Tag Archives: growth

Empowering Reasons to Say ‘IDK’

5823288833_IDK_answer_3_xlargeFor years, I just couldn’t say it. I don’t know why, but I would say anything except those dreaded three words. Three simple words: “I don’t know.”  Why are they so difficult to say?  It’s because we have to admit a measure of ignorance.  It’s humbling.  But I want to encourage you to not fear saying IDK any more.  Saying “I Don’t Know” is very powerful.  To admit that you don’t know is to empower yourself because:

IDK is not threatening to others. Pride is abrasive while humility is disarming.  When you admit you don’t know, you disarm others’ defenses. Most people (whether they realize it or not) operate on the philosophy of ‘Law to the proud; grace to the humble.’  Saying “I don’t know” allows you a certain grace afforded usually to rookies.

IDK invites collaboration and builds teamwork.  If you’re interested in doing something great – then you know it can’t be done alone. Saying “I don’t know” gets the ball rolling to really make a difference and do something big!

IDK criques the status quo. When approached the right way, “I Don’t Know” queries deep into the heart of big ideas.  It merits honest answers and opens the doors of understanding.

I am proud to say that I’m more humble than I used to be (*sarcasm) – and I readily admit that “I don’t know.”  And I’m excited to say that it’s paying off!  What about you?  Have you ever had trouble saying “I don’t know” or is that something you are good at?

RELATED POST:  5 Practical Ways to Question Authority

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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4 Signs Your Leadership Isn’t Working

There are ALWAYS warning signs. It hardly ever comes as a complete surprise.

warning-sign-leadership-mistakes

Team members begin backing away. Meetings lose energy and focus. Complaints rise. Morale falls.

Then one day it becomes painfully clear – something isn’t working.

Here are 4 warning signs that your leadership isn’t working

1. Self-preservation

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

When self-preservation is present, leaders resort to manipulation. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant.

Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer. Because people and teams aren’t interested in following someone who is in it for themselves.

Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

2. Unhealthy

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to 4 critical gauges to assess health in my life and workPhysical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional.

You can read more about these gauges here.

How you FEEL about how you are doing does not matter nearly as much as how you’re REALLY doing.

You CAN make the conscious decision to live healthy in these 4 critical areas of life and work, so you have more to offer than a handful of years of frenzied activity.

If we are not holistically healthy, we simply cannot live and lead effectively. We cannot respond to challenges and opportunities calmly and decisively.

Ask yourself: Am I physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy?

3. Lost

There was a huge vision for growth. The organization restructured, launched a new initiative, and began gaining momentum. Then the negative feedback started – and it came from influential people. And that’s when you found out how committed the leader really was – and how committed the team really was.

YOU were doing great – then you weren’t. What happened?!

It’s not that you weren’t committed at all. You were! Maybe you just weren’t as committed as you thought you were.

What causes us to give up on our goals? Why do we so readily abandon our dreams?

Commitment doesn’t mean much anymore. But it still means something to you – you meant it and you’re going to follow through. You’re going to reach your goal!

Ask yourself: What one step can I take today to get back on track?

4. Sign language

Do your team members think you’re deaf?

Let’s face it – you aren’t really in a position to objectively answer that question. And neither am I.

Nobody – absolutely no one – is interested in me sitting across the desk from them waiting for their sentence to end so I can start talking again. They need me to listen – to actually give a rip!

Listening takes time and when you are willing to give your time, people know you care. [Tweet That!]

Ask yourself: Does my team know that I am listening?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Greater Things

metamorphosis-monarch-butterflyChange is uncomfortable.  Transitions aren’t usually enjoyable – but they are absolutely necessary … if we intend on growing.  Passing the baton, moving from one stage to another, rising to another level, turning the page into a new chapter.  These are all metaphors we use to describe transitions.

Certain seasons are more wondrous than others… but the season of transition isn’t generally one of them.  As many of you know, I’ve been in transition mode for the last few months (read more).  My family-life looks very different, we have changed addresses, we travel different paths, and we work different jobs.  A lot has changed in the last few months which is probably why Phillip Phillips’ Home (listen here) resonated with me the first time I heard it:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Not only is the Lord using this transition to grow Joy and I – but he is also using this to help others through us as He teaches us the principles of transition… (from Numbers 27:18-23). We are learning of “Greater Things” that Christ referred to in John 14.

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Greater Things begin with the Word of God

You can call it what you want: a prompting, a calling, a gut-feeling, a burden, a ‘spirit’ – just be sure that your move begins with God’s will and not your own.  God is sovereign and His choices should and must supersede yours.  Affirm that your decision to move – or that the transition that you’re in – is based upon truth – because it’s only the truth that truly transforms (Romans 12:1-2).

