Hidden Value Group, LLC

​Jeff & Nancy


May 23rd, 2016 -  Self Stigma

Some people seem to be unaware of how off-putting they can be to others, and wonder why it is so difficult sometimes to connect with people.  Is it the occasion, the personalities involved, or the circumstance that causes this stigmatization?  Or, is this perceived sense of disapproval something self-generated? 

When we project to others that we don’t have problems, serious or otherwise, it is off-putting: something they cannot identify with or perhaps even recognize as fundamentally untrue.  Repeated encounters like this with the same person develops and underlying misunderstanding and perhaps even distrust.

Perhaps we have made comments like, “I will give you a call,” or, “let's have coffee sometime,” and never followed-up with a call or an appointment.  After a while this comes across as insincere or disingenuous.  This is experienced as well when we over-spiritualize conversation leaving the impression we have an answer for everything, only they are impractical or unrealistic.  People feel dismissed or devalued walking away from these kinds of conversations.

Better to be authentic, genuine, with a transparency and vulnerability appropriate for the person or group you are connecting with.  Real people want relationships with real people.
Dr. Jeff

May 17, 2016 ~ Solitude 

Sometimes when I arrive home early in the evening and Nancy isn’t back yet I enjoy sitting quietly in the living room with the lights off and no television or music on.  For me, it is a refreshing time of reflection.  When I want to get away for a time of contemplation I like to go to a place of beauty; a park, the beach or a lake, a mountain meadow all by myself and just take it in as a backdrop for thoughtfulness.

Someone asked me the other day if that practice made me feel lonely?  Honestly, it doesn’t.  Loneliness is an inner emptiness.  Solitude is inner fulfillment. 

We can find solitude almost anywhere, even though I prefer silence and beauty as the environment for these times, not everybody does.  The experience of being sequestered from busyness and finding an inner peace can happen in a crowd just as easily.  Drawing aside in this manner is a discipline that brings peace, like oil on water. 

In the rush of this world we need to practice a bit of solitude now and then.  Fortunately, solitude is not a place.  It is a state of mind and heart.
Dr. Jeff

May 2, 2016 ~ True Friendship 
She was there for some time without knowing I was watching.  Quietly reading, the sun over her shoulder to light the page, also cast a glow turning her hair golden.  Little lines at the corners of her eyes spoke of the many years we had been together.  Still, today, I am intrigued and curious about her, wanting to know more and finding no reason why my life should be so blessed with her companionship.

Pascal once said, “It is the heart, not reason,” commenting on the essence of a relationship characterized by true friendship.  In this moment I knew that to be true and that this woman is the truest friend I have ever had.  Good thing she is my wife.  Forgetting what it was I was about to interrupt her for, I turned and left with my heart full.

Everyone should have a true friend that the heart confirms and a reason for the friendship is not necessary.
Dr. Jeff

April 25, 2016 ~ The Role of Affliction

When Does Affliction Make Us Better? 

I recently heard someone say affliction makes us a better person.  I think this can be true yet I believe there is a caveat, we have to let it!  We have to allow the situation and God to transform us, change us or make us a better person.  If we fight the adversity, it may not change a bit.  When situations prompt affliction or adversity, God uses this in our lives to take us higher place, a holier place.  In essence, living out Romans 8:28.  God wants to use us for His purposes.  His love and ways can make us better when we pray, listen to him, wait for instructions and do what he asks us to do.  It is quite simple yet not easy.  

Romans 8:28 says  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  

We have to let it, or allow the situation to make us better - we have a role in each situation.
                When you are doing work God approves - Life is an adventure.

April 11, 2016 ~ The Blessing of Mercy

There is a vacuum in our lives only mercy can fill, for out of mercy comes grace and kindness.  As long as this vacuum remains unfilled we will always see other's mistakes as more grievous than our own, morality as something we have others lack, and consider our failures as someone else's fault and never our own.  This is life without mercy, which is no life at all.  


All humanity is wounded and broken while often we, the Church, stand by like saints in a museum when we should be physicians in a hospital for the wounded. We treat wounds by giving mercy, being merciful.  The love of God exists for those who are not disposed to receive it.  When we are this way toward everyone without exception we discover peace and strength are ours through mercy.  

What we have received in Christ is forgiveness with a blessing absent of penalizing judgment.  When Jesus has only and always treated us with grace, kindness and mercy, how can we qualify or minimize the grace, kindness and mercy we give to our neighbors? 
Dr. Jeff

April 6, 2016 ~ The Charisma of Mercy

Grace, kindness and mercy are not skills or concepts to use with others as if they can be dispensed.  They are an emanation of our character experienced by all and withheld from no one.  

Where does this autonomic expression of love come from?  This kind of passion, we are told, comes from love motivated by a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Grace, kindness and mercy are an expression of love for others as Christ loves us.  The expression of this charisma should not be a timid display of affection, but a wordlessly boisterous expression of power, love, and discipline.  

Love from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith exercised in power, love, and self-control produces life-changing grace, kindness, and mercy for others.
Dr. Jeff


March 21, 2016 - Relationship Triangulation 

Jeff & I teach a marriage seminar we call “I Choose Us”.  We believe we are better together in life, work and ministry.   Yet sometimes we encounter a situation where we have different opinions, strongly held beliefs that leave us on opposite sides of the fence.  You may have experienced this in your marriage or relationships.  When this happens we try to apply the principle of “Triangulation”.   This principle is best applied while keeping in mind Proverbs 15:1, “a soft answer turns away wrath”. 

