Episode 11 (Part 1 & 2), The AWP: Growth Through Tough Things Featuring Bill Applebee

Episode 11 (Part 1 & 2), The AWP: Growth Through Tough Things Featuring Bill Applebee

Today, I welcome my dad to the show, Founder and CEO of Best Overnite Express, Bill Applebee and we’re talking about growth trough tough things.

Over 30 years of business and marriage and raising 4 kids he has faced numerous battles from economic crisis to health crisis and beyond.

We talk about facing the battles in life with a growth mindset that will better help you move to accept the tough things in your life.

The outlook of the episode is not just acceptance but growth and flourishing through a tough season or moment.

As in other shows, I used Paul David’s Tripp’s Parenting book for reference in this week’s parenting pro tip; you can us this link for his wonderful book.

Here is the mp4 link-PART 1.

Here is the mp4 link-PART 2

Here is the link for iTunes.

Here are some questions to consider after listening:

Application:
1. What is your response to tough things; indifference or acceptance?
2. Ask and answer the question why is this really happening to me?
3. Pause and consider how this circumstance may be an opportunity for growth.

Closing The Loop (1 Habit of The Most Focused Top Performers)

Closing The Loop (1 Habit of The Most Focused Top Performers)

It’s time for another MEGA-learning from the sheer gold vault of lessons, modules and learnings of my former supervisor…

Have you ever had SO MUCH going on at work or at home that you seem to riffle through one issue to the next, but never really gaining resolution?

Do you feel like someone on your team (family or work) is just an idea, program, initiative MACHINE, but you’re left wondering: ‘who was supposed to keep track of those?!” and “where are we at on that deal anyway?!”

Here’s a simple one: did you ever wonder why your training or resourcing event didn’t have the impact or traction that you desired?

I believe the answer lies within 3 simple words:

Close. The. Loop.

Well simply said, not always simply done…

I would define closing the loop like this:

Def. intentionally revisiting anything you start, until you’ve brought it to a finish.

This could be any idea, request, action item, program or initiative. Check in and continue to do so until you have reached agreed-upon resolution or success. 

The most simple illustration is this:

Last year I proposed a team goal of walking my people through a hospitality training.

It was your basic format where I had each team member read some case study material in advance then I would go around 1:1 with each person and walk them through an agenda of bullet point principles.

You see I actually thought my job was done at that point… you know, like “well I did the training, had 100% attendance and got the content out there so everyone must be ‘trained’ now, right?”

Here was the simple brilliance of what my supervisor encouraged me to do next…

He said what you should do now is go around 2-3 weeks later and first watch each one of those team members in action and see if they are actually implementing the new theories and techniques.

Watch them and ask them: how are you applying the material that we covered almost a month ago now.

That was closing the loop: do the training, check back in on the training. (Otherwise what was the point of the training?)

And that is the first principle of what closing the loop is all about

#1 Closing the loop essentially asks the question: “so what?”

You see, it’s not good enough to simply be a great idea man. The logic is totally intuitive: we all know that great visionaries and idea people would be nowhere without the doers and systems thinkers to enact these great ideas.

So in essence, the art and discipline of asking “so what?” “what’s next” is your accountability structure for testing outcomes and effectiveness. That brings us to point #2…

#2 Closing the loop means having someone consistent and focused enough to constantly ask that question.

If you aren’t that person, if you can’t perform this, what I’ll call “adapted discipline,” early or often enough then maybe this is your next hire, maybe this is your next volunteer recruit.

Because I’m convinced that team members who operate this way are absolutely the top performers in every organizational level… any organization, at least, that cares about actually working their mission and vision through their strategy into a reality.

And I introduce the idea of adapted style because probably not just anybody can do this well forever.

It has to be within someone’s “natural” style of leadership. Hence the sense of urgency you may need if you don’t already have this strength available on your team.

#3 Closing the loop is fundamentally about execution and implementation

If you feel forever stuck in the ideation stage, the brainstorm session, the dream cycle it’s not long before you realize how badly you need this way of thinking to positively infect your culture and DNA.

