To Those Who Want To Grow in 2018

Some of My Favorite Resources for Growth from 2017

Like me, a lot of you love learning and expanding your skillset.  Here are some of my favorite things that helped me grow in 2017.   I hope you find something helpful, and please send me some of your favorites too.

Best books I read:


The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming  Henri Nowen

Personal growth books:

Designing your life    How to build a well lived joyful life   Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Happy Money- The Science of Smarter Spending Elizabeth Done

Blackout- Remembering the things I drank to forget   Sarah Hupola

The Lost Art of Listening  Michael Nichols PhD

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think


Alexander Hamilton  Ron Chernov


The Glass Castle Jeanette Walls

Best business books:

Platform: Get noticed in a Busy World  Michael Hyatt

Favorite podcasts:

  • The Art of Charm Jordan Harbinger – Not about charm, about fascinating topics and leadership
  • Freakonomics Radio – insights from bright minds that take fresh looks at economic principles
  • The Gospel in Life – Pastor Tim Keller- great sermons from one of the best Christian preachers today

Favorite technology:

  • Began using a Macbook Air with plug in desktop desktop display, this has changed my life!
  • Mobile check deposit- goodbye waiting in line at the bank
  • Increased use of video on our church website and church Facebook
  • Finally getting the Twitter thing down
  • Calm- a wonderful meditation app to help me with focus

Favorite Blogs:

For those of you are not into spirituality you might want to stop here, but faith is the key to my life, so a few wins from that area are in order:

  • Spending weeks studying the concept of Christian grace- new freedom flowed into my life
  • Learning to write out my prayers when the mind is locked down
  • Walking with a dear friend through her courageous battle with cancer
  • Using the power of spiritual consensus to find the next step in our church’s growth

I hope you find these useful and I look forward to seeing your suggestions.  Be sure to watch for my next blog which will be the fifth in the series listing the 5 Attributes of Mental Toughness.

If you haven’t already done so,  please take a moment to subscribe to my blog.  All you have to do is enter your e-mail address and you’ll be notified every time I post a new one.  My  goal is to supply you with helpful insights on leadership and personal growth.

Make 2018 a great year.









The One Thing You Must Always Refuse

Identity is the key to transformation.  It’s also a dangerous pitfall for high achievers.  We are vulnerable to having others push an identity upon us.  That identity, though well meant, could be limiting.  Never allow yourself to be defined by the opinion of others. This is the fourth attribute of people who possess mental toughness.

The story is told of a farmer who found a baby eagle that had fallen from its nest.  Its wings were not yet developed enough to fly and its mother had abandoned it.  The farmer in compassion took the eagle home and since it was so young, he put it in the pen where he kept his chickens.  The chickens paid their new guest little attention and the eaglet soon adapted to life in the coop.  Having no idea of its identity it took the chickens as role models.  The tiny eagle scratched in the dirt for worms and hopped around the coop without spreading his wings.  Even after the eagle had grown considerably, it still acted in every way like a chicken, and rested at night in the chicken house with the other birds.  One day, while he scratched in the dirt he heard a new sound.  It was the cry of an eagle that was soaring over the cage.  He looked up, and saw a magnificent bird floating high on the rising air currents.  In a moment, he was transformed.  He spread his wings and flapped them tentatively.  Quickly, realizing the power contained in his body, he rose into the air and easily flew out the coop to join his fellow eagle in sky.  He had eaten his last worm and he was through scratching in the dirt.  He was an eagle, and he would never allow any other identity to limit him again.

Do you know who you are?

Have you seen what you are capable of becoming?

Have you seized on the heights you are designed to achieve?



Mental toughness demands that we hold to these visions of ourselves and not allow anyone else to define us.   It may surprise you that some people will actually try to slap a limiting identity on you.

Who would try to limit your life by defining you?

  • Those who are intimidated by your success
  • Those who are fearful of your leaving
  • Those who are supported by your weakness
  • Those who are simply ignorant of who God has called you to be

Make up your mind right now that you will never allow yourself to be defined by the opinion of others.  You are done “scratching in the dirt, and eating worms.”  It’s time to live out the unique identity God created you to become.

In my next blog, I discuss the fifth and final attribute of those who possess mental toughness; “Regular Review of Past Successes.”

The One Thing All Successful People Do

A Rigorous Commitment to Reality

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”– Carl Sagan

The first key to mental toughness is to commit to facing the reality of every situation of life without flinching.

Have you ever tried to hide from reality?  Have you ever refused to open a bill that came in the mail, because you were afraid to see how much your debt had grown?  Have you ever refused to see your physician, because you were afraid to know what that pain in your stomach might really be?  Have you ever pretended not to notice the distance between you and your mate, because you were afraid to hear an honest answer to the question, “What’s wrong with you?”

Mental toughness demands that you face the truth.  One of the greatest questions you can ask yourself is, “What am I pretending not to know.”   It is staggering to think of how some of the most powerful leaders in some of the highest organizations, pretend not to know certain hard truths.