Triangulation helps us tackle situations relationships face together by putting the problem on the “other side of the fence” and figuratively stand side-by-side addressing the problem as a team instead of taking it personally.  When we put the problem on the other side of the fence we look at the conflict or disagreements as something we can both work together to solve.  It is best to not concentrate on whose right.  Instead of putting the issue between two people, move the issue to the other side of the fence as “our” issue to resolve.

Some helpful wording to get used to saying are words like “Let’s figure this out together” or “So what are we trying to accomplish here?”  Our words have the ability to tear down or build up and if we look at triangulation as building up, protecting our family and handling the world together we become a stronger united team. 

~ Nancy


March 4, 2016 ~  Loyalty 

     Zoe is her name.  Petite, always in a lovely coat when our paths cross, with steady brown eyes you can easily become lost in.   Always happy to see me, she actually prefers my company.  Zoe is a Yorkshire Terrier and one of my most stalwart friends. 
     She personifies a lot of what we think about loyalty: allegiance, faithfulness, steadfastness, dependability, and reliability.  These are all characteristics good leadership foster in others.  A person on your team with these qualities would be said to have clear loyalty to you, the team, or the organization.  Unfortunately, puppies and people are two different things.
     Someone exemplifying the dedication and dutifulness described above can ultimately not turn out to be as loyal as you think.  These qualities can simply be activities someone engages in because they are required.  Puppies are also devoted, trustworthy,  committed, and obedient out of pure motivation.  These qualities are also part of loyalty, just check the dictionary. 
     When you lead more out of relationship than your position, loyalty and trust can be earned, not required or demanded.  Being demanding just gets you acts of loyalty without the heart that draws people around you in times of pressure.  People should be more like puppies.
Dr. Jeff


March 1, 2016 -  Five Sides to a Story 
     Turning the corner, I immediately recognized the source of all the shouting.  Two of my electricians were in the center of the shop screaming at each other while the rest of the crew stood around and gaped.  This had been brewing for a while, and now it was my job to make the problem go away.  Just graduated from college, this was my first job as a young engineer, and one I was not well prepared for! 
      The plant manager was with me, fortunately, and gave me advice that has lasted a lifetime.  “Before you make any decisions about how to handle this, make sure you get all five sides to the story.”  Five sides?  What do you mean by five sides?
     He went on to explain.  This is the gist of it: Everyone’s experience is their reality.  Sometimes they think it is the total truth rather than just a slice of the whole truth.  Each person in the shouting match had their own opinion about what was going on and how they got there.  That’s two sides of the story.  Then there are the bystanders, some already taking sides, some withholding their opinions.  When a situation has a history behind it you can bet others know at least part of what is really going down.  The fifth side of the story is what really happened.A leader cannot resolve a problem in the short or long term if they don’t understand what really happened and why.  Getting to what is really behind the trouble takes putting the puzzle of everyone’s perceptions, experience, and understanding together to get as close as possible to 

February 25, 2016 ~ The Small Print

​     The small print can trip us up sometimes.  At the bottom of a contract it could hide unpopular penalties. It could be an important footnote at the bottom of a report that we gloss over, or a pop-up reminder on our smart phones we miss, or an ignored road closure symbol on our GPS map.  In other words, small things we miss because they are, well, small.  Missing the “small print” in this sense can sometimes mean missing something big.
     Once upon a time, I was surprised when a key colleague walked into my office and dropped their resignation on my desk, sat down, and just stared at me rather fed up.  They were burned out, done.  As we talked, I realized I had not paid enough attention to the “small print” in our working relationship.  Certainly, missing deadlines here and there, late to a meeting or two, and being down in the dumps mood-wise had been noticed.  But none of it had been put together in my thinking in a way that added up to recognizing the need for a conversation about what may be going on with them. 

     Leaders can easily become distracted by the work deadlines and forget about the people who do the work.  The first sign of distraction is missing the social cues people give indicating something is wrong.  The second sign is failing to act when we do notice that something doesn’t add up.  The third sign occurs when we finally connect the dots, understand what has happened, and it is too late to remedy the situation.
     Effective leaders pay attention to the small print, the social cues, people unconsciously offer up in working relationships, and know when to inquire, encourage, or just listen.
Dr. Jeff

February 16, 2016 ~ Emotional Maturity?

     You may remember the out-of-control VP in a previous blog.  They are very intelligent and very accomplished, and assume that intelligence and success equals maturity.  Yet, their behavior under pressure suggests a great deal of emotional immaturity: yelling, cursing, flinging things off the desk, making threats, using intimidation and manipulation to get their way.  At times this guy is totally unable to manage themselves.  Emotional maturity marks our capacity to handle stress and is a measure of self-confidence and an ability to manage ourselves. 

     Right after that confrontation, a Charge Nurse stopped me in the hallway and went off on a tirade, not managing themselves well at all.  After a few minutes I looked down and noticed her shoes.  They were every nice, and I quietly said so!  They stopped in the middle of a sentence, took a deep breath, and told me where they stumbled on to an extraordinary shoe sale and found this pair.

