7 STEPS TO GREATER AWARENESS

September 17, 2019 — 1 Comment

Steven Covey has been quoted as saying, “Self-Awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions.” I have dedicated September as the month for our journey through the importance of integrity in our leadership. In Fellowship of Christian Athletes, integrity serves as one of our main pillars toward seeing our vision – to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes – successfully implemented. This week I will expand on the importance of awareness in being a leader of integrity.

I can remember the first time I drove a car. There is something about driving for the first time that you become keenly aware of things one never observes as a passenger. I was now aware of names of streets, other cars, buildings, landscapes and people. They had always been there but now my view had changed. This is what self-awareness is… changing the view. How do we change our view in order to become more aware? Emotions, personality and reactions all play a major role in our awareness.

  1. Know your why. When we are confident in why we are where we are, or why we are doing something, it brings loads of clarity to our life. Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” People of the highest integrity know why they do things and lead from this position of strength.
  2. Ask hard questions. A lot of our awareness is built around asking hard questions of ourselves and others. Hard questions force us to think harder and deeper about who we are and what we truly believe. You might ask yourself the following: What is my ideal definition of success? Do I carefully consider other people’s suggestions before I dismiss them?
  3. Answer hard questions. Asking hard questions may be difficult for you, but answering them can prove to be even more difficult. I think it’s best to run answers through a few filters, such as your values, or how others might answer the same question about you. Journaling is always recommended – getting your answers down on paper helps you to process them more effectively.
  4. Notice warning signs. Being aware of the warning signs in regard to your emotions and how you react to situations can help head off any major issues. Does doing certain activities cause you to be angry or stressed? Be aware of the button-pushers in your life and leadership. What is your emotional kryptonite?
  5. Make adjustments. Great awareness allows for a greater ability to make adjustments. Being aware of the traffic around us allows us to adjust when needed. People of high integrity are not people who “dig in their heels,” they are people are aware of adjustments that may need to be made.
  6. Listen better… especially to feedback. Many have argued that feedback is the most important skill a leader need. When someone gives feedback to us, it is a great opportunity to build awareness. Hearing other perspectives helps us grow. Winston Churchill said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
  7. Be a planner. Writing out your goals, plans and priorities helps develop a keen sense of awareness. Step one is to write down what you want to do, and the second step is to develop a way to track the progress. This will bring clarity awareness around the things that really matter.

Paying closer attention to skills, emotional patterns, deeper feelings and our behaviors allow us to live lives of deeper integrity. This awareness will become the foundation of personal growth, success and sustainability over our lifetime.

Lead Differently!

Greg

AWE

September 12, 2019 — 1 Comment

The other day I was spending time with Steve, someone who has become a great friend over the last few years. Steve and I often get into conversations about theology, and primarily discipleship. During our conversation, he mentioned a book he was reading entitled, Awe: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp.

As Steve and I continued to talk, we briefly talked through the impact of the word awe in our Christian faith and life. Awe is defined as: a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder. After leaving Steve’s office I began to think about how awe is so much a part of my life and how much power true awe can have. I am in constant awe of God, finding it hard to grasp what He has created and how He created me to operate with purpose within His creation. Think about this for a second – God created the world and all that we are able to see, touch and enjoy, and within this creation He created you and me. Not only does He want us to enjoy this spectacular world but wants us to play a part in the opportunity to help transform all who live in it with us. To you and me, with all of our pain, mistakes and brokenness, God Himself says, “Let’s go change the world together!” In my opinion that is awe inspiring! When my awe, ultimately lies in the love of God, it does three things to me:

