“Dammit! I don’t get this guy”, I said as I slammed the door. I wondered out loud to my wife if I’d made a wrong career decision.
I’d changed companies and took a new opportunity to get us closer to home, relocating from Hershey, PA, to Montgomery, Alabama. It was a homecoming of sorts. Carla and I met and married in Birmingham; our kids were born at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and much of our family lived in the area. We were happy to be back.
I moved out of a successful sales and marketing role with Hershey into a new company representative job. My new role required me to represent the company’s interests to the local bottling partner, develop plans, gain strategic alignment and help deliver results. I felt a little over my ski tips – a new role, new market, new industry, and new people. I knew it would take every bit of my mediocre leadership, communication, sales, and marketing skills to do well.
Why? My primary call point, Rick, had a reputation as a driven leader, very demanding, and hard to get along with. He’s a towering man with a very intimidating demeanor – like the kind of guy who could have played professional football. He’d recently been appointed as Market Unit VP and tasked with turning a deficient performing operation around sooner than later. He was under considerable pressure.
I’ll never forget my first presentation to Rick and his team. He asked me to put together a marketing plan for a local university. I thought it would be a piece of cake based on my experience. I invested two weeks pulling together detailed plans, initial creative images and felt good about what I developed.
I presented my plan during his monthly operating meeting in front of his key leaders. After I finished, I asked Rick, “What do you think?”
Rick paused and asked with frustration, “Is that all you’ve got?”
There was a long, awkward silence in the room. I felt embarrassed.
My voice cracked, “Yes.”
Rick replied sharply, “I’m expecting more. Your plan is very disappointing. Go back to the drawing board and bring back something that will help us win in the market.”
I ducked my tail, sat down, and stewed.
This wasn’t the first time I’d stumbled with Rick by not delivering on expectations. As I sat simmering, I thought to myself, “I’m never going to gain credibility in Rick’s eyes. I’m failing in my new role. I don’t know what to do.”
Fast forward a few months. I’d been working hard to gain Rick’s trust and respect without much traction. Then one day after a market execution tour, we were leaning against a grocery store check-out lane conveyor belt recapping the day.
After summarizing the sub-par execution we observed in the market, I changed the subject and said to Rick, “I know my work hasn’t lived up to your expectations. I am working hard to get better and am on a steep learning curve. I’m confident that I have what it takes and can help you turn the business around.”
Rick just looked at me.
I continued, “If you’ll take me under your wing and teach me everything you know, I will learn and do everything it takes to help you and the team win.”
Another long, awkward pause – I think he liked the interludes.
“Preston, I’ve been hard on you to see if you have what it takes—testing you. You know what? I think you do, and I know you can help me. I’ll take you up on your offer.”
From there, things took off. Rick began including me in his market visits and key leadership meetings. We collaboratively developed robust plans, focused the team on the work that mattered, and executed with excellence. The Market Unit gained positive performance momentum and began to receive national recognition. We were privileged to pilot new brands and packages before national launches based on our strong performance. We also re-negotiated key marketing asset contracts in the face of fierce competition. Lastly, we became a model team, importing and exporting talent. We won under Rick’s tremendous leadership.
I don’t necessarily think about our accomplishments when I think about Rick. I think about the friendship we developed over the years. I remember all of the windshield time we had together, driving from town to town, sales center to sales center. When you spend multiple hours every week traveling with someone, you get to know them. Under Rick’s sometimes-rough exterior, I discovered a genuine person that cared about people. During our conversations, Rick and I found that we shared several values, including our faith. I’ll never forget the countless belly laughs we had together, the confidence he placed in me, and how he took me under his wing.
Rick taught me the Coke business, invested in me personally and professionally, and played a massive role in my future success. I’ve benefited tremendously from knowing and being mentored by Rick Kehr.
Rick and I still stay in touch and talk occasionally. Recently, I heard he was retiring, and I called him a few weeks ago to check in. He said a 28-year career with Coke and seven years in the NFL were enough. “It is time,” he said.
That’s right. The towering, intimidating man I mentioned earlier played professional football during his first career and won a Super Bowl championship with the Washington Redskins – beating my beloved Denver Broncos nonetheless. Rick is a winner in whatever he does. More importantly, he’s a leader.
Rick, thank you for being you, mentoring me, and leading well. You’ve made a positive difference and left a great legacy.
Leaders – do you have a mentor in your life? Someone that will invest in you and you can trust. Someone who wants you to win and challenge you to reach your potential? If not, I recommend you find one. On the other side of the coin, are you mentoring someone? Are you investing in someone to help them grow? If not, consider mentoring someone. You’ll make a positive difference as Rick did with me if you do.
Want to discover how to become a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Preston> Read More
“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” —Jeremiah 29:11 AMP
Leaders know that decision-making always involves some level of uncertainty. You’ll never see the result of an option until it’s chosen, and the decision is converted into action. The more information, advice, and experience you have to decide, the higher your confidence level will be. You’ll be able to anticipate potential outcomes and assign probabilities.
On the other hand, incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable information, a lack of wise counsel, and inexperience will lower your confidence level. You’ll be unable to adequately assess potential outcomes, let alone foresee likelihoods.
Your role as a leader is to reduce uncertainty. How?
- Build knowledge: Learn as much as you can about each option. What are the required information and parameters you need to decide? The Bible says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out” (Proverbs 18:15 NIV). Do your best to validate the information’s completeness, accuracy, and reliability. At the same time, be at peace when you don’t know everything.