    They knew what I was doing, creating a hiccup that would allow them a moment to regain control of themselves.  Sometimes a soft answer turns away anger and allows people to manage themselves better.  We finished the other conversation with grace and peace.  No, I didn’t buy the shoes.  They didn’t have my size in the men’s version. But it was a great sale!
Dr. Jeff


February 9, 2016 ~ The Power of Change

     Recently on a family boat trip my brother took a picture of a whale’s tail coming out of the water as we were looking back at the shoreline of Newport Beach.  The wonder of this amazing sight inspired me to ponder the correlation between change, power and movement.  Many times as we watched the whale move from place to place we could see the water churning and the evidence of waves on the surface.  His movement created waves, stirred the ocean underneath him and created a great amount of pressure all around him.  This is what happens in change and forward movement. 


     As leaders our job is to remain calm, stay focused, stay vigilant with our eyes focused on the outcome.  We have a distinct role in keeping everyone focused and aware of our goal.  Maybe it is the getting to shore, yet most often it is moving forward.  Calm, resolute, strong, courageous, even if everything under us is stirring around like mad. 

~ Nancy 


January 31, 2016 ~ Perspective 

     When humility is our lens, and not rose-colored glasses, we have a more rational perspective of ourselves.  Our bodies are instruments for doing good, not ornaments for others to admire.  Our money is a tool to share, not a possession to hoard.  Our minds are focused on meaning, not the pursuit of pleasure.  Our lives are lived with grace and purpose, not with selfish ambition.

     Our appearance, our financial security, our lifestyle, and our success in life are important…just not the most important things.  When we make them a priority life becomes all about us with little room for others.  Want to turn things around?  Instead of just getting through the day, use the day to make a difference in someone’s life.  Lead with character.
Dr. Jeff


January 25, 2016 ~  Passing The Baton 

     If I were to share one lesson summarizing my Dad’s life it would be; Read your Bible daily and let Jesus guide your life each day. 

     He understood the importance of seeking Jesus daily and reading God’s Word daily.  He reminded us often of the need to focus on this target daily.  Keeping our eyes “on the mark” – Jesus – is critical to our spiritual transformation.  Dad knew our eyes are so easily distracted by work, the urgent and mundane demands that so easily distract us from Kingdom purposes.


   I want to pick up the baton he handed me and remind those I love…to remind you…read your Bible daily and let Jesus guide your life each day.  
~ Nancy 


January 19, 2016 - Our Insane Attachments 

     Ever had a strong desire to possess something?  It doesn’t have to be something someone else has, it might just be something you saw in a catalog, storefront, or a friend mentioned. 
     I was on a flight to Tacoma last week when the person sitting next to me pulled a new tablet computer out of their briefcase.  I asked if it was new, and he said yes and launched into a five-minute description of all its really cool features.  My covetous gene just got stroked.  New technology does that for me.  I was ready to buy!  Good thing there wasn’t one in the shopping catalog in the seat pocket in front of me!
     Our insane attachment to things can sometimes get out of control.  If you are like me, we can go through serious mental gymnastics rationalizing and justifying almost any purchase.  We end up calling covetousness ambition, hoarding we call prudence, and greed we call industry. 
     As leaders we model these things to others.  Consequently, when we think we are industriously and prudently managing our ambition those watching (and people do watch) see right through our denial.  Leaders model true character and just don’t talk about it.  And, it is the little things they notice most.
Dr. Jeff


January 16, 2016 ~ Surprise 

     We were all gathered in the electric utility room trying to figure out what happened to the power.  It was a big event and we needed the air-conditioning on in the building.  Once upon a time in my life I had worked as an electrical engineer and, in the absence of someone who really knew what they were doing, was pressed into service.  Everything had been reset and nothing had happened.  We didn’t know a primary devise was timing out.
     Ka-bang!!!  The master breaker closed with a loud noise about eighteen inches from my ear.  I shouted loudly, threw my hands in the air, and levitated an easy twelve inches off the ground: an exaggerated startle response left over from time spent in a combat zone.  Everyone else immediately shouted and jumped in response, some cleared air beneath them with greater prowess than I did!  We all looked at each other and began laughing hysterically.
     Much of what you model as a leader is caught, not taught, in spite of what you may say or teach.  What you model, others emulate automatically, without giving it a thought.  Even your dysfunctional behavior will be reproduced in the attitudes and actions of others.  This small embarrassment in my life doesn’t prove that point.  But it does remind me that lots of things, good and not so good, get passed on in life.  Let’s make sure as leaders it is mostly good.  People are watching.
Dr. Jeff


January 3, 2016 ~  Resolute 

In the New Year I want to be resolute about some things.  No, this does not translate into New Year’s resolutions. But, there are some things as a leader I want to be resolute about this year, and in every year.


I don’t want to think less of myself, but rather think of myself less.  Rather than having to be forgiven more, I want to be more forgiving.  And, I don’t want my focus to be on what is easy, but to focus on what is right. 

