Common Mental Mistake: Practice only your Strengths 

Here is my friend and fellow blogger JT Ayers with some excellent thoughts on the need to pay attention to your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

Originally posted by JT Ayers


 Your mind and your leadership are connected beyond your comprehension. Your thoughts, emotions, and subsequent actions are interconnected. The way you’re feeling affects the way you’re thinking; the way you’re thinking affects the way you’re feeling.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle

For the next several weeks, I will be covering the Most Common Mental Mistakes of a Leader and then, I will discuss Strategies to Overcome Those Mistakes. These posts will drastically help you in your leadership. I will be highlighting one mistake each week.

Common Mental Mistake #1: You Only Practice Your Strengths

It’s easy to do what you like best.  You enjoy it. It’s fun. You feel productive and happy. However, as a leader you have to be efficient in your weaknesses as well. Neglecting your weaknesses will only hurt your strengths. Think of these abilities like muscles. You can’t work out only your favorite muscle all of the time. If you do you risk the other supporting muscle to atrophying.  You must work out all of the supporting muscles around your favorite. This will ensure maximum strength. 

A coach of mine once told me about a 70 – 30 principal. 70% of your leadership or job should be fun, enjoyable, and plays to your strengths. However, to have that 70% you must take care of the other 30% that you don’t enjoy.  

Here is an example: Administration work is a weakness of mine. I do not enjoy it.

So, I have two options:

1. Continue to neglect this weakness and get fired 

2. Become efficient in this weakness in order to highlight my strengths.

 Here are the 4 steps to ensure you can become efficient in your weakness.

1.    Identify Your Strengths

What are you good at? What do you love to do?  What makes you feel productive? What activities do you accomplish that make you feel effective? These are indicators of your strengths. Make a list. Get a second opinion that affirms your abilities.

2.    Now Identify Your Weaknesses

Gather feedback from a trusted friend(s), co-workers, or gather results from an informal survey (best to make anonymous). Get information! Know where you are before you begin mapping out the journey to your desired destination.

3.    Improve Your Weakness

Strengths are made up of 3 things: Talent, Skill, and Knowledge. A weakness means you don’t have the natural talent. However, you can control the Skills and Knowledge. These are learned.

- Watch those that do it well

- Learn from your past mistakes

- Read articles, books, blogs, listen to podcasts. Your weakness will be someone else’s strength

- Get mentored

4.    Now Apply Your Weakness In Light Of Your Strengths

Your weak abilities must be applied in light of your other strengths. Do only what will highlight your other abilities that you consider strengths. In light of your strengths, how do your weaknesses come into play? For me, I decided to get help with some administrative aspects of my job. I delegated some of these tasks to someone with strong administrative skills.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be writing on 4 more common mental mistakes. I will then begin to identify Mental Mistake Solutions.  The applications are endless. I encourage you to pass this post on to a friend and begin to find ways to ensure that you can become the best leader possible with these mistakes in mind.

What did I miss? Do you agree that practicing only your strengths is a Common Mental Mistake?  Leave a comment below. Like on Facebook. Forward to a Friend!

Next Week’s Common Mental Mistake: Having No Definite Goals



Leadership In A Single Verse

Everything you need to know about leadership in a single verse

My most basic, and simplest, definition of leadership is: A leader is a person who takes people from where they are to someplace else. The leader sees something in the future that is better than what is in the present and has a strong desire to go there and not go by himself/herself, but take others along on the journey. For the Christian leader, this should be a God-given vision that the Lord has made clear to the leader; however He does that.

I see this definition clearly laid out in a single verse regarding Moses and what God clearly communicated to him.

“But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”   Exodus 32:34 (ESV)

I see excellent leadership principles in this single and  instructive, verse:

1.  Hear from God

Foundational to leadership is regularly and carefully listening to God. Jesus said in John 10 that his sheep hear his voice and follow him. This is generally true for all Christ-followers, but is especially critical for those leading Christ-followers. The number one responsibility in the leader’s job description is to listen for the voice of God regarding where God wants to take His people. This verse tells us that God spoke to Moses about a place he wanted Moses to take the people: in this case, the place was the Promised Land.

