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?

God is not afraid to make you wait…

One verse I’ve learned by experience:

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18

Are you waiting for God to answer? Don’t be surprised if He makes you wait. He’s not being silent without reason. He’s not withholding an answer without purpose. God is working His plan. He’s never late and never early.

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Are you currently waiting for God to move? Can I (and my readers) pray with you in that situation?

4 Things I Need from a Mentor

I am a fan of the term mentoring. I have been and had a mentor for over 25 years and can honestly say mentors have helped make my life better.

I’ve written several posts on mentoring previously:

The Mentor Recruiter

5 Types of Mentors

How do I find a mentor?

Why I (You) Need a Mentor

5 Questions to Help You Know What to do with a Mentor

One question about mentoring I am consistently asked is, “What should a mentor do?” That’s an obvious question. What do you do when you have been asked to be a mentor or you decide to intentionally recruit someone to mentor you? What role should the mentor play in the mentee’s life?

Well, I don’t believe the point of a mentor is to script another person’s life. That’s not what I’ve ever wanted from my mentors or what I’ve attempted to do with those I mentor. I can’t share everything you may need in a mentor, but I can share what I have sought in one.

Here are 4 things I want in a mentor:

Help shape my path – Mentors have been used to help me make life altering decisions. Whether it was with career choices, marriage issues or character development, I need a mentor to help me make the major decisions in my life.

Allow me to learn from their experiences – Mentors have shared the good and bad elements of their life which has helped protect me from needless pain and guide me to better results. This is why I generally prefer mentors a generation ahead of me.

Help me me meet my goals – In business and in ministry, mentors have taught me valuable insights, discover paradigms, built principles into my life, which have helped me to be more successful in the things I hope to achieve.

Challenge me – Mentors have been there to encourage me to improve my life in areas of struggle, moments of fear, or in a resistance towards needed change. Mentors give an objective, but caring outside perspective that often gives me the nudge to do what I need to do.

My life wouldn’t be the same without the mentors in my life. Who have been some of the mentors in your life?

What else would you want from a mentor?

I like history, but…

I like history and think we can and should learn from it…

But…

I want my best energy focused on where I’m going, not where I’ve been…

On things I can change, not on things I can’t…

Towards issues of faith, more than issues that have been forgiven…

On the tree I’m planting more than the one that fell…

Building new dreams more than dwelling on regrets…

What about you?

Are you spending more time dwelling on the past or working towards a brighter future?

Be honest.

Playing it Safe…Not My Style

I’m 48 years old. I’m just old enough to have wisdom about a few things I should and shouldn’t do, but not yet old enough to always follow my own wisdom. Recently I observed a characteristic in me that I hope is not permanent.

We recently moved to a downtown condo. I wrote about why we did that HERE. The condo sits on a hill, overlooking the river district of our community. We love the view, but it presents a problem on windy days. We have to weatherize our front porch every time we suspect a storm, turning over the furniture and making sure everything is secure.

On one recent night, Cheryl heard the wind picking up and asked if we should prepare the porch. That really meant I should get up and prepare the porch, but I love the gentle way she “suggests” such things. :) Getting up at 1:30 AM to step onto my front porch in my boxers has never been my idea of fun, but I do like a happy wife, so I headed out to do my job. When I got back into bed she thanked me to which I replied:

“Better safe than sorry.”

Instantly the thought occurred to me. I would have never used that phrase a few years ago. “Better safe than sorry” has never appealed to me before. Sounds like something my mother would have said to me. I like risk-taking. I embrace change. I run to things others say can’t be done or aren’t willing to try. I’ve made a commitment to walk by faith.

I’m scared of “better safe than sorry”. What happened to me? Am I that old? :)

Here’s my plan to counter my recent tendency to lean to the comfortable side of life:

I own a couple Groupons for skydiving. My oldest son and I have wanted to do this for several years. It’s a risk worth taking I think, especially in light of my recent playing it safe tendency.

I think very soon I’ll go jump out of a “perfectly good plane”.

I must. I can’t stand the thought of resting on the safe side.

What’s the purpose of this post?
Well, if God is calling you to something bigger than your ability to understand…

Don’t play it safe! Play it by faith!

Be honest: Are you more likely to prefer a risk or the safe side?

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?

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Personal Progress

This week every year, I review my personal progress for the year. Would you like to play along?

Here are some examples of questions I ask myself:

  • What did I do that worked well?
  • What did I attempt that didn’t work?
  • Did I meet my goals?
  • What could I do better with a little tweaking?
  • What should I stop doing so I can do other things?
  • Where is my time most being wasted?
  • What discipline do I most need to implement into my day?
  • What was my most memorable moment?
  • What drains my energy just to think about doing again?
  • What changes do I need to make?

Are you playing?

Here’s to a great 2012!

How to Guarantee Success in the New Year

The Lord said to Abram:

Go out from your land,

your relatives,

and your father’s house

to the land that I will show you.

I will make you into a great nation,

I will bless you,

I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

I will curse those who treat you with contempt,

and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Genesis 12:1-3 (Emphasis mine)

The secret, for lack of a better word, for Abraham’s success, was moving from his will to God’s will. When the “you” comes after the “I” rather than before, we’ll guarantee our success.

If you and I want the new year to be a success, let’s:

  • Drop our agenda…join His agenda
  • Get off our path…get on His path
  • Release our ambitions…embrace His ambitions
  • Ignore my will…live His will

Are you ready for a great new year?