Leading Takes Listening

I used to think that leaders were the ones with all the answers—the smartest ones in the room.  While it takes intelligence to lead a team, I’m learning that great leaders do something you might not expect, and they do it exceptionally well.


You may think that you’re the smartest person in the room—and you might even be right.  But if you’re unwilling to listen to the people around you, you will dramatically hamper your effectiveness as a leader.  Leaders listen, both for ideas and in order to influence those they lead.

Listen for Ideas

Even if you are a genius, you don’t have a monopoly on good ideas.  The beauty of this world God made is that things work best when people work together.  Jesus used the example of the body to describe His bride, the church.  An eye has a different function and role than an ear, just as a foot can be used more effectively accomplish some things than can an eyelash. Here’s the takeaway—you may be an excellent hand, but no matter how great a hand you are, there’s no way you can hear a noise—only ears can do that.  Recognize your strengths but be willing to seek feedback and ideas from the people around you.

Listen for Influence

Do you look others in the eyes when they speak?  Do you really listen to what they’re saying?  If you do these things, you’ve certainly noticed how few other people do this.  When you do little things like make eye contact, adopt a welcoming posture (no arms crossed, no hands in pockets), ask questions, and use the name of the person you’re talking to often, you will be amazed how people will open up to you.  In doing this, they demonstrate their trust in you.  And to be trusted means to have influence.  Make the effort to truly listen and care about the person you’re talking to, and you’ll be amazed how they will want to hear from you.  Humility, respect, and trustworthiness—things that we know belong to good leaders, but the question is, will you exemplify them today?

What Are You Doing Tomorrow?

We’re always making plans for tomorrow—whom we’ll see, what we’ll do, and where we’ll go.  Whether it’s fun activities like attending a party or playing a game of basketball, or mundane tasks like cleaning the garage, we assume that our plans will happen and we’ll have the time to accomplish what we set out to do.  But is this assumption secure?

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One in A Million?

Historically, how many people have never died?  Not too many?  Were any of these people less than (gasp) 40 years old when they died?  Of course, we all recognize that death comes to all men, and to many, the end is not at 75, but much much sooner.  While we lament this verity, many of us (and myself definitely included) seem to ignore the obvious fact that these statistics are applicable to us.

James 4:

13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are [just] a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, [you ought] to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

A Sobering Reminder

Most all of us can think of people in our life, people we may have been very close to, who have passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  It is a shocking and surreal experience to lose someone whom you thought you’d have many more years with.  When people we love go through this valley, it is our charge to comfort and pray for them, and hold them tightly as they walk through the pain.

But it is also our responsibility to take these moments as reminders that life is fleeting.  And not just life in general, but your life, my life!  I may not have tomorrow, and therefore must use today to do that which truly matters.  Only God’s Kingdom is eternal—am I seeking it first, or letting it get crowded out by many other fleeting things?

How We Spend Our Time

Am I using my gifts and talents to pursue that with is God-glorifying and beneficial to my family and those whom I love?  Or am I settling for mediocrity, more of the same, and the lack of excellence that is common among the time-wasters and complainers?

I hope you’ll join me on the journey toward personal growth and the pursuit of your grand calling.  God has seen fit to give me breath for today, and He has a purpose in mind for this life of mine.  May God bless us both as we grow in grace and knowledge of Him.

Keys to Leadership and Success

Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Leadership Team Development (LTD) business conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  My team and I had the chance to learn leadership and success principles from some of the best in our industry.  For your benefit, I’ve summarized some of our major takeaways from the weekend in the following article.  If you’re interested in how you can join this amazing team and have access to great conferences and leaders like these while you create an additional income stream for yourself, feel free to comment on this post or leave a message on our ThriveMart page.  We’d love to be a part of your journey to the top!


Common Denominators

My single biggest takeaway from the weekend came from a presentation of the five common denominators of every successful business owner.  The general idea was that even though different people build their businesses differently, they all generally do the following five things consistently.