Humility, forgiveness, and doing the right thing, not the easy thing: these are antidotes to selfishness, resentment, and self-righteousness; things every mature and gifted leader needs in their life if they are to make it through another year with their soul intact.
Dr. Jeff


December 27, 2015 -   Politics

     One of the Vice Presidents blew into my office in a huff, angry about not being included in a decision made i their absence that affected their responsibilities.  When informed, they agreed to the decision and then later refused to be a team player.  Someone had challenged them about their lack of cooperation and they exploded, showering everyone with an emotionally laden string of expletives.  The reason?  They said they were trying to get their way, and when they were labeled as playing politics, blew up again!

    Here is what I told them.  Politics is generally defined as the practice of influencing other people on a global, civic, or individual level.  The term was popularized by Aristotle and Plato as moral codes and social structure that could be pursued and enforced as an agenda.  The problem with an agenda is that sometimes it can blind us to our real motivation. So, yes, when you are pushing an agenda the means you employ to do so can be called politics: office politics, neighborhood politics, relational politics, and even church politics.  The fact that you are bullying someone with your angry outbursts, inappropriate language, and passive-aggressive attitude simply means you are using really lousy politics.
    This person was giving politics a bad name.  Good leaders influence others to act for the right reasons, at the right time, and in the right way.  That’s good politics.  Others manipulate, cajole, and berate to get their way, and deny being political.  If you have an agenda, you are going to be political about carrying it out.  Be the good leader. 
Dr. Jeff


December 23, 2015 - Christmas Week Attitude Challenge 

    *  Encourage one another - even in a LONG shopping line 

    *  Live in PEACE

    *  Work hard for God

    *  Warn those who are idle

    *  Encourage the disheartened

    *  Help the weak

    *  Be patient with everyone

    *  Strive to do what is good for all

    *  Rejoice Always

    *  Pray continually

    *  Give thanks in all situations 


Jeff & I wish you a very Merry Christmas!  May you find JOY in the small things.  May you realize how truly rich you are - no matter your present situation.  Notice God all around you and find what God has for you and pursue it with gusto!  Many blessings to you!! 

Dr. Jeff & Nancy   


December 17, 2015 ~ Hidden lessons in life - they have an important role. 
My dad is 95 years old.  He has taught me many lessons throughout my life.  Right now he cannot do very much or go very far yet many of the far reaching stories in his life are embedded in my memory.  One of those stories started in our family room about 30 years ago.  My dad ran a company that did business overseas including Europe.  On one occasion when some of his international business friends were in town Dad had them over to the house for dinner and they handled some of their business in the family room.  I was invited to join them if I wanted to listen in, and this became a pattern when we had international visitors. 

Sometimes our friends could barely speak English, other times the discussions were lively and very understandable.  I did not always catch the slang and I am sure a good deal of the conversation went over my head.  Yet, many years later I began to grasp the lessons I had learned as a young girl.  This part of my history was more profound than I could explain for a long time.  These meetings expanded my thinking, broadened my comfort level with people who were much different than me, ignited a love for all kinds of people, prompted a hunger to understand others and figure out what makes them tick.  These were colorful, pivotal lessons in my leadership development.

Think back on your life.  Are there times in your life that were critical to the development of your thinking?  What did you learn?  It is healthy to reflect and understand how God has intentionally given you experiences that make you unique.  Profound.  Necessary. 

~ Nancy


December 11, 2015 ~ Chaos has a way of creating and revealing leadership. 

I am reading Jenni Catron’s new book “The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership”.   The theme of the four dimensions stems from Mark 12: 28-31 where Jesus is asked, “What is the most important commandment?”  His answer is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”   Jenni unpacks what this means for a leader.  Readers complete an assessment on their level of heart, soul, mind and strength.  I scored the highest in strength and soul.

One of my favorite thoughts in the book so far is around chaos.   She says, “leaders emerge most prominently when things are confusing and chaotic”.  Maybe it is because of my scoring in strength and soul, but I love this concept.   When chaos can seem threatening to some people leaders see chaos as an opportunity to meet the needs of people and the situation.  When I am in a room and someone comes up to me with a problem that must be solved it excites me.  I think let’s get to it, let’s figure out what God wants, what is best for all involved and how can we solve this.  As Jenni says, navigating confusing circumstances and relieving relational tension brings hope to those involved.  It is inspiring to see other people lead in chaos.  I love watching leaders bring calm, order and hope to a chaotic situation.  Truly it is thrilling to me.  Have you seen this happen before?  What do you see going on when you notice this in a leader you respect?

Bringing hope to people and into a situation is energizing and if you want to learn more about your extraordinary leadership assessment you will want to buy the book!  Enjoy! 

~ Nancy


December 8, 2015 - Inferences 

     Years ago Nancy and I were in Trinidad at a time of constitutional crisis in the country.  After we arrived, we witnessed how lawless and dangerous it could be in the city we were visiting.  On one occasion a serious-looking assertive man approached us and asked aggressively if we were limen’ (lime-ing)?  We had never heard the expression before and their demeanor suggested we were being challenged.  We didn’t know this individual and this occurred during one of the few moments we were not with our group.  We were immediately on the defensive, assuming we were in potential danger.


     As it turns out, our inference was completely wrong.  That we were being challenged was an assumption based on limited information.  We presumed we did not know this man, but he did know us.  He was part of the local church in the city we were helping. The expression he used was actually a colloquialism meaning: Are you “hanging-out” or “having fun”.  Our supposition about his motive for addressing us was sheer speculation.  He wanted to know if we would like to join him and his friends for some fellowship.  Conjecture, speculation, guessing, presumption, and supposition are the workings of making an inference that can get in the way of understanding what is really going on.  Sometimes inferences can be right on target and very helpful.  In this case they were not helpful at all. 

