Energy Leadership Skills – How To Create Change

It was nearly 4:00 am.  I was being totally irresponsible.  The other men around me were cheering making it worse and cheering me on.  My hand felt numb from the powerful and all too frequent high fives I didn’t even realize I was witnessing one of the most powerful leadership skills in the world.

This was the scene one night in Las Vegas.  Five men huddled around a craps table on the casino floor of the Bellagio.  One a heart surgeon, one a semi-pro football player, two others were in their residency working under the heart surgeon.  Then there was me, the executive asking questions about leadership and the leadership skills a heart surgeon must have in the O.R.

I was in Las Vegas for my brother’s bachelor party.  I was up at 4:00am because I’m cheap and I was on a hot streak.  I figured since I was winning, why not stay up as late as possible racking up comps from the hotel.  Thanks to the 4 men I met that night I now receive free stays, have a fun memory, and was able to buy my wife a cool gift with my winnings.  But what a really took away from that night was a new found respect for the power of energy as one of many important leadership skills.

There is something funny about energy.  Why is it that with two minutes left in the 4th quarter, a football team who has only scored a handful of points all night can drive 80 yards down the field and tie the game?  The answer is energy.  It is one of the most useful leadership skills a leader can poses    Using energy as one of your main leadership skills is often the difference between a flunky and a change agent CEO.  Come to find out, it is also often the difference between life and death.

As the dice rolled around the table and the energy level flew through the roof I quizzed the heart surgeon.  Always a notice and always looking to learn, I began to pry.  He and his two residents were celebrating.  They had just worked on a case that quickly took a turn for the worse.  Then, a miracle, they saved the guys life.

When I asked how they were able to bring the man on the table back to life, the heart surgeon answered me with one word, “energy.”  He explained it as being similar to the energy that rises from a hot craps table.  Once you get the momentum moving in the right direction it begins to gain momentum.  Over the next few hours, and a painful stint of powerful high fives, we discussed ways to create energy and add it to your set of leadership skills.

Positive Feedback – Letting someone know they are doing a fantastic job almost always creates a spike in energy.  Their enthusiasm goes up and it becomes contagious.

Rhythm – Similar to running with music, getting your team into a rhythm creates an energy and momentum quickly builds.

Success – Finding and focusing on one success after another creates energy.  This is why a 1st down with two minutes left in the game can eventually lead to a game tying touchdown.  One success leads to another, then another.  It is the Law of Victory.

Challenge – The harder the task, the more you work for something, the sweeter it is when you achieve your end goal.  We all realize this going in.  When we accept the challenge, our energy levels rise to the occasion.

Developing energy as one of your main leadership skills can lead you to the top.  Leaders who are aware of the energy within their organization, and use it to their advantage, can quickly build a momentum that takes them straight to the top.  On the flip side, knowing how to create energy can stop the bleeding of a failing company and begin moving the bottom line in the right direction.  Be aware of the energy within your organization and use your leadership skills to build it into success.

Have you noticed the power of positive energy anywhere else?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Cyclical Life – How To Enjoy The Ride

It appears to me that most things in life are cyclical.  Usually when we hear the word cyclical, it is ties to the economy or the weather.  However, it seems like everything I look at closely is cyclical, even life, especially life.

Andy Andrews is an incredible writer and may be an even more incredible public speaker.  I’ve heard him speak several times.  My favorite time was at my home church, Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas. He said something that stuck with me and I’ll never forget it.  Andy said, ” We are all either headed into a crisis, in a crisis, or coming out of a crisis.”

I feel Andy’s quote exemplifies the idea that life is cyclical.  I remember being a kid and thinking about how awesome it would be to become an adult. I thought I would be able to do anything I wanted.  Today, when I was dropping off a FedEx package I saw two kids playing a computer game.  I instantly wanted to be 12 again.

I had just rushed to the post office to get my envelope dropped off in time.  As I approached the drop box, I could tell it was taped closed.  A small sign read “your drop box has been moved” then listed an address that was across town.  I drove like a mad man to get to the new address.

