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A Leadership Lesson from Humpty Dumpty

A couple days ago I ran across a conversation between Humpty Dumpty and Alice. The dowdy egg was being questioned by the girl from Wonderland about the meaning of a word he had used out of context.

“When I use a word, it means exactly what I tell it to mean.”  Translated = Humpty was a bit delusional. Not surprising for a nursery rhyme character, but an indicator of one of the biggest temptations we all face … to live in denial and define things to our advantage.

No one is immune from this temptation. We tell ourselves we are fit, when truthfully many of us lack the self control to push away from the table. Who needs resolutions! We convince ourselves we are generous, but our finances say otherwise. We believe ourselves to be committed to family time, when in reality most of the time our families are together everyone’s face is plastered to a screen.

[Tweet "Leaders who lie long enough begin to believe the lies. Such people really only hurt themselves."]

If you want to make progress over the coming weeks, begin by refusing to change the definitions. Excellence means there are no short cuts. Integrity (wholeness) encompasses every area, not just the places where it is convenient. And a great relationship requires one to show up and be fully present.

Perhaps the reason Humpty Dumpty had a great fall was because he lost the ability to balance truth and reality. Remember, once he fell no one could put him back together. As leaders, our influence is fragile. Let’s commit ourselves to being men and women who do what is right and refuse to alter the meanings.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is one area where leaders lie to those they lead?

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Is the Force with You?

Last night a couple of my kids played the crazy card and caught the midnight premiere of the new Star Wars movie. So much for raising them right. I think I'm the only American who has never seen a Star Wars movie, but with or without me, it appears the force still lives.
Is the force with you?
One of my favorite words is the word “virtue.” It is not a word we use much anymore, but it is a great word.
Virtue traces its origin back to the Hebrew language. Its actual meaning is “force.” In other words, when a person has virtue, in the form of character and integrity, that person is a force.
[Tweet "When a leader has virtue, in the form of character and integrity, that leader is a force."]
In his book, IntegrityDr. Henry Cloud alludes to the power of virtue when he writes, “When a hurricane comes through a town, you can see the results of its force. When the wind moves across the water, or through the trees, you can see the results of its force. Likewise, when you move through life, through your company or organization, through your career, and through your relationships, your character is going to be a ‘force.’”
Many leaders fail to recognize the “force” of their character. Company after company fails because the person in charge lacks virtue. The result is a team that is drowning in the wake of a leader's lack of character.
As you approach today, I hope you will lead with integrity. Make virtue your focus and watch what happens. Your character will be a force!
Leadership Begins at Home,
What is one area of your leadership virtue that needs to improve during the upcoming month?
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The World Needs More YOU!

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak to a company's core leadership team on the subject of high performance. To set up the day we looked at several changing market dynamics.

I think we would all agree, from technology to competition, the demand to adapt to the needs of your customer base is enormous. The only thing unchanging is the pace of change, which continues to accelerate. 

[Tweet "The only thing unchanging is the pace of change, which continues to accelerate."]

With our minds wrapped around the need for change, it was the end of the day that brought us back to reality. The company brought in Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks International for a Q&A after I spoke. What an honor to share the stage with such a great leader ... and talk about a guy who is comfortable with change. Howard helped take Starbucks from 28 stores to over 23,000 during his time with the company. 

Howard Behar

But it was what Howard said about not changing that resonated most. 

"I'd rather work for an organization that was unsuccessful, yet true to their values, than one that was successful financially without being true to their values. Never change who you are. Hold to your values!" 

Howard's words challenged me on many levels. Truthfully I value my values much more than I do financial success. But if I'm dirt honest, I am conflicted at times. Too often it is easy to be lured by the bottom line or to desire approval from those I encourage. 

[Tweet "Holding to your values will lead to greater influence."]

How about you? Do you set your affection more on your success or your values? Are there times when you compromise who you are to impress others. 

Duplicity is the enemy of trust. You can increase your impact if you will be who you are ... define your values and live them out. If you want to win in today's marketplace and you're a values driven leader, be willing to change everything except the most important thing ... who you are.