- Involve people: Seek advice from others. Listen to people who listen to God. The Bible says, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers” (Proverbs 24:6 NIV). Pursue different points of view, encourage debate, and listen carefully.
- Determine predictability: Based on your knowledge and advice you’ve received, rank each option according to its positive outcome likelihood; 1 is a low positive outcome probability and 10 is a high positive outcome probability. The higher the probability, the lower the uncertainty. The lower the probability, the higher the uncertainty. You want to lean toward options that have the highest likelihood of success.
- Understand and accept risk: I learned a long time ago from Dale Carnegie to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?” Consider what you might lose. What’s at risk? If you understand and accept what’s at risk, you’ll reduce the anxiety that comes from uncertainty.
- Remember your values: Grounding a decision in your core values and guiding principles will help you navigate uncertainty. Without values, you’ll be tossed about and be at an even more significant disadvantage when faced with doubt.
- Remain flexible: Keep all of your options open to accommodate an uncertain future. You may need to course-correct and select another option as a contingency plan.
The goal of improving decision quality is about reducing uncertainty and increasing the probability of positive results, not guaranteeing them. Let’s take this a step further.
For the believer, you can reduce uncertainty to a large extent and make the best decision possible. You may make a terrific decision and not achieve your objective. Or, you may make a lousy decision and somehow achieve your goal. Uncertainty remains. Either way, there is one thing that is for sure: God is in control. You can trust him with the outcome.
Think about some Bible heroes who made decisions and weren’t so certain about the outcomes:
- Noah decided to follow God’s direction and build an ark but wasn’t exactly sure how everything would unfold.
- Abraham faithfully followed God’s call and left his home, not knowing where he was going.
- At Jesus’ invitation, Peter courageously stepped out of the boat and walked on water, moving from certainty to uncertainty as he sank.
In all three examples, each person decided in the face of uncertainty and trusted God with the outcome.
- Rain covered the earth, but Noah and his family were rescued in the Ark.
- Abraham settled down and his descendants became a mighty nation.
- When Peter began to doubt and sink, Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up.
Noah, Abraham, and Peter trusted God with the outcome. You can too! Why? God promises that he is for you, not against you (Romans 8:31). He has wonderful plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). And he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
When faced with uncertainty, consider asking
- How do you reduce uncertainty when deciding?
- Do you trust God with the outcomes?
- Do you believe he has a plan for your life and will help you make sound decisions?
Look to him when you’re faced with a decision and uncertain outcomes. Whether you experience a successful result or make a mistake, know that God is in control. Place your trust in him.
Do want to learn more? Visit http://www.prestonpoore.com
 Dale Carnegie, The Leader in You (Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd, 2020).> Read More
Imagine she’s sitting across the desk from you with her forehead furrowed and her eyes narrowing. The pause becomes uncomfortable, even awkward. She’s agitated, but you can tell she wants to say something. Again, you softly ask, “Ally, you had so much potential. Why are you leaving?”
Breaking the silence, she blurts out, “I didn’t feel valued.”
You drop your chin in disbelief.
Something must have gone wrong over the past year. Ally was a promising new associate in your company. She was a marketing major with stellar grades, glowing enthusiasm, a strong work ethic, and raving references. You thought she could quickly move up the ranks and make a positive impact on your business. The cream rose to the top, and she became your top performer.
But slowly Ally became distant, and her work quality deteriorated. She began making incorrect inventory replenishment orders, losing patience with customers, and even verging on rudeness. She started missing shifts. The passion and energy you observed in her early days was gone. She was just punching the clock, and her teammates knew it.
As the business owner, you need to get to the bottom of it.
You look Ally in the eye and ask, “Why didn’t you feel valued?”
“Where do I begin?” she sarcastically replies, then replays several circumstances that led to her decision to leave.
“My relationship with Karen, the store manager, was great the first few months but rapidly turned for the worse. It all started one day as we were closing for the night. Counting the cash register, I came up $159 short—an honest mistake. But Karen blamed me and deducted the money from my paycheck. I felt demoralized.”
“I offered ideas on how to merchandise books differently, but Karen discounted my suggestions and said, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ She never listened to me.”
“Once, a customer became belligerent with me as I was trying to help. Karen interfered, took the customer’s side, and blamed me in front of all the other customers standing in line.”
“When I did a good job, like when I was the number-one salesperson of the month, Karen never recognized my accomplishment. I’d ask her for performance feedback, but none was given. When I made a mistake with a book inventory order, Karen asked, ‘How could you be so stupid?”
“All this, and you wonder why I’m leaving? All I wanted was to be valued—treated with dignity and respect.”
To make a long story short, Ally leaves your organization, and you are faced with a challenge. Ally’s not the first employee over the past few years to leave. The common thread is Karen. How do you help Karen, one of your best performing managers, improve her leadership skills? And even more importantly, how do you build a culture where highly talented individuals want to work with your company and become loyal, productive, results-oriented teammates?
Check out the trailer for my new book, Discipled Leader, launching on Tuesday, July 20, 2021
The answer lies in engagement. When you think of engagement, perhaps you think of a state of premarriage, being in gear, or a hostile military encounter. But from a business perspective, engagement means the emotional connection someone has to their work and the level of discretionary effort they put forth based on their relationship with their direct manager. Engaged associates are highly involved, enthusiastic, and committed to their work. An engaged culture results in lower absenteeism, turnover, and shrinkage, and higher customer ratings, productivity, sales, and profits. The opposite is true for unengaged or actively disengaged associates—those who don’t care about their work or are resentful that their needs aren’t being met will intentionally undermine the organization. Hence, the greater the engagement, the greater the business results, and vice versa. Bottom line, engagement matters.
