Steward Your Personal Growth

Let’s face it. Growth is hard. At times, it can be downright painful – especially when the Professor Life shows up, replete with his curriculum of trials and hard circumstances. “Hey, I never signed up for that course with that professor!” you complain – until you embrace the suck, and if you have been intentional and reflective, find at the end, you learned some pretty cool stuff. Not happy HOW you learned it, but glad you did.

There are a myriad of ways to learn and grow.

Recently, my wife and I got to lead a Zoom session on “Steward Your Personal Growth” for new staff and interns in our organization. Before COVID, we had the privilege to teach all over the globe. We taught groups in mountains of Central Asia, in bustling cities of East Asia, in retreat centers outside Kenya, Chad and Nigeria and offices in Zimbabwe, in hotel settings in Europe and Latin America. We even taught in slippers – yes, you read that right – pink and blue slippers in South Korea (see picture below for proof). However, we had never taught this session remotely on Zoom.

So, back to the classroom for us!

We spent several sessions learning from TED speaker, Chad Littlefield. He is big on creating connection before content and designing for contribution, not consumption. Check out some of his short videos: Do’s and Don’ts of Virtual Meetings, How to Make Virtual Meetings Fun, How to Make Online Meetings More Engaging, How to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting. [Added bonus – when you have limited time: Watch YouTube videos faster, by clicking on the gear wheel at the bottom of video controls, look for playback speed, then choose 1.5X or faster than normal speed] – You’re welcome 🙂

“Teach once, learn twice.” ~ Chinese proverb

The point is when we share, we learn double. That was true when we taught these helpful growth hacks with the group of new staff and interns.

  • Stay humble – Bobby Clinton said the ability to learn is “the all-purpose tool, the Swiss Army knife, that leaders need to carry at all times.” If you think you know it all, there is nothing else to learn. Life long learning and growth begins with humility.
  • Be curious – John Maxwell in “A Winners Daily Mindset” podcast encourages us to be curious and intentional to look for potential learning times with the people we meet.
  • Identify – What gets in the way? What are your obstacles to growth? Ask someone to help you. Community often provides needed structure and accountability to stimulate growth.
  • The Development Cycle – One process that expresses our organizational commitment to helping people grow is the Development Cycle. This is a simple process of at least three conversations each year between a team leader, or supervisor and a team member. The tool we use is the Position Focus that includes Critical Mission Objectives (CMOs), a Professional Development Plan (PDP), and a Key Developmental Assignment (KDA) or stretch assignment. This provides direction and feedback on a persons’ contribution in a relationally rich, feedback environment.

So, you see, there really are a myriad of options to help you grow besides waiting for Professor Life to knock at your door and kick you around more this year. Why not take a more proactive and intentional route to develop your learning and growth plan this year?

After all, it is YOUR life.

Hey, what did I miss here? What helps you grow and learn?

Posted in Character Development, Lead Courageously, Learn Continuously | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

doing battle with discouragement

As leaders, we need to fight discouragement so our best self shows up across the table (or Zoom screen) from others. We want to contribute and add value to the lives of others in healthy ways. While there is much today we cannot control, think about all we actually can control…

maturitas cafe

Photo Credit: Michael Payne – Unsplash

Life has felt heavy. COVID. Politics. Racial divisions. Natural disasters.

I feel the weight of these many issues, and somedays I have to battle to find hope.

On a large scale, most of this is out of my control, hence the heaviness of it all. However, there are ways that I can engage and get involved in my small scope of the world. When these pressures add to the “blah” of my day or contribute to my “cloudy” brain, I try to focus less on what I cannot control and more on what I can.

I can control my attitude.

I can choose gratitude over grumpiness. I can practice curiosity over judgment. I can loosen demands to have things go my way and humbly accept what others might desire or need. I can listen to music that uplifts my soul. I can seek Jesus’…

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wading through weariness

Such simple, yet profound helps that really make a difference in our lives and leadership. These game-changing habits will help us get better, and when a leader gets better, everyone gets better.

maturitas cafe

turtle joshua-j-cotten-noUFOAxHOq4-unsplashImage Credit: Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

I took a wonderful vacation week with my family. We spent most of the time outdoors in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. The minimal phone and internet contact refreshed my soul.

When I came home, I was grumpy for days. At first, I couldn’t figure out why when the time away had been so restful. Then I recognized reality had hit me hard as soon as I walked back in the door.

Illness and lonely deaths. Financial struggles. Storms and disasters. Injustice and hatred. Uncertainties. Limitations.

Anger. Discouragement. Fear. Desperation. Depression. The emotions wear me down.

So, I went back to thinking about perseverance, resilience, how to survive thrive in these crazy times. I went back – again – to some of the basics and am attempting to live them out. Maybe they will help you too.


