<![CDATA[Connect Serve Give - Blog]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 05:43:55 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The Difference-Maker Leader 5: #LeadWithLove]]>Mon, 28 Dec 2015 00:45:22 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/the-difference-maker-leader-5-leadwithlovePicture
In a recent talk to 500 business leaders I began with a statement about the hospitality industry I consider a basic principle of service, “The guest experience will never exceed the team member experience”. If we expect our people to deliver a quality service, product, or experience for our guests we must first, as leaders, deliver a quality experience for our team. Yet, this concept seems to escape many leaders around the world expect for the true Difference-Maker Leader.
The basic premise of my talk was this: to create the best experience for others we must lead with love.
In today’s world the concept of love in the work place can create considerable confusion. The word love itself is a complicated word. The Greek language requires three separate words to fully define the idea of love. Yet, the English language uses only one four-letter word to define something as complicated as love.
For the purposes of my talk I settled on the most basic concept of love: to deeply value another individual as you value yourself. It is my belief this simple idea of valuing others as we value ourselves is a significant component in our foundation of leadership.
The #LeadWithLove conversation is larger than a single blog post. My goal is merely to provide you starting points to better equip you in your journey to lead with love.
Consider Your Connections: We are wired for connection. Research has shown  each of us has a basic need in life to connect with others. We are the most connected generation in history with two billion people having access to the Internet. Yet, we find ourselves in a social vacuum lacking true, close friends in a time of need.
As a Difference-Maker Leader you should consider each connection you make daily. Are your connections simply surface level or are you making the needed deeper connections with those around you? Check your progress on deeper connections by asking yourself this question: For those in your connection circle can you name an additional person of significance in their lives? If not, connect deeper.
Consider Your Priorities: Many leaders have two sets of priorities, the set they have in their head and the set they actually live out each day. Frequently these two sets of priorities don’t match. In a class I teach leaders are asked to write down what matters most to them in life. The answers are very predictable for the most part. When I ask these same leaders if others would write the same list about them the room usually becomes very quite.
What I have discovered over the years of asking the “what’s important to you” question is most leaders only know the answer in their head. Many never transfer what is in their head to something more practical, like a journal, a trusted friend, or Personal Board Member. Only thinking about what matters most to us make us less effective creating the correct daily experiences needed to demonstrate our true priorities.
When what we think is important is not consistent with what we demonstrate is important we create a low trustworthiness in what we claim to value in life. Our ability to lead with love requires us to be trustworthy in our priorities.
Consider Your Story-line: I have written a great deal about your story. Each of us has a story worth telling. You have the collective power over the story you deliver each day. What I haven’t written about, until today, is each of us has two basic story-lines to choose from as we write our story each day. We can live our life through a story of love or a story of judgment the choice is ours.
Our daily story-line represents how we view others which determines how we will ultimately treat them. If our story-line is one of judgment we will judge a person or situation with very little information to go on. Typically, we judge others based on surface level details such as tattoos, clothes, cars, skin color, or nationality all of which can be misleading.
When our story-line is based on love we tend to begin with a “best intentions” outlook. Some might consider this interpretation a bit “Pollyanna” in its approach but I would prefer to consider it a “look-in-the-mirror” method. When I look in the mirror how would I want the person I see to be treated? My story-line of love is treating others, as I would want to be treated myself.
Three simple (not always easy) considerations to lead with love as a Difference-Maker Leader. As we begin a new year the time is right to calibrate how we lead. Now is the time to lead with love as we continue…

<![CDATA[The Difference-Maker Leader #4: Your Story]]>Fri, 06 Nov 2015 03:57:54 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/the-difference-maker-leader-4-your-storyPicture

Your story is unique. It's comprised of many thousands of stories that weave together to make you who you are. Your stories define your success, your reputation, your ambition, and your self-esteem. 

The best part about the "stories of you" is that you have power over the collective message they send. You can be intentional about the choices you make so your treasure trove of stories is overflowing with victory. Purpose to make strong choices, build solid relationships, pursue worthy goals, and collect great stories along the way. All of those life experiences will support your difference-maker-leader status.

On the other hand, you can harness the negative choices, events, and circumstances from your past to use for greater good in the future. We've all made mistakes; that's a given. Instead of letting the tough times and poor choices hold you down, let them be an example to others as you make as difference in their lives.

​Everyone has had mountaintop moments when it felt like everything was going well, and we've all had rock-bottom times when it felt like it would never get better. Look back and choose from both your victorious stories and your hard times to find your story. While your life experiences do shape you and propel you, they don't have to define you. You get to decide the message you want to send to those you influence. It isn't disingenuous to craft your message in this way; this is leadership. 

