Friday, April 21, 2017

The Power Of Failure - How Big Mistakes Can Pay Off Big Time

(Guest Post by Chris Colvin)  Chris puts thoughts into words into actions.  See all he has to offer at

Failure is powerful. But that power is really two-directional. It can either crush you or build you up. Good leaders know how to distinguish between the two.

No one likes to fail. It’s part of our nature to resist any sign of failure, whether that’s distancing ourselves from those we see as failures or avoiding situations that have a low probability of success. But failure is not optional, it’s inevitable.The right approach to failure begins with honesty. Instead of trying to cover up a failure, good leaders will face it head on and tap into the positive power it presents.

When I first started out as a freelancer and entrepreneur I really felt unprepared for what I was doing. I’ve never considered myself to be an entrepreneur, and my ability to self-motivate was pretty low, to be honest. By God’s grace, I lucked into enough stable jobs from great clients that I was able to keep myself afloat while I built my business. Looking back, there was one failure early on that really defined my whole approach. It’s really what created the impetus for me to create channels in my life to self-motivate and innovate.

One of my first clients was a bad fit. I can say that now. But at the time I thought it was a perfect fit, only because they were a paying client. I could go into detail, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that from the beginning there were red flags that I ignored because a paycheck was coming on Friday. But after struggling to make the relationship fit, I got the heave-ho after only a month and a half.

The Best Thing to Happen to Me

My fear of failure has always been pretty high. After dropping that client – and there were plenty of mistakes on my part that led to my failure – I could have easily spiraled out of control, got down on myself, and spent the weekend nursing some self-pity. Instead – and again, this is the grace of God – I picked myself up and dusted myself off and took a good, hard look at the situation.

What did I find from this failure? I found invaluable information that I could never get if I had only tasted success. I found strength where I thought I’d find weakness. It was maybe the best thing to happen to me.

There is a problem among many leaders I see today. It’s a phobia of failure. I hear others talk about “failing forward.” That’s just a cop-out. Every failure is a failure in the same direction – down. You attempted something and missed the mark. Own it!

The phobia of failure leads many people to shift and redefine their failure in a way that clears them of any notches in the loss column. If the goal is to have a perfect record, then you’ll always play it safe. You don’t know your boundaries until you push past them into failure. Take weightlifting for example. You don’t know how much you can bench press until you find out how much you can’t bench press.

Lessons Learned from Failure

From that failure, I learned a lot of great lessons. I want to share three with you. These may not fit your particular situation, but they can give you a pattern for how to approach your own failure as a way to learn lessons.

1. I learned I’m not for everyone.

When I first started Cohort Research Services, I envisioned being able to help any pastor of any church anywhere. This was against the advice of a life coach who told me to define my “perfect client” and only market to them. But it was only when I tasted failure from n “imperfect client” that I realized the whole nature of my business.

Instead of a mass produced and mass marketed product, I service a very niche and select crowd. And that’s fine! It means that I can personalize every research experience to an individual client, maximizing my impact. But on the flipside, it means that I can’t service just anyone, and certainly not everyone. It pushed me back into that space of locating the “perfect client,” which is a great space to be in!

2. I learned what I really need for success.

Instead of scrambling for coins, I realized I could scale my business for dollars. That may sound materialistic, but sometimes you need to see your business as just that – a business. When it comes to what you need to be a success, you need to define the monetary component.

My failure with an early client allowed me to take a good hard look at my finances and budget. What dollar amount did I really need to succeed? How many clients did I need to accomplish that? How should I go about finding the right type and number of clients to meet that goal? It also helped me evaluate where I wanted to be a year from now, five years from now, and even ten years from now from a financial perspective. And having the right perspective is essential if you ever hope to scale your business.

3. I learned I’m going to survive.

This was the most important lesson for me to learn. I’ve had heart-to-heart conversations with people in the past about failure and risk-taking. So many times they’ve said, “I think you’re just scared of success,” and I still have no idea what that means. I’m not scared of success. I welcome it with open arms! I’m scared of losing everything, and that’s what I thought would happen with even one failure. That’s absurd, but that’s where my brain went.

