Attitude

Time to Fly: Reflections on My Last Day at The Coca-Cola Company

June 30, 2022

I am writing this on a plane to somewhere, thinking about retiring from The Coca-Cola Company after 21.5 years. That’s almost 8,000 days, 192,000 hours, 40% of my life working for one employer. I resolved to stay at Coke after job-hopping across different companies (e.g., AmSouth Bank, Ralston Purina, Dale Carnegie Training, and Hershey Chocolate).

A friend told me that once folks become part of the beverage industry, they typically stay. But staying long-term with TCCC was always uncertain. I’ve often compared working at TCCC to being a member of Congress. You’re up for re-election every two years, and once elected, your campaign starts all over again. I’ve experienced 11 re-organizations averaging about one every two years. I’ve been mapped into roles, involuntarily relocated, and displaced. Some positions were an absolute joy and others not so much. Often, the work experience came down to the relationship with my manager, the work environment, and the job I was assigned. I’ve worked with and for some terrific leaders. I’ve also worked for some tyrants. Maybe like you, I modeled what I saw in the great ones and learned what not to do from the deficient ones. Leadership is better caught than taught.

My career never defined who I was or am. Honestly, my veins don’t run Coke red. My priorities were different than most. I put my faith and family above all others. 

I always wanted to perform well and deliver results. For about half of my time at TCCC, I was focused on myself, my reputation, and my ambitions. It wasn’t until mid-stream that God got ahold of me, and I began understanding that people matter more than performance. Sure, results are significant, and winning makes everything better; I don’t take results and winning for granted. But a personal and public transformation took place in the second half of my Coke tenure. I realized that focusing on people, helping them become the best version of themselves, and creating a positive work environment meant more than a maniacal focus on results. Said another way, the How trumps the What. I learned how I operated mattered, and putting others first typically led to solid results. Much of my transformation is captured in my book, Discipled Leader.

If I’m being transparent, I never ascended to a once desired role, vice president. Sometimes, I look back and sometimes wonder why. But at the end of my career, that’s neither here nor there. But I do have a key takeaway. It may seem cliché. Here it is, position doesn’t equal influence. The higher you go in an organization doesn’t necessarily equate to the level of impact you achieve. I didn’t need to be a VP or lead an organization to be influential. Many of my leaders empowered me to make sound decisions, solve challenging problems, make positive changes, and deliver results as I worked with and through my teams or cross-functional partners.

As Coke and I part ways, allow me to indulge in remembering a few of my favorite things…

Favorite People: Rick Kehr, Ron Renner, Bobby Lyemance, Michael Mathews, Fran Mulholland, Dawn Kirk, Paula Weeks, Ken Mied, Jim Marvel, John Egan, John Lynch, Emma Budzisz, John Rutledge, Jerry Graves, Bill Harris, Mike Griggs, Kurt Ritter, Red Ashby, Eric Blumenthal, Holly Cunningham (Mattingly), Vic Ragland, Rudd Cummings, Andy Alabiso, Lindsay Adleman, Lori Bates, Bob DeBorde, Tim Leveridge, Joe Gentry, Stephen Gibson, Edwin Gotay

Favorite Places: Istanbul, Moscow (pre-conflict), Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, Key West, Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Knoxville, Duck Key, San Francisco, Seattle

Favorite Events: Swan Lake Ballet at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater (pre-Ukraine war), NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, NCAA Football National Championship, dancing with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, countless University of Alabama, Auburn University, and Tennessee University athletic events, LA Dodgers game and seeing Tommy Lasorda in the dugout, and attending the Colorado State University Coke conversion celebration 

Favorite Celebrity Connections: Ryan Seacrest, Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville (only one who remembered my name!), Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula, Mal Moore, Phil Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Bruce Pearl, Pat Summitt, Derek Wittenburg, 3 Doors Down

Favorite Role: Hands down, Franchise Leadership. I loved working with our Bottling Partners and making things happen at ground level.

Least Favorite Role: I had to throw this one in… Strategic Merchandising Solutions. UGH! A peer once asked, “why would anyone on God’s green earth ever want that role?” I attribute turning gray and losing my hair to the intense stress, political posturing, and micro-management I experienced.