  1. Awe Moves Me Toward Awareness. It’s the things I am in awe/fear of that I become most aware of. I can remember when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, it was truly awe inspiring. I sat there, for what seemed like hours, amazed at what I was looking at and having a hard time coming to terms with it. It’s these types of moments that unfold in front of us where every part of us is affected – our emotions, our minds, our bodies – and the impact is etched into our memories forever. This is God’s desire for us with Him, to be in such awe of Him that his love and presence in our life affects every piece of who we are, how we feel, how we think and how we act.
  2. Awe Moves Me Toward Accountability. Just as being in awe of God affects how we feel, think and act, it can also connect us to that forever. For me it is the awe of God that connects me to Him. Awe always happens when our thoughts and emotions intersect with something. It’s at that intersection where we become connected to it. Ultimately my desire is be connected to God, because when I intersect with God, I am never surprised by what God does. My awe is found in the faith and expectation of God’s greatness. I stumble most when I am in awe of my own created fears or consumed by the untold future of my story – the story I attempt to write about how I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, or whatever chapter I begin to write. This is the worst level of accountability…accountable to a fear-based story that causes me to miss the awe-inspiring love of God.
  3. Awe Moves Me Toward Action. D.L Moody said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts.” Emptiness inspires awe. Awe of God turns the focus from us toward asking this question, “what do people need from me?” In Acts, Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). Awe moved everyone toward action, it restored faith, confirmed strengths and changed lives. Awe has the ability to do just that.

True awe brings about indescribable moments. Louie Giglio writes and speaks about the indescribable moments in our relationship with God. That is what awe is – those moments so big in our life that we cannot describe them, we only know they move us toward action and change.

Ponder these:

  1. When was the last time you were in awe of something? How did you feel?
  2. Take time to write out the indescribable things God has done for you that move you toward awe.

Lead Differently!

In our house, we have always told our kids there are only two rules. Years ago, Monica and I decided that instead of making a long list of rules that would be impossible for our children to obey (much less us enforce), we needed to make the rules simple but impactful. As a result, we decided on only two rules: 1) Honesty always (there is no lying) and 2) Must respect Mom. We both felt (and still feel) these two rules develop the highest level of integrity in our children – honesty and respect. If they can’t learn to respect their mother, then it will be tough to respect anyone else.

I love our vision at FCA: to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes and our mission: to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and his church. I find so much value and fulfillment in what we do and why we do it. We have values that serve as the pillars of both our vision and mission: Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence. Our team is spending the next four months focusing on each of these four values in order for us to stay connected to our why. Hopefully these will be useful for us all.

This month we will focus on Integrity. For us in FCA, integrity means we will value demonstrating Christ-like wholeness – privately and publicly. This is based on the great verse in Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” Ouch! Being leaders of integrity means being leaders focused on the right way to think, speak and ultimately lead.

I love this quote from Brené Brown; “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

What are some ways we can be a leader who practices the value of integrity? I will expand on each of these in the coming weeks.

  1. Being self-aware may be one of the greatest keys to not only being leaders of integrity, but also living a joyful and fruitful life. Every leader needs to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, how they communicate, how they handle conflict, and how all of this works together to influence those around us both positively and negatively.
  2. The best and easiest way to be a leader who practices integrity is to first hold ourselves accountable to Jesus and how we have seen Him lead, and to hold ourselves accountable for what we say and do. Accountability is not easy, but it is necessary. Integrity requires accountability to truthfulness and spending time looking at the truth provided to us by Christ and the impact of our words and actions.
  3. Finally, our attitude toward the ups and downs of life and leadership influence our integrity. Decision making, honesty and living in Christ-like wholeness are many times rooted in our psychological and emotional behavior.

I will expand on these three practices over the next few weeks. In the meantime, spend time this week answering these two assessment questions:

  1. Do you have a tendency to choose what is easy, fun or fast over what is right? Why do you feel you do this?
  2. What are 3 things you can do this week to practice integrity more intentionally in your life?

Lead Differently!

Greg

Wonder Twins

 When I was a kid, there was a cartoon called the Wonder Twins that I would find myself watching on a Saturday morning. The premise involved a twin brother and sister who were superheroes. Their “superpower” was to put their fists together, say “Wonder Twin powers activate, form of a…” and become whatever they said they wanted to be, supposedly they would become something that would be beneficial for fighting whatever enemy they needed to fight at the time. As a kid, I thought everything they turned it to was cool and innovative. As an adult, I look back on these transformations as very odd and peculiar. Recently I stumbled upon a video, of an episode, of the wonder twins where they were fighting some kind of evil and they did their thing, put their fists together and became… an octopus and an ice-covered unicycle. Yep you heard me right.