     Leadership requires sensitivity to our own filters and culture in a way that enables us to avoid making inferences and be truly present with others.
Dr. Jeff


November 30, 2015 ~  Distance 

​            I came in through the front of the house and turned the corner in time to see Dad struggle to stand.  At 94, Dad was still determined to be his own man.  A member of the Greatest Generation, Dad flew bombers in World War II, was shot down, captured by the Russians who thought he was German and were determined to shoot him, and survived to jump right back into the cockpit.  Finishing school after the war, he built a business, raised a family, and became a partner in an internationally recognized copper foundry.  He didn’t see me standing there.
            He was facing the back door, bent over from arthritis and osteoporosis, looking at the glass door.  He loves sitting out back looking over the valley all the way to the ocean miles away on the horizon.  The door is eight feet away.  It might as well be a mile.  He looks at his walker, shakes his head, and raises his arms stretching them out as far as they will go.  I know what he is doing.  Arms akimbo, he is using them as a tightrope walker uses a long pole to balance as they traverse the wire suspended over the heights.  Dad sets off for the backdoor determined to enjoy his view in the light breeze of a beautiful southern California afternoon. 
            Looking like a grounded Pterodactyl, his arms not quite straight and his steps wobbly and unsure, he sets out on his journey.  I quietly come up behind him.  He pauses by his cane at the door and then stubbornly continues.  At the door sill he has to make a slight step over and down.  He staggers, catches his foot on the sill, I take his elbow in my hand firmly, gently, put my other hand on his shoulder and say, “You’re okay, Dad. I’ve got you.”

            “I thought you were gone,” he replied continuing with, “thanks. Your voice is reassuring.”  We went out together and sat for a while until he fell asleep in the shade.  Watching him sleep, it occurred to me that, though I was very present the whole time, from his perspective I was out of reach, distant and unknowable.  True leadership produces this same feeling of confidence in others when you show up in the midst of their struggles.  You don’t take anything away from them, you just add reassurance and encouragement, and they realize you are not distant at all.
Dr. Jeff


November 24, 2015  ~ The Message in the Mirror
She stares at the mirror as if the scrutiny will provide an answer.  A beautiful woman, successful executive, business owner, and sought after speaker, teacher and coach; she is unsure, undefined in the moment.  What is it that creeps in to dissuade us of the natural talent, the giftedness we have as leaders? This insecurity, this sense of insufficiency is what makes leaders great.  She is wise enough to be humble, embarrassed by the attention, shrinking from the well-deserved accolades.  This smallness before others is what makes her great and gives her stature.  I would hire her in a heartbeat.
Dr. Jeff



November 23, 2015 ~ Resistance and Denial 

One of the things a leader needs, especially when it comes to decision making is good information.  However, sometimes our tendency to see or hear only what we want kicks in and filters the information we need.  We usually can tell when we may be indulging in this kind of selective attention.  Unless, of course, it is entirely unconscious. This is what happens when resistance and denial set in.
Have you ever thought this way:
Let’s talk about anything but the real problem (avoidance).
I guess there is a problem, but it’s not that bad (minimization).
It’s not my fault; he, she, they are to blame (blame shifting).
I will say or do anything to get you off my back (compliance).
There is a problem but there is a good reason for it (rationalization).

We all have our favorite themes when it comes to avoiding unpleasant truth.  As leaders, we cannot afford to let our own resistance or denial get in the way of clear thinking and good decision making that affect others and impact outcomes.  Stay open to the truth.
Dr. Jeff


November 16, 2015 - Live Oak Leaders

A recent business trip through the South reminded me of how much I like Life Oaks. Ubiquitous in its presence, this tree proliferates in warmer climates.  Leaves stay green all year long even while other trees grow dormant and lifeless with the changing of seasons.  There is no change of season for them.  Their bows create a wonderful strong canopy sheltering and shading all who draw near, a lot like good leadership.

There is a natural quality or character to them, which can be found in good leaders as well: optimism, passion, energy, growth, health, authenticity, engagement, inspiration, strength (humility), and presence.  These are all things a Live Oak emulates as metaphors for leadership that is never out of season, never dormant, and never without life.

Live Oaks take years to mature and are made stronger by what each season brings. They are always patient, always growing stronger and strengthening others, always green and fresh for those that pass through their life.  I really like Live Oak leaders.
Dr. Jeff


November 12, 2015 - Rock Climbing and Life 

Have you ever been rock climbing?  It is a passion in my life and one I share with my husband Jeff and son Dan.  I believe being outside, under a deep blue sky with white puffy clouds above you, and one big challenge in front of you is exhilarating.  Sometimes we stand at the bottom of a climb just staring at a huge rock looming high and have no idea how we are going to get to the top.  Surprisingly, that is one of my favorite moments. 

Yet, in life when I have no idea how I am going to move forward it is not as thrilling but feels very stressful.  I wish I could take the thrill of rock climbing and apply it to stressful situations in life.  One thing I have learned… is the more I lean on God and surrender control right in the middle of a stressful situation the more I can remain calm.  It is clearly a choice and a discipline.  It takes repetitive work and just like rock climbing the more I feel comfortable with being out of control the better I can handle each situation.  What about you?  How do you handle the stresses in life? 

