Monday, October 25, 2010

Choose Your Future by Choosing Your Influence

"Show me your friends and I will show you your future." These were the words spoken by motivational speaker Keith Robinson at a recent conference I attended in Ames. These words struck me as I reflected on my own experience as a teen and college student. I found myself agreeing more as I reflected on the different periods of growth in my faith, character and leadership.

I couldn't agree more with this statement. I am a product of who I have surrounded my life with. Therefore, my present life (future) is a result of my friends in years past. This started as a teen as I sought to model my life after a Coach and Mentor in my life, Jim Probst. As I severed ties with the friends who influenced my life negatively, I found myself desiring the influence and impact of someone I esteemed as having great success. He was successful with life vision, life purpose, life relationships, faith and leadership.

I have found that our friends really influence three major aspects in our life. First, who we spend significant time with influences our ambitions. What we desire and aspire to do is strongly influenced by what our friends want to do. This is addressing what we want to accomplish in life. Our friends influence our future accomplishment. Will it be good? Worthy of true admiration of others?

Secondly, our friends strongly influence our direction. The path I walk and the life I live is greatly shaped by those whom I seek approval from. Our friends can push and pull us in directions we know may hinder our character and leadership development.

Thirdly, our friends influence our beliefs and core values. This may be the stongest caution I would give. Our friends can help shape our beliefs and core values, which ultimately determine our outlook on life. Ask yourself, "Are my friends helping me value what is really important in life?" Also, consider your influence. Is your impact helping others' grow in their character and leadership?

In short, who we surround our lives with shapes our decisions and sets us on a course. To choose your course in life, be sure to carefully choose your friends.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Failure and Decisive Leadership

Watch the video on Failures developing Success:

Watch the video a second time and jot down some notes on what must have been the influencing factors that influenced these leaders to not give up?

One of the necessary ingredients to success involves learning from failure. Many see failure as a closed door rather than another part of the journey. Our perspective must change about failures and difficulties in life. These are defining moments for leadership. Our decision to either learn and grow from these failures or simply turn and quit rest on the our perspective on failures. These leaders mentioned in this video were relying on more than just a perspective on failures though.

These leaders had a right vision or a right perspective to live for and when failure came, they made decisions to respond differently to these failures. These leaders did not let circumstances dictate their response to failure. They CHOSE to pursue their vision in life despite any set backs. WHY? Speculate on those reasons and share what criteria must we possess to decide to use failures as ingredients for success.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Commitment Brings Break Through

Commitment is what separates "doers" from "dreamers." Many people can dream ideas but few can carry the vision to a completed, successful reality. What is the key ingredient? Commitment! Merriam-Webster defines commitment as the "act of pledging or agreeing to do something in the future." Effective leadership involves pledging to complete or fulfill a dream or vision to successful completion.

Understanding the nature of commitment will provide insight on how to practice effective commitment:

1. Commitment must start from WITHIN. Commitment always precedes achievement. To achieve, you must decide within your own heart, mind or soul to bring a dream to pass. Furthermore, commitment decides to achieve regardless of how circumstances may create ease or difficulty.

2. Measurement of commitment is found in action. Leaders must be people of action and decision, not just position. Commitment is what starts the engine of motion to practice the skills and goals to bring the dream or vision to fulfillment.

3. Commitment is the enemy of resistance. Leaders attempting to fulfill a dream or accomplish a goal WILL find obstacles in the path of accomplishment. Commitment is a resolve to work through those obstacles. When the enemy of resistance raises its voice, commitment resounds with a louder cry!

What kind of a leader will you be? A Cop-out? Holdout? Dropout? or All-out? What characteristics would you use to describe those previous four leaders (defined by John Maxwell)? In other words, how would you describe a "Cop-out? or All-out?"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Leading by Following

You'll find mass followers and you'll find the leader who initiates but another role of leadership is needed and that is the first follower. When you see someone passionately step out and take the lead on some worthy initiative, a few brave followers will be the first to follow this lead. This initial group of followers are leaders! They are creating a movement that encourages others to listen to the message or influence of the movement. All great leaders have first followers. Every presidential candidate has a loyal cabinet. Every great organization has a leadership team. Every successful team has a leadership team with a successful coaching staff.

What do these first followers do for leadership? The following outlines the benefits the first followers provide the leader:
1. Gives credibility. Those who initially step out and follow a new initiative communicate to others this new mission is worth following. The first followers are inviting others to follow their lead by following a worthy mission.

2. Initiates movement. The first followers initiates the movement of the mission. This expands the influence of the mission and or the message of the leader. Any influence by a leader or leadership team needs others to carry the message.

3. Creates momentum. The first followers start the snowball effect. There are many who may think the movement or leaders is worth following but lack the courage or motivation to jump in. However, when the movement grows from the initiative of the first followers, others are more willing.

Identify movements in our school worth following and be the first followers. You can tell someone how to fish or you can take them fishing. There are worthy "movements, missions and messages" worth spreading. However, they need leaders. Not just those who run the show but those who are willing to first identify themselves with the mission and teach others how to follow. What are some worthy missions or movements (not organizations or teams) needing first followers in our school? What steps of action are needed by these first followers?