As a kid, I would dream about the day I could drive.  When my father let me drive the old jeep for the first time, I was hooked! But now here I was driving like Mario Andretti and all I could think about is how mad I was that they moved my box.  The worst part is that I was dropping off a check for a vendor.  It all felt so trivial.

I realized on the way home why I wanted to be like those 12 year olds playing that computer game.  They didn’t care about checks to vendors or deadlines.  In fact, they were probably not thinking about anything, that’s the problem with computer games, but that’s also the problem I wanted to have for 30 minutes.

The truth is if I had tossed those guys my keys, they’d have gladly run a million errands for me.  That’s when I realized, everything is cyclical because we get tired of the same old thing, so we move to something new, until it isn’t exciting anymore.  Then, we go back to the old thing.

The magic of life, the real excitement and amazement, happens when we mix the two.  It’s like the spout in the middle of the ice cream machine that gives chocolate and vanilla.

Middle ground – There is always a mixture but never perfection.  Once something is perfect, it is only a matter of time before it becomes boring and dull.

Shifting sand – The key to keeping it fresh is to change the recipe of life.  Once you’ve found the perfect combination, change it.

Collaborate – Some say life is a compromise.  I disagree because a compromise means you gain a little and lose a little. I think life is a collaboration.  You bring your best and life brings its best.  You cut out everything else.

Let’s face it, I want to be 12 and I want to be 28. Sometimes I daydream about being 62; I just love the idea of grand kids.  My thought is, why not all three.  Let’s collaborate on life and bring our best.  When it gets good, lets change it up and keep it fresh.

How do you deal with a constantly changing world?

Top Five Reasons To Have A Facebook Fan Page

Just recently, I launched my very own Facebook Fan Page.  I’ll be honest; I felt a little pompous calling it a “Fan Page”. But then again we lump our family, close friends, and people we met once into a Facebook group we call “Friends”, so I guess the terminology is loose.  The truth is, I’m excited about my new Facebook Fan Page and I wanted to share with you why I’ve made it.

When I first got into blogging, I knew the importance of community but did not understand exactly how it fits into a writer’s world.  Once I began really getting into writing, I began searching for others who have led the way.  I wanted to know what their best practices were and how they’d fallen in love with writing and leadership.

I read their blogs but the best place to really connect and get to know them personally, which is what I was really looking for, was on Twitter and on their Facebook Fan Pages.  I decided I needed to create one as well, so that I could interact with you.  My amazing EA’s, Stacy and Wendy enlisted the incredibly talented and creative Matt Clark from Tweetpages to “decorate my page”.

I’m really excited to launch this Facebook Fan Page.  And here’s the best part of all, what you get:

Authenticity – You can interact with me, the real me!  Where else can you get that kind of one-on-one access and interaction?  A Facebook Fan Page is the best place for us to get together and share ideas, thoughts and hopefully, some good jokes.  More importantly, I invite you to get to know me.

What you want – My “Fans” have signed up because they read my blog and are interested in leadership and productivity.  You don’t care that I’m checking into Odessa Country Club for dinner or a round of golf, you want to talk about leadership and that is what the Facebook Fan Page is all about.

Exclusive – The only link is on my Blog.  This means, you don’t have to see comments from my college buddies talking smack about the upcoming rivalry game.  I’ll leave that stuff on my personal page.  The Fan Page is exclusive to you, my reader; you get access to me that no one else gets.

Community – It includes other leaders and writers who are interested in the same things as you and me.  When you visit my Facebook Fan Page you’ll see links to blog posts from myself and other leaders, who are sharing the kind of content we all need to grow in our leadership.

We meet, Sort of – Come out from behind that computer screen and show yourself.  I want to be your friend.  Seriously, I want to meet other leaders and share ideas.  I want to share pictures and comments and really get to know you, so please give me that chance.

This is the offer I’m making to you, my readers.  I want you to join me, to interact with me, to get to know me.  I also want to get to know you.  What are your interests, hobbies, and thoughts?  I want to share pictures with you and give you a chance to see who I really am.  So, won’t you click on the link and check out my Facebook Fan Page?  Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.

What do you think of the page?


