Archive - August, 2011

Apart and A part

One of the keys to have a life of success is knowing when to be Apart from something and when to be A part of something.  Life is about choices and decisions…  When do we include and when do we exclude?

Apart (adv) separated by distance or time.

A part (noun) a piece of something that forms the whole of something.

You have a daily choice to be Apart or A part, the choice is yours… Choose wisely.

What Is Business Casual?

Over the last 5 years of serving as a Pastor at, which has a cool, hip, relevant denim type dress code; I found that I wore denim 90% of the time and the other 10% consisted of weekend athletic apparel and an occasional suit for a wedding or funeral.  The 5 years prior to that consisted of 90% suits as I spent most of my time in business meetings, walking around the State Capitol and other environments where suits were the dress code.

Over the years style has really changed and evolved to a more overall casual look.  I attribute it to the era of the $200 designer jeans.  Men and ladies alike can dress up a nice pair of denim and they can dress down a nice pair of denim.

My wife and I recently went to an event in which the dress code was “Business Casual.”  I’ll be honest, I googled business casual just to double check, because style is ever evolving and changes my the month.  One thing I know about business casual, is there are different definitions.

My old school definition is, Slacks or Khakis with a polo or collared shirt at the least for Men and slacks, skirts, blouses at the least for women.  You can dress any of these up; however denim and shorts are not considered part of the business casual attire.

There was one guy at this particular event that had on shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.  He actually jokingly shared with the group that he had a more casual view of business casual.

Business Casual is kind of tricky… How would you define or describe Business Casual?

Don’t Sleep!

From a very young age, we’ve always been told to make sure that we get a good nights rest, plenty of sleep and a plethora of other phrases associated with the fact that sleep is important.  Sleep seems to be even more important before a big event, big test or big day.  At least that’s what I’ve been told since elementary school and the days of number 2 pencils and standardized tests.

Sleep is definitely a necessity and biologically it does a bunch stuff that I can’t adequately explain (something to do with oxygen to the brain).

Get you some rest, sleep as you need to, but don’t fall in love with sleeping and resting and sleeping and resting and relaxing and more sleeping.  You have to get-up, wake-up and sometimes stay-up in order to get things done. Your dreams won’t come true, nor will you be successful falling in love with sleep.

The Bible says it this way, “Don’t be too fond of sleep; you’ll end up in the poorhouse.  Wake up and get up; then there’ll be food on the table.” Proverbs 20:13

You can’t feed your dreams nor your family sitting on the sidelines or laying in the bed.  Dream more, sleep less!

Don’t Sleep!  Although it’s needed, it’s sometimes overrated.

What Are You Supposed To Be Doing?

Often times we meander through life doing stuff, making stuff, building stuff, collecting stuff and don’t even know why.  We were created for so much more, we all have a God given answer to this question, “What Am I Supposed To Be Doing?”

Our answer is often times over-shadowed by the umpteen reasons why “we can’t.” It’s time to quit with all of the excuses and start working towards what you were created to do.  Some of you will need to take baby steps and others will need to take giant leaps of faith.

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. ~George Washington

Stop Making Excuses and Stop Doing Stuff.  You were made for a purpose and that purpose will be ever evolving into other purposes.

What Are You Supposed To Be Doing? Go Do It!

Why Most Leadership Stress Is Self-Induced

As a leader it’s important to set the tone for your team or organization, especially as it relates to handling difficult or crisis situations.  If the leader wigs out, stresses out, worries or has a heart attack during high stress or crisis situations; there will always be undertones of that stress transferred to the rest of the team.

As you can imagine running a prison presents the daily opportunity for high stress, crisis and potentially life & death situations.  During my tenure as a young prison Warden, I realized that Most Leadership Stress Was Self-Induced.  I had the personal choice of whether or not I allowed events or people to stress me out.  I would watch the previous Warden get stressed out by the most trivial things.  Realizing that it was up to me, I developed philosophy and mindset to handle these potentially high stress or crisis situations.

