3 Confessions of a Procrastinator

I have been meaning to write this post for a long time. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

A report is sitting in another opened document on my computer. It is half written and badly in need of detail and creativity. One of our clients is expecting it in two days. But as I was working on it, I found myself thinking of writing this blog post.
So I left it alone.
For now.
I’ll come back to it.
Eventually.

3 confessions of a procrastinator

As far back as I can remember, I have put things off. After all, why do today what is boring, hard, or just not fun? If you think that sounds undisciplined and shallow, you are absolutely right.

When I was young, I actually didn’t mind being a procrastinator. It felt freeing to me to just do things whenever I wanted to. But as I have become older, I realize I am not as productive or efficient as I want to be. What’s worse, I notice that others around me seem to be just as undisciplined as I am.

So I am looking to…

Oh, sorry I left and checked my email. A little “ding” sound emanated from my computer and I had to check it. Turns out that a new Groupon is available for me. Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was confessing my habit of procrastination.

Lead with Confidence

Have a great day! Sounds very cliché, right? But when someone says this, they probably mean it, even if they aren’t really thinking about it – or about you – too closely. Most people who say this really do want you to have a great day. Can you imagine if someone said, “I hope you have a blah day?” A bad day?

The thing is … we often say things we don’t mean. Worse, we sometimes say things we mean, but don’t know how to follow through on it. And when it comes to leadership, do we mean what we say? Say what we mean? Do what we mean?

How do we even learn what we need to know?

How do we learn to Lead with Confidence?

There is a lot of talk of leadership development. Classes, seminars, webinars. The topic continues to be on the upswing. In particular, an increasing concentration on leadership culture is growing in popularity. To me, this is important. As we explored in our recent book (authored by my business partner, Brian Zehr), THOROCITY: The Seven Critical Components to Lead with Confidence, leadership is not a singular subject. The noun may be, but as we point out, the verb is not.

The truth is – there are a LOT of tools and resources to describe leadership – but very few that explain HOW to lead with confidence in your own context.

follow the leader

What is Leadership?

Our mutual friend, Mr. Google, defines Leadership as the action of leading a group of people or an organization, the state or position of being a leader, or the leaders of an organization, country, etc.
Thanks to thousands of brilliant authors on the subject, the actual number of definitions probably boggles the mind.

My challenge is that most of them sound like the definition of management.

The answer (to me) is this: leadership is …

How do we do that?

Life is so much better when you know what to do

That’s a paraphrasing of the wisdom of Solomon, who said, “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

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Skill brings success

A manual of how to acquire the right skills should have followed Solomon’s words, but sadly we seem to be on our own. How do we learn the skills of leadership which bring success?

Martin was caught in mid sentence. A simple question from one of his team members had stopped him in his tracks. The question was, “HOW?” “How do we do that?”

Solving Your Number One Leadership Challenge

Sometimes I have a focus issue. That statement does not surprise those of you that know me well. I am easily bored and I love to be involved with many different challenges. Most leaders have similar issues.

See if this sounds familiar:

  • A member of our team isn’t a good fit, so we meet with him, but nothing really changes. Before we resolve the issue, we move on to something more pressing.
  • We block off time to think through our strategy and plan, only to find that someone else requires our care and wisdom. It always sounds good to say that we are available to lead those that need us but the truth is, we welcomed the interruption. It somehow makes us feel useful to ‘adjust’ our schedule.
  • A long awaited event is now two days away and we are frantically trying to catch up on the details. Subtly, we find ourselves resentful of all those who seem to just be watching us do everything.

Yep, leaders often have a hard time following through and staying with a project long enough to ensure that the right people are doing the right things to complete what needs to be accomplished.

Thorocity Cover No Name Update

We have excuses for our lack of focus, but at our most self-disclosing moments we are honest enough to admit that this is really not a good way to lead others. I believe that the number one leadership challenge leaders face is the ability to be thorough in what and whom we lead. It certainly is an area where I have struggled.

