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Posts Tagged ‘Doing the Right Thing’

When you think of the word “legacy,” what person or organization comes to mind? Are you thinking of someone or organization because they left a positive legacy, or a negative one?

Why do you think their legacy made such an impression on you?

Think of it in terms of the ripple effect; envision the concentric circles formed in a pool when you drop a stone into it. The center-most circle is the first impression the person/organization made on you. The next ring is when they did or didn’t earn your trust. The third ring is what they did to maintain (or break) your trust and respect. The fourth ring is their current impact — what they are doing now, in real time. The outer-most ring is their future impact, and this one reaches the farthest.

What was your first impression?

What initially earned your trust and respect?

How does the person continue to earn/maintain your trust and respect?

What is the current impact of this person or organization?

How will tomorrow be different because of this person’s/organization’s impact?

Yesterday, I introduced you to one of my former leaders, Tom Stokes, CEO of Tree Top, Inc. My first impression of him was that he was a regular guy. When I interviewed with him, he was clearly comfortable in his role and in his skin. He was open, welcoming, treated me with respect and as if I had expertise the organization needed. While my position would be a couple of layers beneath his in the org chart, he treated me as if we were equals — equally valuable and with much to offer.

He was open, honest, transparent about the challenges facing the organization, and about its strengths. He had a vision and a plan for what he needed to do, and was building his inner circle to ensure he had competent, confident people around him to carry out the work. He was supportive and straight with me, even when circumstances called for difficult conversations. He conferred with his inner circle, gave serious consideration to the various inputs he received, and did not shy away from making the hard decisions.

While I’ve been away from the organization for five years, I understand he has not changed in these respects. I maintain my connections and friendships with former co-workers, and they respect him, as well. He’s done enormous good within the communities where the company operates, both in terms of financial support and through staff expertise and collaboration.

Personally, aside from everything I’ve said about him so far, he has proven to me that functional, healthy organizations do exist. And having worked for a number of them, I’ve personally experienced the opposite in terms of dysfunction and poor leadership.

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Can’t believe we are starting the second half of this year, already. It seems like it was just January!

I’m sure you can think of leaders who have left a lasting legacy; some positive and some not so much!

When I ponder this concept, I think of Tom Stokes, long-time CEO of Tree Top, Inc. I worked with Tom a number of years ago, and have a great deal of respect for him. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked for 10 different companies, and Tom stands head and shoulders above any other executive I’ve worked for or with over the past 20+ years.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put him on a pedestal as the perfect leader, but he did a number of things I’ve not personally experienced to-date. First, he worked his way up through the company, so he knew the organization from all angles. He was/is conscientious about building strong relationships with the people around him, both inside and outside the organization. He hires the talent he needs and empowers them to do what they were hired to do, respecting their expertise and listening to their advice before making decisions. He’s open, humble, has a good sense of humor, and knows what he’s there to do and who he’s there to serve.

I’ve been hearing he may be thinking of retiring in the next few years. If that’s the case, he’s certainly earned it, as he has carefully steered the company through many years — some quite prosperous and some quite bumpy! I imagine the Board will be hard pressed to replace him with someone of equal caliber.

There’s no doubt in my mind, Tom will be leaving a positive, lasting legacy.

As a leader, it’s critical that you behave in accordance with your espoused values. If you merely pay lip service to them, it will become quickly apparent, and will have a damaging affect on your effectiveness, credibility, and potential for accomplishing anything. However, when you are in sync with your value, and authentically model them over time, the ripple effects of your influence can be felt over the course of several generations.

Take some time today to consider how well you have modeled the values you claim to hold dear. What effect are you having on those around you?

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By refusing to give up when life’s circumstances conspire against us, we powerfully model the value of perseverance.

Who is watching when you go through hard times in life?

How can you inspire them by the way you act?

What will they learn by watching you?

In 2002, I went through a life-changing leadership training program. During the five weeks I spent in this program, I was made aware that as a leader, one is always “on stage,” so to speak. Meaning, someone is always watching. Think of yourself as a role model, because you are influencing others around you about how to behave in certain situations.

So, will you teach them to persevere? Or to give up when times get tough?

