Friday, November 18, 2016

Punch Your Fears In The Face (excerpt from my upcoming new book)

Have you ever been afraid?  Have you ever doubted yourself?  I'm in the final stages of a book manuscript that covers a time in my life where I was very afraid and I doubted myself very much.  I sure didn't do everything right, but I did a few things right.  Below is an excerpt from my book manuscript.  This is one thing I did right.  I was bold and punched my fear in the face.  I hope this is inspiring to you today.

From my upcoming, yet untitled, book:

Making a difference in the world is fairly broad job description.  That was going to take some focus.  Like I’ve said before, one of the best ways to decide who you are is to decide who you are not.  It’s process of elimination and it takes effort, risk and some time.  As Summer turned to Fall in 2012, I was mowing less grass and picking up more leaves.  It’s the nature of the landscaping business.  As I spent those countless hours with a leaf blower strapped to my back and earplugs in my ears, it was just God and me for most of the day.  I knew I wasn’t to quit on life.  I knew God had a purpose for me to make a difference as a coaching leader.  But how would God accomplish that work through me?  I was still very unclear on that.   There were a couple fundamental questions I needed to answer.  The first was, which arena would I be making this difference in?  The previous 18 years of my life had all centered around church ministry.  My only real career had been church ministry.  But, just months out of the biggest ministry disaster and personal pain I had ever endured, did I want to dive back into ministry?  This was a real question I had to explore.  I prayed about that often.  I talked with Sara about it often.  I confided in her that sometimes I wondered if church leaders were second-rate leaders who couldn’t really make it in the business world.  Maybe those guys were the real rock stars.  I just didn’t know, but I was curious enough to venture into the business world, just a little. 

I saw a listing for openings for Farmers Insurance.  Of course, there are always openings like these.  It’s the business model for some insurance companies.  They interview as many people as they can, tell them all they can have their own business, train them and set them up as agents, all the while, knowing that 90% plus will fail.  But, the 10% who stick will make the company and themselves some good money.  I guess it’s a good business plan, except for the 90% who feel like failures on the back end.  I guess that’s a different story for a different time.

So, with the understanding of what I was interviewing for, I took an opportunity to be bold.  I showed up for my interview at a small mid-town office with a District manager named Kirk.  He was a good guy and I could tell he had been, himself, a successful agent.  He started with the normal spiel about how successful I could be and how I was “just the kind of person they were looking for.”  When he asked me for my thoughts I told him I was not at all the kind of person they were looking for, but I was the kind of person they needed.  He was a bit taken aback but seemed intrigued enough to not ask me to immediately leave.  He asked me to elaborate.  I proceeded to tell him that I hated sales.  I would never be good at it because I didn’t want to be good at it.  If the only job openings they had was for more people to sell more insurance, our conversation was over.  He was still listening so I went on to tell him that what I could bring to his team was almost 20 years of leadership experience and an understanding and passion for a coaching style of leadership.  “Imagine how much more insurance your agents could sell if they had a coach who could help them be their best.”, I said.  He put his hand up, much like Simon Cowell does when he's heard enough of an awful American Idol audition.  I stopped my pitch.  “It’s very interesting that you would show up here today with this coaching thing in mind.  It just so happens that Farmers has a program just like that set to launch in a couple test markets very soon.” 

As it turned out, Farmers Insurance also suspected their agents could perform better if they were being coached.  Kirk told me that he would really like to hire me, but his district, unfortunately, was not one of the test markets, but he had a friend who was over the East Tulsa district and that was one of the test markets.  He made a call to his friend, Cory, about this strange guy who showed up for a sales interview squawking about coaching. I left there without a job offer, but I did have another interview scheduled and this time it was for a job I could actually see myself doing.  But much more importantly, I left that day with a new confidence in myself.  I was more than just a church leader.   I held my own with these business guys just fine.  It was a liberating and invigorating feeling. 

