Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me That?

The Reality of Business Travel


I wish someone would have told me about that!

How many times have we said that as parents? I know that I have said it about a bazillion times. Or, I have said it at least “ten hundred million” times, which was the largest number that I could comprehend as a child.

Human nature assumes that someone out there knows all of the answers. And if that mystical all-knowing leader would just share that knowledge with me, then I would be able to navigate the difficulties and challenges that life throws my way. So human nature insists that there is information that is out there, but it is not always shared with us. That may or may not be true.

What is my point?

The thrust of my thoughts today is that although there are tons of things that we think someone should have told us, we probably would not have believed them if they had tried to tell us.

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Help Others Get What They Want

Is that the best way to get what we want?

Help Others Get What They Want

“Your function in life may not feel like it has anything to do with sales, but when we deal with others it matters to remember that the best way to get the outcome we want is to help others get the outcome they want.”

This was a statement that I made about a photo meme that I posted on Facebook. It sparked a brief dialog with a close friend and one of the driving forces behind LeadershipVoices.com. And it has caused me to share some more thoughts that further develop my original post.  But first, here is the question that prompted my additional thoughts.

The Question

How do I do that when our wants are sometimes at cross-purposes? Or, what if what they want is detrimental to the health of the organization?

The Answers

There are some problems in life we can’t solve.

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Shake It Up and Find Capacity

A Lesson from the Sandbox


He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. — Muhammad Ali

As you saw on Monday, it was a great weekend at my house. What made it so great was getting to spend some quality time with my youngest grandchild.

In the article that I published on Monday, there were several things that I observed while playing with him in the sandbox. While playing, I saw a couple of leadership lessons emerge as we played together in the sand. They are worth expanding on a little more and that is the intent of this article today.

Remember, our little sandbox is set up for the grandkids to play in when they are around. it is a typical sandbox and the filling, flowing, emptying of sand from container to strainer to container caused me to think about leadership in ways that I was not expecting.

Shake it up to get more in it

My youngest grandson was diligently trying to fill a red plastic duck with sand. The duck is actually a watering pitcher for a window garden. But on Saturday, it was an integral component of a major sand filling production. He would take a little shovel and try to get the sand into a round hole on the top of the duck’s head. After many little shovelfuls, he had it completely full. Or so he thought. All it took was a gentle shake and the sand began to settle and fill in a few air pockets. Seconds later there was now more room in the duck and it was not even close to being full. So, we filled it up again. And I jiggled it again. And the sand settled again. And we filled it one more time.

What is the leadership lesson?

Sometimes we think we have reached our limit or come to full capacity. But, if we just shake ourselves up a little bit and establish some new habits, we will be able to take on a little more load and increase our individual capacity. I don’t advocate this approach to all aspects of life all the time. But we rarely reach our true capacity the first time that we think we do.

Chuck Norris, of Walker, Texas Ranger fame, says this.

I’ve always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way and you’ve got to have that drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish.

One of the biggest obstacles that we face is the obstacle of “capacity.” We often think that we have reached our limit and that we have no more capacity to do anything. We are exhausted. We are done. We feel that we just can’t go on.

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I am a House Cut

A unique perspective on Leadership

House Cut

This may be a little out of ordinary for LeadershipVoices.com, but a thought came to me recently. Now that alone is not necessarily “blogworthy”. But, I am going to try to make a leadership application from that thought.

Several years ago I gave up on dealing with my hair. What hair that I had left was not, nor had ever been, very cooperative. It tended to want to go wherever it wanted despite the lotions and potions that I piled on it to keep it down. So, one day, I asked my barber to make a suggestion. She suggested that I just go to a “#1 or #2” razor guard, cut it really short and be done with it. I did it and I loved it.

You can’t imagine the freedom came with that decision. I no longer had to wait in line for my particular barber that remembered how to cut my hair. I now was no longer what barbers call a ”Chair Cut”. I was now a ”House Cut”. All I needed to tell whoever cut my hair was “#1” and they would take it from there.



In fact, it was liberating.

Now for the application to leadership.

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The Business of Ethics

MM - Ethics

I am sure there has been much written about ethics in leadership but I wanted to share some insights recently revealed to me.

I had a visit with some dear friends who have been in leadership positions and one is currently writing a book on “ethics in the university”. He is a retired professor and is a dear friend so, jokingly, I asked him if he had discovered any, to which there was a resounding NO.

The chats usually go with the state of our country then circles around to business models and ethics.

First, I’m not sure why we call it “business ethics”.

Is the place we learn business ethics, in business, or is it too late then?  Our conversation had me asking that question, “Where do we learn” ethics?

Well, I got the standard business answer we all should expect and the one you are thinking. We teach them in college and have training classes and seminars. Which isn’t bad, I might add!

As you may guess at this point in the conversation, I still had plenty of questions. So, one immediate question was; at what age do we start to teach ethics?

