Adversity

From Complications to God-Confidence

November 3, 2020
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When our daughter, Caroline, was born and severe health complications quickly ensued, Carla and I were driven to our knees, crying out to God for healing. Amid fear and fright, we sought his peace. When we felt less than confident that the story we’d imagined for ourselves as new parents wasn’t going to play out the way we’d thought, we sought God’s confidence.

Here’s Carla’s story. For the squeamish, it does get detailed.

March 1, 1994, was an incredible day. My due date had come and gone, and now Preston and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new baby girl, Caroline. Caroline arrived at 7:29 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1. We were overjoyed and felt so blessed to welcome a new, healthy baby girl into our family.

Later that afternoon, as is typical after most deliveries, the nurses came into my hospital room to check on me, take vital signs, etc. After removing my catheter, they noticed something wrong: there was urine leaking onto my bed. Several nurses came in to look, doctors were called in, and shortly after that, I was wheeled over to urology specialists’ offices. During the delivery process, we found out that my bladder and vaginal wall had been torn, therefore forming a hole through both, which had caused urine to flow directly from my bladder through my vaginal wall and leak onto the bed (or anything else).

At first, neither my doctor nor the specialists knew what to do. Once the specialists had discussed the matter, my OB-GYN (who had delivered Caroline) came in to explain these findings to us. He admitted that he didn’t know how this had happened, and, although he had delivered thousands of babies, he had never seen this before. He was concerned, and he offered to pray with us.  

The next day, we took Caroline home, but it wasn’t the homecoming I had envisioned beforehand. I went home with a catheter and wore adult continence garments for the next six weeks while we met with specialists to develop a plan that would hopefully lead to healing. During the weeks that led up to the surgery, my OB doctor would call to check on us and let us know that he and others he knew were praying for us. Many surgeons are egotistical and don’t acknowledge their humanness. This doctor was different. He was bold in his faith and humble in his approach, and, because of this, I was learning more about Christ.

There was a lot of uncertainty going into the surgery. Ahead of time, we had agreed to various approaches based on what they could find once I was on the surgical table. One method was somewhat invasive and another one much less so, but I wouldn’t know which method they would implement until I awoke from anesthesia. During the weeks leading up to surgery, our only option was to pray for a medical plan of action that would be successful, for skilled minds and skilled hands for the physicians, for encouragement, and for adequate care during this time for our new baby girl. We asked family, friends, neighbors, and everyone around us for prayer.

Finally, the morning of surgery came, and it was time for my family to leave my side and allow the staff to take me back. As I was being wheeled down to the pre-op room, I heard someone call my name. It was my physician; he had come to walk me into surgery. (He was not a part of the urology surgical team). He held my hand and prayed over me. 

I’m happy to say that the report was good when I came out of the anesthesia later that day. The team had been able to make the repairs in the least invasive way, and, thankfully, the outcome looked very hopeful!

I cared for a newborn baby for several months following the surgery while wearing multiple urinary medical devices. Needless to say, I stayed home quite a bit. It wasn’t an easy time, but it was a season when God was allowing me some time alone with him to talk things out. I did a lot of praying. 

At times, I remember wrestling with my feelings and thinking, Am I going to trust that God is good and that his plan for me is good, even if my body doesn’t function properly and I must wear these urinary devices for the rest of my life?  Am I going to trust him no matter the outcome?  

God was patient with me, and he allowed me to talk about these things out with him.  Ultimately, after spending much time in his Word, much time in prayer, and listening to godly counsel, I began to accept the fact that, no matter the outcome, God loves me and cares for me. He will always be there for me. He is my maker and my helper.

Several months went by before I could attempt going to the restroom on my own.  I’ll never forget the day I was allowed to try. Right away, I knew I was healed. God is good, not because he chose to heal me—he certainly didn’t have to do that—but because he is a good father. That’s his character. His plans are for good, even though we may not like them at the time. 

Looking back, I’m very thankful he took me on that little journey years ago. I learned to trust him, and he hasn’t failed me yet.

To add to Carla’s story, I remember sitting in the waiting room with her parents and my grandparents during surgery. We were hopeful that the procedure would be successful, but we were prepared for the worst. I’ll never forget the post-surgery debrief with the surgeon. It was as if he couldn’t believe how simple the surgery was and how well it had gone versus how he initially thought the situation would be resolved. It was a miracle. We were absolutely delighted and thankful. We all jumped for joy and thanked God for his incredible mercy. The surgery was successful, and Carla’s health was restored.

Carla and I will always look back at this milestone and be thankful for God’s answer to our prayers. We didn’t have anywhere else to turn but to God, to place our hope and confidence in him for a positive outcome. Despite daunting circumstances and an undesired prognosis, we prayed to God because we trusted him. When I saw God move and do what seemed impossible, it both reaffirmed and further established my confidence in God.

What does God-confidence look like? It’s when you move from elevating God over self. The Bible says, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 – The Message). 

How does one cultivate God-confidence?

  • Seek his empowerment. 
  • Request God’s wisdom to navigate unchartered territory, make decisions, and solve problems. 
  • Seek his strength and protection to face opposition or challenging circumstances. 
  • Trust he’ll provide and ensure an outcome that works for the good. 
  • When success comes, give credit to God and be thankful.
  • If success doesn’t come, don’t let your God-confidence be shaken but let it grow through adversity. 

How different would your life look if you moved from self-confidence to God-confidence? How would your home life change? How would your organization, community, or school grow? How would your world transform?

If you sincerely trust him, God will do wonderful things in you and through you. As you make a positive difference in the world, you will be in marvelous fellowship with the One who made you. You will be engaged in his enterprises, risking your life for him and his kingdom. Focusing on God and not self will make your confidence soar, and you’ll be energized to do and achieve more than you imagined possible.

If you found this article helpful, please subscribe to my blog https://prestonpoore.com/blog/ where I explore faith, leadership, communication and human relations skills that will help you become the best version of yourself.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Pres

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I Was Bullied – My Story and Seven Ways to Prevent It

October 3, 2020
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After I became a Christian in the eighth grade, I shared my newfound faith with everyone. I hoped my relationship with Jesus would be contagious. After a few months of sharing, multiple friends called and asked if they could come to church with me. I was so excited! Some came and responded to the gospel like I had. But others decided that the Christian faith wasn’t for them. These “friends” who’d rejected the message began to reject me as well.

On several occasions, I was physically or verbally threatened because of my beliefs. I was ridiculed and ostracized by my “friends.” Being bullied became a constant pattern in my life. 

One semester, a group of tough guys began intimidating me. They’d sneak up on me and whisper, “Do you want to fight? You’d better watch yourself after school. We’re gonna kick your butt!” They were relentless. The bullies stared and laughed at me in class, followed me down the halls every day, and prevented me from getting into my locker. I was scared to death and felt like no one could help me. 

