Leadership and Life Advice from My Mom

I previously posted this story under another title, but since it’s been 4 years, I thought I was expand it and share again.

Recently I received some great life and leadership advice from my mom.

Please understand, my mom is retired from over 40 years of work in the business world, but she is usually not the first person I would think of for business advice. I mean, she is smart, no doubt about that, but she is my mom.

I would read Truett Cathy or Warren Buffett for business advice. I look to John Maxwell (and others) for leadership advice. I have a plethora of people I go to for life mentoring. I go to my mom when I cannot find my recipe for cornbread. (She makes some killer cornbread by the way.)

Before you write me…I know, my mom is a great place to get life advice. I’m trying to be funny and make a point. (I wish I didn’t have to give so many disclaimers :) )

Anyway, a friend is a salesperson for a manufacturing company. He has been concerned he might lose his job because his sales aren’t meeting expectations of management. My mom shared with me what she has been telling him. He claims that he could sell more product, if the production people could produce his orders faster. He says sales are not the problem, a lack of production is keeping the company from moving forward, and other orders seem to be produced before his orders, which is hindering his ability to meet his quota.

My mom told him he may need to leave his comfortable desk and chair, shut his laptop for a while, show an interest in the production people, and, if necessary, learn to help make the product. Her quote, “You need to make yourself indispensable to the company right now, because desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Make yourself indispensable.

You know, my mom is right. Too many times when our organization is suffering we cast blame rather than rally the team. We throw in the towel rather than work for a solution. We give up rather than create energy around us.

It is easier to quit sometimes than to weather through the rough periods, but the greatest and sweetest victories come to those who stick it out through the hard times and make it to the other side.

My mom was basically saying:

Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do so you can get done what has to be done.

I know…that’s deep right? And, I’m not as eloquent of speech as my mom. But it’s true. Sometimes it’s necessary to do the uncomfortable, the thing you don’t really want to do, maybe even the thing you don’t feel qualified to do…if you want to be successful. I frequently talk with people who are struggling in their personal life…either vocationally, in their relationships, or even physically. They want things to improve, but they aren’t willing to do the hard things to get them where they ultimately want to be.

Are you discovering tough times? Are you struggling to get where you want to be? Learn a lesson from my mom.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

What is some life advice you got from your mom?

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

My mom is my hero.

She’s the most gracious, forgiving, patient person I know.

My mom raised 3 children mostly as a single mom. My dad finished life well, (I wrote about that HERE) before dying a couple years ago, but to fully understand my life, you would have to know that for much a my life, my dad was an absentee father. That put a huge burden on my mom. Some of you know the hardship of the single mom, and it’s one I never take lightly. My mom sometimes worked as many as three jobs, but honestly, I never remember her not being home.

She kept our house immaculate, she cooks better than anyone I know, she can sew, cross-stitch, and raise a garden. She is grounded in tradition, but she’s loving Facebook. My mom mothered the neighborhood and the people with whom she worked. She’s never met a stranger and she has no enemies. My mother is growing in her faith even in her 70’s. She loves God passionately and boldly and prayed my father and sister back to Jesus. (I’m fairly confident she’s praying for me too.)

My mom rocks!

My mom has taught me what unconditional love and support looks and feels like in a human sense. Regardless of what I’ve done or where I’ve gone in life, one person is always my biggest supporter.

Thanks mom! I love you! Happy Mother’s Day!

Words can never express…

One Song that Can Change Your Marriage

I was listening to “She Believes in Me” written by Steve Gibb and sung by Kenny Rogers the other day. I was on the treadmill, had my iPod on shuffle, and it was the song that played. Years ago I used to share that song on marriage retreats I led. Contained within it is one secret…one principle…that can dramatically change, maybe even save, a marriage.

I know, one song right?  But, I’m fully convinced it can.

Here are the lyrics, in case you don’t remember them: (The bold emphasis is to make my point.)

While she lays sleeping, I stay out late at night and play my songs
And sometimes all the nights can be so long
And it’s good when I finally make it home, all alone
While she lays dreaming, I try to get undressed without the light
And quietly she says how was your night?
And I come to her and say, it was all right, and I hold her tight

And she believes in me, I’ll never know just what she sees in me
I told her someday if she was my girl, I could change the world
With my little songs, I was wrong
But she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully
And who knows maybe on some special night, if my song is right
I will find a way, find a way…

While she lays waiting, I stumble to the kitchen for a bite
Then I see my old guitar in the night
Just waiting for me like a secret friend, and there’s no end
While she lays crying, I fumble with a melody or two
And I’m torn between the things that I should do
And she says to wake her up when I am through, 
God her love is true…

And she believes in me, I’ll never know just what she sees in me
I told her someday if she was my girl, I could change the world
With my little songs, I was wrong
But she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully
And who knows maybe on some special night, if my song is right
I will find a way, while she waits… while she waits for me for me!

End of song.

That’s it. 

Did you catch it? It’s pretty simple. I’ve written about the principle before HERE and HERE, but the principle is simple. Inside the heart of every man is a desire to be respected, especially by the one he loves. When a man feels that high level of respect, he will do just about anything to earn it again…so he goes “on trying faithfully.”