Here's what you need to notice.  Don't miss this or you miss it all.  That liberation and invigoration came only after I faced my fear and walked it down.  I pray that this will inspire you to walk your fears down.  Imagine who you can become on the other side of fear . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2016

3 Reasons I Did and 4 Reasons I Did Not Vote For Trump. Twice.

Just like you, I had my reasons for voting my conscience on Tuesday of this week. Well, I guess I can't actually prove I voted.  I didn't get the sticker.  Actually, I refused the sticker because I was so frustrated by the time I finished.  I got to the front of the line to discover I forgot my ID.  I went home, got my ID and waited in the line again. I filled out the ballot only to discover I had put a tiny little black smudge in a "no" box on a question I had already voted "yes" on.  That made my ballot a "tainted ballot".  I had to sign a form saying I had tainted it and then had to get in the line again to fill out a new ballot. After my third time through the line and second ballot filled out, I was ready to punch the guy in the face when he offered me the sticker.  I guess that's neither here or there, but I did vote.

Actually, I voted twice.  Once this week and once during the primary elections.  Both times I voted for Donald Trump.  If you can keep reading this and not burn my house down, I'll tell you why I did and why I did not vote the way I did.  

3 Reasons I Voted For Trump . . .

1.  He's not bought and paid for.  It's always seemed illogical to me that a candidate would take campaign donations from wealthy and powerful individuals and then pretend he did not owe those individuals or their interests down the line.  How can a person lead effectively from this position? Trump's personal wealth allowed him to run his primary campaign and much of the general election campaign from his own money.  If nobody paid for him to get there, nobody has anything to say about how he will operate once he gets there.  *If my facts are wrong about his campaign funding, I will concede that.  I'm just writing about my best understanding at the time I cast my votes*

2.  It's the economy, stupid.  I heard Bill Clinton say this in the 90's and it made me think he was a very shallow and dishonorable man.  Turns out, I was probably right, but not for the statement he made about the economy.  Decades later, I find myself looking at the incredible taxation rates, government proliferation, and growing national debt, and I'm left saying, "It's the economy, stupid."  I'm not a financial wizard, but I know that no family, organization or government can continue on the financial trajectory we've been on for some time and survive.  I believe Trump will influence our nation to make better economic choices.  I'm not a person driven by money, but I know enough to know that without it, we cease to be a nation.

3.  He's a leader.  This is the biggest reason I voted for Trump.  I don't recall a president in office during my lifetime who was truly a leader.  I'm not talking about a diplomat.  Trump is definitely no diplomat.  A diplomat calls people together and helps them work together cordially.  A leader calls the right people and puts them in the right positions to get the most important things done.  I don't think we need a diplomat leading us.  I think we need a leader.

4 Reasons I Did Not Vote For Trump . . .

1.  I'm a Christian.  I am, but it's irrelevant to the election.  A friend of mine recently commented online about how the "evangelical community voted", assuming that their faith somehow mindlessly informed their vote.  I thought that was very presumptuous of him to lump all evangelicals together and assume they're all mindless.  I'm not a fan of the term, but I am one of those evangelicals.  I most certainly did not vote for Trump because of my Christian convictions.  I voted for him for reasons stated above.

2.  I'm a registered Republican.  I am, but only because being a registered independent excludes me from primary elections.  I would imagine a partisan system had some value at some point.  However, in my lifetime, I've seen nothing but division driven by ridiculous generality-fueled accusations leveled at one another.  It all seems a little sick to me.  I couldn't care less which party a given candidate belongs to.

3.  I'm a racist, bigoted, hate-monger.  I am not.  And I resent the claims of many who say I am because I voted for a certain candidate.  I would submit that those making those types of accusations are guilty of what they say they abhor.

4.  He's the lesser of two evils.  I reject this claim.  It is funny how much more relaxed I was casting my vote for Trump this week than I was during the primary election.  By November most of my "evangelical" contemporaries seemed to have conceded Trump was the lesser of two evils, thus I could speak of my support for him without backlash.  Not so during the primary season.  I passed on Cruz, Kasich and Rubio because I had no confidence in their ability to lead our nation.  I voted my conscience that day (for the exact reasons I listed above) and I was terrified to tell anyone, but my wife.  I hoped all day that nobody would ask me, point blank, who I voted for.  Someone finally did.  Sheepishly, I said I voted for Trump and they screamed, "What?!"  I guess it was assumed Christians were voting for Cruz.  But I don't like Cruz all that much.

So, I voted my conscience.  Twice.  Draw what conclusions you will about me.  Will Trump make America great again?  I don't know that he will any more than you know that he will not.  I hope he will and that's why I voted for him.  Not because I think he's a great guy, but because I think we have a great country that's on a wrong path.  I would love to know why you voted the way you did.  I truly mean that.