An impactful life story contains three main elements:
  1. Truth. Your story must be the full truth. No embellishment is allowed because if you know you're not being completely honest, you won't be effective. And it will show.
  2. Pivotal moment. An audience (1 person or 1000 people) is looking to identify with you in some way. It's in the moment of your big decision, deep regret, crippling grief, or painful sacrifice that they recognize your humanity. That's when they let their guard down and prepare to receive the most important part.
  3. Call to action. There's no point in telling your story if not to change people in some way. Is your message seeking to inspire others to reach for more on the job? Is it to overcome some personal struggle like health and fitness needs or single-parenting woes? Or maybe you have a story that can empower someone to become free of an abusive situation. What message can you take from your story to make a difference in the lives of others?

Over the past weeks we've been exploring the idea of how to become a Difference-Maker Leader. The last post in this series was about the simple fact that you have to live it to share it. How can you help someone else through something or lead someone else to something if you've never experienced it yourself?

It's impossible to lead others in that way when you're comfortably tucked away where you've always been. You must have firsthand knowledge of the lessons you will teach as you lead others. If you never do, you'll never know...and you cannot lead. There must be victories and skinned knees. ~The Difference-Maker Leader: #3 In the Arena

Hopefully you see the importance of using your own story to make a difference, so now it's time to get practical. Here's my challenge:
  • Create your top 5 list of life lessons learned, both victories and skinned knees.
  • Explore how those moments helped shaped you into who you are.
  • Craft your top 5 list into a talk/testimony that you can share in different venues.
  • Try bite size portions of your talk out on a friend who will help you refine the message.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and look for opportunities to share your story.

What's your story? I'd love to hear what you come up with and so would my readers. Feel free to try it out on us in the comment section. 

<![CDATA[The Difference-Maker Leader #3: In The Arena]]>Sun, 27 Sep 2015 21:02:50 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/the-difference-maker-leader-3-in-the-arena
The comfort zone is perhaps the most dangerous place for a leader. It's the place where dreams die. It's the place where nothing changes. Sure, there are perks to the comfort zone: fewer headaches, less risk, and no heart-stopping moments of panic. But there's also no growth. A difference-maker leader does not spring from the comfort zone, but is borne by trial and error, risk and reward.

The difference-maker leader is a thought leader and go-getter, someone who is able to overcome the fear of the unknown, step out in courageenjoy new experiences, and experience energy and growth as a result of them. A difference-maker leader leads from the front lines, changes the landscape of discussions and ideas, shapes expectations, and drives movement into new arenas. 

It's impossible to lead others in that way when you're comfortably tucked away where you've always been. You must have firsthand knowledge of the lessons you will teach as you lead others. If you never do, you'll never know...and you cannot lead. There must be victories and skinned knees.

It isn't wrong to feel afraid. Inhibitions and nervous energy are natural. From the moment of birth, human beings learn about danger and discomfort and have a natural tendency to avoid those things. But when fear begins to get in the way of your success or your leadership capabilities, you've got to overcome it.

Recently, while reading the biography of Theodore Roosevelt I came across a quote that has had a profound impact on me personally. The speech from where the quote is taken was titled Citizenship in a Republic and given in 1910. The quote is best known as "The Man in The Arena" and speaks to the heart of being outside your comfort zone.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.      --Teddy Roosevelt
4 Steps from the Comfort Zone to Greater Leadership
1. Ignore the Critic. Most of us, if we examined our motives honestly, would have to admit that it's often concern over what people think of us that paralyzes us. Heaven forbid someone think we're weird, annoying, or worse a failure. But, if you take a chance and succeed, people will respect you. If you take a chance and fail, people will love you all the more. And, in the end, who cares? You're not trying to win votes; you're living on purpose like a difference-maker leader. 

2. Acknowledge Strong People Stumble. Accept that failure is inevitable. There will come a time that you'll put yourself on the line and you'll fail. Is a perceived failure ever completely worthless? When you're down about something you think went wrong, look for the positives. There is always, always something positive within skinned knee experience. The key with difference-maker leaders is they find the learning, make adjustments, and continue to move forward. NOTE: True difference-maker leaders pick others up when they stumble and have someone to help pick them up when they stumble as well.

3. Dare Greatly. It's called a comfort zone for a reason, and unless you take risks, that's where you'll be. Ask any successful entrepreneur or public figure--they will tell you that their journey was one risk after another. You cannot get to where you want to go unless you take a chance, you must dare greatly! Without daring greatly you will end up with "those cold and timid souls that know neither victory nor defeat."

4, Celebrate the Arena. The more you step out and try new things, the more you will crave new adventures. You will become invigorated and energized by the power of exploration in the arena of LIFE. Those experiences will begin to define you and will shape you into the difference-maker leader you know you are. 

