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Leadership, Business, Coaching, Recognition and Appreciation

Leaders grow and learn from each other. As a lifelong entrepreneur, business man, youth basketball, soccer, & football coach, husband of one and parent of two, I have learned from and served beside some of the best. This blog is my attempt to share some of my experience and to show appreciation for all those who have poured into me over the years

Pull Over, Take a Break!

Pull Over, Take a Break!

"Pull over!" The thought that kept flashing through my mind...

Driving north on Hwy 61 we came upon a small truck transporting a farm implement. The truck was only going 30 miles an hour and for good reason. The implement it was hauling was large and the trailer it was sitting on had wheels of the wobbly nature. The driver was not making the typical short trip from the field to the farm. He was most likely delivering a new combine attachment for a farmer needing to get his crops off the field. This is a common sight in rural Wisconsin during harvest season. 

How could this driver not be aware of the long line of cars and semis lined up behind him? He had a dozen opportunities to pull over and let others pass, but he didn't. There was a two mile stretch with a third lane for passing, but there was no passing there because of road maintenance.

I had no deadlines to meet. It was simply a trip home after a long, and perfect anniversary weekend with my wife of 25 years. But the miles in this slow moving line kept ticking off. Was this a test orchestrated just for me? Were there cameras somewhere just waiting to take my picture as I did something stupid? It was getting hard to believe, and as the anger and frustration began to brew in me, I was letting this unaware driver wreck my day.

After about ten miles, all the other vehicles between us had turned off. I could finally pass this irritating fellow. I glanced over at him and resisted the temptation to wave in a "not so friendly" manner. There he was, both hands on the wheel, eyes fixed straight ahead. He was not mad at me. He didn’t even know I existed, which was part of the problem. The other part of the problem was that I had let him get to me. I had let the experience steal my former attitude of gratitude.

Thinking back to mile two, I remembered an inner nudge to pull over and get out to stretch my legs for a bit. It was a nudge I should have listened to instead of putting myself through this little ordeal.  At that point I had full control and could have removed myself from the situation, by taking a break. I could have fed my soul just by stretching my legs. Instead, I chose to stay in line and let anger and frustration grow. Those feelings stuck with me the rest of the day. Soul pollution. It wouldn’t have had to happen.

Moral of this story: Guard your soul. Keep your grateful outlook on life. Pull over and stretch.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A reminder of breast cancer awareness month from those of us at Apple Awards and Sport Plaques

 
 

There is hardly a family anywhere that has not been affected by breast cancer in some way.

Her Story

It surprised Kim during an annual check up when the doctor discovered a lump. Perhaps it was a simple hematoma? She was a young mother, only in her early thirties. Instead, tests confirmed a diagnosis of breast cancer and her family geared up for the treatment process. A supportive husband and newly adopted little daughter, along with parents, her sister and extended family made up her team. The times of waiting were hard. The times of treatment were hard. The decisions were complicated. Over the next nine months Kim navigated the journey of all survivors. They will affirm it is a bit like riding a roller coaster, except that very little of it is fun. It is a life changing journey.
Today, Kim is ten years cancer free.  She is a home-school mom, an active organizer in her daughter’s dance troupe, an involved member of her church, a worker in the concierge industry, and a person who does not take life for granted. She is quick to offer help and words of wisdom to others experiencing breast cancer because she has “been there” and knows what it is like. What her experience has taught her, she states this way:
  

“I used to spend way too much time in cleaning my home, having things a certain way, always working on something. Now, I value time with my family. I realized how little time we have on earth and I wanted to change how I used it. My family now puts our time and money in time together, travelling, seeing the world, experiencing all we can together, being there for each other.” She is a grateful survivor.

 
 

Think Pink!

October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, reminds us that research has provided treatment options for those experiencing breast cancer.  Again this year, Apple Awards supports ongoing research by donating 10% of annual proceeds from sale of the pink crystal apple to this important cause. Do you know someone who needs encouragement or who needs to be recognized and celebrated as a survivor? This crystal apple is a gift that will do just that and also contribute to research for future advancements in treatment. Win/win.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Deception

Deception

The Problem

Deception is a very powerful force in our lives. It vies for our attention. This force doesn’t matter whether we believe it comes from the devil or is just a product of our minds. It is real and there is no denying it. If left to fester it will infect our hearts and then every relationship we have. The only way I know to battle the deception in my life is to expose it. This is how I do it. 