Going through failure helped rewire that part of my brain that saw any step back as a fall off a cliff. I failed. I got through it. I might have lost a bit of momentum, but I picked it right back up. I survived! And you will too.

Success without failure is a fallacy. And the idea that any failure is an ultimate failure is also wrongheaded. Instead of skirting the issues of failure in your life, redefining it in an attempt to escape it, lean into your failure and pull as much from it as you can. Failure can lead to success, but only if you approach it with honesty.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

3 Big Ideas From My Upcoming Book

I had the opportunity to do an interview with Jeremy Jones about a month ago.  The interview went live this week and I wanted to share it and three of the ideas that appear in my upcoming book, "Pastor Fail".  I hope you enjoy the reading and listening as Jeremy and I unpack the ideas in more detail.


The 3 big ideas we discussed:

  1. The hard decisions we must make in life have two facets, the pain and the payoff. We tend to get stuck on the pain and we miss the payoff.
  2. When you fail at something that matters deeply to you, your healing process will take longer than you think it will or want it to. Don’t rush it. Embrace it.
  3. The cycle of growth none of us wants to embrace. Freedom From What Holds You Back → Explosive Growth → New Vision → Leap to the Next Level → REPEAT . . .
I would love to hear how you've seen these principles play out in your own life.  Or, if you have a question about how one of these works, ask away.  Leave a comment and let's talk about it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Could YOU Possibly Have To Offer?

Over the last few posts, we’ve talked about getting clear about what you want and getting the right people around you to make that happen.  Today, let’s shift from looking at who you have around you to simply looking at yourself.  The big question you can work on answering next is, how do you determine your personal value and share it?  While that’s a great question to answer, it’s a mouthful, so for now, let’s simplify and ask, “What do I have to offer?”

So, what do you have to offer?  If you’re like most of us, you shy away from questions like this.  We all tend to underestimate what we have to offer.  That may be because we’re overly-modest, we lack confidence or we simply haven’t done the work to identify it.  Whatever the reason, there are two very big problems with you failing to identify what you have to offer this world.  One is that if you don’t identify and operate in whatever “it” is for you, you’ll never be fulfilled.  There will always be an empty feeling inside you that feels like something is missing.  Second, if you don’t identify your “it”, other people (who need “it” very badly) will miss out.  So, you failing to identify what you have to offer is a lose, lose.  But, when you do identify what you have to offer, it’s a win, win.  Let’s talk about how you can shift to the win, win scenario. 

4 questions to help you answer, “What do I have to offer?”

1.  What do you enjoy?  What energizes you?  What gives you that feeling that says, “I was made to do this”?  You may or may not know the answer to this question right off the bat.  If you do, that’s a great start.  If not, you may have some work to do to identify some of the things you enjoy and energize you.  It’s worth all the work it requires.
2.  What do you believe you’re good at?  Again, this is something you may shy away from, but if you allow yourself to be honest, you can probably identify some things you know you’re good at.  They may be current or they may have laid dormant for quite some time.  Take some time today to think and even write down some of those things you believe you’re truly good at.
3.  What do other people tell you you’re good at?  This is a good test.  We can fool ourselves, but it’s difficult to fool others.  If someone tells you you’re good, you probably are.  Once again, take some time and jot down some of those things others have affirmed in you.  You may have even dismissed them, but it’s important to gather those back to the top of your mind.
4.  If money were no object, what would you do with most of your time?  This isn’t a question about leisure time or early retirement.  It’s about what brings you energy and life.  If you had trouble answering #1 above, this may be tough, too.  But to spin the question in these kinds of limitless terms might be just the help you need.  If you don’t know the answer now, can you at least write down a few possibilities?

While these questions are a great start, you may only get so far on your own.  A skilled coach can help you dig deeper into these questions.  I would be honored to offer you that help by utilizing several highly effective coaching tools I have at my disposal.  Just click here to get started on your journey to living out your dreams.  When you’re ready, l'll be ready to help you get there.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Single Biggest Factor In Your Success Or Failure - Part 3

You'll need all 5
Previously, we talked about the truth that you are the average of the people you spend the most time with.  There are some relationships you’ll need to cultivate, some you’ll need to pull away from and some you’ll need to create.  Whatever your current situation, you cannot attain God’s dream for you alone.  Today, we’ll talk about the five crucial relationships you’ll need in place to see your dream take flight.

