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Jeff & Nancy

COACHING LEADERS Blog:


December 5, 2016 - Perfect Peace


Isaiah 26:3  – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” 

Do you have “peace” in your life?  Isaiah 26:3, refers to a mind that is stayed on Jesus.  The word “stayed” means to be emotionally stable, guided by Jesus, staying calm because of our trust in Jesus.   A mind stayed on Jesus is at peace.

A mind at peace allows us to serve out of spiritual strength and allows us to “lead” out of our strength because our mind is fixed on Jesus and his will.  

Spiritual Leadership is about serving God’s Kingdom purposes not our own.  When we have peace in God’s direction we lead people in God’s ways without fear and with a confidence in the direction God has given us.  This type of peace comes out of a trust in God – a strength in God.  When we know God well we see how we can trust his ways.  A high level of trust in God comes from understanding His Word and the way he works in our life.

It what situation do you need to find peace and more emotional stability? 

~ Nancy



November 23, 2016 ~  Don't Think with Your Ego 

 
When I was in High School I met a girl from another school who was interested in coming to an after-game dance at my school.  I arranged to meet my friend outside the gym where the dance was to be held and get her in as my guest.  We both looked forward to the date.


When the day arrived I was excited and confirmed she would show up.  Only, after the game, another friend introduced me to a girl who swept me off my feet.  Or, rather, played to my ego in a way that tempted me to get big-headed.  This was my problem, not hers, as any insecure teenage boy can tell you.  Anyway, I forgot about my friend waiting outside.  She eventually found someone else to sponsor her as a guest, arrived to find me preoccupied with someone else, and left.

I didn’t even think about it until Monday when a bunch of us walked into the coffee shop after school.  Seeing her spot me from the booth opposite the entrance, I began to apologize even as she approached.  After that, I don’t remember much.  Evidently, when she was close enough, I got a right uppercut that turned the lights out.  All I saw was a sweet smile on her face in the moment before contact.  We remained friends after that incident until life took us in different directions.  This turned out to be a great life lesson for me t the price of only a little embarrassment.


Leaders can get caught up in their own success and the praise that goes with success.  Sometimes to the point that they never see something important coming.  What is that old axiom?  Pride cometh before an uppercut, or rather a fall?  Effective leaders know how to manage their egos and approach success with their eyes wide open.  Effective leaders maintain a realistic self-appraisal that keeps their ego in check. 

Dr. Jeff  


November 13, 2016 ~  Don't Count on Luck

The airplane seemed to be suspended in a dark gray bubble with no indication of up or down.  The storm had come on suddenly, fuel was dangerously low, and a lightening strike had just taken out the navigation instruments.  The single engine Cherokee was as powerful as they come, but no match for the turbulence.  An emergency was declared and approach control was guiding the pilot to what everyone hoped would be a safe landing.

Blind until almost the last minute, the pilot popped out of the clouds directly over the numbers on the end of the runway: runway 13, lucky 13 some thought.  But luck had nothing to do with it. 

Inside that bubble, the pilot could have given up, released the controls, leaned back and radioed they were done.  The tower would just have to make sure they got down safely.  Or, they could have doggedly responded to the tower’s instructions as if it were advice, agreeing with some of it and refusing to follow the instructions they didn’t agree with.  Either giving up or taking over, they would have been in even more serious trouble.  Instead, everyone involved: the pilot, the air traffic controller, approach and ground control stayed in touch, intentional about the professional partnership holding them together. 

Leadership in crisis is like that: keep your cool, maintain good communication, value expertise over position when your position doesn’t possess the expertise, and be intentional about everything you do.  The alternative is to risk losing control, blame others, stop communicating, insist on doing it your way, and watch your airplane crash and burn.  This was one of the best life lessons I ever learned. 
Dr. Jeff​

October 30, 2016 ~  Audacious Love

 au·da·cious -  adjective  -  showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks
Bold, daring, fearless, intrepid, brave, courageous, valiant, and heroic.


To know Rwanda is to know the people.  The people of Rwanda have an unbelievable ability to love, forgive, share, endure and persevere. 