I didn’t know how to fight back. I was a scrawny, five-foot-two kid who weighed eighty pounds soaking wet. The bullies seemed like they were ten feet tall. Their intimidation became overbearing, so I went to see the school counselor. After hearing my story, he began escorting me to the bike rack after school for the next month. I’d unlock my bike, hop on, and ride like the wind, hoping to get home before the bullies caught me.

One time, I was home alone, and the doorbell rang. Two bullies were at the door. They tried to pull me outside and beat me up—in a nice, middle-class neighborhood, no less! I forced the door shut. They looked for another way into the house, calling me names as I hid inside. I tried to call my neighbors for help. No one was home. I was so scared that the bullies would find a way into my house that I called the police. The bullies left. 

My dad came home, and I told him what happened. Trying to help me, he called the bullies’ parents and had stern conversations with them. Well, you can imagine how the bullies reacted. During P. E. the next day, the bullies told me I’d pay for my dad’s calls. Their threats, intimidation, and pressure grew worse. 

Somehow, through all that, I kept my faith and prayed for God’s protection. I trusted God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV). I surrounded myself with other believers and found support. I was never physically harmed, but I was mentally scarred. 

Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment toward those bullies over the years and wanted to get revenge. It took a long time for me to forgive them and overcome my fear and anger. Being bullied was humiliating and embarrassing. These traumatic episodes molded me at a very early age that had a lasting impact. On one side, they taught me to trust God and persevere. On the other side, I learned how to hide my faith from others as a form of self-protection.

Eventually, I grew out of the five-foot-two frame into a six-foot-one frame. I matured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My confidence grew much stronger and I’m no longer intimidated by bullies. I stick up for myself. But when I sense someone is trying to threaten me or someone else, I have a visceral reaction (i.e. hair standing up on the back of my neck) that motivates me to fight back – stand up for myself and others. This isn’t always good. At times, I can become the aggressor. I’m still a work in progress. God continues shaping me – healing the wounds from long ago, building my faith in him and moderating my reaction to bullies. He’s not done with me yet, but I know that he’ll finish what he started.

***

Statistics show that 20% of children ages 12 to 18 years old experience some type of bullying – unwanted aggressive behavior meant to hurt. Bullying comes in several forms (verbal, social, and physical) and typically occurs in a few locations (school or online). 

How do you prevent bullying? It can be complex. But based on my experience, I recommend the following seven ways:

  • Keep the faith – I ran to God and sought his help in my time of need. He heard my cries and protected me. My faith in him grew deeper because of my experience and he continues to mend me today. 
  • Speak up – If you’re the one being bullied, tell a trusted adult or authority. Don’t be embarrassed. Ask for help. It took me a long time to muster the courage to admit I was being bullied. Ultimately, I told my parents and teachers. My experience may not have lasted as long or been as acute if I’d confided in someone earlier.
  • Surround yourself – seek support, safety and solace with your friends and family. I leaned into my church youth group and will always remember their encouragement.
  • Stick up for yourself – Sometimes you need to dig deep inside and find the courage to overcome your fear. Let the bully know you’re not gonna take it anymore. I’m not condoning violence. I am condoning a deep resolve that prevents anyone from unwanted aggressive behavior. Tell the bully to stop.
  • Be someone’s hero – Don’t stand on the sidelines if you see someone being bullied. Intervene, stick up for the person being bullied, if you see something say something. I wished I had more heroes that were willing to stand up for me. Now, I try to be that hero in someone’s life that I didn’t have.
  • Build awareness and a culture of safety – Teachers, administrators, parents and students can all play a role in bully prevention. Educate everyone on what bullying is and what it isn’t. Teach respect, dignity and what to do if bullying is occurring. Learn to listen. Be empathetic. Protect others.
  • Forgive and forget – It took a long time for me to resolve my feelings of anger and resentment. I learned that it’s not good to hang on to grudges. If you do, you’ll become bitter. The path to becoming better is through forgiveness and forgetting the circumstances – move on.

To learn more about bullying, its effects and how to prevent it, visit: https://www.stopbullying.gov

Lastly, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Support prevention awareness through participating in the weekly campaigns. Visit: https://www.stompoutbullying.org/national-bullying-prevention-awareness-month

Have you ever been bullied? What was your experience? Send me a note at preston@prestonpoore.com to connect and continue the conversation. 

Cheers,

Pres

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JERRY’S KID: My Struggle with CMT and Where I Find Strength

September 7, 2019
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Do you remember Jerry Lewis? He was a famous comedian, actor, and philanthropist. One of his most notable accomplishments in life has been his partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is “any of a group of hereditary diseases characterized by progressive wasting of muscles.”[i]Lewis helped create a telethon that raised sixty million dollars annually to help find an MD cure. Because of his partnership with the MDA, those afflicted with the disease became known as “Jerry’s Kids.” 

Lewis got involved with the MDA because of a childhood experience. He told a story of how he frequently made fun of the way a fellow student walked. Lewis didn’t know that the student had MD. Mocking the student one day, Jerry didn’t recognize that the butt of his joke was in the room. Lewis made eye contact with the student and realized that the ridicule deeply hurt him. This experience profoundly impacted Lewis, and he vowed to help find a cure for the debilitating disease.

Growing up, I remember watching the Jerry Lewis telethons. The fundraisers were televised on Labor Day, lasted twenty-four hours and were broadcast on every channel. Celebrities appeared on the telethons to entertain the TV audience and solicit donations. I was often compelled to go door to door and collect money because of Lewis’ appeal. Every year, I would turn in my collection at McDonald’s and receive free French fries. What a great reward for a kid! Little did I know growing up that I shared a similar condition as those for whom I was raising funds; I found out that I’m one of Jerry’s Kids.

I discovered that I inherited a genetic disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT). CMT is similar to Muscular Dystrophy and affects the peripheral nerves, those nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. The condition causes muscle weakness and atrophy, and some loss of sensation in the feet, the lower legs, the hands, and the forearms.  CMT’s symptoms may include foot deformity (very high-arched feet), foot drop (inability to hold foot horizontal), “slapping” gait (feet slap on the floor when walking because of foot drop), loss of muscle in the lower legs, numbness in the feet, and difficulty with balance. I am not alone; more than 2.8 million, or one in 2,500, people are affected worldwide.[ii]

Why do I share this with you? I’ve experienced considerable physical and emotional adversity because of my condition. Let me explain through a couple of examples. I enjoyed sports when in my youth. I loved to play basketball, football, and tennis. Growing up in Colorado, I also loved to ski. I wasn’t always the fastest on the court, field, or slopes, but I gave it my all. I knew if I couldn’t outrun someone, I could out-hustle him. In my junior year of high school, I noticed that my feet and ankles were becoming weak. I always twisted my ankles, especially my right one. I began to see that I had very skinny legs, my feet had very high arches, and my balance wasn’t steady compared to other kids. I was very embarrassed by my lack of physical stature and ashamed of my condition.