2.  Have a clear destination

The Promised Land was a specific, geographic, real, and physical place to which Moses was to lead God’s people. In other cases it may be a financial destination, a goal, an idea whose time has come, such as starting a new work, implementing a new idea or concept or targeting a specific group of people or addressing a particular need in the community.

The vision has a better chance of sticking when people know exactly what it is they are being led to do, be or achieve. The more specific the destination, the more excitement will be generated. As Zig Zigler said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!” In most cases in the Bible, when God speaks about something in the future that he wants to do, it has been clear and specific; build a boat, build a temple, repair a wall, carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, etc.

3.  Don't hesitate to go and lead

When God speaks to the leader, he wants obedience; not “I’ll think about it,” or “I agree with it,” or “not right now, maybe later.” The verse is clear. The word to Moses is clear: “But now go, lead the people.” Leaders are to lead and not be afraid to take people to a different place--a place that everyone (including the leader) might be fearful to go to. Leaders make decisions, develop strategies build teams, implement ideas and follow up to see that the ball is moving down the field; go and lead!

4.  Know that God will be with you

God will be with both the leader and with the people being led: “…my angel shall go before you.”

We don’t come up with our own idea of where to take the people and we don’t depend on our own gifts, personality or experience in taking them there either. I love 1 Corinthians 15:10 in The Message regarding this,

“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.”  Emphasis added

I have prayed over this verse for years regarding my own leadership. I desire to both be led by him and  be empowered by him.

5. God will deal with people’s sin as they follow their God-appointed leader

The people (and the leader) will undoubtedly sin on their way to the God-given destination: “Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

Every leader I know of, and every group of people whom these less-than-perfect leaders led sinned along the journey; but they still continued on. Sin is no reason to quit or to give up on the God-given destination.

There will be disobedience, rebellion, sexual, financial and relational missteps; but that is no reason for the leader not to lead people to the place God has made clear. 

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (ESV)

In the midst of our sin and rebellion, Jesus still takes us to the place the Father has prepared for us. Sin is dealt with on the Cross and the journey to our ultimate destination continues.

Current leader, or potential leader:

  • Make it a priority to hear from God
  • Listen carefully for his vision for you and for the people you are leading, or will be leading
  • Don’t be fearful or hesitant, but go…lead
  • Be assured that the triune God is with you and those you lead
  • Know that God will deal with sin in your life and in the lives of those you lead. Accept this, own it, deal with I, but keep pressing forward

Horrible Bosses? Learn From Them? Yes!

Having a horrible boss can be as detrimental as having a horrible job.  The kind of boss you have can cause you to barely survive or can actually cause you to thrive! But how can that happen?  Here is the leadership freak himself to give us some insight.

Originally posed on September 26, 2014 by Dan Rockwell

If you don’t have a bad boss now, you’ll have one soon.

Bad bosses:

  1. Don’t listen.
  2. Use power for personal advantage.
  3. Always know.

Is that the type of person you want to fight with?

7 ways to thrive with a bad boss:

#1. Don’t kiss:

Kissing frogs only works in fairy tales. If they’re truly a bad boss they resent your efforts to transform them. Don’t expect them to change and stop trying to change them.

#2. Accept:

Don’t do anything more until you accept who they are.

If you really have a bad boss, don’t try to make them a good boss.

#3. Gratitude:

Be grateful for opportunities to develop:

  1. Patience
  2. Persistence.
  3. Endurance.
  4. Kindness.
  5. Forgiveness.
  6. Calmness.
  7. Creativity.
  8. Flexibility.
  9. Generosity.
  10. Humility.

#4. Develop and grow:

The personal qualities and behaviors that enable you to thrive under a bad boss take you far in life and leadership.

Ask yourself, “How can I become who I want to be right now?”

#5. Get on their team:

Find a way to get on their team unless they’re unethical, immoral, or criminal. Adopt their priorities, preferred methods of communication, and values.

Make what’s important to others important to you.

#6. Brag:

Every time you feel like complaining, brag. Build a positive presence by bragging about others. Talk about the accomplishments of your team and colleagues.

#7. Connect:

Connect with someone – outside your organization – who succeeded with a bad boss. Don’t gossip about your boss to your colleagues.

