Do you remember Top Gun: Maverick’s climactic scene?
As Maverick flew away from enemy territory, his F-14 clipped the roof of a building and lost its front landing gear. With the odds stacked against him, Maverick, and his co-pilot Rooster, engaged in an epic dogfight with two enemy jets. After some heart-stopping maneuvers, Maverick and Rooster managed to take out one of the jets, but the other one seemed to be chasing him down with no escape in sight. Maverick knew this was his last mission. Suddenly, a miracle happened. A Top Gun pilot came out of nowhere, destroyed the enemy, and rescued Maverick, Rooster, and his plane. As the plane steadied after the enemy’s relentless pursuit, Maverick asked, “Who was that?” The pilot replied with a grin, “Your savior!”
This movie scene is analogous to my last few weeks at my former company. After 21.5 years of service, I felt like I had lost my landing gear and was being pursued by an enemy. When all seemed hopeless, my savior saved the day, and I came in for a crash landing.
An Unforeseen Accusation
It all began on a Monday morning, May 23, 2022. I’d just emailed my official retirement notice to my manager; I informed him my last day would be June 30th—a moment I’d been anticipating for years. In a few weeks, on June 26th, I’d turn 55 and be eligible to walk away on my terms with full benefits, just what I’d worked so hard for. I was on cloud nine.
But my mood changed on a dime.
Later that afternoon, I received a meeting invite from the Corporate Audit Department for the next day. The subject line read: Confidential Discussion. I got a sick feeling and a lump in my throat. What could this be about, I wondered.
As the virtual meeting unfolded the next day, May 24th, two ethics compliance investigators revealed with a heavy tone that I had been accused of a grave violation of the Business Code of Conduct. “You’re the subject of a Business Code of Conduct investigation,” said the lead ethics investigator.
A shiver of dread ran down my spine at the thought of the consequences of such an accusation.
According to an anonymous source, the lead investigator claimed I was non-compliant on two fronts. Number one, I previously conducted a leadership workshop for company employees in Las Vegas and took advantage of the situation by charging my company for it. Number two, I was using previously conducted workshops to promote my platform.
Planning for the Second Half
You may be wondering how I got to this point. How about a bit of background?
In 2015, I read Bob Buford’s book Halftime and became aware of the Sigmoid Curve and the importance of planning for the second half of life before the apex of one’s career (see the below chart). Seeing how many people retire without a plan and fail, I created content and built a platform before leaving my company, aiming for my own speaking, training, and executive practice immediately after retirement. I did this independently and with my resources.
I obtained my John Maxwell Team Certification in 2016, granting me access to leadership and communication content which I used to build my platform. I also designed a website detailing my speaking, training, and executive coaching services and fees for external opportunities; all intended to be rendered during personal time.
In 2018, I moved into a capabilities role, designing and delivering company training for 500 internal associates. A peer familiar with my John Maxwell certification asked if I’d be open to facilitating some leadership training for one of the company’s most significant partners. After receiving approval from my manager and the ethics office, and with travel expense support, I agreed. I conducted three leadership workshops for a significant partner in different cities for 150 mid-level managers. In 2019, my efforts were rewarded with an invitation to lead multiple workshops for 300 mid-level managers. It was an excellent opportunity to leverage my John Maxwell certification and provide leadership training to a significant partner.
Fast forward to 2022. Post Covid, I was once again asked to conduct multiple leadership workshops as an extension of my capabilities role. The first request was an internal one, to deliver a session for around 25 of my colleagues in Las Vegas.
I’d never been to Las Vegas, but I had an inexplicable gut feeling that something wasn’t right.
On April 13, I lead a workshop called “The Power of Influence”. It was a highly interactive session exploring the concepts of influence, empowerment, and connecting with others. Before the workshop, I had a conversation with a few longtime colleagues and revealed to them that I was planning to retire by the end of June. I departed Las Vegas the day after, feeling fulfilled due to having the opportunity to assist a group of my peers, and came back home.
But what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas; it stays with you like a dark shadow.
Conflict of Interest
“You’re the subject of a Business Code of Conduct investigation,” said the lead ethics investigator.
The words sent shivers down my spine.
He continued, “the allegation stems from the recent workshop you conducted in Las Vegas. Someone complained that you’ve violated the Code’s Conflict of Interest clause. The complaint inquired how you were able to charge the company for the workshop and benefit financially.”
The company’s Business Code of Conduct aims to protect its brands and defines integrity standards. It’s meant to help associates act honestly and ethically, uphold the company’s values and protect its reputation. Employees, including me, participated in annual training, verified that they understood the code, and were expected to comply. Violations can lead to compensation penalties or employment termination.
Read that again. Violations can lead to compensation penalties or employment termination.
My heart sank, especially as I was nearing the end of my career.
A conflict occurs when personal interests interfere with an employee’s business decisions, including outside speeches or presentations. The Code reads, “If the content discusses matters related to the company, approval may also be required from the manager, Public Affairs, Legal Counsel, and others. Conflict occurs if offered payment or reimbursement in connection with making a presentation.”
I was perplexed when I heard that someone had accused me of gaining financial benefit from the workshop. After all, I had only included speaking, training, and executive coaching fees on my website, along with the workshop topics and dates, although not the audience. It seemed the accuser had taken it upon themselves to deduce that I had charged the company for my services.
What’s more, the timing of the complaint was exceptionally suspicious, filed right after I announced my retirement. It left me wondering, why had someone gone through the trouble of filing a complaint against me?
Anxiety and Uncertainty
To be crystal clear, the allegation was false.
I did not benefit financially from the company for the Las Vegas or any other workshop I conducted beginning in 2018. If I had benefited, there would have been a master service agreement, a statement of work, management approval, a purchase order, an invoice, and a payment. In other words, a paper trail. None of these existed in any form or fashion, nor did the intent to benefit financially.
The investigator began asking about my writing, speaking, and publishing activities, involvement in my family company, and activities outside of work. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I’m imperfect. But the investigator’s questions seemed to be an invasion of privacy, had nothing to do with my job, and had no conflict of interest. Also, I’d gone above and beyond to always disclose my activities to ensure there wasn’t even an appearance of a conflict of interest.
The investigator concluded the conversation by asking me to send some follow-up information to him and saying that our discussion was highly confidential. A gag order was issued – I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone, not even my manager, about the allegation. The investigation was ongoing and would include additional interviews. Lastly, he told me that the Business Code of Conduct Infractions Committee would meet on June 13 to rule on my case; three excruciating weeks to wait.
