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Before they go in books, they go here.

managing, meetings, and
leading difficult people

innovation, vision, and clarity

purpose, focus, and wholeness


Managing, meetings, and leading
difficult people

Who to promote

Here is who I would promote (if I were you):

The person who:
1. Blames the least, and
2. Takes the most responsibility for their own emotions.

Conversely, if you want to destroy the pipeline for leadership within your organization, it’s simple:

Tolerate people who do not accept responsibility.

Leading and emotion

You could be the last emotional domino.

Any change, personal or professional, is emotional. We resist loss. We avoid discomfort. And so when difficulty comes we experience a ripple of emotion not just from ourselves, but also through the people around us.

Emotion shows up in tears, venting, and even silence. Emotions are normal and healthy. Or, let me be more specific: I believe your emotion is (probably) normal and healthy.

The trouble begins when we pick up others’ emotion, or allow ourselves to be toppled by it.

Emotions of people are like domino’s, they push into one another. We may think it’s a kindness to take on someone else’s feeling (“this is so hard for them” and “I don’t want them to be mad at me” and “I have to fix this”). It’s not. Sometimes we take on their pain because we think it’s a sign of strength. It isn’t.

We should be present with one another and attentive to their pain without feeling responsible for it.

Today there is a stark scarcity of strength. It takes more strength to stand next to someone and not pick up their feelings. It is more mature to help someone face their pain than to be overcome by it, or to promise to fix it.

A chain of domino’s stops falling when one domino stays standing. You can be the last emotional domino.


I coached my 9 year-old son’s flag football team this summer. There are dozens of life-lessons to be learned from this experience, but the most glaring is this:

The most difficult people are those on the sideline.

These 9 year-olds didn't understand football. But they were trying. Most often, they were hustling. With a little guidance they did more cheering than criticizing.

Their parents, however are a different story. They showed up, sat down, and wouldn't shut up. They barked at their kids and the refs.

If you’re doing anything, you are experiencing some pushback. Most likely, the loudest chatter is from people who aren't in the game.

I think you have two options: Ignore them or invite them.

The most helpful parents were those who responded to an invitation to be an assistant coach, a sub, or even just to bring gatorade. The loudest critics were those least engaged.

You’re going to see some people on the field this year. Some are on the PTAs or in a working group. Others are trying to create content or start companies.

Do more cheering than critiquing. When in doubt, bring them a gatorade.


Innovation, vision, and clarity

Just grow

A friend of mine is growing a start-up. Growing a business is complicated, and expensive. As it grows so do the expenses. Fellow entrepreneurs encourage him to raise prices, cut expenses, increase profit ratio blah blah blah.

A mentor gave him fantastic advice: just grow.

The details of the business are distracting, even alluring. You may start to dream about staffing. You wonder about updating the website.

But the solution isn’t to tweak anything (yet). Sure there’s a little money in the margins - there’s a lot more out in the market.

There will be a time to refine. It’s probably still time to grow.

Clarity Excludes

Clarity is helpful.

But, hashtag#clarity may exclude. It may refine. It may hold you accountable.

When leaders don’t clarify, they keep the attention on themselves (everyone is watching them rather than running after the vision or decision).

Failing to clarify may actually keep people around. Some of them will stay half-heartedly. Some are wasting precious time.

Leaders might worry that clarity will be divisive or cause loss or discomfort.

It will.

And, it’s worth it.

If you don’t know yet or aren’t sure yet, that’s okay. Acknowledge it. Reasonable people will be understanding.

But if you know and you aren’t speaking up, either act like a leader or step aside and let someone else.


Leaders are looking for perfect answers (who wouldn’t!?)

Team members are looking for a leader who will be decisive.

Knowing we need to decide - leaders often go searching for a preponderance of evidence. But data, input, stories, and mountains of advice may all be a distraction from the reality that at some point we just have to choose.

All the advice in the world cannot shelter us from the responsibility to decide.

Consultants and focus groups are not substitutes for strength. Books and dashboards will not suffice if you and I cannot (or will not) clarify. More evidence will not lead people to where they want to go.

Only we can do that.


Purpose, focus, and wholeness

I am always becoming someone.

. Every decision is a step towards who I want to be or away from it.

My friend (Dr. Michael Brown) says it this way: I will not wake up someday having become someone that I have not been becoming.

More than likely the person you want to become is not reliant on or addicted to the easy or immediate.


You may be very busy doing the wrong things.

What we say we are doing 'for our family' may not be what they need from us. The same thing is true at work.

We may have a week full of meetings (and emails) and not be doing what the people around us (and our mission!) need us to do most.

--> A full schedule does not necessarily further your mission.
--> What you've always done may be the biggest distraction to what you absolutely must do.
--> If being busy ("working hard") is more celebrated than creating impact, you'll eventually be surrounded by people who can only do the former. 😳

Almost every email, phone call, meeting, and pile of laundry is non-essential.

Find something to ignore today. Replace it with whatever most essential to do today.

To Be King

Is it good to be king? I do not know.

I would like to know: is it good for others that you are “king?”

I know how good you are as a leader by one test: what is life like for people under your influence?

To be a good leader is not to amass personal benefit. It is to give your life away.

When Augustine of Hippo learned he had become bishop, he wept. A mature person is reluctant to take the throne, but willing to do it for the benefit of others.


Here’s something about people I respect:

Their life is about more than them.

These men and women have chosen to carry something beyond themselves. They have interest in doing more than what interests them.

The great deception of our time is that comfort can be admirably achieved.

We accidentally believe it is admirable to have better golf games, bigger houses, and kids who have fewer challenges.

You (and probably, your families) comfort is not an admirable pursuit. It is not a worthy enough cause to dedicate your life to.

My old boss used to say, “at funerals we learn that life is measured by how much of it is given away.”

We should pick up burdens on the behalf of others.

One mentor said it to me this way recently: You should pick up the biggest burden you can bear.

Game on.

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