What in the world do an octopus and an ice-covered unicycle have in common? Absolutely nothing. But this did get me thinking, beyond how weird it is, but it got me thinking about the teams we lead. Our teams are made up of a combination of very different skills, talents, emotional maturity, experience, and passions… octopuses and ice-covered unicycles. Great leaders lead through differences, take those differences and make them work together to achieve the vision. If we combine our talents, perspectives, and gifts to lead with one voice we have a different kind of influence with the next generation.

 Let’s look at how we do this.

 

  1. Don’t Change them Challenge them. Too many times leaders attempt to change their team to fit all of the differences into one paradigm. As leaders we should not try and change those who are different, we should challenge them to work together and use the strengths of their differences to help one another achieve the vision. Malcomb Forbes once said, “Diversity is the art of thinking independently together.”.

 

  1. Encourage Collaboration and not Competition. Great teams work in collaboration with one another and not competition with one another. Leaders have a responsibility to take the differences that exist among a team and build a culture where status, money, affirmation and individual wins are secondary to working together for the same desired outcomes. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Hellen Keller.

 

  1. Embrace Differences and not Dysfunction. Let’s be honest an octopus and an ice-covered unicycle are very dysfunctional together. I’m not even sure how they would work together but they did, and it turned out good. Leaders must focus on the differences and the good those differences can bring to the organization and not the dysfunction that may or may not be associated with them. Sean Covey is quoted as saying about differences; “Fruit salad is delicious preciously because each fruit maintains its own flavor.” For example, you may have a player that has some different personality traits and if you fought against those traits it may highlight the possible dysfunction they may bring to the team. Instead focus on how the differences can be used to bring good to the team.

 

Make sure you encourage your octopuses and your ice-covered unicycles to work together and if you do you have a much better chance of achieving what it is you set out to achieve.

 

 

 

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Leadership comes in many forms and effective leadership is dependent, in many cases, upon the leader themselves. Our experiences, learned responses, gifts, and personality traits all play a role in how we lead. I have found it is much harder to change a leadership style, and many times we spend the bulk of our time attempting to change who we are as a leader instead of focusing more on how we are leading. I’m worried that we abandon the needs of people for the need for sound strategy. I love what Simon Sinek says about leadership, “A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” In other words, great leaders help others succeed.

Everyone has needs and every team has basic needs that lead to success. Our team needs help to drive sustainable success.

Four Basic’s Your Team Needs From You

 

  1. Information

Most teams fail for a lack of clear information. Information is where you give your team the necessary resources; clarity of vision, the why behind the what, the game plan to succeed. We can’t expect a team to move toward success if they have not been informed about what that success is. “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

 

  1. Inspiration

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Leadership is the about people. It’s about having the ability to move people toward a common, transformational goal or cause. Many leaders use strategies to attempt to move people, but the only way to truly move people with passion and purpose is to lead through inspiration. A great leader communicates in a way that connects to the heart before it connects to the head.

 

  1. Initiate

 Once a team is clear on expected outcomes, and feel their heart has been connected to that outcome, a great leader must then begin to take steps to walk a team through the journey. This is where strategy and planning begin to take form. The great coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Hope is not a strategy.” A team can be informed and inspired but without the process of moving toward the goal there is no success. We must help our teams walk the steps needed toward the goal.

 

  1. Influence

Lastly great teams need to see the importance influence plays in success. This stage allows a team to empower one another by holding each other accountable to the stated goals. If your team is informed, inspired and taking steps toward the goal, many times influence will happen naturally. “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth Blanchard

Leaving a Mark

November 27, 2018 — Leave a comment

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I have mark, behind my right knee, that is a scar from when I fell as kid. I will not go into the gruesome details of the accident but let’s just say it was not pretty. Every time I see the scar it reminds me of the day of the accident but also reminds me of a lot of other events, relationships and other things that happened during that period of my life. That’s what scars do they are marks with a story and those stories are usually attached to other stories which many times shape who we are.

