12 “Nails” that Deplete the Heart

I came out of an appointment some time ago and saw the light on my dashboard. It indicated that my tire had low pressure–it was depleted.  I was able to make it to a garage where they removed a nail, patched up the tire and filled it up with oxygen…and I was back on the road again! deplete w words In leadership, there are many “nails”and sharp objects that let the air out of us. These nails have the danger of depleting our hearts and making us less effective in life and leadership.

Here are some of “nails” that can deplete my heart: (adapted from some of our work on LeadershipFramework.org in “heart”).

The pressures of an endless to-do list.

Felt or perceived expectations.

Wanting to please people.

The intoxicating allure of fame, success or comparision.

Allowing the work/ministry to become my source of life.

Unconfessed sin. Unforgiveness.

Unresolved broken relationships.

Drivenness that refuses the rhythm of rest.

Grasping for personal power, authority, and glory.

Self-protective strategies that keep me from living in authentic community.

Failure to keep boundaries that allow for healthy living and exercise.

Living by the urgent.

What “nails” deplete your heart?

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Photo source: adapted from Ryan Wilson-Flickr

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The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

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There is

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My sons and I like to have fun and talk goofy at times, as anyone knows who has heard me answer my phone when one of them calls.  We talk about serious issues too, like leadership, ethics, business, coaching, God, and we can philosophize at length.  A couple of nights ago, my son, who I call “The Colonel”, called. He is reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  After listening to him enthusiastically share what he has been learning from the book, we decided it would be fun to flip things a bit and talk about the opposites:

The 7  Habits of Highly Ineffective People

The first three habits deal more with private ineffectiveness. But, rest assured that before long, that character base will flow over into public futility.

Here is our list…

Be reactive.

Go with the flow and allow yourself and mood to be determined by circumstances.  Let your behavior be a function of conditions, not your decisions. Do not take initiative and don’t take any responsibility.  Learn to say things like, “That’s just the way I am”, or “I can’t”, or “There’s nothing I can do”. After getting good at this habit, you might ramp it up to a whole new level by blaming others for your current circumstances.  Add a victim mentality and you are well on your way to personal and public ineffectiveness and mediocre living.


Live the downside of “You Only Live Once”. Don’t ever develop a clear understanding of your destination or think about where you want your life to go, what you value, or the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.  Developing a personal mission statement is way out of bounds for the ineffective person. Have no guiding principles to center your life. Do whatever feels good in the moment.  If you feel like “straightening deck chairs on the Titanic”, do it.  At least you will feel good as you sink to your death.

Live by the urgent.

Organize and execute your life around crisis and pressing problems. Just respond to the urgent. Don’t ever contemplate about your three priorities for the day. Besides being ineffective, you will also experience the added benefits of stress, burnout, crisis management, and the feeling of always putting out fires. I bet you can also feel the adrenaline rush of that!  Keep it up so you can maintain the energy from one urgent crisis to the next.

Once you have these three private habits of ineffectiveness down, you can successfully be ineffective with other people. That’s what these next three habits are about.

Think “Me first”.

Learn to become a transactional leader—only give out what you get. “Tit for tat”. But make sure you get yours first. Work on developing your scarcity mentality that says there is only so much good (recognition, credit, power, profit, love, etc.) to go around.  Make sure you grab your share before all the greedy people get it. Don’t be genuinely happy for the successes of others.

Speak more than you listen.

Ineffective people have things to say and points to make.  People need your wisdom whether they realize it or not. So make sure to launch into stories and lectures.  Repeat yourself and make sure you get your point across first.  Seek first to be understood-that way you model what being understood feels like for the other people.  If there is time left over, listen to others while multitasking on your smart phone. As you listen, evaluate the other person, interrupt with questions from your own frame of reference, diagnose quickly, give advice, and try to interpret and judge motives rapidly. This will help fix the other person sooner and save you valuable time to talk more.

Don’t cooperate. Don’t collaborate. 

Think discord, disunity, detached, disconnect, division. It can waste so much time to work in team.  Besides if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Don’t concern yourself with unused and untapped potential. Synergy is highly overrated and takes too much time.  If you have developed habits of distrust, poor listening, and lack of self-awareness, people may already leave you alone, so cooperation and teamwork may not even be an issue.


Don’t develop new skills or ever take time to rest, play, recharge, or refresh.  Other people will pass you by if you do. Ineffective people don’t have enough time to exercise for endurance, flexibility, or strength. They are good at neglecting the spiritual dimension of life.  Personal security comes from performance, so they must perform all the time.  That leaves little time for reflection, evaluation, feedback, and learning.