The Power of Thankfulness

The busiest travel day of the year is the day before Thanksgiving.  I think the stress of traveling on this day helps to give people a new found thankfulness on Thanksgiving.  After all, they’ve survived the ride and they can just sit in a chair and watch football now.  That’s something to be Thankful for.

I’ve seen quite a few of my friends posting on Facebook the things that they are Thankful for each day this month.  I think this is great but I doubt they’re really truly reflecting and being overwhelmed with thankfulness.  I saw a lady on TV today crying because someone had done so much to help her out of a bad situation.  That, is real Thankfulness.

Being thankful, truly overwhelmingly thankful, is a powerful force.  We are all so used to the sun coming up every day that we rarely stop to consider what the world would be like if the sun didn’t rise.  I hate to even think about living in a cold, dark, world in which chaos breaks loose.  I’m thankful that the sun came up this morning.

But even that level of thankfulness isn’t enough to move my soul.  When you can find and harness a level of thankfulness that leaves you excited just to be alive, you’ll find yourself in the happiest place of your life.  Joy will spill through you and into those around you.  You’ll be contagious and inspiring.  Real thankfulness is a powerful force.  Thankfulness has the power to:

  • Shift The Soul – In Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan, he discusses asking his daughters at dinner what was the best part of their day?  Sometimes they’d respond with “nothing good happened today.”  We’ve all been here.  But Gail Hyatt would ask “what was the best thing of all the bad things?”  What a powerful question.  When you can find something to be thankful for in the midst of a bad day, you’ll find a new reason to be joyful, and you’ll instantly break through that depression that often accompanies a bad day.
  • Brighten The Day – When you stop to reflect on your life and the good you have in it, you allow a little light to shine into your heart and illuminate your soul. In The Traveler’s Gift, by Andy Andrews, David Ponder meets Anne Frank.  He is blown away by how upbeat she is amid such tragedy.  She explains that she chooses to be happy and focuses on the good rather than the bad.
  • Lower Expectation – Reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years I was surprised to hear that the Danish are the “happiest” people in the world.  I was even more surprised to hear that this is because they have lower than normal expectations.  When we look toward what we are thankful for we are able to remember why.  If you drive a car to work every day you’d be upset if someone took your car and gave you a bicycle.  But if you ride a bike you work, you’d be thrilled if someone took your bike away and gave you a car!  Get over yourself and consider how bad things could be.
  • Regain Love – Being a leader can be hard work.  Sometimes I think life would be easier if I just had others tell me what to do for a change.  Giving up to go up can be hard.  But when I stop to think why I love leadership, I’m thankful again to be in a position of leadership and I’m jazzed to have the opportunity to influence those around me in a positive way.

Enough is never enough and more is always better.  This is the biggest lie we tell ourselves.  The truth about it, however, is that once we gain a little, we lose our thankfulness for it and just become accustomed to our gains.  We then look for more.  This is a deadly cycle.  Choose today to reflect on what you’re thankful for.  This can be through prayer, a daily journal, or a conversation at the dinner table.  To truly be thankful is to truly be happy.

What are you thankful for?

Appreciation Branding – Building Relationships With Customers

The snow fell on the windshield and was quickly melted by the warmth of the truck’s heater.  The other cars on the road zoomed by our white one-ton chugging along with his heavy load.  It was a Norman Rockwell painting moment for me.  My father and I riding down the busy Illinois highway hauling our load of coal back to the house.

This is the first memory I have of appreciation branding.  I didn’t know it at the time.  In fact it took me many years to realize why I had fallen in love with the song on the radio that snowy day.  As we traveled home to Indiana with our load of coal, Alabama’s “Forty Hour Week” came on the radio.  I remember changing the lyrics in the chorus to “Indiana Stone Mill Worker let me thank you for your time.”  I let out a big pride filled smile when I sang it about my father.  I felt as if they had written a song just about us.

Appreciation branding is a term I use to describe any branding effort where the focus in not about getting out who you are and what you do, but getting out the message that you appreciate who your customer is and what they do for you.  Appreciation branding is an effective skill for any brand because it creates a relational connection between customers and a brand.  In order to be effective at appreciation branding, you must do the following well:

Know Your Customer – Rather than a blanket approach where you send out a message to everyone, you must be specific with who you are thanking.  “Pennsylvania Steel Mill Worker let me thank you for your time” is very specific.  The more specific you can be, the better.

