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!

Who’s Programming You?

We are all given a limited amount of time in this life, and we all want to make the most of it.  But how intentional are we about who we spend our time with?  For good or for ill, the people we spend the lion’s share of our time with will impact who we become.  Are your associations building you into the type of person you want to be?

a formal affair

Anyone Bringing You Down?

It’s been said that your income will be the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  I contend that often your habits, worldview, and maybe even your physique will also tend to mirror that of the people you let into the moments and hours of your life.  If you’re a part of a group of successful people, over time you’ll tend to build yourself into a successful person too.  If you hang around with losers, you’re well on your way to becoming one.

Observe the Words

A good way to distinguish successful people whom you’ll want to model from the kind of people who’ll bring you down is to listen to what they’re predominantly talking about.  Are they more positive and encouraging?  Or do they spend a good deal of time speaking about others negatively?  Is their conversation about future goals they have, and the means they’re planning to accomplish those goals?  Or are there frequent diatribes of blame:  I’d be better off but for what so and so did; If I weren’t so unlucky, I wouldn’t have all these problems.  A person who you want shaping your character will be speaking positively about future events more than he’ll be speaking negatively about past ones.

Avoid Pride

One quick disclaimer before you think I recommend sitting in your own personal ivory tower looking down on all the poor untouchables down there: there is a distinction between choosing to be part of a toxic circle of friends and spending time with people in order to evangelize, mentor, or disciple them.  The former is hazardous to your future, the latter is vital.  Only make sure that you’re spending enough time with strong leaders that you are strong enough yourself to influence a weaker group, rather than being influenced by it.

Can I Do That?

But where can I find a group of strong and godly leaders?  Why would they want to hang out with me?  I have two answers to this point—a short term and a long term answer.  First, you already know a few winners, and I think if you’ll spend a few moments considering it, you can think of few high-quality people in your life who’d answer your phone call.  Start there.  As you intentionally work on those relationships, you’ll be exposed to other winners naturally, and better than that, you’ll actually start to see and recognize the qualities of good leaders in those around you.  And one great thing about strong, godly, successful leaders is that they absolutely love to help people like you who are looking to grow themselves!

Own Your Time

Limit your time around negative people.  Particularly if your core group is of this sort, you’ll have a hard time keeping your distance, but you must gradually ramp down the time and replace it with time with positive role models.  If your negative group is family, you’ve got an even more challenging task.  But you must do it—for your good and ultimately theirs.  Get strong enough over time by being with winners that you’re capable of being around the weaker group and influencing those people positively.  And finally, recognize that you can create boundaries with people—even if those boundaries make people mad.  In fact, if your boundary makes a person mad, they’ve just identified themselves as the kind of person that you definitely need to set boundaries with!  A winner will respect others’ boundaries, and even if he feels slighted, he’ll approach you in a gentle and respectful manner, because that’s how winners behave.

Simple, Not Easy

Today’s lesson can be a tough one to live, particularly if the discussion of “toxic groups” brings the names of a few close friends to mind.  But just as the flight staff tells you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping your child, the best way to help your negative friends is to become a real leader yourself.  We’re here for you along the way, as is our Father in heaven.  Follow Him first and you’ll never be last.

Small Changes for Big Results

We’re just about to begin the second week of the new year—how are you doing on your goals so far?  If you’re like most of us, this week it will be harder than last week to stick with your new habits.  As the excitement of pursuing a better or healthier life wears off, we all are very tempted to revert back into old ways that are familiar.  How can we head this tendency off at the pass?


This Is Hard

I find it helpful to recognize that creating a new habit or doing what you’ve never done before is difficult.  Take fitness for example:  it may not seem like a very tall order to work out for 15 minutes for 4 or more days per week, but especially if you’re accustomed to 0 workouts per week normally, the new habit will be a challenge to acquire.

