Category Archives: Leadership

How Can I be Intentional About Helping Others?

Lifting People Up Instead of Pushing Them DownGossip girls

Many people are professional critics, self-centered, and see it their life’s mission to make as many people miserable as they can each day. Many churches, work places and other types of organizations have the same type of people – People who take pleasure at pushing someone down, instead of lifting them up.

Wow!! That may sounds like me or someone else you can readily think of, but before you think of someone else, think of yourself and ask:

How can I be a help instead of damaging others in the daily processes of doing working with people?

It is Person Centered … One person at a time.


Jesus was followed by a large crowd . . Two blind men shouted, “Lord and Son of David, have pity on us.” (Matthew 20:29-30) As long as we label people, we will never be able to help them. Often labels are used to tag people as “groups that do not matter.” One must never forget – everyone matters – Everyone.

While there is a constant focus upon on changing America, making more laws, regulations, controls to govern the problems of people, maybe we should have a foci of helping one person at a time.


“When Jesus heard them. . ” Matthew 20:32 If we do not care enough to listen, we do not care enough to help bring about change. Listening is hard work. It is amazing how much we can learn with out mouths shut and our ears open.


“He stopped” (Matthew 20:32).  If we want to demonstrate genuine care and interest in people’s live and situations, it is going to take a commitment of our time. We cannot be too busy to help.


“Jesus asked, ‘What do want me to do for you?’ (Matthew 20:31) It is easier to talk about someone than it is to talk to someone. Do you know why they do what they do? Are they hurting, lonely, ill-equipped for the task at hand? We will never know without talking and listening.


“Jesus felt compassion for them” (Matthew 20:34) Empathize means to hurt with them. Share their sorrow. In the expression of words of empathy, to “Feel their pain” expresses an identification with others and that we sense the suffering of another in a way that moves us. When we understand why, then perhaps we can begin to help bring about change by taking appropriate actions.


In Matthew 20:34 “Jesus touched their eyes.” What can we do to help meet the needs of others? What kind of help can we offer? What are we willing to invest in others?

Change begins with me. If I want my world where I live then a good place to start the change change is to look within and see how I can change and make life and the world a better place.


Learning from Failure

Change your stinking thinkingNot Yet Another Failure

The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament tells us that the way we think determines who we are: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he. ..” (Prov. 23:7, KJV). Thus, when we focus on failure, we actually risk MAKING ourselves fail. If you spend much time worrying about failure, you, too, increase your chances of taking a fall.

Redefine failure as teaching points toward genius

Many people are deathly afraid of failure. They see it as their worst enemy. But successful people recognize that failures treated properly–can lead to great success.

Elbert Hubbard said, “Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping-stones of genius.” Failures can be great learning experiences. As a leader, I believe I’ve had more failures than most people. But I’ve also had many successes. Why? Because , “trying” is more important than “not failing”. And when I do make mistakes, I use them as learning experiences, asking, “What did I do wrong, and how can I do it better next time?” Don’t try to hide your mistakes. Admit them, and then learn and grow from them. Since you will have failures, why not treat them as the friends they can be?

See failure as a momentary setback in the process of growth

Failure sometimes affects people so negatively that it stops them permanently. Rather than treating failure as the momentary occurrence that it is, they build a permanent monument to it that blocks their forward progress. I remember once working with an organization that hadn’t grown for a number of years. When I outlined what they could do to grow and expand, they said , “We can’t try those things! We might fail!” This fear of future failure had already caused them to fail in the present. Don’t let momentary mistakes keep you from long-term growth

Learn how to turn setbacks into success

Abraham Lincoln said “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” And he was a man who knew defeat. He was born into poverty. The only education he received he acquired himself. He failed in business, and he were defeated many times for public office. With each setback, Lincoln continued to persevere and learn from his mistakes. Rather than being a failure at success, he experienced successful failures. The experiences didn’t stop him; they taught him.

See failure as an opportunity to redefine your outcome goals

The Apostle Paul is a wonderful example of someone who faced failure positively. Rather than seeing adversity as defeat, he welcomed it as a fresh opportunity.

When shipwrecked on Malta, he ministered to the people. When arrested, he saw it as a chance to preach the Gospel. As he said, “My dear friends, I want you to know that what has happened to me has helped to spread the good news” (Phil. 1:12, CEV).