In my mind’s eye, I pictured business as an engine.  If you take action on these five things consistently, your engine stays in step with itself–in harmony.  But if not, the time and energy you spend on one cylinder gets for the most part wasted when one of your other cylinders isn’t firing properly.  I believe that a lack of knowledge of this principle has been one thing that has held our business back from realizing its full potential up to this point.  When I first got into business for myself, I thought, “This is great—I get to be my own boss and set my own schedule” and I think I translated that into, “I need only do the things I find fun; I can avoid the uncomfortable things.”  In reality, the proper way to build a business is to set the time commitment you’re willing to make, and work on each of the five things consistently during the time you’ve made available.

Ok, enough commentary, here are the five things:

  • Consistent sales:  Be sure that you’re using your products personally promoting their benefits to existing and potential customers.
  • Read and listen:  Become a collector of great business books and audio recordings of the best and brightest leaders of today and yesterday.  Incidentally, Zig Ziglar is probably my favorite person to read and listen to.  Make sure you get at least a few hours of reading and at least a few hours of listening each week.
  • Lead others:  Share your business with others who have interest in joining your team.  Once you understand how to do something, you can help another person learn it.  Multiply yourself by training others to learn and do those things which made you successful.
  • Spend time around successful people:  Get around the people who have what you want and are doing what you want to be doing as often as possible.  Attend informal gatherings, team meetings, and conferences as often as they are available.  Make the decision to consistently attend beforehand and work the other demands on your schedule around your business. (Note: never lose sight of your priorities:  God, family, then business.  But work your schedule in advance in order to attend these important opportunities for instruction and encouragement)
  • Communicate with your team: Call, email, and text your mentors as well as those whom you are mentoring.  Good communication increases accountability and helps mentees learn from your actions.

Don’t Stop Short

A final picture of this idea goes like this.  Assuming a soda costs $1, what do you get if you put 95 cents into the machine?  Nothing.  You spent all that effort getting the money in, but because you didn’t get all the way to the full dollar, you end up getting nothing.  Neglecting one of the five areas is like leaving off the last five cents.  Don’t leave your effort in the soda machine or run your car on 3 cylinders:  translate these concepts into your life and get going on your journey to the top!

Need a Lift?

Do you ever get discouraged?  Most of us can get excited about a new opportunity when we first hear of it (especially if we’re not yet too jaded!)  But what do you do when the initial fire wears off and you come face to face with difficulties, discouragement, and obstacles?

When You Need a Friend….

In times when you’re struggling, don’t you just wish that a warm, kind friend would seek you out, give you an encouraging word and a thoughtful, sincere compliment?  What if I told you that you could be assured this pick-me-up anytime you desired it?  Would you be interested?

…Be One!

Here’s how you get the vital encouragement you need to pick yourself up when times get tough:  encourage others.  No, I don’t mean that you should encourage friends and neighbors today, in hopes that they’ll reciprocate in the days to come (although that may also happen).  Instead, I’m encouraging you to seek out someone to pay a compliment to because that action will actually encourage you as much, if not more, than it does them.

Building, Building, Building Others Up

The reason why this works falls into the large category of things I don’t quite understand.  I don’t know why it brings us such great encouragement when we encourage others—I only know very simply and clearly that it does.  Incidentally, this idea is something we parents always teach our kids; however, like so many simple concepts that fill children’s books, we adults never seem to practice them!

Be the Leader

If your environment is anything like the workplaces and neighborhoods that most of us live in, the practice of an unsolicited and sincere compliment will be somewhat foreign to you.  It is difficult to start a healthy habit when it’s not modeled for you, but then again, readers of TotalThriver are trailblazers anyway, right???  Thankfully, this practice is one that’s relatively easy to start—people really do appreciate compliments, whether they’re your colleague, boss, or just someone you occasionally pass by.

A Win-Win Situation

Make your compliment specific, genuine, and personal.  When you notice a job well done, a positive attitude, or a bright idea, take a moment to share your delight.  Whether it’s something small or a significant victory, both you and the recipient of your compliment will leave the encounter happier, more positive, and energized for success.  Consider your fire rekindled!

