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 (www.mastersprogram.org) 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

Surviving the Chaos

imgresThere are times in all of our lives where our well-planned ideas and goals all fall apart, and we find ourselves trying to survive in the midst of chaos.

I hate to tell you this, but sometimes we have to live in the chaos.

Chaos comes to all of us from time to time.

•Sometimes chaos comes because we don’t plan well or we haven’t learned how to say no to people and our lives are filled up with other people’s expectations.

•Sometimes chaos comes to us because we choose to live on the edge, taking frequent risks and choosing to welcome chaos because it’s where incredible things happen.

If you’re like me, you constantly live between these two areas.

This week, I’m living in some chaos. I have a list of things that need to get done, I made some tough decisions months ago about travel and appointments that are finally catching up with me, and I don’t like the chaos that is around me, but it’s here because of conscious decisions I made. I can’t blame anyone else for this, and I am doing my best to move through it without missing any of the purpose and opportunities that come with it.

Next week, I’ll get back to my intentional schedule and some much-needed margin in my life.

Chaos comes to all of us, so when it comes, are you going to be paralyzed by it, or are you going to find great success in the midst of it?

Gary Keller writes in his book, The One Thing (©2012 Rellek Publishing);

“The reason we shouldn’t always pursue balance is that the magic never happens in the middle; Magic happens at the Extremes.”

He’s talking about our constant pursuit for balance, yet sometimes we strive for things to be mediocre, where what we need is a little chaos in our life.

When the chaos comes, there’s opportunity for some incredible things:

  • Teams come together
  • Leaders step up
  • Conflict becomes less important as we rally around a common cause
  • People depend on each other and learn to listen to each other
  • We realize that we can’t do it all alone
  • We create space for God to show up and we acknowledge His presence

Again, I’m not advocating that you create chaos or you live in chaos all the time, but we need to learn how to handle chaos when it comes, because it will come.

Here are 3 simple things to do NOW in anticipate for the coming storm:

#1) Build Your Team

Work today on building a healthy team, identifying the strengths and gifts of those around you and learning how to work together. When the storm comes, you will rely on these people. Learn to work together today.

#2) Know Your Calling

Just because there’s a storm, this doesn’t mean it’s YOUR storm. Sometimes we get sucked into other people’s chaos and we don’t need to be. Know what you’re called and created to do. Know the purpose of your organization and the plan. Stay on task. Stay focused. This doesn’t mean you ignore the needs around you, but keep your priorities your priorities.

#3) Move Through It

Be intentional in how you walk through it. Rally the troops. Create a plan. Know when you’ve completed what you need to complete. Work hard. Pull together. Lead with passion and clarity. Do your best work. Don’t attack it half-heartedly, but use all of your gifts and strengths to succeed.

Chaos will come.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite characters in the Old Testament. Elijah had just come through an incredible time of chaos and victory as he stood up to the prophets of Baal. He had run for his life, yet he was being hunted. There’s a moment in that story in 1 Kings 19 where God come to Elijah in a whisper… a whisper in the midst of chaos, and Elijah is renewed and he remembers what he’s doing and where he’s going and who he’s following.

When chaos comes, don’t lose that voice. It’s the voice reminding you that it will be OK. It’s the voice reminding you to keep going. It’s the voice reminding you that you’re not alone. It’s the voice of encouragement, of peace, of hope and His voice will help you not only survive the chaos, but thrive in the chaos.

Chaos will come. Chaos has come.


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

It’s About Time

imagesAs you read this I hope you realize that you have less time ahead of you than at any point in your life.

So, let’s talk about time.

All my life I have heard these things about time:

*Time is like money, once you spend it, it is gone.

*We do get to decide how we want to spend it.

*We can even save time.

*Unlike money, we can never get lost time back.

*Wasting time gets very expensive.

*Hesitation, or uncertainty steals time.

*Time never waits.

*Time can be the greatest gift of all.