Hard, but Temporarily So

After recognizing that maintaining a new habit it difficult, it’s also important to recognize that it won’t always be so hard to maintain.  After you breech the 30-day mark, you’re essentially built a new routine and continuing with it is much easier.  So, when it’s hard to choose the apple over the slice of cake on day 18, be encouraged by remembering that your good habit of healthy eating will soon be much easier.

Keep Your Eye On What Matters

Thirdly, you’ll do best to focus on being consistent with the habit instead of demanding perfection of yourself every day.  For example, if your new habit is to get fitter, focus on getting to the gym for a workout at least 3 times per week.  Even if you don’t have a killer workout every time, you’re reinforcing the good habit of getting to the gym.  Later, once you own the habit, you can focus on getting the most out of each minute you’re at the gym.

Find an Encourager

And finally, seek accountability from winners in your life.  If you’d like to become more regular with your Bible devotions, find a godly friend and ask if he would be willing to meet with you once a week and let you share what you’ve learned in your devotions that week.  The coming meeting will help motivate you to spend time in the Word each day so that you have something to share at the meeting.  A great friend like this can be a great encouragement too in those times when you fall or fail—helping to pick you back up and help you get back on your good track.

Let’s Go Together

Good habits are hard to acquire, but once acquired, they can take us to extraordinary places.  Never underestimate what 20 minutes per day can do to improve your life when it’s toward a valuable purpose and repeated consistently for a lifetime.  Let’s make 2013 the beginning of your thriving life!

Have You Any Excuses?

One of my major missions is to spend time around people who are living well.  I want to be around people who inspire me, who are succeeding in areas of life I’ve yet to master, and who thrive in all aspects of their lives.  When I meet and talk to people like this, I always notice that they’re all lacking one thing:  excuses.

Obstacles yes, excuses no

What’s even more significant than their lack of excuses is the fact that in many cases, they had huge obstacles in their way when they began, and often at many points along the way.  Sometimes, they’re facing a trial currently, but somehow still succeed despite it.

What I’ve realized is that these men and women are not exempt from the difficulties that you and I face from day to day; rather, they have adopted the attitude of an overcomer.  Instead of trying to accomplish things, and then giving up when it gets hard, these people just keep working.  They’ll try one idea to improve their life (health, marriage, career, etc.), and if that idea didn’t work, they’ll seek another solution.  Whatever roadblocks come up are seen by them as temporary—just problems to be solved.

Don’t Be Normal

During the time when normal people, who have given up after the first few tries didn’t work, are loudly broadcasting all their excuses for why they couldn’t win, overcomers are still working.  They know what they want, they’re willing to reach out to mentors for advice, and above all they keep trying until they attain the result they set out for.

What area of your life do you desire new success in?  Will you be willing to take on the attitude of an overcomer and pursue a thriving life?  The resources to reach your potential are all at your fingertips, and the only question that remains is what you will do!

You Need a Smaller Vocabulary

Do you know why you only achieve small victories in your life?  Why you may hope or wish for a grand success, but make only meager progress?  Why you’ve always dreamed of making a big impact on the world but can’t seem to turn those dreams into reality?  The answer is in your vocabulary.  You see, you’re letting the word, “impossible” spoil your mind.

But Don’t Jump Off a Building

Don’t misunderstand—there are certain rules of the world we live in which are not to be toyed with; gravity for instance.  I’m not saying that you can fly if you just start with a great mental attitude.  But I am saying that we are all apt to grossly underestimate our capabilities.  When we make up our mind that our dream cannot be done, we have ensured that it will not.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Your mind is an incredible and powerful machine, and in many ways it is programmed by what you pour into it.  When you repeat to yourself that a certain goal or dream is impossible, your mind goes to work to find all the ways that the thing is impossible.  If you surround yourself with negative programming (most TV shows) and negative people, you’re programming your mind to bring you failure.  On the other hand, if you toss the word, “impossible” out of your vocabulary, you do the opposite—you begin programming your mind to find the ways to achieve the goal you’ve set before it.