But how do you develop engaging leaders and build an engaged culture? It starts with you. Decide to become a leader that others want to follow. Lead by example and instill leadership qualities in others.
Here are five ways to do just that:
- Build trust. Be real with people. Be who you say you are. Do what you say you’ll do. Let them know your values and what you stand for. Risk vulnerability with others, and they will reciprocate. When you build trust by example, you create an environment where people feel safe, failure and learnings are valued, opinions and ideas are openly shared, and team members must rely on one another.
- Cast a vision. Frequently point to how people’s work ties into what the organization is accomplishing. Enable them to see how their role positively contributes to the greater good to help them find meaning in their work.
- Cultivate empathy. Ask questions, actively listen, reserve judgment when others are speaking, and validate their emotions. People will care how much you know when they know how much you care.
- Express appreciation. Inspire confidence in others by encouraging them and frequently celebrating their contribution to the team. Make recognition part of your regular agenda.
- Amplify others. Give people big projects or problems to solve. Help them build on their strengths and eliminate blind spots. Teach them how to overcome the fear of failure. Help them reach their potential through coaching and mentoring. Provide daily feedback framed with the intent to develop. Regarding feedback, celebrate in public but always correct in private.
From a biblical perspective, building trust, casting vision, cultivating empathy, expressing appreciation, and amplifying others are all about the Golden Rule. As Jesus taught his disciples, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get” (Matthew 7:12 MSG). To become a leader others want to follow and build an engaged culture, you must take the initiative. It begins with you. If you apply these five steps, you will create a thriving organization and avoid circumstances like those Ally experienced.
Want to learn more? Visit https://prestonpoore.com.
Thanks for reading and take care!
Pres> Read More
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
I’ve struggled with the paradox of my life’s role and God’s providence, the understanding that he wisely and purposefully governs our world and engineers all circumstances. With a fatherly hand, he sees to it that his will is done. I also struggle with the tension between my planning, making decisions, acting, and knowing that God controls everything. Does my work really matter? Can I be a positive influence on my business, community, and church?
I’ve always been wary of these phrases:
- “If you don’t like the circumstances you’re in, go make new ones.”
- “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.”
Many leadership experts espouse the belief that we can take control, make changes, and grow, and that the results are up to us. That’s the tension within me. Maybe it’s within you as well. I believe people can do all these things, but the Bible teaches that God is responsible for the outcomes.
So, what are the alternatives?
I may think that, if God controls everything, one option is to sit back and passively observe. Let things play out on their own. Stick my head in the sand and not get involved. What happens then?
Entropy sets in—the natural tendency toward chaos, disorganization, randomness, degradation, deterioration, disorder, and erosion. Things move toward disorder without our involvement. It’s like watching someone drown although you have the means to save them yet choosing to look away and leaving the rescue up to God.
Another option is to take matters into your own hands and make things happen. Just do it. But when you race ahead of God, you’ll find that your choices, actions, and results end up being suboptimal. Often, you’ll crash and burn.
The best option is to actively participate in God’s purposes. Collaborate with him. Wait on him, gain his insight, understand what he wants to accomplish, seek his direction, and then move when prompted.
As you surrender your heart to God and seek his guidance, you will begin to act as a catalyst to transform, innovate, and positively influence the world around you. God will work in you and through you to:
- bring chaos into order
- empower you to lead in times of crisis
- solve impossible problems
- make wise decisions
- move people and resources toward reaching their potential.
If you seek God and place him at the center of your decisions and plans, he will guide you and establish the work of your hands.
Consider: Are you actively participating in God’s purposes? If not, why not?
Do you want to learn more? Visit my website, www.prestonpoore.com.
Preston> Read More
“Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel, and watch them succeed.” —Proverbs 15:22 MSG
I was once under the gun to hire an associate to work with our business partners. I needed to recruit, interview, and fill the open position within two weeks or I wouldn’t be able to hire anyone for that position. And an empty role meant that the work and relationship management would fall on my plate.
Steve seemed like a great candidate. However, a couple of key leaders warned me: “Don’t hire him. He’s not a good fit. If you do, it will be a mistake.” And yet, a trusted peer highly recommended Steve: “He has the right experience and transferable skills. With a little coaching, he’ll be great.”
I moved swiftly and selfishly to hire Steve.
Fast-forward one year.
While Steve was hired into a harsh work environment and we believed he could break through, he never gained traction with his assigned business partners or market. The business partners demanded more than Steve could deliver. When Steve stumbled, I had to compensate.
Even though I had ten other team members and was accountable for eighteen markets, I spent 80 percent of my time with Steve and his specific territory. I didn’t want Steve to fail. I saw his success as my responsibility since I’d decided against others’ counsel. I wanted to prove that I could help Steve reach his potential.
Over time, his key stakeholders rejected him because of a perceived lack of credibility. Steve was no longer invited to meetings or trade rides and lost his ability to influence or add value. I shared the business partners’ feedback with Steve along the way. Trying to support him, I continually spent time helping him solve problems and discuss his concerns. I always encouraged him. And I was genuine with him. We built a plan to improve his performance and connection with the business partner. But Steve didn’t follow through. He’d lost heart.