Ideas, programs and strategies never moved to implementation (which requires constant reassessment) are just that: sweet dreams. But closing the loop is not merely about doing, it has a built-in review gene…

#4 Closing the loop serves as a constant barometer for success, efficacy and effectiveness

Everyone wants to make progress, but few people know how to measure it.

Fewer still have the time or money to hire outside consultants to conduct, compile and analyze the data that will explain progress.

So here is your simple and free skill: the quickest measure for success is to build constant loop-closing opportunities and questions into the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly fabric of your organization.

Back to my illustration above: how did the training go? I don’t know, let’s go around and find out. I didn’t have to compile massive amount of numbers or data, I simply had to go ask and watch. Ask the team members what they were using and watch them in action.

#5 Closing the loop people are note-takers and note-takers are history-makers

That’s what we used to say to our teenagers at church: “note-takers are history-makers.”

The truth is: even the simple practice of writing or typing notes for something that is communicated to you is a quick and small way of closing the loop. How?

Because it’s is proven that when you are learning through listening (auditory style) and you connect that to moving your body or hands (kinesthetic style) to connect what’s going in your ears, you have a better shot at retention, growth and learning!

Well the same is true in your organizational leadership: you must have someone who is tracking the status from ideation>implementation and implementation>review.

Let me put it more plainly: no one can remember everything, so write it down, write it down and later on revisit by closing the loop.


I am a part of a small resource-lean organization that is entering a season of fairly massive rediscovery.

If we hope to see any traction in our renewed structures, we have no choice but to excel at closing the loop.

Here’s the reality: for you this tool may not be about winning, it might, literally, be about surviving.

I use the word focus in the title for a reason; if you don’t begin the disciplined process of staying focused by closing the loop, your job and your organization may not be around tomorrow.

Maybe you feel this same way; I suggest starting small: start taking notes to track progress and start asking the question: “so what?” You may not look or feel smart doing that now but over time it will reap a harvest. (Galatians 6:9)

I Ran a Marathon, So Here’s What I Learned

I Ran a Marathon, So Here’s What I Learned

This may be some of the most important writing I’ve ever put down, let me just start that way.

A couple of weeks ago now I ran my first full marathon-it was a terrible and tremendous experience that I am still a little “mental” about even now weeks later, but I thought I would share my takeaways with you.

I do firmly believe that these learnings will serve you all he days of your life in an incredibly profound way. In your leadership, in your relationships, in your darkest hour, the following 5 takeaways will mark you if you take them to heart.

What I want you to understand about what follows it’s that everything I’ve written below is as true for life as it was for the marathon. I’ll say again: it’s as true for YOUR LIFE, as it was for me in this marathon experience.


  • As much as I try to get around it, chose the right attitude about it, I simply can’t deny the fact that I’m resenting myself for not committing to my goals…

I had two goals going into the race: 1, to not take any walking breaks and 2, to finish by 4 hours. I failed to see either of those goals through.

As of now, I won’t ever run that race again and so that was my chance. There’s a lesson here about going for broke because there’s “no looking back”-that’s the mentality I should have had on the last 3 miles of the race.

Literally that’s where I fell apart, that’s where I walked the most, that’s where I picked up the extra 8 minutes-finishing 4:08:59 officially… I feel like I will be forever staring down those extra 9 minutes.

So here’s the 1st principle:

Honor your commitments so you don’t have to ever look back.

  • It hurts but I wasn’t hurt.

As a runner in this type of game, at least in my mind, I was expecting some kind of injury toward the end, just one misstep that would have me really really uncomfortable-like beyond the normal stiffness-and this would be the true mental battle of finishing well or finishing at all.

An injury like something pulled, something popped, something even chaffed badly enough to forge through.

The truth was far less complicated than that: yes, I was sore and stiff, but I was not injured in any way. My discomfort was marginal.

I walked simply because I didn’t want to run anymore. I just wanted to stop. I was having almost a toddler tantrum. That day I learned something very serious about my mental toughness.

You are tougher than you think. You are tougher than even you body tells you or your circumstance tells you or whatever input you’re being given; don’t always buy the input or at least question where the input is coming from.

  • You can’t do this thing alone.