Is it easy?
No. You need to understand what it means to step into the arena. Recently, I posted this tweet to my Twitter feed:

I know firsthand that it's not easy to lay everything on the table and expose yourself that way. I've suffered under the fear of failure or embarrassment more times that I'd care to count. But I've also reaped the rewards that only come from pressing through and being vulnerable.  I've seen the amazing results of taking chances, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, the key to being a difference-maker leader is to take what you've learned and share it with others in both word and deed. How can you inspire someone else to live life fully in the arena? But, first, what's on your own horizon? What's holding you back? Today is the day to step out into the world of risk and embrace it. Today is your day to Dare Greatly!

<![CDATA[The Difference-Maker Leader #2: Board of Directors]]>Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:09:08 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/the-difference-maker-leader-2-board-of-directorsPicture
Last week we discussed how to identify and pursue your True North. This week's post will help you find people who will make sure you will get there.

The second principle we'll look at on our journey to becoming a difference-maker leader is the concept of enlisting the aid of a personal board of directors.

What is a board of directors?

A board of directors is a group of individuals with varying expertise and backgrounds who are enlisted to help an organization and its management and executives establish and achieve certain objectives. They may vote about the implementation of certain policies and major decisions related to the operations of the organization. Mostly, they provide counsel and guidance, helping leaders see around the corner.

Companies that have a board of directors are those in which the public or a group of owners share an interest in its success. If you are a difference-maker leader, people have a vested interest in your success as an individual and as a leader. Therefore, you need to establish a personal board of directors. 

What's in it for you?

The list of benefits in having your own board of directors is endless. Fresh ideas, strength in numbers when it comes to tough decisions, and unbiased wisdom are just some of the benefits. But the main factor, in my opinion, is the gift of accountability. 

There are constantly successful politicians, religious leaders, and corporate executives who disintegrate through ethical failures or business errors. I believe that in nine out of ten of the cases this happens, the underlying issue was pride that prevented them from submitting to mentorship and accountability. Leaders who are able to admit their weaknesses to someone charged to hold them accountable realize they aren't alone in the struggle and it becomes much easier to do the right things ethically and for their businesses. 

You can hire a personal trainer to whip you into shape. The workouts are going great, and from all appearances, you're making great strides toward your goal. However, if you have no accountability to a healthy lifestyle outside the gym and spend evenings with Ben and Jerry, that success will never be realized. The same is true as you move closer to becoming a difference-maker leader. The steps can look good on the outside, but unless you are inwardly submitted to true growth, your success will stagnate.

With the right people holding you accountable to your results, lifestyle, and business actions, you'll soar to new heights of personal success and wellbeing.

What's in it for them?

So why would anyone want to invest the time and effort it would take to be on your personal board of directors? They understand the impact they can have on being and leading a difference maker leader, and you, as a difference maker leader, will fill the same role in the lives of others. As leaders continue on a path toward True North and make a difference in the lives of other people and help to raise up other leaders, we'll all find ourselves sitting on each other's boards of directors, holding each other accountable and striving toward greatness. 

No, not everyone will catch this vision. Not by a long shot. There are those stuck in the mindset of "every man for himself" and those who hold their secrets tight to their chest in fear that someone else might get ahead. But those aren't the types of leaders you want mentoring you anyway. They aren't making a difference in the lives of others and they likely have no peace. Those types of people aren't your models. But there are those who do see that they soar when they lift others up. Those leaders crave the kind of opportunity you present when asking them to serve on your personal board of directors.

What's in it for others?

And that's the ultimate question isn't it? Being a difference-maker leader requires you to look at the big picture and gauge your effectiveness of how you are able to impact others. Before we invest time and trust in the process of establishing a personal board of directors, we need to consider the impact it will have on others. It's simple really. When you succeed, others succeed. When you reach to new heights and reap the rewards of good business and personal decisions, when you can operate on a foundation of a healthy mental, physical, and spiritual life, all those watching, all those whose life you impact, will be called to a higher place. You'll be making a difference in their lives simply by the way you're living your own.

So think of the people you look up to. Who has financial expertise? Who do you trust with lifestyle and ethics? Who has it all figured out in the marriage and family department? Who's the one person you look to when you need to make a tough choice? That's your board of directors. It's time to formalize their voice in your life by asking them to step into this role. I'm not going to get into the mechanics of how to operate your board of directors because it's going to look different for each person. I will recommend that you study the operations of the boards of successful organizations. How many times to do they meet? How is the communication structure? What is the process for decision making and accountability? 

What should I look for?

The number on your board is important. Three is a good starting point, but be sure to stay below twelve. When setting up your board look for at least these three people if you want to maximize your success. Best friends are not board members by default. Just because someone is a BFF it does not necessarily make them a great candidate to be on your board. Chose wisely. 

1) The Skinned Knee Master
Seek out someone to be on your board who is further along in life than you are. Look for someone with experience not only in success but a person who has a few skinned knees. It becomes important in life to learn from more than the wins. Learning from the times we fall is equally as important.