Favorite Initiatives: Leading two Employee Engagement Teams (improving leadership, teamwork, and work environment), Change the Landscape (Tuscaloosa low share market turnaround), Fridge Pack Pilot (Alabama was a pre-launch test market), Coke Zero (by far my favorite brand as well), Vault (fighter brand targeting Mt. Dew drinkers), glaceau acquisition (vitaminwater and smartwater), Partnering for Growth (globally scaled team effectiveness workshop), college marketing plans, Brand Partners Summit (brought internal competing brands representatives together), countless sales rallies, Bottling Partner leadership workshops (Reyes and Consolidated), and Design Thinking sessions.

Thanks to my bride and best friend, Carla, and our children, Caroline and Benton. Your sacrifices enabled an enduring and rewarding career. I am so grateful for you all.

Lastly, thanks to Mark Rajewski and the Sales & Franchise Capabilities Team for helping me finish well.

I walk away with my head held high, thankful for my tenure at The Coca-Cola Company, looking to the future, moving out in faith, not knowing where I’m going but trusting God—wanting to follow the call to help people become the best version of themselves and equipping others to become redemptive workplace influencers. Or, in Coke speak, refreshing the world and making a positive difference. I hope our paths cross again someday. 

In closing, I leave you with some lyrics from MercyMe’s Say I Won’t (https://music.apple.com/us/album/say-i-wont/1541075065?i=1541075066)… The song inspired me, and I hope it does you as well.

Today
It all begins
I'm seeing my life for the very first time
Through a different lens

Yesterday
I didn't understand
Driving 35 with the rocket inside
Didn't know what I had

While I've been waiting to live
My life's been waiting on me

I'm gonna run
No, I'm gonna fly
I'm gonna know what it means to live
And not just be alive
The world's gonna hear
'Cause I'm gonna shout
And I will be dancing when circumstances drown the music out
Say I won't

Not enough
Is what I've been told
But it must be a lie
'Cause the Spirit inside says I'm so much more

So let them say what they want
Oh, I dare them to try

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
So keep on saying I won't
And I'll keep proving you wrong

Say I won't

Time to fly! All my best and take care.

Cheers!

Preston

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Manager peering intently into microscope used as an analogy for micromanagement

How to Manage Being Micromanaged

June 24, 2022

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 are 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’ll tell you what, put together a plan 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 business partner to develop a specific plan 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 our retreat’s potential. 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 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 mentally disengage from the creative thinking discussion.

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

I understood their concerns. I asked the team to return to the meeting and told them I’d gently respond to Kevin’s emails. I asked them not to 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.

Working Successfully with a Boss who Micro-Manages

Controlling bosses can slow you down and undermine your confidence. Maybe your supervisor second-guesses your decisions and expects you to be available 24/7.

Overbearing management styles are all too common and counterproductive. Most employees say they’ve been micro-managed at some point in their career, and studies show that workers perform worse when they feel like they’re being watched. 

If your boss is hovering over your shoulder, encourage them to give you more space. Try these steps to gain more freedom and still get along with your boss.

Steps to Take by Yourself

  1. Evaluate your performance. Start by investigating whether you could be contributing to the situation. Do you show up on time and follow through on your responsibilities? Close supervision could be a rational response when an employee tends to be less than reliable. 
  2. Be proactive. Once you’ve assured yourself that you’re on top of your work, you can focus on how to cope with your boss’s management style. Identify their anxiety triggers and figure out your plan of action in advance.
  3. Coordinate with colleagues. Chances are, your co-workers experience the same issues you do. Coordinate your efforts to show your boss that they can trust you to pull together to overcome challenges even while they’re traveling or focusing on strategy.
  4. Document your activities. Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail. Having facts straight helps you prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind.
  5. Seek intervention. When appropriate, you may be able to consult others without alienating your boss. If senior management asks for feedback, let them know your supervisor’s good qualities in addition to changes that could help you do a better job. Your HR department or employee assistance program may also offer relevant advice.