I know. The woman needs respect too. I know also, if she’s not receiving the love she deserves, it will be much harder for her to respect. I get that. I completely understand. It doesn’t even seem fair to suggest what I’m suggesting…respecting anyone who doesn’t deserve respect. It would almost be like telling someone to love someone who doesn’t deserve to be love or forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness. That’s radical talking.

I can’t help, however, pointing out something I’ve seen improve many marriages. When the woman makes even slight changes in how she respects…in the way she says things…the language she uses…the genuineness of her admiration…something changes in the man…something good.

And who knows…maybe on some special night…if his song is right…he’ll will find a way, while she waits… while she waits for him…

By the way, Cheryl, thanks for believing in me…even when I don’t believe in myself.

When the boys were at home…

I remember when the boys were at home.

The house was loud.

There were endless hours of them performing “shows” for us. Of course, we had to “love them”.

Balls were constantly flying through the air.

The floor was used as a wrestling ring.

Every night was filled with a practice or ballgame.

We had little “free time” for ourselves.

Clothes were left lying on floor.

The toilets weren’t always flushed. :)

The boys usually didn’t help around the house unless forced to do so.

They left the top off the toothpaste.

They didn’t want to go to bed on time.

They didn’t want to get up in the morning.

I hated science projects.

They had lots of science projects.

They really did take a lot of our time.

In some ways, they cramped our style.

They certainly altered our plans.

I miss those days.

Still have kids at home?

Don’t neglect the good days.

You’ll miss them.

BTW, tell me about your kids at home. How many? How old? I’d love to pray for them with you!

Advice to Young Leaders: Don’t Try to Make it On Your Own

I’ve met with numerous young leaders recently who want the opportunity to “make it on their own”. I’ve seen it in my own two sons. They want to get their first job without the help of others. They want to stand on their own merits. They want to attain a level of accomplishment without the help of their parents, their parent’s friends, or any connection they didn’t make personally.

I understand. I felt the same way when I was a young leader.

And, I love the ambition. I simply don’t agree with the practice. That’s based on experience it’s taken me years to understand.

My advice:

Don’t try to make it on your own.

For one thing, we weren’t meant to live life alone. We are designed for fellowship, with our Creator and with other people. But, also, it simply doesn’t work.

There is no such thing as a self-made person.

Everyone gains success with the help of others. Failure to realize that leads to false pride.

More than ever before, knowing the right connections can help you accomplish your goals. I’ve told my two boys they will most likely never have a job in their lifetime where they didn’t know someone who helped them obtain it. If that person is your parents, or people your parents know, so be it.

I’m not suggesting you don’t try and I’m not releasing you of responsibility. You are ultimately, under God’s authority of course, responsible for charting your own course. You can’t expect anyone to give you something you aren’t willing to earn.

I am suggesting that you shouldn’t be timid or feel bad about using the connections and networking relationships you’ve been allowed to make or those connections of people who know you and care for you. Those relationships may be as important as any skill you bring to the table.

Does it bother you to rely on help your parent’s offer you?

7 Reasons I Love My Wife

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

Here are 7 reasons I love my wife:

She loves God more than she loves me – I love her faith and commitment to Christ. She challenges me in my spiritual walk. She consistently shares her faith with others.

She laughs when no one else laughs – She gets my jokes and thinks I’m funny. Ladies, you have no idea how important that is to a man.

She knows how to love – No one loves people like Cheryl loves people. I’d bet money on that if I were a betting man. The odds are out of this world. Cheryl especially loves her family.

She invests with everything – Cheryl is a giver. She gives her entire heart and being. If you’re in her life, you’ve most likely been a reciprocate of her generosity and thoughtfulness.

She is my partner – Cheryl loves doing anything with me. Anything. I don’t always understand it, because her mother or friends would probably be better at picking out the home decor, but she would always choose me even for things like that. I like this about her. :)

She’s got my back – If you want to see the sweet, gentle, kind Cheryl get upset, just say something negative about me (or the boys). She has a strong side and it’s seen best with her defending someone she loves. It’s comforting knowing, regardless of how difficult my life and ministry might be, that Cheryl is always in my corner.

She respects me – In marriage counseling and teaching, I always share this as a man’s greatest need. It’s commanded in Ephesians 5. I wrote about it HERE. Cheryl does this like a pro. I can honestly encourage the women in my church to follow her example here.

These are 7 reasons I love my wife. Happy Valentine’s Day Cheryl!

Of course, there are many more, but you knew it had to be 7 reasons didn’t you? :) Actually that it is great Biblical number.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Why do you love your spouse?

30 Life Lessons

I’m a slow learner, so some things take longer than others for me to learn. I previously posted some of these separately, but I keep learning, so here I am again.Some of these you have to learn the hard way. Some of them you may be able to glean from my experience.