If you can commit yourself to doing these habits unconsciously, you are well on your way to being ineffective in your personal life, in your relationships (if you have any), in your leadership, and in your work.

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What makes you ineffective? 

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The Servant-Leader


I just finished reading The Case for Servant Leadership by Kent Keith for my M.A in Global Leadership class.  I enjoyed the chapter on key practices of Servant-Leaders.  He lists self-awareness, listening, changing the power pyramid, developing people, coaching-not controlling, unleashing the energy and intelligence of others (empowerment) and foresight.

In the section on coaching-not controlling, Keith references work by James Autry, who wrote the book, The Servant-Leader: How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve the Bottom-Line Performance.  Here are six things Autry believes about leadership.

1.  Leadership is not about controlling people; it’s about caring for people and being a useful resource for people.

2.  Leadership is not about being boss; it’s about being present for people and building a community at work.

3.  Leadership is not about holding on to territory; it’s about letting go of ego, bringing your spirit to work, being your best and most authentic self.

4.  Leadership is less concerned with pep talks and more concerned with creating a place in which people can do good work, can find meaning in their work, and can bring their spirits to work.

5.  Leadership, like life, is largely a matter of paying attention.

6.  Leadership requires love.

What do you believe about leadership? Do you agree with Autry?  What do you like about his list?

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Autry, J. (2001). The Servant-Leader: How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve bottom-Line Performance. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, p. 20-21.

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Culturally Intelligent Travel Tips

ID-10045346If you travel internationally like my wife and I do with our work, you will appreciate what David Livermore has to say in his post on 10 Things Culturally Intelligent Travelers Do. These are related to four capabilities of cultural intelligence.

To get started, I have found three tips in particular helpful for me as they relate to living well, learning and laughing:

1.  Learn Continuously.  Livermore suggests: Search the web to learn.

“The culturally intelligent use the power of the internet to do a quick purview of the history of a place (start with BBC country profiles), the cultural norms (compare your country versus where you’re going using Hofstede’s tool), and look up hot topics in the local news (try searching only sites that originate from your destination; e.g. only search news stories from domains ending in .th if you’re visiting Thailand).”

2. Live Well.  Livermore outlines several ways that travelers can take care of themselves.

“Overcoming the physical and emotional drain of travel is vitally important. Culturally intelligent travelers understand that stress and fatigue make them unusually susceptible to culture shock and frustration. When crossing time zones, follow these basic rules of thumb, though this is more of an art than a science:

    • Set your watch to the new time zone as soon as you board your international flight. If at all possible, attempt to follow the “new sleep” and eating patterns even on the trip over.
  • Eat half of what they give you on the plane–if that. And go easy on the alcohol. You’re already getting dehydrated. But drink all the non-alcoholic beverages you can get out of them.
  • Force yourself into the new sleep patterns immediately upon arrival. Don’t take any naps if you arrive in the morning or mid-day.
  • After you arrive, walk or run outside and get as much sunshine as possible. Light is key. Again, stay awake when it’s light but not too late. When it’s dark, sleep. Light is the most important thing that impacts your circadian rhythms.
  • Consider taking Melatonin before bed. Many people find that melatonin, a natural nutritional supplement, really helps regulate their sleeping patterns.

Attending to your physical and emotional well-being will play a big role in helping you be more ready to fully engage in all that your intercultural experience has to offer.”

3. Laugh Loudly:  Livermore encourages us to laugh at ourselves.

“The culturally intelligent don’t take themselves too seriously. They try a few words in the local language, sample some foods, and expect to be disoriented at times. An ability to laugh at yourself and learn from your mistakes can make a world of difference in not only behaving appropriately but enjoying the whole experience.”

Read Livermore’s blog for seven more tips to help you lead more effectively, and love others better as you travel…

Other blog posts you might enjoy:

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Prize Under Pressure (World Cup Stories)

Spanish: El Premio

Arabic: تعرف على اللاعبين

Russian: Премия – Кубок мира Истории

Polish: Nagroda – Puchar Świata Opowiadania

German: Der Preis unter Druck-WM Geschichten

Korean: 압력 월드컵 이야기에서 수상

Ukraine: Премія за розповідями тиску світу з футболу

Turkey: Basınç Dünya Kupası hikayeleri altında Ödülü

Select  Your Language



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