The world needs more YOU!

Leadership Begins at Home,


Why do you think so many leaders compromise on their values?

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Great Leaders Consistently Work on Their Character

Never does a day go by that I don’t think about working on my character.
The truth is, I think about my character even more than I do my conduct. Why? Because, through the years, I have discovered that my character always determines conduct.
Whether you call it character and conduct, or as I like to say, integrity and influence, if you want to change the things you do, look in the mirror and start with who you are.
As a kid, like many of you, whenever it was report card time, my parents would always ask the same question first. “What is your conduct grade?” Never did they ask, “How did you do in math?” Never, “Did you bring up your science grade?”
It was always, “Let me see your conduct grade.”
The reason? They knew my conduct was a reflection of my character.
So how is your conduct grade these days?
The answer to that question is not simply a reflection of what you do. It is an indicator of who you are.
[Tweet "You will never be a great leader without great character."]
Why not start with the one in the mirror and work on your character today? I know I plan to.
Leadership Begins at Home,
What happens when leaders focus more on conduct than they do character?
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Do You Have Substance AND Style?

I am challenged by the words of Thomas Jefferson ...
[Tweet "“In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”"]
Many leaders do just the opposite. When it comes to relevance, it appears easier to stand pat and play it safe. They stay stuck in the same old ruts and refuse to be open to new ideas.
Principles, on the other hand, are often compromised if it means increasing profits or capturing a greater market share. Integrity slowly erodes, and over time, a leader can loose his way.
So how’s your “style?” Are you connected to the culture?
What about your “principles?” Are they for sale, or are you willing to bend?
Make it your aim this week to be relevant without being fake. But if you have to choose, choose substance (principles) over style.
It is possible to go with the flow and be rock solid at the same time. It is called influence and integrity.
I pray you will pursue both!
Leadership Begins at Home,
What do you think of Jefferson’s quote?
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Is Your Mouth Writing Checks Your Soul Can’t Cash?

Thanks to a gift from my friend Dan Webster, I am reading a book titled Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg. John is one of my favorite writers. He has this way of cutting through the clutter and speaking to the places where I am living. This read is no exception.

I know why Dan sent me the book. It is a reminder of something he has challenged me with on many occasions in the past. “Make sure your mouth isn’t writing checks your soul can’t cash.” Ouch! There’s a reason I call D-Web Yoda. Who thinks about stuff like that?

Actually, I hope you will. As a leader, is your mouth writing checks your soul can’t cash? The answer to the question most likely has much to do with whether or not you are in a hurry. God prescribes for us to be still if we are to know Him, and ultimately enjoy life.

[Tweet "Hurry is the enemy of love!"]

In Soul Keeping, Ortberg quotes his mentor, the late Dallas Willard who was one of the great spiritual thinkers of the last century. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life .... Hurry is the great enemy of souls in our day. Being busy is mostly a condition of our outer world; it’s having many things to do. Being hurried is a problem of the soul. It’s being so preoccupied with myself and what myself has to do that I am no longer able to be fully present with God and others. There is no way a soul can thrive when it is hurried. And nobody will come along and un-hurry your soul for you.”

So how’s your soul? Do you find your inner life preoccupied? Are your days characterized by stress and stuff ... hurry and worry? If so, you can’t delegate this one. This one’s a self-leadership deal.

My neighbor has a swimming pool. While he has a filter to keep the water clean, the filter is not enough. He also has a net on a long pole to skim debris from the surface.

As leaders, we are a lot like swimming pools. Every day or two stuff surfaces at a soul level and needs to be skimmed if we are to remain healthy and vibrant toward those we lead.

For the next few weeks, I intend to put time on the task of skimming ... and not on my neighbors pool. No, my focus will be on slowing down, eliminating hurry, and sifting out the junky, gunky, build up of my inner life.

Why? Because I don’t want my mouth to be writing checks my soul can’t cash.

Is it time for you to do some Soul Keeping too?

Leadership Begins at Home,


How much time do you think a leader should spend working on his soul, and what practices do you use to keep yourself fully present with those you lead?

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