Faith is taking the first step – the next step –
without knowing where the rests of the steps will take you.

Duncan Campbell’s account of the Lewis Awakening has always challenged me to be a better listener of God’s still, small voice.  In recent years, Mark Batterson’s Wild Goose Chase has done much the same to stir my heart to the grand adventure of truly trusting Christ with audacious faith.

Greater Things come when we follow a Biblical process

We can’t circumvent the system. There are no shortcuts to following God.  For example, Jesus was clear about discipleship: Take up your cross, deny yourself, forsake this world, and follow Him.  Even though I’m way out of my routine and habits, I can’t neglect those spiritual disciplines that brought me this far: Scripture reading and meditation, prayer, faithful worship in church, being a good steward, sharing my faith with others… It does no good to try to cheat the transition [waiting] process.  It takes time – that’s part of it. In fact, that’s not just part of it – that’s it… Slow down and allow your heart to connect more fully to His.  So be patient and stick it out.  Right now, I’m preaching to myself.  I’m still up in the air, literally, in a holding pattern.  We’ve lifted off by faith and left our comfortable place of 14 years.  It’s a daily process of crying out to the Lord to take care of us and not let us fall flat on our faces.  And in the midst of this painful process, I’m still amazed at how easily I’m distracted from my spiritual quests.

Greater Things happen in the Presence of God

As the great general, Joshua, was about to nervously lead Israel into victory (although he didn’t know the end of the story yet), God gave him the greatest promise a leader could have:

Be strong and of a good courage;
be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the Lord thy God is with thee…  Joshua 1:9

Joshua would have the courage and zeal that Moses never had.  He would experience opportunities Moses was never afforded, because He trusted in the presence of God like Moses never could.  I need the presence of the Lord in order to have this kind of courage.  I know better than to trust in my self (been there, done that).  Christ’s presence in us – as believers – makes it possible for us to see and experience Greater Things.  He planted the seed, and now we get to see it blossom and bear fruit.  He hid the yeast in the dough, and now we get to see it rise… In this difficult transition, yet with great expectation, I look ahead, confident that He which began the good work in me will keep completing it until the day He calls me home!  [Phil. 1:6]

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?

You’ve heard it a hundred times – if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And if this statement ever was true, it is simply no longer reality. Life IS about growth, but it’s not ALL about growth.

This post is part of the series – What Ever Happened to Personal Responsibility?
Would You Return to Your Organization?
If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?
Leaders are the Most Creative People on the Planet
Great Leaders Serve
Is Fear Taking Over?

I’m passionate about growth. I’ve written much about planningvision, and growth. For much of my life, anything short of growth I considered failure…until few weeks ago.

In a recent post, Chris Patton included a simple phrase that caught my attention – life is not all about prosperity.

Just a few hours before reading the post my wife and I had engaged in an emotional discussion about her moving forward with some decisions she needed to make. (I know what you’re thinking – but it was in a restaurant, so it wasn’t too lively.)

Sarah is steady, supportive, consistent. I am creative, innovative, impulsive. So I questioned whether Sarah was putting off some decisions because she was waiting for circumstances to improve. Or because she was hoping for more certainty.

After reading Chris’ post, I found myself questioning MY perspective – is life all about growth?

Here are three things I noted about growth from this experience –

1. Growth comes in many shapes and sizes

Reflecting on my conversation with Sarah, I realized that she IS experiencing growth. Among other areas, she is growing in patience – with her circumstances and with me.

Growth is not always bigger. It’s not always quantitative – measured the way you or I think it should be measured.

Here’s a great question for determining whether or not you are experiencing growth – Are my current situation and my resulting behaviors adding value to my life and work or to the life and work of others?

2. You can grow through pain

From a long-term perspective, maybe the old adage is true – If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Let’s face it – in a world of constant and rapid change, maintaining the status quo is quite simply passive regression.

But, on the surface, constant growth just doesn’t seem possible. Life is about dormancy, setbacks, and pain. It’s about disease, loss, and grief. It’s about uncertainty and unknowns – challenging projects at work, strained relations at home, in between jobs, waiting for word from the doctor, mounting medical bills.

And while it seems that life is about more than growth – life’s incredibly uncomfortable moments are, in reality, opportunities for explosive personal growth.

3. You don’t have to prolong the pause

It’s true – life is full of difficult moments. But it’s also filled with hope. With vision. With dreams. With legacy.