Where and when do “we” learn ethics?

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Teach Gratitude to a Preschooler in Four Simple Steps


In all things give thanks… The five year old just celebrated her birthday. She received a predictably mountainous and diverse pile of presents from family and friends, and we had a princess party with Rapunzel wigs, manicures, make up, and an assortment of little princess activities. As any parent might, we made a big deal out of her day. Yet as her daddy, I asked myself before the party and after: what lessons are my little girl learning from this showering of attention and gifts, and are those lessons the right ones?

There are obvious lessons: I am special. I am loved. I am blessed. I am liked. My life is appreciated.

There are subtle lessons: Some people brought me nicer gifts than others. Some people seem to be having a better time than others. Some people seem to be sad (or angry) that I am the one receiving all the attention. Some people wish they had my toys.

And there are some lessons that are insidious: I didn’t get as many presents as my older sister got at her birthday. I think the present I got my friend for her birthday party is better than the one she got me. The party I went to last month was much more fun than my party. I don’t have as many friends as some of my other friends do.

You get the idea – all of these are non-specific and all of them apply. I am amazed as a still-rookie Daddy that these lessons are taught and learned at such a tender age. Yet it is my responsibility to lead my family through them: contentment, envy, fairness, jealousy, joy… but our focus for today is gratitude. As you develop a plan for teaching your kids to be grateful, consider these things:

1. You can’t teach what you don’t know.

Before you can teach anything to anyone – and especially your kids – you’re going to need to understand what it is you are teaching them. The word “gratitude” come from the same latin root word from which we derive the word “grace”. Although grace and gratitude don’t share precisely the same meaning, they are two sides to the same coin. Indeed, one could make a strong case that the proper response to grace is gratitude.

So, start like this: make a list of the graces you experience in your own life. Life itself is a good place to start, and while you are at it, think of other people who have led you, and taught you, and corrected you. And maybe even consider how people who have been less than gracious to you have shaped you in ways that have somehow or another worked out well. You can continue from there. Perhaps (and hopefully!) your children themselves are high on this list. Make certain that you consider how the people in your life figure into the grace/gratitude spectrum. This could as easily be called “counting your blessings”, but your list will have greater meaning to you and your kids if you write it down.

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Train up a child…

I’m the father of three little kids, and we’re just starting school for them. I’ve wondered a bunch lately about the things that they will learn this year, and where they will be successful, where they will struggle, and how I can lead my family through both ends of that spectrum. I’ve wondered how well they will be reading and writing, what sort of social experiences they will have… you get the idea if you are a parent.

I’ve also been thinking lately about the things that my children need to learn: an understanding of football, baiting a fish hook, how (and more importantly, when) to throw a punch, how to safely handle a pocket knife (for my oldest, at least), for a few examples.

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Fantasy Football and Family


Fantasy Football - 1

And with the first pick of the 2014 Fantasy Football draft I pick . . .

I’m a big fantasy football player.   BIG.  I research players in the offseason.  I read and listen to the fantasy football prognosticators.  I prepare meticulously for the draft.  I participate in mock drafts for goodness sakes.  By draft day I know:  whom I want, in what round I want them, and what players I will avoid completely.  If I’m honest, I might be a bit obsessive.  Okay, I am a bit obsessive.  Okay, okay, I admit it, I’m really obsessive!

So, with the first pick of the 2014 Fantasy Football draft I pick . . .  my family.

That’s right, not Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning, but my family.  I know without the shadow of a doubt that my family’s football stats will pale in comparison to those two fantasy studs, but I also know it is absolutely the right pick.  I realized that my obsession with fantasy football isn’t healthy.  Does that mean I’m quitting fantasy football?  Heck no.  Having hobbies you enjoy is an important element of a satisfying life.  It just means I am going to reprioritize the role it plays in my life.

Fantasy Football DraftI think the exercise of taking an honest look at our priorities is a very healthy one.  For you it might not be fantasy football, but I guarantee you that most of you have something in your life that has gained a higher degree of priority than it deserves.   Here’s a list of potential candidates:  your job, your friends, Facebook, your blog, Pinterest, church, food, golf, adult beverages, and on and on and on……  Whatever it is, find it, slap it in the face, and tell it to move on down the list.  I promise you it is less important than your family.

So you might be thinking (at least I hope you are thinking at least something), “Lance, shouldn’t your number one pick be God?”  To which I say, “No”.  Because I operate under the assumption that God is an all-consuming reality.  Without God there is no family, no football (and hence no fantasy football), no job, nothing.  God is the foundation of my priorities.  He isn’t on the list, because without Him the list is meaningless.  In fact, it doesn’t even exist.  God is above the list.

Fantasy Football - 3Whether or not you share that belief, I encourage you to make a list of your priorities.  Now.  Not next week, or next month.  Because we aren’t promised anything but right now.  Be brutally honest when you rank them.  Here are a couple of things to consider when you rank their importance:  

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