Here are 30 life lessons:

  • If you have to impress the friend, he or she isn’t much of a friend.
  • “Just once” probably is a bigger deal than led to believe.
  • The sooner you decide to get your life headed in the right direction the more time you have to enjoy it.
  • There are few shortcuts to success.
  • Hard times come naturally in life…determine early to use them for God’s glory and to help others.
  • Kids grow up too fast. Enjoy them at each stage.
  • There is wisdom with age. Always be willing to learn from those who have lived and experienced more of life.
  • The longer you wait to forgive someone the longer it takes to heal your heart.
  • If you don’t act on what you feel led to do, because of fear or indecision, someone else will and you will miss the blessing.
  • More success in the world does not automatically bring more happiness, more success with the things that matter most does.
  • A “lesson in humility” teaches far more than a “ego boost”…
  • Often…in my experience…what I don’t want to do is the very thing I need to do the most…
  • The best friends sometimes say the hardest things to hear…
  • Sometimes it’s not until you give up the right to control that a breakthrough comes…
  • People are more honest with you if they can predict your reaction…
  • We hurt most the ones we love the most…
  • Very few people can really comply with “don’t tell anyone”…
  • You never get a second chance at a first impression…
  • God’s way is better than my own…
  • Rebuilding trust is more difficult than keeping established trust…
  • Don’t let any of them pass you by without learning something.
  • Stay in physical and spiritual shape throughout your life.  It is much easier to maintain than to try and get back in shape.
  • If you have a strong passion to do something, (and it is honorable) be willing to risk everything to do it.  You can always recover if you fail and, if you fail, you will learn valuable lessons in the process.  Someone once said to me, ask yourself: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?  Do that!
  • Never quit dreaming. Dreams often fuel the best of life.
  • It goes by fast. Let me say it again, because you read that too quickly. IT GOES BY FAST!
  • Things are usually not as bad as they appear right now. Be patient, make wise decisions, and it will get better.
  • You will look back and wish you had done some things more and some things less. Figure out those what those things are now and prioritize your life accordingly.
  • Let a few people into the deepest parts of your life. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with a select few. There will be a time when this is needed.  (Trust me.)
  • Make relationship decisions carefully.
  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.  (Proverbs 4:23)

Which of these resonate with you right now?

An Elementary Approach to Facing Conflict

I’ve seen a lot of conflict in my life. From parents and couples in my office for counseling to employment situations where two people can’t get along. I’ve even seen a fight in the grocery store because someone thought someone else cut line.

As an observer, I’ve learned a few things about facing conflict. Primarily, I’ve observed that the way one person responds often determines the way the other person responds. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

When you are backed into a corner and facing potential conflict you can come out fighting, or you can be smart about it, plan your response, and help turn the situation for good.

In fact, the secrets of facing the fire of conflict should be elementary.

Here are 3 steps when backed into a corner:

Stop

Stop and think. What is the best approach? What do you really want to accomplish? Based on that, how should you respond? The opening moments are always critical in any conflict. You can quickly back someone or yourself into a corner. Cornered people move into a self-protection mode, fail to react rationally, and the sense of what’s best is lost. It requires practice, but take adequate time to plan the best way to approach the other party. It may require you being silent when your prone to speak, but this one step often avoids much of the unnecessary and unproductive conflict. (As an example, Jesus took time to make a whip before driving the money changers out of the temple. John 2)

Drop

Drop the right to win. When you come into a potential fiery situation with a have-to-win attitude you cloud your ability to work for the best results. Self-centeredness always gets in the way of healthy conflict. Be humble and agree that you are going to do what is best, even if that means you don’t get your way. This doesn’t mean you give in to the other party, but the goal in conflict should not be to win personally, but to reach the best solution for everyone.

Roll

Roll out the best approach. I realize it takes two or more people to make this happen, but when one party is willing to do the first two it makes accomplishing the best so much more likely. Go into every potential conflict with a humble desire for the best solution to be accomplished.

Avoid an unnecessary fire. Don’t come out swinging.

Stop, drop and roll.

Be honest, how are you at holding your tongue when needed?

Start With You

When you’re having trouble communicating…

When you can’t get children to respond appropriately…

When your team isn’t cooperating…

When the marriage is struggling…

Before you address the problem with the other person…

Ask, “What’s wrong with me?”

First…

What in you needs changing?

In what ways are you contributing to the problem?

How could you communicate differently?

Before you address the problems with others…

Look inside yourself…

Obviously, as a child of God, we start with God, allow Him to examine our hearts and shape us into His image, but in my experience, we often we look at the other person first…and think it’s all about them. I think we have a responsibility to humbly consider our own shortcomings. Many times, if we will look at ourself, we’ll either find the problem or we’ll find a better way to address the problem.

Get to know the person in the mirror…

Before you criticize others…

Could this principle change the way you lead?

People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

It’s a simple principle – but oh so important to remember.

It’s a principle true in leadership and life.

People don’t know what they don’t know

It’s hard to hold an employee accountable for something they never knew.

You can’t expect your spouse to remember things you never told him or her.

It’s hard to be disappointed no one comforted you in your pain if they didn’t know you were hurting.

Your child can’t live up to a standard you never set.

People don’t know what they don’t know

If you want them to know -‘don’t assume they do -‘tell them.