As I hung up, I realized the potential ramifications of the indictment. Georgia is an “At Will” state, meaning my employment could be terminated for any reason. The charge jeopardized my hard-earned retirement benefits, including health insurance and pension. And my reputation was at risk – if I were fired for wrongdoing, I’d lose all credibility, and my post-retirement plans would go down the drain.
The investigation results and final verdict were out of my hands. All I could do was pray and hope for the best possible outcome. But the anxiety I experienced was real – a tight chest, critcal self-talk, and sleepless nights.
Finding Peace and Trust during Turmoil
Amid the waiting period, my wife and I went to Greece to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We planned the trip long before the conflict-of-interest charge was filed against me. Our time together was an interesting mix of romance and high anxiety. I’d vacillate between the two extremes. Let’s just say it wasn’t an easy time.
On top of everything, I discovered that my book, Discipled Leader, won the Selah Award’s 2022 Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. Because of the cloud of suspicion I was under, I couldn’t fully enjoy the honor.
Toward the end of the week, after much prayer and reflection, I remember floating in the Aegean Sea and hearing a still, small voice say, “Be still and know that I am God.” At that moment, I let go of my anxiety and decided to trust God with the outcome, good or not-so-good. Then I heard him ask penetrating questions like, “What happens if you are cleared? How will you react? Will you be angry and resentful? Will you let the seed of bitterness grow into seeking revenge?”
An Unforgettable Moment
We arrived home on June 10th, and after a weekend of jetlag recovery, I flew to Grand Rapids, MI, on June 13th for work – Infractions Committee meeting day. The news didn’t come that day, or the next. I distinctly remember sitting in the Grand Rapids airport before my flight home, drinking a beer, and mustering the courage to reach out to the lead investigator. I typed an instant message inquiring about my case’s status. The investigator immediately replied, “Have you not heard from your manager yet? He’s been advised of your status. Please reach out to him.”
Immediately, I sent my manager a note asking if he had time to talk; it was urgent! His delayed response was, “Is there something wrong?” I replied, “Do you know the status of my Business Code of Conduct case and the Infractions Committee ruling?” Another delay. I stepped into the restroom. Then my phone buzzed. I received a message notification while standing at the urinal. I looked at my phone, and my manager responded, “You’ve been cleared of all charges.” A moment I’ll never forget.
Interestingly, my manager didn’t know that I knew I was under investigation. He knew my case status but didn’t relay it because of the imposed communication gap. Since there was a strict gag order, he mistakenly assumed that I was in the dark about it.
I was acquitted.
Thank God. Thank my Savior.
What a relief. I would retire with full benefits and an untarnished reputation.
Four Lessons Learned on Integrity, Peace, Attitude, and Victimhood
But that’s not the end of my story. Before I continue, allow me to share four valuable lessons I learned from this experience:
- Putting Integrity to the Test. Integrity’s test is a great way to examine our character and moral standards. The Bible says, “Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” (Proverbs 28:18 ESV) It is essential to recognize that it is okay to be tested if we are honest and uphold our values. This can be a challenge in situations where we may be tempted to lie or act unethically for personal gain. However, it is essential to remember that integrity will always be rewarded in the long run. People who remain true to themselves and their values will be respected and ultimately achieve greater success than those who choose to be dishonest. As a lesson, it is important to always remain consistent and honest in our actions, no matter the consequences.
- Peace is anxiety’s antidote. When life is hard, and anxiety levels are high, remaining calm and trusting in God is vital. We must have faith that the Lord will protect us and have a plan for our lives. It is important to remember that God has not abandoned us in times of distress and that we must continue to trust in His plan. A lesson to be learned is that no matter how chaotic or difficult a situation may be, we must stay grounded in our faith and trust that God has a plan for us. The Bible says, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:25 ESV) A challenge is to practice daily reminders of peace, such as meditation or prayer, to help us stay focused on the love and peace of God, even when life is uncertain.
- Becoming bitter or better. A lesson that can be learned from this is that no matter what happens, we have the power to choose how we react and respond to our circumstances. Remembering that we control our attitude and how we handle adversity is important. We can choose to become better, not bitter. It is up to us to make the most of our situation, no matter how difficult it may be. The challenge is to be mindful of our reactions to difficult situations. It can be easy to become bitter, but choosing positivity and resilience is much more beneficial. The Bible says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) It is essential to take the time to evaluate our thoughts and feelings and ensure we are making the best decisions for our well-being. It is also important to surround ourselves with positive people and environments who will help us focus on becoming better, not bitter.
- Rejecting Victimhood. Rejecting Victimhood was my mantra for the last few weeks of my career. I appreciate that the company was following procedure and must address all Code of Business Conduct complaints. I hold no ill will and know the investigators were just doing their job. But I also believe I encountered spiritual warfare, and I can confidently say I was victorious. I believe God turned the evil that was intended against me into something good (ref Genesis 50:20). This experience has allowed me to develop a deeper trust in God, and I am now a witness to God’s love, goodness, provision, and protection. It has become a story that I will be forever grateful to tell.
A Final Choice to Make
As I boarded the plane in Grand Rapids to return home, anger consumed me. I felt my blood pressure rise as the plane ascended. Why would someone file a false accusation against me? I was engulfed by bitterness, resentment, frustration, and pride. My thoughts were filled with revenge, and I was determined to get justice for how I had been treated.
To blow off some steam a few days later, I rode my bike and listened to an Insight for Living podcast. Pastor Chuck Swindoll was teaching on “Life’s Most Subtle Temptation” – revenge. He shared the Bible story of David and King Saul (ref. 1 Samuel 24).
David had been unjustly pursued by Saul, who believed David was out to kill him and wanted to eliminate him first. One day, David and his men were hiding in a cave, and Saul entered, not knowing they were there. David’s followers encouraged him to kill Saul while he had the chance, but David chose a different path. He cut a corner of Saul’s robe and let him go, believing revenge was God’s to take.
After Saul had left, David approached him and revealed the swatch from his robe. He confronted Saul and told him he could have killed him but chose not to. David also explained that the allegations against him were false. Saul was humbled and said, “You are a better man than I am.” Then, they parted ways.
David’s story reminded me to leave revenge in God’s hands and to focus on living a life of integrity and truth. With the Lord’s whispered questions still ringing in my ears, I faced a critical choice: bitterness and resentment or a better way forward.
On June 16, 2022, I committed to choosing joy and thanked the Lord for His help in guiding me in the right direction. I wrote in my journal, “I felt worn out, roughed up, hungover, frustrated, and angry. Pissed that I was treated this way. Under investigation right before I leave. Was hoping to leave without a bitter taste in my mouth. I need to choose joy and be thankful. No resentment. Lord, please help me work through this and fill me with your Spirit. May my thoughts and actions honor you.”
