What’s in it for me? 
 
Or, to put it more bluntly: “The world revolves around me, don’t you know that!?!” or “I’m really important, didn’t you get the memo?” 
 
We may not come out and say those words, but we communicate this attitude in a variety of ways. Sometimes, it’s the flippant “I don’t care” comment to those you lead. Other times, it’s ignoring a minor problem that eventually turns into a crisis.
 
More often, or maybe most often, it’s avoiding an important relationship because you have less to gain from the outcome than the other party. We (I) don’t think beyond myself all that often. I believe we could benefit greatly by taking our eyes off ourselves and opening our hearts and time to the needs of those around us.

That sounds good…but, back to me. 

Why would I do that? What am I going to get out of it? We are probably in the habit of leading with those questions as we think through situations. But what if our first questions were, “What can I give?” or “How can I help?”. In a world where most of the messages we hear center on how to build yourself up, pursue your dreams, and live your most fulfilled life, these questions might feel counterintuitive. On my best days I understand this but on most days I’m still learning.

Five ways to counteract the plight of me-ism.

1. Find someone to serve today. It might be your boss, your kids, your assistant or your spouse. Find something you can do to meet a need of theirs. We usually know what these things are when we take a minute to stop and think about it. Serving is where it’s at, the most powerful antedote to me-ism.

2. Deflect the attention off yourself. Who can you make look good today? Find someone on your team and call them out for killing it. I’m not saying embarrass them completely but find an opportunity to praise someone else, earnestly.

3. Invest in someone else’s success. Someone around you is stuck and needs to borrow your mind. You’ve got a thought they need that can help them move forward. Seeing someone get unstuck is one of the best feelings in the world.

4. Confront something that is hurting the mission. Fighting me-ism is not just serving, praising and helping someone else. Sometimes it’s about confronting someone or something that is opposed to healthy progress. There are never a lot of accolades in putting yourself in harms way but sometimes it’s the most important thing you can do. 

5. Listen, and listen again. Actually hearing the words, and the words behind the words is powerful. What’s in it for me type thinking doesn’t listen well because listening requires taking a back seat in the conversation. It gives the other person the microphone and platform while you observe and listen. Good listening isn’t passive though, it should engage every part of you; a heart that empathizes, hands that are ready to help and a head thoughtful on how to respond.

Which of these five points really stuck out to you? Don’t just file it away and assume you’ll remember it, pick a person or situation to invest in today and see how shelving the “what’s in it for me” attitude changes the game.

 

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I’m Back

April 30, 2014

The last 12 months may have been the busiest on record for me and my family. Busy, busy, busy. Life has been full of these types of seasons but this one takes the cake. Unfortunately, when push came to shove, writing fell down the priority list and I didn’t have the margin to continue writing and posting content. I had to take my own advice and re-prioritize.

Life is still hectic but it has settled down enough to get back in the writing game. If you’ve hung around during this post-less time, thank you for your patience. As I jump back in I thought it would be helpful to give a quick highlight reel from the last year.

1. My oldest son, Caleb, turned 13 in March. Let the teenage party begin! He and I rode the train from Seattle to Portland to watch the Trailblazers take down the Warriors, in spite of Stephen Curry’s 47 points. That guy is fun to watch and it’s even more fun to see my son become a young man.

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2. We sold our house and are living in a 2 bedroom condo, still with our 4 kids, while we look for something more permanent. A fun adventure made possible by the generosity of some great friends.

3. The company I help lead opened 3 insanely beautiful (and tasty) coffee shops. If you live in Seattle you need to try Storyville Coffee and if you live anywhere else, well, you too need to try Storyville Coffee. As I’m sure you know, Seattle is quite the competitive coffee market so we worked hard to create a new coffee experience and a memorable launch.

4. Speaking of launch, a good friend of mine has invented a sweet iPhone Camera case that should help revolutionize candid iPhone pictures. Only a few days left to get in on the fun at Kickstarter – $55 gets you a great case and even better the opportunity to support an amazing story.

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5. The Seahawks won the Superbowl and I still get goosebumps every time I watch a highlight clip. In honor of the 12th man and our dominance over our rivals to the south, check out this fun t-shirt.

6. My book Authority:The Leaders Call To Serve is still free on my site. If you haven’t got yourself one, would love to share it with you.

