how questions can change our relationships


I recently read Michael Bungay Stanier’s book, “The Coaching Habit”. It was one of the best coaching books I’ve read. My wife, Terry also read it and summarized the book in a post on her blog. Check it out,

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Helena Lopez – Unsplash

Hi, friends!

It’s been a while. I have not had the mental space to write clear thoughts for a long time. However, today is the day. I received the fun (and motivating) notification that this blog has had over 100,000 all-time views(!), and I finished a book that I liked a lot and want to share with you. When I share my learning with others, it sticks better with me, so thank you for helping me out by reading this post. The added plus is that I think you will learn things that are also helpful for you.

The book I finished is called “The Coaching Habit,” written by a coaching guru, born in Australia, now living in Canada, named Michael Bungay Stanier (MBS). He writes with humor and wit; the book is easy-to-apply practical and deeply wise.

The book’s premise is “say less…

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Know Yourself to Lead Yourself


What is true with climbing a mountain is true with growing in leadership and life. The higher you go, the harder it gets. Acclimating to higher levels of leadership requires me to face and conquer the tendencies in my life that keep me from becoming the person I truly desire to be. As I have leaned into the climb, I have become more aware the process takes energy, time and hard work, which is why I have so often avoided it.

John Maxwell has said the hardest person to lead is yourself. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it is the “mountain” of the job or the challenges of the people I lead that are the problems. These, however simply hold a mirror to show me what it is like to sit on the other side of me. When I live accidentally, i.e., fail to take time to better understand my tendencies and patterns, I not only sabotage my leadership but cause harm to the relationships with my family and my team. As I am becoming more intentional to examine my life and leadership, I see it is me who is in most need for change.

My good friend of over four decades, Tom Nebel, introduced me to this tool from GiANT:

The infinity loop tells me that I never stop learning and growing. I am committed to understanding how I am wired, including my tendencies and the impact those tendencies have on the people around me. Then, through faith, courage and vulnerability to change my negative tendencies in order to become the person and leader I want to be.

Tendencies. If you are anything like me (and I know I am), you have tendencies that create predictable patterns of actions. These behaviors have a price tag called consequences. Over time this shapes the reality of our lives and leadership. To change the reality then, we need to look at the tendencies that have become well-worn paths to actions that generated unwanted consequences.

My Own Journey of Self-Awareness

  • Assessments Review. I started my journey by looking at different assessments I have taken over my life (GiANT 5 Voices, Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Birkman, Enneagram). I wanted to go a bit deeper so I also processed some Family of Origin triggers and tendencies with a trusted friend.
  • Write them down. I wrote down all the tendency phrases that resonated with me in one column; then I identified better, more healthy actions.
  • Summarize. It is impossible to remember pages of action points. I looked for the common patterns and themes that stuck out to me, then summarized those into three areas of growth to pay attention to.
  • Share them. I shared the growth areas with my wife and some others. The point is to get validation and confirmation with safe people around you.

How about you? Where are you on your journey? What is your next step in climbing higher to become the leader you want to be, a leader worth following?

If you want to take the powerful 5 Voices Assessment for free to understand how you are wired, including some of your tendencies, go to  https://giant.tv/5voices/leadersrising. My friend Tom can help you if you have any questions.

Enjoy the Climb!

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

  • TAKE CARE OF…

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