When our attitudes are right, failure actually helps and improves us. It gives us a chance to see where we fall short, to change, and to learn more about ourselves and how we can grow to our greatest potential. The bottom line is that “failing to try” is the greatest failure anyone can experience. If we don’t make the attempt, we cannot succeed. As leaders, we must make the attempt and become the best we can at whatever God is calling us to do. And we will only do that if we put failure in the proper perspective. Failure doesn’t have to be final.

Sucesss, Fear of the Unknown, and Giving up Control

I heard a story once that illustrates how fear of the unknown can inhibit the ability to get past setbacks when it means releasing control and venturing out into territory that is unknown. The truth is that most people have difficulty trusting something other than what is already known.


Imagine this and see if it sounds familiar. The story is told of a man who rode in his car while it was being towed to be repaired. When they arrived at the repair shop, the tow truck driver told him, “I didn’t think I was going to make it up that big hill.” The man replied, “I didn’t either. That’s why I kept the brakes on so we wouldn’t roll backwards.” The unfortunate thing about this story is that it illustrates a pattern of behavior where control, anxiety, and fear can disable attempts to navigate through problems.

It is easy to look at this guy in the story and see what he was doing and how it affected the outcome of trying to tow his car. However, a general matter that resonates from the story is that while people are in the middle of a crisis,  the need to let go of control affects the ability to make good decisions.

It is hard to think clearly and make good decisions when emotions trigger the compulsive need to be in control in the midst of a crisis. Instead of changing the way situations are managed the tendency is to increase the grip of control which can restrict momentum in a positive direction. When problems, changes, and challenges occur fear is triggers internalized meaning about what a loss of control will mean.  We have a mental map that is activated by irrational fear triggered by emotions; then and anxiety occurs. The result is that the immediate impulse sends out a message to tighten the grip to control circumstances. Unfortunately, the harder that change is resisted, the more difficult it is to manage things as they escalate–compulsive control results in a loss of control. The question that controlling behavior raises is: Where does this response come from? The answer is that sometimes that prolonged circumstances and inflexibility to change results in distorted perceptions about what is happening and how response should be given. Consequently, trying to hold on to life with a tight fist clinching and holding on to something out of control sets off a ripple effect that affects everything and everybody that is connected to that single issue that is trying to be controlled.

Fear of releasing control disables the controller and others associated with the controlling behavior. For example, in an organizational culture control, fear, and being indecisive at the moment when a change strategy needs to occur cripples the person in control, but also impacts everyone   organically related to the circumstances. Imagine the frustration of the tow truck driver who was trying to perform a service and give help when he understood that the person he was trying to tow was behaving in a way that disabled him from being successful at his work? It is a truth that behavior has an effect upon what people are doing, but also others who is working to achieve success, as well as, those who are trying to help. Instead of releasing control and participating in forward movement, the controller holds on tighter putting strain on team members, coworkers, and organizational success. Could it be that when control is released and others are empowered that release can contribute to success and result in results that are desired from the person who is holding back progress? A lesson from over-controlling is when control and fear are in charge, the outcome results in behavior disabling a positive outcome–control is a self-fulfilling prophecy predicting failure.

The unfortunate response of holding on to distorted beliefs incongruent with reality is that anxiety driven control results in behaviors that impede success instead of creating success. An important matter to consider is that everyone needs is a network of mature, balanced, and well-rounded people who can offer a healthy way of looking at what is happening, when life gets stuck on a hill with a locked brake. Otherwise, the need to hang on too tightly to things will disengage ability to make decision that will create momentum.  When the impulse to control is distorted by how emotional stimuli paints a picture of circumstances, control responses may result in failure from a self-defeating response mechanism. If you are interested in success, it may be that an evaluation of the larger picture from an objective, someone else may give insightful information to enable releasing the brake and embracing empowering decisions that can help create success at getting up the hill. Try trusting someone close to you who is trying to help you when you cannot help yourself get your foot off the brake.