With retirement right around the corner, I took a leap of faith and embraced a new outlook on life. With the Lord’s help, I ditched the weight of resentment and took flight, soaring like Maverick with friends cheering me on. I let go of the past and embraced the future, determined to make the most of my life. Now it’s time to take on the ultimate challenge: writing my next chapter and bravely facing the adventure that lies ahead.
Are you ready to join me on this journey of self-discovery and challenge yourself to overcome any bitterness or resentment you may be feeling? Can you find the courage to let go of the past and move forward with your life? The choice is yours.
BONUS – Watch or listen to my interview with my friend Steve Adams where we discuss the above story and the importance of cultivating integrity.
98. Professor Nancy Pearcey | The Toxic War on Masculinity | Part 1 – Embracing Brokenness Ministries
- 98. Professor Nancy Pearcey | The Toxic War on Masculinity | Part 1
- 97. Jay Payleitner Part 2 | On Life and Calling | Best Selling Author, Speaker & Producer
- 96. Jay Payleitner Part 1 | Best Selling Author, Speaker & Producer On His Life and Calling
- 95. When God Comes Knocking Answer the Door | Michael Kurtz & Steve Adams
- 94. Chuck Girard Part 3 | His Struggles | His Music | Chuck Smith & The Jesus Movement
And to learn more about my platform, visit http://www.prestonpoore.com today!
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Sometimes in life, you make a move that is uncharacteristic but required.
I picked up the phone, dialed the number in trepidation, and asked for the president. The assistant on the other end said, “Please hold.” There was a pregnant pause before the assistant returned and said, “I’m connecting you now.”
The conversation was one I’ll never forget. Why? First, let me offer a quick backstory.
In 2001, I started my career with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) in Montgomery, Alabama. My mission was to collaboratively develop annual business plans with our bottling partners, align on direction, enable marketplace execution, and lead marketing asset relationships.
Marketing assets are a fantastic way to connect with consumers and a source of pride for The Coke System (i.e., the Company and its bottling partners). The assets give Coca-Cola access where consumers make memories and develop an emotional connection with the brand. Think about the last game, concert, or amusement park you attended. More than likely, you drank a Coca-Cola product while enjoying the occasion.
For context, these are three things you should know about marketing assets.
Marketing assets are expensive. TCCC and its bottling partner typically split the investment. Hence, there was always a push to gain a return on the investment.
Marketing assets are hyper-competitive. Over time, TCCC accumulated many strategic marketing assets. I always heard that we had an embarrassment of riches. But that meant our primary competitor was forever eager to convert an asset from red (i.e., Coke-owned) to blue (i.e., Pepsi-owned) when partnership agreements expired.
Marketing assets are exigent. Big word, I know. It means that business relationships require attention. Effective partnerships stem from being connected and creating mutually beneficial value. If the parties disconnect, one may take the other for granted, engagements become transactional, and the relationship will eventually erode.
Enter the #1 Marketing Asset
The University of Alabama was the number one marketing asset in the state of Alabama, and The Crimson Tide had a legendary partnership with Coca-Cola.
For example, Head Football Coach Bear Bryant used to drink Coca-Cola and eat Golden Flake potato chips during his weekly TV show. The ultimate product placement. And “Great Pair Says the Bear” was the ultimate product endorsement.
But after Coach Bryant retired and the University of Alabama Football program’s success moderated, so did the relationship between Coca-Cola and the UA Athletic Department.
A head coach carousel ensued with names like Perkins, Curry, Dubose, Franchione, Price, and Shula. But no one could restore Alabama Football glory. The only exception was Gene Stallings, who rebuilt the program, regained national prominence, and won the 1992 National Football Championship.
Simultaneously, Pepsi slowly and quietly built relationships behind the scenes with the University of Alabama’s key stakeholders. And Pepsi improved its market share across the State of Alabama, making inroads with customers and consumers.
Everything changed slowly and then all at once. The tipping point came in 1998.
The Coca-Cola and UA pouring rights contract expired and went out to bid. Quite possibly the worst thing to happen to the current contract holder. It typically means that costs will rise, and it’s a signal that relationships are fractured.
By the way, I bet you are wondering what’s the big deal about pouring rights. They grant a supplier the right to provide beverages (fountain and bottled drinks) and marketing exclusivity in the sports venues.
Astonishingly, Pepsi won the pouring rights contract for 10 years. Even after all the history with Coke.
Then, Pepsi was shocked.
When they signed the pouring rights agreement, they assumed that the University would also award them the out-of-venue media and marketing rights.
Not so fast.
Coca-Cola held the out-of-venue media and marketing rights in a separate contract with Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. CTSM was responsible for all the game radio broadcasts and weekly coaches’ TV shows. They purchased the media and marketing rights to advertise out-of-venue from UA and, in turn, sold them to sponsors like Coca-Cola.
The not-so-good news was that Coca-Cola was left hanging by a thread. Coke was out-maneuvered by Pepsi to win the pouring rights.
But a circumstance of pure serendipity happened. The CTSM contract enabled Coke to maintain a relationship with UA and allowed our team to market the Coca-Cola and University of Alabama association.
We were still in the game.
But the marketing and media rights contract was about to expire soon. We needed to think and act fast.
Earlier, I referenced UA as the number one marketing asset in the State of Alabama. Why? Consumers connected with the brand more than any other. If we could effectively market our association, it’d increase Coke’s brand preference, translating into improved sales.
But how? We recognized that the CTSM contract was in jeopardy. It was up for renewal, and we knew Pepsi would pay anything to secure the contract.
Our job was to show UA how Coca-Cola creates value beyond just a big payment. We needed to flex our marketing muscle, which was our competitor’s weakness.
A Bridge to the Future
In pre-strategy development meetings with UA, we discovered they were concerned about the next-generation Alabama fans. The football team’s legacy was fading, and a nationwide survey found that Bear Bryant would all but be forgotten by the class of 2007. UA needed to establish relevance with younger consumers. We could help them do just that and build a bridge to the future.
Our team developed a comprehensive, four-pronged marketing approach to connect and recruit the next generation focusing on four levels: Statewide, the City of Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama campus, and Gameday. Our campaign slogan was “Tide Tradition.”
We presented the strategy and campaign to the UA Athletic Director, Assistant AD, and Head Football Coach. They loved it. They also wanted to see if we would execute it.
That’s when the fun part began.
