There is an epidemic of lost leaders. So many people feel stuck, unsure of the next step. Unsatisfied in their current role, unsure about how their work connects to what they really want to be doing with their life; unable to effect change, not sure where to take their company next or how to navigate a significant setback. Now, these lost leaders may not seem lost as we’re good at the old adage “fake it till we make it.” But really, we’re often just going through the motions, not fully committed, and not using our talents to their fullest potential. It’s easy to get used to this life and take an attitude of just dealing with it. The problem is, this hurts you and your company.

The powerful antidote to cure our aimless efforts, is so simple we often overlook it; a clear, unified and prioritized team. In my career, I’ve been both lost, stuck, and looking for direction, as well as participating on a team with a shared mission to get the RIGHT things done together. Sometimes both in the same place. Because I’ve experienced the difference, it’s my personal mission to help fight this epidemic. Specifically, to give leaders and their teams a breath of fresh air with resources, tools and a process to pursue health; a compass for creating meaningful work together.

How do you know if you’re lost?

Over the next few months I’ll be diving into each of these subjects more fully but here is a quick set of diagnostics to assess whether or not you’re lost.

You’re lost if where you’re leading is in conflict with what you believe. If your deepest held convictions are not in concert with where your or your company are headed then you’re on an unsustainable track.

You’re lost if you can’t answer the question of why your company exists. Going through the motions will only get you so far, true longevity is built by understanding the why behind what you’re doing.

You’re lost if you are suffering from a clarity crisis. Meaning, you don’t have a clear vision of the future and what’s next for the company or how you personally fit into the vision.

You’re lost if your leadership team is operating off of different agendas. The CFO is headed one way while the marketing team another because they don’t have shared priorities.

You’re lost if confusion is costing your company forward progress. When confusion reigns within a company’s strategy, real time and money are wasted rendering you not as effective as you could be.

You’re lost if your resources do not align with your plan. Whether it is a lack of financial resources or an abundance of human resources, they must be aligned with the plan to ensure success.

I’m excited to share much more on these subjects with the aim of helping others find their way forward, personally and organizationally. As you dive into your own personal clarity journey, check out the book, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni. It’s an incredible look at how creating clarity gives you the upper hand in any organization. I’ve also written on how clarity and staff morale are interconnected.

When we’re able to connect the depth of who we are as a person with the activities and actions of our work, we reach a sweet place of alignment. That’s my hope for us all.

 

BIG NEWS on the Munson front. Friday was my last official day at Storyville Coffee. I love the place to death and am so proud of what we’ve built over the last few years. The people of Storyville represent one of the finest collections of human beings I’ve ever seen. I will greatly miss working alongside them every day but am hopelessly addicted to the coffee, so if you’re ever looking for me, start there!

Journey

A New Chapter Starts Today

I like challenges. When someone says, “you’re crazy” or “that’s impossible”, something inside me perks up. Every role I’ve had in the last 16 years has posed its own opportunities and challenges. I’ve had many exhausting days and many triumphant days. I’ve enjoyed some success and tried to learn from the failures. My plan is to take this experience and build a leadership consulting company to help leaders and their organizations thrive. There is an epidemic of lost leaders and organizations, my mission is to help.

When people ask how long I’ve been thinking of this, my usual answer is, “Since I was 12, when I dreamt about building a teleporter to take me home back up the hill from my best friends house.” Starting something new is never easy. It’s a risk but as with most dreams in life they require taking that first step and diving in.

What If It Doesn’t Work?

I hear regularly “what if it doesn’t work?” or “what if you fail?” Failure is a real possibility, and I don’t take that lightly, especially with the responsibility to feed four children. However, I can’t move on without trying and am so excited to jump in, and trust the process. I’ve slowly worked my salary back to nothing which is where this ride begins so I better get going.

In the coming weeks I’ll be writing a lot on the subjects of helping leaders and organizations find clarity, get unstuck and maximize their potential. In the meantime if I can help you with anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

 Thank you for sharing in this journey with me.

 

Yesterday I wrote about defining success and today I want to focus on how to build on it.

Have you tasted it? That feeling that comes with victory. That sense of accomplishment. The satisfaction of a job well done. What happens when success comes your way? Do you enjoy it? Do you take it easy? Do you fear you’ve peaked? In my experience, there are two roads we head down after experiencing success; we either presume upon it or we learn from it.

Presuming on Past Success

Presumption is the attitude that naively and arrogantly says, “I did it once, I can do it again.” It’s often accompanied by a flippancy that thinks it can get by without all the work this time around, forgetting what the journey looked like to get there in the first place. In an organization this could be accompanied by pedal-to-the-metal, get-rich-quick methods that produce steroid-like growth. You experience a faster flash, a more immediate impact, and put out a greater investment of resources up front to try and buy success. It’s more chaff, less substance; more height, no foundation. The success is short lived.  

Presumers will fail, despite the fact they’re coming from a past experience of success. They may not fail right away and the immediate results may look like success, but over time, without a deep foundation, the results will fade away. This will continue to be the case until the new failures are converted to learned lessons.

Learning from Past Success

Analyzing a victory is so important. What worked? What didn’t? How can I get better? Repeat what you did right the first time, but learn from the mistakes you made so that you can improve. Ask questions of others involved in your success to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Listen to critique with an open mind and be willing to learn at every opportunity. 

Those willing to learn will continue to succeed. They will never be mistake-free, but when they do mess up, they will see it as an opportunity to grow, and persevere until they reach their goal.

So, be bold, chase success, stay humble, learn from it, don’t sacrifice the wrong things and keep after the attitudes that got you there.

  

Regardless of status or position in life, most people want more. More money, more recognition, more respect, more accomplishments, more success. Success is a universal pursuit. I’ve never met anyone who isn’t pursuing it. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so but I do think it is important to define and personalize. If you don’t, then your life will be spent comparing yourself to others. That is a bad thing because it robs you of the joy of living your life freely.  

What is success?

At the end of the day, defining success is personal and subjective. But I think it’s fair to say that when someone feels successful, they have accomplished something positive, achieved a goal. Personally, finishing a 1/2 marathon in under two hours was a success for me; I set a goal and achieved it. For someone else, my time would be a total failure. Again, success can be relative, but the recipe for realizing whatever success you are after is basically the same–faithfulness, diligence, and perseverance in your relationships, dreams and opportunities.

What is it you’re after and why is it important? Have you defined it and are you sacrificing other important areas of your life to achieve it? If you haven’t defined it then you don’t know exactly what you’re after. You certainly won’t know when you achieve it. Spending time to think and dream about your future is an important discipline. Paint a picture of your future and then really examine your motives. What it is going to take to get there and what will be sacrificed along the way? Then ask yourself if it’s worth it. If success in one arena of life leads to failure in another, are you really successful? If you make a million dollars but your family falls apart, is it worth it?

Categories of success

I’m not a fan of compartmentalizing your life into categories but for the sake of defining success, it’s helpful. Take some time and think through your Friendships, Career, Family, Finances, Spiritual Life, Hobbies, Education and any other important pursuits. What does success look like in each area? Where do you want to be 1, 3, 5, 10 years from now? As your dreams begin to formulate on paper, it will inform what’s needed to pursue them faithfully. You’ll be forced to honestly wrestle with your priorities and determine what is most important to the life you want to build and your future success. Blessings. 

Stay tuned for a follow up post: How To Build On Your Success

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.
 

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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