As coaching leaders we leave our own marks on the lives of those we lead, little reminders of our influence in their lives. I started coaching junior lacrosse last year and part of my preparation, besides learning a game I knew nothing about, was thinking through the kind of mark I wanted to leave through my leadership into the lives of these young boys. I believe this is something we should all be mindful of and think through as we prepare to lead through each season. Marks can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes but I believe all marks should contain the same basic attributes.

  1. Leaving a Mark should be Intentional. Every coaching leader should think through what type of mark they want to leave on those they lead. Some marks may be encouraging, some marks may equip and some may challenge. The marks we leave are, many times, dependent upon the needs the person may have at any particular time.

 

  1. Leaving a Mark should be Inspirational. Every coaching leader should strive to leave a mark that inspires someone to move closer toward their intended purpose. That’s what inspiration is, doing something that moves someone toward the ultimate impact they can have on the world.

 

  1. Leaving a Mark should be Every coaching leader should leave a mark that invites their followers to something bigger than themselves. I feel, by encouraging, equipping and or empowering a follower, we are involving them in a process that allows us both to grow and as a result our team grows as well.

 

Coaching leaders will always leave marks. The decision we all must make is what type of mark we want to leave.  Remember all marks are part of a story that many will carry around with them for the rest of their lives. When you lead you have a role in the present and the future of those we influence.

What Type of Leader Are You?

November 13, 2018 — 1 Comment

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I can’t begin to recount how many books and articles I have read on leadership over the years. I have been drawn to the importance of leadership since I started in ministry, seeing the importance of leadership in faith settings. What I have found is that just about every book and article on leadership tackles leadership style. There are many different opinions on the types of styles a great leader should have. At its core, leadership style is very subjective. I have found that most styles mirror the personality, background, experience and life history of the leader, as a result it makes it very hard to pigeonhole everyone into one or two styles of effective leadership. Author Peter Drucker is known for saying; “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

I have been around a lot of leaders. I have been led by them, influenced by them and even had the opportunity to lead right beside them, what I have found is most leaders fit into one of three categories.

  1. Those Who React. Most leaders are able to identify issues, areas for improvement or places of needed recovery. Many times, though, leaders have a tendency to react to the issue at hand. Reaction becomes harmful, for organizations, because reaction is often led by emotion. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Reactionary leadership is not sustainable. Great leaders take time to pause and reflect on the situation at hand. They devise a strategy by seeing all possible outcomes and situations. In sports coaches teach athletes to “read and react” in many game time situations. This is a great lesson for all leaders, instead of reacting to everything, take time out to read the situation, climate of the culture, the repercussions and then react with the best possible solutions.

 

  1. Those Who Respond. This category is not much different than the previous one. Leaders who lead from a response mindset are usually not creative or really leading at all. They become followers to the circumstances and this leads to reaction. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”  – Herbert Swope. Leaders who only respond usually do so to please others or to avoid conflict and failure. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is an untold secret to success. Failure means things are being attempted and tested, things that are not normal, things that are risky. It is from risk not responding that innovation is born.

 

  1. Those Who Initiate. The most successful organizations are filled with leaders who are initiators and not reactors or responders. Great leaders don’t let things happen that make things happen. I have this “gift”, well that’s what I call it, to recognize when something is sinking in mediocrity. I like to step in an initiate change, ideas, and sometimes leadership. Many people do not like this “gift” they see it as pushy or invasive into their world. The reality is people who think this way enjoy the status quo and most of their leadership is reactionary and responsive. They are either ill-equipped or lack the desire to initiate and seek innovative solutions. Someone once said, “To be a good leader, you sometimes need to go down the untraveled path. Being bold in the face of uncertainty will help give your team courage and motivate them to keep striving when the going gets tough.”

 

As leader always remember it is you who must forge the path toward greatness. Leaders who do this initiate risk, count the cost and paint a picture that all can follow.