Wednesday, February 3, 2016

5 Things Exceptional Leaders Do Every Day

leadership checklist
What separates good leaders from exceptional leaders? If you were to poll 100 random people, I am sure you would get a wide variety of answers to that based on personal experience. The 5 things I am going to share with you are based on my own experience. You may not agree with all of them and might even have others to add to this list. These 5 things are the leadership qualities I have found that take leaders from good to exceptional.

#1 - They serve others.
I have discovered that exceptional leaders excel at this. They always put others first and they are motivated by the mindset of "how can I serve you today?" These leaders never see others as a tool but as a gift and they treat them with care and respect. As a result, they have highly engaged and motivated employees with an extremely low turnover rate. It doesn't matter how talented you are, how many years of experience you have or how smart you appear. If you don't have a servant's heart, you simply can't excel as a leader. You may "get things done" but at great expense to others and ultimately, to yourself. If you want to go to new level in your leadership today, start asking yourself how you can serve those around you. You will be amazed at the results.

#2 - They ask questions.
Your job as a leader is not to have all the answers. If you did, you wouldn't need others and therefore, would have no one to lead. Your job is to help your employees answer questions themselves. This is done by asking questions rather than telling them what they need to know. Asking questions challenges others to learn and grow. Giving them the answers, or telling them what they need to do, stifles creativity and growth, and you end up limiting your team to your limited ability or experience in the long run. Asking questions releases others to take the initiative and rise to the challenge. This will also get your team highly engaged and motivated.

#3 - They let others lead.
Nothing kills teamwork faster than micromanaging. A micromanager believes he is the only one who do the job right. They are self-serving and are afraid of asking questions for fear of others doing a better job. Exceptional leaders accept that they don't have to be the smartest person in the room. They understand that there will always be someone who can do things better than they can. In fact, they tend to surround themselves with people who are smarter and more talented than they are. If you go on vacation and things fall apart, you have failed as a leader.

#4 - They publicly praise others.
Publicly praising your employees creates trust, respect, and loyalty because it tells them that you truly value them, not just what they do for you. I have worked for a few leaders over the years who only gave negative feedback. When you did something wrong, they were quick to let everyone know that you screwed up. However, when you succeeded at something, they were eerily silent. These leaders were clueless as to why they couldn't keep employees very long. When it comes to feedback, remember this important leadership principle - Praise publicly and correct privately.

#5 - They don't try to be perfect.
Leaders who spend their time trying to prove how great a leader they are end up showing how insecure they are. Leaders who admit they aren't perfect end up showing how authentic they are. The latter builds trust. The former builds contempt. If you study the road to success of any great leader, you will find that it is not paved with gold but is full of potholes. Failure is not something to be avoided but embraced for it is the best teacher. A great leader is not someone who has never fallen down but someone who got back up every time he fell and then moved forward. Remember this important principle - Excellence is the goal, not perfection. An exceptional leader knows the difference between the two.

I am sure you could add many more things to this list. The five I listed are some of the most common characteristics I have seen in the exceptional leaders I have had the privilege of working for over the years. I don't know if you noticed, but most of these principles are relationship oriented. They have to do with how you relate with people, not just personal attributes. You simply cannot be an exceptional leader without first being an exceptional people person. Great leaders possess much more than just a wealth of knowledge, experience, and know-how. They are great with people - not just some people, but with everyone. They are real and authentic. They relate will with others and connect deeply with them personally.

If you are struggling with your leadership, perhaps it isn't more training or education you need but better people skills. Take more time for the people that you are leading and you will be amazed at the results.

To read more about leadership click here.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When We Allow Ourselves to Focus On the Negative We Remove Ourselves From the Peace of God.

stop complaining
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

The above verse is not an easy mindset to have. It doesn't come naturally and it takes work to focus our minds to think about such things. Paul is admonishing us to train our minds to think the best in all situations, especially when it comes to other people. If you are like me, and since you are also human I know you are, our natural tendency is to believe the worst about people. Our minds automatically lean towards the opposite of the mind of Christ. That is why we must work hard to go against what comes natural to us and train our minds to think like Jesus.

As a pastor I talk to a lot of people on a weekly basis and much of what I hear people saying is not very positive. I have discovered that the people who are unhappy with life tend to be negative about everything. They have very little positive things to say about anybody and anything. Is it any wonder? When we allow ourselves to focus on the negative we remove ourselves from the peace of God. It is impossible to grab hold of peace when we are holding on to negativity. It is impossible to be at peace when we are complaining. It's simply really. Do you want peace? Then think like Jesus.
how you think determines how you live

Another important ingredient to living like this is we can't afford to spend time with complainers. We all know people who do nothing but complain. They never have anything positive to say. We would do well to have nothing to do with such people. They will only drag us down into their pit of despair with them. We don't have to be rude, just politely refuse their company. Their attitude is like poison that will infect our spirits and pollute our minds making it impossible to follow Paul's admonition in Philippians 4. The Lord has been challenging me to make a concerted effort to eliminate the negative influence of complainers in my life. I would encourage you to do the same.