2) The Life-Stager
The life-stager is the person who looks like you. Not literally of course, but someone who is in a similar life stage as you are. Having someone on your Board that shares the same or similar struggles is important. When the conversations make sense you begin to find the encouragement needed to continue to move forward.

3) The Fresh Eyes
The person on your board that holds this spot is the younger versers of you. You should always have someone who challenges you but also reminds you of where you came from and the struggles you have overcame. Granted, you will soon realize you have become the Skinned-Knee Master to this person but there is much to be gained from them also. Never underestimate the power of having a fresh set of eyes from which to see the world. 

In the end, multiple data points are necessary to discover the true wisdom of the Board. Said another way, don’t just listen to one person and ignore the rest. The genius of your board comes from the sum of the parts.

The journey toward becoming a true Difference-Maker Leader continues!


<![CDATA[The Difference-Maker Leader #1: True North]]>Sat, 25 Jul 2015 01:26:10 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/the-difference-maker-leader-1-true-northPicture
I am excited to be starting a new, eight-part series called The Difference-Maker Leader. We'll be looking at what that means, why it's important to your success, and how you can achieve it...how YOU can be a difference-maker leader.

The first trait of being an effective Difference-Maker Leader is:

Know Your True North
~true north

north according to the earth's axis, not magnetic north.

Magnetic north is based on outside influences, but True North is indisputable. In life, we have direction, goals, drive, and we set off with the end in sight (true north), but along the way, circumstances, pressures, people, and other outside influences nudge us off course as if they have a magnetic pull on us. So we adapt and make concessions and sacrifices. The struggle was never in the destination--we knew exactly where we were headed--the struggle, however was in the path we took to get there.

So consider these thoughts as you set your True North.

Know who you are.
What is most important to you? Are you driven by outside achievement or internal reward? What values or ideals are you committed to, no matter what? 

For example, in a political race, there are certain issues that rise above the others as deal breakers for me. I can like a candidate, I can appreciate his work ethic, his goals for his position, even his track record, but if we don't see eye-to-eye on those main issues, I can't give him my vote. Those things identify my political True North and it's important I follow that path. If I followed the crowd and allowed my ideals to be minimized and voted according to popularity, that would mean I was following magnetic north and, in the end, I would have forsaken my own values.

Know where you are.
Setting boundaries will keep you focused and on course. Boundaries should be physical, emotional, and spiritual...all with the intent to protect your vision from outside distraction. Boundaries are difficult to set but even harder to maintain. People and circumstances will always find your weak spots and the temptation to lower your guard will weaken your resolve if you're not solid.

Prepare yourself by re-examining your boundaries on a daily or weekly basis. Knowing your boundaries in life helps determine what you are willing take on or take in. Your boundaries become the guardrails in life. They feed off of who you are and provide the needed protection from internal and external forces. 

Know how you are.
Do you tend to poll your friends before you make a decision? Or maybe you're the type of person who acts first and picks up the pieces later. What about when it comes to stress? Do you withdraw from activity to find rest or do you push through?

It's important to identify your tendencies so you can make sure they line up with your values. For example, if you say that spending time with your spouse is something you highly value, but then you always choose to work late when the opportunity presents itself, your tendency is overshadowing your value and you'll soon be nudged off your True North.

Know what you are.
Frequently, we spend energy focusing on our weaknesses, at times, even obsessed with what we cannot do well. Research from Gallup suggests when we focus on our strengths we improve not only our engagement but our effectiveness as well. According to the data when we build upon on our strength we learn more.

Knowing what your strength is and leaning into that helps drive you toward the results you desire to achieve. What you are is more about your gifts and talents than your weaknesses. Knowing this not only sets you apart but also moves you ahead in life.

Know why you are.
The concept of knowing why you are here is not a new idea. The research only validates what each of us know or want to know intrinsically, why are we here. To know and understand not only that we are here on purpose but to know our purpose is a game changer in life.

In Victor Frankel’s masterful work, Man’s Search For Meaning, he explores our hardwired need to have meaning in life. Knowing this meaning can be the difference between life and an abundant life or in the most extreme conditions, as Mr Frankel experienced in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps during WWII, having meaning can be the difference between life and death.

To have an accurate bead on your True North it becomes imperative to understand your purpose in life. Coupled with knowing who you are, what you are, where you are, and how you are rounds out what it looks like to be a Difference-Maker Leader focused on True North.

Check you personal internal compass and set a course for True North…ONWARD!

<![CDATA[The Choice is Yours]]>Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:23:15 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/the-choice-is-yoursPicture

It is mid year and time to check our progress in the key areas of our life. Most of us probably committed to some lifestyle changes or new habits back in January. But, if statistics hold true, 25% of us abandoned our resolutions long ago. 

Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself in the 25% group; you're not alone. To borrow a line from the great philosopher Ron Burgundy, “100% of the time it happens 25% of the time.” This is a great time to make a course correction and find your way back to the goals you set. For the 75% that are still hanging in there with your vision, good for you! Now is a perfect time to check on progress and make any mid-year adjustments to continue improvement and maintain resolve.

Gallup’s research reveals five areas of well-being; Career, Physical, Financial, Social, and Community. Most of us are strong in certain areas and weaker in others. For example, you might be a visionary with a soaring career who has trouble committing to healthy eating and exercise habits. Or, on the flip side, you might be a gym rat and social butterfly who can't balance your checkbook. 

I have found myself leaning into one area more than others and at times completely ignoring the other areas. Once I discovered the delicate balance between each of the elements, and how they are interconnected, I began to focus on all five as a whole. But trust me, it's not easy to arrive at that place. It takes an intentional, strategized approach in order to achieve the kind of balance it requires to be healthy in the five main areas of well-being.

The importance of clarity
The importance of clarity has three basic tenets. To create clarity you must first define exactly what it is you want to achieve and measure it. Clarity is not: "I want to be a powerful businessman" or "I want to be wealthy." Clarity is: "I want to achieve a promotion to a management position at my company within the next 12 months" or "I want to diverse my investments and put my money to better use in the next 90 days by..." Those goals are clearly identified and measured. Finally, to improve your clarity, you must clearly track your progress. 

The importance of purpose
Purpose is simply knowing why you're chasing what you're chasing, or why you want what you want. The success of your personal endeavors will rise and fall on the compelling why behind the what. When we avoid this question, we leave the door open for excuses. We become susceptible to our circumstances when the why is unclear. Why do you put the time in to the things you focus on? Why do you want that promotion? Why do you think you need to take a vacation? Maybe you spend time exercising because you're worried about heart disease that runs in your family. Maybe you want the promotion because you want to help your kids get through college. Maybe you think a vacation is necessary because you've been working too much and your marriage is suffering. The purpose, YOUR purpose, is what drives you to reach when it becomes difficult. Without a clearly defined purpose, it's too easy to give up.

The importance of small bites
Small bites is about keeping it simple. To often we bite off more than we can chew at one time. Small bites is the notion of taking the challenge, no matter how sizable, and breaking it down to a bite-sized portion. It is important to create small bites when facing large challenges. For example, if my end goal was to become the Vice President of my company, but I was currently an entry-level receptionist, a small bite would be to focus on what I needed to do to achieve the next level promotion rather than weigh myself down with the stress of focusing only on that major goal. That narrower focus will help create applicable and practical action steps.

The importance of personal choice
Personal choice is the most important aspect of achievement. You have the option to move or stay, work or play, laugh or cry. You can be the victim or the victor in your circumstances. You can let things happen and bulldoze you, or you can use events and hardships as springboards for growth. You have the choice to hold yourself accountable to the goals you set and the plans you made. Ultimately, it's on you. No one can do it for you.

The choice is yours.

Each of these areas of importance builds upon each other to bring you to a positive result...to help you hit your target. If you’ve ever shot a bow, you know the number one rule is to keep your eye on the bull’s-eye. You have to identify your target and then never get distracted from focusing on that goal as you aim. So, identify what’s in the center of your target. What’s your bull’s-eye? Then lock onto that goal with laser-focused clarity, know your purpose, take small bites, and hold yourself accountable.


<![CDATA[i-nə-ˈvā-shən]]>Wed, 11 Mar 2015 00:44:44 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/i-n-va-shnPicture

This week Apple presented a live keynote broadcast to introduce, among many items, their new Apple Watch. Admittedly, I tuned in to hear about the watch but it was the innovation of the MacBook along with ResearchKit that stole the show for me.

For leaders faced with the need to be innovative, which I would argue is all of us; there are several key insights to be harvested from this tech colossus. It is no accident that Apple now has a seat on the DowJones bumping AT&T out of their long held spot.

Here is an important fact from Apple's 2014 sales report card. Last year Apple’s notebook sales increased 49% while the industry only increased 26%. To outpace the industry by almost double is an amazing feat by itself.

So, the question that needs to be asked is why do anything different? Where does the need to innovate come from with staggering sales numbers such as these?

I believe the answer is in a simple statement that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, made during his Keynote presentation. While gushing over the amazing design breakthroughs presented by his team he remarked, “ We build products that enrich peoples lives.”

That’s it! A clear, succinct mission that allows every member of the Apple team to connect to the amazing work they are doing. It is this clarity of purpose that drives an organization to go beyond a 50% growth in a category to push towards total category dominance.

At Apple they also know that if they pause for just one milli-second someone will catch them, or will at least give it their best shot.

