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The Guy in the Glass

In 1934 Dale Wimbrow wrote a response to a contest being held by American Magazine. The assignment was, “Give us one good reason why an ambitious young man should be honest.”

The words Dale penned were, and still are, a treasure.  If you are striving to be an i2i leader, I encourage you to reflect on Wimbrow’s message.

May the mirror become a visual reminder of the need we all have to live lives of integrity.  I pray that you will like the one you see looking back at you.



Note: The word “pelf” in the first line comes from a variant of Old French pelfre or “spoils.”  It refers to money or pilfered property.

The Guy in the Glass

by Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,

And the world makes you King for a day,

Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,

Who judgement upon you must pass.

The feller whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,

For he’s with you clear up to the end,

And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,

And think you’re a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum

If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears

If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.

How would you respond if asked, “Give us one good reason why an ambitious young man should be honest.”

Spare or Share?

Yesterday I ran across a quote from Esther Burkholder.  It read, “Giving is a joy if done in the right spirit. Do we think of it as ‘What can I spare?’ or ‘What can I share?’’

The “spare or share” question goes to the motive of the one doing the giving.  For me, sometimes I struggle to live with open hands.  Honestly, I find myself giving with a “what I can spare” mindset.

Is there an antidote for such selfishness?  I believe there is.  The secret lies in focusing your heart and being grateful.

Gratefulness is enemy of greed.

There are no shortage of needs.  People are hurting.  The economy has dipped.  And yet, what matters most is not the amount I can spare, but the gratefulness that motivates me to share.

Great leaders live with open hands and open hearts.  Do you?



Who do you know that demonstrates gratefulness in the way they share with others?

You Don’t Win on Game Day

Last Saturday, the college football world was sent spinning once again as the Wisconsin Badgers dominated the #1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.  I saw the fourth quarter, and trust me, Wisconsin was playing “grown man” football compared to their opponents.

After the game Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielma was interviewed.  The reporter asked him if he thought the game had been won in the fourth quarter when Wisconsin’s offensive line began controlling the line of scrimmage.

Bielma didn’t blink and promptly said, “No, the game was won in the weight room and on the practice field over the past 364 days leading up to the game.”

The reporter was just as stunned as I was with the coach’s answer.

Bielma is obviously an ‘integrous’ leader.  For he understands that victory is not earned during the contest.  It is only recognized there.  Victory comes from all the hard work and discipline that is invested, when no one is looking, leading up to the contest.

The Wisconsin football team demonstrated character on Saturday night.  They had made deposits over the last year when there were no TV cameras, media, or fans to be impressed.  When it was time to make a withdrawal, the resources were there to physically prevail.

Do you appreciate the importance of those moments when no one is looking?  I hope so.  For what you do in private will determine your level of success in public.

Make it a habit to do the right thing when there is no spot light and you will be prepared to perform when there is one.

Don’t forget, “You don’t win on game day.  It only appears that way.”



Do you agree or disagree?

Reflex Leadership

I have a long way to go to become the leader I desire to be.  You too can probably think of several places where your leadership doesn’t measure up to its full potential.

If only leadership could become a reflex.

In John Maxwell’s book on the laws of leadership, there is a chapter entitled “The Law of Process.”  In the chapter you will find the old boxing saying: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” It illustrates the point that becoming a great leader is an ongoing process of paying the price day after day.

Maxwell goes on to tell the story of former boxing great, heavyweight champ Joe Frazier.  Frazier once said, “You can map out a fight plan or a life plan.  But when the action starts, you’re down to your reflexes.  That’s where your road work shows.  If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, you’re getting found out now under the bright lights.”

Has your preparation been exposed lately?  Are you paying the price to grow your integrity in the dark of the morning?  Are you reading anything to help develop your leadership gift?  Are you discussing leadership with anyone else?

There are no short cuts to greatness and you will never regret doing the right thing!

Like boxing, if this leadership thing is to ever become a reflex, we must be willing to pay the price on a daily basis.

The question I have been asking myself lately is, “Have I been paying the price when it comes to pursuing leadership development?” How about you?  If you have been given the leadership gift then you must develop it and use it to the fullest.

I hope you will do some evaluating today and ask yourself if your leadership is a reflex or is it still underdeveloped.  If the latter is true of you it is time to get to work “in the dark of the morning.”



Second Chances, but no Do-overs

Second chances.  Few things are better, and all of us need them.

But don’t be fooled.  Even though you might receive a second chance, you don’t get the first one over.

Integrity is about faithfully maximizing your first chances.  If there is an area of your leadership where you are ready to cave, consider the coming consequences.  If you compromise your integrity it won’t be pretty.

Refuse to squander your initial opportunities.  Even if you know second chances are readily available.

While it may be true that comebacks are inspiring, setbacks can be devastating.

Make a decision now not to forfeit your integrity and you won’t have to worry about regret.

Second chances are available, but there are no do-overs.



What is your favorite comeback story of all time?  How much regret do you think preceded the comeback?

I Wish I Could Hide

Sometimes I wish I could hide from myself.  But I can’t.  I am like St. Augustine in that regard.  In his Confessions he wrote, “Where was my heart to flee for refuge from my heart?  Whither was I to fly, where I would not follow?  In what place should I not be prey to myself?”

Yesterday, during a talk, a friend of mine challenged me to find someone with whom I could have “full disclosure.”  I wanted to stand up and remind him that leaders are tempted to have secrets.  It would not have been news to him.  That fact is why he gave the challenge in the first place.