To stabilize my right ankle, I had tendon transfer surgery. The procedure was where my doctor took a tendon from the top of my foot and attached it to the side to limit the ankle’s range of motion; to stabilize the ankle. I went through physical therapy and was back playing sports regularly. Skiing was challenging because my foot didn’t fit well in ski boots and I could no longer do it comfortably; a real bummer! While my ankle was strengthened, my condition was unchanged.

Fast forward to my early career days. My disease progressed, and I noticed my balance became less stable. I remember a sporting event I attended representing my company. I was overseeing an experiential marketing event, and while standing with a group of athletic department folks, I lost my balance and stumbled around a few times. After someone saw me stagger, the individual drew the conclusion that I was drunk and started rumors about me within the athletic department. It was 10 a.m. in the morning, for goodness’ sake! I was very offended by this and ashamed by the fact that I couldn’t even maintain my balance without stumbling.

I could go on and on regarding CMT and its progressive nature. I walk with a limp because of the tendon transfer surgery, have a tough time walking barefoot on hard surfaces, and am always aware of how it appears to others. It is a daily reminder of my weaknesses—physically and emotionally. I wish I didn’t have this challenge.

I can relate to the apostle Paul. He struggled with an ailment and asked God three times to relieve him of it. Christ’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul went on to write, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”[iii]

We are all given something in life to deal with; some adversities, some trials, and some challenges. Similar to Paul, I choose to rejoice in my struggle because it always leads me back to Jesus. I can honestly say that through the power of the Holy Spirit, “when I am weak, I am strong.” I don’t blame God. When I struggle, I talk to the Lord about my resentment and shame. I don’t concentrate on my circumstances, I focus on him. He is my everything, my strength, and my shield. He is the source of my hope, joy, and strength. I know he loves me and desires the very best for me. How? Because I know that my identity is not in being one of Jerry’s Kids but in being one of Jesus’s kids

My struggle forced me to identify talents, skills, and abilities other than physical ones. For instance, I developed the ability to effectively communicate through writing and speaking. I discovered long ago that something special happens inside of me when I speak in public—I feel God’s pleasure. I find great satisfaction in connecting with an audience and moving them to action. Amid my struggle, God has blessed me way beyond what I deserve. My life is overflowing, and I am so blessed with a wonderful wife, kids, extended family, friends, and career. I have an attitude of gratitude that swells up to thankfulness and praise. The God of the universe loves me, and he’s working in me. He’s made all the difference. What a joy! How about you? Can you say the same? Are you experiencing God’s joy and living an abundant life in your adversity? If not, what’s holding you back? How about trusting him? If you do, you’ll experience great joy!


To learn more about CMT or donate to help us find a cure, go to www.cmtusa.org


[i]Merriam-Webster, I. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

[ii]Ibid.

[iii]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2001, 2 Corinthians 12:9–10.

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THE DREAM LIVES: 3 Powerful Lessons I Learned on the Road to Publishing

August 6, 2019

“Hi Preston, I’m interested in taking on your project and representing you.”

Those are the exhilarating words I’d longed to hear. But the journey to that shining moment was trying. You see, a few months ago, my former agent stepped away from the literary agency and publishing world. He dropped me like a hot potato.  

Seeking new representation, I sent out several agency inquiries with no response. I began thinking I was running out of options to publish my book traditionally. I felt broken, rejected, and disheartened. I’d worked onThe Discipled Leader(TDL) for ten years and began to question God. Here’s what I wrote in my journal last month:

I’m depressed. I feel it in my bones. So much to do but little enthusiasm. I’m experiencing the “Black Dog,” as Winston Churchill called it. Why? I’m struggling with TDL. Should I keep on or move on? Am wasting my time? I keep telling myself that God gave me the message, the calling to write. Not so sure. Maybe it’s all in my head.

So, what does life look like if I stop pursuing TDL? Why did I start in the first place? I feel alone on this journey. God’s been quiet and seems absent. I lashed out at God a couple of days ago and told him how frustrated I am. First honest comments in a while. Not sure how he takes me.

I don’t want to shrink back, but I feel like I’m losing my vision, my vigor. I don’t want to retire and live a secluded life. I want to answer God’s call to make disciples. Somehow, someway. I want to be found faithful with the time, talents, and resources he’s given me. I must be in the “messy middle,” the “now and not yet.”

Just stop? No more blogging, no more speaking, no more platform building? Oh Lord, this will require your intervention for it to succeed. But what does success look like? Helping someone grow in Christ and become a positive influence in his or her world. It’s not about a creed or a cause. It’s about Christ. It’s all about him. It’s not about me.

If I self-publish the book, then what? Sell a few copies, then what? I can say I’m a published author. Big deal. Is it about my resume? Or is it about discipling people? What’s my vision? Is it bigger than just publishing a book? Is it about helping people reach their potential in Christ? TDL’s content provides a framework for Christians to make the connection between their spiritual and secular lives. Christ working in them and through them, changing them and changing the world around them. 

I believe Jesus transforms our lives and transformed lives transform cultures. No specific cause. It’s about stemming the tide of evil in today’s society. Healing relationships, families, being a positive force in our businesses, schools, communities, and churches.

I get all of this, but I feel like a fish swimming up-stream — only one man. Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I’m fearful of success. I have many self-limiting beliefs. I propose, but you dispose. You engineer all circumstances. You work all things for the good of those who love you. May you receive the credit, the glory, the praise. I crave affirmation, but I pray my affirmation comes from you, not the world.

Lord, if you’re listening this morning, at 5:56 am, would you please fill me, lift my spirits, allow me to walk with you, to hear from you, to be in your presence. I seek you. I need you. Please.

That day, encouragement began coming out of the blue. I received affirming emails and texts from friends that didn’t know I was struggling. 

Then, Jay called. 

Jay’s a business associate who’d read some of my blogs. He asked me about the content, why I wrote them and then shared that he was a believer as well. He told me that he struggled with being a Christian in the workplace and that he found value in what I wrote. He felt encouraged by the messages.

I thanked him for his comments and then told him about my recent setback. I shared with him that God seemed very quiet and had abandoned me. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue pursuing my dream.

Jay said, “God is often quiet when he’s already told us what to do. Be obedient to his calling. It will happen in his timing. And know that God hasn’t abandoned you. He will finish what he started. I think the world needs to hear what you have to say.”

Wow.

I hung up the phone and cried in my office. I got on my knees and thanked God for his encouragement through others. I was inspired, determined not to give up.