You get to choose. I hope you choose wisely.

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We have come to the end of week two…Friday’s sure do seem to come quicker these days, especially when one is really busy.

I’ve been in Guatemala City all week, working with John Maxwell, EQUIP, and my fellow John Maxwell Team-mates preparing for and teaching Transformational Leadership to groups of leaders from the seven streams of influence: Government, education, business, media, arts & entertainment, the faith community, and family. We have been teaching the principles shared in John’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth (this is really powerful material; if you are at all inclined toward growing yourself, and you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it. In fact, I take that one step further and recommend you join a Mastermind Group on this topic and work through the book with a small group of other growth-oriented individuals so you can learn together and from each other), as well as 15 values inherent in transformational leaders.

It’s been an amazing, invigorating, exciting, educational, and fun week. I’ve stretched and grown. I’ve helped others stretch and grow. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in many ways. I’ve met some amazing new people. I’ve gotten to know so many of my JMT Team-mates so much better. I’ve discovered new opportunities I hadn’t even imagined. We donated a variety of materials and supplies to some orphanages; I brought art and school supplies, primarily.

Tomorrow, we will have our last teaching sessions, and after lunch we will be the guests at a huge party celebrating our investment in this effort of transforming the culture of Guatemala. What an amazing opportunity this has been!

So, you can see, my weekend will not be a typical time of rest and restoration! Saturday will be quite full and I will be traveling on Sunday.

What will you do with your weekend?

What relationships do you need to build, nurture, grow…repair?

What activities would you like to spend time and energy doing?

What do you need to do to be prepared for the start of a new week on Monday?

What do you need to be thinking about and planning for, for the next few weeks?

Have an intentional, enjoyable weekend!

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As we near the end of week two, month six, look at the team of people working around you. What do you think are the most difficult aspects of their jobs?

As you consider this question, write down the top two or three biggest challenges you think they face.

Now, consider what simple actions could you take to help your co-workers persevere through the challenges of their daily work?

Plan it out and take action. You’ll make a huge difference in their day and you may be surprised by how good you feel…and how much easier it might now be for you to work through some of your own challenges.

The test of character is not ‘hanging in’ when you expect light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know no light is coming.   ~Admiral James Stockdale

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Folks: As you know, this month I am writing about perseverance, and while updating my Facebook page today, I came across this story from my friend and accountant, Rebecca Dimit. It struck me immediately as a tale of perseverance in many aspects. I asked her for permission to share it with you, and she graciously agreed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“For the past few months, my three year old son, JJ, has been planning (on his own) a suprise birthday fight for my dad’s birthday. So we decided to make the party a suprise also. In April, JJ loaded up a bag of toy weapons and took them to my parents for the fight. He has been very persistant about it. He decided it would be boys against girls. He even planned out who would have what weapon.  He was so excited when the day had finally arrived!  Apparently, JJ had inherited some of Dad’s vision and ability to plan details and patiently wait for things to fall into place.

My sister from NC was here with her 3 babies (3 and under) and my brother and I and our families and several of dad’s closest friends and family where in attendance at the birthday party that evening. We grilled out on the grill Dad LOVED and ate dinner outside (something Dad enjoyed so much).  After the meal, JJ ran inside to get the small arsenal of weapons he had collected and began distributing them. Even my baby neice, Claire, (almost 2) had a small plastic dagger to hold while on my hip. My mom played Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes. I lead the girls team from around the house running and shouting “Charge.” Mom continued to play while we “fought” with toy guns, swords, bow and arrows, baseball bats, etc to the beautiful ancient war music.  It was the most fun and fabulous birthday fight I have ever seen. After the battle, we had a moment of silence, then mom played Amazing Grace for the wounded.  Dad thought it was hilarious. 🙂  We got some video and great pictures of Dad with the family.

Later that night, we got all the kids to go to sleep and my sibilings and I sat around the kitchen table talking and laughing.  Mom finally wore out and went upstairs to bed at midnight.  She passed Dad in the hallway, they kissed.  He patted her on the butt (as he often did).  Then he sat down at the computer and Mom went to bed.  A few minutes later he had the stroke.  The last thing he heard was the laughter of his children and the sweet silence of knowing that we were all there in the house safe, happy, and loved.

