2 Reasons I Won’t be Voting For Either Major Party Candidate

2 Reasons I Won’t be Voting For Either Major Party Candidate

Character character character… one major reason I will not be voting for either major party candidate.

Bottom line: I don’t trust either one of them any farther than I can throw them…

While I don’t care for either candidate and honestly I haven’t landed on who I’m voting for-of course as a matter of privilege and freedom-I will be voting, the following is my personal litmus test for any candidate of any elected office: pure leadership character.

And I will go on to site many examples from the Bible-yes, the Bible, on matters of character. Because regardless of whether you believe in it or not, it is one heck of a good truth, standard, measuring rod for all people-not just pastors and Christians.

And I would highlight just a couple of the following principles as a judge of leadership character. Not ultimate judgement. Not salvation. But leadership character-the heart and integrity of a man or woman.

  • Matthew 12:36, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgement day for every idle word you speak.”-from the mouth of Jesus. Bottom line is this: crazy stuff flies out of both of their mouths. Stuff that is far from becoming of a leader with high levels of character.

And both candidates fall short in the above just like I fall short in the above!

So that’s why it’s not the biggest reason…

Here is the reason: recently Trump was quoted in this Bloomberg article, “I had to put up with the anchor and fight the anchor all the time on everything I said,”  Trump said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. “What a rigged deal.”

Here are two principles:

1.You can either make excuses or you can make progress but you can’t make both 

This is ultimately an issue of taking ownership and responsibility. Great leaders, at any level of the organizational structure, say: “I am the throat to choke or the back to pat.”

And with how many businesses that trump has had a stake or partial stake in, I’m amazed that he’s gotten as far as he has with this type of mentality. But Hillary is no different. Take, for example, when things have gone real bad under her leadership within the State Department-I’m sure she wasn’t always the first to say, “yep, that was me, I take full responsibility.”

Great leaders don’t make excuses or post blame. They own.

They don’t even make excuses about things they can’t control, circumstantial or “atmospheric” conditions like tough economic times, change in consumer demand or even government regulations!

Great leaders find a way to win and a way to improve… day over day, week over week and quarter over quarter.

Whether it’s the current woes of a Wells Fargo, the next car manufacturing flub or really any group or organization led by some person, great leaders take it on the chin and get to work on progress, not excuses.

This leads us to point number 2…

2. Great leaders are repulsed by a victim mentality.
Here is the deal: all “politicians” or “businessmen” running for large offices of power seem to enjoy invoking and indeed preying on a sense of fear in people.
It’s a classic ploy… make people afraid or make people victims and suggest that you are the answer to their problems or their woes.
At the top level of any organization-government, private sector, church or non profit-ultimately the personality, character and make-up of the leader will spread to the rest of the organization.
It’s leadership contagion. (And it’s basic influence, by the way.)


Having said that, the way both of these candidates have pushed the agenda of the “victim” and appealed to this great sense in all of us is frightening to me.

Because that’s “very bad for the spirit of our country” within us all.

And how have they done this you may ask…

Well I tend to think anyone who says (or appeals to the sentiment in others), “we’ve been screwed… or we got a bad deal… or we deserve… or it’s someone else’s job to…”

All of the above represent someone to me who is A) falling prey to victim or fear mentality B) posting blame for their circumstance or general lot in life and/or C) focusing so much on the problem they forgot about what it means to be a part of the solution-not waiting or begging or yelling at someone to do it for them.

Perhaps the most profound issue I take with these folks-again who are running for the absolute highest level leadership position in the country-remember that’s what it is… its not the “best politician” or the “most successful businessman” its the absolute best leader.

The issue I have was said best by Don Miller-author, leader and marketing expert of Story Brand. He contends that all people are busy living a story. And, using the common movie narrative as a metaphor for life, he posed the challenging question: who would you rather be: the victim or the hero?

It begs the question: in our daily personal lives and at a national level: how have we settled for being the victims or the heroes of our very own stories?

1 Of the Biggest Lessons for My Fellow Millennials Out There

1 Of the Biggest Lessons for My Fellow Millennials Out There

A couple weeks ago I kept going back and forth in my head about whether I should give a slightly younger but fellow Millennial (the age range of 18 to 35 is so unhelpful!) co-worker a piece of constructive criticism.

I waffled a little bit on the matter because, well because two main things: A) when you care about someone you don’t want to jeopardize the relationship by telling them something hard and; B) for fear that you might come across as judgmental or condemning.

And I mention this not to digress, but to elucidate one of THEE MOST vital leadership lessons I’ve experienced this year, or any year really… and its this:

If you love and care for someone, you call them to something higher.

Okay, that was a bonus… back to the issue…

So basically this co-worker of mine got into a debate with some fellow staff at an “all-staff” meeting. The issue eventually came to consensus, but there was a moment there where he was literally pleading with the group, “how can I be wrong?! Surely, at the very least, the both of us (as there was one other person’s actions being debated) are wrong and I think we all can at least acknowledge that!”