About a week later, I was sitting at my desk, working away when the phone rang. The caller ID said “Lancaster, CA.” I figured it was another robocall and I shouldn’t answer. But, for some reason, I picked up the phone and on the other end was Steve, a literary agent.

He said, “Hi Preston, I’m interested in taking on your project and representing you.”

Wow.

Steve and I talked about TDL’s platform and my vision for the book. After our conversation, he said he’d call in a few days.

Well, a few days passed, and I got anxious. I figured “what the heck” and so I called him. Steve answered the phone and said he’d like to represent me. I thanked him, and as we hung up the phone, I began jumping for joy.

The dream is alive, and I can’t be more grateful.

The journey to find another agent was wearisome. I doubted God and was honest with him. He heard my cry, and when I was just about to give up, he responded beyond my imagination. I am so thankful for the opportunity and the journey to date.

Speaking of the journey, here are three powerful lessons I’ve learned during my recent circumstances:

#1 The Power of Prayer– Prayer is powerful because of the one to whom we pray. I continue relearning this and that I need to constantly bring my worries, doubts, and fears to God. When I express my concerns, share what’s on my heart, and am honest with God, he hears me and fills me with peace. The Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6–7 MSG). 

#2 The Power of Patience– Waiting is hard. It takes patience. There is an old maxim, “patience is a virtue, which all admire, but few attain.”[1]But the Bible says, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29–31 ESV) I learned that if I wait on God and am patient, he’ll strengthen me in trying times.

#3 The Power of Encouragement– Congressman George M. Adams once said encouragement is “oxygen to the soul.” So true! Encouragement provides energy and enthusiasm. It builds others up and helps them overcome adversity. Mark Twain wrote, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” The Bible says, “Gracious speech is like clover honey— good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.“ (Proverbs 16.24 MSG). Positive, uplifting words matter and make a difference. God encouraged me through others. I found hope and was inspired to keep on working toward my dream.

If you’re struggling to realize your dream and feel like giving up, I charge you to seek God and tap into the power of prayer, patience, and encouragement. If you do, you’ll find peace, strength, and hope to keep going.


[1]Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained(p. 357). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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The Email: 3 Ways to Handle Rejection and Overcome Setbacks

May 4, 2019

Ever had one of those days when you’ve labored for hours with sweat and tears on a project but encountered a significant setback? I did this week. Here’s my story. . .

Last Monday, I was leading a conference call and briefly looked at my phone to check emails. One of the subject lines caught my attention, “Changes at Tenet.” I immediately opened the email and read the grim news, “Unfortunately, this means that the representation agreement between you and our agency will be terminated”… .Ugh.

I began writing The Discipled Leader in 2010. I’ve invested countless hours on The Discipled Leaderbecause I believe its message is critical in today’s world. I ask the question, “How does one connect his or her secular and spiritual life in their business, community or school and become stronger leaders?” I believe we become better leaders through knowing and following Jesus; through discipleship. 

Since I began writing, I collaborated with two editors to complete a 10-chapter, 67,000-word manuscript. I attended a writer’s conference, began writing a bi-weekly blog, trained groups of people, attended platform building courses and employed a digital marketing firm to build awareness. I even secured book endorsements from Dan Cathy, CEO Chick-fil-a, Paul Martinelli, President of the John Maxwell Team and Bryant Wright, Lead Pastor of Atlanta’s Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. 

But my most significant milestone was signing with a literary agency, Tenet. My agent was Waldo. I’ll never forget Waldo’s call to me last April. After a long period of consideration, Tenet would sign me and represent The Discipled Leader to publishers. It seemed a lifelong dream was coming true.

The challenge is I rarely ever heard from Waldo. I’d send emails, leave voicemails, and send texts with little or no response. When I did hear from him, I’d ask about his strategy and approach. I never received specifics other than he’d sent my book proposal to top publishers and was awaiting email responses. He only told me that silence in the publishing industry is a good thing and the process may take 18 to 24 months to find a publisher. Not very assuring but I decided to trust him.

I’ve also been praying diligently for God’s help. Author and Pastor Andy Stanley says that God-given vision requires God intervention. Meaning, if God gave you a vision or dream, he will make it come true. I’ve been talking to God about the vision he gave me and seeking his help to get the book into the hands of people that need to read it.

That’s why the email subject line caught my attention last week; “Changes at Tenet” . . .

Good morning, Preston:

I am writing today to let you know that as a result of some health struggles, I have made the difficult decision to step away from agenting, effective immediately. Tenet will not be replacing me at any point in the near future. Unfortunately, this means that the representation agreement between you and Tenet will be terminated– you should expect to receive a termination letter from Tenet’s president in the next week or so. 

You are free to seek new representation immediately. If you need any guidance in this area, feel free to reach out. My Tenet email will be online through May 1st, but I can also be reached on my personal email… .It has been a privilege to work with you, and I’ll be praying for your success!

REJECTED!

I reached out to Tenet’s president for reconsideration but to no avail. He said they were keeping four of Waldo’s agented authors and didn’t have the capacity to represent me. He wrote:

It [The Discipled Leader] is an important topic, and the presentation is well done; your social media is improving steadily, but it is not yet what our publishers would consider successful. It wouldn’t be fair to your next agent to continue down the path we’ve gone, so I’ll be sending out a letter today confirming our decision. A fresh pair of eyes may be just what the project needs to get over the hump.

REJECTED AGAIN!

The funny thing is that I’m at peace with it. I truly believe that God engineers all circumstances and this setback is just part of the journey. While my search for a new agent begins again, I’ve made the decision not to become bitter or quit. I will press on. Why? Because I believe The Discipled Leader’smessage is essential. It helps people become better leaders through growing closer to Jesus, becoming his disciples. There is no higher call than that. 

***

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced rejection. How about you? Have you heard anything like?

  • We like your work and skill set, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction
  • We regret to inform you that you’ve not been accepted
  • I’m afraid we have to pass on your proposal

All of us will experience some form or fashion of rejection during our lifetimes. The question is, how do we handle rejection? Here’s what I’ve learned . . .

It Hurts: I wish I could tell you that the news I received didn’t affect me. It was tough reading Waldo’s email in the middle of a meeting and trying to stay focused. I was angry, frustrated and deeply disappointed all at the same time. I said a brief prayer to God and sought his help. I said, “Lord, if this is a vision you gave me, please intervene and make a way for this dream to come true.” Over a short period, I processed my emotions and decided not to be a victim. I shifted my thoughts and silenced my inner critic. I pivoted from doubting to believing and remembered that the rejection didn’t define me.

Remember Why: I wrote The Discipled Leaderto help others become better leaders through discipleship. I’ve seen God use the message and content to make a positive difference in many lives. The book and platform are my calling. I want to glorify God and make him know. That’s my “why.” A little rejection won’t deter me from my calling or mission.

