Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have You Written Your Passionography?

I've been asked about my passionography assignment and if I would share it.  The passionography is the result of self-examination and surveys of others about yourself.  The following are what served as inputs to ponder while compiling a passionography:
  • Understanding of your personal strengths
  • Your personal skills
  • What is important to you
  • Strongly held beliefs that are aspects of your personal faith/values
  • Survey of what others think that you feel is of importance
  • Survey of others of how they view you as a leader

With all of that input, you then begin to formulate your own personal passionography with respect to your leadership outlook.  As you will notice, the first paragraph is what I used as input into my leadership manifesto.  This is a very personal document and serves as a compass to revisit in order to reset my direction.  

Think of the passionography as saying, "This is who and why I am"  The leadership manifesto says, "This is where I'm going and how I'm going to go about it"  The two together are like a map and a compass - they work together to guide you on your journey.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment or shoot me an email at

My Passionography

 Importance of Leadership

 Everyone is a leader in some way, but not everyone accepts the responsibility of leadership.  Leaders influence and inspire – in both negative and positive ways.  When we accept the responsibility to be influential and inspirational to others, it is then that we are stepping out of our comfort zone of complacency and self-absorbed egos to put our focus on others.  How can one possibly think they can influence someone else without first understanding those they desire to influence?

 Personal Impact of Leadership

 I have been blessed by having influential leaders in my life.  Mrs. Cain, my high school chemistry teacher that told me that I was good at a lot of things, but she’d love to see me narrow the focus to be great at a few things.  Tony Gossett, my first mentor, made me memorize chapters 6-8 of the book of Romans, to understand human struggle and the opportunity to have quality in life through a real and growing relationship with God.  John Yancey, my second mentor, challenged me to write out every verse in the book of Proverbs that was related to the use of our lips, tongue, mouth, or spoken word teaching me to power of life, death, success and failure that our words can have on ourselves and others. Michael Woolstrum, my current mentor (at various times in the past 12 years) has taught me the value of selfless living, high work ethic, and focus on others.
The life and legacy that I see in these people has influenced and inspired me to want to grow in personal and spiritual maturity.  I could only hope that my life can influence and inspire at least one person as much as they’ve done for me.

 Personal Leadership

 I love God and love people, but understand that many do not feel that same way.  I’ve met many people who “don’t know and don’t care” about God, but seem to have a love and care for humanity.  Meanwhile, I know others who love God, but somehow miss the mark when dealing or caring for people.  I am not implying that my love for God and people is perfect, but I’d like to think that I am intentional and authentic when relating to another person.
I want “to leave the world a better place”.  I want to achieve great things and help others do the same or surpass those achievements.  I want people to have a choice to know my God in a real and personal way.  I want to help people discover what makes them “come alive” and find ways to incorporate that into their life’s journey.
What does this have to do with leadership?  Everything.
Jim Elliot, a missionary killed in Ecuador while trying to evangelize the Waodani Indians, said “Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”  (Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliot)  For some, this quote takes on the meaning of bold, in-your-face Bible thumping evangelism.  For me, the quote takes on a different meaning when paired with this quote often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care”.
I do not want to simply be a road sign declaring how many miles one has traveled or how much farther they have to go.  I want to be a tour guide for many on this journey called life, providing maps of navigation through the tough terrain of disappointment and grief and celebrating on the summits of the mountains of blessing and peace.
There is nothing more rewarding to me, than to see the miraculous change in a person’s eyes when they’ve encountered God in a real and personal way.  My hope is that intentional servant leadership and success will open the doors that will permit me to introduce others to my creator and the ultimate servant leader, Jesus Christ.

What are you passionate about? Please share.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unfamiliar Waters

Image from
The new semester is already three weeks old!  Marketing and Economics are behind us.  The new semester includes Critical Thinking and Managerial Accounting for the first 10 weeks, then we'll have five weeks of Organizational Behavior and Change (four hours each session).

Critical Thinking is taught by Dr. Werner.  I thought the Leadership Series was a good catalyst to help me get back to introspection, but Critical Thinking is causing more introspection.  The class requires a lot of reading during the week, but this reading is difficult for me to just gloss over.  It is rich with meaty information that I'm constantly asking myself, "What do I do with this?  How can I apply this?"  Dr. Werner does a great job of facilitating the class discussion and is very intentional about bringing everyone into the conversation.  It has only felt like we've been sitting a few minutes when we realize that the two hours have passed.

Accounting has been very fast paced as well.  Dr. Peoples definitely loves to teach and brings a sense of excitement to the classroom - which is hard to do with this subject.  The problem sets have been moderately challenging so far, but I can tell they will be getting more difficult very quickly.

At this point, I'm realizing that I'm drawn more to the subjects that help me to not only understand others better, but also myself.  This is truly unfamiliar waters.  I've always been a people-watcher and have always been fascinated by what made "others" tick, but now the focus is also on what makes me tick - how I think.  As I dive deeper into the critical thinking literature, I'm starting to see the areas that need to be tweaked or even overhauled.  I'm once again at the metaphorical crossroads, but this time it's in the form of a shore or pier, as seen in the picture above.