Though my friend and coworker was totally validated in his view of the situation, what I sought to encourage him on was a point about perception…

You may have heard the oft-quoted phrase, ‘perception is reality’… I both love and hate this claim. I love it because I see the truth in it and I often enjoy deploying that truth. I hate it because it tends to completely obliterate objectivity at the expense of ‘well it’s how I saw it!’

What happened with my friend confirmed a feeling about Millennials everywhere. It seems like we just have to be right… like we know best… in other words, like we have nothing to learn.
You see one of our biggest failings as a generation is this insatiable need to be considered correct, praised, worthy and respected… before we’ve truly earned it.

And here is the #1 big idea: 

If you’re always trying to be right, you’re not proving that you’re a learner (what I would argue is one of the most desirable characteristics of  millennial employees… or any employee for that matter).

As young (yes, its okay when they call you “young”!) employees we’ve got to stop trying to win every debate and prove that we are learners instead. Because if you can admit that you’re wrong, you can prove and project that you’re teachable. And bosses, employers and organizations everywhere LOVE teachable people!

How he was acting, how we have ALL acted-give off the perception in these small yet consistent interpersonal staff moments that we have it all figured out and we will let you know when we need further input. And this is a HUGE teachable moment for, I believe, professional Millennials everywhere.

When I finally approached my co-worker and friend, we eventually got to the heart of the matter which is ultimately one of attitude and maturity. As Millennial leaders, we must lay down the fight to be right. At least if we care at all about being given more responsibility and rising in the ranks of our leadership and organizations.

One pastor in our area is fond of saying, “you don’t even know what you don’t know…” Another nationally renowned pastor, Craig Groeschel, implores young leaders: “find someone who gives you the gift of disorientation”

So two questions that you MUST ask, if you care whatsoever about growth:

Do you have someone in your life who can give you that which you are lacking in knowledge or understanding? (That you didn’t even know you were lacking!)

When (and by who) was the last time someone gave you the “gift of disorientation?” (By causing you to think about things that are 5, 6 and 7 steps ahead of where you were!)

6 Things I learned From A Recent Staff Off-site

6 Things I learned From A Recent Staff Off-site

Recently we had a 3-day staff retreat that frankly I was honored and excited to be a part of.

I feel like anytime you are invited to participate in something where other really good leaders will also be, it’as reason for a sense of honor and anticipation.

I guess some people wouldn’t find it such a thrill…? Because it takes away from our normal work load or it means time away from family or you just think: ‘what’s really the point/benefit of these things anyway?’

If any of those have ever described you in the past, once again I would suggest that perhaps you’re missing an opportunity for influence, impact and ignition in at least 3 major ways.

(Keep in mind, that, after 3 days with these amazing people-this is a highly condensed list of my leadership learnings.)

  1. Great leaders understand that metrics (or data) may drive us forward, but stories keep us alive

Any organization worth its salt KNOWS it simply must make strong use of data, metrics, information to actually see if goals, progress and mission are being actualized! It’s so very basic and yet so very hard (to commit to using metrics wisely).

However, if it’s only ever data, structures and systems alone, your people and your organization will soon be in the tank. One reason is that you may have highly underrated powerful stories or testimonials about why your product or service really makes a difference in the world.

The short and sweet truth is: people will forget all your charts, data-points and Powerpoint presentations. But they will never forget one image, one name, one story of life change.

2. Great leaders refuse the urge to descend into details

Basically it’s this: the forest through the trees… the forest through the trees… the forest through the trees. If all we ever do is talk about and devote ourselves to ground-level tactical details in our day to day, we will NEVER go anywhere!

The real challenge for leaders and organizations is to create some serious pause in the day to day grind and intentionally work in some future-based, high-level vision time, which brings me to #3

3. Great leaders are bold enough to pause and rebuild

While at the retreat my boss mentioned that great organizations change or evolve anywhere from 8-18 months. And this makes sense that truly nimble and growing organizations would have the fortitude to introduce change often in order to stay with the times-growing and flexing with individuals and communities as we gradually morph over time.

The problem is: most people don’t have the patience, will, vision or passion to stop everything (and stop everything for 11 other staff people!), get out of town and get it right.

When the organization or the organization’s values requires tweaking, do the bold thing and get out of town.

4. Great leaders go slow to go fast

Bottom line is this: if you speed people through things ESPECIALLY new organizational culture, values or structures without creating incredible buy-in, without celebrating and reflecting on what was and without making sure “the big WHY” is absolutely crystal clear, then you won’t go as far or as fast as you could otherwise.

5. Great leaders pull

Meaning instead of push, direct, tell (as the one authoritarian in the room)-even if you are the only CEO in the room. Great leaders realizing that the collective capital and contribution of a room far exceeds that of a single, unilateral leader-no matter how gifted that senior lead may be.

Otherwise, why else create, develop or invite a team to the off-site to begin with!

6. Great leaders defy circumstantial climates by “leading people to…”

It’s one of my absolute favorite learnings from the past year and I can hardly take credit for it, but it comes from @craiggroeschel. In his leadership podcast, he guides the audience through one very important mantra.