So what did Apple change on their MacBook, EVERYTHING! From the way the keys on the keyboard work to the trackpad, to the batteries everything thing is a new, never-been-done-before design. Included in this complete make over is the first “fan-less” laptop which means it runs completely quite!

While examining what they have accomplished I have pulled out just a couple key points to consider as leaders facing the need to be innovative.

Point 1: Know your Mission/Purpose
The powerful fact is easy to see; when an organization has a clear mission everyone is engaged and has purpose. The alignment that results from this level of clarity is nothing short of extraordinary levels of engagement at all levels of an organization. 

Point 2: Be Bold
In 2007 when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone to the world he made a series of bold statements concerning the design and functionality of his new creation. One such statement was that Apple was redefining the Smart Phone. 700 million iPhones later you could argue Steve’s bold statement is now a reality.

Apple’s current designs are an equally impressive bold statement. Their view on innovation is simple, go bold or go home. For them bold includes rethinking everything.

The ability to go to this level of design innovation confirms a theory I have been working on regarding potential. It is my belief that one of the key measures of true potential in an individual or organization comes from their ability to Learn-Unlearn-Relearn.

It is my belief that the level of bold innovation an organization can produce is directly connected to their ability and willingness to Learn-Unlearn-Relearn.

Point 3: Make the Complex Simple
There might not be any more powerful point than this, true innovation comes from taking what is complex and making it simple. Nobody wants more complexity in his or her lives.

The simple fact is, much of the time we have become so accustom to our complex routines we often fail to realize that simplicity is with in reach. True innovators are masters at creating the simple.

To simplify life, or in Apple’s words to “Enrich peoples life”, you need to keep just a few thoughts in mind. Anytime you can remove, shorten, condense, or combine steps from a process, project, or product you have found simple.

The introduction of the iPhone combined the iPod, Phone, and Internet into one device. This singular thought, possibly the single biggest play in their innovation playbook, is the very essence of their genius. A play our Government would benefit from largely.

A review of the last two decades of design coming out of Cupertino confirms, complex-to-simple is a winning formula. When you consider that Apple now has the largest market cap in the nation, closing in on $1 trillion (yep, that is $1,000,000,000,000.00) it is hard to argue with these results.

So, as a leader where can you improve your innovative approach? These 3 proven points should provide some food for thought. Don’t get sucked into thinking innovation is only for product design, far from it. As leaders we need to be looking for innovative thinking in every area of our life.

Here is a quick self-test you can take to check your innovative level.

1.     Have I added additional steps to any process, design, or procedure?
2.     Have I personally been doing the same process or procedure the same way for longer than a year?
3.     Do I fear the thought of learning something new, even if it would save me time or money?
4.     Can I articulate the mission/purpose of my team?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you may want to consider a B3 innovation booster shot.

1.    Be on Mission
2.    Be Bold
3.    Be Simple


<![CDATA[in-ˈspī(-ə)r]]>Mon, 09 Feb 2015 01:58:45 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/in-spi-r Picture
Inspire, such an interesting word.  Just today I caught myself using some variation of the word eight times over the course of several conversations. The overuse of this word has me considering if its true significance is fully grasped by those using it, beginning with myself.

Merriam-Webster defines the words as follows: 

in·spire \in-ˈspī(-ə)r\
: to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create
: to cause (something) to happen or be created
: to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

The origin of the word dates back to the mid 14th century and comes from the Latin inspirare, from in- + spirare to breathe. So literally the word means to breathe into someone.

When speaking on the topic of my book, The Difference Maker, I make reference to the idea of inspiring others each day. It is my belief that those who are true difference maker’s are individuals that can inspire others.

Notice I did not say motivate others. In my mind there is a difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation comes from inspiration.

When I am referred to as a motivation speaker I am quick to respond that I can not motivate anyone. Motivation comes from within you, not from others. What triggers your motivation into motion is inspiration.

Understand inspiration and you have a better understanding of motivation. There are three conditions that must transpire for inspiration to take place. When these three conditions are in place we are able to breathe in inspiration.

Accepting these conditions and how they work can aid in our ability to inspire others. Further more, when we find ourselves in a not so inspired mood, knowing our condition helps us move toward inspiration.

The Victor Condition

In life we have two choices on a daily basis, we can be a victim of our circumstances or a victor over them. The choice is always ours. Becoming a victim of our circumstances has a devastating effect on our ability to be inspired. As a matter of fact, the victim condition shuts inspiration down.

Becoming a victor requires us to rise above our circumstances and move toward our goals in life. Easier said than done for most. There is a certain level of difficulty associated with recognizing when we are suffering from the victim condition. For that reason it is important to have a competent personal board of directors to help us identify our condition. (see earlier post, Connecting the Dots, 1/13/14, on our need for a personal BOD)

A quick way to determine if you have a victim condition is to listen and observe. For example, if you hear yourself saying things like, “I can never get ahead because of…”, fill in the blank with the name of a person or thing then you might have the victim condition.

