What Are You Expecting This Lent?

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Last year, I wrote this post about my newfound discovery of the true meaning of Lent and how it is applicable to me as a normal average woman who believes in Jesus Christ.

Coming to learn the purpose of this season as being one of preparation added a depth of understanding of Lent that I had never had before.

Similar to last year, I am entering into this season with my focus being on how I can grow and be prepared for whatever God has planned in the coming season. This year I am joining author, teacher, and speaker, Margaret Feinberg’s #LentChallenge of reading through the Gospels (the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). If you’d like to join in, this post from Margaret provides the reading plan for these next 40 days.

I am expectant for God to use this season to purify my motives, solidify my backbone, and clarify my calling.

What are your expectations for this Lent season?

My Reading List – Fall 2014

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I didn’t read as many books as I had intended to during the Fall and early Winter months, but I did read a handful of really good ones. I have listed them below with a rating and a brief summary of what I learned from the book, as well as how I think it might add value to your life. (You can also take a look at my reading list from Summer 2014 here.)

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout. (Check out Jon Acuff’s blog post where he talks about engaging with a book.)
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Love Does by Bob Goff
Truly an inspiring and motivating book. Goff’s love for life is infectious. The stories that he shares are sweet, tear jerking, and heart-warming. His perspectives about the meaning of life are rooted in an authentic desire to love people so much that they seek to create the best life possible for themselves and those around them.

4-Star Reads

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
This is a must read for senior leaders who have reached a plateau and need a game-changer for their organization. Lencioni’s masterfully constructed case for organizational health is that game-changer. The disciplines he outlines are not complex, but when executed really will create a significant advantage.

Quiet by Susan Cain
A fantastic in-depth look into the world of introverts. The depth of research that Dr. Cain did for this book is awe-inspiring. Her chapters on the value that introverts add to the workplace, to our business culture, and to our organizational environments are incredible. Managers everywhere would be smart to read Dr. Cain’s book where they will learn how they can make their teams and departments stronger by having the right mix of introverts and extroverts.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo
An exceptional tutorial on becoming a better presenter and speaker. Gallo does a great job of showing what did and didn’t work for TED speakers, and how to touch your audience’s hearts, and teach them something new through a presentation that they’ll never forget. Very useful insights and tips for anyone who wants to become a better speaker. Dave Savage of Mortgage Coach hosted Gallo on one of their monthly webinars; you can watch here as Gallo shares the main aspects of the book.

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller
This is a must read for anyone who is considering a career transition. Miller leads the reader through a very sequential process of defining your gifts and skills, and then identifying how best to put those gifts and skills to work in something that you are passionate about and will gain fulfillment from. By following his detailed step-by-step process, success is certain.

Storm Siren by Mary Weber
I don’t read very much fiction, but when I do I usually prefer fantasy or adventure (i.e., Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc). I was excited to pick up this first of Weber’s trilogy and be invited into a fun and engaging story. When you just want to escape to a whole other world, this book will lead you there.

3-Star Reads

Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
Building on principles identified in Good to Great, Collins and Hansen outline how companies can architect their own future by establishing certain disciplines, which will also help them to weather storms and thrive. The concepts around SMaC and Bullets, then Cannonballs are the best aspects of this book, providing the best direction for today’s organizations.

Eat More Chikin: Inspire More People by S. Truett Cathy
Down to earth practical insights and wisdom, Cathy makes leadership feel natural and simple. A good and quick read that shows leadership in a common sense way.

My Next Review Will Include

Below are some of the books that I am reading or re-reading over these winter months. I will post a blog in early April that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis
Time Traps by Todd Duncan
Essentialism by Gary McKeown
Wrecked by Jeff Goins
The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

What was one of your 5-star reads of 2014?
What is on your reading list this Winter?

My Reading List – Summer 2014

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Several people who I follow on social media publish their reading lists, and because those lists have been such a great resource to me, I’ve decided to start publishing my reading lists in hopes that they will be helpful to you.

