simple idea is that if you’re a leader that wants to serve with humility, then you need to find things to do that are out of the spotlight.

As a leader, I’m often in the spotlight. I’m used to public recognition and affirmation, and when I don’t get it, or when I receive some criticism, then it’s really difficult.

The idea of humility comes from Jesus’ words in Luke 14: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

A number of years ago, we had a single mother living next door to us with her 2 small children and her disabled grandfather. She wasn’t very friendly, and pretty much avoided any conversation with any of the neighbors.  I was trying to figure out something I could do to help, so I began hauling in her empty trash cans after they had been emptied. It was a simple thing. It took an extra 3 minutes of my life, and didn’t require that much effort.  I did this every week for a couple of years.

I remember vividly one day that I decided NOT to take her cans in. I began thinking to myself: “Why doesn’t she thank me for this service?   Does she notice that I’ve been doing this for years? Does she even care?”

I found myself getting a little put-out because she didn’t give me any recognition, and really didn’t seem to care.

I stopped taking her cans in for about a month. I justified this in myself, and decided that she didn’t need my help. The amazing thing is that each week, she would take her cans in. 3 minutes of her life. not a big deal.

Soon, I realized what an idiot I was. I was serving in order to be thanked. I wasn’t “investing in obscurity”, or I wasn’t serving because I really wanted to serve.

The next week, I began taking her cans back in. Again, no thanks, no conversation, no acknowledgement. But I realized that this act of service wasn’t about her. It was about me.

Was I willing to “invest in obscurity”? Was I willing to be humble.

We lived next door to her for a couple more years, and I took the cans in faithfully until we moved away. No goodbye. No thank you.  That’s OK.

Have you thought of ways that you can “invest in obscurity”?

Fast Company Magazine published a short blog years ago entitled, “6 Ways Humility Can Make You A Better Leader”. You can read the full article HERE, but here are the 6 ways:

  1. Be Open To Others’ Opinions
  2. Tend To Others’ Needs
  3. Admit Mistakes
  4. Accept Ambiguity
  5. Self-Reflect
  6. Let People Do Their Jobs

We can all learn to be a little more humble. A great way to do that is to find ways to “invest in obscurity”.

This morning, I looked at all of the trash cans out in front of the houses on our street. I need to find someone else that I can secretly serve.   What about you?

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , ,

Planning Begins With Perspective

images-1We’re talking about PLANNING, and an important aspect of planning comes early in the process, and it’s called PERSPECTIVE.

I recently attended a training course, and one of the thoughts I came home with as this:

“Perspective before Planning” Tom Paterson

Pete Richardson shares, “Perspective is seeing things without distortion, correctly reading the signals of what is unfolding. Perspective is the result of finding truth and new realities before they have happened. It is also a matter of squarely facing existing truths….If you are in right perspective, the core plan almost writes itself.”

I don’t know about you, but when I get an idea or am making a plan, I often sprint towards action, making quick decisions, putting things in place, and moving rapidly towards completing the plan.

I sometimes confuse the word “planning” with “execution”.

The dictionary defines PLAN:  “A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something”

Do you see the word?  PROPOSAL.

When we plan, the idea is we take the time to think through the idea, we create the steps needed to accomplish that idea, and we create an intentional step-by-step process to achieve it. A plan is a plan.

It’s easy for PLANNING and EXECUTION to merge into one process.

Today, I want to encourage you to slow down a little bit. When you think about making a plan for anything, realize that you need to put some energy into creating the plan.

One of the best ways to do that is to begin with PERSPECTIVE.

Here are 5 ways to get a NEW perspective on something you’re working on:

#1) STOP

Sometimes, we need to simply stop working on something, set it aside, and let it sit. Sometimes this isn’t possible. I’ve found that sometimes I’m too close, and need to step back a little bit. Set it aside for 24 hours, or a week if you can. This allows you to take a break, and when you come back, you might see things differently.


Take some time to learn from your past. Ask question. Gain perspective from people within your organization and from outside your organization. Learn from others that might be doing a similar idea. We learn so much when we ask questions, when we look back, when we listen. Don’t skip this step! It takes time, but it’s worth it.


I often ask others what they see. I value their opinions, that doesn’t mean I always agree with them. Take the risk of asking others for ideas, thoughts, criticism and feedback. I’ve gotten some great help when I take the time to get others perspective.  It’s even valuable if they’re not involved in any way in what you’re doing.