The turn:

Turn away from frustration and toward the future. Frustration is a great motivator as long as you don’t get frustrated with being frustrated.

Frustration with the past ruins the present.

Release bitterness and open your heart to approaches that focus on your behaviors not theirs.

Every excuse you make for negative attitudes and poor performance undermines your future.

What suggestions do you have for thriving under a bad boss?

Read more suggestions on the Leadership Coffee Shop. 


Non-Negotiables In Team Members

Seven non-negotiables I look for in team members:

To the making of lists, there is no end. That’s a fact.  When we go shopping, we often have a list of things we operate from. When we are house hunting, we more than likely have written a list of things we are looking for in a house.  When it comes to the house decision, we may have some non-negotiables that, if not present, would mean we wouldn’t even look at it--deal breakers.

Here are seven things that I want to see in someone I’m considering inviting to join a team I lead.

They are non-negotiables. 

If these are not present, it’s a no-go.  If it becomes clear in the first interview, there are no more interviews.  The process is over.

I’m not saying they have to be perfect in every one of these; but they do need to demonstrate that they are well down the road and have a strong desire to continue to develop in these areas:

1.  Rooted in a genuine relationship with Jesus

I know this might not be applicable in some work situations; but when it comes to churches and Christian-based groups and organizations, this is imperative. I want team members who are not just Christians, but Christians who deeply and genuinely love Jesus and are growing in both having their identity (value, worth, security) in him and intimacy with him.  I don’t want just church goers or ethically moral people, but those who have a sincere love for Jesus.

2.  Teachable

The person demonstrates a curiosity and hunger to continue to grow and learn and add value to everyone around them. They ask lots of questions and never think they know it all. They are willing to learn from anyone, at any time, on any topic. “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.” 1 Corinthians 8:1 (NLT)

3.  Strong character traits--especially integrity

I have come to the firm conclusion that being a person of character is paramount. When you look at the leadership chapters in the Bible (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, I Peter, and Acts 20), it’s crystal clear that character trumps everything else. More leaders fall over character issues than competency issues.  Just review newspaper headlines from the last several months to see proof of this. Start with the character traits listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Galatians 5:22,23.

 4.  Team player

The individual knows how to work in a team context with give and take on decisions and discussions. It doesn’t have to always go their way. They are flexible, open and listen well during team debate and deliberations. They are willing to defer to others on the team when appropriate. It isn’t all about them but about what’s best for the entire team and the organization the team serves.

5.  Excellent people skills

Some people seem to be natural at getting along with others: loving others, caring for others, putting others’ feelings and desires ahead of their own.  Others (like myself) need to work hard at it, in dependency on Christ, as we are more task- oriented. Wherever you are on the spectrum, it is clear to me that to make the maximum contribution we all need to grow and become good in people skills. A lot of very capable and competent people plateau somewhere along the line because they don’t have, or haven’t bothered to develop, people skills. The higher you rise in an organization, the more your people skills need to be developed. Early on you can lead through ability/gifts, and having more knowledge than others; but, later on, most of what gets done happens through the strength of your relational network.

6.  Passionate

They are full of energy and passionate about life, people, what the team is all about and where the team is heading. They don’t know how to spell lazy, half-hearted or mediocre. Passion is a choice, not a personality trait. Any person can become a passionate person who deeply and genuine cares about important things and precious people.

7.  Above-average competency in a key area

Yes, people on my team need to be good (very good) at something that adds critical value to the team. This, by itself, will not guarantee them a seat at the table; but without it they are not adding anything new and necessary to the team either. All the other things on my list of non-negotiables will aid the competencies they possess to achieve their maximum result.


Great Ideas On Giving Up Controlling People

Everyone who has ever led, knows that it is not good to over control those you lead.  It is an easy habit to form and a hard habit to break. Here are some excellent ideas from Cole NeSmith on how to creatively let go of controlling people.

Originally posted by Cole NeSmith on September 22, 2014

I love control. We love control. Control and leadership are actually very fine lines. I started writing my new book, Spiritual Innovation, in 2013 and very quickly I discovered that control is at the root of so much of what I do on a daily basis in my life and leadership. I suspect the same is true for you.

