How To Lead With Influence

Boy, wouldn’t that be awesome if there was a single blog post or essay that could tell you exactly how to lead with influence.  I’d want to read that guy’s blog every time he posted something.  But I don’t know how to answer the questions, so I’m going to give you some thoughts to ponder.

Men's Choir

The Men of Northridge

Positional influence is unfair and doesn’t work well.  Sure, people will appease their boss to his or her face, but we all know what happens behind their back.  There is this covert hostility in the workplace with positional leaders.  But there are leaders who lead with influence.  Some people have titles, some don’t.  Some do this on purpose, others are totally unaware they are doing it.
My cousin can make a white Lacoste polo look sharp.  He’s in great shape, and when he wears a basic shirt like that and he looks good in it, he makes me want to work out more, eat better, lose weight, and go buy a white Lacoste polo.  He wasn’t trying to do that.  In fact, he probably doesn’t even know he had that effect on me unless he’s reading this post right now.  So this is unintentional influential leadership.
There are others, like my dear friend and worship pastor at our church who lead hundreds and hundreds of creative arts volunteers.  His leadership is so inspiring and engaging, hundreds (possibly thousands) of people each year take time off work and away from family, put in tons of hours, drive long distances, and wear themselves out physically, mentally, and emotionally just to be a part of an awesome team and perform in our annual production, The Glory of Christmas.  And every person that volunteers leaves better than he or she started.  Granted, he has positional leadership, but he doesn’t use it.  He is such a great guy, that he continually earns the right to lead people.
Earning that right on an ongoing basis (versus riding on the coat tails of your past success or acquired position) is the only thing that will make people follow you by choice.  The results of this are profound.

Radical Positivity

I’ve been thinking…dangerous, I know…about how we always see the very things on which we focus.

If  you’re looking for things you don’t like, you’ll find them every time.  If you’re looking for things that inspire you, you’ll find yourself inspired.

I recently made a commitment to be 100% intentional about what I think about.  My mission: find reasons to be grateful.  It’s working well.

Harry S. Truman said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” I agree, Mr. Truman – I’m grateful for your input.

You Have to Look for It

We ask and answer about 350 questions every day. What will I wear? Should I address that? Or sometimes chilling questions like, “What color casket do you think he would have wanted?”

I ask God a question every day: “God, where are you working today and how can I help?” Here’s the challenge: we often ask a question and then don’t stick around long enough for the answer.

What’s more is we’re not the best listeners either. I always chuckle when I say something like, “Good morning!” And I hear, “I’m good. You?”

The reality is, when you ask something, stick around for the answer. If it doesn’t come, listen better. Sometimes it’s right in front of you, you’ve just forgotten what you were looking for.

My Thoughts on 9/11

11 years ago today, things changed.  I recalled my experience and was amazed at how real my memories are.

World Trade Center Building 1

World Trade Center Building 1

During the summer of 2001, my close friends got married, and, after the honeymoon, they moved into their apartment in the same complex I lived in and life was grand.  My friend and I would ride our motor bikes, he and his wife, and my fiance (now wife, Kari) and I would go on double dates; it was awesome.

Then, in August, they decided on a whim to move back where there families live…1200 miles away.  This broke my heart because I knew he was saying goodbye to his dreams.  It also was very difficult personally to have close friends move away.

Well, the night of September 10th, I dreamed about my friends.  I dreamed that we were back together again and having fun like we used to.  And then I woke up.  I was sad and irritated that the joy I had just experienced was only in my dreams.  So I did what I typically do when my heart was heavy – I read my Bible.

That morning was particularly fitting.  I read about how Israel had its temple, the symbol of the relationship the Israelite people have with God, completely destroyed.  In essence, their entire existence was shaken because their temple had been demolished.  Their identity was tarnished and it was bad news.

What I gleaned from that passage was that change is inevitable.  I guess I’d better get used to it.

In an eerily ironic fashion, my phone rang at the precise moment I closed my Bible.  My Dad was on the other end of the call and told me I needed to turn on the news.  I don’t watch the news and I never have (as a regular occurrence), so I was taken back that my Dad even suggested I turn it on.

He knows I don’t watch the news, I thought to myself.  What in the world is he wanting to me to see?  We’re in different time zones – what sort of news would we both be able to see?

As I turned on the news, I watched the plane fly into the South tower of the World Trade Center.  While I had no idea what happened or why, I found myself immediately in a total sense of calm and peace.

Oh yeah, change happens, I remembered from just moments earlier.

While I am absolutely not trivializing the needless and tragic deaths of the 2,752 people known to have died in the World Trade Center events alone, I am simply stating that we don’t have to attach the meaning we once attached to the iconic buildings that once stood tall in Manhattan.

My heart and prayers go out to the countless lives that were forever changed 11 years ago today.

Are you a person who fears change or resists it?  Why?

What I Learned Riding The Tea Cups

My wife and I have taken our kids to Disney for the first time.  In short, it’s simply amazing!

While riding the tea cups (the ride where you control how fast you spin), I gave my kids some helpful advice.  I said, “If you’re getting dizzy, look at my nose, and don’t take your eyes off.”  Upon sharing, it dawned on me: this is what we need to do when life seems to be spinning out control.

Spinning Out of Control

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto:

In my own life, when life gets crazy, it’s usually because I have taken my focus off God, as He’s my source and strength.  If that’s different in your life, the principle still applies.  Focus on what matters: family, faith, hope, etc.  Doing so will surely keep you from getting sick during hectic times.

What do you focus on when you feel out of control?  Does it help or hurt your situation?