Keep Going: Rejection can be considered a setback; an obstacle, delay or circumstance that prevents you from advancing. However, the key is to persevere, not give up and continue to take risks. I take comfort from the list of famous books that were rejected multiple times by editors, agents and publishers including Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Moby Dick, The Wizard of Ozand Chicken Soup for the Soul. Recognize any of them? I know if I keep going, something good will happen, God willing.

I’m very encouraged by what the future may hold. I remain steadfast in my mission. 

When you encounter rejection or other setbacks, I hope that you will acknowledge that it hurts, remember your why and keep on keeping on. If you do, you’ll be on the road to achieving your dream.

***

If you enjoyed reading this article and benefited by it, would you help me by doing two things?

  • SHARE the post on social media
  • DOWNLOAD the FREE chapter from my soon to be published book, The Discipled Leader. Please read it, share your thoughts with me and pass it along to someone who may benefit from the chapter’s message. Click on the header “Free Chapter” for more details.

Thanks for reading!

Pres

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THE WIRE – How to Handle Life’s Trials

March 23, 2019

 

“Pray, but don’t pray too hard,” the doctor said with reservation. . .. “This is the most extreme case I’ve ever seen and I don’t want you to get your hopes up” . . .

The words hit us like a ton of bricks.

My wife, Carla, just learned that her teeth, gums, and bones in her mouth were rapidly deteriorating. She could lose five of her front lower teeth and may need implants. 

The doctor told her that she had a rare and unique case caused by a post orthotic permanent retainer on the back of her lower teeth. The retainer wireuntwisted over time and contorted her teeth out of place.

If you’ve ever had braces and a permanent retainer wire glued to the back of your teeth after the braces were removed, you know what I’m talking about…The purpose of the wire is to ensure that your teeth stay in place long term. A very common procedure.

Back to my story.

There was a glimmer of hope. Carla’s doctor was world renowned for his periodontics results. He’d developed a radical procedure that combined skin and bone grafting, and braces. The doctor’s procedure restored many people with gum and bone loss.

But hadn’t ever seen a case like Carla’s.

With the grim diagnosis, Carla became depressed and embarressed. You can imagine the despair, anxiety, and hurt she experienced.

We began to pray amid Carla’s gloomy trial. We believed that God would hear our cries and heal Carla. We saw the doctor’s doubt that prayer would make a difference as a challenge. We decided to turn to God, put our trust in him and fervently seek his healing.

I wrote in my journal. . .

The doctor encouraged us to “pray, but not pray too hard”.  He doesn’t want us to get our hopes up.  But we serve a great and generous God.  He can do a miracle for Carla.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if the doctors who see this as a great case study, see God work a miracle and have no other explanation to her healing?  Please Lord, do this. Please heal Carla’s mouth. Please help the teeth to move back into place and restore her bones.  Help her not lose her teeth.  If not, you are still my God and I pray that Carla will continue to trust in you and grow in her faith.

Carla endured lengthy oral surgery. The doctor expertly grafted skin and bone to re-establish her teeth. Then, braces were put on to keep the teeth in place. She said it was the most excruciating pain she’d ever experienced including childbirth.

Initially, her outcome was uncertain. Carla frequently visited her periodontist, orthodontist and dentist to evaluate progress. Always hoping for good news but being prepared for the worst.

And, we continued to pray and boldly hoped that God would work a miracle. 

Over time, Carla’s mouth healed. She didn’t lose five teeth. She didn’t need implants. Her bone and surrounding gums were restored. Her teeth stabilized. 

Through the skilled physician’s hands, God was faithful. He led Carla to the periodontist who could help her. In spite of the dire prognosis, God did a miracle and healed Carla.

Carla was a true champion through the whole trial and process. She never gave up hope. Carla maintained an incredibly positive attitude and trusted God with the outcome.

And, she kept her beautiful, contagious smile that lightens up every room and makes the world a better place.

During one of her last check-ups, the doctor told her, “you’ve made great progress. You’ll probably be buried with your teeth!”. . . A funny way of saying, your teeth are healthy and permanent.

And interestingly, Carla’s mouth became famous! The doctor now shares her case study around the world and helps other doctors apply what he learned.

God is faithful and we are so thankful for his healing Carla’s mouth. 

***

Through this and many other challenging circumstances, I’ve learned . . .

Trials Are Meant to Bring the Best Out of You: The Bible says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So, don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 – The Message). God brings trials into your life to separate the pure from the impure. He puts you in situations that reveal your true character (e.g., integrity), show your devotion to him, and to help your faith grow. God wants the best of you.

Live Life with Bold Hope: Have you ever heard the phrase “hope is not a strategy”. I agree with the statement but always counter with, “but hope is essential.” Why? Hope is the expectant confidence in a positive outcome or future. Hope shapes your ability to navigate through current circumstances. Hope helps you be a better problem solver, remain flexible, be optimistic, handle disappointment and manage stress. Where do you find hope? God! The Bible says, “May the God of great hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Romans 15:12-13 – The Message). Trust in God, and he will enable you to live life with bold hope.

Above All Else, Pray:  When you find yourself in the midst of dire circumstances, talk to God. Tell him about what’s happening and seek his help. He will either calm you or calm the storms of life that surround you. The Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 – The Message). In all events, pray, and God will help you.

I acknowledge that not all circumstances or trials result in immediate, tangible or positive outcomes like Carla’s. But I encourage you to understand that trials are meant to bring the best out of you, live life with bold hope and above all else, pray. If you turn to God and look to him, he will help you.

***

If you enjoyed reading this article and benefited by it, would you help me by doing two things?

#1 – SHAREthe post on social media

#2 DOWNLOADthe FREE chapter from my soon to be published book, The Discipled Leader. Please read it, share your thoughts with me and pass it along to someone who may benefit from the chapter’s message. Click on the header “Free Chapter Offer” for more details.

Thanks for reading!

Preston Poore

 

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THE CHASE – OVERCOMING FEAR WITH FAITH

February 23, 2019

 

Panicked by the rapid footsteps closing in behind me, I began sprinting as fast as I could. My heart was racing, my chest became tight and I struggled to breathe. I was being chased by a pack of wolves. For some reason, the alpha male-targeted me and I was the pack’s prey. Maybe they sensed weakness or vulnerability. The wolf pack chased me for a long period of time and I could sense they were about to catch me. 

I dripped with sweat, fearful of what was about to happen. Exhausted from the chase, I slowed and was attacked by the pack. Amazingly, I found the strength to fight back and somehow escape. I was severely injured. It would take a long time to heal and overcome my fears. I couldn’t shake my experience with the alpha male and his pack. I was always fearful that another pack of wolves was waiting for me wherever I went. Out of self-protection, I wanted to make sure no one saw any weaknesses or vulnerabilities. I didn’t want to become a target again; someone’s prey.