I have listed below the books that I read over the summer months, and have given them each a rating, as well as a brief summary of what I learned from the book, and how I think it might be helpful to you.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that resonated with me or were helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
An extraordinary book about success with counter-intuitive perspectives about why certain people and groups are as successful as they are. Gladwell’s examples throw punch after punch after punch; leaving you stunned and awed. Every page left me inspired and hungry to do good in the world, and make a difference in peoples’ lives. This one scores a plus on the rating scale as well, because when I emailed Gladwell with some questions about the application of the content, he personally emailed me back twice.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
An absolutely outstanding book that tells the tale of an organization that is brought face-to-face with its unhealthy practices and habits, and what it must do to get healthy. By placing the dysfunctions front and center in our minds, Lencioni takes away our ability live in denial and causes us to acknowledge how we are allowing unhealthiness to continue, and even fester, in our organizations and teams.

4-Star Reads

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
As the title leads us to believe, this book by Gladwell talks about giants and underdogs, but true to Gladwell’s style it is done in a way that gets us to look at giants and underdogs in a paradoxical way. The stories and examples Gladwell uses are fantastic and engaging. Good reading for folks who are in marketing and/or sales, and those who use data to tell a different tale. I would also recommend watching Gladwell’s talk to Saddleback Church where he goes into greater detail about the lives of David and Goliath from the Hebrew Old Testament, and additional circumstances that may have helped David to defeat Goliath; truly fascinating.

Drive by Daniel Pink
I am a big fan of motivation; I enjoy talking and learning about what motivates people, especially in the workplace. Pink’s book does a fantastic job of outlining where business owners and leaders should be focusing if they want to keep a motivated and engaged workforce. Pink has the perfect amount of theory to keep this PhD gal engaged and interested, and pulls in enough practical application to give specific techniques and tactics to an in-the-trenches manager to use with their teammates.

No More Dragons by Jim Burgen
A truly helpful book for anyone who recognizes that their life has drifted to somewhere that they never intended. By sharing his own story, Burgen helps you to realize that all is not lost, that it’s never too late, and you’re never too old to get things back on track and moving in a better direction.

The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
I actually listened to this one on CD and I felt like my Grandpa was sitting next to me telling me a fable filled with his wisdom as a means of helping me succeed in life. The truths Andrews shares are relevant for everyone. I was excited to learn that a non-fiction book from Andrews, The Seven Decisions, came out a few months ago that shares the key points from The Traveler’s Gift; I’m sure it will be on my reading list sometime in the next year.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
We all think negatively about ourselves to one degree or another. Shirzad Chamine names it the saboteur, Pressfield names it the resistance. Regardless of what you call it, Pressfield emphatically states that it is what is keeping you from achieving your potential or from pressing in to your unique calling, craft, or gift. Though he directs his words to artists and creative folks, the truths are applicable to business people just the same.

This Is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin
I’ve been on a quest to understand what life is like for those struggling with mental disorders, and this book came highly recommended from a friend who struggles with severe anxiety. The insights provided about what brain impairments do to a person’s mental acuity and health were incredibly helpful and eye opening. Henslin provides practical ideas of how to improve day-to-day life for someone living with a mental disorder.

Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
One that I re-read every three or four years, this remains the classic instruction book for managers on how to create an organizational culture of implementation, actually getting things done, and doing what you say you’re going to do.

3-Star Reads

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
An older one of Gladwell’s, this book talks about thinking without thinking and the power of intuition. There were a couple of good examples and stories, but overall I found the content in this one to be pretty common sense and thus, not very engaging.

How Did You Do It, Truett? by Truett Cathy
A nice little book by recently deceased founder of Chick-fil-A, where he tells the story of how he got started in the restaurant business. Some good words of wisdom and practical advice from Cathy in a very quick read.

Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho
This is a good practical guidebook about how to set-up a blog, but fairly elementary for anyone who has already done any research on blogging. I would only recommend it for someone who is completely new to blogging; in which case it would probably be quite helpful.

What I’m Reading or Am About To Read

I also want to share with you some of the books that I am reading this Fall. I will post a blog near the end of the year that provides my ratings and reviews for each of the below, and any others that I read between now and then.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo
Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis
Time Traps by Todd Duncan
Quiet by Susan Cain
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

What is on your reading list this Fall?

Did Your Family Go On Summer Vacation Without You?

Growing up, summers were a blast! There was always so much to look forward to. Whether it was more frequent trips to the beach or practicing our dives and belly-flops at a friend’s pool or camping somewhere along California’s gorgeous coastline or heading to see the Colorado cousins. I can honestly say that my childhood summers were close to perfect, almost idyllic.