~ Nancy 


November 3, 2105  -   Put Your Own Mask On First
If you fly a lot, you have heard this instruction so often it is easy not to listen anymore. The flight attendant tells everyone, for their own safety, to put their oxygen mask on first before helping others if they should drop from above due to a problem with cabin pressure.  

On my way to DC I heard this instruction in a new way.  It is a great life lesson for times of pressure:

*  To check my attitude before chiding you about yours.
*  To take a few deep breaths before responding in anger to someone.
*  To remember kindness before ignoring someone else's need.
*  To offer forgiveness before returning an insult.
*  To serve others before leading them.

Dr. Jeff 

October 26, 2015 - When is it not leadership? 
If no one follows, is leadership being demonstrated?  If plans are formed and decisions made but there is no execution, is leadership missing?  If people meet to create consensus or alignment and depart with no further conversation or accountability, was leadership exercised?  

Because we call ourselves leaders, yet have no team, follow through with no measurable action, and are not accountable for results to anyone including ourselves, does it make us leaders?  

     It makes us a committee.
​Dr. Jeff


October 19, 2015   -  The Magic of Friends 
Her hand slipped into mine easily as I walked along.  The gentle lapping of the ebb tide on the sand and the early morning fog must have soaked up the sound of her bare feet catching up from behind.  I tried to hide my surprise, but glancing at her, the tiniest sparkle and the barely concealed smile tugging at the corners of her mouth told me she knew I knew I had been caught.  She squeezed my hand slightly and we walked on in silence, together, as we always were in everything.


After so many years together, Nancy knows well when I need to be alone and when it is necessary, even therapeutic, to intervene gently and become part of a conversation that, until now, has only been going on in my head.  This is what friends do for each other.  They accept you as you are, add something significant to your life, are especially loyal, love you without condition, and show you things about yourself you otherwise would not accept.  Only the closest friends can give you a wake-up call at times and help you see what is missing.

A leader needs best-safe-close friends in life to stay true to themselves and others.  There are a number of people in my life like that, beginning with Nancy, my wife.  How many can you name in your life?
Dr. Jeff


October 16, 2015 ~ Consider Your Ways

Jeff and I were reminded today about an important scripture in the book of Haggai.  Jeff preached a life changing series around this book many years ago.  This is an obscure little book in the Old Testament.  It is only two chapters long toward the end of the Old Testament, yet it is packed with a powerful message. 


Haggai according to chapter one verse thirteen is "the Lord's messenger"!  He was charged with giving a message to the people.  "The is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways".  In other words the Lord is saying "consider your ways".  This is not a harsh message, but a kind, merciful and encouraging message to consider the choices you make, consider how you treat others, and give careful thought to how you act. Our actions should be pleasing the the Lord and follow the ways laid out in scripture.   Be strong and follow God's ways.  Do not be swayed by the world's temptations.  


Can you think of how this applies to you today?  Considering your ways may require some extra thought regarding how you and I act, our attitudes, or even our words. 


Consider Your Ways! 

~ Nancy


October 13, 2015  ~ Leaders and Miracles 
Miracles authenticate God’s work and align us with His will. But to some miracles are the result of chance or serendipity, to others a providential circumstance, and for many miracles don’t occur at all.  I believe in miracles.  Miracles are a wake-up call with very specific purpose.

Miracles that seem to defy natural order are easier to recognize than something miraculous occurring out of apparent circumstance.  God can be in the circumstance, and this is where it takes leadership to provide discernment.

God shows up in life in many different ways, and it takes risk to open the eyes of the doubtful to this reality.  Someone with discernment needs to see through the circumstantial things and put together the mosaic that others can recognize as miraculous.  This recognition, or wake-up call, often results in making God’s authority and purpose actionable in a personal way.

Spiritual leaders separate the serendipitous from the truly spiritual, strengthening faith and empowering others.
Dr. Jeff


October 8, 2015 ~ Leadership 10 Commandments 

Henrietta Mears had a major influence in the life and ministry of Billy Graham as well as Bill Bright.  She is known for her leadership development methods and most importantly modeling what she taught.  She had a list of 10 Leadership Commandments she desired to follow.   This inspired me to start a list. 


Starting a list of my 10 Leadership Commandments that I desire to follow - Here are a few so far...

I will pray like Nehemiah did before acting
I will bring unity to the body of believers 

I will love with abandonment as described in Deuteronomy 10:12. 


 Do you have a top 10 list that you follow? 

~ Nancy


October 6, 2015 - Perspective 
When I look out my bedroom window I have the option of two perspectives. 


One is to focus on our roof that has some clumps of concrete in a few areas.  I have no explanation of why the builder sealed off two sections of the roof this way.  It is not lovely; in fact it irritates me if I focus on it.  

Yet, my other option is to take in the amazing view outside our window.  It almost makes my heart jump with joy as I see the amazing view of hills, mountains, birds, various trees, beach towns in the distance, blue sky full of cloud pictures and magnificent sunsets.  We can see approximately eight miles out our window.  God has placed such beauty right outside my window.  This view is inspiring.  This is the view I choose to focus on today.  Breathtaking, it inspires me to take my mind off the mundane and allows my heart to praise God for his beauty.

