Success and Humility Go Hand in Hand

Many years ago, a rider came across some soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log without success. The corporal was standing by as the men struggled. The rider asked the corporal why he wasn’t helping. The corporal replied, “I am the corporal; I give orders.” The rider dismounted, went up and stood by the soldiers and as they were lifting the log, he helped them. With his help, the log got moved. The rider quietly mounted his horse and went to the corporal and said, “The next time your men need help, send for the Commander-in-Chief.” After he left, the corporal and his men found out that the rider was George Washington.

The message is pretty clear. Success and humility go hand in hand. The most successful leaders have a blend of humility and a drive to achieve the vision.

When it comes to leadership there are so many important qualities. However, I believe that humility is the foundation for all the other qualities.

People want to follow leaders who are confident in their direction and capabilities, and can make a decision. People also want to follow leaders who know who they are, and are comfortable in their own skin. But there’s a point at which confidence can slip into overconfidence. The Greek word, hubris, means “dangerous overconfidence” and “exaggerated pride.” Confidence without humility leads to hubris. There is a line that any leader can cross if they don’t embrace humility.

I believe humility is all about mindsets. Here are some key mindsets that drive the actions of a humble leader:

  1. Serve others – When we have the mindset that we are here to serve other people it keeps us humble. True humility is thinking about other people more than you think about yourself. That is a difficult thing to do, because we all think about ourselves all the time. But a mindset of serving others keeps us more aware of the needs of the people around us. It helps us to think about how we can lift others up, and help them in meaningful ways. It’s a desire to improve the lives of the people around us.
  2. Listening – The listening mindset goes along with serving others. If we are not listening to the people around us it is impossible to be humble. It’s also difficult to serve others if we don’t listen with the intent of understanding them better and how we can best serve that person. Listening shows that we care and really want know the best way we can help or serve that person.
  3. Self Awareness – This mindset helps us to be aware of our strengths and our weaknesses. A humble self-aware leader will ask for help and honest feedback. When we ask for help in areas we are weak or struggling in, it shows that we are aware that we cannot do everything on our own. When we ask for feedback it shows that we are aware that we can get better and learn from others. A self-aware mindset also allows us to admit when we are wrong and to ask for forgiveness.
  4. Adding value to others – a mindset of adding value to others goes to the heart of investing in other people to help them get better, heal from past hurts, and draw out the best in them. Humble leaders are always thinking about ways they can add value into the lives of the people around them.
  5. Grateful – A grateful mindset helps us to be aware of the many blessings in our lives, and to be thankful for everything that God and others have done to improve our own lives. Humble leaders are grateful for what has been entrusted to them, and therefore are good stewards of what they are given.

I could keep going with other mindsets that humble leaders have, but this lays a good foundation for anyone that wants to be a better leader at work, home, school or community. Think about what your mindset is like when it comes to leadership and humility. Non of us have arrived and are perfect in this area of humility. We are all a work in process, and when we can learn from our failures, ask questions and listen well, it helps us to add value to others and to be grateful for what we have.


Divine Burden

Have you ever had something that really bothered you? Something that you just couldn’t stop thinking about? Maybe it kept you up at night or you just felt like you needed to do something about it. Maybe it was an injustice or human suffering. Maybe it was a burden to help other people in a certain area of life that they struggle with. Maybe it was a burden to share something you learned or where learning. Or maybe it was a burden to help people that were going through a difficult experience that you went through.


I call those divine burdens. It’s something that God brings into our lives that causes us to move in a divine direction to make a difference in this world. A man named Nehemiah had a divine burden, you can read his story in the Bible. Nehemiah had a burden to help his people rebuild the walls around their city that had been destroyed. He couldn’t stop thinking about it and felt compelled to do something.


So the question is, what do we do when we have a divine burden?

Nehemiah did these three simple things:

  1. He took it to God first. Nehemiah immediately started praying, fasting, and seeking God about this burden. That should be our first step with anything. Pray first, talk to God and listen for his direction.
  2. Next Nehemiah started small. The key was that he started. He prayed for God to give him favor with his boss, so he could leave and go to his city and work on rebuilding the walls. Next, he had a conversation with his boss and asked to have time off, then he asked for the resources and support he needed for the trip and to do the work. Then he packed his bags and made the trip. God usually doesn’t give us all the details, so think big but start small.
  3. Nehemiah kept taking the next step. He just continued to do whatever it took to keep moving forward to accomplish something Big for God. He packed up all the supplies and traveled 850 miles to the city. He rested for three days, then inspected the walls and city. Then he gathered the people and cast vision for building the wall. Then he organized the people in groups, and assigned them to an area of the wall to start rebuilding. He just kept taking the next step, and in 52 days they rebuilt the wall. 