Check Your Heart

We often discuss the habits and principles for becoming wealthy here at TotalThriver.  But if we pursue financial gain with the wrong heart, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  Today we’ll examine the Master’s teachings on wealth, and learn from him the proper attitudes and perspective.

In Luke 12, we read:

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

The Man’s Heart

I love how Jesus always sees us for what we are.  The man in this story asks what might seem to us to be a legitimate question.  He wants Jesus to instruct his brother to give him half of his father’s estate.  Notice how Jesus goes straight to the heart of this issue:  “be on your guard against covetousness.”

The man’s request had little to do estate planning or arbitration and everything to do with his jealousy toward the possessions of his brother.  Not only is this a violation of the tenth commandment, but the man has the audacity to imply wrongdoing on the part of his brother.  No doubt this did not foster a good relationship between the man and his brother.

Looking out for Number One

Jesus explains the foolishness of pursing wealth with the wrong heart in His usual way: through a parable.  The man in the parable had an abundance of wealth, but instead of being thankful to God and praising Him, using the resources to glorify God and help others, the man is solely concerned with his personal comfort.  He plans how he will use his resources to bless himself, and unlike wealthy and righteous Job, does not use his riches for the glory and worship of God.

Too late, the man in the parable realizes how temporal worldly riches are.  He had the opportunity to use his money to expand the kingdom of God, thereby storing up treasure in heaven.  But instead, he sought wealth only for himself and his own security and comfort.

What About You?

Are you like either of these men?  Does your heart hold jealousy toward others who have greater riches than you?  Do you desire that some of their money be taken from them and given to you?  Or, are you like the man in the parable, focused on what you can get for yourself, and indifferent about the kingdom of God and the ways that your money can be used for His glory?

Father God, help us to resist the lies that the world teaches on the value and use of money.  Let us seek financial gain honestly, and use it for your purposes and your purposes alone.  By your grace, may it be so in my heart and each one who reads these words.

Who Shapes Your Mood?

Someone is controlling the experiences you have, the feelings you experience, and the ways you react to your circumstances.  Where can I find this person, you ask?  You need only look in your bathroom mirror.

No Slave to Circumstances

The importance of a positive attitude in shaping one’s experience is often underestimated, but truly successful people everywhere understand and adopt the philosophy of looking positively on life.  We tend to think that our moods are largely driven by our circumstances—and it is true that some events can have a drastic impact on us in the moment—but most of the things life throws at us can be taken in stride.  These everyday ups and down that we so often allow to control us can be overcome by taking the following two actions.

Tend Your Garden Well

First, plant good things in your brain.  This is the long-term strategy to getting you in the place where a “negative” experience can’t dampen your day.  Recognize that your mind is in many ways similar to a garden.  The people you choose to associate with, the books you read, the TV shows you watch, the music you listen to, and the church you attend are all seeds that you plant in the garden of your mind.  As these messages are positive, helpful, and uplifting, you plant seeads in your mind that help you react positively to experiences you later face.  As these messages are angry, sarcastic, or demeaning, you plant seeds in your mind which will cause you to react negatively.  The latter seeds manifest in statements like, “that will never work,” we can’t ever get ahead,” and “it’s just not worth the effort.”

Start Off Right

Secondly, have a great morning.  Don’t try to have a great morning; have one!  Every day.  What is your current habit first thing when you wake up?  If it’s anything other than, “praise God for creating another great day!” change it.  If you don’t believe me that this makes a difference, you need only give it a try tomorrow.  Make a decision tonight to wake up tomorrow happy and thankful.  Then, when your alarm rings, follow through on the decision you’ve already made.  Have a good breakfast, spend 10 minutes reading Psalms, and see if the rest of your day is better than normal.  Don’t fight the smiles that come your way tomorrow, and notice how those around you react to the positive person they meet in your office.

But It’s Too Easy!

Too simple, you say?  Maybe so, but it is the practice of people who have the kind I lives that I want.  And if you want to live an abundant life, all you need do is follow their lead.  Enjoy the happy disposition on your way to the top!  🙂