Full disclosure friends are hard to come by, but they are necessary if you want to stay on the path.  Truth tellers make it hard to hide.

I hear people say all the time, that for a leader, it’s lonely at the top.  But I say, loneliness is a choice.

Integrity demands that you do self-leadership, and self-leadership is impossible unless you find yourself a friend and refuse to hide.

I don’t want to live in the shadows.  And neither do you.

The dark places will wreck your integrity.  So stop hiding!



What are some areas where leaders can be tempted to hide?

Intentional Integrity . . . Work the Second Shift

All week we have considered ways to practice integrity.  Today I leave you with one final thought on the subject.  It was passed along to me yesterday from a young co-worker.

The idea is based on a phrase from a guy named J.R. Vassar.  Vassar encourages guys to be “men of the second shift.”

Whether you are a man or woman, if you want to be an authentic leader, you need to “work the second shift.”  In other words, when you leave work and go home, it is time to go to work on building a great family.

There is no better classroom for learning how to be selfless than your marriage.  And your role as a mom or dad is perhaps the greatest leadership role you will ever have.

Too many leaders neglect their families and it shipwrecks their lives, not to mention their leadership.

As you head into this weekend, and begin a new month, why not take some extra time to invest some one on one time with your kids or plan a date with your spouse.

I believe it is impossible to be an effective, authentic leader unless you are willing to “work the second shift.”



What is your favorite family moment from this past month?

Intentional Integrity . . . Step on the Scales

Do you have a set of bathroom scales?  If so, do you use them every day?  If you want to a sure fire way to “practice” your integrity, step on the scales.  They don’t lie.

When it comes to integrity, leaders like to talk about honesty and truthfulness.  Both are vital if you want to be authentic.  But integrity is much broader.  It literally means “wholeness.”  If you want to be a truthful leader, you must also pay attention to your physical body.

There are many ways to measure how you are doing physically, but nothing beats stepping on the scales.

Every day I step on the scales.  It is an important moment in my day because it is the moment where I have to be honest with myself the most.  The scales represent truth.  A simple number that reflects exercise, diet, rest, and stress.

If you want a way to intentionally pursue integrity start stepping on the scales.  They will tell you how you are really doing.



What physical disciplines do you incorporate to keep yourself “fit to lead.”

Intentional Integrity . . . Find a Wing Man

Let me start by saying that integrity is not something you do as much as it is who you are.  But there are things you can do to help yourself become who you want to be.

Author Henri Nouwen once wrote, “I have found over and over again how hard it is to be truly faithful to Jesus when I am alone.”

His statement gives a clue to another way we can be intentional about pursuing integrity.  Find yourself a wing man.

Accountability is a powerful thing.  It is actually a barometer of whether you are living an “integrated” life or not.  If you are avoiding accountability or if you balk at the idea, it should be a red flag.

Having a friend who knows your strengths as well as your flaws can help you stay on the right path.  You are much more likely to do the right thing when you know others are counting on you.  And you are certainly on your best behavior when others are present.

If there are places where you are tempted to compromise your integrity, you should never go there alone.

Travel, computer usage, discretionary time, and even a meeting with someone you shouldn’t be meeting with, can all represent danger zones.

Build yourself a lifestyle that is surrounded by accountability and you will increase your chances of staying faithful.



Are there some practices you live by to help you maintain your integrity?

Intentional Integrity . . . “Buy” the Book

Yesterday we focused on the importance of pursuing integrity in an intentional way.  One of the reader comments was a very simple, yet great, request.  Someone wrote,

“I really don’t know how to practice it (integrity), can you write a blog on it.”

Over the next couple of days we will look at some of the ways that we can “practice” the pursuit of integrity.  But perhaps my favorite is to go by the book.  Or in my case, to go ‘buy’ the book (more on that in a moment).

When it comes to pursuing integrity there is no better book than the Bible.  I believe it is impossible to have a fully “integrated” life without learning from the Creator.  That is why I make it a daily practice to spend time reading from the Scriptures with the goal of yielding my life to His life.

But the Bible is not the only book I read from.  You could say I am a lot like Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), who was once quoted as saying, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

I get the shakes anytime I get near a bookstore.  When I am sick, I go to the library.  I say things like “leaders are readers” and I believe it.

I firmly believe it is difficult to be an authentic leader without a commitment to reading.

If you really want to “practice” integrity I encourage you to develop a plan for your reading.  Implement the following principles and your leadership will stay anchored to your values.

1 – Read Truth.  The Bible is the obvious choice here.  A chapter of Proverbs or a Psalm each day will keep you thinking the right way.

2 – Read in your field of expertise.  Authentic leaders are life long learners.  Never get to the point where you think you have arrived.  If you stop learning your integrity is guaranteed to erode.

3 – Read outside your field of expertise.  Leaders need to be able to participate in the conversation.  Exposing yourself to a variety of books will help broaden your message.

4 – Read old stuff.  There is a reason some books have stood the test of time and others have not.  Find some books over 100 years old and read them.

5 – Read consistently.  A minimum of 30 minutes a day is a good habit.  Between Scripture and other books I try to give an hour to this discipline.  I don’t always hit my goal, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.  Note: TV, Web-surfing, Facebook, etc . . . are the enemies of books.

Bottom line . . . You are what you read.  If you want to be a leader with integrity, maybe it’s time for you to go “buy the book.”



What is the best book you have read in 2010?


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