Some Solutions

  1. Identify and nurture relationships with healthy people who I can trust to tell me the truth about who I am and who I could be. They need to not only tell me about my great worth, but also to lovingly help me identify sin and destructive behaviors when they see them in my life.

 

  1. Serve. I feel the most vulnerable to deception when my life is out of balance. This happens when there is more focus on myself and less on others. I need to take care of myself before I can wholeheartedly serve others, but the more the scale tips toward serving myself, the more I start going places I don’t truly want to be. 

 

  1. Pray & write. Some call it meditation, I call it prayer. Finding a quiet place where I can reflect or talk to God always helps me. The deceiver wants to keep me busy all the time. I personally find the most clarity when I write things down. I am full of great advice for others. When I write these thoughts down, I see them more as coming from a third party. I’m then able to objectively hear my own advice to myself.  I often find it easier to be vulnerable with myself than with others. My writing exposes where my heart is. If I have a concern about what is exposed, I know I must share it with (#1) trusted people and get the help I need. 

 

And Why It Matters to Me

I was designed for a purpose in life and I am determined not to miss out on that because I have been deceived.

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Tradition at Edgar High

Tradition at Edgar High

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of stopping by Edgar High School, one of our long time customers, where I was able to visit with Athletic Director Jim Steinke. Since purchasing Sport Plaques three years ago, I have been impressed with this school's dedication to its student athletes. The high school's enrollment is 191 students, of which 50 are out for this year's football team! The school has a tradition of handing out parent night plaques to every one of their student athletes, through all three seasons. These plaques include a picture of every athlete, in full uniform, along with their Wildcat mascot and the year.

 

 

In short, Edgar High has consistently made a big deal out of participation. In a small school, participation can make all the difference in the world when it comes to fielding a team, creating depth in athletic programs and fostering school pride. When student athletes get good coaching and are made to feel special just to be a part of something, as they are at Edgar, the results speak for themselves. 

Evidence of this became apparent to me as Jim walked me down by the gym where they house their state championship trophies. The wall was lined with photo plaques of their many state champions. I have to admit it was impressive and intimidating. What do I mean by intimidating? Jim explained that visiting teams, coming to town on game night, are led past the trophy case on their way to the locker room. There is so much gold & silver in that room I needed to put my sunglasses on to dull the glare . Their preserved legacy of high performing athletes speaks for itself. 

 

 




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A Good Name

A Good Name

A Good Name

I remember starting my first business venture as an adult in my small hometown of Hayward, Wisconsin, back in 1982. I felt, for lack of a better word, a lot of privilege in being the son of Gwen and Owen Smith, my parents. Both my parents grew up in Hayward and my dad was a farmer and later a businessman. He operated an excavating company and bought and sold real estate. My parents had established a good name in the community over the years. That good name went a long way in helping me to get good opportunities. It helped me quickly gain trust that might not have been  immediately available to everyone. I am so grateful for that foundation they laid. On it I started my entrepreneurial journey. 

My Own Name

And then I remember thinking to myself, I don’t want to be known only as Gwen and Owen’s son. I want to make my own name, for myself, too. It did not take long for me to learn that the family name had opened the door but it would be my own competency and character that would keep that door open. In my business I was only as good or trustworthy as my last interaction with my followers. Eventually my employer, employees or customers would not care about the family name or the great reference from a friend or past employer. All they would care about is who I was, or  more importantly, who I was becoming as a person and leader. Then I would start to establish my own name and reputation. 

What I Learned

It is good to take full advantage of who you know and their willingness to give you a foot in the door. In this world we need all the help we can get. But don’t put too much stock in how far that name or reference will get you. All too quickly, you will be required  to stand on your own two feet and start making your own name. Your own good work ethic, good character and a humble spirit are definitely needed for success. Even these won’t necessarily guarantee you success, but they will guarantee that you won’t leave the person who gave you the “leg up” looking like a fool. 