The philosophy was simply this,  “There is nothing that we can’t begin to fix in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.”    I trained my Chief of Security and my Officers to not sweat the small stuff and embrace the fact that crisis situations will happen… it’s not about the situation it’s about how you handle the situation.

If there was a full-blown prison riot the process within the first 5 Minutes would be to make the following 5 Phone Calls:

  • Call Local Law Enforcement
  • Call Me “The Warden”
  • Call The Department of Corrections Liaison
  • Call Vice President of Operations
  • Call Media/PR Representative

This mindset puts all situations, including crisis situation into perspective.   The bottom line is that we will face problems and potentially stressful situations on a regular basis.  It doesn’t matter if the problem that we face is work related or personal, what matters is there is the beginning to a solution around the corner.  Stop Wiggin’ Out, Tell Your Boss To Stop Wiggin’ Out and embrace the fact that every situation, including Life & Death one’s can begin the “fixing process” in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.

Once a leader comes to the realization that Most Leadership Stress Is Self-Induced, they can embody Albert Einstein’s version of 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls. Einstein says it this way, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

It’s not that serious, STOP STRESSING!

What do you think?  Share your thoughts on “5 Minutes & 5 Phone Calls” and your personal experiences with how leaders handle stressful situations.

The Best Leaders Surround Themselves With The Best

I’ve always been intrigued by leaders, coaches and teams that use the phrase “Surrounded By The Best!” You would think this would be an obvious or natural response for all leaders “I Want To Be Surrounded By The Best!”  The reality is that many leaders desire to be the best and surround themselves with mediocrity.

The word best is an illusive term; however it’s defined as — being of the highest quality, excellence, the best work, desirable etc. With that definition in mind, a leader should always strive for the best. It’s also important for leaders to understand that they are ultimately responsible for developing their team to be the best.

If you look at sports teams that have a tradition of winning and being the best, you will find a head coach that surrounds himself with the best assistant coaches in the business.  You will also find a program where everyone in the country is trying to recruit and hire those assistant coaches.  Why? It’s simple, just as the definition states: they are high quality, desirable and the best.

I remember visiting with an executive level leader of an organization and he was talking about his senior leader’s philosophy as it relates to their leadership team.  His senior leader has a desire to be surrounded by the best and said it this way, “I want guys on my team who are high capacity, high quality, I want the best.  I want guys on my team whose phone rings from people outside of our organization.  I want the guys that other guys want.”

I shared a post early this over a year ago titled — The Best Leader that outlines OU Head Football Coach Bob Stoops’ leadership and the sending out of 7 head coaches in the last 7 years.  As I look at the current College Football AP Poll, I notice that Bob Stoops has 1 Coach that was under his leadership tutelage in the top 10 and himself: Bo Pelini (#10 Nebraska) and Bob Stoops himself (#1 Oklahoma).

If you want to be Surrounded By The Best, you must embrace these three things:

  • 1. It’s your responsibility to develop your team and give them opportunities to be the best. (Even though Oklahoma doesn’t win every national championship, Stoops has had them in a position to win it, year after year.  The best leaders maximize the potential of those they lead…  they put their people in the best position to win.)
  • 2. You have to give those that are “The Best” room to fly, dream big and try new things. (Learn from Google (The Best Search Engine allows employees to spend twenty percent of their time to work on their own project, independent of their workgroup. Google believes that no one should leave in order to pursue their personal passions. Letting employees do this results in over twenty percent of Google’s new product launches has stemmed from these personal projects.  There can and should be a marriage between “High Capacity” talent and great organizations; they are not mutually exclusive.)
  • 3. You must openly embrace that best will not only be sought after, but sometimes the best will leave and take those best practices other places. (7 Division-1 Head Coaches in 7 years & don’t forget about the ESPN All Access to the Sooner program that aired a couple days ago and part 2 tonight.)

