Monday, December 16, 2013

Overcoming Fear by "Getting Naked"

Patrick Lencioni is an amazing author, and one of his recent books - Getting Naked - has become one of my all-time favorites.

In the book, he encourages vulnerability and boldly approaches three fears that leaders, business owners or service providers face: (1) Fear of losing the business; (2) Fear of feeling inferior; and (3) Fear of being embarrassed. When you think about it, any one of these fears can paralyze us, or at the very least, keep us from making important decisions that ultimately hinder our progress. But, if we allow ourselves to become vulnerable, we can conquer those fears.

After I read Lencioni's book, I realized that he dissected one of our greatest fears--fear of failure. Think about it. Why are we afraid of failing? Because we're afraid we may lose something--like our business or our reputation. We are also afraid of appearing inferior or being embarrassed because we tried something and failed. As a result, we can become immobile because we tried and failed and we're afraid to try again.

The spitting cobra uses the power of fear before attacking its prey. The snake is known to stare in the eyes of its victim, paralyzing the small animal with fear so it can't move. Then, the cobra spits in the animal's eyes, rendering it blind, and then kills it.

What would happen if the trapped animal broke its gaze and ran free from the cobra? Chances are it would survive.

What do you stare at that keeps you paralyzed? How can you break that gaze so you can run free?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Appreciation vs. Value

 A young leader was sharing with me his frustration about his team of volunteers. "I tell them all the time that I appreciate them. In fact, one man told me I appreciate him too much.  But, for some reason, they just don't follow through like I wish they would. It's very frustrating!"

His story reminded me of an article I read in a business magazine. Employees were asked if they would rather receive a monetary raise or if they would want their employer to value them more. Hands-down the employees responded they would rather be valued than receive a raise.

This leads me to a question. What is the difference between showing appreciation and showing value? Here's my take on it:
  • Appreciation is our response to others based on what they did for us.
  • Value is our response to others whether they did anything for us or not.
Our acts or words of appreciation for the deeds that others perform will fall flat if we fail to value the individuals who performed the deeds in the first place. What sacrifices did they make? What investment of time, money and self went into their actions?

In December, as you purchase small gifts for your volunteers and workers, ask yourself how you can value those individuals. Then, do what you can to show that value.

How do you differentiate between showing appreciation and showing value?How can you show value to others?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Encouraging or Enabling?

We've heard of leading from the front and leading from behind. But, what about leading from below? That's how I led for years. Trust me--it's not a good model.
When I would see potential in others, my passion often overcame my wisdom. Unfortunately, I spent valuable time and energy trying to convince others that they could reach the goal I established for them because I believed in their ability to succeed.
Moved more by my excitement than their own desire to move forward, they would often climb on my back and let me carry them to the finish line. By the time we arrived at my goal (not theirs), I would be exhausted; but, they would be energized and ready to go for another ride to another goal. Why not? I was doing all the work while they rode along in a carriage of dreams.
I thought I was leading from the front. In reality, I was leading from below as people took advantage of my good intentions. In fact, I wasn't leading. I was enabling. And, it was exhausting!
Becoming trained as a coach has taught me the importance of helping people set their own goals and assume responsibility to be accountable for follow-through. As a result, I've learned to come alongside and encourage people to reach their own destination, not mine. Now, we're all energized.
Are you exhausted? 
What needs to change for you to become energized?
What boundaries could you put in place that will help you become an encourager instead of an enabler? 



Wednesday, April 10, 2013


This past winter, while shoveling a hefty snowfall, I realized some fascinating similarities between snow shoveling and securing boundaries.

We have lived in our home for 9 years, but because of the newly-fallen snow, I had to carefully recheck where the boundaries were between the sidewalk and the grass. The snow was beautiful and appealing; but it covered the boundaries that I thought I knew very well.   
  • LESSON: Check boundaries periodically so the attractiveness of something new won't cause you to become careless with what keeps you secure.

I noticed that the private path to our front door was much more narrow than the public sidewalk where everyone walks. 
  • LESSON: Keep the protective path leading to your private life narrow. 

Our next-door neighbor is a 90+ widow. It would have taken no effort for me to shovel her walk, because it would have been the right thing to do, and because I was able to do it. For a few moments, I struggled with a little guilt. However, I recalled that she hires a neighbor boy to shovel her property because she enjoys being able to pay him and he needs the money. By shoveling her walk out of guilt, I would have taken from them something they both needed. 
  • LESSON: If guilt is the motivator, then the action carries less value.

In the winter, we focus on the sidewalk and the driveway, and we ignore the lawn. In the spring, summer and fall, we focus on the lawn and  give less attention to the sidewalk and driveway.  Imagine how fruitless it would be to shovel the lawn!   
  • LESSON: As seasons of life change, boundaries may change. 
 What do you think?