So what is God prompting you to do? What is your divine burden? What do you need to start? What small thing can you do to get started? Maybe you already started, what’s your next step? Maybe you don’t have a divine burden, start praying, and ask God to give you one. 

We don’t need to have the faith to finish something, we need to have the faith to start, and then take the next step. God is faithful to help every step of the way. Who knows what’s on the other side of that first step in a divine direction. Don’t wait, get started today.

Deciding to Grow in 2020

It’s 2020 and if you are like me, you have plans for this year. Maybe you have been thinking about improvements you would like to make in your life. Things like getting healthier, improving your financial situation, improving your marriage, reading a book or maybe growing in your faith.

Most people never get from thinking to actually doing, or we start but it does not last. We get caught up in the whirlwind of life, and end up doing the same things we did last year with little or no change. Make the decision today to grow in some area of your life.

For this year to be different try narrowing your focus to one or two things that you can improve or change in your life. The next step is to actually write this down. When you take the time to think about the area you want to grow in and then write it down you are much closer to actually doing it. Another important step is to think about some small steps you can take to start making that happen.

For example, if you want to grow in your faith some simple steps you can take could include the following:

  • Start attending church on a regular basis
  • Start a daily devotional on your smart phone
  • Spend 5 minutes praying in the morning before you start your day
  • Read a book of the Bible. I recommend John and Proverbs.

Those simple steps can help you move forward in building some new habits and growing in your faith. Even doing just one of those things if you are not currently doing any of them is a win.

To change anything in your life, it starts with a decision. Then you need a plan, and many times you need some help. If you are really serious about growing in some area of your life, getting a coach or a mentor to help you can be a game changer. Find someone you trust and share your plans with them. Then give them permission to ask you how you are doing. You might even find a few other people that want to do it with you. It’s much easier to work out, read a book or go to church when you are doing it with some other people you know.

Don’t procrastinate, or just think about a better you. It can happen! Start taking those steps today. Break out of whatever is holding you back, ask for help, and see what happens. Remember that the decisions you make today will be the stories you tell tomorrow.

Three Words for 2020

Blessed, Satisfied and Successful. Those are words that most people would want to say about their lives.  When we are feeling blessed, satisfied and successful, we are most likely going to be happy and content.  However in order to achieve those things in our lives there needs to be some other qualities in our lives.  Here are three thoughts about how to be blessed, satisfied and successful:

  1. You must be broken in order to be blessed.  In order to receive God’s blessing in our lives, we often must go through a period of brokenness.  When we go through difficult times, it often brings us to our knees and our pride is stripped away.  This is when we remove the distractions and desperately seek God for help. When we allow God to break us, we can experience breakthroughs in our life.  When we stop pretending and get real with God by admitting our weakness and our dependence on Him, we can experience blessing on the other side. Brokenness is painful yet that pain can bring about a transformation that leads to blessing if we stay on the path God has for us.
  2. You must Surrender in order to be satisfied. Satisfaction comes when we surrender to God and allow Him to have control.  When we can stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting in Him, our level of peace and satisfaction will increase.  Surrender involves a decision to turn everything over to God. Everything includes our finances, our marriages, our friendships, our children, our work, our free time, our ministry, our relationships, our hobbies, our possessions, our attitudes, our emotions and our minds.
  3. You need to sacrifice in order to succeed. John Maxwell has a saying that you have to give up in order to go up.  Sacrifice is necessary to succeed in any area of life. In marriage, it takes sacrifice in order to love and serve your spouse.  Selfishness will destroy any relationship, so the person that is willing to sacrifice can find success and healthy relationships as a result.  To succeed in any area of life it takes sacrifice and hard work. When we bring God into the picture, He can give us the strength we need to sacrifice and humble ourselves in order to bring success.   Success is not about performing better, it’s about being willing to sacrifice in the short-term in order to be successful in the long-term.

God desires to have a personal, growing relationship with all people.  He is the one that can bring blessing into our lives. He is the one that can bring satisfaction and success.  Having a relationship with God does not mean we will have no problems, there will be problems and pain in our lives.  A relationship with God means that we have an all powerful, all knowing, loving heavenly father that will always be with us through every trial and triumph in our lives.