I knew that I would want some people to come out and support at some basic, self-deprecating level, but I grossly underestimated my fundamental emotional need for moral support that day.

In addition to the $100 entry fees, I would have paid people to be at several strategic locations to cheer me on and give me that emotional boost. And I would have been counting on them.

Actually I would have liked to be surprised by some and counting still on others. At a marathon, at really most any organized race, there is this fabulous league of volunteers who hold out mini water and Gatorade cups and they cheer and hoot and holler and it’s pretty cool.

And then you even have your fellow runner standing next to you (perhaps the few unlike me with headphones buried in their ears), which brings a certain emotional solidarity and camaraderie-and seriously even this one can’t be underrated because when you’re pacing, you stay around some familiar faces for quite a time.

But still I needed more. And that’s what I realized about myself… I desperately needed people to be there…

…at mile 19 right before “the wall” and then truthfully at the middle of every mile till the end of the race… mile 22, mile 23, miles 24 through 26 and don’t forget the .2

You can’t do this race alone.

  • Expectations are not reality. If I could somehow insert an audio loop of that phrase repeating over and over again in your head right now, whilst simultaneously getting louder and louder each time, I would.

I ran and I trained and I sweat and I prepped and I practiced-mentally and physically! I told myself all the things I would need to know, I trained really as much as I could, but nothing prepared me for the unexpected turns, distances and feelings that lied ahead.

Why? Because by and large expectations-good, bad or otherwise-will never match reality. So what’s the positive learning?

Always expect the unexpected. 

  • Find a mantra and like a psycho repeat it to yourself (out loud if you’re able). 

Talking to myself, out loud, with headphones in was literally the only thing that made me cross that finish line at a “run” rather than a walk (which to me was the image of actual failure-to pass the finish line walking).

Something remarkable did happen because of the person running next to me, I was walking and this guy about my size and stamina was jogging but just this slow and steady pace, so slow it was barely above my walk and I thought to myself, ‘maybe I should try that’… And so I did.

Mind you I had already totally caved on whatever “pace” I was aiming at before so whatever level I was attempting before this point was already near a crawl, but there was something about this guy’s slow and steady march that I decided to try it on.

And then for no reason at all I just start repeating to myself out loud:

‘just stay right here… just stay right here… just stay right here…’

I’m just telling you folks: this was the moment… this was the emotional (spiritual) breakthrough for me.

This was the moment when my entire life would be served by this one lesson. I said to myself, ‘slow and steady, just small short little steps, just keep trotting, that’s it, that’s it…’

In that moment I was coaching myself, in that moment I was the encouragement, in that moment I was two people: the one running and the one talking to the runner.

My biggest regret is that literally this second person didn’t come out earlier, just 2 miles earlier even and then who knows what happens to my finish time goal. But that’s still not the point, the point is the life lesson:

There is immense power in the mantra, with some positive self talk you can do almost anything. 

One week later and I’m still having a hard time thinking about the race because I did not meet my goals. However, there are pride points too…

I finished just in time to make an appearance 30 minutes later at my new church job. 3 days later it was my 9-year anniversary, a reminder really of what that marriage has produced… FIVE KIDS!

And to have trained and finished a race at this point in my life was actually the whole purpose to begin with.

And then someone said something to me recently that shook me to the core that hopefully gives you equal pause: my unmet goals were still within the plan of a totally sovereign God so dwell on that instead.

I think my ultimate realization is this:

In life, in leadership, in work, you can have an unmet goal and still achieve your purpose, but it’s critical to keep the bigger learning and mission in mind.

Please repost and share if you think there’s someone who needs to read this, thanks!

Reps…

Reps…

It’s funny how we hunger and strive and long for a change in our lives. Whether it’s behaviors or attitudes or habits (breaking old ones or forming new ones), we can want or desire these things to take place, to see outcomes and results but what are we REALLY willing to begin DOING in order to witness some of those changes…???

After pondering this question for weeks now, I’ve concluded it’s all about getting some reps (as in repetitions, as in practice, as in doing something over and over repeatedly with methodical intentionality).

And here’s my thesis: it’s all about the contagious nature of that first step. That’s what I’m arguing. In the sea of new years resolution (goals, habits, disciplines) posts, this is where I’m staking my claim. 