We can no longer say, “our people won’t.” Whether that be our customers or staff, we will not allow ourselves to use circumstances or current trends or down markets to determine where we can “lead our people to.”

It’s a mantra that is fundamentally about putting the ownership and onus on the leader. And it’s really best explained by another direct quote of his, “you can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.”

Turning 30 and 3 things Every Leadership Blog Should Have

Turning 30 and 3 things Every Leadership Blog Should Have

This summer I turned 30. I told people that for the first half of the year (my 29th year), I went through the typical identity crisis issues. You know… “who am I?… what am I doing?… where am I going?… what have I really accomplished?… how many things on my bucket list have I gotten even remotely close to crossing off?”

And it’s that last one that motivates the creation of this blog. Because for years now I’ve been that really annoying person who, when asked: what are your dreams or aspirations, always quips, “yeah I’d like to write a book some day…” (emphasis on the ellipsis).

And its annoying because the person (in this case, me) never does anything about it. Well I really would like to write and publish a written work and it seems pretty straight forward that if you’d like to write a book, one must first become a disciplined writer…. You could call this the ancillary purpose for starting this blog.

This conversation about writing a book brings me to the first real purpose for this blog and an attribute I believe every blog should have, and thats influence. I’ve always thought that writing a book requires a certain level of pretentiousness, narcissism or need for self-advancement. Degrees of all of those I willingly confess.

However, just because we’re flawed, often nearsighted and self-absorbed does not preclude the need and indeed commitment for a bigger purpose or mission. It is my firm belief in a bigger mission that brings me to writing, the desired outcome of which is to stimulate influence!

Another word that could easily replace the way I’m using is it would be: leadership. You see every single person in the world is a natural born leader. Whether it’s merely leading themselves; so-called “self-leadership” (as popularized by one of my favorites Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor of Willow Creek Church, IL), whether its leading others below or above you as boss, employee, husband, wife, mother and father…

The simple fact is: no matter who you are, you have leadership responsibility and you have someone for whom your words are big in their ears. If I can help someone, ANYONE, realize and maximize their influence then I’m game.

The 2nd thing I think all blogs should possess is a motivation for emotionally moving others. Another way I would say that is: to ignite passion in all people.

Over this past summer we did a teaching series for students about purpose. After sitting with a group of about a dozen high school seniors (about to graduate) I sensed from all of them a deep sense of “I don’t know who I am or where I’m going or what I’ll be when I grow up” mentality.

We’ve all been there.

But from my lunch with graduating seniors a teaching series was birthed on the topic of purpose. I wanted to remind students that should they ever be stuck in that same position that there were a few “if/then” statements that they could use to definitively answer the question of “what’s my purpose in life.”

So, for example, “IF you have a passion, THEN you have a purpose; IF you have a strength, THEN you have a purpose; IF you have a story, THEN you have a purpose and so on and so forth filling out the summer schedule.

I found myself sharing with the students one night that I literally never had a firm grip on what my really central 1-3 strengths, talents, gifts were until long after college. And the main reason I finally figured it out was because I connected the dots about what people would consistently say about me.

In middle school it was the “Mr. Hustle Award” from Coach Imus the PE teacher; then it was leading music in High School and it was constant reminders of people saying, “boy you have a lot of energy” or “man, you energize me.”

And then, one day, I left one church to go work for another in the same city (more on that later) and as a parting gift the staff gave me a plaque of what they saw were my top 3 strengths. 

The plaque read: “passionate; contagious leader; energetic.” Regardless of the word choice all these people, coaches, friends, bosses, fellow pastors and volunteers, they were all saying the same thing: “you are naturally filled with passion and energy… and… that ignites and inspires something in me.”

But it wasn’t really until this last year (my 29th) that the idea of truly owning this natural, inbred propensity toward passion began to crystalize. I started thinking to myself before any and every speaking engagement or meeting: ‘this could be your very last encounter with this person or this crowd, you had better absolutely lay it all on the line like you’re gonna be gone tomorrow.’

I figured: anything worth doing is worth going absolutely all out on. Giving anything less is a God-given waste of time and talent.

I say again, if I can inspire even a single one of you toward leading more passionate lives, then I’m game.

The final, and perhaps most important, purpose for this blog is: impact. There is a pastor, author, leader named Andy Stanley (Northpoint Church, Atlanta) who once wrote a book on preaching called, “communicating for a change.” In this timeless piece, he lays out all the different goals for why preachers might preach.

Some might just cover every book of the Bible from cover to cover throughout the year and at the end of the year those folks might have a better understanding of God’s word, and that’s great. Some might use 5 points in every message they preach and people might remember all 5, odds are they won’t remember a single one.

Eventually Stanley gets to the thrust of the book, which is the one and only reason for communicating can only be: communicating for life change.

That is, after all, the business we are in as pastors… leaders… people. So while I understand communicating from the pulpit is a heck of a lot different than a bottom shelf blog, I believe that the common denominator in ANY form of communication just simply must be: life impact.

And by that I simply mean that you, the reader’s, life gets changed for the better and if that were to happen even in a microscopic, incremental, daily way then, once again, I’m game.