Author Archive

It’s Time to Choose…Our Silence is Deafening

December 10, 2009

For too long, we’ve been silent.  Our “silence is consent.”   It is time to stand.  And it is time to choose.  We have allowed the biblical values and founding principles of our nation to slowly slip away.  The sound of apathy is deafening.   But the drum beat of freedom calls us to move.  It’s time, through our actions to stand with the prophets of the past, the morally intolerant of their day.  It’s time to move to the choreographed steps mapped out by the cries of the heroes and heroines of our history.  The motions inspired by The Harriet Tubman’s, the Wilberforce’s, the Adams, the abolitionists, and the Martin Luther Kings.  Living without compromise, we must follow the steady rhythm of our convictions and act in congruence with our beliefs.  Embracing moral intolerance, we must dance in such a way that creates our own legacy, where posterity and history look back at us and call it good.

What do you think?

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An Issue of Motivation

December 4, 2009

In this month’s issue of Entrepreneur magazine, a business owner wrote in and stated,

“I’ve been totally ground down by 2009.  How can I get my motivation back?”

While this seems like a straightforward – enough question, especially in light of how businesses have battled the recent economic downturn, I couldn’t help but think of how the brave men and women who founded our nation would have responded.

You see, when they faced a challenge, obstacle, and even imminent death, it was THEN that their motivation was the most fierce.  Even as their neighbors died of starvation or dropped beside them in battle, it was motivation and commitment that kept them going.  In fact, all throughout history, when we look at great accomplishments, most were inspired by an immense and usually prolonged season of  challenge and struggle.  It was the STRUGGLE itself that inspired the motivation to keep going.

Yet, something is very different today.  When we struggle, when we are challenged, and when things can be described as less than “smooth sailing”, we question our path.  We are no longer inclined to use obstacles as an excuse to “recommit”.  Instead, we lose motivation, hope and courage.  If there is no easy button to push, we far too often throw in the towel.

I am certainly not above this tendency myself.  But I am committed to continuing to develop my character… the same way I deliberately develop my physical, mental and professional skills:  with purpose, passion and practice.

Drive-By Conversations

November 27, 2009
Today, I ran across an interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine:  “How Twitter is Revolutionizing Business 140 Characters at a time”.  What a concept.  Now, instead of “courting” our clients over lunch or dinner, we aim to never waste more than 14 0 characters (spaces included) to get our message across.  Instead of sit down conversations, we see people having conversations via a series of short tweets.
I do use twitter – follow me at http://twitter.com/rolfecarawan – but not as a substitute for a conversation.  In fact, I aim to the opposite.  In business, as in families, churches, and government agencies, we are lacking human interaction.  We are missing out on the encouragement and support that can only be received when we are willing to spend T-I-M-E with those we hope to encourage.
In a world of quick interactions, rushed meetings on the go, and “drive by conversations”, I have committed to having more converSTAYtions.  Conversations that I am content to linger in, enjoy, and contribute to.  Conversations are the most powerful tool we have at our disposal – for marketing, for people development, for training, and for effective leadership –  and I am re-committed to making the most of each of them. I invite you to join me.

They Just Quit!

November 19, 2009
I have long spoken about generational differences within America’s workforce and the challenges – as well as the opportunities – a multi-generational workforce presents.   In this month’s Inc. Magazine, Penelope Trunk answered this question, “How can you tell if a member of Gen Y hates his or her boss?”  This was her response:

“You can’t.  This is a non-confrontational generation. They change politics by voting, not screaming in the streets.  And they change the workplace by quitting, rather than complaining.”

WOW!  If you are familiar with the $cost$ of employee turnover, you likely read that response feeling like you were just issued a solid punch in the gut. Now more than ever, we can’t afford for this generation’s talent, expertise and out-of-the-box thinking to walk away when small changes can keep them happily contributing to our organizations.  Here’s a great way to start:

 

  • Take a “coaching” approach to leadership and assume the best about the employee you are leading.
  • When addressing performance issues, approach employees with an open mind and an open ear – rather than a previously constructed solution to a problem they may not even have acknowledged yet.
  • Recognize there may be concerns they have not addressed and are unwilling to address in a face-to-face meeting with you.  As a leader, construct additional ways to garner feedback from those you lead.

Who is Your Favorite Chef?

November 13, 2009
Occasionally, I stumble across those “cooking shows” on television… the ones where a professional chef brings you into their kitchen and invites you to  cook a great meal with themChef – virtually, of course.  They show you the ingredients, and walk you through the recipe.  But most of all, I am struck with their passion for the dish… for the utensils… for the kitchen itself.  This is where these chefs live, love, and share.  It is where they thrive.
The worlds of business, ministry, politics and education also have these “chefs” who invite you into their world.  These “expert” chefs invite you in via books they’ve written (or recommended), conferences, blog posts, media appearances, and now even through “reality shows”.  As a student of human potential, I make a point to accept their invitation.  As with the cooking shows, I am most amazed not by the “solutions”, “tips” or “tools” these experts share, but in their passion… what keeps them going…. what motivates them.. and what demotivates them, as well.

Currently, these are the business “chefs” I am following: Ferdinand F. Fournies, author of “Coaching For Improved Work Performance” & “Why Employees Dont Do What They’re Supposed To Do”; Dr. Paul Brand & Philip Yancy, authors of “Fearfully & Wonderfully Made” ; “Fish!” by Lundin, Paul and Christiensen, and of course, my good friend and inspiring leader, Congressman Randy Forbes.

The RIGHT Strengths

November 3, 2009

j0432728Many management and leadership gurus are encouraging people to operate within their core strengths.  But, have you ever doubted whether your “sovereign foundation” included the RIGHT strengths to advance your career or your business?