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An Anatomy of Criticism and Lifting Others Up

Galatians SERVE CHRIST, NOT MEND.L. Moody said that it’s hard to communicate and  be effective in the face of unrelenting criticism. Many people have made it their life goal to be someone’s critic all the time. It is like one person said, “It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.” What is it that makes someone always negative and always critical? At the heart of it is a very unhappy person who is responding to others out their own discontent about what has occurred in life. If you will look into the life of that person who is incessantly critical, bitter, and projecting the pain on to others, one thing to keep in mind is that it is not about you, but it is about what is going on beneath the surface. One thing that is important when facing criticism is to know how to respond. Those who criticize may be trying to get a response which validates their cynicism, anger, and pain. The response that is given can determine what will happen in your life and your business. A question that may be asked at times like this is: Do I want to get on the roller coaster with these persons? If the answer is no then a choice must be made about how to interact in an efficacious way with others. Many work places and other types of organizations are plagued people who cannot give a word up; instead it is a kick down. – People who take pleasure at pushing someone down, instead of lifting them up.

You may be already thinking— Wow!! That may sounds like me or someone else you can readily think of, but before you think of someone else, think of yourself and ask: How can I have effective emotional exchanges with others in the workplace, on my team, or as I lead without damaging others or disabling the effectiveness?

Focus on people not the problem – Effective relationships happen when we possess the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power of emotions, appropriately channeled as a source of energy, creativity and influence. Balancing and integrating the head and heart, channeled through the left and right brain, is the mission of personal growth work in the domain of emotional intelligence ( When others see our responses to them as genuine interest, it can change the dynamics of what happens in the exchange process of leadership and follow-ship. People will respond to leadership when they see someone who will take the time to see them as a person who is important enough to notice.

Listen to what is important to others— One of the things that I have learned about people is that if we will listen to anybody a few minutes that we can learn what is important to them. One of the things that is interesting to do in a group of people is to listen to the words that come out of their mouth when someone sees them and puts them at ease. Listening and not talking may be one of the most difficult things that we do in life. Many times we are so interested in talking instead of listening because we have something to say that everyone really needs to hear. Sometimes when that approach is taken what we communicate to others is that they are not important, that we are the center of the universe, and we fail to connect with others in a meaning way that can enrich others and enhance our ability to help others. Obviously, there is a time to talk and a time to listen. Many times we assume that we know what other people really need and that we heard the words that we said. I f you want to be successful at what you do listen to people with your head and with your heart.

Look past what you see on the surface— A popular catch phrase used by some: “it is what it is” leads some to believe that things are just as they appear. There are times when having effective relationships require looking past the things that are obvious. For instance, “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it”(Lou Holtz). I have a friend who would say, “The first dog that barks is the one who stole the bone” (Grady Taylor). Complaining and barking is a way that individuals sometimes use to deflect attention away from the real issue. It is easier to talk about someone than it is to talk to someone. There are reasons why people do what they do, but do you know why they do what they do? Well, you may never know unless time is given to look beneath the surface.

Investigate the world through another person’s eyes— How important is this issue to someone else and why requires that time must be taken to understand why the person see the issue as they do. Norman Geisler says, “A world view is like a set of glasses that we view the world through: If they are red then the world looks red” (Introduction to philosophy 1980/1987). There may be universal things that we all understand, but they are impacted by our culture, race, gender, age, mood, stressors etc. It is one to understand that there is a problem, a person is angry, feeling violated—but it is another to understand why a person is reacting as they do. What you see in another person’s eyes may not reflect what be what they are seeing through their eyes. If you do not look at someone else’s photo album, you may never see what they see.

Give honest feedback— So often what people do with someone who is to dismiss or avoid what is happening. Giving honest feedback is healthy way of keeping relationships honest. One question that we have to ask is do we just want to placate others to keep things moving in the direction that we want it to go or are we going to realize that others are a part of the process. Therefore, whatever is going on effects the outcome? When others talk to us about how they feel and what is happening, is it rigidity, control, and image management that we respond with, or can we give authentic feedback. One of the reasons that we cannot is that when situations arise, our buttons are being pushed by things that are internalized and while trying to be in control, it is lost to disingenuous responses. In conflict, disagreement—how individuals feel is far more important than what we know or who we are in the food chain. Letting people know how you feel and what you feel is not just telling someone how it is, it is being transparent, authentic, and honest and communicating on an emotional level. One way that this might be understood is to ask are my eyes, body language, and gestures indicating that they are congruent with what is being said. Some people talk about openness and inclusion with crossed arms and clenched hands and wonder why people do not respond?

An observation that can be inferred is that if the world around me is not changing maybe there is a need to take a look at how we relate to others. It may be that changing from within may change what is happening around us. There are two ways that we can approach the world. One is to see everything that is wrong with it, complain about it, and control it. On the other hand, we could understand what is really happening, and gain the skills to adapt to new situations that can open new doors of opportunity and enable successful, efficacious, winning relationships.