He died quickly and practically painlessly.  My Dad had amazing vision and planned out every detail of everything.  He couldn’t have arranged a more perfect time for death. God arranged every detail perfectly.  Dad never gave up a fight.  He taught me to fight with determination and faith.  He was one of my closest friends and valued advisors, when I wanted to complete my college degree in less than the traditional length of time, he showed me how to obtain special permission to take more credit hours than the college allowed (after being denied by a few school officials) by encouraging to me keep fighting it until I got what I wanted.  He never stopped encouraging me to take the CPA exam and in the 13 years of that journey, he was the only one who told me not to give up on my dream.  He knew I could do it and I never would have if it weren’t for my Dad.

I respect my Dad and am so proud of him and his life.  He was anxiously anticipating his retirement. He had accomplished almost everything he set out to do for his life and was finally ready to rest.  In my soul, I  know that Dad is enjoying the best retirement ever now.  He didn’t get to buy the sports car he always wanted, instead he can soar through the clouds.  He didn’t get to travel the world with mom, instead he got to see the moon and stars.  He didn’t get to build his dream house, instead he is living in a mansion far more perfect and wonderful than he could have ever imagined.  He didn’t get the state position he often mentioned he wanted, instead he is now in kahoots with the very top dog.  I know Dad is in Heaven anticipating the arrival of each of us.  If he could talk to us, he would encourage us to keep fighting and never give up.  II Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day…”  Wednesday, June 8’th, Dad finished his fight.  Even in his death he will be helping other people.  What more could a person ask for in death?

My six year old daughter, Lacey was sad at first, but yesterday she woke up and said with a big smile that she wasn’t sad anymore. She was so excited that Poppie was up in Heaven walking around with Jesus. 🙂  My neice Kylee had a similar reaction. Throughout their childhood, both the girls and JJ have been told often about how wonderful Heaven is with beautiful dresses, crowns, and castles. I wanted to nurture the beautiful image of Heaven and make it something they could anticipate in such an event as this.

I appreciate each of Dad’s friends and family so much and the love and support you have offered us during this time of grief. Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and sympathy. We will need them over the years. We are a very close family so the pain is deep, but also, we have each other to lean on during this time and above all we have the comfort of knowing that Dad is finally getting the rest he has worked so hard for all his life.”

Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your story with all of us!

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The reality of leadership is that it requires hard work and regular investments of energy and sweat!

As a leader, there will be times when you encounter resistance. There will be times when you question whether the time, energy, and effort are worth it. There will be times when you feel like giving up. What you choose to do in your darkest moments will define you as a leader. When adversity comes to call, will you fade into the background or will you persist in fighting to move forward?

The truth is, nobody advances in leadership by coasting to the top. Leaders are distinguished by struggling upward through the daily grind.

Consider the story of Nelson Mandela. He was convicted of treason and sentenced to a life of hard labor in prison for his anti-apartheid convictions. For 18 years, he lived in a cramped cell and toiled in a rock quarry. Each year, he was allowed 30 minutes with a visitor and could receive and send only two letters. These were his only opportunities to communicate with the outside world.

It’s reasonable for you to assume that since I’m telling you his story as a lesson in perseverance, you already know what choices he made with respect to fading away — allowing some pretty depressing circumstances to alter the course of his life — or choosing to persist.

His perseverance and strength of character over those 18 years he was incarcerated earned him the respect of everyone, including his prison guards! Rather than drifting into obscurity while in prison, Mandela boosted his image while in prison. When he was released, he emerged with a higher profile than ever and leveraged his influence to bring about liberty and a democratic South Africa.

No small feats, indeed!

As we move into month six on our Intentional Leadership journey, take a few minutes to consider your responses to the following questions:

What unfavorable conditions are making your leadership difficult?

What steps can you take to remove or neutralize the sources of resistance on the job?

How might you grow stronger by enduring these hard times?

What rewards might you receive if you persevere through the toughest aspects of your job?

We will be digging deeper into these thoughts in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to working through them with you.

In the meantime, have an intentional day!

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