Jet lag can be both difficult and a gift.  Sometime the clarity that comes at 4:00am in the morning is needed.  Previous overseas trips do not necessarily prepare you for the next.  This was my first Saddleback Church trip to Africa.  Jeff and I have taken numerous overseas trips together yet this was my first trip without him in over 25 years.  God had much to accomplish and he used the people of Rwanda to communicate the most profound messages.  

The Rwanda women and men showed us how to love family, community and the Church.  The Church in Rwanda is strong, faithful and Kingdom minded.  They serve out of very little and give generously even if they have little.  They are a perfect example of the woman Jesus met who gave two small copper coins in Mark 12.  They literally give all they have. 

They give all the love they can, they share their home to everyone who can fit, and they adopt the orphan because of the need.  They visit their sick neighbor as well as drive forever or walk a very long distance to deliver love, care, and comfort.  They give so much more than I have ever given in my lifetime.   They taught me to care more deeply than I have cared in a long time.  The devastation they have experienced is unimaginable.  They have experienced situations that should never have to be spoken out loud.  The pain they know is nothing I can grasp.  Yet, they still love, give, forgive and share and repeat it day after day.  

We met with a group of about 60 parents who had adopted children in order to clear orphanages because they understand the desperate need to be in a forever family.  The sacrifice of this type of adoption is Audacious – they are literally giving their last two coins to love another sweet child into their family.   Their love is crazy and beautiful and a picture of heaven.   It has changed me forever.  You see them in the picture below. 

Now… I pray, what is the audacious love I need to share?   I will be forever changed because of the love of Jesus and the loving people of Rwanda. 

 

~ Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 28, 2016 ~ Your El Captitan

We topped out just before the sun went down and managed to get all the gear up before the stars came out. Climbing thirty-five hundred vertical feet of the largest granite monolith in the world was giving us a moment of incredulity as we sat and layed about looking at pinpoints of light like holes in the bottom of heaven shining down their congratulations.  Our breath was a vapor puffing small clouds of steam like strange airborne bubbles in the stillness on top of the mountain at nearly eight thousand feet above sea level.

Sometimes leadership is confronted with an El Capitan challenge, something intimidating, overwhelming, and larger than life that appears to be insurmountable.  Just like mountain climber: resilience, stamina, courage, confidence, and resolve come with preparation and practice.  There is a pathway that empowers you for leadership in difficult circumstances.  Some people call it paying your dues, others may call it earning your way or being a hardship apprentice.  Common leadership wisdom says if you lead skillfully everything will work out.  The tilt says that if you lead with character your followers will work everything out.  (Source: Tilt: Small Shifts in Leadership that Make a Big Difference.) 
Dr. Jeff

October 11, 2016 ~  The Second Explanation​

When we are confronted with failure the tendency is to grasp the first explanation that gives us a sense of control (Nietzsche).  Whether it is a system, process, machine, or person, we want to find a reason for what that went wrong that makes sense.  The reality that any kind of failure, especially in leadership, is usually not the result of a single cause but the end result of a complex set of circumstances coalescing in negative consequences gets lost in our rush to fix things.  


The astute leader looks for confirmation of what went wrong by evaluating alternative explanations.  This helps protect against jumping to conclusions and enables spending a little more time thinking things through, often resulting in a second explanation that is the real reason things happened the way they did.  Now, a solution that has every chance of working can be created.  Better still, you don't end up fixing something that is not broken by being distracted with the first explanation. 
Dr. Jeff

September 30th, 2016 - Motivation for Ministry

"Without faith it is impossible to please God."  Hebrews 11:6

 

​Our inclination as leaders is to challenge everyone else to live up to the high standards we set for ourselves, but Jesus said a leader has to be the servant of everyone else.  (Mark 10:42-45)   No one can every live up to all our expectations.

 

​Common Leadership Wisdom says:  God calls me to exercise leadership in the ministry he has placed me. 

 

The TILT:  God calls me to relinquish leadership to him in the ministry he has placed me in.  