The one thing though that would have made them complete, is if my Dad had been able to join us more often.

The majority of my childhood my Dad was building two businesses. He worked hard to provide for our family of six. But in doing so, it meant that he often didn’t join us at the beach, or only came camping on the weekends, or met us in Colorado for one of the weeks we were there.

As I reflect back on this, I know he did the best he knew how. But, I have to be honest with you, I sure do wish that he’d had a business coach who would’ve helped him plan better, strategize more, identify his core convictions more thoroughly, and work through his calendar and teach him how to maximize and prioritize his time.

Knowing what I know now, I’m confident that if he’d had the kind of support and accountability that my Building Champions colleagues and I provide to our clients, that he would not have missed out on so much, and our summer vacations would have been even more amazing.

I say this with confidence because one of my colleagues just helped his client take her first real and unplugged vacation with her family in 13 years. Another former client of ours just took a 4-week vacation to Europe with his wife and was completely free of work obligations while there.

These, and similar successes, happen because, as coaches, we help our clients be intentional about where they spend their time and how they make their decisions.

Did you miss out on time with your family this summer and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again next summer?

Here are some ideas and resources to help you not miss your next family vacation:
1. Greg McKeown’s new book, Essentialism, speaks to the value of disciplined prioritization.
2. Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, The Best Yes, speaks to rising above the endless demands for a woman’s time and attention.
3. I, or one of my colleagues at Building Champions, would love to engage with you through coaching and help you become more intentional and purposeful.

What are you going to do differently so that you don’t miss summer vacation next year?

Living on Purpose

“We shall not cease from exploration;
And the end of all our exploring;
Will be to arrive where we started;
And know the place for the first time.”
~ T.S. Eliot

Maybe it had something to do with being the eldest of four.

Maybe it had something to do with being in an organizational setting as a file clerk at 12 years of age.

Maybe it was because my parents trusted me, championed me, and nurtured me.

Maybe it had something to do with God creating me this way and placing certain desires and interests within me.

Definitely it is all of these, and more.

I’m talking about my interest in leadership, my ambition to be a leader, my belief that being a leader opens doors, and my awareness that leaders are the ones who really make a difference and an impact on our world.

I recently celebrated my 39th birthday, and as with most people I become more self-reflective around my birthday. As I reflect back, the journey hasn’t been exactly what this Type A girl had drawn out at 11 and 12 years of age, but nonetheless, 39 finds me having arrived at the intended destination: living life on purpose and helping others to do the same.

A conversation that began well over a year ago has brought me to this destination, which is actually just the beginning.

In April, I was invited to join the prestigious organization, Building Champions, as a business and leadership coach. Building Champions is one of the leading coaching organizations in the U.S., with clients such as Chick-fil-A, Prime Lending, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, Pfizer, and State Farm. We are engaged every day to make a positive difference in the lives of those we touch with this motto: coaching business and life on purpose.

I am honored to be part of an organization that is truly making a difference in the way people live and lead. Being able to combine my loves of business strategy, organizational culture, people and leadership development, vision clarification, and priority management is a dream come true and my intended destination.

With this new beginning as a coach with Building Champions, I am looking for people who need someone to partner with them as they work to achieve their professional and personal goals. I help people and organizations get clear in who they are and where they want to go, define their current reality, and develop very specific actions, plans, and strategies to close the gap from their current reality to where they would love to be.

I am specifically looking for 10 additional new clients by the end of August. Who do you know who might benefit from business and leadership coaching?

Additionally, I am also specifically looking for speaking engagement and workshop facilitation opportunities over the next several months. Who do you know who might benefit from a workshop about time management, vision planning, team building, strategic planning, or culture creation?

One of things I realize as I write this is that you might be led to think that by having realized my dream, that my life might be perfect. One of the beautiful aspects of this new role is getting to share life with my clients and being in community with one another as we experience the triumphs and tragedies, and the valleys and peaks of life. For example, one of my current battles is losing the rest of the 30 pounds that I gained while working toward my Ph.D. My birthday present to myself was a Dr. McBabe’s Walking Desk for my treadmill; it’s such a fantastic invention. I’m also excited to use it to begin training for the 2015 Hood to Coast, which I will be running as part of the Building Champions’ team. Another example, as with anyone who has “Achiever” as one of their top five strengths, I’m working diligently to discipline myself to have one day every week where I completely disengage from anything work-related and spend the time in fellowship, community, worship, play, and rest. This is a very difficult thing for me, but is absolutely crucial if I am going to live a full and meaningful life.