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Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples
Apples are a symbol of recognition, and this is their season. It's time to recognize apples!

It’s autumn. It’s the season for one of our favorite fall foods and if you’re thinking pumpkin latte, give it another thought. It’s the apple. As you might guess, here at Apple Awards we are fans of the apple in all its various forms and this is the time of year when apples provide not only enjoyable eating experiences but also enjoyable family outings. It might be time for your family to take a trip to an Apple Festival, or maybe even to an orchard to do a little picking.

Because the tree requires a cool, dormant period, apples are naturally a more northern fruit, but since they grow well in zones 3-8, they grow within traveling distance of most of our country. There are also many varieties of apples that ripen at different times so from early September until late October harvests will be occurring and Apple Festivals, parades and cooking contests abound. Many venues have apples to pick, activities for children and adults, food to sample, and interesting crafts and vendors. And absolutely nothing beats the flavor and fun of biting into that apple that you’ve just pulled off the tree yourself.

Finding that special apple venue is as easy as clicking here 2019 Apple Festivals . Close to Apple Awards in the mid-west, for instance, is the Bayfield Apple Festival in Bayfield, Wisconsin. It’s been called one of the 10 Best Harvest Festivals in the nation by USA TODAY. This year it’s a three-day event, October 4th, 5th, and 6th - 10 am to 5 pm. The tempering influence of Lake Superior creates a climate perfect for certain varieties of apples and the picturesque farms, rolling hills with colorful trees and views of the lake are beautiful and calming. There are opportunities to sample everything apple including pies, cobblers, cakes, ciders, butters and even bratwurst and mustard! Fifteen local orchards are participating with apples for sale and orchard tours.

Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, MacIntosh, Rome, Black Gilliflower, Honeycrisp, Thompkins King, Sweet Tango, Pink Lady – some you’ve heard of and probably some you haven’t… go to an apple festival this fall for an educational, memorable and fun family activity. And don't forget, for recognition purposes, Apple Awards has a variety of stunning apples ready for picking too. Check them out!

 

 

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Running the Race

Running the Race

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II Timothy 4:7

 

We are all running a race - it's called life. What elements help you through that tough "middle" of the journey? Is your life focus people or possessions?

The Race: Getting In

Running track in high school provided some of the most important life lessons I can remember. Entering was easy, especially when the actual event was days away. The closer the start, the more I became anxious, even to the point of throwing up at times.

The Dip in the Middle

Once the gun went off it became more of a mental battle than a physical one for me. I remember at times, toward the middle of  the course, I would enter the dip, the point where I wanted to quit. My mind would look for just about any reason to come up lame. Even if I was in front at the time, the effort to stay there seemed overwhelming to me.

The Finish

As I got closer to the finish line, I would begin to reach a point which I called breakthrough, the adrenaline would kick in, my breathing would even out, and to a certain degree, the muscle pain would lesson.  Finishing became the only thing. Quitting because of the mental battle going on in my mind was no longer an option. I remember the relief of crossing the finish line, victorious or not. To me, finishing bought great satisfaction even if I did not come across first. I always knew I did my best, and for a short moment I would actually look forward to the next time.

The Life Race

Any race worth running has three distinct parts to it. The beginning, the middle and the end. The beginning and the end are very important and are critical elements. But for me, the middle is where I struggle the most. Life is like a race, and a life well lived can look vastly different from individual to individual. Our choices define why I am running, and the track I am on. It is important that I run on the right track.  If I’m not, I know that "middle" will destroy me and the end will feel hollow and unfulfilling.

 Lessons from High School Track

I have learned that I am running the right race when I sense more people than things in my life. I find that middle dip is easier to get through when relationships are central and not just material possessions. My track experience applied to life would look like this:

Race + God/People/Relationships = Greatest Satisfaction

Race + Material Possessions = Hollow and Unfulfilling

What do you race for or with? Find your race and run with all your heart and soul!

 

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The Truth Quest: Your Truth or Mine?

The Truth Quest: Your Truth or Mine?