Externalizing by frequently blaming someone or something else for why you can not succeed is a sure sign of the victim condition. When your primary focus is on what you CAN NOT control you have become victim of your circumstance. On the other hand, when your focus is on what you CAN control then you direct your destiny toward becoming a victor over your circumstances.

The Victor Condition is the foundation for inspiration. To be inspired and inspire others become a victor.

Note: The victim condition is the enemy of inspiration.

The Grateful Condition

Gratefulness is a condition often experienced when we come face-to-face with the reality of our own abundance. We don’t think of our self as having an abundance condition until that moment presents itself where someone or something proves to have less than us. It is then, at that very moment in time, we experience the condition of gratefulness.

When we listen to or watch another person’s story of overcoming his or her own victim condition we vicariously experience their victory. It is from this experience we become grateful for the investment of their story into our life.

Experiencing the selfless act of another on our behalf also allows us to become an active participate in being grateful. When there is difficultly in excepting the grace being extended by another it is most likely created by our victim condition.

However, when we allow the selfless act of another to be extended and excepted it is possible to experience true gratefulness. The feeling of being grateful is the beginning spark of inspiration. There is much in life to be grateful for, the question is are you able to see it?

The Grateful Condition is the ignition of inspiration. To be inspired and inspire others be grateful.

Note: The victim condition all but eliminates our ability to be grateful.

The Curiosity Condition

As I write this post I sit in front of a floor to ceiling window 13 floors above the city street. From my vantage point I can see over 30 miles to the west of Dallas on a clear day. I tell you this in an effort to explain the curiosity condition.

On more than one occasion I have caught myself being distracted by my view. Not in a nosy way but in a deeply curious, and mostly grateful, way interested in knowing more about what I see. The view from above brings a new perspective to the scene below sparking new questions needing answers.

I have found that when a person has a curiosity condition they find exciting new levels of inspiration in very unexpected places. Our natural ability to be curious lends itself to our journey to inspire and be inspired.

Take this simple curiosity challenge. Pick the most mundane activity you experience each day. The next time you go about this activity make a mental list of all the “things” you have never noticed before.

I did this recently with my drive to work. Same drive every day only this time I made a deliberate effort to see things I had not seen before. Twelve new items appeared to me including a new restaurant that is now on my short list of places to eat.

The Curiosity Condition is the fuel for inspiration.
To be inspired and inspire others be curious.

Note: The victim condition prevents curiosity by overwhelming our ability to focus.

Now What

With these three conditions in place it is fair to ask, “Now What”.  It becomes necessary to take full advantage of each inspiring moment as they are happening. Inspiration comes with limited windows of opportunity, which restricts the amount of time you have to act.

When inspired, act now! That should be your new motto.

For most people inspiring moments pass by untapped each day. Recognizing a moment of inspiration and acting upon it requires great courage at times. Our victim condition shows up at these moments playing old, negative tapes telling us we are unworthy and poorly equipped to move forward. So, what do we do…nothing.

What I have discovered is the trigger to move forward and act upon your inspiration is vulnerability. Our victim condition tells us we are unworthy but our victor condition tells us to rise above and that we are enough! We must be open to the fact we may not do something perfectly and be willing to fail at times. I love this quote from Teddy Roosevelt,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Courage is not the lack of fear but our ability to overcome our fear with vulnerability.
This what it looks like to dare greatly and be the victor.

When we live in a constant condition as a Victor, being Grateful, and being Curious it is possible to experience a higher level of potential inside ourselves. Our ability to inspire others and be inspired ourselves creates tremendous levels of joy within our lives. We move from disengagement to engagement, and from average to excellence in all we do.

There is no greater gift to be given or received then the gift of inspiration. Being able to fully receive this gift is conditional. Once received and acted upon moments of inspiration will always move you to new levels of unexpectedness.

I have two questions for you; first, how inspiring have you been today and second, how have you been inspired? Have you breathed into someone your condition of being a victor, of being grateful, and of being curious? More importantly, have you breathed in that same type of inspiration yourself. If not, check your condition.

So, be inspired and continue…



  artwork by Allik Designs: IG @allikdesign

<![CDATA[[per-spek-tiv]]]>Wed, 24 Dec 2014 22:41:24 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/per-spek-tivPicture
As I close out yet another year I find myself entering into my annual reflective mode. It seems that each year I spend time looking back on the blur that is defined as a calendar year to process what just happened.

The questions I ask are not overly complex; what did I see/experience, what did I do/not do, what did I learn/teach, and what did I miss?

More than any year in the past, this year has filled each of my question buckets to the point of overflowing. So much so it has become difficult to process the entire year.
Through it all there does seem to be a theme forming that has inspired this early morning keystroke workout.