Create Appeal – For example, if you’re Tiffany’s your clientele is not usually bikers.  Think of your customers and what appeals to them.  Alabama knew exactly what type of music their customers were listening to and crafted their message into a song that would be played on the type of station their customer would be tuned into.

Focus – The point of Appreciation Branding is to thank your customers.  As such, you should leave yourself out of the message almost entirely.  Focus on the customer.  Once they feel appreciated, they’ll be inclined to find out who thanked them.  This is why we sign thank you cards at the bottom, not the top.

The Gift – Leave them with something to remember you by.  For me, I couldn’t get that tune out of my head the rest of the day.  When the song comes on the radio these days, I instantly go back to that snowy day in Illinois and I can’t help but feel as if they’re thanking my father all over again.

Becoming a leader in your field will certainly earn you followers.  These people are your customers and your providers.  Without them you wouldn’t be able to make a living doing what you do.  Thanking them is an important opportunity for you to connect on a relational level.


 What have you done lately to thank your customers?

What is Time Worth – How To Delegate Without Fear

We all struggle with letting go.  Whether a person is letting go of a keepsake, a relationship turned sour, or even a responsibility; we all struggle with turning away.  But holding on to things we have outgrown is the surest way to deny ourselves the opportunity to grow and change.  You must ask yourself, “what is time worth to me?”

When I first began to grow as a leader and was promoted to a leadership role, I struggled with letting go of the old tasks I used to perform in the past.  For me, it was a sense of self-pride in those responsibilities that had defined my success in the past.  I would tell myself the biggest lie a soon to be failed leader could tell himself, “Only I can do this well, so I must continue to do it.”

Being a leader often means growing and letting go of the responsibilities and tasks you previously had.  My struggle came when I tried to do both my new and old responsibilities.  The truth hit me like a freight train.  Either I was going to have to work a double shift every day or I was going to have to delegate.

I had to ask myself, “what is time worth to you?”  The only way for me to regain balance and margin in my life would be to delegate those tasks and responsibilities which I had outgrown.  The fact is, as you grow in your leadership journey, you’ll have to delegate that which you outgrow or become a static leader.

The problem many leaders make with delegation is they tend to delegate too much too quickly.  They take the Band-Aid approach.  This overloads their employee and sets them up for failure.  To delegate successfully, you must learn how to delegate without fear.

Start Slow – It takes people time to learn their new task and adjust to the added responsibility.  Additionally, you’ll need time to adjust to your new freedom.  Getting rid of tasks too quickly stresses both parties.

Organize Exponentially – Delegate tasks that in and of themselves, help your employee learn their new role and responsibilities.  For example, if you’re moving up in an advertising field, delegate the management of your pay per click campaign.  This will allow your new employee to learn your major keywords.  Then allow them to take over your SEO implementation, once they’ve learned your keywords.

Give Creative Freedom – Just because it’s not done the way you do it, doesn’t mean it is done incorrectly.  In fact, allowing creative freedom often times gives fresh perspective on a task and spurs improvement.

Voice – Help your new employee find their voice.  This helps the tasks and responsibilities you delegate to become their own.  It promotes that intrinsic attachment that made you want to hold on to them in the first place.

What is your time worth and what is the outcome worth? These are questions you’ll have to weigh as a leader when you begin to delegate without fear.  Something I like to do is “keep the cream.”  When you churn butter the top layer of cream is the richest and most desired layer.  You’ll have to ask yourself, what is time worth to you and how much do you need.  This will ultimately dictate how much you’ll have to delegate.

As you delegate tasks and responsibilities you’ll find them becoming more and more difficult to let go of.  Remember to keep the cream only.  Keep the few tasks that are absolutely essential to your success.  These are the ones that will deliver most of your success.  Delegate the rest without fear because whether done correctly or not, they won’t have much impact on your success.

What success could you achieve if you had more time?