Whether you’re 39 or 59 or 89 it’s never too late to live on purpose. I’m curious, what is keeping you from living on purpose?

Why I Am No Longer Desperate For A Mentor

Our society no longer actively uses apprenticeship as the main means of learning one’s trade or skill. It is not often that we have someone come directly alongside us and commit to teaching us everything they know about a specific area of expertise. For the longest time I had a deep discouragement about this. I desperately longed for a Christian businesswoman who would spend time pouring into me from the depths of her wisdom about what it means to be a Christian woman in the business world, and the ABCs of business.

My frustration at not being able to find a woman like this began to dampen when I started to discover the power of observation. About 15 years ago I started making mental notes of what I observed as examples of good leadership and of bad leadership. Then, while working on my MBA, I started recording specific decisions and actions that I witnessed, from various leaders and managers around me, specifically those I observed from women in leadership positions. My arsenal was being constructed of good tools and ineffective tools, of positive methods and negative methods.

While reading the book of Matthew, as part of the #LentChallenge, I was reminded that Jesus used modeling and demonstration as a means of teaching the disciples. He didn’t hold their hands and “apprentice” them, but He invited them to observe His actions and choose for themselves if they wanted to follow His way of doing things. He also invited the disciples to observe and witness the examples being shown by the Pharisees, and again evaluate for themselves what the better way was.

As I read through these scriptures it reminded me of how wonderful a gift observation is to us, and how much we can learn from it. It also reminded me of the constructs of self-directed learning and autonomous learning that I studied throughout my PhD program. Essentially, both constructs indicate that we are capable of learning more when we purposefully and intentionally show desire, initiative, resourcefulness, and persistence in engaging in a learning activity.

This led me to think about other learning activities that have helped me to be a better businesswoman, a better Christian businesswoman.

For me, the main method outside of observation that I have learned from is reading. I love to read, primarily articles, books, and blogs. I’ve discovered that there is great content out there, and some not so great content, but I can learn something from both kinds. I also learn a lot from podcasts and sermons, which I often consume while on the treadmill. Social media expert, Claire Diaz Ortiz, recently posted this article on ways that she learns. I love her plan for getting the most out of a conference. A couple of years ago, author and speaker, Michael Hyatt wrote this blog about how you can go further, faster. In it he said that the secret to doing so is to “Enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.” He gives a really helpful list of the people he’s hired over the years to help him with everything from his golf game to his business and life planning.

The point is, I’ve learned that there are so many more wonderful ways to learn than through direct instruction from someone. I no longer feel the need to have one woman teach me everything she knows because I know I can learn more through these many other sources and methods.

In what areas of your life do you want to learn and grow? What method might best help you?

How I Let Ugliness Into My Life

In December 2012, the owners of the company I was working for chose to replace the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the CFO. At the time I worked directly for the CEO as his Chief of Staff and right-hand woman. Because of that, when the CEO was let go, my position was eliminated. I was given the option of remaining with the company, but in a different role and capacity. Ultimately, I chose to leave. I felt it was a divinely orchestrated event and that it was time for me to move on.

I left the company with some resentment, particularly because of how I was treated by the owners. Truthfully, my feelings were hurt. I had devoted significant time, energy, and effort to help their company succeed and their response to my blood, sweat, and tears was nothing more than what they owed me; no handshake or pat on the back, not even a thank you.

The experience was a difficult one, but what was even more difficult was dealing with my own response to the situation and the ugliness that crept into my life.

As the days and months moved forward I found myself being in a place where I was wishing for their failure, not so much the failure of the people in the company, but the company as a whole. I wanted their failure because to me that would signify that they weren’t able to make it without me, that my contribution to the company was literally what made it successful. Now, I know that’s pretty grandiose thinking, especially considering that I was just one of 3,500 employees. But, I wanted to believe that my significance to the company was that great; that I was needed that much.

As I started to recognize and process this ugliness, I realized that it stemmed from my sense of belonging being founded on shaky ground, and it was creating insecurity in me. It donned on me that I had been looking to this company and its owners to meet my need for belonging; that a part of my identity had become rooted in who I was as a result of who I worked for and how much I was relied upon to keep the ship afloat.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that receiving satisfaction from a job well done is wrong, I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t place an expectation on other people to meet our basic needs, like belonging. John Maxwell says that it is God’s responsibility to provide for those needs, not another person’s responsibility.