Here are a few questions we need to ask ourselves. Do you feel at times that people are avoiding you? Perhaps that is a sign that you are a complainer. Do you lack a sense of peace in your life? Perhaps that is a sign telling you that you are a complainer. It is time to make a change in your thinking process. It is time to refocus your mind and determine to think the best in every situation and think the best about every person. And one final thing - don't spend time with complainers. You can't afford it.

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Top 5 Blog Posts From 2015

best of the year
Here is the list of the top 5 most read posts from The Good Life for 2015. Simply click on any of the post titles to go directly to that post. Happy New Year and thank you for stopping by my blog. I hope you will continue to visit in the coming year.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

The Top 3 Best Christmas Gifts of All Time

3 christmas gifts
Christmas was a big deal in our house when I was a kid. My parents saved for months so they could afford gifts for three children. My father was a pastor of a small church in a rural mountain community and worked a second job as a mailman for the Postal Service. When Christmas came, my siblings and I were lavished with more gifts than we certainly deserved.

I remember that as we opened our presents, I always felt a little sad for my father because he always seemed to only get a few gifts. He never seemed disappointed because I now know that for him Christmas was all about his kids. He really wasn't interested in getting anything. His face lit up from the sheer joy of watching his kids get all the presents. That is why he saved and worked an extra job. He did it so he could lavish his kids with presents.

I learned a lot about God from watching my dad at Christmas time. He showed me a picture of the Father who is the ultimate gift-giver of the universe. I also saw a great picture of Jesus because not only did my dad give us great presents, I realize that he gave himself not just one day of the year, but every day of the year.

In Philippians 2:6-11 we see a portrait of Jesus, the greatest gift-giver. From these verses we see three characteristics that he possessed that we are commanded to develop in our own lives so that we can show the world who he is.

#1 - The One who had everything gave up everything for us.

He emptied himself for us. He left everything so we could have what he had - eternity with the Father. I like how Dick Foth says, "He left his place, to come to our place, to take our place, so that we could go to his place."

#2 - The One who was higher than everyone else became the lowest for us.
He humbled himself for us. I think it is significant that he took on flesh as an infant and not an adult. This was planned so that he could become the lowest who would become dependent upon and subject to his parents. You can't get any more humble than a newborn. The King of kings who rules over mankind subjected himself to us. Amazing!

#3 - The One to whom every knee would bow, bowed down to us.
He lowered himself for us. He bowed down to man and came down to us. Matthew 20:28 says that he did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Thirty-three years later we find him taking off his robe, kneeling down before his disciples, and washing their feet. But wait, there's more! He then went the ultimate distance and laid down his life at the cross and died for us. You can't get any lower than that.

I pray that in the coming days as we approach Christmas that you come to realize the reality of the gift God gave you through his son, Jesus. Your Heavenly Father held nothing back and gave up everything for you. I also pray that each of us would determine to be more like Jesus this Christmas. Give lavishly. Give everything. Give until it hurts. But most importantly, give God the best gift you could give him - YOU!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Real Treasure of Christmas

cross and manger
I was thinking about the birth of Jesus the other day. Not the way we normally think about it with the angels singing loudly and the magi bringing lavish gifts to the manger. I was thinking about the actual birthing process Mary went through when Jesus was born on that day. Childbirth is not pretty. It's painful and hard. When I stood next to my wife when she gave birth to our son I thanked God in heaven that he made me a male and not a female!

The greatest gift to man was birthed not in pageantry and splendor, but in pain and agony. Isaiah 53 is a poetic picture of our Messiah and Savior. It is hard to read because it is full of words like despised, rejected, sorrows, oppressed, and afflicted. Jesus is given this title in verse 3--"A man of sorrows acquainted with grief." The Father, in his wisdom and understanding, gave us his son born out of pain and sorrow so that we could know not just a man called Jesus, but a Savior who overcame the very pain and sorrow we needed to be rescued from.

This is the Jesus the world can relate to because that is real life. He experienced sorrow and grief through the loss of his close friend, Lazarus. He experienced rejection from those closest to him. He experienced pain and agony while being flogged, beaten and crucified on a cross.

The real treasure of Christmas is not the pretty lights, presents and music. The real treasure is that in the face of great pain and sorrow, we can find true life through a Savior who gave his life for us!

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