Mentally tough people have a rigorous commitment to reality.   They don’t ignore problems and hope they will somehow magically disappear on their own.  Mentally tough leaders encourage their subornates to tell them the honest truth about every situation, even if it is unpleasant or discouraging.

How hard is it to make the commitment to reality?

  • It could be as simple as deciding to pay attention to an uncomfortable, nagging feeling.
  • It could be as easy as not looking the other direction when you see something disturbing.
  • It might be as difficult as asking someone for the complete truth when you sense they are holding back.
  • It might be as demanding as setting up a meeting with a disgruntled client.
  • It might be asking yourself, “What am I pretending not to know?” 

First of all, reality isn’t the way you wish things to be, or the way they appear to be, but the way the actually are.   Secondly, the theory states that you either acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit or it will automatically work against you.”  Robert Ringer “Winning through Intimidation.”

In my next blog, I will examine the second attribute of mentally tough people; the refusal to dwell on past regrets or failures.


The One Attribute That Will Double Your Success

Mental Toughness


If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: Rudyard Kipling

 Rudyard Kipling

What separates the world class performers from the merely successful?

Mental toughness: the ability to withstand stress and control your mind.

Are you cool under pressure?

A minister I know was praised for how he led his church .  “He might be up to his knees in the fires of controversy and criticism, but you’d never know it when you heard him preach, he was cool as a cucumber no matter the pressure he was under.”  That’s mental toughness.

Are you cool under pressure?

Mental toughness is more important than talent or education. The real battlefield for success is in the mind.  Talent cannot save you if you cave under pressure.  Education will provide information of what to do in a crisis, but it cannot save you if you fold in stressful situations.  One of the arenas where you see this truth played out is professional golf.  You may not like the sport, but take some time to watch it carefully, and you’ll see mental toughness displayed in every tournament.  The pressure of having to summon up a relaxed and graceful putt on the final hole of a championship, with hundreds of thousands of dollars riding on the stroke, is determined more by the mental toughness of the player than by his hours of practice and natural skill.  Watching a player, who has just had a disastrous hole that put him behind in the score, put the bad strokes out of his mind and perform at championship level on the next hole, is a primer for mental toughness.

Examples of mentally tough people:

  • Winston Churchill withstanding the pressures of the near disasters of the early part of the World War II
  • American prisoners of war surviving years of abuse and imprisonment in Vietnam
  • American gymnast Kerri Strug working through the pain of an ankle injury to help her team win a gold medal in the 1996  Olympics 

What does it take to grow mental toughness in your life?

Over the next several blogs I’m going to examine five attributes of the mentally tough and give you tips for strengthening each one in your life.

Here are the attributes we’ll be studying:

  • Rigorous commitment to reality
  • Refusal to dwell on past failures\regrets
  • Relentless optimism rooted in faith
  • Refusal to define self by the opinion of others
  • Regular review of past successes

This will be a series of blogs that can take you to “next level”  success in your life.

How have you developed mental toughness in your life?  I’d love to hear your stories.  Please leave a comment and if you haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, please do so.

“I did it because I know what it feels like to be desperate.”


I heard Ben Horwitz, CEO of Opsware, tell a touching story about why he had his company pay insurance premiums for an employee that technically was not eligible for them. The man needed treatment for terminal cancer and the cost would be over $200,000.  Ben had been leading his company through a protracted struggle for it’s very survival for nearly five years when this decision was made. When the man’s widow called two years later to thank him for such a generous gift she asked him why he would do something like that for someone who he didn’t even know, he told her “I guess I did it because I know what it feels like to be desperate.” 

It’s interesting to speculate about whether or not he would have made such a generous gesture if he hadn’t been through such a struggle.  I don’t know Ben, but I think he, and almost everyone else in the world, might not have done it. There is a sensitivity to pain that is born in our hearts when have been through a fire.

This sensitivity is called empathy.  The dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy is a valuable tool for building your career as well as for helping others.  Since every business is a people business, we must remain in touch with our humanity.  Responding to the desperation in people’s lives will enhance our reputation among those we lead, and build rock solid loyalty in those we assist.

Some thoughts about empathy:

  • We don’t always choose when it shows up
  • We don’t always pay attention to its call for our attention
  • We always benefit from following its promptings
  • We will always be remembered  when we use it

Next time you are personally going through the fire, be grateful that not only is your courage being tested, and your resolution to succeed deepened, but that your heart is also being tendered for those who need you most.

I’m curious about how empathy has shown up in your work life.  Please make a comment and share your thoughts and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog.








I went zip lining in Costa Rica last week. I thought I was going to have to “wimp out” as I flew out into space on the first of 7 consecutive zip lines.  I am not afraid of heights and I’ve zip lined before, but never at such heights and speeds.  I didn’t want to go on, but I was with my church group and I refused to let them see me “chicken out.”

Flying hundreds of feet over the jungle canopy while supported only by a skimpy seat harness and a well-worn cable, I began to doubt my rationality.  What kind of crazy man risks his life like this I wondered? No, that’s not quite right.  What I really thought was, “Dear God what have I just done, please don’t let me die.” I was three zip lines into the experience before I began to relax and enjoy the amazing view and the thrill of speeding down the line. Once I got over my initial terror my senses were almost overwhelmed with the beauty below me and the fun of getting as close to personal flight as I have ever been.