During my last year at Hershey Chocolate, I was targeted by Jack Boss and his pack of wolves. Jack was the Sales VP and was an intimidating figure. He had wolf-like features. One blue eye and another green. Grey hair and a skin color to match. His ears were always on alert, sensing opportunities to pounce on someone. He’d earned the reputation as a dictator. It was his way or the highway. If you didn’t conform to his methods, he’d devour you. . .Your career at Hershey would be over.

At first, Jack Boss liked me. I came out of the Sales Development program, a two-year Hershey boot camp for high potentials, and was assigned as the Hershey market key account manager. I excelled in the Sales Development role and Jack appreciated my get it done aggressive nature.

But I was over-confident and made a number of political mistakes early on. For example, I was assigned to call on Giant Foods Headquarters in Carlisle, PA, just outside of Hershey. Because of the headquarters proximity to the town of Hershey, a number of Hershey Chocolate executives including Jack Boss were involved in the account. Giant Food’s management told me that they wanted me to be the sole call point; “too many chiefs in the teepee” they said. I told Jack and he didn’t like it. But he agreed to withdraw from the account and see what would happen.

I felt empowered to make decisions with Giant Foods management. In a collaborative fashion with the buyer, we implemented key product selection and promotion changes to improve the business. 

But Jack disagreed with the decisions. And, he held a grudge against me for his withdrawing from Giant’s business. 

That’s when the chase began.

Jack Boss started scrutinizing every plan I developed and the decisions I made. During meetings, he’d publicly challenge me and demean me in front of my peers. I stopped being invited to key Hershey meetings. He pulled all administrative support. And, he personally reviewed all of my expense reports looking for something wrong.

Then, his pack began to surround me. 

Hershey, PA is a small town. When my family lived there, the population was 12,000 people and 5,000 of them worked for Hershey. I was literally under a microscope because of my key account role. Every new product launch or promotion execution was there for everyone to see – the good and the bad. If something was wrong, I’d get the call to fix it. The scrutiny became more intense as Jack Boss encouraged his pack to contact me if something was amiss. And, they did.

I worked even harder hoping that my performance and results would speak for themselves. But it got to the point where it seemed I couldn’t do anything right. My negative self-talk was deafening and the stress was overwhelming. I remember I got a twitch in my right eye that wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t sleep and was continuously anxious. I was scared of losing my job, frightened of failure, afraid of letting my young family down, petrified of being stuck in Central PA, and worried I’d be unemployable. I began believing I was a failure, a loser. I was being crushed by Jack Boss and my circumstances. I was in a doom loop and felt hopeless.

Then, I prayed.

I told God about my circumstances, which he already knew. I pursued him, his protection, and his refuge. I asked God for courage and that he’d help me find a way out, a way to elude the wolves. And, I gradually began replacing the negative self-talk with positive inner conversations.

God strengthened me as I trusted him. He restored my hope. I found the confidence to pull things together and put an exit plan in place. I began working with an executive recruiter and eventually landed my dream job with The Coca-Cola Company. Our family moved back to the Southeast and my salary increased by 30%! God was good.

Through the interview process, I realized that my experience in Hershey prepared me to secure my new role. But I was still injured from Jack Boss and the wolf pack attacks. For years, I didn’t trust upper management. I was fearful that all managers were like Jack Boss. Out of self-preservation, I wouldn’t say much in front of them. And when I did, I’d stutter and stammer through my comments just waiting to be challenged or embarrassed. Also, I ran out of fear that something would go wrong and I’d be fired. 

It took a long time to heal these wounds and overcome my fears. It wasn’t easy. God continued working in me and changing me from the inside out. Eventually, I realized that everyone I encountered wasn’t out to get me. It was okay to make mistakes. And that there are some great people leaders out there. 

For the believer, what is the key to overcoming fear? . . .

***

Discipled Leaders Overcome Fear with Faith

Fear is a powerful human emotion that impacts everyone, including leaders. Fear is triggered when you anticipate physical harm or a perceived threat. Fear elicits physical responses like sweating, rapid heartbeat, and weakness. Apprehension creates doubts, insecurity, and low self-esteem. Fright also evokes apathy, inaction, and ignorance. Chronic fear can impact your overall well-being. Fear can cripple and render you ineffective. 

Studies show that top fears include failure, success, dying, commitment, public speaking, rejection, making the wrong decision, criticism, taking responsibility, and the unknown. (Aside from dying, which of those don’tleaders face on a daily basis?) Other fears include being found out or exposed, not living up to expectations, making people mad, conflict, being honest, and fearing what others think. That’s a pretty exhaustive list.

I learned a long time ago that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real, meaning that one’s perceptions drive negative emotions and thinking. For example, everyone engages in a daily conversation with themselves. Studies show that we have “12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day and as many as 98 percent of them are exactly the same as we had the day before.”[i] This self-talk is often unconstructive and damaging. As a matter of fact, eight out of ten thoughts we have each day are negative.[ii] Do the math. That’s up to 48,000 negative thoughts daily. Don’t believe me? Think about the lies you tell yourself every day. Have you ever found yourself thinking: 

I am unworthy. 

I can’t lead. 

I am a failure. 

I’m not good enough. 

No one loves me or cares for me. 

I don’t belong anywhere. 

I have no purpose. 

I’m weak. 

This will never work. 

I must be perfect. 

It’s too late to pursue my dream. 

The battle against fear begins in your mind. With all of the negative thoughts, where do you turn? How do you overcome fear?

A discipled leader overcomes fear through faith. He or she understands that fear or faith will rule their hearts and minds depending on which one they feed the most. If you feed your fears, they will dominate. If you feed your faith, fear will diminish. Activate your faith and seek God in times of despair, doubt, panic or terror. Here are a few suggestions for how to do that:

Pursue God: Pray, worship, and read his word. Lean into and earnestly seek him. The Bible says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 ESV). If you pursue God in the midst of fear, he’ll encourage, strengthen, and deliver you.

Take refuge in God: God will provide protection and safety in times of distress. The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 ESV). Look to him and he’ll shelter you.

Stop the negative self-talk: “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV). Make the intentional shift toward more Christ-centered and positive thoughts every day. What if your self-talk sounded more like:

Because of Christ, I am worthy.

I can lead.

I am successful.

I’m good enough.

I’m loved and cared for.

I do belong.

I have a purpose.

I’m strong.

This will work.

I can make mistakes.

It’s never too late to pursue my dream. 

Fear is infectious, and followers won’t support or commit to you if they sense fear within you. On the other hand, courage is just as contagious, and people will follow if they see courage within you.