How does your need to control play into your motivation for ministry?  How much does your sense of well being revolve around the feeling of being in control?  Also, consider how much anxiety you experience when you are in NOT in control. 

 

How are you doing in the area of trusting Jesus as your leader and allowing HIM to guide you in your leadership decisions? 

 

Think about it! 

Excerpt from TILT by Jeff Jernigan and Erik Rees

 

September 19, 2016 ~ Backwards May Be Forwards
Ever wonder about those old movies where the stage coach wheels seemed to be turning backwards until the horses slowed down enough they began turning forward again?  It was a phenomenon of the speed at which those old cameras could snap a picture and advance to the next frame to take the next picture of something moving faster than the film ran past the shutter.  Each picture lagged behind the actual motion a little bit, creating the illusion the coach wheels were turning backwards.  When the wheels were turning at a slower speed the shutter speed could stay ahead of the motion and capture the wheels moving forward.

As a leader I often am involved in complex projects halfway around the world where I cannot be physically present most of the time.  The reports I receive sometimes make me feel like things are bogged down, even going backwards.  The information presents a picture of delays, hold-ups, and regression.  But is that truly the picture?

If it is not a true picture, and I react too quickly to resolve what I think is a problem, I may just make things worse.  

 

Here are 3 things to keep in mind that help prevent disaster in remote locations:

1)  First: trust the leadership you put in place onsite.  

 

2) Second: pick up the phone, video conference, email, text, do whatever is necessary to get up-to-date information.  Ask catalytic questions.

 

3) Third: remember the illusion of going backwards may hide the reality that you are still moving forward.

Dr. Jeff

 

September 15, 2016 - Oil on the Waters

What an interesting phrase!  It comes from the idea of agitated waters calmed by oil poured on the surface. Oil is lighter than water and floats, spreading out over the surface like a blanket, absorbing the agitation and settling the commotion down.  

Today I was on a flight to visit a client.  Toward the end of the flight a passenger had an emergency, apparently in the process of a possible heart attack.  Just two rows ahead of me, it was natural to get involved.  No, I am not a physician, but I do have medical training.  As it turns out, I stayed involved because there wasn't a higher level of care available.

The crew was agitated, and that transferred itself to the passengers nearby in the cabin, which then became a garbled message of confusion and alarm further back in the cabin.  Once the situation was better understood and the passenger calmed down, I had nothing to do but stand there, available if help was needed.  The crew had everything under control by then.

Heads were still leaning around seats with worried looks as far back in the aircraft as I could see.  Many passengers around me were still agitated.  So, maintaining composure, I communicated some non-confidential information about things being under control, the passenger's condition was improving, nothing to worry about, and stood by with a confident and calm demeanor.  Everyone settled down.

In reality, everything was not okay.  The passenger needed medical attention, and as soon as we landed the EMT's got them off the plane and whisked them away.  However, undue fear and concern had been averted.  There are times when you as a leader are going to be required to project a calm, serene confidence you may not feel and may not be justified by the circumstances.  

 

When you do, it will be like pouring oil on the waters.  It will be leadership.

Dr. Jeff 

 

August 22, 2016 ~  Leadership Thoughts for the Day 

 

​Leaders:

 

*   Inspire new knowledge in others 

 

*   Magnify the people around them 

 

*   Give to others so they can be their best

 

*   Help others get smarter 

 

*   Inspire clarity in a situation

 

*   Create an environment conducive to self-discovery 

 

*   Encourage, inspire and bring insight when someone is at a crossroad 

 

*   Guide and direct as someone's advocate and cheerleader

 

Let's see if we can live out one of these today!! 

~ Nancy

 

August 19, 2016 ~ Emotions 

I sat there with them for what seemed a long time.  It was the end of a wonderful relationship and I didn’t want to let go.  My heart was breaking.  Finally, with a knowing glance, they reached out and licked my hand, a final goodbye, and then were gone.  My favorite companion, the dog of my childhood, remained with me as long as they could, but not long enough to my way of thinking.  I was twelve, and cried like a three year old. 