*“I don’t have time” means “I don’t want to”


So, what do I do with the time I have?

#1) I start my days by spending a little time thinking: I create a list of what has to happen, things that have to get done. I think it through before I act. I map out what I need to do or want to do and figure out where to start. If I think it out before I start I will waste less time. Remember, there is a difference between what I have to do and what I want to do!

#2) Now, I make my list, I write it down: I plan my day so that I do what I have to do first. When I have done those things, now I do what I want to do (that would be most of the social media activity).

#3) I build into each hour a five-minute break: I call it “my time’. Work for 55 minutes and then take a five-minute break. Do it, even if you don’t think you have time. Get up, walk, think, talk, whatever, but, get up and move. It will keep you going. Some of that “I want’ activity can take place during the break. But, get away from your desk. This could be for a snack or a bathroom break. It could be when you take a walk or chat with a friend. Be consistent to do this, it will help you make better use of the other 55 minutes.

#4) Learn to celebrate success: I hate having to make phone calls to companies to arrange things. The automation, the time it takes, the response of someone you can’t see is sometimes frustrating and exhausting. Phone calls usually end up on the bottom of my ‘to do’ list. So, I have started rewarding myself when I finish working my way through a menu and completing a transaction. That’s when I get up and go get a popsicle. Then I sit and eat it while I cross that item off my list. I celebrate!

Time. We can never get it back, so let’s spend what we have wisely!

For more on “Time Management”, CLICK HERE

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

Your Time – Your Greatest Resource

imgresDr. Michael Le Boeuf said, “Waste your money and you are only out of money, but waste your time and you have lost a part of your life.”

Time is a valuable asset that we all have, and we are constantly trying to find ways to maximize our time.

We’re going to spend some time over the next number of weeks to dive into issues around “time management”. As I’ve spent time with leaders from all over the world, they are all asking the same question: “How can I get more done?” (Read here some tip sheets on GETTING THINGS DONE).

I have always come back with my standard response: “You have to learn to MANAGE YOUR TIME”.

I’ve learned over time that people don’t know what this means because for every one of us, it looks different. What works for me will probably not work for you. We deal with discipline and habits differently. We have different distractions and pressures in our lives. We have outside circumstances that are unique to us.

So, there is no simply presentation on “Managing Your Time“. But, there’s a series of thoughts, ideas, tips, suggestions and reminders that we’ll walk through over the coming weeks, and the goal is that you’re able to use SOMETHING that will help you create some margin or some space to focus on the things that are most important.

I remember when I was young in my leadership, I spent a lot of money every year on a daily planner. I had the perfect notebook, and I filled out all the forms and carried that thing with me everywhere. When computers took off, I learned to use my computer and then my smart phone to bring some order into my life.

I can honestly look at all the different “systems” and “applications” I used over the years and my success in managing my time has nothing to do with the “method” or “program” I used.

I simply learned early on a system that would work for me, and I work hard every day to be successful at it. I fail miserable many days, but I also have figured out how to squeeze some extra productivity and effectiveness out of my normal routine and work patterns.

Don’t freak out! All of us can do better in “managing” our time.

I hope that this series of blogs and tip sheets will encourage you.

I also invite you to share things that work for you, and I’ll pass them on to others! Send your thoughts, suggestions, ideas to:  russ@leadermundial.org


For some great books on Time Management, CLICK HERE

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

Be A Creative Leader

images-1Let’s face it… sometimes it’s just MORE WORK to do something with more creativity.

As leaders, we are often looking for the easiest way and the quickest way to get something done. We’ve got too much on our “to-do list”, we don’t have a lot of energy, so we look for easy and quick.

I want to tell you: easy and quick is not the best way to do something. I would argue that when you choose “easy and quick”, you are doing a disservice to your staff, to the mission of your organization, and to yourself.