I realized that I couldn’t develop Steve as I’d thought. His skillset and motivational fit weren’t right for the role. I also realized I’d made a mistake. I’d listened to advice that validated my predetermined choice and immediately discounted differing opinions.
Why? Because I saw potential, or so I told myself. I’d heard what I’d wanted to hear and ignored the ultimately correct guidance provided by others. Acting out of arrogance, I believed that I could single-handedly develop Steve’s analytical, relationship-building, and leadership skills—and that proved not to be the case.
A change needed to happen for Steve’s benefit, for my team, for our business partners, for the company—and for me. Ultimately, Steve was placed on a performance improvement plan and eventually exited from the organization.
Looking back, here’s what I learned about advice:
Seek many opinions
This Latin phrase is right: vident oculi quam oculus—many eyes see more than one. When you face a difficult decision, consult multiple advisors. Seek the opinions of those with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and thinking styles.
These counselors should have integrity and trustworthiness. They should listen well, think deeply, possess an optimistic outlook, be strategic, and be grounded in reality. When you receive advice, ask: Is this advice honest, actionable, and timely?
John C. Maxwell says, “If you combine the thoughts you have and the thoughts that others have, you will come up with thoughts you’ve never had!”[i]
Be an unselective listener
Even though I sought wise counsel from others, I selectively listened to what they said. I sought validation, not guidance. I pieced together what I wanted to hear and rationalized my decision.
Admittedly, I had my own agenda, I was stubborn, and I acted out of arrogance. The Bible says, “Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice” (Proverbs 12:15 MSG). If I’d listened early on, Steve and I wouldn’t have suffered through tough circumstances. When seeking counsel, objectively listen to others and don’t filter your thoughts with predetermined bias.
I didn’t pray about my decision to hire Steve and moved without consulting God. It became a mess. But I did pray amid the mess and God was faithful.
For believers, we need to lift everything in prayer, and it should become a lifestyle for us. The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17 ESV). Take every moment and opportunity to pray. Pursue God’s divine understanding, discernment, and wisdom. Make it a continual conversation with God and a way of life. If you do, God will guide you, your decisions, and your circumstances.
- Do you have trusted, integrous advisers who will provide diverse points of view?
- When you pursue their counsel, are you looking for guidance or validation?
- Are you willing to listen and suspend judgment?
- Will you pray about the advice you receive and the decision you will make?
[i] John C. Maxwell, Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work (Center Street, 2005).> Read More
Everyone that hasn’t suffered a brain injury or mental illness is capable of empathy. Some of us are in touch with this ability, while others could use a little practice.
What is empathy?
Empathy is a concern for the welfare of others. It’s the ability to detect or predict the emotions and thoughts of others.
It’s easy to see why this would be a handy skill to master. Empathy has an impact on your relationships. This is true for both your personal and professional relationships. Empathy can make your life easier and more fulfilling at home and at work!
Try these tips to increase your empathy for those around you:
- Avoid making assumptions. Your view of the world is limited. Your experiences are just your own. Others have lived a different reality. If you’re from a well-off and intact family from the United States, you don’t have a clue what it’s like to deal with the weight of growing up in an orphanage in Ukraine. If you’ve never lost a job, avoid assuming that you know exactly what that experience feels like. Making assumptions only gets in the way of developing empathy. When you catch yourself making assumptions, question them. Prove your assumptions to be true or false before making any decisions.
- Ask questions. One way to understand others is to ask questions. Develop a genuine interest in them. Enhancing your communication skills assists your ability to connect with, and to understand, other people. Ask open-ended questions.
- Listen. Listening intently is related to asking questions and avoiding assumptions. Seek to understand the emotions that the other person is feeling. Asking questions and then listening to the answers is a pivotal part of creating empathy within yourself.
- Try to understand a group of people outside of your experience. Suppose you’re a young, Christian male. You might decide to learn about Hasidic Jews. Or if you’ve never been poor, you might learn about the homeless. Read books and talk to people. Strive to understand what it would be like to be born a part of a particular group.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. One way to relate better to others is to imagine yourself in the same situation. This can be painful. It’s not enjoyable to imagine that your spouse has died or that you’re entirely out of money. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking and feeling if I were in this situation?” Just asking yourself this question is the most significant step you can take toward being empathetic.
- Be present. Give your undivided attention to others. You can’t be empathetic if you’re thinking about something else while someone is speaking to you. You’re not as good at hiding your disinterest as you think! You miss most of the information, verbal and non-verbal, communicated to you if you’re not paying attention.
- Practice having more meaningful conversations. Talking about sports is fine, but it’s not a deep and personal topic. One way to get the ball rolling is to talk about something important to you. The more you share, the more you’re going to receive in return. Be open, and others will be more open with you.
Empathy is an important skill. It can greatly increase your ability to communicate and connect with others. Being able to understand their feelings and thoughts will boost your rapport with them. Enhance your personal and work relationships with empathy, and you’ll benefit in many ways.
If you found this article helpful, please subscribe to my blog www.prestonpoore.com/blog, where I explore leadership, communication and human relations skills that will help you become the best version of yourself. Thanks for reading. Cheers!
Preston> Read More
Each decision you make reduces your ability to make good decisions. It can quickly reach the point that you’ll actually avoid making decisions once a certain threshold is reached. There are only so many good decisions you can make each day.