Life isn’t all about prosperity, but it can be about growth. If you are going to grow it will have to be on purpose. You must choose.

So whatever you’re going through, deal with it intentionally. Process it. Get help. Don’t prolong the pain any more than is absolutely necessary.

Decide right now – What one step can I take today toward closing this chapter in my life and opening a new chapter?

Life is a series of new beginnings – and today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Make it a great one!

So, is it true – am I dying if I’m not growing? What have you learned about growth? Leave a comment – let us know what you think.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Green Pastures & Still Waters – but no Bed of Roses

In my opinion one of the most misunderstood passages of the twenty-third Psalm is verse 2: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” As you read this passage, you might imagine herds of sheep eating on the green hillside and drinking in a nearby babbling brook.

What made me stop and consider was the thought that the Shepherd had to make the sheep lie down in green pastures. It would seem that life in a pleasant, green land, you would not have to make the sheep lie down. So consider with me what would make the pastures so green? Storms – of course. Remember, Psalm 23 is talking about life on Earth with the Shepherd – not life in Heaven. In Heaven the green fields will not need storms, but on Earth they do. The same applies to the Christian life. The small storms of the pasture prepare us for the dark valley ahead.

Unfortunately, too many Christians are ill-prepared for the Christian life.

We must realize that a life of faith is grown. Look at the lives of great men of faith – men like Abraham, David, and Moses were not born as men of great faith – they were grown. The small difficulties faced on the green pastures of their lives grew their faith. Yes, it is true that God provided for their need on the pasture, but he also taught them. The sheep will jump into any water to drink. It is up to the Shepherd to lead him to the water that is safe to drink. It is the responsibility of the sheep to learn to listen to the Shepherd. That is the true purpose of the time spent in green pastures and by still waters. These are the places were we learn the voice of the Shepherd. We learn to walk where He says; we learn to lay down when He says. The reason for the storm becomes less important as learning to trust Him becomes more important.

Dr. Lee Roberson led me to Christ as a 5 year old boy. I can still hear him in my head saying, “Have faith in God.” As we grow in the Christian life, we will be tested. There will come a day that you face a valley. It will be dark, and you may not see the hand of the Shepherd like you did on the pasture. It may only be His still small voice that encourages you on. If you have not learned to listen for His voice you will be lost when the valley comes. It is easy to enjoy the green of the pastures and the stillness of the water and to take for granted that the Shepherd is trying to train you. We bristle as sheep against the rod and the staff. We want to live our way.

A sheep who has not learned the basics of the rod and staff will wonder off the path.

I can not emphasis enough the importance of learning the lessons of faith early. As a teenager, I took a softball to the head. I spent my 18th birthday in a hospital bed unable to move. For the first time in my life nobody could help me. The only person who knew what was really going on was my Shepherd. After a month of the doctors shaking their heads, I slowly began to learn to walk again. That step of faith back there seems so small compared to the level of faith I need for my daily walk today. I claim to be no great Christian, but I have learned to take steps by faith. The Shepherd has had many lessons for me. Each new loss of ability seems like a giant storm coming my way. It is in those times that the Shepherd makes me lie down in the green pastures. It is when I am desperately thirsty for some life-giving water that He leads my beside those refreshing, still waters.

I can testify that I have seen many storms come by, but I must also testify that the Shepherd has always been faithful. The storms may swirl around me so strong that I can not see the hand of the Shepherd. It is in those times that His still small voice breaks through the storm. It is those times that the rod and staff comfort me. If I had waited till the storm came to learn His voice it would have been too late. The time to learn the voice of the Shepherd is when the sun is shining on the pasture.

My friend, you will face storms in life.
The faith you have in the Shepherd will be tested.

Each opportunity for faith will be one step outside of what you think you can do. The decision you face is this: Will you learn from the Shepherd, or will you try to live the Christian life alone? Think about it this way… If your faith is never tested than you can never grow in faith. I will tell you this, I do not have the faith to stand in front of a million people and stretch my rod out over the Red Sea and expect God to part the water. That is not my test nor is it yours. I can tell you this though, that when Moses acted in faith God parted the water. The question is not if God can do something, but rather will He use you to do something. Learn to walk in faith, and give God the resource to do great things. 

Article by David Wagner

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God’s Creative Pattern

We have so much to learn from the One who could do it all in one step, yet didn’t!  He forms, then fills.  He saves, then sanctifies.  He purposes, then perfects. Don’t get in too much of a hurry. He loves the process, and so should we.  🙂

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Are you Leading -or- Manipulating?

Most of us agree – leadership is influence. And there are times when influence morphs into down-right-out manipulation.