#4) DO A 360

The idea here is that you look at a plan or idea from all sides. Consider the impact, the execution, the leadership. Look at all angles of the idea in your planning. This is especially important when you are the one leading it. Think like a recipient or a customer. Think like a manager or a leader. Think like a trustee or a board member.


Is there a way to test your idea? Try it out on some people by creating a test group or a beta test. Often we rush forward, but we can learn a lot by trying it out on some people. The time this takes is always worth it in the things we learn from the practice.

All 5 of the things above is connected to PERSPECTIVE. Instead of rushing into a new project, turn your excitement and enthusiasm towards learning from perspective. It will increase your impact and your success!

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development Tagged with: ,

Why We Never Finish Anything!

imagesToday I erased and rescheduled a task that I’ve been working on for the past 4 weeks.

It’s a silly little task, one that will take me about 30 minutes to complete, but it’s not “essential”, so I keep putting it off. The problem is that a month ago it wasn’t essential. Today, it’s “critical”!

Why didn’t I do this when I had planned to do it?

Why isn’t this the only thing that I haven’t gotten done?

If you’re like me, life is a constant shuffle of tasks, schedules, goals and priorities. We learn very quickly how to determine the importance of something, then that thing moves up our “urgent” list, until we’re able to complete it.

Here’s a practical challenge for the day:


Look at your schedule for the next 14 days, and identify 2 blocks of time (at least 2 hours each) and schedule an appointment with yourself for those 2 blocks. This is time for you to do some tasks.


Start making 2 separate lists for these 2 appointments. Just begin writing down some things you’d like to get done. These might be tasks you’ve put off, or they might be things you’ve been thinking about. Example: Yesterday, I was flying through the airport and I saw a poster from a company that specializes in travel clothes that are inexpensive, sometimes I’d take my ties from John Henric US, durable and affordable. I took a picture of the poster and need to take some time to research the company and find out more about the product. This isn’t “important or urgent” but it’s something that I’d like to do.


Take a minute and just eliminate a number of items from your list that just don’t need to be there. They sounded good on the first pass, but when you look at them again, they aren’t that important.


Number items based on their priority. #1 is the most important. Estimate how much time you’re going to need to accomplish that task.  Prioritize all of the items.


When you get to your set appointments over the next 2 weeks, turn off your phone, close your email and internet. Focus on the list, and take each of those 2 hour blocks to work through the list.

You will feel like you’ve really accomplished some things, and it’s always good to cross things off of your list.

This is a simple way to get things done.

Back to my task…. This week, I have one day in my office. I had to just take 30 minutes out of a very full day to get this task completed that I should have done a month ago when I had more margin, more time. Now I’m scrambling to complete my tasks for today. I’ll have to put something else off now.

Posted in Leadership Community, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , ,

Hit The Gap!


rugby-673461__180In the game of Rugby people know what it means when you shout, “Hit the Gap”. It happens when a hole is opening up in the defense line and the attacking player has a chance to get through it without being tackled. It takes creativity to get through the gap – and there are a few things that rugby can teach us about being creative in Kingdom work.

Firstly, BE IN THE GAME! One will never be able to hit the gap if you are not committed to winning the game. Many leaders have given up due to difficult opposition, lack of support, fear or discouragement. Get down on your knees before God and realize again why you are doing what you are doing. You are on His team – the WINNING TEAM.

Secondly, SEE THE GAP! It is when we are rooted in prayer and committed to the game that we will see opportunities. One pastor friend of mine once wrote on a whiteboard: Need = Opportunity. Never underestimate what God can do through you. Creativity comes from seeing the need. Not every need is for you to address – and this is where it is important to listen to God and stay on track with your purpose. It is sad when leaders do not see needs as opportunities anymore, but rather as stumbling blocks. We need to be optimistic.

Thirdly, GET A STRATEGY! Once we know the gap is ours to take, we plan. Just like in rugby, sometimes figuring out a way to hit the gap needs to happen in a few split seconds. Leaders need to be able to think on their feet and make quick decisions. We need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances in a heartbeat. However, many times we need time to strategize. This is where we pray and come up with creative ideas. We ask questions like “What?How?Who? With What?” God is a creative God and has also given us people who can help with this – whether that is your team, board or just friends. So let’s use them!

Fourthly, HIT THE GAP! This is where we put our foot on the gas and go all out. The leader needs to be willing to take the risk and just do it! It will never make an impact if it just stays in our head or on a piece of paper. You are the leader – leaders are the ones that should take initiative and boldly hit the gaps!