Benchmark For Success – How To Succeed At Life

Driving down the winding hillsides of 360 in Austin, Texas, I looked to my left and my right.  Cars were honking at me for going so slowly. I didn’t even notice.  The mansions on either side of the road had me in a trance.  How do these people afford these homes, I thought to myself.  I was convinced that if I could only benchmark off these people, I could own a home like that too.

Certainly most of the people who owned these multi-million dollar homes were people of great success.  I’m sure there were surgeons and heirs to fortune, but without a doubt there had to be a few people who were once like me.

There had to be a few guys in there who, at one point, were in their early twenties on the verge of graduating college.  They had dreams of finding a company they could work at and grow themselves into a leader.  I’m sure they had dreams of becoming a titan of industry and creating the next big thing, just like me. If I could only talk to these guys, I could surely benchmark off their success.

Benchmarking is what makes the world go around.  Benchmarking is what you do when you take something good and make it better.  Think of the iPhone, it’s just a good cell phone really.  But then there’s more.  Steve Jobs took what was good (a cell phone and mp3 player) and made it great (the iPhone).  The secret to success is often found in a benchmark.  I’ve met many people who understand this concept and try to implement it.  What I find many people don’t know is how to benchmark correctly.

Research – How can you benchmark off something if you don’t already know what is the best thing out there?  Find the best of whatever it is you’d like to benchmark.  Do you want to make millions and be a CEO with a busy schedule or do you want to live modestly but do what you love?  Research to find where your passion truly lies.  Then, research to find the best.

Reapply – Once you’ve found your benchmark to solve whatever problem you’re trying to solve, you must make it apply to your unique circumstances.  For example, I’ve used Michael Hyatt’s Ideal week to create my own week.  Of course I’m not retired, so I have to change my blocks to fit my life.

Reverse Engineer – Once you’ve found something good, dissect it.  What makes it good?  What makes the leader you look up to a great leader?  What does he do well and what does he do poorly?  Identifying both is critical.

Improve – Once you’ve found your benchmark, you’ve fit it into your lifestyle and dissected the good and the bad; figure out how to improve it.  For example, I love using the concept of Michael Hyatt’s Ideal week.  But I’ve taken it a step further and integrated Nozbe and my calendar to give it impact.

Using a Benchmark, as your launching point is a skill many successful people have mastered.  Don’t do the legwork of creating from scratch.  Jump to the front of the line by finding the best solution currently being applied.  Then make it your own.  Make it better.  There is a wealth of resources on the web to help you do this.  I’ve written posts such as “A Beginner’s Guide to 20,000 Followers” and “The Secret to 1,000% Growth”.  Take the principles I’ve found handy and make them your own, make them better.


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Run a 5k in Record Time With My Playlist

Setting out to run a 5k isn’t an easy task.  Even the best of the best tend to hit a wall at some point during the race.  For me, it’s most of the way through mile two.  With a playlist like mine, however, you can power through that wall on your way to a new personal record.  I recently wrote a post on how I trained to run a 5k in one week.  I used this playlist to help me.

The difference between going out to run a sprint and going out to run a 5k is the mental game.  A 5k is, on average, about 30 minutes long.  Having the mental focus and wherewithal to endure the pain for that long is challenging.  Most people I see make one of two mistakes.

  1. They set out too fast.
  2. They talk themselves out of it.

Thanks to iPhone and Androids, “there’s an app for that.”  It seems there is an app for everything these days.  I personally use Nike+.  The app tracks my distance and reminds me what pace I am currently running.  You can set it to remind you however often you choose.  During a workout, It’ll set it to remind me every 5 minutes.  When I run a 5k, it reminds me every quarter mile.  It tells me my current distance, my pace, and time.  It also gives you some encouragement as you near your finish.

One of the great features of the Nike+ is that it allows you to play an iTunes playlist while you run.  Here are my keys to creating a playlist that will help you shatter your own personal record the next time you run a 5k.

Mental – Since the race is such a mental game, I start with something that gets me into the best mindset to run.  That for me is The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.  The song was featured in the movie Prefontaine and reminds me of the great American distance runner.   Its BPM is 120.