Memories like that still touch me with sadness and longing, as well as gratitude and hopefulness.  There are many people who shove this kind of thing way down and don’t want to engage emotionally with situations or people that make them feel uncomfortable, even if the pain is sweet.  Our ability to engage people emotionally, even sometimes show emotions (though, I don’t recommend crying like a three year old) is a sign of emotional maturity and intelligence.  It also allows people to connect with us in open and transparent ways that builds trust.

The key for a leader is to have clear in their mind the difference between emotional engagement and emotional entanglement.  One always keeps propriety in mind, engaging in a manner appropriate for the relationship and the situation, while the other plows ahead without regard for either.  We have been created with emotions.  Emotions are a part of us and provide a greater understanding of who we are and how we relate to our world.

The best leaders separate what they feel from what they know, knowing feelings are like a barometer, or compass, or light on the dashboard pointing to something that may be noteworthy but not really a decision making criteria.  I hope I never become divorced from my emotions and can still feel disappointment and loss as well as encouragement and joy in all of my relationships. 
Dr. Jeff

 

August 16, 2016  ~ A Multiplying Leader 

 

There are many types of leaders.  A multiplying leader is unique among all leaders.  This leader does more than guide and direct.  This type of leader multiplies other leaders.  In essence, they inspire other leaders and are known for helping make other leaders be better leaders. 

A multiplying leader inspired by the Holy Spirit, selects appropriate leaders for the role or job, develops them, casts a big vision, empowers them to accomplish great things, coaches them, offers opportunities to practice their specific leadership trait, inspires them to in character development.

A multiplying leader:
*  Gives people an opportunity to grow
*  Inspires risk taking
*  Is available in hard times or painful times
*  Opens doors expanding leadership reach
*  Stimulates character growth

An authentic multiplying leader ignites change and growth!  They coach and walk along side, not doing the work for the other leaders yet, stimulating movement.  A multiplying leader can look behind them and see a number of leaders who may be even accomplishing more than they have accomplish!

Can you name leaders who are a part of your multiplying efforts? 

~ Nancy

 

August 8, 2016 ~ Two Kinds of Service 

     I arrived at the country club early for the funeral.  Not your usual place for a memorial, but not beyond proper bounds either.  A friend had asked me to step in as the pastor since they were out of town.  There wasn’t much family involved, so I lent a hand where I could starting with checking coats and hats and directing people to the restrooms.  Moving on from that, I served as the bartender for the non-alcoholic open bar since the other bar was overwhelmed.  Later I served food, cleared dishes, and reset chairs.

     When I was finally introduced as the pastor, you could have heard a pin drop.  They all thought I was club staff and, from the looks on their faces, were all trying to remember if they were kind or rude to me, pleasant or demanding, entertaining or off-color with their humor.  Afterwards, lots of people apologized to me for treating me like the hired help, a servant.  I actually had a wonderful time, and rarely has a congregation been as attentive in church as these folks were at a funeral in a country club.  There was no reason for pretense anymore, and it made communicating easy.

     There are two kinds of service we can engage in.  We can choose to serve or we can chose to be a servant.  If we choose to serve we are still in charge.  We set the boundaries, we define the  nature of our service, and we choose whom to serve.  If we choose to be a servant there are no such choices.  A servant gives up the right to be in charge.  There is true freedom in this since we cannot be manipulated, having voluntarily put ourselves in position to be taken advantage of.  Instead, we become available.  After the service I had some of the most meaningful and transformational conversations with those that stuck around.  For some it was a fresh start into a new life.  What will you chose today?
Dr. Jeff​

 

August 5, 2016 ~  WHY?  

As a leader have you asked yourself WHY recently?  Why you are holding an event? Why you are having that meeting?  Why did you make a certain decision?

 

Most importantly, Great Leaders decide WHY their ministry or organization exists.... and then they communicate the WHY message effectively. 

 

What Why message do you want to communicate today?  

 

GREAT LEADERS ask WHY? 

 

Why does your ministry or organization exist!  Who are you telling? 