I had a fun conversation with my wife the other day on our way out to the lake. She said “I am worried about you. A while back you made a statement in your blog about your truth, my truth and universal truth. I don’t know what that means. Real truth is the same for everyone.” Her statement made me pause and rethink what I was trying to say.

 

The Quest

I feel that the quest for truth is a fundamental foundation to good leadership and a peaceful conscience. I think it is important for us to recognize that, as unique individuals, what we perceive can be different. The fact that we may not agree on what is true, does not change what is true. We may have truthfully experienced or seen something differently, but our experience or our perception of what we saw does not change what actually is.

 

Perception Changes

So that brings us back to how do we know what is true? Often our idea of what is true is based on what we know at the time - the evidence. Until some can show or prove that what we think to be true at the time is not actually true, it is true for us. Once someone shows us a different way, our old “truth” just becomes our perception of what was true. The truth did not change, just our perception did. That is why we have to understand that finding what is true is a quest. Because we are capable of always learning (and making mistakes), we are capable of discovering new truths everyday.


Truth Does Not

A Nazarene named Jesus once said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8: 31-32. To me, the implication is that as long as we remain students (disciples) and in this case learn from the word of God, we will be shown the unchanging truths of this life and the afterlife. And to know what is really true is freeing, empowering and life giving.

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Leadership Maps: Where You've Been, Where You're Going

Leadership Maps: Where You've Been, Where You're Going

 As leaders we leave a wake behind us of our past leadership. 

Knowing where one has been is as important as knowing where we are going. I am not saying our past performance is an accurate predictor of the future, but reflecting on the past and learning from it helps us learn from our mistakes and build a better future. Seeing victories, no matter how small or large they might have been can encourage us and give us the hope we need to sustain ourselves through leaderships valleys.

 Building a visual tool that allows us to look back over a longer period of time could be one way of determining if our leadership is headed in the right direction or if we need to adjust our sails a bit. 

I recently visited my daughters soccer coaches office and noticed her method for doing just this. I love her central mission and how she builds on that by visually illustrating her avenues for living it out and recording accomplishments along the way.  With her permission I am sharing her bulletin board as just one potential idea. 


Yours or mine might look much different but the challenge for us is to examine our process. Have we created a tool that clearly states the reason for our leadership, the avenues we are going to take and the accomplishments or setbacks we have experienced along the way?  

 

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The Art of Unity

The Art of Unity

In a world where diversity is almost worshiped, unity gets lost and we can forget how to achieve it. Yet unity, in families, businesses, and even in government, is so important to forward progress that it cannot be ignored. It is an art.

 The Art of Unity

There seems to be a lot of buzz about what unity is and what it isn’t. When seeking unity with others I concentrate on:

  • Being pure at heart
  • Knowing I may have an opinion, but I am not the judge.
  • Seeing possibilities in others, being patient with them, avoiding assumptions about them
  • Letting the truth speak for itself. Truth does not need to be defended. In the words of Augustine. “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”
    • Silencing others does not expose truth, letting them speak does.
    • Knowing that just because it has been said or written down does not make something true
    • Knowing an author's history does make a difference
  • Understanding that people are very complicated, often a culmination of their experience more than their education.
  • Knowing that there is no such thing in relationships as pure black or pure white. Grey areas exist and need to be understood and exposed for what they are.
  • Admitting, “I honestly don’t know the answer to that.”
  • Loving, even when you disagree

These are my thoughts on the art of unity.  I would love to hear yours.






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Oh, the Possibilities!

Oh, the Possibilities!

Hypocrite? Who, Me?

I just noticed the hypocrite in me. I am  listening to the book “The Art Of Possibility” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.  Even though I think of myself as a pretty positive person the word “possible” is not exactly the first thing I think of when faced with a life challenge, especially as I get older. It has been my experience that my human nature seems more likely to respond “that's impossible” than “I see a possibility here”. 

I grew up with a very loving father who was very optimistic and believed anything that HE was doing was possible. But what I was doing would scare him to death, so he took a more realistic or pessimistic (my perspective) attitude toward it. I am sure he felt he was just keeping me from ruin or heart ache. Now that I am a father of adult children, the hypocrite emerges.  I understand what my father was feeling and find myself saying and sharing the very same words and feelings with my children. (ouch!) 