Tempo – The best distance runners in the world run at 180 steps per minute.  I like to find music that falls into this category.  I used this article to learn how to analyze my entire iTunes collection to help me run a 5k in record time.  They also have several lists of great songs that meet the 180 BPM requirements.  Listening to music with this tempo helps your body create a running rhythm.

Entertainment – Choose music you can lose yourself in.  I like to focus on the song while I’m running and get into a rhythm.  This helps to pass the time quickly while keeping your mind in the game since it is not focusing on the pain.  The ultimate Marshmallow Test is experienced when you run a 5k.

Power – Find a song that absolutely fires you up!  Nike+ allows you to load a power song and get to it with one touch of the button.  When I have 3 minutes left to run, I hit Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (a remixed for 180 BPM version) and channel my inner Rocky Balboa!

Often times, the planning that goes into your run can be just as important as the practice that goes into your run.  Setting up a playlist that consists of songs that motivate, distract, and help you keep a tempo you feel comfortable with, is key.

Here is a link to My Current 5k Playlist.

What’s your favorite workout song?

The Power of Career Focus

What do you want to be in life?  It’s a simple question we’ve been asked ever since we were kids and still routinely ask ourselves, now that we’re adults.  When I answer this question sometimes it’s one thing, sometimes it’s another.  Do you ever have this problem?

Frequent changing of what we want to be or what we want to do stems from our failures in other endeavors.  Think of it this way; when you set out to do something, you’re full of energy, you’re focused, it’s all you can think about.  Then somewhere down the line it becomes difficult and you begin to lose interest.  You allow your mind to drift to other interests and pretty soon you’re not focused on your original goal anymore.  This is the negative effect of losing your career focus.

But what if we don’t lose focus?  What if we can harness the power of focus to achieve anything we desire?  The good news is that we can.  In fact, focus is one of the single most important factors in achievement.  You’ve probably heard it said that you’ll receive whatever it is you think about most.  That’s true to an extent.  If you’re focused on one thing for long enough, you’ll find it.

I call this effect the Grand Canyon effect.  I first heard Billionaire Boone Pickens explain it.  He was actually answering a question and used this as an excuse for why he didn’t know the answer to the reporter’s question.  Always a noticer, I said to myself “aha!”  I had just found Boone Picken’s key to success.  Become the Grand Canyon.

Boone’s not the only person I’ve heard talk about this idea and it’s implications on career focus.  The more I research and listen to successful people this one principle continues to pop up.  Focus your thoughts on one thing, then implement, implement, implement, never losing focus.  Here are a few examples:

Boone Pickens – His quote went something like this, “I don’t think I know the answer to your question.  You see my knowledge is like a river.  It’s not very wide but it’s very, very deep.”  What he meant was he doesn’t know much about a lot of things, but he knows a lot about one thing, energy.

Phil Cooke – He wrote the book One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to DoThe book focuses on one key topic.  To be successful you must focus your attention on what it is you were born to do.

John C. Maxwell – “What you’ve got to do is find the path that enables you to answer the question: What do I do well? What are my strengths? What is my giftedness? What is the talent, the uniqueness that sets me apart from everybody else?  Everyone has a uniqueness about them that, if they could discover it, fine-tune it, work hard and grow in it would set them apart. The Strength Zone Pathtakes your giftedness and talent and begins to lift you above the crowd. No one has ever been successful doing something that they didn’t like and no one has ever been successful doing something they can’t do well. And yet, I see millions of people every day doing something they don’t like doing and they wonder why they’re not a success.”

Michael Hyatt – In an interview with Jaime Tardy, which you can read here, Michael discusses the moment when his blog, now one of the most respected on the web, really took off.  He attributes his blog’s success to him focusing on posting on a regular schedule and only posting on a handful of topics.  Basically, his mind became focused on producing posts.  His writing then became focused on only a few topics he knew well.  His writing improved and his readership skyrocketed.

Often times the distance between mediocrity and excellence is covered in productivity-destroying land mines.  Finding your way around these land mines is critical.  Knowing which tasks you should do and which tasks you should avoid will help you to become a more successful and productive leader.

What is your Strength Zone, your River?