A Lesson from the Master

When your goals are in line with God’s plan and you’re programming your mind to seek ways to fulfill your vision, you are in a wonderful place indeed.  I believe that this is the concept which Jesus was teaching in this passage in Matthew 17:

14When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16“I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Trying Hard Isn’t Enough

Jesus tells the disciples that their lack of faith was the root cause of their inability.  Although it appears that the disciples were trying hard to drive out the demon, nevertheless they failed because they did not believe.  In order to succeed in that which is difficult, we must first choose to believe that that which we seek is possible.  Once we can see the goal clearly and accept that we will be able to reach it, our minds can go to work figuring out how to make it happen.  Oftentimes, God will give us ideas along the way that lead us in the right direction.  And finally, we must use our minds, passion, and resources to take action toward reaching the goal.

Ok, I Get It

A simple concept, huh?  As with most things, this idea is not difficult to understand.  Yet, how hard it is to practice!  It is a great challenge to believe a thing possible when circumstances seem to indicate otherwise, and all one’s loser friends surround the idea with negativity and discouragement.  But of how sweet the reward is for those who will believe their dreams and take action to achieve them.

How about you?  What do you dream of becoming or achieving?  Are you handicapping yourself by repeating, “it’s impossible,” whenever the dream pops back into your mind?  Release yourself from the self-imposed bondage and take action today toward the goal set before you.  You have nothing to lose but mediocrity!

The Secret to Riches

Ever wish you could get a hefty raise?  Want to enjoy some of the finer things in life as you climb to the top?  Read on to find the secret to advancement and wealth that many don’t know and even fewer practice.

Work harder than everyone around you.

Too Simple?

After reading such simple advice, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “yeah right!  I work hard and I never get promoted!  The way I see it, I’m stuck being paid basically what my salary is now, so I may as well coast through the day as best I can to at least enjoy myself a little.”  Don’t let this lie get you—instead, follow the sage advice of Scripture:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:23-24)

Good Work, Not More Work

Note that the verse says “with all your heart.”  We should not misconstrue hard work with excessive time spent at the office, rather, there should be a focus on productivity and enthusiasm, behaving as if you were doing work personally for a king, not just a client or a boss.

This kind of excellence in your work will get you rewarded.  It may take time, and it may not be from within your current company or industry, but as God promises, He will see to your reward.  Not only this, but there is a very practical benefit that comes with pouring yourself into the work at hand and doing your very best:  you learn things.  As you accomplish work in one week that your neighbor would streach out to two, you’ve effectively gained one week of experience over him.  You are more seasoned and capable, and as this pattern continues over time, you’ll become the “go-to guy” in many areas of your business.  Your neighbor thought he was getting a better deal by taking the same salary as you while doing less work, but long-term, he’s actually been cheating himself.

Don’t Believe It?

As usual, I challenge you to test these claims in your everyday life.  While this is a simple and easily-understood principle, a person who’ll put it in practice is quite a rarity in today’s workplace.  Besides, you’ve got nothing to lose but inexperience and a low salary!  😉


Getting There

How can we get from where we are today to the places in life where we want to be?  How can we become the people that we want to be—that God made us to be?  In a word, incrementally!

Fitter by the Day

One of the clearest examples I know of this principle is manifested in physical fitness.  No one has ever turned from an overweight couch potato overnight.  But many people have changed from a person 30 pounds overweight to a person 25 pounds overweight with an improved cardiovascular system.  The activities, attitudes, and habits that brought the 5-pound transformation are the very ones that bring the 8-pound transformation the next month, and eventually result in a healthy, fit person with great eating habits.

Follow a Winner

The key in this area, as well as many other areas where this principle applies, is to find people who are where you want to be.  That means people who are 8 steps ahead of you and people who are 2 steps ahead of you.  By recognizing that they have the character, faith, or habit you want, you can then begin to model the life they live.  You can see the choices they make, the council they follow, and the way they press on.  As you watch them thrive and grow, you’ll be inspired to do the things it takes to take yourself to the next level.