Do you need to refocus your perspective today?

~ Nancy


September 28, 2015 - Imposters 
Leaders will at some point have to deal with people who do wrong and call it right and those who teach untruth and call it truth.  This is the definition of an imposter, someone who is a hypocrite and manipulates others out of selfishness.  When their behavior is challenged they go after the messenger to discredit or otherwise shut them up or drive them away.  The very good ones are extraordinarily subtle, almost invisible at what they do.

You don’t have to be a super-sleuth to uncover their machinations.  Just use the truth to bring light to what they are doing in darkness, behind the scenes.  Don’t engage them in argument that goes nowhere, don’t defend yourself.  Stay on point, be respectful, and don’t respond if attacked.  Let them fight the truth, not you.

Dr. Jeff


September 21, 2015 - Transformational Journey 

Someone told me that once you get to where you are going that is where you are.  In the context of the conversation it didn’t sound as vapid as it does now.  We were talking about life and how some people act as if they have “arrived” and really have little interest in further learning, accomplishments, or anything resembling stretching.  They are either focused on surviving or coasting. 

Life is a transformational journey that, for the leader, requires constant adaptation to a changing world they must translate into practical thought and action for those they lead.  Where you find yourself today, as a leader isn’t going to remain the same for long unless you intentionally choose mediocrity.
Dr. Jeff


September 15, 2015 -  Is God Calling You to a Place You Want to Flee?

Is God calling you to a place you want to flee? ​   A place so hard you want to cry out – GET ME OUT OF HERE!

This place we want to flee has great kingdom purposes for our future.  It is critical in our walk with the Lord.  In fact, this season may be one of the most important times in our life!!  I would like to encourage you to stay put.  

Most often waiting is a key spiritual discipline.  Let God work in the waiting.  Let God work when you want to flee - He is very purposeful in this season.  He is working on our character, faith, trust, beliefs, in other words out relationship with Him. 
Ask yourself, what is God doing in this season of life?  What is God accomplishing in the waiting?  Am I fighting it or moving forward with God.  I am not referring to an unsafe situation, but a place in life we believe in our soul God wants us there and he is doing something... we just do not fully understand the why's. 


How do we find Hope in the waiting?  The best way I have found hope is to surrender my desires, pray often and look for what God is saying and doing?  How do you find hope?

It takes faith - most often a Strong Faith - to stay in a place we want to flee!! 

~ Nancy


September 8, 2015 -  Can You Hear Me Now?

Most people don’t like feedback, personally or professionally, because it carries with it the risk of negative criticism.  As CEO I have the freedom to not solicit or respond to feedback, but that practice cuts off one of the best sources of accountability for me as a leader. 

Whether it takes the form of a performance review, 360-degree feedback, an evaluation form from an event, or access you provide to colleagues and subordinates, feedback constitutes a voice you cannot afford to ignore.  You may need to let the extreme opinions or suspiciously motivated content slip off your back like water on the proverbial duck.  Even then, there may be a grain of useful truth to glean that can inform your leadership.

Feedback holds leaders accountable from the inside out, touching on our character if we will allow it, enabling us to see what we do from the perspective of those we serve.

Dr. Jeff​


August 31, 2015 - Recovering from Failures 

It took me ten years once to recover from a significant failure, no kidding.  Some failures take moments or hours to recover from while others can require days or weeks, or much longer.  The key in recuperation isn’t the nature of the failure so much as it is the nature of the person.

If we are not willing to look at failure as an opportunity to grow and learn we may never recover and simply keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  If we are not willing to endure the consequences of failure we may never gain wisdom from the experience.  If we are unwilling to allow others to fail, even when their failure impacts us, we will never grow into our full leadership potential.

Failure is life’s best university and should be welcomed into our lives as friends that can mature us, make us resilient, and build a capacity for grace, kindness, and mercy towards others into our lives.
~  Dr. Jeff


August 25, 2015 ~ Should leaders be happy? 

The best leaders are happy leaders.  This doesn’t mean they stroll around everyday grinning giddily at everyone.  This kind of happy isn’t a feeling, it’s a mindset.  If you typically have a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook, and a confident hopeful expectation for what the future holds, you have the right mindset.

Our brains have been hardwired to work best with this kind of mindset, as opposed to a negative mindset that focuses almost exclusively on obstacles, impossibilities, and criticism of everyone and everything.  A negative mindset actually produces a different brain chemistry than a positive, upbeat, happy mindset.  The happy mindset always produces more and better outcomes, fosters more enduring relationships, and creates greater trust and loyalty in others than one characterized by negative perspectives.

Mindsets can change.  Like old habits that take some time to unravel and new habits that can take as much time to build, you can change your mindset.  Part of the reason it takes time is because you are actually forging new neuronal pathways, new avenues and channels for thoughts.  You can actually build a better brain. 

The next time you find yourself stuck in a bad attitude refocus your thoughts on a better way, or an idealized outcome, or a positive result.  Keep it up and you will discover your circumstances may not have changed very much, but your outlook certainly has along with the probability of your success.
Dr. Jeff


August 17, 2015 ~ Have You Acted in Holy Fear lately? 