My argument within this spectrum of conversation is this: to excel in something (or to outright change wrong behavior) you have to sample something first and then repeatedly after that and you WILL experience growth. 

In other words, and at the expense of sounding completely unoriginal, you have to begin practicing. And my argument is that once you do finally begin, once you try this different or new way of doing something, you will grow that aptitude, that competence, that ability or muscle. 

Here’s a short list of the things in my life I’d like to change, stop, or affect in some way:

  • Language… my words. Whether it be course language-cussing, innuendo (jokes) or even speaking more slowly
  • Anger… my temper. I’d like to get down on one knee and whisper at eye level with my toddlers rather than raise my voice, kicking and screaming in my own way (a literal adult tantrum if you think about it)
  • I’d also like to run a marathon, by the way, and as it turns out I’m signed up to do just that in about 4 months!
  • I’d like to practice more memorization (the Bible, poetry, public speaking)
  • I’d like to master a second language
  • And I’d like to learn how to use my voice (i.e. voice lessons for proper speaking and singing.)

And I’ve read blogs and I’ve researched and I’ve prayed and I’ve tried the little tricks and ticks (like wearing a rubber band and smacking it against your wrist when you cuss) and I think they’re really just gimmicks.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only real way to see progress is to get reps… TO PRACTICE!

I’ll give you two of the most immediate analogies that I see often: health and spirituality. 

The health one is easy: people want to look a certain way, feel a certain way or perform a certain way, but they prefer waking up one day and just arriving at that place. That is, unfortunately, not the world we live in. 

The thing with faith is just as unlikely. People claim, ‘I want a strong, confident faith and/or relationship with God’ but whether they are willing to commit to certain practices to get there is less certain. You don’t just wake up a fully formed foot soldier for Jesus. You intentionally commit yourself to the personal practices of prayer, scripture reading, meditation, acts of service, the list goes on and on. 

We are not magically transported to outcomes, we cannot skip steps.

What I do recommend we commit ourselves to is this though:

  • Start now
  • Start small
  • Start strategic

As you can see from my list above, this whole thing goes WAYYY beyond the basic diet and fitness realm. Getting reps is about every single little hope, goal or increment of change we would like to see in our lives. From augmenting old behavior to creating a completely new skill. The most obvious wisdom is that we merely have to start somewhere and begin to methodically practice.

So actually, more helpful than state the obvious, maybe we should talk about why we don’t just up and start practicing something one day.

Maybe we need to talk about the roadblocks of these dreams becoming realities.

One of my biggest influences within this conversation is James Clear, check out his website, newsletter and this post for some of his best notes on roadblocks.

But here are some of the major themes that I’ve read from him and others on roadblocks and goal failures:

  • no accountability
  • no readjustments/course-corrections
  • no connection to lifestyle change (e.g. goal: to run a marathon VS. goal: to build the lifelong habit of physical exercise)
  • not starting small enough
  • no plan, system or strategy
  • not enjoyable

This short list LITERALLY SUMS UP THE MAJORITY OF REASONS WHY WE FAIL. I would be willing to bet that we are within 99% of the most common denominators for us all.

This list sums up why we fail. But who has the answer on why we don’t start? That’s what I’m pushing in this article. I firmly believe that for something new to be formed inside you, it requires getting reps. So my one big idea is to get more reps this year and here’s how:

Start Now

It’s so basic but bears repeating: you cannot take on something new if you never start. I literally cannot emphasize this first, most basic, step enough. It’s like taking a food sample at the market-how can you know you like something, something sits well with you, something can grow on you until you try it. JUST TRY IT OUT! 

When you go once, that first step will be a contagious seed for trying more, going again, doing it right over and over again.

Start Small

You can see from the roadblocks list that this is one of the biggest inroads for failure, but when you start, it has to be bite sized pieces. I’m talking like:
Day one: put running shoes on and walk outside.
Day two: walk to the end of the street.
Day three: jog around the block.

One of my absolute all-time favorite idioms is K.I.S.S. (keep it stupid simple). It applies in so many areas of life and organizations and it applies here. If you want to see outcomes, keep it simple. 