7. It’s interesting to see what posts have risen to the top without any promotion over the last year, here are the top two if you’re new to my site and are curious. How my Moleskine makes life more manageable and a book summary of Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage.

I’m looking forward to getting back into writing, thanks for listening and much more to come.

 

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Have you ever been on a great team?
 
Maybe you haven’t won the NBA Finals but no one could touch your Little League team. Or maybe, it’s your team at work–always on budget, on time, producing great work and having fun while you do it. Great teams are a gift. Great teams are rare. Great teams are a lot of work…but worth it.
 
What does it take to build a great team? What does it take to be a great team member?
 
For the last two weeks I’ve been immersed in a really productive planning session with my team at work (hence the lack of writing). We went deep, really deep into everything we’re doing. We got a lot done but a more important by-product was a great team building week. After seventeen trust-falls, we hit a really big breakthrough…just kidding. As I’ve observed great teams in action, both from a distance and up close, here are eight things I believe it takes to build a great team.

How to build a great team 

 
1. Great teams get prioritized. A team may start out with multiple agendas and priorities but if they don’t come together around a common vision and set of shared priorities, they aren’t going anywhere. You may see individual greatness but team greatness simply won’t happen. I’ve written about the importance of getting your own day prioritized, the same thing is true for your team.
 
2. Great teams don’t force it. It’s hard to force trust and friendship. It’s not about trust falls and forced social mixers. It’s been tried many a time, but doesn’t work. Rather, be yourself and let the relationships develop naturally. Sure, there will be some awkward moments but stay after it. Getting beyond the surface relationally will bind your team together.
 
3. Great teams spend time together. Email is great but email alone will never build a great team. Regular face time is vital–body language, tone of voice, back and forth, posture–nothing replaces face time. You also need to get some extended time together, road trips, new experiences and dinners out. Getting out of the office context allows you to learn more about your team members. 
 
4. Great teams take time to form. Yes, there are those stories of the couples that meet, get engaged and married a week later, but let’s all agree it’s not the norm. Relationships take time, they take conflict and miss-communications, they take apologies and forgiveness. The only short-cut might be taking on the role of a servant, care more about your team than yourself and you’ll see the relationship blossom.
 
5. Great teams require you to play your position. Don’t make your teammates do your job AND don’t envy your team members positions. You’ve got a role to play and if you neglect your position, someone else has to pick up the slack. In life there is always someone better, smarter, prettier, wealthier, shorter or taller. We’re diverse for a reason and your team needs you to be you.
 
6. Great teams back each other up. We’re selfish by nature. If the ball isn’t coming to me why would I move. The true hustlers and the true team members will support each other and get behind each other even if they aren’t the center of attention. You shouldn’t need to do their job for them, but when the load is too heavy to haul on their own, you should be there to help pick things up.
 
7. Great teams build the right culture. Don’t build a culture, build the right culture. A culture might be your personal preference and what works for you. The right culture is what is best for the organization; sometimes they’re the same and sometimes they aren’t. Always asking yourself, “What’s best for the team?”, will keep you from building the wrong culture.
 
8. Great teams enjoy their work. Joy filled enthusiasm to show up and perform your job everyday is huge. This is driven more by attitude than it is circumstances. If you’re heart is in the right place, engaged, excited, humble, then you should be able to enjoy it regardless of the job. This includes the good times and the hard times, the right team is invaluable in both.
 
What’s lacking from your team? How can you be a catalyst towards greatness? It’s worth the effort, I promise.
 
For more on this subject check out my book Authority on Amazon.
 
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This post was adapted from my book Money: God or Gift. For a limited time, Money is available for free by writing a review of the book via Story Cartel, plus receive a chance to win a Kindle Reader.

Are you a Rich Fool?

Sounds harsh, I know. The thing about the Rich Fool is he doesn’t even have to be rich. He simply needs to care more about his stuff than the Creator of all his stuff. We can all fall into the foolish trap and forget that “life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.”

This trap poses a lot of questions for managing our money. Does this mean we’re to avoid possessions entirely and take a vow of poverty? Should we not then be saving for retirement? How can we be wise and plan for the future without becoming the Rich Fool?