We implemented a statewide Fall Football promotion featuring the University of Alabama logos on Coca-Cola packaging and point-of-sale material, invested in Tuscaloosa customer agreements and community interests, executed on-campus dining and vending programs, hired a campus ambassador, and activated “Coca-Cola Kickoff on the Quad,” an interactive gameday experience including inflatables, games and sampling.
The marketing strategy was successful. We literally changed the landscape. As a matter of fact, the plan was the first of its kind. It became the model for other College and University marketing activation nationwide.
One thing remained undone. The CTSM contract. While the renewal was verbally awarded to us, it wasn’t ever signed by the University. At any time, UA could have pulled the plug and awarded the media and marketing rights to Pepsi.
A group of Coca-Cola executives, myself included, met with Dr. Robert Witt, the University of Alabama President. Our meeting agenda included sharing Coke’s successful marketing strategy and how our partnership benefited the University. We also wanted to explore Dr. Witt’s thoughts about the future and how we could help.
After an enthusiastic and productive conversation, Dr. Witt produced a 6-pk of LSU Football National Championship 8 oz glass bottles. He said the 6-pack was sent by LSU’s president, reminding Dr. Witt of LSU’s recent accomplishment. Dr. Witt paused and said, “I want to bring both of these back to the University of Alabama, a national football championship and Coca-Cola into Bryant-Denny stadium where it belongs.”
Then, Dr. Witt revealed a surprise. He said his nephew worked for Coca-Cola. “Who?” I asked. “He’s your campus ambassador and is having a wonderful experience. Thank you for all that you’re teaching him.” I had no idea we’d hired Dr. Witt’s nephew. Another moment of serendipity.
Dr. Witt concluded our conversation with an appreciation for the historic partnership between UA and Coca-Cola and what we were doing to build a bridge to the future. He looked at me and said, “If you ever need anything, just call.”
We left the meeting not knowing how valuable his last statement would be.
Six months went by. I continued to press CTSM, the UA Assistant Athletic Director, and University General Counsel to sign the agreement. I ran into barriers and delays. It seemed as if some backroom deal with Pepsi was in the works. I felt responsible for securing the contract so we could all move on.
Then it hit me. Why not call Dr. Witt and take him up on his offer to help? I was aware of the political damage I might do by going over the heads of key stakeholders. But desperate times call for desperate measures. This move would be uncharacteristic of me but required. Time to take a risk.
Out of impulse, I picked up the phone, dialed the number in trepidation, and asked for Dr. Witt. The assistant on the other end said, “Please hold.” There was a pregnant pause before the assistant returned and said, “I’m connecting you now.”
“Hello, this is Bob Witt. How can I help you?”
I re-introduced myself and told Dr. Witt about our challenge with the contract signature delay. He said he understood and would call me back in 10 minutes.
Ten minutes seemed like an eternity. All kinds of thoughts rushed through my mind. Surely, I’d overstepped my boundaries and would aggravate my constituents. Bottling Partner leadership won’t look kindly on my approach. University personnel will call for my replacement. I may be demoted or even fired. All unlikely, but those are the thoughts that went through my head.
The phone rang. I picked it up and, with a frog in my throat, said, “Hello.”
“Preston, Bob Witt again. I talked to the University General Counsel, the contract will be signed today, and final copies will be sent to you immediately.”
I was dumbfounded.
I replied, “Terrific, and thanks for your help. I spent almost two years working to have the contract signed. It only took you 10 minutes.”
What Dr. Witt said next always stuck with me. Wait for it…
“SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA SQUEEZE THEM BY THE BALLS.”
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He snickered as well. I thanked him for his help, and we hung up.
What a game-changer!
Dr. Witt accomplished what I couldn’t in a matter of minutes. He had the authority to make something happen. Dr. Witt fulfilled his offer to help. He applied the pressure (i.e., squeezed) as required.
The signed contract arrived the next day. And I never faced any repercussions for going around the UA key stakeholders.
That was the last time I talked to Dr. Witt before moving to my next role. I’ll always look back fondly on those times. Not only did the Coke team out-maneuver our competition and secure the media and marketing rights, but we also created a beachhead for a future team to eventually regain exclusive athletic venue pouring, campus dining / vending, and marketing rights in 2018.
What I Learned
Position matters. I’ve often said that influence is leadership without the crutch of authority. But influence has its limitations. While I’d established credibility and grown my influence with UA key stakeholders, I couldn’t ever advance the UA marketing contract to the final signature on my own. No amount of influence I tried to exert mattered. Dr. Witt held the top position at the University of Alabama. He had the authority to make things happen with just one short phone call. A friend once said, “It’s good to know the king.” Dr. Witt’s position mattered.
Persistence pays off. It took two years from receiving the verbal agreement to the day the contract was consummated. And it took another 15 years for Coke to restore its storied relationship with UA. The team’s persistence paid off. If we didn’t fight hard to create the beachhead for the next group to advance the relationship, the campus and city would have indeed turned blue. And Coke would have missed what the future held, Nick Saban and six National Football Championships.
Providence plays out. Looking back, I’m amazed at how circumstances unfolded during my years working with the University of Alabama. In the above article, I referred to providence as serendipity. But events like Coke retaining the marketing rights even though Pepsi thought they secured them or hiring Dr. Witt’s relative as our campus ambassador without our knowledge of who he was weren’t mere chance. I’m convinced there is a higher power at work engineering all circumstances. The hand of providence played out.
Visit my website to discover more lessons I learned in the marketplace trenches: prestonpoore.com
 Mike Price was hired to replace Dennis Franchione for the 2003 season. He was quickly dismissed after a well-documented off-the-field incident. My only memory of Coach Price was when we held a Coca-Cola Fall Football sales rally in the Bryant-Denny Stadium locker room. Price was our guest speaker, and our intent for him was to inspire our local sales team. When it was time for him to address the crowd, he pulled out a Pepsi-Cola 20 oz bottle, threw it against the lockers, and yelled, “F**K Pepsi.” We were in shock. Not the way to start a talk. Extremely unprofessional. I shook my head in disbelief and wondered what we were getting into. Needless to say, Coach Price didn’t last very long.
 Working with The University of Alabama was a personal passion of mine. When I was young, I watched Alabama football games with my dad. He always pointed out Bear Bryant on the sidelines and talked favorably about him. And most of my extended relatives lived in Alabama. When I moved to Alabama in 1989, I was told I needed to pick Alabama or Auburn (IYKYK). I picked Alabama. But most importantly, my bride went to The University of Alabama. We were season ticket holders and attended the 1992 National Championship game in New Orleans versus The University of Miami. I guess you could say I married “it” (i.e., a passion for all things UA). All of this before working with Coke and leading The University of Alabama relationship for a few years. It was an honor.> Read More
Seven Ways to Prevent Bullying
First, an update to my original 2020 article…
People and events shape who we are.
I was bullied during my adolescent years and have shared my story several times in support of National Bullying Prevention Week.
The last time I shared my story, I received stinging criticism that I bullied others, and my attitudes, words, and actions toward them were hurtful. Just as I was shaped by my bullying experience, I now understand that those I bullied were impacted by my behavior toward them. I am so sorry.
The psychological term for my behavior is “Displacement – a defense mechanism in which a person redirects a negative emotion from its original source to a less threatening recipient.” In my anger, frustration, fear, and anxiety, I’m confident that I took my negative emotions out on others.
Unfortunately, my regretful behavior continued into my college and early career. I became the intimidator for fear of anyone intimidating me.
I accept responsibility for my conduct, and if you were at any point the brunt of my regretful behavior, please forgive me. It wasn’t until the Lord got a hold of me that I put down my defenses. I discovered what it meant to love people…
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, English Standard Version)
I surrendered my desire to rise and fight back no matter the situation to him. He transformed my mind, will, and emotions, ended my need to intimidate, and empowered me to love others. Admittedly, I’m still a work in process and have a long, long way to go.
How about you?
If you’re a bully or intimidate others, maybe you’re displacing your emotions on others. Do as I did, examine your ways, and surrender them to the Lord. He alone can change hearts, and changed hearts change behavior.
If you’ve been bullied or know someone who has, I encourage you to read my story and the seven ways to prevent it.
Lastly, UNITY DAY is October 19, 2022. Will you “wear and share orange for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion and to send a visible message that no child should ever experience bullying” with me? Visit https://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/unity-day.asp to learn more.
Now, here’s my original article. I hope you are inspired to help prevent bullying! Good reading…
After becoming a Christian in the eighth grade, I shared my newfound faith with everyone. I hoped my relationship with Jesus would be contagious. After a few months of sharing, multiple friends called and asked to come to church with me. I was so excited! Some came and responded to the gospel as I had. But others decided that the Christian faith wasn’t for them. These “friends” who’d rejected the message began to reject me as well.
Being bullied became a constant pattern in my life. I was ridiculed and ostracized by my “friends.” I was physically or verbally threatened on several occasions because of my beliefs.
One semester, a group of tough guys began intimidating me. They’d sneak up on me and whisper, “Do you want to fight? You’d better watch yourself after school. We’re gonna kick your butt!” They were relentless. The bullies stared and laughed at me in class, followed me down the halls every day, and prevented me from getting into my locker. I was scared to death and felt like no one could help me.
I didn’t know how to fight back. I was a scrawny, five-foot-two kid who weighed eighty pounds soaking wet. The bullies seemed like they were ten feet tall. Their intimidation became overbearing, so I went to see the school counselor. After hearing my story, he began escorting me to the bike rack after school for the next month. I’d unlock my bike, hop on, and ride like the wind, hoping to get home before the bullies caught me.
One time, I was home alone, and the doorbell rang. Two bullies were at the door. They tried to pull me outside and beat me up—in a nice, middle-class neighborhood, no less! I forced the door shut. They looked for another way into the house, calling me names as I hid inside. I tried to call my neighbors for help. No one was home. I was so scared that the bullies would find a way into my house that I called the police. The bullies left.
My dad came home, and I told him what had happened. Trying to help me, he called the bullies’ parents and had stern conversations with them. Well, you can imagine how the bullies reacted. Their threats, intimidation, and pressure grew worse. During P. E. the next day, the bullies told me I’d pay for my dad’s calls.
Somehow, I kept my faith and prayed for God’s protection through all that. I trusted God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV). I surrounded myself with other believers and found support. I was never physically harmed, but I was emotionally scarred.
Being bullied was humiliating and embarrassing. Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment toward those bullies and wanted to get revenge over the years. It took a long time for me to forgive them and overcome my fear and anger. These traumatic episodes molded me at a very early age and had a lasting impact. On one side, they taught me to trust God and persevere. On the other side, I learned how to hide my faith from others as a form of self-protection.
Eventually, I grew out of the five-foot-two frame into a six-foot-one frame. I matured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My confidence grew more potent, and bullies no longer intimidated me. I stick up for myself. But when I sense someone is trying to threaten me or someone else, I have a visceral reaction (i.e., hair standing up on the back of my neck) that motivates me to fight back – stand up for myself and others. This isn’t always good. At times, I can become the aggressor. I’m still a work in progress. God continues shaping me – healing the wounds from long ago, building my faith in him, and moderating my reaction to bullies. He’s not done with me yet, but I know that he’ll finish what he started.
Statistics show that 20% of children ages 12 to 18 years old experience some type of bullying – unwanted aggressive behavior meant to hurt. Bullying comes in several forms (verbal, social, and physical) and typically occurs in a few locations (school or online).
How do you prevent bullying? It can be complex. But based on my experience, I recommend the following seven ways:
- Keep the faith – I ran to God and sought his help in my time of need. He heard my cries and protected me. My faith in him grew more profound because of my experience, and he continues to mend me today.
- Speak up – If you’re the one being bullied, tell a trusted adult or authority. Don’t be embarrassed. Ask for help. It took me a long time to muster the courage to admit I was being bullied. Ultimately, I told my parents and teachers. My experience may not have lasted as long or been as acute if I’d confided in someone earlier.
- Surround yourself – seek support, safety, and solace with your friends and family. I leaned into my church youth group and will never forget their encouragement.
- Stick up for yourself – Sometimes, you need to dig deep inside and find the courage to overcome your fear. Let the bully know you’re not going to take it anymore. I’m not condoning violence. I am condoning a deep resolve that prevents anyone from unwanted aggressive behavior. Tell the bully to stop.
- Be someone’s hero – Don’t stand on the sidelines if you see someone being bullied. Intervene, stick up for the bullied person; if you see something, say something. I wished I had more heroes willing to stand up for me. Now, I try to be that hero in someone’s life that I didn’t have.
- Build awareness and a culture of safety – Teachers, administrators, parents, and students can all play a role in bully prevention. Educate everyone on what bullying is and what it isn’t. Teach respect, dignity, and what to do if bullying is occurring. Learn to listen. Be empathetic. Protect others.
- Forgive and forget – It took a long time for me to resolve my feelings of anger and resentment. I learned that it’s not good to hang on to grudges. If you do, you’ll become bitter. The path to becoming better is through forgiveness and forgetting the circumstances – move on.
To learn more about bullying, its effects, and how to prevent it, visit: https://www.stopbullying.gov.
Have you ever been bullied? What was your experience? Please send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and continue the conversation.
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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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Document your activities. Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail. Having facts straight helps you prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind.
- 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
- Provide updates. Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask. Assure them that things are running smoothly.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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)
- 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)
- 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!
Preston> Read More
Loneliness and social isolation are becoming a behavioral epidemic, resulting in increased depression, anxiety, and suicide rates. I’ve experienced loneliness at times and know how brutal it can be. I’ve also witnessed first-hand how emotionally and mentally destructive it can be to my family, friends, and peers. We need connection, we need community, we need each other.
Today, it’s challenging to have a great social life. This was true even before Covid-19 became an issue.
In the not-so-distant past, it used to be so boring to stay at home during the evenings and the weekends that people always looked for an excuse to get out of the house. But now, between streaming services, the internet, smartphones, and video games, it’s much easier to find an excuse to stay home.
Covid-19 has only made the situation even more challenging. Now, there is a legitimate reason to avoid others.
While a few select people seem to thrive with minimal human contact, most people need to spend time with others to stay emotionally healthy and happy.
Luckily, there are still things you can do to help maintain your emotional health, even when your time with others is reduced. The key is to be intentional.
Learn how to ease the discomfort of loneliness and social isolation with these tips:
- Be productive. Just because you might be spending a lot of time alone doesn’t mean you just have to sit there and be miserable. Everyone feels better when they’re being productive. Some productive activities include:
- Paint the living room.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Take a class online.
- Rearrange the pantry.
- Take the car in to have the tires rotated.
- Take the dog for a walk.
- Read a book.
- And many more
- Safely connect with others. Use your imagination and find a way to connect with people while making your health a priority.
- Use Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and other options for talking “face-to-face.”
- Chat online via forums.
- Sit outside by a fire in the fresh air and have a conversation with a friend.
- Go to church or attend a sporting event.
- Join a class and learn something new with others.
- Play golf or tennis.
- Volunteer at a local charity. Recently, my wife and I volunteered at a food pantry to take the focus off of ourselves and place it on others.
- View beautiful things. What makes something attractive? It makes you feel a certain way when you look at it. With your smartphone or computer, you can view just about anything in the world. Spend some time looking at beautiful things each day, and you’ll feel great.
- Look at old photographs.
- Go to a museum.
- Find the most perfect tree in the park and really look at it.
- Take up a solo hobby. There are plenty of hobbies you can do by yourself. Paint, play chess online, hike, knit, write, ride a bike, or train your dog. A hobby is something you choose to do because it brings you pleasure.
- Get a pet. If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one. You can have a more meaningful relationship with the right pet than you can have with 99% of the people in the world. What type of animal interests you? My dog, Bonnie, is a great companion at times when no one else is around.
- Maintain a high level of self-care. Loneliness and social isolation often lead to poor self-care. It’s important to continue taking good care of yourself even if you’re spending a lot of time alone. For example, a shower isn’t something that you do just for others. It’s also something that you do for yourself.
- Be creative. Most people find they are more creative when they have time to themselves. Now is an ideal time to take advantage of your solitude. Heck, I even wrote a book during the pandemic. Let your creative juices flow!
- What ideas do you have?
- What do you want to create?
- What do you want to experiment with?
Having a lot of free time alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There is a lot you can do to ease the discomfort of loneliness and social isolation. Technology makes it relatively easy to connect with others, even if physical proximity is impossible. Feeling productive can also ease the pain of being alone.
Instead of focusing on this great challenge, try to take advantage of its unique possibilities. You can learn more about yourself and try out a few hobbies. You’re free to explore your interests without interference from others.
Just think – by developing other interests, when the time comes when you can reconnect socially, you’ll have a variety of new things to talk about.
If you are a Christian, I encourage you to trust God’s promise, “Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 40:10 ESV) God said that he will never leave you or forsake you. When I was at rock bottom in some of my darkest moments, I trusted God, sensed his presence, and knew that he was with me. I hope you will trust God’s promise.
Lastly, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, talk to someone NOW! You’ve got to tell somebody. You’re not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to get help (available 24 hours): 1-800-273-8255. Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
All my best,
Preston> Read More
When our daughter, Caroline, was born and severe health complications quickly ensued, Carla and I were driven to our knees, crying to God for healing. Amid fear and fright, we sought his peace. When we felt less than confident that the story we’d imagined for ourselves as new parents wasn’t going to play out the way we’d thought, we sought God’s confidence.
Here’s Carla’s story. For the squeamish, it does get detailed.
March 1, 1994, was an incredible day. My due date had come and gone, and now Preston and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new baby girl, Caroline. Caroline arrived at 7:29 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1. We were overjoyed and felt so blessed to welcome a new, healthy baby girl into our family.
Later that afternoon, as is typical after most deliveries, the nurses came into my hospital room to check on me, take vital signs, etc. After removing my catheter, they noticed something wrong: urine leaked onto my bed. Several nurses came in to look, doctors were called in, and I was wheeled over to urology specialists’ offices shortly after that. During the delivery process, we found out that my bladder and a vaginal wall had been torn, therefore forming a hole through both, which had caused urine to flow directly from my bladder through my vaginal wall and leak onto the bed (or anything else).
At first, neither my doctor nor the specialists knew what to do. Once the specialists had discussed the matter, my OB-GYN (who had delivered Caroline) came in to explain these findings to us. He admitted that he didn’t know how this had happened, and, although he had delivered thousands of babies, he had never seen this before. He was concerned, and he offered to pray with us.
The next day, we took Caroline home, but it wasn’t the homecoming I had envisioned beforehand. I went home with a catheter and wore adult continence garments for the next six weeks while we met with specialists to develop a plan that would hopefully lead to healing. During the weeks that led up to the surgery, my OB doctor would call to check on us and let us know that he and others he knew were praying for us. Many surgeons are egotistical and don’t acknowledge their humanness. This doctor was different. He was bold in his faith and humble in his approach, and because of this, I was learning more about Christ.
There was a lot of uncertainty going into the surgery. Ahead of time, we had agreed to various approaches based on what they could find once I was on the surgical table. One method was somewhat invasive and another much less so, but I wouldn’t know which method they would implement until I awoke from anesthesia. During the weeks leading up to surgery, our only option was to pray for a medical plan of action that would be successful, for skilled minds and skilled hands for the physicians, for encouragement, and for adequate care during this time for our new baby girl. We asked family, friends, neighbors, and everyone around us for prayer.
Finally, the morning of surgery came, and it was time for my family to leave my side and allow the staff to take me back. As I was wheeled down to the pre-op room, I heard someone call my name. It was my physician; he had come to walk me into surgery. (He was not a part of the urology surgical team). He held my hand and prayed over me.
I’m happy to say that the report was good when I came out of the anesthesia later that day. The team had been able to make the repairs in the least invasive way, and, thankfully, the outcome looked very hopeful!
I cared for a newborn baby for several months following the surgery while wearing multiple urinary medical devices. Needless to say, I stayed home quite a bit. It wasn’t an easy time, but it was a season when God was allowing me some time alone with him to talk things out. I did a lot of praying.
At times, I remember wrestling with my feelings and thinking, Am I going to trust that God is good and that his plan for me is good, even if my body doesn’t function properly and I must wear these urinary devices for the rest of my life? Am I going to trust him no matter the outcome?
God was patient with me, and he allowed me to talk about these things out with him. Ultimately, after spending much time in his Word, much time in prayer, and listening to godly counsel, I began to accept the fact that, no matter the outcome, God loves me and cares for me. He will always be there for me. He is my maker and my helper.
Several months went by before I could attempt going to the restroom independently. I’ll never forget the day I was allowed to try. Right away, I knew I was healed. God is good, not because he chose to heal me—he certainly didn’t have to do that—but because he is a good father. That’s his character. His plans are for good, even though we may not like them at the time.
Looking back, I’m very thankful he took me on that little journey years ago. I learned to trust him, and he hasn’t failed me yet.
To add to Carla’s story, I remember sitting in the waiting room with her parents and my grandparents during surgery. We were hopeful that the procedure would be successful, but we were prepared for the worst. I’ll never forget the post-surgery debrief with the surgeon. It was as if he couldn’t believe how simple the surgery was and how well it had gone versus how he initially thought the situation would be resolved. It was a miracle. We were delighted and thankful. We all jumped for joy and thanked God for his incredible mercy. The surgery was successful, and Carla’s health was restored.
Carla and I will always look back at this milestone and be thankful for God’s answer to our prayers. We didn’t have anywhere else to turn but to God, to place our hope and confidence in him for a positive outcome. Despite daunting circumstances and an undesired prognosis, we prayed to God because we trusted him. When I saw God move and do what seemed impossible, it reaffirmed and further established my confidence in God.
What does God-confidence look like? It’s when you move from elevating God over yourself. The Bible says, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 – The Message).
How does one cultivate God-confidence?
- Seek his empowerment.
- Request God’s wisdom to navigate unchartered territory, make decisions, and solve problems.
- Seek his strength and protection to face opposition or challenging circumstances.
- Trust he’ll provide and ensure an outcome that works for the good.
- When success comes, give credit to God and be thankful.
- If success doesn’t come, don’t let your God-confidence be shaken but let it grow through adversity.
How different would your life look if you moved from self-confidence to God-confidence? How would your home life change? How would your organization, community, or school grow? How would your world transform?
If you sincerely trust him, God will do wonderful things in you and through you. As you make a positive difference in the world, you will be in marvelous fellowship with the One who made you. You will be engaged in his enterprises, risking your life for him and his kingdom. Focusing on God and not self will make your confidence soar, and you’ll be energized to do and achieve more than you imagined possible.
Do you want to learn how to grow God-confidence and become a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Pres> Read More
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!
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.
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!
Preston> Read More
Our manager, Kevin, suddenly charged into the room and sat down at the conference table.
“Okay, let’s see what you’ve got!” he exclaimed.
“Hi, Kevin. How are you today?” I said with a smile, trying to lighten his mood and begin our meeting on a positive note.
Kevin replied, “I don’t have time today for small talk. Let’s go through your presentation and determine the next steps.”
Over the next 15 minutes, Peter, my teammate, and I presented three different promotional displays to Kevin. We discussed the construction, benefits, and potential cost of each display. Kevin seemed to like the options and asked how we could gain national customer team feedback.
The conversation came up once before, and I recommended using an internet survey. Kevin turned it down the first time. During this discussion, I thought I’d revisit the survey option. After I mentioned it, Kevin shook his head and said, “Nope, already rejected.”
I gently pushed back and asked him to reconsider. I began my response with, “I don’t mean to challenge you, but….”
Not good. As soon as the words left my mouth, Kevin’s face turned red; he slammed his computer shut and shouted: “But you are challenging me, and I don’t appreciate it!” Throwing a tantrum, he got up and began to walk out of the room. Wanting to solve the issue, I followed him out the door. I asked Kevin to wait a moment and told him that I was just trying to make a suggestion. I told him I didn’t appreciate being treated that way, especially in front of a team member.
Kevin said, “Are you going to confront me in the hallway right now?”
“No,” I said, staring at the floor. He told me we’d talk later and walked away. I went home deflated.
The following day, Kevin called me into his office. When I arrived, he asked me to sit down. Then he said, “I am going to tell you some things, and you cannot respond.”
I looked at him inquisitively and thought, “I’m in for it; this can’t be good.” He was about to give me feedback. He told me that he wanted me to think about it and then we’d talk again. So, I sat in silence, ready to listen.
“Preston, I was relatively easy on you yesterday. Other executives would have torn you to shreds.”
“Really?” I thought to myself.
“You’re not helping me, you’re not being a team player, and you don’t listen well. You’ve got to change, or you’ll be out of a job.” I held my tongue, honoring his request, and thanked him for the feedback.
I walked away from the conversation madder than a hornet. I was highly offended. I’d worked very hard, accomplished so much, but Kevin always marginalized me. Kevin retaliated by implying my job was in jeopardy. A molehill was made into a mountain, and I resented Kevin for it. As a matter of fact, I resented Kevin and his management style for the two years I worked on his team. My constant feelings of bitterness were taking their toll. What was I going to do?
All leaders experience resentment from time to time. What is resentment? It’s an emotion that wells up inside when you feel like you’ve been mistreated or offended. Hard feelings, frustration or anger, can come from any number of sources, including not gaining someone’s respect, not receiving appreciation for a job well done, not being assigned to a special project, being passed over for a promotion, an unspoken apology, or rejection. Resentment is the most toxic of all emotions because it can lead to anger, hate, discord, divorce, aggressive driving, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bankruptcy, and even violence.
If you hold a grudge against someone, the bitterness will fester inside and eventually destroy you. It begins as an emotional trigger and, if harbored, will become a mood impacting behavior. Resentment is a heavy burden you carry, affecting your relationships and health. As the adage goes, “Bitterness is the poison one swallows as he or she hopes the other person dies.”
If resentment is so dangerous, what is the antidote? Forgiveness. If you forgive someone, you stop blaming him or her for the offense. You let go and move on. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
How do you forgive someone? Employ the four steps to forgiveness:
- Acknowledge your anger, then drop it and move on. It’s okay to be angry but don’t allow it to last. Let go of the anger when offended or wronged by someone. Don’t harbor it. Anger can lead to hate and violence. Resentment will break you unless you break it first. Put down the poison and move on.
- Stand in their shoes. Realize that everyone is perfectly imperfect. The Christian leader remembers God forgave them, and that same mercy should be shown to others.
- Respond with good, not revenge. Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Ask God to change your heart and enable you to return the offense with a positive reaction. Practice the Golden Rule – do to others as you’d have them do to you. Remember, love is patient, kind, and doesn’t seek its own way.
- Pray. Ask God to forgive you and enable you to forgive the one who offended you.
Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment for years. I often dwell on circumstances and people when I feel disenfranchised, demoralized, or undignified. In the above story, I let my manager get the best of me. I should have taken responsibility for my words and actions. I didn’t need to challenge Kevin after he’d made a decision or chase him into the hallway to confront him. I needed to exercise more self-control and give him space. It would have been better if I’d approached him later, apologized, and asked how I could help; personal leadership lessons learned that I applied to future situations.
The good news is that I recognized the impact bitterness was having on me and those around me. I discovered that the best antidote to resentment is forgiveness. I let go of my grudge, and my well-being improved tremendously; I no longer felt the weight of bitterness. I found that my mental outlook improved, relationships healed, and I felt much better.
How about you? Do you resent someone? Are you holding a grudge? If so, how is it impacting you? What will happen if you continue holding on to the resentment? Are you willing to forgive the individual? Why not forgive that someone today? If you do, your well-being will improve, your relationships will heal, and you’ll be a more successful leader.
Want to learn more about becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Preston> Read More
The phone rang. I stared at it with anxious anticipation. The call I’d been waiting for would reveal my future with the company. I’d been through several evaluations and interviews to keep my current job. As my heart began racing and sweat beads formed on my brow, I answered the phone.
“Hello, this is Preston.”
“Hi. This is Ted. I’m calling to let you know…”
You may have received a similar call if you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment. And, you’ve experienced the effects of organizational change – uncertainty, layoffs, or downgraded compensation. I’ve been through 10 restructures in my career. I liken the process to running for Congress – every two years, you’re up for re-election. If you’re elected, you begin your next campaign immediately.
The topsy-turvy corporate world can be exasperating and disheartening. It can bring one to utter despair. The challenge is to remain hopeful. You might say, “But Preston, I hear all the time that hope isn’t a strategy.” If hope isn’t a strategy, what is it?
Hope is a general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled, a promise will be kept, or a better future is on the horizon. Hope provides internal energy, motivation, and courage. I’ve heard it said that someone can live 40 days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, and only 4 seconds without hope.  Why is hope such a crucial part of life and your well-being? It energizes and inspires you to keep going. Without hope, you will begin to think circumstances will only get worse and give up.
How does someone avoid despair and remain hopeful amid challenging circumstances? Here are six surefire ways.
- Pray. For the Christian, start with connecting with your source of hope, God. Take your concerns to him and seek his guidance.
- Don’t lose heart. In tough times, continue believing that you can succeed. Think about your past achievements and recount your strengths. The circumstance doesn’t define you. Seek God, and he will strengthen you. Jesus’ words provide confidence, “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33b – The Message)
- Manage Self-Talk. Did you know our thoughts shape our beliefs and actions? Our challenge is that 8 out of 10 thoughts we have are negative. Stop listening to the lies you tell yourself and focus on your strengths. Replace the lies with the truth. What would happen if you increased the number of positive thoughts to 5 or 6? How? When self-doubt creeps in and I’m experiencing despair, I’ve found it helpful to pause and say an affirming phrase ten times to myself. It helps change my mindset from negative to positive. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “I’m a weak and unworthy person,” say “I’m a strong and worthy person.” Or, rather than saying “I can’t do anything,” say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Change your “I can’t” to “How can I?” Also, set your mind on constructive thoughts. The Bible says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8 – The Message). If you do these things, you’ll win the battle of the mind.
- Keep a long-term perspective. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Remind yourself that life is a journey, and challenges are opportunities to grow. The Bible says, “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18 – The Message). Keep your head up, look to the horizon, and expect a positive outcome in the long run.
- Face reality and take responsibility. Accept that life can be backbreaking. Then, objectively evaluate your challenging circumstance and define the problem you face. What’s the worst that can happen? What are all of your options? How can you improve upon the worst? Once you answer these questions, take ownership. Embrace the opportunity to change and intentionally determine to grow through the circumstance. Think, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” As a person of faith, I prescribe to the thought, “work like it’s up to me and trust God like it’s up to him.”
- Plan, act, and persevere. Once you’ve faced reality, taken responsibility, and determined the best option, be intentional and go for it. Put a plan together. Develop goals and move in the direction you’ve chosen. Look for quick wins and build momentum. Above all else, never give up. If you plan, act, and persevere, you’ll begin to experience success. The road ahead will be different than you expected, harder than you anticipated, and potentially more rewarding than you imagined. One of my mentors, John Maxwell, says, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.”
Back to my story… I picked up the phone and said, “Hello, this is Preston.”
“Hi. This is Ted. I’m calling to let you know you will be retained by the company.”
I’ve gone through the cycle of uncertainty to certainty many times. As you may recall, I wrote earlier that I’ve been through 10 organization restructures. As I write this article, I’m currently in the midst of my 11th org change. Once again, I’m struggling with all of the self-doubt and uncertainty that comes with the unsettling circumstance. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know that God is faithful, and I’ve placed my hope in him. Whatever does happen, I know that he is good and will lead me to where he wants me.
My friend, when faced with a dire circumstance, my charge to you is to pray, not lose heart, manage self-talk, keep a long-term perspective, face reality and take responsibility, and plan, act, and persevere. If you do, you’ll be filled with hope and succeed in whatever path you choose.
How about you? Where do you place your hope? How do you make it through tough times? I’d love to hear your story. Thanks for reading, and please share this message with someone in need of hope and encouragement.
Want to discover more about becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
 Maxwell, John C., Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, Hachette Book Group USA Day One 2013, p. 93.> 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.
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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.