Start Strategic

You gotta keep it simple but you also gotta keep it consistent. That’s where strategy or systems comes into place. 

This is where the James Clear stuff becomes so handy because he’s a big “systems” fan (I know, you’re not-that’s okay! It’s not a dirty word, trust me!). What he means by it is that you must forego goals for systems because goals are short-term and limit happiness whereas systems are lifelong and actually produce results. 

Do you have an attitude or behavior in which you’d like to see major change?

Do you have new habits or aspirations for adding to your repertoire? What are they and what are you willing to do, TODAY, to see some movement?

What have you seen work in forming new habits (or breaking old ones)?

 

“Recovery” (And 7 Things that we ALL Can Learn From The 12-Steps)

“Recovery” (And 7 Things that we ALL Can Learn From The 12-Steps)

At the church where I belong and work we have arguably one of the largest faith-based recovery group in the country…

On average over 300 people come to “Lifelines” every week on Fridays for what, those familiar with the 12-steps, would call a “meeting.”

Partially this is because our city, Costa Mesa, is one of the national capitols for group homes, recovery organizations, sober living institutes and treatment centers. 

It’s also because our church (and our Lifelines Director!) have done an incredible job of welcoming people and developing people who are looking to turn their lives around. 

But my point is not to toot our own horn here. My point is to speak about recovery from a general learning stance and how I firmly believe the 12-steps are a necessary work for every person, definitely every leader. 

And rather than unpack all 12 steps, there is one that I wish to focus on… step #4:

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I find myself utterly fixated on the beauty and power of this statement. I love this statement and the potential that working the 12-steps carries for several reasons… I figure I will just list them and let you decide:

  1. First, I just like the word… recovery. It suggests something about our mutual state. That truly all of us from birth are in the midst of recovering from a harsh entry and ensuing reality. Whether you were raised in a perfect cookie-cutter home or your life was total chaos-everyone’s in it… just very few admit it.
  2. After having met dozens of people in recovery, those working the steps, I am convinced that they are literally a cut above the average person-BECAUSE they have agreed to undergo this process. Now whether they fail or succeed-I don’t know. But I don’t care… because how many of you would say yes to that step listed up there?!
  3. I love all the steps and the process as a whole because it means asking questions and processing things that the average person could go their whole lives and never grow through. One could just sit at work, staring at a computer screen everyday for 8 hours for the rest of your life and never change, grow, evolve. 
  4. The steps are not about “SELF-improvement”… the program places chief emphasis on two big ideas: 1, a higher power and; 2, community. The first step is declaring powerlessness, the second?… It’s that someone else has the power (i.e. God). And the program takes special utilization of the word “we”… why? Because the founders new the power of accountability and fellowship in the face of foolish isolation. 
  5. I love people who have agreed to treatment and the 12-steps because they have submitted: “I have a problem and I want to get better.” In short, these people are honest. I just think so few of the rest of us would dare to be so bold. Yeah, so you’re not addicted to booze or heroin-so what. What about that anger problem… that passive aggressive streak… that fear… that anxiety… that unresolved issue… are you even a little bit interested in how you got there and how you might change or learn from it?!
  6. Now on to this particular step. I love it because it’s ruthless. It says: ‘rip through me… the moments, the memories, the scars, wounds and brokenness… so I might wake up to the realities around me’
  7. In step #4 you’re literally supposed to take an event or circumstance then break it down into: effects; feelings and finally; self-examination. GOD, HOW PAINFUL IS THAT?! I mean how many of us seriously and completely ever even go down that road?!

If you’ve ever thought: “man, maybe I need therapy or counseling” then look no further than the the 12-steps. All you need is a book and a mentor/someone to facilitate (and they do NOT have to be a paid professional-that’s the beauty). 

I’ve said it before, but one of the things I believe that makes a truly great leader is self-awareness… the 12 steps is merely a tool to take that point to a whole other brutal level. 

It is a brutal experiment but it’s a WORTHY brutal experiment because it leads to growth. And growth leads to new life. 

That’s the beauty of self-awareness: it’s honest, introspective, surgical BUT doesn’t end there. All of that should lead to decisions, action and progress. 