In my reading today for the #LentChallenge, I saw what insecurity looks like when it’s out of control. Herod, King of Judea, was so threatened by the birth of Christ, the King of the Jews, that he had every male child under the age of two, in Bethlehem and its surrounding areas, put to death. Herod’s insecurity caused him to use his power to serve himself and to only be concerned with his image and his livelihood.

Though I’m sure I’ll continue to battle with insecurity from time to time, my experience taught me that true peace is found in relying on God and finding my worth through who I am, not what I do.

When have you faced insecurity?

The True Meaning Of Lent

The majority of my formative years were spent in a charismatic conservative Christian church. Palm Sunday and Good Friday were pretty big deals and definitely had attention given to them, but the majority of the attention was given to Easter. Overall it made sense, given that in evangelical circles the emphasis is on the celebration and the rejoicing, and the triumph of Christ rising from the dead, and the beautiful symbolism of His followers not having to face eternal death but being able to have eternal life. I am truly grateful for the truths laid in my heart because of my upbringing, but it was not until I was 34 years old that I actually encountered Lent and its true meaning.

I had heard of Lent and knew that it had some connection with Mardi Gras, and some connection to why people didn’t eat meat or gave up smoking, but there really wasn’t much that I knew beyond that. I know, call me sheltered and unaware, but I just didn’t know anyone for whom it was a part of his or her life.

Then, while I was in Oxford, England attending and speaking at a conference I had the opportunity to attend the Ash Wednesday service at Exeter College in their breathtaking Victorian Gothic chapel. As I sat in that room filled with its magnificent carved woodwork and stained glass, I listened to a message that brought me to an understanding of Lent beyond, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

I came face to face with a season intended for preparation.

The traditional focus of Lent, the forty days from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday, is as a commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. And though that focus, of doing what Jesus did, is admirable, it seems as though why He did what He did has been lost in the tradition and ritual of it all.

As I sat listening to the readings from the books of Isaiah and Matthew, I was reminded that the purpose of Christ’s 40 days of prayer and fasting in the desert was to prepare Him for the days that were ahead of Him as He entered His time of ministry. John Maxwell refers to Jesus’ time in the desert as a “screening process,” a time to see if He had what it was going to take.

Since that awakening on Ash Wednesday four years ago, I have purposefully chosen to participate in the Lent season, but with a different focus than that of the traditional focus. For me it start on Ash Wednesday with a time of prayer and confession and posturing myself in a way that acknowledges my humanity and my need for forgiveness, and then moves into 40 days of specific focus on preparation, preparation for the next season that God is moving me into. John Maxwell says that it is during this season that “our motives get purified, our backbone solidifies, and our calling gets clarified.” Each year I have found myself truly prepared by God for what was around the next bend.

This Lent I have joined in with a group of people who are all seeking to be prepared by God through the 40-day season in a special way. Led by author, teacher, and speaker, Margaret Feinberg, we will be reading through the New Testament of the Bible, from Matthew through Revelation, as our #LentChallenge. I am ready and expectant for God to use this season to prepare me for whatever lies ahead, and am truly grateful that God showed me the true meaning of Lent.

Would you like to join us?

Finally…Good Reasons For Valuing Accountability

Earlier this week I joined the monthly Champion’s Edge webinar by Building Champions. One of their executive coaches, Dan Foster, led us through six steps of accountability with the ultimate goal of learning how to harness the power of accountability.

I have to admit, I joined the webinar wondering if I was going to come to the end of the 30 minutes and feel like I had wasted my time. Not because of Dan, he is an exceptionally experienced coach and a pretty smart guy, and I knew he’d share some practical and meaningful thoughts. But, because of the topic.

I mean seriously, when have you ever gotten excited about being told that you need to be more accountable or have more accountability in your life? Accountability has become something of a four-letter word. Take a look at the definition of accountable, “required to explain actions or decisions.” Wow! Isn’t that frightening? Sounds like something you’re super excited to sign-up for, right?!

Well, I spent the 30 minutes listening to what Dan had to say and as I’d hoped, he did not disappoint, and my time was anything but wasted.