I was recently reading a blog on creativity, and the author wrote this: “Creativity isn’t something you DO – it’s a way you approach life and everything in it.” (Annie’s Post)

Often we approach creativity by adding it to our list, instead of making it a habit and the way we approach everything that comes across our plate: our staff, our organization, our board, our family, our community, our church.

Creativity adds LIFE to everything we do!

I had a music teacher in Junior High School that approached life with creativity. He dressed creatively (some called it crazy, but when you’re in Junior High, it’s really cool!), he wore his hair crazy, he taught his classes with life and energy, and he was different than any other teach I had ever had to that point. He also instilled in my life a love for classic rock music and I find myself often humming the songs he taught us to sing.

I had an English teach in High School that realized that you can teach a lot of English by getting out of the classroom. I remember when our class went to her home to learn to make bread and then we wrote about it. That day and the lessons still stand out to me. She was unconventional, but she was still committed to teaching.

When you’re creative, you’re not compromising your purpose, your HIGHLIGHTING it.

So, as we finish or focus on creativity in leadership, let me encourage you with a couple of things:

#1) Being Creative Is MORE Work, but it’s ALWAYS worth it!

#2) To become more creative in your LEADERSHIP you need to add creativity to your LIFE!

#3) People ALWAYS remember creativity or even the EFFORT towards being more creative.

#4) It’s EASY to do things like you’ve always done them, but this doesn’t make that RIGHT!

#5) In your SEARCH for greater creativity, you’ll have FUN and you’ll experience some JOY if you’re looking for it.

As I write this post to you, I’m writing it to myself. Next week I have a 1-hour presentation, and after looking at my notes and my slides, I realize that it’s boring, it’s predictable and it’s non-engaging. I need to re-work this presentation because I want it to be memorable, impactful and life-changing!  Back to the drawing board…

Tip Sheets on CREATIVITY

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

Getting Outside That Box

imagesHave you ever been told you need to think outside the box? You then wonder what that really means.

When it comes to thinking outside the box, we need to realize that the walls of the box (the thing that limits or controls our thinking) is usually made up of one of four walls. In order to think outside that box, we need to knock down or break through at least one of those walls.

So, let’s look at the four walls of our box, and ask four questions, one for each wall. If we can remove one of those walls, we may discover a whole new area and way of thinking.

Wall #1 Am I limited by Tradition? “But, we have always done it like that!” can be a good statement, it can also be a limiting statement. If we can only consider doing something because traditionally we have done it that way, we will be limiting our creativity.

Many organizations have unchallenged traditions, things they have ‘always’ done and people who have ‘always’ done them. The leader needs to ask, “Wonder if…”. Maybe doing it in a different way or maybe not doing something you have ‘always’ done.

Wall #2 Am I limited by Pride? “What will people think?”   The leader who is more concerned with impressing people or worried about what ‘they’ think will always be limited in his creativity. Yes, your new idea may fail! But, you will not know until you try. Do your best to do it right and then ride it out. If it proves itself to be a bad idea, admit it was your decision and correct it. Never, never blame someone else.

Wall #3 Am I limited by Fear? “What happens if it doesn’t work?” This is a partner to pride. We all have some concern about trying something new. Do your best to study, plan, announce and implement, then keep a close eye on it and see what happens. Correct it as you go or stop it if it isn’t right. Let people know you don’t always have all the answers and could be making a mistake, but, do it because it is the right thing to do.

Wall #4 Am I limited by Resources? “How could we ever pull that off?” Sometimes money or personnel limits us in new directions. Concerning money, good thing green-touch.org is there to accept people’s loan application whenever they are out of money. If you want to know how to apply at their loan offers,see more at greentouch.org. Find people to help you. See if someone already on the team could do what needs to be done. Maybe divert some funds to try something new. If it is worth doing, it may be worth the effort to give it a try.

You are the leader, in fact, you are sometimes called ‘the agent of change’. Make sure you are not limited by things that you can change. Don’t let yourself be ‘boxed’ in.


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


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