Archive for September, 2009

Me vs. Them

September 25, 2009
“… considilovemepnger others better than yourselves…” – Philippians 2:3

I am always refreshingly reassured by how practical this ancient book is for today’s circumstances.  When I look at the verse above, I am positive this is never more apparent than when you consider the development of state, corporate and church leaders
Leaders are facing unprecedented challenges today, yet there are a few time-tested principles that will allow them to be “Tougher than the Times” no matter what circumstances they face.  Developing a “THEM” mentality instead of a “ME” mentality is one such principle.
You see, leadership isn’t about the leader at all…. only about the people he or she lead. When a leader keeps their eyes on their TEAM, instead of on THEMSELVES, we avoid many “traps” of leadership, including:
  • Taking circumstances and conversations too personally;
  • Clouded judgment that often comes when a leader is more interested in protecting his or her own “standing” rather than dealing with a situation more directly and objectively;
  • Timid leadership;
  • Stress associated with carrying every outcome squarely on your shoulders rather than sharing burdens and rewards with the team; and
  • Unnecessary “power struggles” – that often completely disappear when a leader is willing to fully embrace his or her primary role: serving their team.
Leading my very first Tougher than the Times Leadership Roundtable has been incredibly exciting and rewarding already!  I would like to thank EACH leader and company represented for all you bring to the group!  Until October… we remain… Tougher than the Times!!

Raccoon Trails

September 10, 2009

Lea’s dad loved to feed nature’s bandits, the neighborhood raccoons, that is.  Behind huge open windows, we would watch nature’s parade of curious and hungry creatures.  RaccoonLoaded with piles of dog food, the back porch was an open invitation that provided a pretty entertaining spectacle.  We’d stare as these furry little guys poured out of the woods and made a beeline to the food.  As many as 30 raccoons would trample through the grass, rushing to gorge themselves on the delicious morsels.  We’d sit in amazement at the little paws that would reach up and touch the windows as if to say, “More, please!” It’s safe to say, we had the fattest raccoons in all of western Washington.

For more than 20 years these raccoons would carve trails in and out of the woods.  But when Lea’s dad passed away, the raccoon trails disappeared underneath the new vegetation.  Even after generations of raccoons had destroyed nature’s beauty, the woods sprang back to life.

There’s a picture.  Patterns of thought are a lot like trampled raccoon trails.  Whatever you feed puts patterns and imprints on your mind. Consequently, if you stop feeding it, the wildlife will grow and be lush and beautiful again.  If we quit feeding negative thoughts, then our tendency to view life negatively will weaken and eventually disappear. “Take captive every thought” (2 Corin. 10:5).  We must learn to isolate every thought before it spirals into a raccoon trail.

“Learned optimism works…through the power of non-negative thinking,” says Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness.  Change patterns of thought by isolating a negative thought and responding to it.  “It is how you cope with negative statements that has an effect,” reiterates Seligman.  Challenge a negative thought and attack it with the truth.  It is only then that wind will blow and the dust settle, leaving a clean, unmarked trail path.

A 22 Year Profitable Relationship

September 4, 2009


It’s the perfect Sunday afternoon.  The couch is comfortable, the snacks appetizing and the game’s a close one.  As I plop into the sofa, remote in hand, I no sooner flip the game on, than I feel my wife, Lea’s hovering presence in the room.  Completely engrossed in the head-banging, I do my best to ignore her.  The hovering presence, however, keeps hovering, and I soon realize she isn’t planning on leaving.

“Everything ok, honey?” I ask half-heartedly.  One look from Lea and I realize my football watching is finito.  But, being the wonderful husband I am, I graciously turn the game off to focus all my love and attention to my lovely bride.  (Granted, we have TiVo, so all I did was hit the pause button, but that’s beside the point.)

I immediately face Lea and snap into my counseling mode.  I’m nodding my head profusely, making eye contact and making appropriate gestures, when mid-way through pouring her heart out, she stops.

“Forget it, we’ll just talk about this later,” she says, abruptly.

“What, what did I do?” I say, feeling wrongfully accused; I had been doing everything a trained counselor is supposed to do.

“Just forget it; she says more adamant than before”

Exasperated I say, “But I’m right here. I’m looking you right in the eye. I’m listening!”

“You don’t care.”

“What?!  I have to care, too?”

I was flabbergasted.  I had been doing all the right things.  I stopped watching the football game, nodded my head and even made eye contact!  But that was just it; I was just going through the motions and Lea saw right through the façade.  Behind the glazed over look and empty head nods, she knew I wasn’t listening.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and miss out on relationship.  We pass by people with fake smiles and a rhetorical, “How are you?” when we don’t really want to know.

So, in response to my question, yes, we DO have to stop and care.  Investing in relationships, whether it be family, friends or co-workers, will always pay off.  Sometimes we just need to slow down and make the deposit.