1.  Experts.  These are people working and living out a dream similar to the dream you are called to.  We all need models and mentors and you may need to do some research to find who some of these experts are.  Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Most of us will need to see and even learn a model before we can adapt it.  As you begin to research who some of these experts are, reach out to them and see how you can learn from afar or even up-close.  You may be surprised how accessible some people will be if you just ask.  Overall, chemistry is key.  Look for experts and then lean into the relationships with those you feel you click with best.

2.  Supporters.  These are people who believe in you, who encourage you and would pray for you if you asked.  Supporter are like a spider web.  The tensile strength of a spider’s silk is greater than that of the same weight of steel.  Further, it has greater elasticity, because of its many points of connection.  Who are the people who will hold you up as you move God’s dream forward for your life?

3.  Challengers.  These are the ones who typically tell it like it is.  They are very direct and straight-forward.  We all need these people who will challenge and push us to reach higher and get better.  They will challenge you both by the example of their lives and by the words they speak.  They may not know much about your dream, but they are for you and could play this role if asked.  Caution, these people may threaten you.  You may need some thick skin to gain the valuable perspective a challenger will bring to you.

4.  Resourcers.  These will share and sponsor you into their networks and relationships.  Resourcers will help you with your dream by providing knowledge, experiences and even financial resources.  Again, chemistry is key, but can you think of some people who deeply care about you and might want to help you pursue your dream by being resourcers?  A word of caution.  These won’t always be the people you would expect most.  Just because they’ve been a supporter does not mean they will become a resourcer.

5.  Balancers.  These are the ones who will help you live a healthy and balanced life.  Once you discover God’s dream for your life, it’s easy to pursue it full-throttle, often to the detriment of other vital aspects and people in your life.  We all know people who have burned out doing too much of what they love or have neglected some priorities and have lost valuable parts of their life along the way.  Hear this and hear it well.  You can’t afford to lose your health or relationships that matter most.  Think of people you know that model emotional, physical, relational, intellectual and spiritual health.  Who would push you to take time for leisure activities or hobbies?  You may not know one person who will bring all those traits, but you know some people who can bring some of them.

I hope this list is helpful to you as you pursue God’s dream for your life and try and decide which relationships you need in your life.  Don't know where to start?  I would love to help.  You can get started right here.  If you do the work and get the right people around you, you really can find YOUR future.

*Credit where credit is due. Originally, I wrote this post for 320Coach.  The 5 crucial relationships are part of a larger coaching tool called D.R.E.A.M. that we use at 320Coach.  

The Single Biggest Factor In Your Success Or Failure - Part 2

Where you focus most of your energy is where you’ll see most of your return.  You must learn to sow where you want to go.  You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.  All true statements.  I doubt you’ll push back against those much.  But, I would wager that you may push back against the implications those statements carry for you.  Easier said than done, right?

Let’s re-focus.  We’re talking about you.  You’re a leader.  You’re a dreamer.  You’ve got a picture, in your mind’s eye, of a preferred future.  So, that leaves you with a big decision to make.  Who are the people you will invite into your life and who are the people you may need to give limited access to?  More than any other single factor, the people you choose to spend most of your time with will affect your current and future success, or lack thereof.  The rubber now meets the road.  What does this mean for you?  Well, it means just what you may suspect, or even fear, it means.  You must get strategic about the relationships in your life.  Let me suggest three great questions you can use as a filter to be that strategic person you so badly want to be.

1.  Who are the current people in my life who are helping move my dream forward?  Your life consists of many relationships, but they are not all created equally.  If you’re moving toward that dream or desire in your life, you must become discerning about which relationships are moving you in the right direction and which ones are not.  The good news is that you probably already have some people in your life who are helping move your dream forward. Take a mental inventory of your relationships.  Who is excited about your dreams?  Who believes in you?  Who is a step or two ahead of you on a similar path?  These are the questions you can ask to figure out who may already be in your life that you may want to lean into more, as time goes on. 