~ Nancy 

 

August 3, 2016 ~  Presence 
When she smiles it inspires a feeling of humility and awe in those favored with her glance.  Her green eyes have a gentle touch that keeps your attention even when no one is speaking.  Certainly not invasive, she will approach you with an energy and excitement that makes you feel as if you are the most important person in the room at the moment.  You would never know how smart or accomplished she is, and certainly never guess her age.  Being present with you is all that matters, and she gives you her undivided attention. 

This is what is called having a presence.  We all have a presence.  It can be irritating and off-putting, or friendly and engaging, or lots of things in between.  Nancy’s presence is constantly friendly and engaging.  People like to be around her, she is a good listener.  People find it easy to trust her, she is authentic.  And, people are less concerned about perceptions around her…she doesn’t talk much about herself, where she has been, who she knows, or what she has done.  These are the kinds of things that cause others to engage in comparisons that aren’t helpful. 

Presence, at least this kind of presence, is what reassures people, gives them confidence to step out into new things, find it easy to learn from mistakes, and remain open to learning new things.  It is the kind of presence a leader needs in order to better encourage, coach, guide, and support those they are leading.  What kind of presence do you have?
Dr. Jeff

 

July 28, 2016 ~  Is change a difficult word to swallow? 

A leader who loves change is fairly easy to spot.  They often are making other people feel a little bit uncomfortable. When we change for the better spiritually we often call that Spiritual Transformation.  When God captures our heart and ignites our soul we  join Him in living a surrendered life for His purposes.  We learn that it is best to set aside our personal agendas and listen carefully for God's purposes.   As leaders who understand change is necessary, the key is to change to be more like Jesus, not just change for the sake of not staying the same. 
As professional coaches and coaches that thrive on training other coaches and leaders, we are energized by spiritual transformation; both in others and desire the same in ourselves.  By definition, to experience spiritual transformation means that you are changing in your form, your appearance, your nature and especially your character so that it reflects Jesus Christ. 

What needs changing today?   Share this thought with a friend!
~ Nancy 

 

July 22, 2016 ~ Abolishing the Pecking Order

 

Each year I have to take a number of courses to maintain the required continuing education units as a board certified counselor.  The subject matter can range widely over clinical matters, to healthcare administration, to leadership.  This year’s leadership class was focused on the servant leader and leading from the bottom-up.  Only, the instructor clearly was teaching material they were not familiar with at all.

They used an excellent illustration from the words of Christ where he encouraged his followers to exercise their leadership through serving others rather than autocratically dictating things from the top-down.  In other words, leading from the bottom-up.

This is not a new thought, but it dawned on me the instructor’s approach to this concept was simply reversing the hierarchy.  They were still advocating for positional leadership, just from a different perspective.  This is where misunderstanding the biblical reference they used got them in trouble.  Jesus didn’t reverse the pecking order with his advice; he totally abolished it. 

Positional leadership emphasizes organization, structure, protocols, and procedures.  Relational leadership emphasizes communication, cooperation, and collaboration.  Both are needed in an organization, often in different proportion.  Servant leadership, and its focus on the growth and well being of people, can be exercised in any environment.  It is not about position or relationship; it is about enabling people to get the job done.
Dr. Jeff 

 

July 19, 2016 ~ What are you passionate about today?  What is on your mind today? 

 

​Is there a subject on your mind right now?  Do you feel like this is something God wants you to share with others?  God often gives us a message not just for ourselves but to share with others.  This may be in a word of encouragement, a scripture or an action.

 

Ezekiel was a great example of someone who heard from God and was called to share the message given to him with others.  In Ezekiel chapter 2 God calls Ezekiel to deliver specific messages to the people of Israel based on the messages God gave Ezekiel. 

God asks Ezekiel to not be afraid “though briers and thorns are all around you”.  STILL deliver my message God says to Ezekiel.   He says "deliver the message I give to you Ezekiel, whether they listen to you or fail to listen to you."  It is God’s job to give us a message to deliver and God’s responsibility for the outcome. 