Decision fatigue also leads to impulse spending. Self-regulation also suffers during decision fatigue. There’s a reason you’re more likely to eat unhealthy food or do something else detrimental to your well-being at night.
Have you ever noticed that many influential and successful people tend to make inadequate decisions at night? These self-destructive decisions often come after a long day of making important decisions at work.
Use these strategies to avoid decision fatigue and make wise decisions:
- Make important decisions early in the day and during times of low stress. When you’re relaxed and in your safe space, you can kick back and make decisions without any pressure or distractions.
- Choose your clothes the night before. It’s mentally exhausting to search around for clothes that match when it’s time for work.
- You can also limit the scope of your wardrobe and achieve the same effect. Steve Jobs and Barack Obama were famous for their limited wardrobes. Both felt that the fewer decisions they had to make each day, the better.
- You can also limit the scope of your wardrobe and achieve the same effect. Steve Jobs and Barack Obama were famous for their limited wardrobes. Both felt that the fewer decisions they had to make each day, the better.
- Plan your day the night before. Then, you just need to put your head down and get to work. You’ve already made the basic choices of how you’re going to spend your day. All that’s left to do is perform the necessary actions.
- For example, know what you’re having for lunch, breakfast, and dinner before going to bed.
- What are the most important things you have to do tomorrow? When will you do them?
- This will leave you with a more exceptional ability to make good decisions the next day.
- For example, know what you’re having for lunch, breakfast, and dinner before going to bed.
- Keep your life simple. A complicated life is fatiguing. The fatigue extends to your ability to make decisions. Our brains weren’t designed to handle ongoing complexity. A simple life is easier on your mind and will allow you to make better decisions.
- Delegate decisions. Not all decisions have to be made by you. Let someone else pick the restaurant and the movie. Allow one of your employees to make the less-critical decisions. Let your kids decide what you’re going to do this weekend. Avoid decision fatigue by requiring others to make some decisions.
- Take a nap. A nap is a great way to rejuvenate your mental faculties. Sleeping for just 10-30 minutes will recharge your decision-making capacity. Make a daily nap part of your day, if possible.
- Know your priorities. When you know what is important to you, decisions become easier to make. Quick decisions don’t induce a lot of decision fatigue. You’ll avoid torturing yourself over all of your choices if you understand which decisions matter and which don’t.
The quality of your decisions influences the quality of your career, health, relationships, and overall success. Inadequate choices lead to personal challenges. These challenges include financial issues, work and school difficulties, health problems, and other personal and social issues.
Each decision you make has a biological cost. After making too many decisions, you’re more likely to argue with your partner, make unnecessary purchases, and eat junk food.
As your brain fatigues, it searches for shortcuts. One of these shortcuts is to make decisions quickly and recklessly. After all, thinking takes energy. The other alternative is to refuse to make a decision at all.
Decision fatigue is something everyone should be aware of. The consequences of inadequate decision-making can be severe.
*** Stop wasting time in the aftermath of bad choices when you can make decisions that deliver extraordinary results. Get the “Nine Point Sound-Decision Making Check List” sent straight to your inbox and start seeing exceptional results today. Visit: https://prestonpoore.com
Thanks, and take care,
This blog was written during Atlanta’s 2020 racial strife…
My heart breaks for our nation and the great city of Atlanta. We must unite and create positive change. The time is now. It’s time to love. It’s time to lead. But how? Where do we start? I’m going to make a bold statement. Maybe even provocative. You may not want to hear it. But here it goes.
The solution doesn’t begin with what we do, it begins with who we know.
The world will not change unless your heart changes first. The only person that can change the human heart, bring it from death to life is Jesus. If I’ve piqued your interest at all, I recommend you keep listening or reading. If not, I get it. You can tune me out or turn me off. But if I’ve got your attention and you want to learn how a transformed life can transform the culture, stay with me. . .
The solution doesn’t begin with what we do; it begins with who we know.
If you’re a believer and disciple of Christ, your mandate is to make more disciples and influence the culture. A discipled leader’s conversion to follow Jesus must be demonstrated in your daily life and not be kept private. Through your transformed life, you must impact your world. Discipled leaders transform cultures through their own transformed lives.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13–16 ESV).
To be salt means to preserve the culture. To be light means to show the way. To be both means to influence your entire world. As J. I. Packer wrote, “Christians are to involve themselves in all forms of lawful human activity . . . . As Christians thus fulfill their vocation, Christianity becomes a transforming cultural force.”
Can something so large and complex as a culture—even your work culture—be transformed? Yes! But it starts with you. In How Now Shall We Live?, Charles Colson, former special counsel to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship and Breakpoint, wrote:
“Cultures can be renewed—even those typically considered the most corrupt and intractable. But if we are to restore our world, we first have to shake off the comfortable notion that Christianity is merely a personal experience, applying only to one’s private life. No man is an island, wrote the Christian poet John Donne. One of the great myths of our day is that we are islands—that our decisions are personal and that no one has a right to tell us what to do in our private lives. We easily forget that every private decision contributes to the moral and cultural climate in which we live, rippling out in ever-widening circles—first in our personal and family lives, and then in the broader society.”
In other words, a discipled leader ought to be the same person on Sunday morning as he or she is on a Monday afternoon. There’s no sacred-secular divide. There’s only being a disciple and leading others toward Christ and discipleship—every day.