One word of caution—do not be overwhelmed when you meet those people who are leaps and bounds ahead of you.  If you go the gym and see someone snatching twice what you’re capable of, it can be discouraging to see that you have so far to go.  Instead of allowing this discouragement to reign, let yourself see this person as having what you want long-term, and be happy for them in their success.  Do not try to reach their place overnight, rather, identify your next level.  What are the people doing who are just in front of you doing that you’re not?  What are they reading or listening to that you’re not?  How do they cultivate optimism and confidence in their lives?

Identify, Model, Own, Repeat

By recognizing the actions and attitudes you need to reach that next level, you’re most of the way there.  As you begin to incorporate these practices into your life and being, you move that much closer to the place you’d like to be.  And now that you’ve done it once, you need only take another step to reach an even higher level.  Be intentional about those whom you choose to spend time around—they must be thriving in at least a few areas to a greater degree than you are, so that you can see what it takes and model their behavior.  Not only that, but they must be growing themselves so that you can continue to learn from them.  As we all walk this road together, we fulfill God’s design as expressed in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”


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!  🙂

Your Habits Are Showing

What’s one thing that will produce dramatic results in your life, for good or for ill?  Habits.  Today, we’ll explore why habits are so powerful and what you can do to take advantage of an amazing source of power within your own life.

Your Stomach Has Habits

For our purposes, we’ll define a habit as something you do consistently, with little or no conscious effort or decision-making.  One simple example that illustrates this point is a habit most all of us have:  eating breakfast.  When you wake up in the morning, how much time do you spend thinking about whether or not you’ll have breakfast?  If you’re like me, none.  I may spend a minute thinking about what I’ll have for breakfast, but I never deliberate on whether or not to eat it–I’m hungry and breakfast will be eaten!

Other examples of habits may include listening to a certain radio station on the way to work in the morning, visiting the vending machine at 2:30 each afternoon, or taking your spouse our for dinner one Friday each month.

So what does this have to do with finding incredible power and effectiveness on your path to thriving?  The secret lies in the cumulative force of months and years of positive habits.  One clear example of this power is shown by bodybuilders, strength trainers, runners, and Olympians.  Look at an athlete who engages in one of these activities and experiences success.  What did they look like last week?  Last month?  Last year?

The answer is that they made it to where they are currently via steady progress.  Like the stream of water that eroded a large rock, these athletes made gains one day at a time.  They ate right and hit the gym while everyone else was pigging out and goofing off, and now they sit at the head of the pack as a result.

Winning in Your Life

You don’t have to have the fire of an Olympian to benefit from this concept.  Just take this principle and apply it to whatever area of your life where you desire dramatic improvement.  If you want to be a great dad, but have thusfar been lacking, decide today to spend 30 minutes every day on improving.  This could mean helping your daughter color for 30 minutes, going for a bike ride with your son, or reading a book on parenting.  The point is, it’s got to be a habit.  30 minutes, every day [or 5 days a week, at very least].

Perhaps you’re dissatisfied with your financial life–you know you should be doing a budget but you just can’t stick with it.  The answer is habit.  Block out a set time each week to spend time on your finances.  During this time (say Monday nights from 7-8), balance your budget, pay your bills, set and track your goals, or read a good book on personal finance.

The First Step

As in our example, your physical fitness is a great area to test this idea and see real and dramatic results within a relatively short period of time.  If you don’t currently have a fitness regimen, try this:  put your workout clothes on every day, starting today.  I don’t even care if you work out at first–just put your workout clothes on, every day.  Once they’re on, how about doing a few jumping jacks?  Get your heart moving, even if just for 5 minutes.  Then, carry on with your evening as normal, you’re done for the day.  Tomorrow, get the workout clothes on again.  Try some pushups or squats, or maybe one of the workouts posted in the ThriveFit section of the site.  But do something, and keep it up, every day.