Father Knows Best?

I remember my father always saying “if I were twenty years younger I would …” or “If a guy were to...“. I remember thinking to myself, what is he trying to tell me? I’m a guy, I’m 20 years younger - maybe he thinks I should do it. But it rarely turned out that way. Once he thought I was interested in exploring the possibilities of one of his ideas, he would turn back into the realistic, devil's advocate that any loving father would be. This appears to be the default in our culture, especially the older we get and the more we have to lose. If it is going to be hard and there are more unknowns than knowns then we best not take the risk.  

Wise Words

Jesus taught his disciples “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The truth I think he is telling me is that the more I have to lose, the harder it is for me to see the possibility of what I have to gain in taking a risk. If I lose that child-like faith and attitude, I simply don’t have the eyes to see the same possibility in things. 

Jesus goes on to tell them “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to keep that child-like faith of possibility and model it to my family, employees and community, no matter how old and risk averse I become. 

 

 

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Choosing A Response

Choosing A Response

 

I struggle with crafting a good response when my paradigm of the world is challenged.  But, how I respond is an important factor when representing the organizations I help lead. The easiest “out” is to just be silent and not engage in the conversation, especially publicly in places like social media. 

But staying silent does not help change the world, and it just makes me feel like a coward. 

Whenever I am faced with the temptation to respond harshly to an opposing world view, I like to do what I call a “heart check” of myself. These are the thought strategies I’ve found most helpful:

  •  Play the devil's advocate and seek to understand the other party. If I were in their shoes (had grown up where or when they did) would I see it differently? I remember often being very critical of my parent’s conservative handling of their possessions. But I did not grow up during one of our nation's worst economic depressions. They did. 
  • Consider the end goal. Is my goal to change the other party’s mind or just tear them down and make them look like a fool? When I do the latter I most always end up looking and feeling like the fool myself.
  • If I am honest, am I able to identify any good motives in the other person's position? Knowing that there are good intentions does not always bring agreement, but it sure opens the door to understanding and a civil debate of the issues.

If using these measures brings no hope of understanding,or making the other person feel understood, then my best and wisest choice might be to not engage in a discussion with this person. The engagement will possibly just make me angry and bitter, and I don’t want that spilling over into my other relationships. 

 

"Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Proverbs 17:28






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Who Is a True Patriot?

Who Is a True Patriot?

Who is a true patriot?

You would think it would be easy to be a true patriot in a free country like the USA. Who doesn’t want this kind of freedom? Who doesn’t want to live in this kind of country?

But with freedom comes the inherent right to be an independent thinker. If we are both thinking independently, what you think is loyal and just, may not be what I think is loyal and just. What is really interesting is that two people, who fundamentally believe the same things, can have totally different responses when their beliefs are challenged.

In every country there is a tension between individuals, people groups, generations, schools, religions, cities, states and political groups.  But in a free country this tension is often created by our freedom to speak out in accordance with our beliefs, values, and loyalties. It becomes apparent that we don’t all have the same beliefs, don’t agree about what we should value and don’t have the same priorities when it comes to loyalty.                                                                                                                                                                                    

So this week, as we celebrate our independence, are we truly able to be grateful for this independence that allows others to think differently than we think, to have a different world view, a different sense of what it means to be patriotic? Do we have a spirit that allows a humble, kind response to the differences and the tension created by our freedom? Good questions for this holiday weekend.

Have a wonderful Independence Day! 

Give generously and love, expecting nothing in return.



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Hiring for the Right Skills

Hiring for the Right Skills

 

 

“Your intelligence does not impress me, It’s how you speak, act and love others that impresses me. Especially with those that are not like you”.  Dennis Smith of Apple Awards

Hiring new staff for a small business can always be a challenge, especially in a rural small town setting. Not many people are itching to put down roots in a small town.

In many industries, people skills can be the primary factor in a hire, as it is with us. Good people skills coupled with experience is ideal and can put you as a front runner for a position. Primarily we now hire based on a person's ability to get along with co-workers and customers, closely coupled with their trainability. 