It is our responsibility to be obedient and deliver the message God has given us to share. 

 

Recently God gave me a message about a group of people who were discouraged and needed encouragement.  He actually gave a number of people this message.  Our role was to give encouragement to this group of people.  We did this and continue to give encouragement to them.  

 

       What message has God called you to deliver lately?

 

~ Nancy

 

July 13, 2016 ~ Cookie-Cutter Solutions 

Just the other day a gentleman said to me at a business breakfast meeting, “If they would just get it together and do it my way we wouldn’t have this problem!”  He was referring to a comment the speaker just made regarding a sensitive political issue of national importance.

After breakfast I asked him to explain “his way” to me.  He clearly had thought through the matter theoretically and had a very strong opinion.  However, from my perspective it sounded more like clever and somewhat unsound reasoning casuistically directed toward a solution that wouldn’t work.  When I probed this a bit, my friend became defensive, “There is only way to solve these kinds of problems!”

Sooner or later we all run into people who have a sure-fired formula for solving every problem, overcoming every challenge, or resolving every disagreement.  If only life were so predictable!  Sometimes life is rather unpredictable and butterfly like.  You know, life takes its own twists and turns like a butterfly passing by.  You never know which way it will turn next.

There will always be tried-and-true ways of getting things done, and just as many opportunities to be creative in problem solving because a cookie-cutter solution isn’t going to work.  A healthy skepticism of the “standard” approach to anything helps a leader remain open to new possibilities.

Dr. Jeff

 

July 4th, 2016 ~ Led by the nose isn't learning

 

As a younger man I was afforded the privilege of being mentored by some pretty awesome leaders, well known in business and ministry.  Some of them were better than others at coaching, though I learned much from all of them.  Names aren’t important.  Let’s just say some of them were leash leaders and some of them were catalytic leaders.

A leash leader is someone who asks questions and gives directions aimed at taking you down a specific path much like being led by the nose to a discovery you are supposed to make.  It has the advantage of communicating process very well, but is limited by modeling only one way to think, one way to get things done, and creates a dependency on the part of the one being mentored. 

A catalytic leader asks questions and gives directions designed to encourage you to think through things, ask questions, try different approaches until they arrive at a solution that works.  The downside is the increased likelihood of mistakes and failures along the way. The advantage, though, is in the process the wisdom of the mentor gets translated into the personality and style of the student.  And, they have learned to think for themselves.  Like a true catalyst that is added to the mixture to create a reaction and then is entirely removed, what is left over is entirely transformed into something better.


Coaching tip for leaders: if you want to produce a radical transformation in your understudy, be catalytic in your style.
Dr. Jeff

 

June 27, 2016 ~ The Stronger our Faith the Warmer our Love

   Paul in Colossians chapter one talks about how he wants to encourage those at Laodicea.  His goal is for them to be encouraged and united in love.  So they may know the full riches of God.  One aspect of the “riches of faith” is LOVE.  A rich faith unites people in love.
       The stronger our faith – the warmer our love. 
We can love more deeply the more our faith in God grows.  The stronger our faith, the stronger and warmer our love is.  Our love can grow deeper, longer, wider, higher, meaning more fully.  God’s love is deep, long, wide and high, His love is everywhere and is powerful.  Because of Jesus, we too can have a love that is powerful and this love can spread wide and deep.   God can do immeasurable more than all we can ask or image.  This is his power at work. 


The Holy Spirit living in us has the power to influence others to serve with more power, offer more forgiveness and share more love!  

 This is Faith In Action

~Nancy

 

June 22, 2016 ~ When the Issue Isn't the Issue

Today was a fascinating juxtaposition of very different things that at the same time were also very much the same.  That happens often when the issue isn’t the real issue, if you know what I mean.  Happiness seemed to be the perceived issue in this case.

Our granddaughter stated that she would be happy if she just had a Fit Bit to wear on her wrist.  A neighbor was overheard saying he would be happier if another neighbor down the block would keep the noise down at night.  A colleague bent my ear about how happy they would be if so-and-so just left the organization.  Someone in church in front of us said they would be happy if the sermon were shorter.  And, I am sure my wife would be happier if I took out the garbage more often.

