Do you know your WHY? I hope you do. Because if you don't, it will be difficult to find your way.
And I know what it is to feel like you've lost your way.
It was a sunny winter morning in Southern California, and I was packing up my office after a whirlwind 120 days had left me unemployed and uncertain of my future.
Just three years earlier, my family and I had packed up our lives and moved some 2,100 miles from ATL to SoCal to lead a church. We knew it would be an adventure. But we had no idea how much this three-year leg of our journey would shape our lives and our future.
Just five months before that winter morning, I had publicly celebrated the fact that our pace of growth qualified us as one of the 100 fastest growing churches in America (with over 1,000 in attendance). We were excited that our church was growing and affecting positive change in individuals and our community. Now, shorter than you can say the words "church politics," I was out as the lead pastor of the church.
Many of the leadership lessons I share today crystallized in that season. Unfortunately, those lessons were pretty costly to my family, some outstanding people, and the momentum of a pretty good church.
Someday soon, I'll write more about my failures in that season. They weren't moral or financial failures. They were leadership failures. Failures that have led me to where I am today. Failures for which I am grateful and willing to share. But that's another post.
The purpose of today's post is to help you discover your WHY. You see, almost five years ago, on that sunny, winter morning, I didn't know what I would do next or how I would do it. You could say I had lost my way.
But there was one thing I did know. I knew WHY I would do it.
I knew that whatever I did, it would be something that Inspired Leaders to Pursue their Personal Highest and Best. Now I didn't say it this way back then. I used to verbalize my why like this, "Empowering others to live authentic lives of deep impact."
I expressed it differently back then, but it was essentially the same WHY. Knowing my WHY is what allowed me to find my way.
If you know your WHY, you'll find your WAY.
Since that day five years ago, my WHY has inspired me to challenge thousands with my speaking. It has allowed me to help other leaders in their journey. And most recently, to lead an Inc. 5,000 tech company to and through a strategic exit. Today, my WHY causes me to encourage you in yours.
I want you to be as excited about your future as I am about mine. For that to be true, you need to be confident of your WHY.
If you are unsure of your WHY or are in a season where you want to refine it, here are two questions that have helped me with my WHY.
I’ve been traveling a lot lately. In a period of about 90 days, I’ve worked in New Jersey, Ohio, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, Arizona, and Missouri. Oh and one more place, California, yes, I live in the great state of California and am currently engaged in a coaching relationship with the executive team of a leading technology company. I’m also a Teaching Pastor at my church. So, I guess California makes the list.
In my consulting business, I’m privileged to work with dynamic teams from around the country. I love what I do. “Empowering others to live authentic lives of deep impact” is my personal mission statement. Helping leaders increase their life’s impact is incredibly satisfying, and being satisfied with one’s work is critical.
Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to be genuinely satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
There are a determined few who refuse to surrender their aspirations to do something truly meaningful, but for many, as they grow older, their dreams are peeled away by the realities of life, and they settle. They pick jobs for legitimate reasons at the time, but as life goes on they feel stuck. And they begin to accept that it’s not realistic for them to do something they truly love for a living. Settling in work can affect their relationships in one of two ways: 1) they accept their work as necessary to support their relationships, or 2) they resent their relationships for limiting their options in work. Unfortunately, option 2 is the more common reaction.
Others, through the dogged pursuit of work they love create a career beyond their wildest imagination. They have success, significance, and fulfillment in their vocation. They’re doing great work that makes a difference for others, but their vocational success comes at the expense of their physical, emotional, spiritual and relational health. They don’t experience intimacy with their family and lack friendships outside of work. And although they want to, they aren’t giving back to their community.
As I work with high-impact leaders across the country, it seems many have resigned themselves to choosing one of the two paths. A high-impact career, doing work they love or a healthy personal life filled with meaningful relationships.
I reject this choice. Continue reading
Leaders influence – nothing more, nothing less. If you have influence, you are a leader. Whether you are a CEO, a pastor or a parent, you have the opportunity to change the world around you. Sociologists estimate that even the most introverted people will influence an average of 10,000 people in their lifetime. Think about that. An introvert, who’s personality causes them to minimize their contact with others, still influences thousands.
You can’t separate yourself from your influence. Like it or not, you are a leader.
As a leader, you have influence over individuals and organizations. But the actual impact of your leadership is determined by how you lead yourself. Great leaders first lead themselves. Then, they move on to lead others, to lead leaders, and eventually to lead organizations and movements. Maximizing your influence means leading yourself. Great leaders know this and monitor the condition of their heart. So let me ask you, as a leader, is your heart helping or hurting you.Continue reading
I was recently honored as one of the recipients of the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce’s “40 Under Forty” award, given out to the Valley’s young “Movers & Shakers”. (Read the official press release here). With so many great young professionals and community servants in the Valley, it’s certainly an honor to receive this award, and since I won’t be “under 40” for much longer, I’m extra thrilled to be receiving it this year.
As someone who offers life planning, business consulting, and leadership coaching as a profession, I’m always looking at how I can help others be “movers and shakers” in their personal and professional lives. I measure my success by how I’m able to help others succeed. So being recognized by my community as one who is having a positive impact is certainly validating.Continue reading
Recently, a man was driving his Porsche on the Ortega Highway, one of the most dangerous mountain roads here in Southern California. He took an unexpected turn too quickly and drove right off the edge. As his car fell, he was able to grab a tree growing from the cliff face. He watched as his $90,000 sports car bounced thousands of feet to the canyon floor below.
I don’t get treadmills. No matter how hard you run, you don’t get anywhere. For some reason, a lot of people love them, spending hours a day working up a sweat and looking good. I’m not dogging you if you like treadmills. I’m just admitting that I can’t relate.
Below is a video of a guy falling off a treadmill. I watched this video ten times in a row. I didn’t watch it for his fall. I watched it for his recovery; it’s quite possibly the greatest recovery of all time.
Every leader understands this truth. It comes with the territory. People who can’t handle criticism or rejection don’t make it long-term as leaders. But just because you grow to accept the negative aspects of leadership doesn’t mean you have to enjoy them.
Leadership is tough. Visionary leaders have the ability to create and articulate a credible and attractive vision of the future that improves on the present situation. The problem is that no single vision can improve everyone’s situation. Visionary change simultaneously produces excitement and disappointment. So whether you’re leading at church, the marketplace or at home, being a leader requires a tireless commitment to your vision. It also requires you to implement your vision in a way that energizes others, so that you can in effect jump-start the future by calling forth the skills and resources required to make your vision happen.
Sound difficult? It is, and if you’ve ever tried to lead the change you know that it can be exhausting. So what does all of this have to do with saying thanks? The answer is simple: everything.Continue reading