I’ll put it to you like this: if you’re a leader and you haven’t committed to this discipline either daily in a small way or generally in a systematic way then you’ve skipped one of the great and mandatory “passages” of leadership. AND you will never fully reach your potential NOR can the organizations/people you lead until you do. 

To use one of the MANY great AA credos I’ve heard over the years, “you can save face or save your ass.” In other words: you can keep faking it, remaining “surface level” or you can change and grow. 

What will you chose to do… today, in your relationships… your workplace… your family… your cringe-worthy habits…?

The Other Woman (and 2 Things I Love About Her)

The Other Woman (and 2 Things I Love About Her)

There’s this woman that I’ve read about 2 or 3 times now and I find her story so completely moving that it nearly brings me to tears every time.

I love and respect this woman (who, as you’ll see in a moment, is not my wife).

I find myself moved and convicted by her story.

I learn a very many leadership lessons from this woman.

She is, in fact, the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with fine perfume in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7. You can find the story of this woman-who is simply referred to as “a certain immoral woman” (NLT version of the Bible)-in verse 36.

The story goes something like this: Jesus is invited to dinner with some religious folks. You see while these are the type that Jesus quarrels with the most, I do believe that it is because they are actually some of the ones who are closest to Jesus in terms of their belief and yet somehow furthest from Jesus because of how they practice their belief.

Anyway, the point is: Jesus will break bread with pretty much anybody. They are having their meal when in walks this woman.

Just for the sake of capturing a real picture, imagine a modern day woman in her late 30s or early 40s in garb that looks a little tattered from living on the street, hair disheveled, generally dirty and perhaps a little “off”-in personality or general mental state.

She walks in. Makes a B-line for Jesus. She doesn’t go for this big embrace. She doesn’t try and sit next to him. She doesn’t even ask him a hundred questions.

On this day she has one objective and one target… Jesus’ feet.

She, a certain immoral woman, proceeds to lavish Jesus’ feet with 3 things:

Tears. Kisses. And fine perfume.

Now this, for many reasons, leaves the religious elite around the room and table pretty incredulous-for lots of reasons, but mainly because the woman is thought to be “unclean” and the religious elite of Jesus’ time were pretty “anti-unclean” to say the least. But that’s a different story.

There are two things that strike me every time I read this story.

There are two things that move me nearly to tears every time I read this story.

And these are the two reasons why I simply love this woman, want to be like this woman.

  1. She has a remarkably keen sense of self-awareness.

What I love about this woman is that she is so hopelessly and completely self-aware!

She knows her weaknesses, her shortcomings and here history of unwise decisions, you don’t have to tell her… you don’t even have to judge her… her inner judge is doing a fine job. In fact, its probably in overdrive at the moment because she feels that the only place that she is welcome and worthy is at the feet of Jesus. (His feet were probably disgusting by the way-wearing sandals in the desert-they could have been caked with mud or even animal feces).

She’s self aware and as leaders we must seek to emulate her tenacity. With laser like focus, we must attack our own shortcomings and our weaknesses and carry an incredible humility in owning those and growing in those. We can only do that, by the way, if we have help from others in pointing them out! (hint, hint.)

Bottom line is this: a highly acute sense of self-awareness is key for leaders because our growth (and hence our influence/impact) lies at the intersection of intimate familiarity with our shortcomings and the passion to do something about it.

2. She is filled with overflowing passion (literally overflowing into the whole room). 

For as dirty and emotionally messed up and “sin-filled” as this woman might have been-you must give her credit for being quite smart.

Because not only has she found the secret to new life (in being brutally self-aware), she’s discovered the physical embodiment of new life-in the true identity of the man Jesus.

And when you discover the source of growth and new life, you had better believe that smart people chase after it with insane levels of passion and intentionality.

And that’s what gets me every time I read her story. She acts with such awe-inspiring passion and humility that always (literally always-1st in the margin of my print Bible years ago and then again I inadvertently wrote the same note in the notes section of my digital Bible years later) makes me ask one question:

Do I have she same levels of passion and honesty about myself to do what she did? Do you?