Anyone can be the best with hard work, commitment, dedication, learning, leading and having the willingness to be Surrounded By The Best.  dream BIG. think BIGGER.

Share your thoughts on Surrounded By The Best.

Be Present

What does it mean to be present in this hyper-connected, fast-moving, multi-responsibility, technologically-advanced, distraction-based, ever-evolving, multi-tasking, dollar-driven, multi-focused world that we live in? That’s a hard question, with a very simple answer.

The simple answer is “Be Present!”

Present is defined as being, existing, or occurring at this time or now; at hand; immediate or current.

To be present is to focus on the here and now.  To give focused and undivided attention at the current moment or place that you find yourself.  This is easy to get away from and takes focused attention to make it happen.  A few things that I do to try and be present are:

  • I finish all cell-phone conversations before I go into my house, on the drive, in the garage… but not in the house.
  • I try to complete all assignments, tasks, appt.’s between 8-5 and not allow them to carry over into family time.
  • I put everything on my calendar, in order to make sure my priorities are straight and look back and see what kind of undivided attention I gave people, places & things.
  • I answer e-mails in divided chunks of the day and not as they come in.
  • I like to plan; however I embrace the tension of not looking too far ahead and I rarely look back.

I could go on an on with things that I’m trying to do in order to stay focused and be present; however the bottom line is it takes focused effort.  If you don’t focus on being present, you won’t.

The theme of this years Catalyst Conference in Atalanta is Be Present. Not just be present as in attendance, but rather focusing on being present in our lives.   I will be present and personally I’m looking forward to hearing the list of great speakers. I will definitely be present when Dr. Cornell West speaks.

What are you doing to Be Present in your life?  Will you Be Present at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta this year?

Just Because You’re Active, Doesn’t Mean You’re Productive.

I have worked with, alongside, for and supervised many people who confuse activity for productivity. Now that I get the opportunity to work with various organizations as a consultant, I see this confusion more and more.

Activity and Productivity are two very different animals; however they are readily confused for being the same species.  Let’s look at some brief definitions of the two:

  • Activity– The state or quality of being active.
  • Productivity– The efficiency with which work or output is produced.

Just because a person, group or team is active, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are efficient or productive.This applies to both personal and business life.  When an individual buys into this ideal that Activity = Productivity, they create a system where their primary goal is to be active. They will work long hours, always try to look busy and always trying to work on something. Each day they tell themselves, “I have a bunch of stuff to work on today.”

News Flash for Mr. & Mrs. Active:Just Because You Are Active, Doesn’t Mean You’re Productive.

The productive person on the other hand will ask themselves questions like, “What do I need to work on today?” and “How can I most efficiently get the most work done?”    Case in Point: I could keep writing this post trying to drive the point home; however I’m convinced that I’ve stated enough for you to understand the context . So I’m done now and not two paragraphs later.

Sometimes, I simply need to take my own advice. 🙂

Have you worked for or with individuals who think Activity = Productivity?  Are you or have you been that person?  Share your thoughts!

What’s The Point?

I was recently talking with a friend of mine who happens to be a CEO of a fairly large corporation. We were having conversations about life, faith, kids, extra-curricular activities, success, being driven…  A large portion of our conversation boiled down to answering this simple question:

What’s The Point?

That is such a great question that provides a proper lens to process the actions and decisions of this journey we call life.

Look at your life, family, work, relationships, decisions…  and ask yourself this simple question:

What’s The Point?

It will definitely change your perspective and priorities; it may change your life.

What’s the point?

You Have Been Bewitched By Satan

This is a great video that my man Samson Varughese created of a spoken word piece by David Bowden.  I love working with both of these guys, they are both super-creative and this piece is amazingly raw, real and an accurate depiction.

The title of this piece is “I Believe In The Devil.” Watch it, listen to it, hear it, watch it again and share your comments below.

Have you been bewitched by satan?

Please share this… it’s a message that we all need to hear.

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