By faith Noah when warned about things not yet seen and in Holy fear built an ark.  These actions saved his family.  I love Noah’s bold faith in action.  In Holy Fear he built an Ark. 


What have you done in Holy Fear lately?  What is God asking you to do in Holy Fear?  This is the best kind of fear we can have, a reverence for God motivated by our desire to not displease God.  What is influencing your attitude so your decisions are guided by a trust in God through the Holy Spirit? 

One of the commentaries I study explains holy fear as a mingled fear and love for God.  I love this...a Holy fear for God full of reverence and love.  This inspires my actions, in fact I have returned to school "again" out of obedience.   What about you? 

 ~ Nancy 


August 11, 2015  ~  The Happiness Factor
The best leaders are happy leaders.  This doesn’t mean they stroll around everyday grinning giddily at everyone.  This kind of happy isn’t a feeling, it’s a mindset.  If you typically have a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook, and a confident hopeful expectation for what the future holds, you have the right mindset.

Our brains have been hardwired to work best with this kind of mindset, as opposed to a negative mindset that focuses almost exclusively on obstacles, impossibilities, and criticism of everyone and everything.  A negative mindset actually produces a different brain chemistry than a positive, upbeat, happy mindset.  The happy mindset always produces more and better outcomes, fosters more enduring relationships, and creates greater trust and loyalty in others than one characterized by negative perspectives.

Mindsets can change.  Like old habits that take some time to unravel and new habits that can take as much time to build, you can change your mindset.  Part of the reason it takes time is because you are actually forging new neuronal pathways, new avenues and channels for thoughts.  You can actually build a better brain. 

The next time you find yourself stuck in a bad attitude refocus your thoughts on a better way, or an idealized outcome, or a positive result.  Keep it up and you will discover your circumstances may not have changed very much, but your outlook certainly has along with the probability of your success.
Dr. Jeff


August 7, 2015 - What's With That Attitude? 

When someone has an attitude we usually interpret that to be a feeling or conviction about something or someone.  We have made up our mind and it is reflected in how we think and act.  It starts with a decision, a position, or an evaluation that results in a positive or negative outlook.   Attitudes can get in the way of the truth sometimes because, though perhaps accompanied by feelings, they fundamentally reflect a bias.  Leaders cannot afford to be biased.  So, drop the attitude.
~ Dr. Jeff


August 3, 2015 -  What Should I Do With My faith?

​Abraham by faith...was called, obeyed, went, waited, he lived in a tent, received his inheritance, with Sarah bore their son Isaac, had descendants as numerous as the starts and lived by faith when he died.  


Sarah represented the power or strength of faith.  She counted God faithful.  Sarah believed God and His promises even though they were humanly impossible.  God is the deliverer of promises and is not held to humanly possibilities.  Our faith is what allows us to be strong when we can not see how God will deliver his promise.  


Do not doubt when you can't "see" a solution.  Be strong and have faith like Abraham and patience like Sarah. 

           Amen - may we live by faith as Abraham has done!!! 

Do the thing God has for You - take hold of it and GRAB it with Faith!! 

​~ Nancy


July 31, 2015 ~  Life Lessons

Encourage one another - Live in peace - help the disheartened - be patient with everyone - rejoice always - pray -  be present with friends and strangers in need - work hard for God - warn those who are unproductive - help the weak - strive to do what is good for all - give thanks in all situations - do not quench the spirit - do difficult things.

~ Nancy


July 27, 2015 -  Waiting???

Are you waiting for something right now? Do you find you have hope?  Hope is the anchor for the soul, firm & secure according to Hebrews 6:19.  Hope begs for us to be patient.  We wait patiently to receive what was promised as Abraham patiently waited for the life promised. 
Have you been promised something from the Lord?  While we wait we hold firm to hope.
While we wait we pray and hope.  I find great comfort in praying Psalm 23.   I find great peace in praying Lord restore my soul.  This comes after “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want”.  I shall not want means I lack nothing.  So as we pray for what was promised, we hope and wait knowing we lack nothing.  There is a sweet tension in not lacking anything yet desiring more to come.  Forward movement is the way of God.  He desires for us to move forward, yet be content with his plans, his timing, his blessings.  So for now we hope, we wait and we live with the sweet tension between contentment and promises to come. 

~ Nancy 


July 14, 2015 - What are you hearing? 


At the Transfiguration God spoke and Peter, James and John understood what he said.  Amazing!  God said to them "listen" to Jesus.  This pictures an anticipating in listening, a desire to hear, a hunger to understand a message that is more than just noise.  Sometimes listening is used in scripture with more emphasis than "seeing".  Though seeing is believing, as they say, the proof may be in the hearing.  There are so many ways to hear from God. Are you listening?  



Dr. Jeff


July 6, 2015 ~ The Myth behind Servant Leadership. 

The myth behind servant leadership (Matthew 20.25-26) is that our servanthood is defined by our actions rather than our motivations.  Servant leadership is an imperative in the passage recounting Jesus’ words to his disciples to “must be” a servant to those they lead. The preceding prerequisite expressed as an imperative is to be motivated from a desire to release and guide, not control others or seek privilege for ourselves.
Dr. Jeff

When you are doing work God approves, life is an adventure.

 Let the adventure begin!

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