2.  Are there relationships I have that need to be pulled back or stopped?  Doesn’t this hurt, just thinking about it?  I would think there are pretty good odds that a person or two just popped into your mind the instant you read this question.  Just like you need to identify and lean into those who believe in you and are going the direction you want to go; you also must identify and pull away from those who are moving in the opposite direction.  Some of these might be easy to pull away from, but the closer these relationships are, the more delicate and potentially awkward these moves will be.  I would encourage you to get some perspective from someone you trust on this before you pull away or shut down any long-standing or close relationships.  It’s ok to move slowly and carefully, but you must move deliberately.

3.  Are there relationships that need to be cultivated?  In #1 above, I mentioned identifying and leaning into key relationships. Cultivating is a step above.  More than just leaning into the right relationships, you must identify new ones and learn to add value.  The more you get into relationships with people who are going places, the more discerning those people will be about who they spend their time with.  It’s not enough for you to just ask to spend time with people a step ahead of you.  As you get that time with them, you must add value to the relationship.  Any relationship is a two-way street and if all the energy is coming your way, it won’t be long until your new friend identifies YOU as someone in the #2 category above.  Cultivation is all about adding value.

So, if you really are the average of the five people you spend the most time with (and you are), then you moving toward your dream demands honest answers to the questions above.  It also demands that you face the implications of those answers and begin to make relational moves accordingly.  These kinds of moves may be just the type that a good coach could help you navigate.  I would love to be that help to you.  You can get started right here.  If you do the work and get the right people around you, you really can find YOUR future.

The Single Biggest Factor In Your Success Or Failure - Part 1

There’s a principle to live by.  You’re intelligent and you’ve been around the block a time or two.  I’m sure you know it well.  If you’re a Christian, you might call it the law of sowing and reaping.  If not, you might call it karma. Whatever you name it, the behavior of the principle remains true.  Where you focus most of your energy is where you’ll see most of your return. “Learn to sow where you want to go”, a friend and mentor of mine used to say.  There may be no truer arena for this principle to take hold than that of whom we choose to associate with and whom we do not.  The simple fact is, more than any other single factor, the people you choose to spend most of your time with will affect your current and future success, or lack thereof. 

You’re a leader.  You’re a dreamer.  You’ve got a picture, in your mind’s eye, of a preferred future.  So, that leaves you with a big decision to make.  Who are the people you will invite into your life and who are the people you may need to give limited access to?  But, wait.  We’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Before we start deciding whom we may want in our lives and whom we may need to pull away from, there’s an even more fundamental question to answer.  What are my personal desires?

What are your personal desires?  Ask yourself this question and spend plenty of time there to make sure you are clear.  You may know right off the top of your head or you may need to take some extended time to consider this question. Either way, it’s the baseline question to answer before you consider which relationships are going to be key for you to cultivate and which ones will not be. 

To get ultra-practical, if your greatest personal desire is to take your organization to the next level, you’ll want to spend time with those who have done just that.  Just because your best friend from college is a great guy and you have years of history together does not mean he or she is going to help you see your personal desires come to pass.  Am I saying you need to shut down all your relationships with all your old friends?  Certainly not.  What I am saying is that until you are very clear about your personal desires, you will have no idea what type of people to be around.  Jim Rohn has said, famously, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  Don’t you think you should know what kind of people you want to be with before you start giving away the most precious resource you possess?

Some time ago, I got very clear about my personal desire to help organizations, especially churches, in the area of strategic planning.  It was this clarity of desire that informed my decision about some new relationships to begin.  We’ll talk more about how to choose the right relationships in the next couple posts, but it’s worth saying my clarity of desire back then brought me to many of the relationships I enjoy today. 

It’s your life.  It’s your dream.  It’s your time.  Don’t you think you should get clear about your personal desires before you give yourself away to people who may not get you any closer to where you want to be?  If you’re not sure about your personal desires or you don’t know how to get started, I would love to help.  You can get started right here.  I would love to help you get clear about your direction.  If you do the work and get the right people around you, you really can find YOUR future.