What I Learned About Leadership from my 10 Year Olds

My kids are twins. They’re 10. Going on 5. Or 35. Sorta depends on the day, I guess.

I have a son. He’s all boy. Sports. Dirt. Sweat.

I also have a daughter. She’s all girl. Clothes. Creativity. Curiosity.

With twins, everything’s competitive. I laugh frequently, because my athletic son cannot draw a stick man without a stencil. My very highly creative daughter, finds dribbling a basketball beneath her station. Yet – if one were to challenge the other’s skill in said ‘department’, well, let’s just say, “Game on!”

Sibling rivalry

Have you ever been competitive about something you know you’re not that good at …? 

What I Learned About Leadership From a Toothache

Leadership is using your influence to bring about change. Sometimes this needed change stirs things up to the point where pain and discomfort show up.

Now I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of pain. As a matter of fact, there have been times in my past where I have not led well because I knew that using my influence would cause pain both to others and myself.

But sometimes, pain is necessary.

I have a toothache. It won’t go away. I’ve been to the dentist twice but truthfully the dentist is who has caused the pain. Everything was fine until she messed with my mouth. To say that this pain is affecting me would be the understatement of my year. But this toothache has also allowed me to learn three crucial lessons that will improve my ability to influence others.

Who would think I could learn about leadership from a toothache?

toothache

First of all, pain has a direct affect on my capacity to make good decisions. Today if I take a sip of cold water my mouth feels like it is going to explode as pain shoots up the left side of my face. It feels like a “brain freeze”…

Overcoming Complacency

There are three things I know of that are growth killers for any organization.

Complexity kills - How complicated is it for people to get involved and lead in your organization? The old adage “people do what makes sense to them” is definitely still true.

Control kills – Does everything need to run through you, or a select leadership group? Or do you really let people lead? We all have control issues that threaten to limit the empowerment of others.

Overcoming complexity and control requires a strong dose of self-awareness and intentional skill development.

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But the third growth killer may be the most lethal of them all.

Snow Cream

I remember a time many years ago when my girls were young. It was a very cold, windy, snowy day and they were home from school. I wanted to do something fun and different so we decided to make snow cream. We mixed up some sugar, whipped cream and vanilla and then it was time to add the snow. My oldest daughter went outside to find the cleanest, purest snow she could as my youngest daughter and I watched from the window all cozy and warm. She collected the snow and as we began mixing it in with the other ingredients we started to see little specks of dirt show up. I tried my best to get all the dirt out but when we started to eat the snow cream we quickly noticed the dirt was still there. We decided at that point that we didn’t want to eat dirty snow cream so we gave up and rinsed it down the drain.

snow

This made me start to think about our lives.

Three Common Mistakes when Developing Leaders

It all started when I was in my mid twenties. That was when I first experienced the reality that I can’t do it all myself. Actually, I’m sure I experienced this fact much earlier in life but I was too young and arrogant to admit it. Anyway, I remember specifically feeling the need for more leaders. Without new leaders it seemed that every solution to my leadership problems was short lived. No, I needed long-term solutions.

So I picked up a John Maxwell book on developing leaders and I was hooked. Developing Leaders was what my life was going to be about.

The problem was that as good as the books and seminars were there was one variable that no theory or principle could prepare me for. People. People are not very predictable nor did they cooperate with what I wanted them to do. So as I aspired to develop leaders I made every mistake that you could possibly make.

Lead which way

Here are three of my biggest blunders … and three common mistakes when developing leaders.

Weary?

I live in the suburbs of Chicago. It’s Winter 2013-14.

We’ve had a LOT of snow (more coming this weekend!). And it’s been really, really cold this winter.

Funny thing is, I actually LOVE winter. I prefer the cold over the heat because, well, you can wear more clothes if it’s cold. But you can’t really do much if it’s hot, humid and muggy (which isn’t too rare in Chicagoland in the summer).

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But – I’m weary now. Tired of it. Had enough.

Ever get that way? With anything?