We live in a world with a lot of needs, but may we see it as a world of opportunities. Opportunities to do amazing Kingdom work.

Am I in the game or standing on the side line?

Am I seeing the opportunities or have I become numb to the needs or pessimistic?

Am I praying and planning for creative ideas? Do I have enough courage to take risks?

So let’s go on and HIT THOSE GAPS!



Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , ,

What’s On Your Dashboard?

imagesRecently, I had the opportunity to speak on this subject, and it continues to spin around in my head.

This past week, I was driving to get my haircut, and while driving my 2001 Ford up a steep road, my “check engine light” flashed on, causing me to pull over immediately to see what was going on. I’ve learned that when that light flashes, I need to figure out why. Long story short, but I must have gotten some dirty fuel, so some injector cleaner and some better gas took care of the issue. The light signaled that something was wrong and the truck was not running the way it was designed to run. The warning light worked!

The connection is simply to ask you this question: “In your personal life, in your work life, in your family life, are there warning lights going off? If so, what are you doing about it?”

The purpose of a dashboard is to get a glimpse at vital signs that are important to you, and by looking at them, you’re able to determine if things are all running smoothly or if things need some attention.

We tend to pay more attention to the dashboard in our vehicle then we do to the dashboard for our life.

We’ve learned that we can continue to put things off, continue to run when things are unhealthy, even continue to go a little further while the red light is flashing and sounding.

Here are some ideas for ways to manage your personal dashboard. I’ve writing not as someone who is an expert at this, but someone who is continually working on taking care of the things that are most important to me.

#1) Determine What’s Important

We can’t measure anything until we figure out what is important in our life. Recently, I went through an experience that measured 5 areas of my life: My Personal Life, My Family, My Vocation (job), My Church, and My Community.

This summed up 5 critical areas of my life, and by identifying these, I was able to break them down and find some things to measure.

#2) Determine What Replenishes You

When I was asked this question, it really challenged me. The idea is that we can’t address all the things that are important unless we’re in some state of health personally. Life is hard, and we continually need to be restored, refreshed and replenished. Figure out what fills you up, because as you identify things you are going to work on, you’re going to need to be at your best.

This doesn’t mean you don’t start working on these things until we’re healthy. Healthiness is a constant pursuit.

Here’s an example: I realize that my physical health has the potential to limit the things I do in all 5 areas. I have to address that. This doesn’t mean that I wait to address these issues until I’m healthy. It means that I need to continually be working on my health, and that will make me more effective in all things.

#3) Determine Who Will Help You

We often think that our dashboard should be private. We’re afraid of what other people will think, and what they’ll see when they “look under the hood”.

The reality is that you need someone or some people to help you. Show them your dashboard, ask  their opinion, invite them to help you. They will see things that you don’t see or that you’re missing.

This is something you don’t need to do alone.

#4) Determine What’s Realistic

My old truck has some issues. In fact there are some things that need to be fixed, but I can’t afford to fix them all today, so I’m monitoring it. I’m addressing the things that are most important, I’m waiting to do some things until I’ve got more resources and time, and some things I’m going to ignore because they aren’t critical.

Our lives are the same way. You don’t have to fix everything today. Take a step forward. Set some goals. Address the things that are most critical, then monitor your dashboard. When that light starts flashing again, stop and pay attention to it.

Monitoring your dashboard is a lifetime pursuit.


Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , ,


imgres-2This word crept into my life a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. The context was that I was in the middle of doing a personal LifePlan, and the facilitator asked me a simple question: “What RESTORES You?

When you look up the word RESTORE, so many definitions bubble up: “bring back”; “reinstate”; “return to a former condition, place or position”; “repair or renovate”.

I wasn’t real sure what he was asking, but as he pressed deeper the question was simply this: “What activities do you do that RESTORE you, that “REPAIR”  you, that “BRING YOU BACK”.

I immediately began talking about some of the things my wife and I enjoy doing together: walking on the beach, traveling, going out to eat, riding our bikes. He stopped me and reminded me that the question wasn’t aimed at my marriage. It was a personal question aimed at what do YOU (Russ) do that restores you? While all the things I do with my wife restore me, he was talking about that personal level of restoration that we all need.

Did you know we all need that?

I spent some time trying to dig into what that means for me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

We’ve been talking about “Time Leadership” in this blog and with these resources, and I realize that while we’ve talked a lot about how to “manage” and “allocate” your time, I’ve forgotten to encourage you to find ways to RESTORE your soul, your body and your spirit. I think I forgot about it because I sometimes have a hard time remembering this part of my life.