I've got a choice.  I can sit on the shore and continue to watch the sun rise and set, see incredible reflections off the peaceful still waters, and enjoy the calm.  Or, I can step off the pier into the boat and row out to deeper waters away from the illusive security and stability that the pier may bring.  To stay on the pier means to accept status quo and try to be satisfied that I've already learned and grown so much.  But, that's impossible!  As I continue to visit my manifesto, I know that the only way to do what I've felt compelled to do with my life is to jump right in and face whatever the deep waters may bring.  Every day there is a choice - create some internal ripples by rowing out a little deeper or turn around and head for the shore.  I choose to go deeper!

It reminds me of some of the lyrics from the Steven Curtis Chapman song, "Dive":
And like the rain
I have been carried here to where the river flows, yeah
My heart is racing and my knees are weak
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turning back
Once my feet have left the edge
And in the rush I hear a voice
That's telling me it's time to take the leap of faith
So here I go

I'm diving in, I'm going deep, in over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush, tossed in the flow, in over my head I want to go
The river's deep, the river's wide, the river's water is alive
So sink or swim, I'm diving in

In case you're interested, here's his video:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Leadership Manifesto

As noted in the last post, the first semester is over and today begins the next chapter.  We ended the leadership series by writing our first leadership manifesto.  This is the culmination of introductory exercises in self-discovery of strengths, values, passion, and the journey.

I am sharing my leadership manifesto to allow those who know me or interact with me to hold me accountable to these values and declarations.  You have complete permission to ask me how I'm doing at any time with respect to these declarations and to provide loving correction if you see me veering off course.


Everyone is a leader in some way, but not everyone accepts the responsibility of leadership.  Leaders influence and inspire – in both negative and positive ways.  When we accept the responsibility to be influential and inspirational to others, it is then that we are stepping out of our comfort zone of complacency and self-absorbed egos to put our focus on others.  How can one possibly think they can influence someone else without first understanding those they desire to influence?
As I have reviewed all of the previous papers that we were required to write for this seminar series, I’ve pondered what I am now to do given what I’ve said is important, given what I view is leadership, and given the journey I’ve traveled so far.  This manifesto will summarily declare these things and provide my personal “marching orders”, answering my recurring question, “What am I supposed to do with this?”
My Leadership Manifesto
Intentionality Matters:
Nothing of great value in our lives happens by accident.  I will not accomplish great things, cultivate deep relationships, or gain in-depth knowledge by waiting for those things to happen.  I must live with intentionality and purpose.  The foundation for my manifesto must be based on intentionality.  Every decision, every activity, every moment must be as intentional as possible.  Based on what I’ve discovered about myself in this leadership series, I am daily revisiting the question, “Am I now who I have always been or is this just a mask I’ve donned for the theatre of life?”   I have to be real with myself.  I cannot just exist – I must live.
Trust Matters: 
To effectively lead, I must walk on a foundation of trust.  Trust provides freedom and empowerment.  Trust gives me the freedom to control the way I conduct myself with others and allows me to not worry about the reactions of others.   Trust empowers me to be intentionally vulnerable as I build authentic relationships, but diplomatically bold when facing conflict or issues that need to be addressed.
Growth Matters: 
"Don't be afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still."
Eastern Proverb
We’ve all heard that we’re either growing or we’re dying. I am committed to personal growth – spiritually, intellectually, and physically. 
I will intentionally seek God daily through praying, reading, and journaling introspectively to gain insight, wisdom and discernment.  If I am to be a “light” in this world, I need to understand that every light has a source.  Daylight’s source is from the sun – John’s light source is from the Son of God.
I will intentionally seek out mentors who will challenge me to see different perspectives, to strengthen relevant skills, to aid in self-discovery, and to expand my sphere of influence.  
I will intentionally pursue resources that will challenge and help me to grow intellectually.  This will come in the form of mentors, relationships, online reading, books, classes, and seminars.
I will intentionally block out time, weekly, for regular exercise to provide an outlet of stress release and to stay healthy and active for as long as I live.
"A leader who develops people ADDS - a leader who develops leaders, MULTIPLIES!" -John Maxwell.   “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.” -Norman Cousins.
I am not just committed to personal growth, but also to encouraging growth in others.  I will be a servant leader to my wife, extended family, and friends.  I will be a cultivator of authentic revelation and discovery in each relationship.  I will intentionally encourage each relationship to discover their gifts/strengths and incorporate them into their personal journey.  I will intentionally be discerning in my relationships and always look for ways to add value and enrich others lives.
Today Matters:
“Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; faith is the courage to dance to it today.” -Peter Kuzmic. 
“Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.” -Doug Ivester.
The choices I make today sow into the person I will become tomorrow.  I will make the most of each day while creating margin in my life for a balanced approach to the declarations of this manifesto.  I will continue to dream, but I will act on those dreams today.