The real issue isn’t happiness, it seems.  It is getting our own way.  The antidote to this kind of frustration is a small dose of self-denial.  Self denial is a simple way of coming to an understanding that we really don’t have to get our way in order to be happy.  In other words, our contentment or satisfaction with a situation doesn’t depend on having it our way.

All of us have experienced deferred gratification, a desire for peace and quiet, a need for relief from an annoyance, impatience with people and events, and the temptation to press others to complete what is lacking.  If we had these things, would we be truly happy in a lasting manner?  Holding the interests of others above our own gives us the freedom to give way to others.  When we do, the satisfaction of serving others replaces the self-interest of being demanding.

We may or may not see the outcome we were hoping for in these situations.  But, we did the right thing from a good heart with a clear conscience and can still walk away content, satisfied, happy. 
Dr. Jeff

 

June 13, 2016 ~  Do you feel PEACE today? 

 
I was reading Philippians chapter one today, I noticed something I had not recalled before.  Paul says to the reader “grace to you and… peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  He says grace to you first and then peace from the Father.  For me, when I understand the fullness of the grace God has offered me, this produces a PEACE in my life.
If you are like me you crave PEACE in your life.  It is such a sweet gift to experience a day full of peace and not stress.  It truly is a gift.  God the Father and Jesus offers’ me grace.  He offers you grace every day.  Does this lead to a peace God is in complete control?  Even when evil surrounds us we can take comfort God is in control and allow ourselves to experience peace.  This is a choice - to place all our trust in God so we experience rest.  A feeling of peace and rest allows us to express love to others and accomplish Kingdom purposes.        PEACE to You!

~ Nancy​

 

June 6, 2016 ~  What is your gift mix?
     Have you ever put something out in front of your home and put a FREE sign on it?  Well, we just did that with two lamps.  It took 15 minutes for them to be taken to their new home.  I hope and imagine they drove away saying “start the car”, so happy they got a great deal.  This is such a good illustration about life, one person can’t use something but it is a gift to someone else.    


     Functioning in our gift mix can have a similar affect in our work and ministry roles.  When our gift mix, skills and experience is a wonderful fit we feel energized and those who we work for feel energized as well.  When our gift mix, skills and experiences are not a good fit for our work or ministry role it is obvious.  

 

     Jeff and I love helping match the right person with the right role.  Seeing both the organization as well as the individual thrilled for the connection is one of the greatest joy in life for us.  It is critical to understand our own mix of gifts, skills, talents and experiences.  If you can not list your gifts, skills and talents, I encourage you to take a Myers Briggs Assessment or StrenthsFinders Assessment so you know this about yourself.  It can make or break your next job fit. 

~ Nancy

 

June 2, 2016 ~  When Feedback Bristles

Feedback has been my friend for many years.  Like friends, feedback sometimes makes me bristle.  This is especially true when I think the feedback is unfair or untrue.  How I feel about the person providing the feedback can trigger a negative response as well.  It can be really upsetting if someone goes after me for some real or perceived fault.  In other words, negatively pricks my self-image or sense of identity.

Over the years I have learned not to turn away from feedback that provokes these kinds of responses.  All feedback is valuable, even when not well-intentioned.  If the feedback given seems unfair or untrue, I ask for examples and look for some truth I can respond to affirmatively.  How I feel about a person can affect how I receive their advice.  Because of my rough edges, sometimes the best advice can come from people who really annoy me.  Rather than take feedback personally, I want to reframe what someone said as an opportunity rather than criticism. 

When I ask for feedback there is a question to avoid, “Do you have any feedback for me?”  Too general, too easy to put people on the spot regarding how honest you actually want them to be.  Better to ask, “What’s one thing you see me do that gets in my way?”  That gives them a specific question to respond to and takes the focus off of them.

Dr. Jeff

 

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?  

 

Blessings, 

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.
Blessings,
Dr. Jeff

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


 Let the adventure begin!

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