New Leadership Thinking

October 2, 2014

“The problems that exist in the world today can’t be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein

Sometimes I’m tempted to think my win must cause someone else to lose. Put another way, I often am tempted to believe that if someone does what I’m doing, they’ll limit my freedom or my market or my opportunities to experience success. We view the world as a particular size and we must carve it up in a way that everyone gets a little. When things like money get scarce, we think we have to hang on to what we have, and if we give someone too much there won’t be enough left for ourselves.

Back in the 1970′s and 1980′s, scarcity was the prevailing mindset. A market could only be “so big” and each company had to get their share. We had to climb our way to the top and often to get ahead, we had to get ahead of someone else.

“Exceptional insight, productivity and generosity make markets bigger and more efficient. This situation leads to more opportunities and ultimately a payoff for everyone involved.” Seth Godin, Linchpin.

“Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Jesus, Luke 6:38 NASB

11003312-198x300I wonder how much of our current leadership model needs a mental overhaul. Do we have leaders who seem committed to “if you win, I must lose” thinking? Do we see any problems, or situations where we use what Stephen Covey called two-alternative thinking? Two-alternative thinking is based on “if you win, I must lose” thinking. His great book, The 3rd Alternative was a great reminder that synergy is the answer to two-alternative thinking. Synergy is when everyone agrees to find a win-win solution. Compromise means everyone gets less than they hoped. Synergy means everyone gets more.

Where in our world today do we see leaders creating synergistic, win-win alternatives? What can we do to demonstrate that behavior as the solution to two-alternative problems?

And to what degree do my own actions and old-world thinking create the problems we experience today? What can I do to introduce a level of thinking that rises above the problems and works together for a synergistic solution? What’s it going to take?

This leadership thinking was first posted on Lead Change Group. It’s not that new…

Sources of Leadership

September 30, 2014

Even after almost 5 years, I still believe there are only 2 sources of leadership? What is the source of your influence?

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The Opposite of Arrogance

September 29, 2014

When I graduated from college, a long time ago, I was pretty sure I knew just about everything. I figured everything I didn’t know didn’t matter. But I’ve managed to learn more, and the more I learn…

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March 3, 2014

When you graduated from high school, is this what you thought you’d be doing with your life?

We’ve gotten rid of our land line.  So I don’t get to use that question often any more.  You see, when we would get those spam calls at dinner telling us “You can save money on our credit cards. Press 1 to learn more.” I always pressed 1.  I waited until I got a person and then I asked them their name.  Once they gave me their name, I always asked the question above. I figured if I could eliminate the supply of people who are willing to do that kind of work, it might keep some of us from getting called.

Today, I’d like to send that question to the employee at LinkedIn who dreamed up this scheme.  I received this email from LinkedIn Notifications.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 11.35.01 AM

I believe this is a legitimate email from a legitimate business.  This person’s profile exists on LinkedIn and he has 1 connection. So someone accepted without checking.

This person is not a connection. I don’t know them and in all of my email accounts, I’ve never received or sent an email to this person. I don’t know them.  They’re not in my LinkedIn contacts either.

So I have some questions:

  1. Why would someone (LinkedIn or otherwise) send me this if every link in it does, in fact, go back to LinkedIn?
  2. Does LinkedIn really have some great reason why I should connect with this person?
  3. Where did LinkedIn get the idea that this person is a contact of mine?  They’re not in my LinkedIn contacts or in any of my email in any of my systems.

This is actually the 2nd one of these I’ve received.  I sent a request to LinkedIn both times for help.  This time I also posted on their support forum and I’ve commented on some other threads on their support forums. too.  Last time, about a month ago, I received no response.

I can only hope someone graduated from high-school hoping to be the answer to these types of issues rather than settling for taking part in the cause.

Now to my real question: Where have we settled on being something less than our best dream or our ideal future?  What can we do about it?

It’s been too long. Many of you even reached out to me to ask for an update before now.

Please don’t let the delay in my response communicate a lack of gratitude. We are grateful for your friendship and your prayers.  We know they matter.

scan0001God provides strength for Vicky every day. Some days she needs less strength and some she needs more. She’s been seeing a doctor who’s not covered by our insurance simply because we’re willing to try different things. We’ve also spent some time trying to eat more naturally. And she has noticed that some of the foods we routinely eat do cause her some grief.  That’s all been good.

So we continue and God continues and we are grateful for you if you continued. Please also feel free to let me know how we can pray for you. A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken.  Thank you for your connection, friendship and prayers.

Prayer for Vicky

July 27, 2013

Would you do me a favor? I’m married to a great lady. To this day, I still wonder why she ever married me. She’s perceptive, persistent, strong and considerate. She always considers what’s best for others. She feels for others and thinks their thoughts. Strangers tell her personal stories all the time, and they don’t know why they’re doing it.

Vicky has juvenile-onset or Type 1 diabetes, a disease now believed to be an autoimmune disease – one caused by a malfunctioning autoimmune system. She’s had it 42 years. She has to wear an insulin pump and be conscious of her blood sugar levels all the time. According to the doctors, she’s not your normal juvenile-onset diabetic, either. Her blood sugar and her metabolism fluctuate widely with no apparent direct cause. Many doctors doubted that fact until they found out for themselves.

It’s a daily grind. She intensely dislikes the hassle and the expense. She hates it when her blood sugar climbs very high and she feels weak and nauseated. She also hates how when her blood sugar falls too low she can be irrational and we even have to call an ambulance from time to time.

About 8 years ago she started feeling pain in her joints. Doctors initially diagnosed it as Rheumatoid Arthritis, another autoimmune disease. In addition to the joint pain, she can have days where she has no strength; she’s simply weak and miserable. Over the last 8 years, doctors have prescribed increasingly new and radical drugs to treat the disease. For each one, either the drug was ineffective or after time Vicky would experience some side effect of the drug that would force her to eventually choose the pain of arthritis over the consequences of the drug. Each new drug brought weeks or months of struggling with new side effects, until the eventual resignation to the disease.

In the course of fighting these problems, we’ve also found a vitamin D deficiency, and she’s been treated for hyper-thyroid. She even had to have her gall-bladder removed. These last 8 years have been very difficult for her.

scan0001About 10 weeks ago, Vicky stopped taking the latest drug, a very new drug with paragraphs of warnings and risks. The drug simply made her more miserable than the arthritis did.  For a couple of weeks, Vicky felt better. But slowly the pain came back and so did the fatigue. As it did, discouragement set in. Here we go again.  It seems to be a paradox: if the Rheumatoid doesn’t kill her, the medicine will.

Weather contributes to her pain and fatigue too. The consequences of the arthritis are exacerbated by changes in the weather, which happens frequently in Oklahoma.

The net effect of all of this is that Vicky is very discouraged and very tired.

Would you please pray for my wife? Pray for her healing and for joy and strength dealing with all of this. Pray for us that we will believe God for what He can do and whatever He does. Pray that God will bless and heal Vicky.

Thank you. We know your prayers matter. God’s not making up His mind, but He allows us the opportunity to participate with Him in His work. We’re grateful for you.

Heroic Choices

November 23, 2012

Heroic Choices | Mike Henry Sr.Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest on November 16 says, “The tendency is to look for the marvelous in our experience; we mistake the sense of the heroic for being heroes.”

I was struck by this. I often mistake the sense of the heroic for being a hero. I want to do the grandiose thing, the heroic thing, rather than simply living as a hero.

Being a hero is a drudge most of the time. It’s hard to make the right choice over and over during each day. I have to pick up the trash, and empty the diswhasher. I have to avoid personal use of my time at work and make sure I am available for my co-workers even when they ask me about things they should already know. I must go to the gym in the cold (which I didn’t do today) and I must be diligent with my money. I even have to be patient in line at the airport or the grocery store. Being a hero is a slog. It’s work.

Heroic is much easier. I can simply be whatever I want to be until some opportunity comes along where I get to put on the hero suit and arrive as the champion. If I’m lucky, it’s a great opportunity where I step into the gap, become a huge hero and live famously off of that success for years. Also, if I’m lucky that opportunity comes along early so I can do it once and be done. If I’m not so lucky, I will have to be ready to be a hero for a long time or I might miss my shot.

How are you with the contrast between the sense of the heroic and being a hero? Have you been lucky enough to get by with the heroic path yet? How’s that working for you?

Heroic is about opportunity and timing. Hero is much harder. I heard a speaker yesterday say that we have 20,000 moments in each day. A good day may come down to 2 or 3 moments that went particularly well. Or a bad day may be a moment or two that didn’t go so well. But the majority of our moments are just moments. We plug along.

A hero chooses the heroic of every moment. Sometimes it’s heroic to choose to rest or to say “No” to an opportunity. It’s often heroic to choose to do the important thing rather than the grandiose or urgent or dramatic thing.

Being a hero means committing to make heroic choices in every moment. It sounds like a lot of work. It IS a lot of work. But it gets easier with time and there are great rewards. Heroes, real heroes, are the people of legacy. They make a positive difference in everything they do. They make a lasting impression and create a positive culture in their sphere of influence. Hero’s are the people we remember for a long time. Maybe your grandfather or a teacher or an early boss was a hero for you.

Being a hero is a long, slow choice rather than a one-time lottery event. Waiting for the heroic will mean that you miss many opportunities to be a hero. One big opportunity or thousands of small ones: it’s your choice.

© alphaspirit –

Who’s the Winner?

November 6, 2012

Who's the Winner? | Mike Henry Sr.In an election in the US, you always know who won. You know even before it happens.


Every citizen wins when a free people elects it’s leaders. Influence is given. Authority is granted. In the US, the government is “of the people.” Every person living in a nation that elects it’s own leaders is a winner. Any person alive with the opportunity to freely participate in the selection and success of the leadership is a winner. You can’t call it anything else.

And even if you don’t think much of the US or you feel the US is less than it could be, remember freedom is a double-edged sword. It comes with responsibility. We get the government and the elected officials, and the policy we really want. For that matter we get the media and the morals and the society we really want too.

So if the election didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, remember regardless of the outcome, you won today. You won yesterday and you’ll win tomorrow too. Because you’re a part of the greatest idea of self-government in the history of the world. You’re a winner because you are free to join the discourse and work to change the world again tomorrow.

Will we accept the responsibility we have to continue to make that idea of self-government work? That’s up to the winners… What do you say?

Photo © jpldesigns –

I’m looking forward to the US election. Well, actually, I’m looking forward to its passing. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my right to vote; thankful for the chance to live in a free nation and participate in the greatest experiment of self-government in the history of the world.

But recently Vicky and I cancelled our land telephone line. We don’t want the automated recordings and the unsolicited spam. Fortunately, we’re intelligent enough to make up our mind without the surreal, unbelievable amount of money and energy spent by both parties to try to convince us to vote for them.

In fact, the more each candidate does to try to sell me on voting for them, the less inclined I am to do just that. The reason has little to do with what either stands for. In fact, they spend so little time talking about their own ideas, if we were to choose based simply on what we could find in mainstream media, we should end up depressed, if not suicidal. According to each, the other is the single worst person to vote for, ever. If the other is elected, the world may come to an end, or at least America will cease to exist as a free nation.

I’m reminded of a quote by a politician from 100 years ago.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

Personally (and officially on the Lead Change Group blog, too!) I’m not going to join the criticism party. Leadership requires that we not simply point out the problem. No one wins when every comparison is designed to negate the other. Leadership demands that we bring ideas and solutions instead of criticism and discord. We must argue for our ideas, rather than against the others. Nothing is gained by criticizing the other people or ideas, but by visualizing, collaborating and moving toward the future.

I’ll vote in this election, but my energy and my support will have to be reserved for a future election; one where each candidate talks only about themselves and their ideas.  My ideal candidate is the one with the courage to lobby for their future without criticizing their competition, be it a candidate, an idea or a vision.

Leadership is about the future. Use the past to create the future, not to criticize your competition. Remember, it’s not the critic who counts.

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Source of Action

July 29, 2012

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Firefighter RememberedHave you ever considered the areas where you are most prone to act? How about when you see someone asking for change by the side of the road? How about when you see someone with a flat tire? For a time when I worked downtown, I caught myself avoiding the pan-handlers. After a while, though, I felt like a coward. I wasn’t making a difference; I was simply reacting. Once I committed to act every time I had the opportunity, the fear went away and I began to notice people and find ways to make a difference. And that difference expanded beyond the people who were asking for handouts, to my coworkers and my family too.

When you feel responsible for something, you are more likely to act on that responsibility. But don’t be fooled, being responsible is a commitment. Thinking about a problem, working on a problem, “taking a stab at” a problem or “giving a try” are all significantly different than accepting responsibility for a problem. Look at your life carefully. Are there areas where you consistently fail to act? Judge yourself honestly today.

In the book The Noticer, by Andy Andrews, the main character, Jones said, “Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? I intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you. ‘I intended to bring you flowers, but I didn’t.'” Intent without action is an insult. Our best always lies on the other side of action. Thoughts and intentions won’t get it.

So back to the question; where do you consistently give yourself a pass? Can you think of one? What will you do with that information?

Leaders act. Leaders see a problem and take responsibility. On whose behalf are you ready to act? Is it your family, or your neighbors, or your team? What about the poor or the neglected people around us? What about taking responsibility for some part of improving the quality of life in your community? Do you believe you can make a difference at that level? Or, what about the future… the next generation of leaders? Are you taking action about the problems you see in our world or are you just complaining about them? Where do you draw the line when it comes to taking action?

If you began or renewed a commitment to be more responsible and act, take the first step now and make a note in the comments. It won’t kill you. And who knows, you’ll probably make a difference to someone else.

Photo CC by Puzzler4879 on Flickr