Change begins with me. If I want my world to change then maybe I need to change?

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Gaining Perspective about Criticism

Caricature of Dwight Lyman Moody. Caption read...Any time that you get a group of people together; there will always be a problem with someone who will criticize what is being done. A question that must be asked is: are critics going to shape the way that organizations operate? We can see this in every level of organizational culture, from the president of the United States, Congress, the Senate, corporations, down to small businesses. I have heard it said that, “the squeaky wheel, gets the oil” as an explanation for responding to criticism. Sometimes, we think of criticism as coming from outside sources, but it is true that the most disabling critics are people within the ranks of an organization which disable execution of successful actions.

I served as a pastor for many years and something that I learned in the organizational culture of the church is that every church has a cold water committee. Unfortunately, the reality which has to be faced is that anything worthwhile that will be done will be criticized by some. The fact is that if you are always worried what someone thinks, you will never be able to accomplish what needs to be done.

Criticism is Not Always a Curse

Sometimes criticism is May be an indication that your doing something right. There are so many people who are so worried that somebody might say something negative about them, so they just choose to stay quiet, sit on their hands. Dwight L. Moody said. He said, “If no man ever has anything to say against you, your Christianity isn’t worth much.” I have learned that you will never get away from criticism. You are going to be criticized from those outside and criticized from those inside. No matter what you do, someone will not like it.

A cowboy rode up on his horse and looked at the two buffalo, and he said,”You are the ugliest critters I have ever seen. You stink to high heaven, you have those ugly beady eyes, you’ve got those gross stupid-looking humps on your backs, and if I had a buffalo gun I’d blow both of you to kingdom-come,” He turned his horse and rode off.

One buffalo looked at the other one and said, “I believe we just heard a discouraging word.”

You will never get away from discouraging words. Even in the hallowed halls of the church; you will discover an army that will shoot at its own soldiers.

Criticism Can Be Contagious

A solo of cynicism can turn into a chorus of criticism. It is so easy to join with the negative crowd.

Criticism is both caught and taught. It is a symptom of misery and unhappiness that someone is projecting on to an organization. A report can be given of positive successes and the chronic critics will always find something wrong, something that can be criticized. Did you ever notice that when someone begins to criticize, that a question is created that occupies the vacuum of some people’s minds and instead of asking questions, they will say, “yeah me too.” Others will get caught up in the mood of the moment, the mob mentality, and catch a critical attitude. When this is reinforced and not corrected, it becomes an ingrained behavior that is learned and to be stopped must be untaught.

Criticism Demonstrates A Conflict of Values Between Leaders And Followers

When there is a conflict in value systems it defines attitudes about what will be done.Therefore, a person’s character is intimately related to his or her values; personal character rests on the foundation of personal values. A person’s character directly affects how he or she lives life–at the core of all human behavior is a statement of what is valued. As a result, defining the source of conflict is critical to developing pro-active strategies for leading; even when there is a clash of values.

What defines what will be done when there is criticism or opposition? Is it the survival of the species by dominance and destruction of an antagonist, or is it leading and making choices out of one’s character? What we value is a related to our character. Gary Smalley, in the Search for the Soul, said “We are a people who value productivity … human thinkings and human doings instead of human beings.  The highest paid people in the world can hit, run, pass better than anyone else, but it is done at the cost of developing the soul … the inner life. We keep soul expansion to a minimum which can rob us of the greatest success … becoming a real– authentic person.” If we value thinking, behavior, or productivity over what can come from the inner process of character, choices, and development; we may be circumventing our own development for a feeling of gratification from a success that is defined in a moment captured in the present. As a result, there will always be incongruence between who we are, what is communicated, and how criticism is negotiated.

Character directly affects how life is expressed in attitudes and behavior because at the core of all human behavior is a statement about what is valued. Core values affect the character of what is done in an organization or in leadership through a commitment to excellence. A conclusion can be made that criticism can define how organizations develop or leaders can lead organizations to value the right things(or wrong things).  However, the outcome will depend on how criticism affects the criticized and their ability to manage perspective and respond in healthy ways.

Something to think about:  When your motives are right and your methods are pure, and you are doing what is right, you don’t have to explain anything to anybody.

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