He did a great job of articulating the steps of accountability, as taught through the Building Champions methodology, and how it all starts with being accountable to yourself. But, what I love about what he shared, even though he didn’t specifically itemize them or draw special attention to them, was that he gave a really solid argument for why be accountable; why is accountability valuable; what do we stand to gain by being accountable. And, hallelujah, his reasons weren’t the typical cliché ones that I’ve heard my whole life about keeping you honest, or making you trustworthy, or teaching you responsibility. Not that those aren’t important, they are very important; they’re table stakes. But, for once I heard arguments for the value of accountability that actually got me excited to be accountable. Finally, I was given reason to be motivated beyond duty and obligation. Here is what Dan shared, in his words, more or less:
1) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more purposeful.
2) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more intentional.
3) Being accountable to yourself and others provides added motivation.
4) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be challenged and stretched.
5) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be encouraged.
6) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to learn more about yourself and discover your unique purpose and contribution.
7) Being accountable to yourself and others equips you to build your vision for who you want to be and where you want to go.
8) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to live within your sweet spot, thus enabling you to do what Daniel Harkavy says, “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the great.”
9) Being accountable to yourself and others causes you to respect yourself more, believe in yourself more, and be more self-confident.
10)Being accountable to yourself and others shows others that you can be counted on, which increases their respect for you, which increases the likelihood that they’ll catch your vision and follow your lead.

What I love about this is that it becomes the flywheel that Jim Collins describes in Good to Great. You work through the steps of accountability, which you can go and listen to at buildingchampions.com, and as you work through them the momentum starts increasing, your actions are made on purpose, you say no in a way that shows respect for your plan and your intentions, you see others take note, you notice the difference being made, and as Collins says, “The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!…Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort.” It’s not just doing one of the steps that causes all of this value to be created, it is all of the steps. As Collins says, “It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.”

So, accountability that produces purpose, intention, motivation, challenge, discovery, vision, focus, self-respect, self-confidence, influence, action, respect, and accolades?? Sign me up! I’m in!

How about you, what would cause you to value accountability?

Why I Failed To Meet The 31-Day 500-Word Challenge

Last month I joined with a group of over 1,500 people who sought to meet a challenge, issued by author and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins, to write at least 500 words each of the 31 days of January. The first 22 days were a success, and then the 23rd of January arrived, and I didn’t write again for the rest of the month.

I was upset with myself and actually cried about not completing the challenge, which is an unusual response for me. My pride was wounded as I thought about not wanting to be labeled as a quitter or as someone who didn’t finish something she started. I thought about the excuses that I could give for why I didn’t finish and then I thought about ignoring it altogether and not even drawing attention to the fact that I had failed to meet the challenge. But, over the last two weeks I have come face to face with the real reason why I failed and realized that if I don’t share it, that I will not just be failing myself but I will be failing you as well.

In the Old Testament of the Bible we are introduced to Samson, who rules as a judge over Israel for over twenty years. We are told, even before he is conceived, that Samson will be used by God, that his life is committed unto God. Judges 13:24-25 tell us that Samson is blessed by God and that the Spirit of the Lord is moving on his life. Throughout his early adulthood years, we are shown several instances where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson. It becomes clear, at least to us as the reader, that Samson’s strength comes from the Lord, that it is a gift from God to him. It is not until Samson tells Delilah his secret about his hair never having been cut, and she deceives him and has his hair cut and hands him over to the Philistines, that he too learns that his strength was really from the Lord and was not his own.

In not completing the 31-day writing challenge, I was brought face to face with my own strength and its source, just as Samson was. I’m in no way claiming that I have been blessed by God in the way that Samson was, but I have realized that when I tried to write through my own strength, through my own power, that I failed miserably.

During the writing challenge I started by committing each writing session to God and really seeking His direction and guidance as to what to write about. Then, somewhere in the process I started to try and write through my own strength based on my own thoughts, ideas, and observations, and on January 23rd I fell flat on my face. It took about a week for me to even be able to recognize that this was the real reason for my failure. I moved from a place of depending on God for strength and for the words to write, to depending on my own strength and writing based on what I felt like I wanted to write, and that is how I failed. I allowed pride and arrogance to drive me and failed to acknowledge God as my source.

I imagine (and hope) that I’m not the only one who has ever been the cause of her failure; how have you done so in your life?