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Win Every Day

Do you wonder what you can do to produce great results? What practices help you to win as a leader and create high performance teams and organizations? You likely have put these questions on the back burners of your mind right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everything and grabbed the attention of most everyone. However, this could be exactly the right time for you to apply winning principles to adapt and thrive in this current emphasis of social distancing and remote working.

win every day

Mark Miller explores answers to our questions in Win Every Day. Execution, he states is the “hallmark of all high performance organizations.” This is especially true right now as normative practices are forced to change while leaders remain committed to their mission. Personally, I am still trying to adapt to changes and keep healthy boundaries between work and home life.

Blake, the fictional leader of a company in Mark’s book states what has been said by me and perhaps many of us:

“Our current level of performance is not congruent with who we are, who we want to become as people – as human beings.”

Our desire is to improve, but breaking through status quo is not easy. “Improvement is impossible if you do what you’ve always done. Progress always requires change.”

Our past performance does not have to hold us back because “your past does not determine your future.”

Mark Miller inspires with hope. The future can be better. Yet, becoming better without new ways of doing things is not likely. His book outlines several key habits of execution that can be a great encouragement to our work today:

Pursue Mastery

Do the right thing at the right time, every time. This is not the expectation, rather the strategic goal. You can’t drift to greatness – you must be intentional. Mastery is a lifelong pursuit of doing what is right. Ask yourself, “What right things am I pursuing in light of today’s changes?”

Own the Numbers

If you are serious about execution, measure! When we measure, there is personal accountability. Own what you can affect or impact. You can’t own numbers you do not know or numbers where you cannot see how your work contributes to them. If you own the numbers, you hold yourself and one another accountable. Ask yourself, “What do I own and measure with my team now that many are working remotely?”

Help Others Win

Make this part of your job description – to help others win and succeed. Encourage. Lead. Challenge. Care. Love. Plan. Train. Listen. Celebrate. All these actions require connection to others. We cannot win every day without each other. Ask yourself, “What does helping others win look like when leading from a distance?

Two final thoughts from Mark:

  1. Leaders must decide they want to excel at execution. A good place to start is with yourself.
  2. Communicate tirelessly. (This is even more true today as we all face social distancing.)

What adjustments do you need to make as a leader to win today and every day? What principles from Mark’s book inspires you?

Other posts you might enjoy:

mark millerMark Miller is the Vice President of High Performance Leadership for Chic-fil-A, and has worked in leadership development there for over 40 years. His experience, research and conversations with thousands of leader provide data for a solid synthesis of principles that create remarkable organizations.

Check out his other books in this series:

Chess, Not Checkers describes four moves of High Performance Organizations  that are explained in full in Mark’s other books:

  1. Bet on Leadership – building a leadership culture is discussed in Leaders Made Here
  2. Act as One on attracting and keeping the best people is the topic of Talent Magnet
  3. Win the Heart, about CARE and engagement, is addressed in Win the Heart
  4. Excel at Execution is discussed in his latest book Win Every Day
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Service is Defined by the One Being Served

Service is always defined by the one being served – not by the one serving. I am part of a conference team this summer helping the staff in our organization have a truly great experience. Our task is to serve them by creating moments of love and care. I like to help others, and even serve at times, but I can tend to do it on my own terms.

cross cultural servanthood imageI decided to refresh my memory about serving from a book I read during my Masters in Global Leadership – Cross Culture Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer.  No matter where you are on your faith journey, servant leadership and humility are topics that are being discussed in many companies and leadership circles.

You certainly don’t need to travel to the other side of the globe to experience culture. Culture and diversity are all around us. Every day we cross cultures – people we meet and neighbors come with different values, backgrounds, personalities, family of origin if not from a different country. Every relationship is like a cross cultural experience.

You will find Elmer’s steps to serving valuable for any relationship in your life!

Serving : You can’t serve someone you do not understand.

Understanding: You can’t understand others until you have listened and learned about, with and from them.

Learning: You can’t learn important information from someone until they trust you.

Trust: To build trust, others must know you accept and value them; being vulnerable about your own growth and needs helps others do the same with you.

Acceptance: Before you can communicate acceptance, people must experience your openness – your ability to welcome them into your presence and feel safe.

Openness: Requires you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to initiate and sustain relationships with others who are different from you.

These six steps do not have be take long – getting to serve can often happen in a matter of a minute.

Which one of Elmer’s steps to serving do you want to employ today in order to become a better servant leader?

If you found this post to be helpful, you might also enjoy:

  1. 10 Ways That People Are Different  Learn how to appreciate and celebrate differences in others.
  2. The Servant-Leader  Six beliefs that servant leaders hold.
  3. Seven Ways to be a Better Giver  Discover some others ways to serve and give.
  4. 4 Early Warning Signs of a Narcissistic Leader  To what degree do are you self protective and self-focused in your relationships?
  5. What I Am Learning About Collaboration  How listening, understanding and being genuinely interested in others can make you a better person and leader.
Posted in Lead Courageously, Live Well, Love Deeply | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments