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You're Only Fooling Yourself

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

Those words, attributed to Abraham Lincoln whose birthday would have been yesterday, will hopefully serve as a reminder today that your greatest asset is your integrity.

Who have you been trying to fool lately?

I find that when I try to fool others I end up deceiving myself.

Examine your integrity today and make a fresh commitment to live a life that positions you to influence others in a positive way.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What do you think about Lincoln's quote?

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Choose Substance over Shiny

I have a friend who is a professional baseball scout. Although his organization is stocked full of great players, his search for talent is never ending.

But my friend is not looking for just any talent. During our conversations he often reminds me he is searching for the right guy ... one who will be a great organizational fit.

He often passes on what appears to be great talent on paper. Why? Because, baseball games aren’t played on paper.

The best scouts would rather have the right, high-character, guy with good talent, than a highly sought-after star with below-average character.

High performance organizations consistently staff with the right kind of talent. Unless you have a clear profile of what you are looking for, you will likely settle for someone who is shiny.

If you want to gain a true competitive advantage, I encourage you to choose substance over shiny. Remember, the team with the BEST talent has the best chance of winning.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What character traits do you look for in a potential team member?

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Don't Judge a Book (or a leader) by it's Cover

I love to read. As a kid that was not the case. But one thing I learned early on about books still rings true today. "Don't judge a book by its cover."

In that regard, leaders are no different than books. You can't judge them by their covers.

There is a difference in a great leader and a leader who looks great.

Do you look great or do you lead great?

Great leaders focus on integrity rather than reputation. Great leaders work on their character as much as they do their competency. Great leaders resist the urge to be all show and no go.

If you want to live up to your leadership potential, perhaps it's time to stop worrying about the cover and start focusing on the middle of your book.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What happens when leaders are more focused on their reputation than they are their integrity?

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Are You Struggling With Lust?

Lust will shipwreck a leader. Does today find you struggling to keep your appetites in check?

Lust takes on different forms, but the end result is always the same. Emptiness.

Lust is defined as “a passionate or overmastering desire or craving.”

Are there areas in your life where you have failed to master your appetites? Maybe you have a hunger for power? A craving for cash? A desire for pleasure?

The problem with lust is that, unlike Snickers, it never satisfies. It is always an illusion of what “might” be.

The Bible refers to this illusion in Proverbs 27:20. It reads, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.”

Did you catch that? The eyes are never satisfied!

There will always be a newer make and model; a latest and greatest product; a sleeker and sexier person.

Don’t buy the lie. Remember, the eyes are never satisfied.

If you want to be a leader who leads with integrity, you must find your satisfaction in something other than what you see. Lust will never bring you what you want and it might eventually be your undoing.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are some areas that you see leaders being lured by lust?

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Don't You Wish There Was an Integrity Buzzer?

When I was a kid there was a game designed for kids who wanted to become future doctors called Operation.  While the medical field never called my name, I did play the game more than once.

In Operation, the player takes a set of tweezers that are attached to an electronic buzzer and tries to do surgery, taking little plastic organs and bones out of a goofy looking patient.

The object of Operation was to have steady hands. Touch anything but the desired piece and “bzzzttttt” (buzz sound) ... you got nailed by the buzzer and lost the game.

As leaders, we are hardwired to pursue success. But at what cost?

If I told you that you could have success or you could have integrity, but not both, which would you choose?

Such a hypothetical question forces you to examine your definition of success. If your meaning lands you on “win at all cost,” then I would argue you are really not successful.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an integrity buzzer that zapped us every time we got just a little off center with our character? Not a big zap. Just a little jolt.

The first sign of a short cut ... bzzzttttt.  Fudge a little on expenses ... bzzzttttt. Do something wrong when no one is looking ... bzzzttttt. I have a feeling an integrity buzzer would keep us all on track.

I encourage you to pursue success. But also pursue integrity. And by all means, if you ever have to choose between the two (and believe me, you will), I challenge you to choose integrity.

Doing so will cause you to like the man or woman you see in the mirror a lot more. And in my book that will make you a true success.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is your definition of success and how does integrity fit in to your thinking?

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Truett Cathy ... The Power of a Good Name

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1

Those words were the North Star for the founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, who died yesterday at the age of 93.


It goes without saying, the inventor of the chicken sandwich was an impressive leader. He grew Chick-fil-A from a single small diner in Hapeville, Georgia to one of the greatest organizations in the world. Currently, there are over 1800 Chick-fil-A's with an annual combined sales totaling more than 5 billion dollars. Talk about results.

But for those who knew Truett, he was not driven by the results alone. Truthfully, he focused more on relationships, and he created an unrivaled organizational culture. The results were simply the byproduct.

I had the opportunity to meet Truett once, and I was captivated by his focus on my visit to his office. I walked away feeling like he was my grandfather, rather than a billionaire.

Truett gave me a copy of a book he had written. The title, It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, was a reminder that doing things the right way, coupled with a strong work ethic, always leads to success.

When he handed me the book, he told me if I ever had trouble sleeping to be sure and read the first few pages. “It’ll help send you to dreamland,” he quipped with a warm smile. His humility was enviable.

Inside the front cover of the book, right below Truett’s autograph, was the inscription, Proverbs 22:1. It seems the thing he desired most was to bring honor to God by living a life of integrity.

I’d say you hit the target, Mr. Cathy. Thank you for your amazing example of what a leader is supposed to look like.

Well done good and faithful servant ... You will be missed, but not forgotten.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is the legacy you desire to leave behind with your life and leadership?

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The Biggest Decision of the Day

A friend of mine joined me for lunch yesterday. As we headed to the car, we were faced with a big decision. The same big decision we are faced with each time we go to lunch. "Where do we want to eat?"

While the lunchtime location is a hard one to decide, it is not the biggest decision of the day.

(tweet) The biggest decision of the day is the first one you make ... It is the decision to bring energy and engagement to your work as opposed to holding back and living half-hearted.

(tweet) Leaders who fail to engage at the beginning of the day end up missing out on opportunities to influence others.

Why not make it a practice to ignore your circumstances and focus on the facts?

The truth is, your attitude is a lot more important than you might think.

Focus your mind and heart on being positive in everything you do, and you will be well on your way to a life of greater impact.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What other big decisions determine the success of a leader's day?

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Do You Have Any Cracks in Your Leadership?

A while back I went all home improvement and made a trip to a local hardware store. Let's just say, I am not Mr. Fix It. But after three weeks of the spray nozzle on my kitchen sink leaking, I had had enough.

FaucetI actually debated replacing the entire sink. Thankfully, I thought better of it when I saw that the new faucets were several hundred dollars.

Plan B turned out to be much better. I asked a clerk for a plumbing expert and then waited on isle seven while one could be paged. After ten minutes of no one showing up, I started talking to myself, which is not unusual. A customer standing nearby detected my frustration. He asked me what I was doing.

I showed him the spray nozzle and told him about my leaky dilemma. He suggested I tighten the spring, put in a new washer, and purchase some plumbing tape to seal the threads. I followed his advice to a “t” and now my wife thinks I'm a plumber. It turns out all I needed was a little know-how and $1.37 worth of materials.

As a leader you should be aware that leadership leaks. It only takes a little crack in a system, an unfocused team member, or even a flaw in your own integrity for the leaking to begin. Just as water finds its way to the cracks, your vision will begin to leak if you don't pay attention to the crevices in your leadership world.

If you are like me, I'm guessing you could use a little tightening up on some of your processes, a fresh perspective in some area of priority, or a renewed focus on your mission. What you probably don't need is a brand new start.

Take it from a plumber - this week, if you will make a few necessary adjustments to your leadership cracks, your leaking might just go away.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are some places where cracks tend to show up in a leader’s life?

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Looks Can Be Deceiving

For the past month I have been traveling. Between work and play, I visited 13 states during June and learned a lot about leadership and about myself. But I must say, my greatest reminder came last night when I arrived back home.

I found the reminder in the edge of my backyard in the form of a fallen tree. A tree that looked perfectly healthy when I left town. There is definitely a reason they say, looks can be deceiving.

Hollow on the Inside

The massive tree was snapped in seven different places. When I saw it, I thought to myself, there is no way I’ll be able to move it without help from my chainsaw. I was wrong. A slight kick to one of the pieces revealed the problem. The inside of the tree had no substance. While not hollow, the wood was practically pulp - light as a feather - thanks to the work of a nasty team of termites. Slowly, but surely, they have been attacking what appeared to be a towering picture of health. 

As a leader, it is tempting to focus more on outside stuff, than the stuff on the inside. This is understandable. The parts that are seen in public impress people. However, unless your public persona is backed by a private integrity, you will have very little impact. In fact, eventually, you will likely find yourself broken, your influence shortened, and your regrets piled high.

I’ll tell you more about my travels in the coming days. In the mean time, as you head into the second half of 2014, I encourage you to take time to evaluate your insides. If you have spots that are under attack, make an effort to rid yourself of the termites before it is too late.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are some danger spots that can attack the insides of a leader?

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Be an Owner Today

For the past couple of days I have been speaking to a group of college admissions counselors at the annual NACCAP Conference at John Brown University. We are having a blast!


JBU is on the edge of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas, but my flight went through Oklahoma City where I made Game 6 selfies with Stephen A Smith. He's the one on the right. Happy guy!


The trip from Oklahoma to Arkansas necessitated a car rental. I'll admit, driving around in a new ride is great. It has even caused me to make a decision. But the decision is probably not what you are thinking. Buying a new ride is not an option for someone who just chose to leave his job (see yesterday's post).

No, this decision is about washing and waxing the rental car before I return it. I have made up my mind I will not be doing that.

I imagine you are rolling your eyes right now thinking, "Who even thinks about washing and waxing a rental car." The answer is, no one - except I just did. But only to make a point.

Clearly, no one would ever wash and wax a rental. The question is, "Why?"

The answer lies in the principle of ownership.

When a leader takes ownership of his life, everything changes. Influence matters more. Work receives focused attention. Relationships lead to sacrifice. 

Sadly, I know many leaders who 'leadership lease' their way through life. A lack of passion, surface relationships, and failure to invest in others are all indicators of a renter mentality.

As you look at your life today, do you fall into the 'leadership lease' camp? If so, I encourage you to pick out an area or two you have been treating like a rental and begin to show ownership. Maybe it is time to wash and wax a few things. Perhaps today is even the day for you to become an owner.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are the results when a leaders fails to show ownership?

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