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My wife Crystal recently got me a Kindle for my birthday. I love it. The effectiveness of having so many book options at my fingertips, all stored in one place, and the ability to highlight and export quotes is a huge time saver. Reading is one of the most important things we do in life and I’m a huge fan of any tool that helps me read more effectively.

As an author, one of the most common responses to an invitation to read one of my Kindle books is, “I don’t own a Kindle.” Because I know how helpful books can be, particularly when they are as accessible as Kindle books, I wanted to give you 4 simple steps to reading Kindle books if you don’t own a Kindle. It’s now easier than ever.

You Don’t Need a Kindle to Read a Kindle Book

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“Money is the answer for everything.” – Solomon 

How often do you have that day? That day when the answer to every one of life’s problems seems like it could be answered simply by having more money. You could buy a better car, live in a bigger house, pay someone to cook you dinner, take the vacation to somewhere warm and tropical, quit your job, get out of debt, impress your friends, retire, travel, or even afford that one thing that always seems out of reach. There are very few things in life that money can’t buy–they’re important things for sure, but money does answer so many problems.

A more serious problem though is the reality that money so easily becomes our god, the thing we live for. I know, because I’ve lived that way before and am tempted to continue to live that way. The alternative is a much better way to live. And it’s the truth. Money is a gift from the real God. It is something we’re given to enjoy and steward.

Here are the seven most important things to know about money, taken from my book, Money: God or Gift.

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Who’s to Blame?

June 11, 2013

“Me or you?” “Him or her?” “Us or them?”

Who’s to blame?

It’s a question that has plagued the human race since the beginning of time.

I had started this post several months ago and never finished it. But I was reminded of it again this last weekend: for the last 8 years, early June has marked the ending of Little League baseball for the Munson family. My oldest son Caleb is 12 now, but has been playing ball along with his 9 year old brother, Orin. (Today is Orin’s birthday, by the way, Happy Birthday buddy). Anyway, both boys were fortunate to make it to the championship games Sunday, so we spent the day at the ball field.

There is perhaps no clearer life example than the game of baseball to study the use of blame casting. Why did we lose? The error so-and-so made in the 2nd inning, the strikeout by so-and-so with the bases loaded and 2 outs, or the umpire’s bad call at home plate. Yesterday’s game was filled with these types of scenarios, and I wasn’t blameless regarding blame-shifting. Orin’s team won their game and Caleb lost but was not void of controversy.

In situations like this, blame was flying all over the place, and yes, the parents are always worse than the kids.

Two people to blame

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Who is the best sports team of all time? We could debate this subject for the rest of our lives. But, for the sake of keeping things civil, I’ll just tell you: it’s the 2013-2014 Seattle Seahawks… if they can stay out of trouble this year.

Whether in football, business or a non-profit, all great teams have two things in common: Unity and Diversity.

There is a reason that 5’6″ point guards like Nate Robinson can make it in the NBA, alongside of 7’6″ centers like Yao Ming. They’re diverse in their gifts (short and tall, in this case), but they’re united in the mission to create a great team and win. This diversity allows them to fulfill the necessary roles to accomplish their collective mission.

The same idea is true of leadership teams.

Great teams celebrate Diversity.

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Enjoy the process.

This is probably the single most difficult piece of advice for me to follow.

I hear it all the time, but I rarely live it out.

I am so results-driven that it often leads me to be impatient. I want the mission accomplished yesterday. I want the finished product. I want it done. I need it done. The uncertainty of the middle of the process kills me. I’ve written about this topic before—about how we constantly want something more and are not content with what we have. I know I’m not alone in struggling with this.

My tendency towards discontent is most likely a sign of my desire to control my whole life; my need to be in charge of every little detail. It is natural to want to manage my life so that it goes the way I want it to. But it isn’t healthy or godly.

Discontentment is destructive.

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Over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time consulting with various leaders, helping them think through their personal story and the story of their organization. I’m a big believer in the idea that we’re born into a very particular family, at a very particular time, in a very particular place for a very particular purpose. Our stories aren’t done being written and they grow as we live each day, but they are part of a larger story. I love hearing these stories and helping people think through, and make meaning of the circumstances they find themselves in. The very hard to understand truth is that our lives are full of more joy when we realize it’s not all about us.

Life is bigger than you or me.

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