At the heart of Spiritual Innovation is the reality that God is infinite, and throughout history, He has revealed more of Himself and His activity to and through His people. God (being the same today, yesterday and forever) is still up to revealing Himself in the most unexpected ways. But the greatest enemy to joining God in what He’s doing is our own desire for control : controlling ourselves, our circumstances, those around us, and – ultimately – controlling God.

In chapter two of Spiritual Innovation, I tell this story about how the desire to control manifested in my life as a leader.

As a kid, I did chores—cleaned the toilet, mowed the yard, dusted my bedroom. The payment for chores was allowance. Each time I did a chore, I ran up to my parent’s bedroom, opened the bedside table and pulled out a white pad of paper with a long running ledger of plus and minuses, earnings and payouts. Most Sundays, I would run up to that ledger, pull it out, move the decimal point one place to the left and determine the 10% tithe I was to put in the pink envelope with my church’s logo printed on it.

So, 15 years later in life, as I was preparing to give a message about “generosity” at my church, naturally I started researching the tithe. The tithe was mentioned in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It was an agricultural offering of one tenth of one’s grain, wine, and oil harvests. But continuing on in my preparation, it became obvious: tithe was only one example of sacrificial giving in the Bible.

In Luke 19, Zacceaus, as a result of his encounter with Jesus, gave away half of his possessions and returned four times the amount he had stolen from individuals. When Jesus encounters the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19, Jesus instructs him to give away everything he has and come follow him. In Acts, we see members of the Church giving away all they had and giving to others as they had need. Even Ananias and Sapphira—after selling their field—were told the money they had received was at their disposal.

So why the ten percent? I think it’s because we like control and formulas give us the illusion of control.

Encouraging people into a place of freedom takes control away. As individuals, we feel at ease when we know the expectation and can, without thought, meet that expectation. We ask, “what will make God happy with me?” and work to meet the minimum requirement so we can feel at ease. Then, as leaders, if we reinforce ten percent, that gives us a common, consistent message and a sense of peace that we will receive at least that much. But no one needs to be in relationship with God to understand this ten percent rule. The tither need not listen to God for instruction on giving, and the leader need not listen for how to lead his or her people or trust in God for provision.

So here are 4 ways I explore in the book that we as leaders can release control, and become the leaders we are created to be.

1. Platform People

In our desire to control, we often leverage people to achieve our own agenda. But the true role of a leader is not to use others but to platform them into their created purpose. This means that the initiatives of our churches may change over time as the people of our churches grow, mature, come, and go. So often, we create positions and push people into the holes to fill the void. But perhaps we should be creating positions not based on our own agenda but on God’s agenda as He blesses the people of our churches with specific gifts and talents.

2. Celebrate Uniqueness 

In order to platform people into their gifts, we must first begin to value people for their uniqueness. So much of modern, American Evangelicalism is built on the concept of sameness, and often “different” scares us. But as we step into relationship with God, he doesn’t neutralize the personalities and personas of each individual. God makes us each with unique gifts and talents to contribute to the unfolding of His plan of heaven on earth. It’s the role of the leader to help uncover the uniqueness of the people around us and to encourage, challenge, and equip them to step into the fullness of who they are created to be.

3. Embrace Exploration

Too many leaders settle to recreate. Too many of us are okay with trying to replicate what we’ve seen someone else do at some other place or at some other time. But God wants to accomplish something unique to where you are. Here and now. That means we have to become people of risk. We have to be people who are willing to explore the unknown depths of God and ministry, placing our complete trust in Him. It means we have to be willing to try things that may fail. But it’s in the exploration that we discover God in more intimate ways than ever before.

4. Practice Creativity 

If you’ve ever made something, you’ve practiced creativity. If you’ve ever asked, “how could this be different” or “how could we do this better,” you’ve practiced creativity. You see, creativity is central to the Christian life. Everything we are called to involves not only seeing things as they are but as they could be. God calls us to be people of hope who see the world as He sees it. And as we release our need for control, we begin participating in making the world, not what we think it should be, but what God has always intended it to be.

Life seems so much easier when we’re in control. But when things are up to you and me, they are limited to the confines of our human capacity. And God’s dreams for the world are so much bigger than anything we could ever accomplish on our own. So today, release control, step into an expectation of innovation, and see God do things far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined!