Don’t be afraid to take charge: 5 Steps for preparing to lead

Movies can move the human spirit.  Scenes such as the speech in Miracle where Kirt Russell plays Coach Brooks addressing his 1980 Olympic Hockey team before the game of their lives move and inspire.  Who can forget Al Pacino inspiring his football team to fight and claw toward victory? And of course, Mel Gibson as William Wallace inspiring an outnumbered army to fight for freedom.    These scenes, and many more like them have a common thread.  These speeches were given by men who faced whatever fear they had and took charge.  Most of us won’t be leading Scottland toward war and freedom.  We do, however, lead our companies, our teams, and our homes toward success…or failure.

Last July I was summons to Jury Duty. Click here to read the leadership lessons I learned from this experience.  I was selected and voted unanimously as the foreperson. It was hardly an electoral victory, as no one else wanted to do it. Why is it that when real life kicks in, so many people take a step back rather than a step forward?
Leader Of The Pack

Leader Of The Pack (Photo credit: Property#1)

It is a lack of knowledge and preparation  holding many would-be leaders from emerging.

Whether you plan on overtly leading a team (such as being a CEO or manager) or leading from within (a peer leader or project leader), you must prepare yourself.  Here is list of five things to consider as you begin to prepare:
1.  Be The Industry Expert.  What is happening in and around your company, companion companies and competitors.  This is so important.  If you aren’t in tune with what matters most to your company, market, and industry, how can you add value?
2.  Stay up to date on what’s happening in the world.  Last year’s horrific Boston Marathon bombing was all that anyone talked about for well over a week.  ObammaCare, Fiscal Cliff, or Dancing with the Stars.  Whatever is big to your customers and to those you lead is an opportunity to connect.  Don’t forget to be sincere.  No need to binge on 50 episodes of Breaking Bad before your next meeting, but find common ground and stay in tune.  Also, world events are very real, and impact many people beyond just the work place.
3.  Read diverse material.  I have met many people who are shocked that I read 30-40 books per year.  Many people tell me they don’t like to read or they don’t have the time.  That is ridiculous.  Audible has a 15$/month membership where you get one book per month, and the library is free (minus my mounting late fees).  Listen while you drive or excersise.  Don’t just read, read diverse topics.  I read about sports, business, faith, biographies, and many other topics.  Not only are you smarter, you are more interesting as you read more.
4.  Network.  This is another “no kidding” mention.  It’s imperative that you reach out to colloegues in and around your industry.  All to often we are locked in our little silo.  Some perspective of the outside world keeps reality a lot closer.
5.  Practice.  Whether you are in sales pitching products all day long, management, observing these pitches, or executive leadership developing strategy, you must be intentional in finding time to practice in a safe environment.  My organization usually takes us out of the field 3 or 4 times per year to practice our messaging and strategy.  Make sure you are doing this.
Leadership is not easy, but its necessary for success.  Whether you are a bona fide “titled” leader or someone who leads through action on a project basis, fear not.  You are on a quest for to find your awesomeness.  Be intentional in all of these areas and you will grow in you leadership and your success.
Challenge:  Go to your local library and get a free library card and check out 2 books and start reading.

Why I’m Proud to be a Runner

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In light of the tragic attacks on the Boston Marathon, I would be remise if I didn’t share my thoughts about running and the fraternity that is “runners”.  The runner spirit transcends the sport of running, and makes us “growth oriented” human beings.  The best part of our fraternity is that its open to anyone who wants to join.


1. It’s hard and nothing worth having is easy.  Anyone running has faced challenges both physical and mental and have over come them.  Waking up early, staying up late, and running through crazy weather toughens the spirit a drives the person toward a once untenable goal.


2.  An extended hand.  Look around at about 15 miles into a marathon.  People are hurting, tired and wanting to give up.  But something remarkable happens.  They don’t.  Stronger runners reach out their helping hands to encourage thier  fellow runners.  No one complains about slow runners.  A runner is a runner, regardless of speed.


3.  Runners are giving.  From “Race for the Cure“, “Run for her” or “10K for (insert cause)”, running has long been a way to raise money for special causes.  It gives every day people an opportunity to experience sacrificial giving.  This builds great character and helps people who need it.  It was reported that runners ran from the bombing straight to a local hospital to donate blood.


4. Everyone wants to be a runner.  Everyone wants to and can be a runner.  It gives runners a chance to help people get what they want.  Most runners are regular people who are not elite athletes training full time.  Runners are cops, teachers, bankers, construction workers, and many other professions.  Being a runner means that we do what we do and people see us accomplishing something they too can accomplish.


Share with me why you run or want to run.