Are you struggling with fear? Learn from my experience and practice the above principles. I learned that if you pursue God, take refuge in him and stop the negative self-talk, you will overcome your fears and become a courageous leader!

***

If you enjoyed reading this article and benefited by it, would you help me by?

SHARING the post on social media

DOWNLOAD the FREE chapter from my soon to be published book, The Discipled Leader. Please read it, share your thoughts with me and pass it along to someone who may benefit from the chapter’s message. Click on the header “Free Chapter Offer” for more details.


[i]http://www.jenniferhawthorne.com/articles/change_your_thoughts.html

[ii]Ibid.

 

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Becoming a God-Confident Leader

January 26, 2019

 

A couple of years ago, I enrolled in a Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, CO. Since the conference was held in May, I decided to commute back and forth to the YMCA from my parent’s home in Fort Collins. My typical route to Estes Park was closed due to flooding and road construction. The detour to Estes Park was through Hwy 36, a winding and scenic 90-minute drive.  

May is a beautiful time of year in Colorado. But sometimes the weather can be very unpredictable. That’s when I met Valarie – Winter Storm Valarie that is…On May 18, 2017, Estes Park and the surrounding area received over 30 inches of snow. To get a feel for the road conditions, view the following videl: https://youtu.be/28L1CAQqZ8M?t=5

The snowstorm limited my attendance at the writer’s conference. I was very frustrated by the circumstances I’d encountered and here’s what I recorded in my journal:

Bummed…I came to Colorado to attend a Christian Writers Conference with the goal of connecting with publishers and agents and learning how to market my book, “The Discipled Leader.”  I attended the first day but missed the rest of the confrence.  You see, I made some bad decisions and circumstances beyond my control prevented me from going.  I planned to commute back and forth to Mom and Dad’s house during the conference. The weather forecast predicted heavy snowfall in Estes Park beginning Wednesday night.  I thought that I could commute on Wednesday and then travel back up to Estes Park on Thursday morning, stay at the YMCA through Friday night and come back on Saturday.

It was snowing hard when I woke up Thursday morning.  The night before, I dreamed about my journey up Hwy 36 into Estes Park and the snow storm.  I stressed out during my dream and felt like I heard “don’t go.”  But I did.  I felt confident that I was going to make it up the pass because the road would be plowed and sanded.  Heck, I grew up in Colorado and knew I could handle the conditions. Or so I thought. . .

Things began to deteriorate as I drove up the canyon. Rounding a bend, I saw a line of cars and police lights on top of the mountain in front of me.  It was snowing hard, and the road was becoming more treacherous.  I stopped a van that’d turned around and was coming back down the mountain.  The driver told me that the police closed the road and weren’t letting anyone through. After experiencing the conditions and hearing what the driver said, I had no choice, I had to turn around and go back home before the storm worsened.

Timing – one other circumstance…When I drove home Wednesday night, the low-pressure tire sensor came on.  Dad and I took it to a local dealership to have them check it first thing Thursday morning. The mechanic filled the tire with air but wouldn’t fix the leak because we didn’t have an appointment.  So, I went to another tire place. The good news is that they took me right away. The helpful mechanic found a nail in the tire, plugged the hole and finished in 15 minutes.  And, I guess because of the troubled look on my face, they didn’t charge me.  But my tire escapade delayed my morning departure.

So, I left later than I planned.  Had I left 30 to 45 minutes earlier, I may have made it to Estes Park, but I didn’t. Because of the Winter Storm Valarie, I wrote the conference lead to tell her that I wasn’t going to be able to make the rest of the conference and requested a refund.  The whole thing was a missed opportunity.

I don’t know why this happened.  I don’t understand.  Maybe I never will.  I’m very frustrated with God…I’m trying to “love him and develop people,” to disciple others.  But I seem to be thwarted, resisted at every turn.  It seems that all paths are going nowhere and all of the opportunities are drying up.  Staying with Dad through Sunday morning and heading home.

Maybe you hear the frustration in my voice. At the time, I couldn’t understand why the circumstances turned out the way they appeared. But here’s the rest of the story…

Because of the snow storm and my returning to my parent’s house, I was able to invest the rest of the weekend with my Dad. My Mom was traveling, and Dad was at home alone for a few weeks. We hung out together and talked about life. Toward the end of the weekend, I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with Dad. He later gave his life to the Lord, but that’s a whole different story.

Lastly, my enrollment in the writer’s conference afforded me the opportunity for paid agent or publisher 1:1s and was the main reason I enrolled in the conference. The goal of meeting with the agents and publishers was to pitch my book and receive feedback hoping all along that an agent would sign me. You can imagine the disappointment of not getting the chance to network with agents and publishers when you’ve been working on a manuscript for seven years. 

But God was good. After the conference, I contacted some of the agents and told them my circumstances. Several of them agreed to meet with me over the phone. One of the agents I spoke with encouraged me to keep writing with the help of an editor. A year and lots of hard work later, I signed a contract with Credo Communications literary agency to represent my book to publishers.

I didn’t see it, but God was working out my circumstances even though I couldn’t see it at the time. If I’d attended all of the conference, I’d missed the opportunity to invest time with my Dad and share the Gospel with him. And, God made a way to sign with an agent even though it appeared my efforts were fruitless.

Three verses come to mind:

#1 – “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) – God governs our world and engineers all circumstances. I had a plan, and in the midst of what seemed like a fruitless of string events, God worked things out. 

#2 – “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:28 MSG) – For the Christian, the events in our lives are worked into good. We may not see it right away or ever. In the midst of my circumstances, I couldn’t see what good could come from striking out. But what I saw as striking out turned into an opportunity for something more significant.

#3 – “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track” (Proverbs 3:5-6) – Trusting God and that’s he’s got your back will make a big difference in how you see events in your life unfold.

What about you? What happens when you encounter circumstances that don’t work out the way you planned? Do you trust that God engineers all circumstances and works every detail into something good? Friend, I encourage you to trust God with all of your plans, and if you do, you’ll become a God-confident leader. 

 

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Leaders Make a Positive Difference without Knowing the Long-Term Results

June 9, 2018

A long time ago, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my right shoulder. Years of athletic wear and tear slowly eroded the cartilage to a point where my joint became bone on bone. Ouch! I lost range of motion and couldn’t throw a ball with my right arm.

Fast forward to last year. My shoulder began freezing up regularly and my arthritic pain was unbearable. I could definitely tell when the weather was about to change by a deep ache stretching from my shoulder to my fingertips. I finally decided to ask my doctor about what I should do. He recommended physical therapy. He told me that my workplace had an on-site PT and he’d refer me. I looked at him with doubt that PT could help but what the heck, I’d give it a try.

That’s when I connected with Vanessa. I began a year-long journey with her to strengthen my shoulder. Every appointment, she had a well thought out plan about how to help me get better. Through a series of strengthening exercises, my shoulder began to stabilize and I regained limited use. Vanessa had a great ability to ask thoughtful questions, genuinely listen, and encourage my progress. Her enthusiasm and sense of humor were contagious.

Every once and a while, she’d suggest that I see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation. Eventually, I took her suggestion and went to see the doctor. After reviewing my x-rays and performing his test, the surgeon looked at me and said “it’s not a matter of if you need surgery but when. You need a full shoulder replacement. If you elect to have the operation, your range of motion and strength will return. And best of all, your arthritis will disappear”.

I made the difficult decision to have surgery, spend six weeks in a sling and with the understanding it’d take up to 18 months to regain full range of motion. A couple of weeks after my operation, it was time to return working with Vanessa to rehabilitate and re-educate my right shoulder. We made tremendous progress and I’m happy to say I’m feeling awesome.

My shoulder journey and successful healing were due in great part to Vanessa’s help. I’m not alone. She’s helped hundreds of others where I work. One day, I asked her about the secret to her success.

“Vanessa, why do you think you’re so successful as a Physical Therapist?”, I asked.

“I think technically, I’m just average. I know and do all of the things a typical PT does,” she replied.

She paused and said, “I think it’s not what I do but how I do it. I make every effort to connect with my patients on a personal level and I believe that’s the key.”

Vanessa continued, “Honestly, I’m not sure how successful I am. I’m not sure I make a difference.”

“Really?”, I asked. “Why do you say that?”

She said, “My job can be transactional. People come to me needing to get better. I work with them and once they improve our relationship ends and I never see them again.”

I could tell what she just said discouraged her. I said, “Vanessa, every time I mention to someone at the office that I’m working with you, inevitably someone’s face lights up and he or she tells me about how great you are, how much you helped them and how thankful they are for you.”

I continued, “You may or may not see it but you are making a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Vanessa smiled and said, “Thank you. You’re right. I rarely hear or see the long-term results of my work. Hearing what you said encourages me and renews my confidence in what I do.”

Vanessa’s not only a great PT but also a wonderful role model. Not knowing the long-term results of her work, she still pours herself into it, connecting with her patients and knowing what she does makes a difference.

How about you? As a leader, do you pour yourself into others knowing that you may not see the long-term results? Do you help develop people in their journey knowing that you may see them reach their potential?

Leaders, I encourage you to invest in others not knowing the specific results. If you do, you’ll make a positive impact just like Vanessa does.

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Managing Micromanagers

May 25, 2018

My team and I were invited to a strategic business partner’s corporate headquarters to think about what’s possible and innovate. I viewed the trip as an excellent opportunity to retreat, bond as a team and shape our future.

I approached my manager, Kevin, about the opportunity. He hesitated and then said, “Most trips like these end up being boondoggles. Do you think you’re going to accomplish anything?”

“Yes, I do. I’m confident that we’ll come back with fresh ideas and take our business to the next level”, I replied.

Kevin said, “I have my doubts. I tell you what, put together an agenda with specific objectives and I’ll take a look. If I agree with your proposal, I’ll okay the trip.”

“Great and thanks. I’ll come back to you shortly”, I said.

Over the next few days, I collaborated with my team and our business partner to develop a very specific agenda and desired outcome. Then, I shared it with Kevin. A chronic micromanager, he asked us to make multiple changes to the plan. Once the topics were aligned with Kevin’s feedback, he begrudgingly agreed to let us go.

My team jumped into action and made the necessary coverage arrangements to ensure we could break away with limited distractions. We activated our email out of office messages notifying internal customers that we were out for a short time and provided backup contact information.

The next day, we loaded the van and headed to our destination. My team was beaming with excitement and anticipation. They’d been on trips like this before and understood the potential our retreat held. As we drove, we connected on both personal and professional levels. We talked optimistically about how we could advance our vision of being industry leaders and indispensable partners.

When we arrived, we were escorted into our business partner’s innovation lab where all of the futuristic designs inspired us. Next, we moved into a creative thinking lab to begin formulating ideas and developing plans.

Then, the first email hit… And another… And another. A series of 10 or more emails from Kevin appeared on our iPhones within 30 minutes. He was following up on projects, providing feedback and checking in… Just to let us know he was there.

His last email’s subject line read, TURN OFF YOUR OUT OF OFFICE MESSAGE.

In the body of the email, Kevin wrote that having our out of office message turned on sent the wrong message to leadership and internal customers. It was our job to be accessible at all times regardless of what we were doing or who was covering for us.

I thought to myself, “Ugh. Really? If that isn’t micromanagement, I don’t know what is.”

I looked around the room and saw discouragement, frustration, and anger on my team’s faces. Some became distracted and anxious. Everyone began to disengage from the creative thinking discussion mentally.

At a break, I gathered my team to ask their thoughts about the emails. They shared with me that they went to great lengths to ensure our time away would be productive and distraction free. They wondered if it was a mistake to take the trip. Kevin’s micromanagement tendencies surfaced, and the team felt disenfranchised.

I understood their concerns. I asked the team to return to the meeting and told them that I’d gently respond to Kevin’s emails. I asked them to not make a mountain out of a molehill and turn off the out of office messages. Lastly, I asked them to stay focused on the purpose of our meeting and ignore distractions.

The good news is that the team returned to the meeting and developed a visionary plan. Also, I ran interference by answering Kevin’s emails and asking the team to turn off the out of office messages. By engaging Kevin on behalf of the team, I was able to assuage his need to feel in control. We didn’t hear from him again during our trip.

***

Micromanagers can be burdensome. I know from personal experience. Here’s what I learned:

  • Remember Who You’re Working For– If you keep your eyes on God and embrace the fact that you’re ultimately working for him, you’ll maintain a positive attitude regardless the circumstance. The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23 NLT)
  • Submission Is Key– It’s easy to work for a great boss. The hard part is working for and submitting to a bad boss…. But when you do, God is pleased. The Bible says, “You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re treated badly for no good reason. There’s no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. (1 Peter 2:18–20 – The Message)
  • Bite Your Tongue– I disciplined myself to communicate in a positive way and to not show irritation if I became frustrated. The Bible says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1 – NLT)

In spite of desperate circumstances, I grew leaps and bounds during the three years I worked with Kevin. I learned to cope with his management style in the short term. Eventually, I realized that Kevin’s style and mine weren’t compatible, the intense micromanagement I experienced wasn’t sustainable, and I decided to move into another role.

I challenge you to apply the above principles, and if you do, you’ll manage through a micromanager.

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Preston Poore

I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.

As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.

Let me help you reach your potential.

I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.

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