It sounds so selfish to think about yourself and what “I” need, yet we would all agree that when we pay attention to these things, we’re “BETTER”:

We’re better spouses.

We’re better friends.

We’re better parents.

We’re better co-workers

We’re better leaders

We’re just better in all areas of our life. So why do we ignore the warning signs that are screaming at us to just take some time to RESTORE?

Here are 4 reasons that I find in me:

#1) I’m Moving Too Fast

I run in every area of my life, from one thing to the next. I’m always looking ahead, always trying to plan and execute, always trying to be proactive. When I’m running, I often ignore the signs telling me to “Slow Down”. There’s just too much to do, and I’m on mission to accomplish all that I can do.

#2) I Don’t Want to be Selfish

I buy into the mentality I mentioned above, we don’t want to be selfish. Our needs should be last, so we take care of everyone else before we address the need in our own life. The problem is that many times we never get to our needs. I don’t want to be selfish, or I don’t want to appear selfish.

#3) I Actually Think I Am Taking Care of Myself

I make some feeble attempts to take care of myself… 10 minutes of exercise, 12 minutes of extra sleep, 5 minutes of personal meditation and prayer, a long walk once in a while. I’ve made my restorative needs a check-off list. I break them down and think that I’m doing them, when in reality I don’t every even get started.

#4) I Have No Idea What This Really Looks Like

I don’t know many people who do this well, so I can’t model after anyone. I haven’t seen it. Jesus is the model I keep coming back to and I see how he was able to do this as we glimpse his life and his priorities, but what does that look like in my world? I don’t see it.

So, we all come to the same conclusion, which is instead of figuring this out, we just continue to ignore it and move on with our lives.

I’m on a quest to figure this out for me.

“What RESTORES you?”

I know in my like there are some things that bring real “repair and renovation”.

When I…

  • Get time in the Word on a regular basis I see things more clearly.
  • Exercise and push myself physically, I have more energy
  • Get time by myself to think, ponder, pray, and dream, I am excited.
  • Experience some adventure in my life, it wakes something up inside of me that goes to sleep.

What about you?

What “RESTORES” You?

How are you going to create some space in your life to first, identify these things and second, to spend some more time pursuing them.



Posted in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Time Leadership

imgresI remember reading Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I had never worked through a book like this, and in 1991, this was revolutionary for me. I was working as a Pastor, I had a young family, I was going to grad school, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

One aspect of the book was called “Quadrant II Leadership“, and the conversation was around time management and trying to figure out was truly “important”, “urgent” and “not urgent”. Up to that time, I thought that I had to do everything that came at me, and I didn’t understand the idea of taking care of myself, and choosing to spend time on areas that were more proactive and enduring, instead of living in the crisis of everyday life.

Now, 25 years later, I’m still learning about time leadership. While I’ve been able to put Covey’s principles to work in my life over these years, I still struggle with it. This is why I’m always talking about it, teaching it, reminding people of it, and working through it. The more I talk about it, the more it inches into my life.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been a part of The Masters Program.

Bob Shank teaches in The Masters Program ( that it’s not about “time management” but about “time leadership”.

He talks about the fact that many of us manage our day by looking at our time available, and we try to get as much done as we can get done in the allotted time.

The time leadership piece is that instead of just using our time, we need to “allocate” our time, and focus our time on 3 things:  That “buffer” time, which is just the time to get things done.  “Focus” time, this is time that is set apart for important projects, priorities and goal oriented tasks.  “Sabbath” time is ordained by God and it’s our rest and restorative time.

Time Leadership and Time Allocation change the way we manage our lives.  Instead of just trying to get it all done, we set time apart for the things that are most important, and we let some other things fall that are less important.

If you want to learn more about time leadership and so many other topics taught in the 3 year Masters Program, I encourage you to visit their website and consider diving in. It’s a great process of growth, evaluation and community.

These 2 tools (Covey’s Seven Habits Book and Shank’s Masters Program) have been used to shape me, push me, remind me and teach me.

If you’re struggling, as I do, with the “management” of your time, there are some great tools available to help you. These are 2, and there are many others.

Don’t be a prisoner.

Once you realize what’s it’s like to live your life by using “time leadership” instead of “time management”, you’ll never go back.

What can you do TODAY to change your perspective?

If you need some resources on TIME, CLICK HERE

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Personal Leadership


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