Are you going through a terrifying time? Remember you are not alone. Starting a new business, career, or relationship can be scary. But often you’ll find that what waits on the other side of your fear will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.

What did I learn while terrified?
• Once you relax it gets good
• Beauty is available even when you are terrified
• Trust in those who have gone before you
• Use your peer group to propel you past fear
• Don’t miss the experience of a lifetime out of fear

When was the last time you were afraid? What lessons did you learn? Please leave a comment. I’d love to read your insights.



In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln became frustrated with his commander of the Army of the Potomac, when he kept putting off attacking the confederate forces in Virginia.  The army had been idle in Washington for over eight months. General George McClellan had built it into one of the largest and best trained armies in U.S. history.  Yet, he kept refusing to move out against the south, claiming his army was not yet ready.

On January 10, Lincoln met with top generals (McClellan did not attend) and directed them to formulate a plan of attack, expressing his exasperation with General McClellan with the following remark: “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”

There were undoubtedly many forces that shaped McClellan’s reluctance to move, but one of them may have been an addiction to planning.

Stop excessive planning and start taking action.

Planning is important and planning can be fun.  Planning can be exciting.  Planning is always safe, because it remains in the realm of theory.  No one is proved right or wrong until action is taken.  The bigger the endeavor, the greater the risk, and the more you will be tempted to remain too long in planning mode. At some point, you have to take action or your opportunity will be seized by others and your success in life will be limited.

How can you break out of the excessive planning mode?

  • Recognize the payoffs that may be tempting you to hesitate.
  • Check your self-esteem. If you are feeling insecure, it will tempt you to delay action.
  • Set a deadline. Make the commitment that by a particular date you have to do something.
  • Quit searching for the perfect plan. Accept that every action entails a risk of failure.
  • Comfort yourself with the knowledge that every plan requires adjustments once it has begun and have confidence in your ability to adapt.

Historians continue to debate whether or not George McClellen’s hesitancy to move, lengthened the war. Some theorize, that had he taken action sooner, many thousands of lives could have been saved.

There is no debate however, about the fact that excessive planning will limit your success in life.  No advancement in financial, career, or family success, is ever gained in the world of the imagination.  You have to take action.  You have to make the best plan you can and then boldly begin its execution. At some point you have to stop planning and take action.

“If he wasn’t going to use his life, I’d like to have borrowed it for a while,” would be a terrible epitaph to have etched on your gravestone.


When You Bore Your Followers

One leadership trap that sneaks on people  is allowing their team to become bored with the vision and goals of your organization.  The longer you lead and the higher you go up the ladder of success the more dangerous the desire to coast and take it easy becomes.  If you succumb to the temptation to slack off in your efforts toward success and begin to set small goals not only will your personal productivity suffer but your team can become demoralized through your complacency.  This will make them easy prey for head hunters seeking to poach your talent.   If you staff your team with hard charging, goal oriented, passionate people, then remember that those are the kinds of  people sitting in the offices downstairs as you piddle and waste time with easily achieved goals.   If you have “race horses” you have to keep entering them into races.   Race horses will never be content to munch hay in the barn no matter how comfortable the stall.  You must continue to challenge them or you are going to find your stalls empty or  even worse filled with plow horses who will never win a race.

What can you do?

  • Take your leadership temperature at least once a year
  • Invite trusted friends to  evaluate your goals to see it they are drifting down
  • Allow your team to freely assess the organization
  • Empower your best people to create projects that will stretch them
  • Treat the entire team to challenging leadership conferences
  • Never stop learning and growing yourself

At some point in your career you may decide you don’t to work as hard or challenge yourself anymore.  That is a fair decision, but be aware that your “race horses”  will soon jump fence.  At that point you either need to step aside and allow a new leader to take your place or prepare your organization for the inevitable decline in productivity that will follow.

A Hero Pays the Price

I know a local hero. She is not one that gets a lot of attention.  No reporters from the television station call her for interviews and no paparazzi are chasing her through the streets to get that elusive magazine cover shot.  But she is still a hero.  Why, because she is living out one of my most cherished values.  She is practicing the credo of,  “if you are willing to dream about something and are willing to work hard to get it, you will eventually succeed in realizing that goal.”  My hero is a barista at a local coffee shop and her brilliant smile and friendly demeanor is a true asset to her employer.  But, she is also a chiropractor.  She recently finished a long arduous academic process to earn her medical degree while working fulltime to put herself through school.  She has opened a small practice and already has two clients.  She is continuing to brew coffee and hand out smiles while she builds her medical practice.  I have no doubt that she will succeed.  People who can discipline themselves to work hard over a long period of time for a goal almost always do.

Here’s the question for all you to consider today.  What dreams have you put on hold because you couldn’t see an easy path to attaining them?  Ask yourself am I willing to pay the price for my dreams?

I am proud to know my local hero and I know she is going to be wonderful chiropractor, but I’m really going to miss my her smile when I get my coffee.