If you’ll do this, committing to doing something every single day, you’ll look up a month from now and notice huge gains in your fitness level.  You’re getting there one day at a time, just like Olympians do.

Habits for Eternity

Finally, consider your spiritual life.  Do you have any habits that will feed your soul?  Do you attend a church with gospel-centered preaching where the Word is shared each week?  Do you seek the Lord in prayer, or read the Bible to commune with Him?  If not, you are missing profound wisdom, comfort, love and hope from the Father who loves you more than anyone else.  Will you begin today by seeking Him in prayer?

By adopting these habitual practices–spending time working on an area of your life where you desire improvement–you will gradually begin thriving, with success building on success.  The next thing you know, you’ll be standing on the mountain heralding to others that they can get there too.  All they’ll is a little encouragement and a few good habits!

Keys to an Effective Fitness Regimen

We’ve spent a good deal of time lately discussing the many benefits of a good fitness regimen.  Maybe some of these ideas have made you interested in fitness, and you’re ready to dive in.  But before you embark on a new regimen, it’s important to have a good gameplan as well as some strong support.  Without these, your fitness habit will struggle to pass the 3-week mark, and you’ll have lost the strong motivation which could have been used to launch you to a new level of success.

The following principles are vital to a sucessful fitness regimen.


Just like with diet, it is absolutely essential that your fitness habits be permanent.  Your program can certainly change as you move through life’s different stages, but thinking of a fitness regimen as something that you’ll do for a few months, then go “back to normal” will not only lead you to disappointment and frustration, but can be hard on your body too.  Your body is made to move, lift, and run.  Consider exercise like food or worship of God–you need it perpetually to live life as it was meant to be lived.


While it may well be possible to stick with a fitness program in isolation, I’ve not yet met someone who’s done well that way.  Even Rocky had Mick!  Give yourself the boost of a training partner.  Ideally, this person can work out right beside you in the same gym, but even a friend who’s far away can be a good training partner if you can push each other to get out there on the tough days when you don’t feel like it.  I also enjoy competing with friends who are of a similiar fitness level as myself, so we both always know that the other person is probably nipping right on our heels.  As the Good Book says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)


Though some fitness programs can be useful without intensity, I find that most people who are truly successful in fitness incorporate high intensity training into their regimen.  And practically speaking, most of us simply to not have the time luxury to spend hours in the gym every day.  The good news is that you can achieve a remarkable level of fitness in 20 minutes per day, 5 days a week, if you will work at high intensity.  Do that calculation, and yes, I’ll bet that’s a good bit less than the number of hours of TV you watch each week…


This principle was a component that I sorely missed in my early years of fitness training.  Like many others have done, I spent way too much time on 3 sets of 10 bench presses, lat pull downs, and machine shoulder raises.  While these movements aren’t bad, they’re not particularly useful in real life.

When I began my current program, however, I found a whole new world with barbell lifing and other functional movements.  For example, the snatch, a complex barbell lift, recruits large muscle groups and requires a great deal of energy, while simultaneously honing timing and balance skills.  Not only this, but the strength built this way seamlessly travels into real life, whether it’s carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs or hoisting a child up to see a parade.

Functional movements like pullups, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and lunges work big muscle groups and the cardiovascular system.  Your body reacts to this by building more muscle.  The new muscle requires your body to expend more energy all day long to keep everything running.  Thus, in addition to the stronger muscles that you’ll have, you’ll also have a larger calorie gap (the difference between the calories you consume and the calories you require).  If you keep your diet under control, your body has no choice but to recruit energy from fat cells–resulting in a thinner, stronger, and happier you!

More to come

Much more could be said on this topic, but these ideas will get you started on a rewarding fitness regimen.  Check out the ThriveFit page for a few sample workouts to get you going, and let us know how you’re doing–we’re here to help you thrive!