Just the other day, a colleague was telling me about her highschool friend who grew up in a home with a very successful, military-minded father.  One of his brothers joined the Peace Corps before going to law school.  The other brother went to Virginia Military Institute and is an officer in the Navy.  This young man, though, didn’t seem to “fit” and, while he was very gifted in several areas, none of these more “artsy” or “soft” strengths seem to qualify.   To this day, he feels like he would have to be someone else entirely in order to gain his parent’s acceptance. I can relate.

So, what about you?  Do your strengths “not qualify” at work? At home?  At church?   While there may be NO existing outlet in your life for your strengths to be showcased, there is no law against creating one!!  What do others regularly say you are “a natural” at doing?  What are you doing when you “forget the time” because you enjoy it so much?  Why not ACTIVELY look for an opportunity to operate out of THIS strength?

A Marriage “Happens” After the Wedding

October 28, 2009
I left for Canada yesterday to meet with the Leadership of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Halifax, Nova Scotia.   Even though it required Lea to wake up before 4:30 AM to bring mWeddingBellse to the airport, that’s exactly what she did.  I joke that we’ve been happily married for 15 years, and 15 out of 22 ain’t bad.   But, seriously, I love being married and one thing we love to do together is attend the weddings of our friends and family members.
As a man, I am always amazed at the detail, preparation and enormous focus that goes into planning the wedding.  Everything has to go “just right”…  They want an INCREDIBLE wedding day.  My prayer is always that the couple has AT LEAST thought about preparing for the marriage itself.    =)
In business, I see the same phenomenon occurring… our focus is on what’s NEW… what’s EXCITING…  We prepare for the LAUNCH of our businesses, but often find ourselves surprised by the effort it takes to sustain and grow it.  We spend a great deal of time and effort in “hiring the RIGHT employees,” often without a plan to developing our existing team.  We focus on getting NEW clients or customers, without going back to our existing client base to look for more ways to serve them.  We purchase new curriculum or implement new strategies, without taking a long, hard look at what is currently working.
This week, I am focusing on going back to the basics…. I am prepared to come along side my clients, my roundtable members, and my own team to develop opportunities (and an ideal environment) for GROWTH.  I invite you to join me!

How to Reinvent in a Dying Industry

October 21, 2009

I once read a very astute marketing consultant’s opinion of the newspaper industry.  He concluded that it was a “dying industry” and commented that “not since the town crier deliveNewspaperred the news” had he seen an industry truly facing extinction.  I agree that the industry is facing extinction… but ONLY if they don’t do something NOW to become as indispensable and relevant as they were in their industry “prime”.  And to be sure, the newspaper industry doesn’t stand alone in their need for reinvention and relevance.

While the dinosaurs may not have been able to escape their own extinction, today’s organizations are run by people… individuals who were created with the ability to reason, to create, and to navigate obstacles…. Individuals whose potential will never go “extinct”.
If you are leading an organization, association, business or INDUSTRY that looks with “dread” towards the future, I encourage you to do three things:
1) ACKNOWLEDGE REALITY.   Acknowledge (in detail and specifics) the top three challenges you are facing – no matter how daunting they appear.
2) ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION.  Ask yourself this one question, and spend some time journaling (if alone) or brainstorming (if in a group): Given what we are up against, what do we want to CREATE?
3) CULTIVATE SUPERIOR FOCUS.  Focus, when strategically applied to an (even daunting) obstacle, has the power to penetrate and expose.  FOCUS on HOW you can achieve RELEVANCE and be viewed as an INDISPENSABLE resource to the customers or clients you serve.  What specifically can you do?
Finally, ponder the word “REINVENTION” and set out to create something brand new.  If you (and your team) limit your focus to “reasonable” or “realistic” improvements in your current circumstance, you will stifle your ability to make a profound difference.  So DREAM BIG, but commit to ACTING SMALL.

Tougher Than The Times, Archive, Rolfe Carawan, Leadership, Keynote Speaker

October 20, 2009

Tougher Than The Times, Archive, Rolfe Carawan, Leadership, Keynote Speaker

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Actually, they were thinking of ME!

October 15, 2009

If you are “TiVo-ing” your favorite shows and skipping the commercials, you may be saving TIME, but losing a lot of opportunities to LEARN (and see me running across the screen during Monday Night Football!  Well, actually, I was in a Ford commercial that played during the game, but I digress…) Commercials (and print  or radio advertisements) can tell us a lot about peopleNFL… something we can never learn enough about.

Our success at work is dependent upon people, our happiness at home involves other people, our government’s policies and decisions are made by (and supposedly for) the PEOPLE.  The more we know about how people “work” … what they want…. what they hope for… what they lack…. what they worry about… the better off we will be in all areas of our lives.

This morning I ran across an ad for the 2010 Ford Transit Connect. Their tag lines “they were thinking of me” and  “specific for everyone” is perfect, and I suspect it will be profitable for them.  Why?  Because in a culture dominated by MASS PRODUCTION, GENERIC POLICIES, and ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL solutions, we are desperate for someone to talk (even MARKET) directly to US…

I speak a lot about our “sovereign foundation” and honoring ourselves as part of our own “success equation”.  The reason we all have different fingerprints isn’t just so we can be identified when we commit a crime.  We are so different from each other in so many ways, shaped by both NATURE and NURTURE, and we crave focused, specific-to-us communication.   (You’d be shocked at how similar we are as well… but that is for another blog! )

It’s a great lesson we can learn from the marketing team over at Ford… a lesson we can (and should) apply at home, at work, at the gym, and on the street.  If you commit to slowing down and speaking to every person you meet in a more specific, focused way…. I think you will be shocked at how (almost instantly) your income, your influence, your happiness, and your ability to produce results improves.  If I have spoken specifically to YOU in this blog, please email me and let me know!  I would love to hear from you!