Steps to Take with Your Boss

  1. Provide updates. Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask. Assure them that things are running smoothly.
  2. Create more opportunities. Is your boss interfering with your work because they don’t have a full plate of their own? Add value by presenting them with public speaking opportunities and sales leads. Helping your boss shine is a smart way to advance your career.
  3. Clarify your role. Listen closely to your boss and observe their behavior. That way, you can understand their preferences and anticipate their needs. Maybe they like booking their travel arrangements. Perhaps they care more about employees following instructions than taking the initiative.
  4. Ask for feedback. Find out what your boss is thinking. Ask questions about what results they’re looking for and how you’re measuring up. Pinpoint strengths you can build on and changes that they would like to see.
  5. Communicate tactfully. Speak about finding solutions rather than criticizing their personality or work habits. If there are conflicts that you want to confront, be direct and gentle.
  6. Give praise for progress. Congratulations if you’re making headway. Reinforce positive interactions by letting your boss know how much you appreciate their efforts when you’re allowed to take charge of a project or take your approach. Tell them that you enjoy working with them and that they’re helping you contribute more.
  7. Create a personal connection. Respect and compassion enhance any working relationship. Remind yourself of what you like about your boss. Make time for small talk and sharing common interests. A strong foundation will make any disagreement easier to handle.

If you’re working to live out your faith in the workplace, here are some other principles I recommend:

  1. Remember Who You’re Working For. If you keep your eyes on God and embrace that you’re ultimately working for him, you’ll maintain a positive attitude regardless of 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) 
  2. Submission Is Key. It’s easy to work for a great boss. The hard part is working for and submitting to a bad one… 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 maltreated for no good reason. There’s no virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re maltreated for good behavior and continue despite it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.” (1 Peter 2:18–20, The Message)
  3. Bite Your Tongue. I disciplined myself to communicate positively and 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)

Despite 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 micro-management I experienced wasn’t sustainable, and I decided to move into another role. 

I challenge you to apply the above principles; if you do, you’ll be able to manage being micromanaged.

Want to learn more about becoming the best version of yourself? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!

Cheers,

Preston

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

September 7, 2019

Do you remember Jerry Lewis? He was a famous comedian, actor, and philanthropist. One of his most notable accomplishments was his partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is “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 about when Lewis frequently made fun of how 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 fantastic 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 condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. 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 people are affected worldwide, or one in 2,500. [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 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 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 concluded 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 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 difficulty 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. Like 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. I talk to the Lord about my resentment and shame when I struggle. 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 and joy. 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 skill to effectively communicate through writing and speaking. I discovered long ago that something special happens inside 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 cmtusa.org.

Want to explore more about overcoming adversity and becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!

Cheers,

Preston


[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 on Discipled Leader (DL) 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 DL. Should I keep on or move on? Am I 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 DL? 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 their 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? DL’s content provides a framework for Christians to connect their spiritual and secular lives. Christ works 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 upstream — 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 who didn’t know I struggled. 

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 also a believer. He told me that he struggled with being a Christian in the workplace and 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 DL’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,” 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…

The Power of Prayer. Prayer is powerful because of the one we pray to. 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 The Message). 

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 English Standard Version) I learned that if I wait on God and am patient, he’ll strengthen me in trying times.

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 The Message). 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.

Want to discover how to level up your leadership skills and become someone others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!

Cheers,

Preston


[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 led 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 Discipled Leader in 2010. I’ve invested countless hours in Discipled Leader because 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 people, attended platform-building courses, and employed a digital marketing firm to build awareness. I even secured book endorsements from Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, Chris Robinson, Executive VP 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. Tenet would sign me after a long consideration period and represent 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 a God-given vision requires God’s intervention. Meaning, if God gave you an idea 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 due to 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 kept four of Waldo’s agented authors and couldn’t represent me. He wrote:

It [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 Discipled Leader’s message is essential. It helps people become better leaders by growing closer to Jesus and 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 that?

  • 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.

We all 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 simultaneously. 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 Discipled Leader to 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 take risks. I take comfort from the list of famous books 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 Oz, and 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 you will acknowledge that it hurts, remember your why, and keep going. If you do, you’ll be on the road to achieving your dream.

Want to learn how to uplevel your leadership skills? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!

Cheers,

Preston

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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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