It is a discipled leader’s job to take Christ’s message to the world and, through that message and the power of the Holy Spirit, to change lives and change the culture. When you became a disciple of Christ, you became his ambassador and change agent through Christ. “A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks; a heart through which Christ loves; a voice through which Christ speaks; a hand through which Christ helps.” Through Christ, you can make a difference in the world.
It’s not about a cause; it’s about Christ. Be bold, vocal, and stand for Jesus. Will you join Jesus in the Great Commission of making disciples and transforming the culture?
Do you want to discover how to grow your influence and make a positive difference? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
 Packer, J. I. Concise Theology.
 Colson, C. How Now Shall We Live?. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1999.
 Tan, P. L. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc, 1996, p. 336.> Read More
My no-nonsense manager surveyed the roomful of team leaders and commanded us, “Bring your three-year plans. Have them complete and on my desk in two weeks.”
We were supposed to nod our heads in silent assent. But I had to say something. If I didn’t, I knew my team would suffer.
“Catherine, we have so many priorities, and the team is under a lot of pressure to deliver on time. Can we delay the planning for a few weeks and allow them to remain focused on work that matters?”
I think those last three words made her face turn red. Noticeably agitated, she turned toward the other managers in the room, my peers, and rhetorically asked, “Do any of you have the same concerns?”
When all she received were shaking heads, she went around the horn and asked for verbal confirmation. Every manager said they’d be able to deliver on her request.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. In the days leading up to that meeting, every manager had shared with me how much pressure they were under and how challenged they felt because of Catherine’s demands. Yet there they were, throwing me under the bus.
Catherine turned toward me. “There you have it. No one else has a concern, and neither should you. Just go fill out one of your priority grids, and you’ll figure it out.” Her words dripped with sarcasm.
As I let the silence sit, my mind flashed back to a year earlier, when I’d been reluctant even to take this position.
During my interview, I was warned, “In the world of racks and point-of-sale material, everyone has an opinion on the merchandising elements: design, construction, cost, and deployment. You’ll have multiple masters and need to serve them all. It will be a tough role. Extremely stressful, demanding, and political.” Fearing I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, the interviewer asked, “Do you think you’ve got what it takes?”
Everything I knew about that division flashed to mind:
- Their team was dysfunctional.
- The supply chain was impotent.
- Just as my interviewer had said, there were too many chiefs.
Any amount of success appeared impossible.
“I have what it takes, but I’m not interested in the role. Could you remove my name from consideration?”
She nodded her head, but I could tell she was shocked by my reply.
However, other leaders kept suggesting I was the right fit in the coming days. Some even hinted that turning down this role could have future career implications. Hesitantly—and knowing what predicaments likely awaited me—I accepted the offer.
Throughout my first year in that new position, each of my fears came true. The team was overworked. They had low morale from feeling undervalued. Our suppliers always seemed to miss project deadlines. Designs weren’t relevant. The procurement team seemed to have more control over our projects than our marketing team. Our internal key stakeholders, customers, and bottlers weren’t satisfied with my team’s performance. Those entities offered suggestions for how we—I—could do things differently.
Our work environment was chaotic. Extreme stress was the norm.
I felt anxious all the time, constantly worrying about what would go wrong every day. When inevitable mistakes were made, I feared whiplash. I couldn’t sleep. I stopped exercising regularly because I had no time for it. In the rare moments when I was home, I was distant and easily aggravated. I was running scared, running on empty, and ready to burn out. I never felt like I was making a difference—anywhere.
I told my manager that I felt like I was failing daily. She was unsympathetic to my plight. I don’t know why I thought that would help. She’d seldom listened to my concerns before. If she had, I rarely saw the result.
So her singling me out during that manager’s meeting shouldn’t have surprised me. Her quick dismissal of my earnest request was status-quo leadership to her. It was nearly the last straw for me.
Being called out like that in front of my peers made me feel embarrassed, stunned, and flustered. Yet I knew I had an immediate decision on how I could respond. I didn’t want to give up, but something had to change. I needed to raise my team’s morale. I needed to empower them. I needed to increase our productivity. I needed to become a better leader. Rather than choose discouragement, I opted for perseverance.
If I couldn’t accomplish any of those tasks, anyone on my team could be out of a job. And if I couldn’t save my team—and complete my three-year plan—I wouldn’t be the one under the bus.
I’d be driving it at my next job.
After that demeaning meeting and after praying regularly, I developed a vision of becoming our key stakeholders’ most valuable partner and winning industry recognition. Then, I identified significant projects that would influence the company’s performance. With these priorities in place, I intentionally began instilling confidence in my employees. I knew that if I believed in them, they’d believe in themselves. I empowered the team to make decisions and enabled them to say no to irrelevant, unproductive work.
The team began to gel and became more productive. They remained focused on priorities and ignored distractions. Their morale improved, and their stress levels lessened. So did mine. Our internal and external customers moved from doubting our ability to trusting us to deliver. Together, we made a lot of progress. The tables were turning.
Nowhere was this more evident than during my annual review. My manager simply said, “You are a difference-maker, and thank you for all of your hard work.” Though she used few words, the words she used mattered greatly to me. Her affirmation was gratifying and validating. My team members received the highest annual rating: exceeds performance, which, for our team, was unprecedented.
Looking back, I’m so thankful for the experience, even in having a bus driven over me. I learned and grew more than I imagined through all of the stress, emotions, and obstacles. I was stretched to the limit and increased my work capacity.