Getting along with co-workers always comes first in my book. If employees cannot work well together, solving problems and creating or if there is a lack of trust and commitment, the likelihood of a good customer experience is small.

People skills can be taught, but usually the lack of these skills goes a lot deeper than what can be taught by an employer. The emotional health and intelligence of a candidate plays a huge factor in determining their success. If I see that a candidate has been in the past, or is currently working on improving their emotional health, or even knows what that phrase means, that gives me hope.   

As an employer I need to set the example and continue to grow in my emotional health. There is an unlimited supply of free resources at our disposal, and I am sharing one that I am currently learning from - Your Not the Boss of Me. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Leadership and Truth

Leadership and Truth

Leaders need to take care, with a deep respect for the truth, because people are following them.

Effective leadership always includes correctly defining and distinguishing between “your truth”, “my truth” and universal truth.

It includes being able to identify an individual truth, like my name is Dennis and yours is Tom. These are true statements about people that are different, individual and can be relatively easy to change by filling out a couple of forms and submitting them to the proper authorities.

There are also universal truths, like the law of gravity and the world being round. These truths are the same for everyone and remain constant whether we like it or not as long as we live on this earth. The truths only change if our reality changes - we get in a spaceship and leave the earth's atmosphere or a huge meteor strikes the earth and breaks it in two.

I believe leaders have to keep an open mind and be willing to understand that truth is a pursuit. They have to be willing to look bravely at evidence and compare it with their view of reality. If those don’t match, what changes would be required to make them match? If evidence and reality can’t be made to match, effective leadership recognizes that their “reality” is not real or truthful and needs to change.

This happened to Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos. Even though she had a noble idea and dream, there came a time when she had to realize that her idea was not yet working. She should have faced evidence. She didn’t, and as a result she allowed deception to take over and it altered her life forever. The company she started collapsed. The investors that took a chance on her with their 600 million dollars of investment would get nothing in return.

Her dream may be possible someday. Someday an accurate, reliable and exhaustive blood analysis may be available from the prick of a finger but truth, borne out by evidence, shows that it has not happened yet and possibly never will. What she presented as universally truthful, was not reality.

Owning the truth, of the present moment or eternity, is critical in everyone's life. But for the leader, it can have broader consequences far beyond just ourselves. If we do not recognize truth, face it, speak it and live it, head on, the people we lead will be affected also.

 

In addition to preventing problems like Elizabeth Holmes encountered, read in last week’s blog , how “the truth can set you free” and produce peace for the effective leader.





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Sincerity and Leadership

Sincerity and Leadership

Think about a leader who has been a true and sincere blessing in your life. Hopefully there is more than one, but one is good.  

Webster's definition of Sincerity: the quality or state of being sincere : honesty of mind: freedom from hypocrisy

The relationship between you and the leader you are thinking about might cause you to notice some other traits.

  • They love what is good and helpful.
  • They hate what is wrong and debilitating.
  • They are devoted to the people and cause they are leading.
  • They value others more than themselves.
  • They serve with zeal and fervor.
  • They show hope in the future, joy in the moment, patience with the difficult.
  • They are faithful in service, generous to a fault.
  • They welcome others to their presence with grace.

If you think this sounds more like a definition of love, well you are right. It is sincere love in action. If you add truth (which is a whole other topic) to sincerity and love, I believe the result is peace. Sincere, loving leadership works toward the peace we all crave in the workplace, the home and in life.






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Creativity and Renewal

Creativity and Renewal

Creative, innovative and engaging organizations, I believe, are constantly educating and challenging  themselves. Their health and success depends on their ability, not to conform to what other businesses in their industry are doing, but to transform their industry in ways previously thought impossible.

Romans 12: 2 starts out by telling us, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

This verse speaks truth about what it looks like to live a good and holy personal life that is pleasing to God. I think it also speaks truth regarding what it looks like to lead a business, classroom or team that will be pleasing to its customers, students and teammates.

I love being out in nature. To me, nature displays the infinite creativity of its creator - colors, smells, sounds, tastes, shapes, textures.  The possibilities just seem endless.