At it’s core leadership involves change. After all, what are we leading people to do? To be? Yet there’s a fine line between leadership and manipulation.

Both involve influencing others. Both attempt to persuade people to do what you want them to do. Both leverage vision, passion, and emotion to elicit a desired result.

So how do you know if you are leading or manipulating?

Pro’s and Con’s

To complicate matters, there are positive and negative aspects of manipulation. Manipulation can positively influence by skillfully treating with one’s hands or by mechanical means such as manipulating fragments of a broken bone into correct position.

More commonly, manipulation involves negative influence, especially in an unfair manner such as manipulating one’s feelings.

It’s this negative manipulation which goes beyond influence to controlling people and environments. Many manipulators live in denial never realizing they’ve crossed the fine line from leadership to manipulation.

Everybody’s Doing It!

All leaders, at one time or another, have manipulated those they lead. Many do it regularly. And most find it difficult to admit this tendency.

I’ve learned that healthy leaders regularly consider:

  1. Am I threatened when my team members stray from the vision? How do I respond?
  2. Do I have a tendency to shift things back in my favor?

When leaders acknowledge that negative manipulation is a real threat to their influence, they can take steps to eliminate these behaviors.

The Reason:

To determine if you are leading or manipulating, ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

Your underlying motivation reveals whether you are leading or manipulating.

When selfishness or self-preservation are present, it’s easy to become a manipulator. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant. Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer.

So are you leading or just being manipulative?

Here are 4 groups that are negatively impacted by manipulation…

1. The Manipulated

Manipulated people become hurt, disillusioned, and discouraged. As a result, their ability to lead and perform at a high level is damaged.

2. The Witness

When we experience the negative influence of a leader toward a colleague, we become wary of all leaders. Maybe we shouldn’t – but we do.

Those who witness manipulation find it difficult to trust leaders.  They carry self-protective attitudes forward into future relationships. And this painful experience causes them to withdraw from healthy leaders who could positively influence of lives and work.

3. The Organization

It’s not long before the organization suffers. Collaboration, problem solving, and decision-making are all diminished.

The result? Inadequate decisions. Inappropriate behaviors. Poor performance. Over time manipulative leadership will threaten the stability of any organization.

4. The Manipulator

A manipulating leader will never reach their full potential.  They simply cannot grow and will never experience the satisfaction that comes from serving others.

And they deserve it, right?

Not so fast – he may be you! Every leader is naturally self-absorbed. Executive Coach Raymond Gleason said recently:

I’ve never met a leader who couldn’t benefit from more humility.

Question: How have you seen a leader manipulate others? What were the effects? How do you guard against becoming manipulative? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Grow on Purpose

It’s the one piece of advice we all know is true, but don’t necessarily want to hear. If I could say one thing to my generation it would be this – Grow on purpose!

Grow on Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received scores of email with questions and comments about self-development and leadership. And the resulting conversations often involve how to improve priority management and make better decisions.

Leaders and team members are looking for solutions to complex challenges in their life and work. And our conversations inevitably lead back to the same solution – grow on purpose.

When life happens

When your words are misunderstood. When people are criticizing you. When you think you can’t handle any more – grow on purpose.

When you feel discouraged and you want to quit – keep growing.

When you’re not sure if your life or your work is making a difference. When you don’t know if your leadership or influence matters – just grow on purpose.

There is one, and only one, silver bullet solution to breaking through to the next level in your life and work — to becoming the leader you long to be: You must grow!

Whatever you do – don’t stop

So many people struggle when vision or plans are unclear. They don’t know where to start or how to move forward. And they do the absolute worst thing – they stop.

So when you’re feeling unsupported, blocked, or stuck – grow on purpose.

When it doesn’t feel like you and your team are making progress – don’t stop, keep growing.

When your  life and work seems designed to frustrate you and thwart your plans on your journey – grow on purpose.

Don’t stop. Keep going. Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Just keep growing.

Stop and start

No matter where you are on your journey, successful leaders who have gone before you knew one thing – the secret is to keep growing. So keep moving. Keep deciding. Keep learning. Keep leading.

Whatever your fear – grow on purpose.

If you feel like a wannabe – grow on purpose.

If you are waiting for your “big break” (and it feels like you’ve been waiting forever) – grow on purpose.

Grow. Step up. Lead. When you’re done, do it again. There’s no better way to make maximum impact – grow on purpose.

Stop complaining, whining, and questioning yourself. Stop criticizing others. Stop blaming everyone and everything else. And start doing this one very simple (but very difficult) thing – grow on purpose.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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