To sum up the year one word keeps coming to the forefront, perspective.

In a nutshell, what I experienced this year is that my perspective can be and has been limited at times. When I ask myself the question, "What did I find myself doing or not doing this year?", I recalled the multiple times I found myself needing to change my point-of-view in order to see more.

For most of my life I worked under the assumption that my point-of-view was the only view that mattered. My thinking was simple, if I could just get everyone to stand where I stand and see what I see then life would be so much better.

As a leader, I frequently find myself speaking to large groups with the sole purpose of presenting a point of view so passionately that others want to join in the journey. Unfortunately, what I have been failing to realize is that what works from the stage does not always translate into the close contact world of the day-to-day.

It is encouraging to know that it is possible to still enter learning mode even while growing ancient in days.

The Learning Journey

Dee and I made the move this year from the lush green suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to a more urban high-rise setting in downtown Dallas. The photo above is the view from our balcony overlooking downtown Dallas. For a life-long country boy I must admit the view is intoxicating.

However, as wonderful as the view is, it is still the only view I have. Just recently, I was speaking with another resident in our building about our splendid view and they casually mentioned how wonderful their view was also. I was a bit stunned when I heard this and felt a slight competitiveness coming on as the conversation progressed.

Then it happened, I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the view they were speaking of and, well, lets just say I was blown away. The story they told me about their view gave me a glimpse into what I later had the opportunity to experience. Even if I had never physically seen their view I had experienced it all the same by just hearing them tell me the story.
(Side Note: I had to let myself HEAR their story to truly experience it)

For much of my life I have felt that my "balcony view" is the only view worth seeing. What I take away this year is while my view may have some breath-taking vistas there is much to learn from standing on other balconies and taking in the view.

While my learning moments throughout the year have been many, most of them written about in this blog, I close the year with four simple reminders for myself.
to g in the view.
  1. When I work to passionately understand others perspective first then I am given permission to passionately share my perspective next.
  2. The view from my balcony is NOT the only view.
  3. The more views I passionately experience (sometimes just through the story) the bigger my perspective becomes.
  4. My ability to become a more courageous and vulnerable leader is directly connected to the depth and breath of my perspective. The more I See the more I am able to Own.

For me, this upcoming season of life seems to be leaning into the singular idea of perspective. Increasing mine by understanding others.

Life is filled with a multitude of perspectives, many different from yours. To have yours heard be sure to passionately hear theirs first. 
As we enter the New Year I would encourage you to always look UP and to continue in your journey to always press ONWARD!

<![CDATA[My Thanksgiving Proclamation]]>Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:17:48 GMThttp://www.connectservegive.com/blog/my-thanksgiving-proclamation

Let's state the facts and get them out of the way: People are hurting. They're sick. They're financially burdened. They're lonely. People all around you, and maybe even you, are suffering for so many various reasons. 

But there's one thing I've notice about abundance, it makes no difference when it comes to gratitude. In fact, the richer people become, the more likely they are to expect more riches. The easier the road a person is walking, the less likely he is to stop for help. The lighter the load a person carries, the less aware he is of someone else's burden. 

Those people are the least likely to walk with an attitude of gratitude and most likely to embrace an entitlement attitude. 

It's Thanksgiving time, and so much of this holiday has become overshadowed by commercialism. The idea of Christmas shopping and decorations has encroached on this day of thankfulness to the point where it's more like a few hours of thankfulness in anticipation of the Black Friday sales. This was not what the day was intended to be. 

So, I'd just like to take this opportunity to express my thanks. I'm thankful for you who faithfully read my words. I'm thankful for my employers and for a company who puts people first. I'm thankful for my family--there are no words, really. And I'm thankful for my God, without whom none of this would be as beautiful.

Now, I realize that many of you who read this blog may take offense to the words of the letter I'm about to quote. But, please, consider the intentions I have as I post them. I wish us all to be reminded of our roots, never so closed off to the past that we forget our blessings as a nation and as individuals, and never so blind to our foundation that we let it crumble.

The following is excerpted from the Thanksgiving proclamation by President George Washington:

...Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

We often arrive at this time of year and ask ourselves what we're most thankful for. I think that's a good place to start. Next, let's look at the rough patches of our lives until we can find reason to be grateful, even for those. 

I find it it interesting that in the Hebrew language and other languages around the globe, there is no word for “thank you” or even “thanks”. in these languages we frequently see the word “praise” used as a way of expressing our gratitude. In one dialect when thanks and even praise is needed a story is told of the person deserving the thanks. Within the story is always the use of the person's name. In these areas of the world when thanks is given people will say, “ I will tell of your name”. 

In other words, it's not just a feeling of thankfulness, it's an expression of praise that you share with others. Don't keep it to yourself. Tell others about the blessings in your life through your words and your deeds.

I wish you a very happy, restful, and thankful holiday.