So, don’t you think that we ought to  follow this creative example given to us and not be bound by the cultural norms that often keep us locked in our old ways? Ways that are often destructive, life debilitating ways?

What if we woke up every day with a willingness to be renewed, a desire to see new and endless possibilities in ourselves and the people we lead. I think our organizations could be transformed by this energy and continue to be good, pleasing and healthy for all those involved.  It all starts with recognition of the gifts we have been given and then doing the hard work to develop them.

The second half of the verse, "Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."



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"Crushing It!", How Do You Measure Success?

"Crushing It!", How Do You Measure Success?

To “crush it”, is to succeed, maybe succeed big. But, how do you define and measure success?

For some reason I spend allot of time trying to define and measure success. This is what we do as leaders. We want to know if what we do is working and matters.  Gauging success in the form of our bank account or wins on the playing field feels like the most reasonable way to do this. But, I find defining success, particularly when it comes to leading people, very frustrating. It  rarely shows itself in the form I expect, or if I’m real honest, in the form I desire. It’s hardly ever in a form that can easily be measured by worldly standards. 

In his book “Crush It”, Gary Vaynerchuk makes the statement, “Legacy always trumps currency” when carrying out a plan. This is a challenging assertion when it comes to gauging the effectiveness of what you are doing. There is immediate and tangible feedback on the spreadsheet if you are “crushing it” financially. But, “crushing it” when it comes to your legacy, well, that seldom shows up until you are gone from this life,or your current position in it. 

I Timothy 6-7 says, “We brought nothing into this world, nor can we take (carry) anything out”. This thought of leaving a legacy and not just material things that will rust, decay and slowly fade away, challenges me. Not all, but most material things will soon be of no eternal value to anyone. If you are fortunate enough to leave a hospital, school or church in your wake, that is amazing. However, few of us will ever achieve success of this kind. I do believe though, that each of us,individually or corporately, holds onto something, whether in our hearts or minds, that we can leave behind as a legacy. We just have to find the courage to say it, do it, or write it down, and then share it.

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Reunited!

Reunited!

Reunited, and it feels so good!  It’s true! We’ve just had this experience at Apple Awards this spring and it was a positive one for us.  

As the school year winds down for many, I want to share with you one of my favorite teachers from high school, Nancy Nelson. She was my accounting and keyboarding teacher. She was not special because keyboarding (typing back then) or accounting were my favorite subjects, she was special because of the way she made us students feel, the way she treated us. She made learning fun. The thing I remember the most about her is her smile, laugh and positive, encouraging demeanor.

As the years went on and I started my own business, she started teaching business and entrepreneur classes. I was fortunate enough to be invited into her class room to share what I was learning as an entrepreneur. In turn, she would bring her students to come visit and tour my businesses.

This spring I was looking for help at Apple Awards during our busy season.  I wondered if Mrs. Nelson, now retired, would consider coming in to help us out. As you can see, she said yes. This spring she is once again a blessing to 5 of her former students who got another chance to work beside her. And once again, she was bringing encouragement to students and educators all over North America through awards and recognition. I am happy to report she has not lost her smile, laugh or positive personality.  

Thank you Nancy for being a bright spot in so many lives over the years. You bring truth and meaning to the saying “to teach is to touch a life forever”.

 

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Are You Using Your Rear View Mirror?

Are You Using Your Rear View Mirror?

Effective leadership requires a 360 degree view. Vision and seeing forward is a integral ingredient of effective leadership. Equally as important is seeing what you are leaving in your wake. I call this self awareness. Are we willing to look in the rear view mirror of life and see how we affect others by our words, attitudes and actions?

For some, self awareness is intuitive and for others, not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong, we all have our blind spots. We all occasionally find ourselves dealing with pride, and selfishness. Sometimes we don’t notice the unhealthy things we are doing that may affect ourselves and others. But this does not have to be the norm.

Just like a good car operator we need to stop and check our mirrors when navigating the relationships in our life. Relational wrecks can be as destructive as the ones in our automobile. They can often be avoided though, by slowing down and checking your mirrors once in awhile to see if you have run someone off the road, or worse yet run them over. The only way to know this is to glance back, while still keeping our eyes on the road.



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