With help from above, I stayed true to my original goals, persevered with the team, and helped transform the business.
After “Prioritizing the Priorities,” my charge to you is to empower your team. They will help you accomplish common goals and objectives with vigor. Do this, and you’ll reduce anxiety because people will feel more control and can take ownership. People feel more committed to working if they know they can make decisions and impact projects. If you don’t, people will disengage because of their perceived lack of influence.
Empowerment Mindset – A Self Evaluation
Empowerment is the transfer of your authority to individuals to help them reach their potential. Effective empowerment begins with the right attitude. Before you empower someone, ask yourself the below questions to see if you have an “Empowerment Mindset.” I recommend rating yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on each question, 10 being perfect.
#1 Do I believe in people and feel that they are my organization’s most appreciable asset?
#2 Do I believe that empowering others can accomplish more than individual achievement?
#3 Do I actively search for potential leaders to empower?
#4 Would I be willing to raise others to a level higher than my own level of leadership?
#5 Would I be willing to invest time developing people who have leadership potential?
#6 Would I be willing to let others get credit for what I taught them?
#7 Do I allow others freedom of personality and process, or do I have to be in control?
#8 Would I be willing to publicly give my authority and influence to potential leaders?
#9 Would I be willing to let others work me out of a job?
#10 Would I be ready to hand the leadership baton to the people I empower and genuinely root for them?
Now that you’ve rated yourself, what are your top three areas where you can improve your Empowerment Mindset? Now, what’s your number one area? Put an action plan in place to improve the identified area, determine when you want to accomplish your action plan, and ask someone to hold you accountable. You’ll improve your attitude toward empowering others and become an effective leader if you do.
Do you want to discover more about empowering others and becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
 Excerpt From: John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan. “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/becoming-a-person-of-influence/id607555354> Read More
Recently at Colorado State University, I delivered the Sigma Chi Beta Tau Chapter 100th Anniversary Keynote Address to ~250 of my fraternity brothers and friends . . . I shared how to move from a success mindset to a “Significance Mindset.”
I encourage you to read the message because what I share may be game-changing for you as I provide some keys to living a meaningful, purposeful, significant life. . . The message may transform how you interact with people and how you influence your world. You’ll learn how the power of generosity, making waves, and enlarging others can make a positive difference. Now, “Developing a Significance Mindset.”
Good evening. It’s an honor to be with you, my Sigma Chi Brothers, and friends. Thank you for inviting me to share some thoughts with you. I want to introduce my beautiful bride, Carla – a University of Alabama grad, Chi Omega member, and wonderful mother of our two children, Caroline and Benton.
Tonight, I want to talk about something that may be a game-changer for you. It may transform your life, the way you interact with people, and how you influence your world.
If you’re experiencing a successful career but seem empty on the inside and wonder if there’s something more, this message may be for you.
If you’re struggling to determine life’s purpose and what truly matters, this message may be for you.
If you’re a student, early in life’s journey and or an alumnus enjoying retirement and want to learn about how to make a positive difference in the world, this message may be for you.
I encourage you to listen to what I share. It may be the most important 15 minutes of tonight, this month, this year, or your life.
Tonight, I want to share my thoughts on our need to mentally shift from success to significance. Meaning how we think about things, how we approach life, developing a “Significance Mindset.”
What does it mean to have a “Significance Mindset”? It means to move away from a self-focus to an others-focus; from using your time, talents, and resources for your own good to using them for the good of others; to swap adding value to yourself for adding value to others; to transition from spending time on things that don’t matter to investing time in things that do; things that have meaning and purpose. Serving others rather than serving self.
John C. Maxwell, the most prolific leadership author and speaker of our times, said, “A lot of people believe they are successful because they have everything they want. They have added value to themselves. But I believe significance comes when you add value to others, and you can’t have true success without significance.”
Does any of this resonate with you? Do you want to grow beyond success and develop a Significance Mindset? What would your family, community, business, school, or place of worship look like if you did? What would happen? How would you be able to influence your culture and change your world?
Let me share a simple story where I began to learn about developing a Significance Mindset, shifting to a life that matters. . .
I met Juan in a dump, a city dump. Juan was a “pepenador,” a scavenger. He made his living by rummaging through trash in the Tijuana City Dump and reselling what he recovered to local merchants. Everything that he owned came from the dump – clothes and food – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Juan and 200 families that live in the landfill are among the poorest of the poor in Tijuana. Homes were created with tarps, pallets, tin scraps, and old garage doors – whatever residents could find and use to build a roof over their heads. The rancid odor that arose in the summer’s heat overwhelmed me but was barely noticeable to the dump’s residents.
Why was I in the Tijuana City Dump? I volunteered to go on a mission trip with my church to serve the people that lived in the landfill. We aimed to help those who couldn’t help themselves, shine light into a dark place and invest our time, talents, and resources to bring hope to the hopeless.
Once we arrived in the dump, we spread out across the canyon, knocking on doors, giving them a gift of rice & beans, and inviting them to a Vacation Bible School. We shared that the School would include games, music, and food. We also mentioned that we’d be providing personal hygiene supplies and services at the event. Why? As you might imagine, water was a scarce resource in the dump. The place was pretty much a third-world country. Showering, washing hair, and brushing teeth were all considered a luxury. But, it provided us an opportunity to show extravagant generosity, love in action, to the dump residents by providing hygiene supplies and services.
After making the rounds and inviting folks to join us, we set up the School location, including a long line of hair washing stations. Each station included a chair, buckets of water, and shampoo.
What was missing? Volunteers to wash hair. . .
A mission trip leader asked, “Who’d like to wash hair today?”
Okay, I have to admit, this is where I got a little uncomfortable. I put my head down and stepped back, not wanting to make eye contact with the leader.
The leader explained that women volunteers would wash women’s hair, and men would wash men’s. I grew a little more uncomfortable but remembered that the best way to grow is to move out of one’s comfort zone and into the awkward zone.
I raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it.”
Soon after, the Vacation Bible School started. I was amazed at the large number of adults and children that came. I found the dump residents a kind, warm-hearted, and gracious bunch considering their living conditions. We connected with people through translators, sang songs, watched skits, and broke bread together.
Then came the hair washing. Ladies first. A long line developed, and the pampering began. Next, the men lined up, and it was my turn to step up. I went to my assigned station and saw a middle-aged man urged by his significant other to wash his hair. He was hesitant at first but slowly shuffled in my direction. I smiled and introduced myself to Juan as he sat down in the chair. He didn’t look me in the eye. I could tell this was a very humbling experience for him.
I slowly poured the water on his head, applied the shampoo, and washed his lice-infested, thick black hair. It only took a few minutes, and when we were done, Juan offered no gratuity for washing his hair other than a bright smile and saying “gracias” as he looked me in the eye, man to man. He waved goodbye and left with his family.
I’m not sure I will ever see Juan again or know how his life turned out. I do know that he experienced a moment of happiness and refreshment and that I played a small role in it.
What may seem like a trite experience to you was huge for me. It was the genesis of my shift from a success mindset to a Significance Mindset. It was a moment that mattered, one where I took the focus off of myself and placed it on others to help someone who couldn’t help themselves.
This led me to ask: How does one develop a Significance Mindset? Here are three principles I discovered:
- Be Generous. “The greater the giving, the greater the living.”  Invest your time, talents, and resources to benefit others. Instead of spending hours on social media, invest time serving your family, community, school, or place of worship. Leverage your strengths and talents to help build something that lasts, that matters. Lastly, give money to people, churches, and charities. You’ll care more about to whom or what you give money – The good book says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” King Solomon wrote, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”  Even industrial magnate Andrew Carnegie got it. He said, “No man becomes rich unless he enriches others.”  Be generous.
- Create Waves. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Cast stones in the water to make a positive difference. What do I mean? Do you see injustice at work? Speak up. Is someone being bullied? Stick up for them. Is someone you know feeling down? Encourage them. Is someone lacking resources? Meet their need. Shift the focus off yourself and onto others. Look for opportunities to make a positive difference in your sphere of influence and change your world. Do things that matter. Help the helpless. Be a light in our often dark and chaotic world. Create waves.
- Enlarge Others. Help people reach their potential through coaching and mentoring them. Invest in them. Think for a moment about who’s had an impact on your life. Play along with me for a minute. Close your eyes for just a moment. Picture the individual. Can you see them? Was it a teacher, coach, manager, friend, or family member that inspired you to grow? Did they believe in you? Did they bring out the best in you? Looking back, how did they help you? Now, tell someone next to you the name of the individual. Let’s turn it around. How do you take what you were given and pour it into others? Imagine someone you can build up, enlarge. Share the name with someone. I encourage you to intentionally build your identified person up. Invest your time, talents, and resources in them. Help them reach their potential. What if you don’t invest in people and enlarge them? “Composer Gian Carlo Menotti forcefully stated, ‘Hell begins on that day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts we wasted, of all that we might have done that we did not do.’ Unrealized potential is a tragic waste. And as an enlarger, you have the privilege of helping others discover and then develop their potential.”  Enlarge others.
I want to drive home one more point. You don’t need to be a president, CEO, famous actor, or billionaire to live a meaningful life. Why? Did you know that sociologists say that even the most introverted individual will influence up to 10,000 people during their lifetime? That’s right. 10,000 people. Whether you realize it or not, you have incredible influence. Develop a Significance Mindset by being generous, creating waves, and enlarging others. You’ll be a positive influence and change your world.
I want to end tonight with a piece by Michael Josephson titled What Will Matter: 
“Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you are beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So, what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage,
or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.”
In closing, may I get personal with you for a moment and ask a few provocative questions?:
- Do you have a desire to live a meaningful life, one that matters? If so, why?
- What do you need to do to shift from a success mindset to a “Significance Mindset”? What actions will you take?
- When will you do it? – don’t hesitate – do it now. Why wait?
- Who will you share your plan with? Who will hold you accountable? Tell someone you can trust and who will help you make the mindset shift.
- Lastly, if you are curious in matters of faith, in whom do you find your significance? I find mine in God.
If any of tonight’s messages resonated with you or the questions I just asked inspired you to think or behave differently, I’d love to hear from you and learn how I may be able to help you along your journey.
May you choose a life that matters, develop a Significance Mindset, and make a positive difference in your world. God bless, In Hoc, and thank you.
Do you want to learn more about living a significant life and becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
 John C. Maxwell Today Matters
 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 11:24–25). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
 Excerpt From: John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan. “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/becoming-a-person-of-influence/id607555354
 Excerpt From: John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan. “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/becoming-a-person-of-influence/id607555354
 https://whatwillmatter.com/2011/10/what-will-matter-745-3/> Read More
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.