Are You Facing Adversity?

I have been thinking about this topic for awhile now. I am passionate about growing in faith, character and leadership. That has been my personal mission statement for many years. Often times we forget that to grow, we must face adversity. If we do not have adversity we don’t fully develop. The Christian life is intended to be one of continuous growth. We all want to grow, but we often resist the process.

So how can we learn and grow through adversity? The first thing is to accept the fact that we will have adversity in life. We need to submit to the fact that life will have difficulties and we need to look for the lessons involved with each adversity. We also need to apply God’s word when we face adversity. There are many Biblical principles that we can put into action in times of adversity. Can you show Christian love when someone offends you or treats you unjustly? Lastly we must remember the lessons learned in times of adversity

Adversity does several things in our lives. It prunes us of the the unfruitful stuff in our lives. An unpruned vine will produce a great deal of unproductive growth but little fruit. I was talking with my Amish neighbor that runs an orchard. I asked about the peach trees they had been working on. He said that they had to knock off three fourths of the budding peaches in order to get the best crop of peaches. If they would not do that they would get a bunch of peaches that are small and not very tasty.

Adversity also helps us to become more like Christ. This is called holiness. God uses adversity to enlighten our minds about our own needs as well as the teachings of Scripture. He uses adversity to shape and mold us into the men and women He desires us to be.

Adversity causes us to be more dependant on Christ. God teaches us through adversity to rely on Him instead of ourselves. Adversity forces us to look to God for strength, wisdom and courage.

Adversity also develops perseverance. Hebrews 10:36 says “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised,” and in 12:1 it says “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” To persevere means to press forward. To keep pushing on despite hardships and roadblocks. To stay on track with God’s will for your life no matter what gets in the way. This can sometimes be a long drawn out process that can take years. That process will develop your character and prepare you for what God has in store for your life.

God also uses adversity to equip us to serve more effectively in ministry to others. Adversity allows us to identify with others that are suffering or hurting. It allows us to help them through similar times.

A great example of what I have been talking about is the cecropia moth. This moth is a beautiful creature, but it must go through a great struggle to get out of it’s cocoon. I read the story about someone that was watching this moth go through this struggle. In an effort to help, the viewer snipped the shell of the cocoon. Soon the moth came out, with its wings all crimped and shriveled. But as the person watched, the wings remained weak. The moth, which in a few minutes would have stretched those wings to fly, was now doomed to crawling out its brief life in frustration of ever being the beautiful creature God created it to be. What the person that “helped out” the moth did not realize, was that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon was an essential part of developing the muscle system of the moth’s body and pushing the body fluids out into the wings to expand them. By unwisely seeking to cut short the moth’s struggle, the watcher had actually crippled the moth and doomed its existence.

The adversities in our lives are much like that moth in the cocoon. God uses them to develop our spiritual, emotional and relational muscles. Many people go undeveloped and never realize their full potential because they sidestepped adversity or did not learn from it. Sometimes we can do the same in others peoples lives by “helping them out” and not allowing God to develop their character. We need to be careful how we face adversity and how we help others face adversity.

James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

The Head turning Power of Compassion

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

Jesus says that there is one force in this world that can shed light in a dark world.  That force is the church, which is made up of people. How brightly is your light shining?  Are you involved in activities that will cause someone to say what a Good God there is? Maybe your wattage is dim; does your bulb say 25w or 40w or does it say 150w?

Showing compassion to the world is what we are called to do.  We are not called to judge the world, but to love those in this world, just like Jesus did.  It is so easy to become hard in this world and to rationalize why we should not help those less fortunate.  However, when we show unconditional love to a broken world it gets peoples attention. Maybe it’s going on a short term mission trip or simply finding a way to serve your neighbor or that person that you know that is having a hard time. It can be taking the time to listen to them and then pray with them. Sending an encouraging note or text and being available. Compassion can come in many shapes and forms.

Here are three reasons why we should engage in acts of compassion:

  • When you let your light shine it will change you.

Most people look for happiness in the wrong things.  Looking to things like money, a new home, a new job, getting married or even getting out of a marriage.  Those things don’t bring us happiness. When people focus on others, they are happy, when people focus on themselves, they get depressed.  When you get to the end of your life the best memories will be of when you blessed the lives of others. When you start showing compassion to others, you start to change yourself and your outlook on life.

I recently took a group of people to Buffalo New York to love and serve a poor neighborhood with an organization called Eight Days of Hope. Hundreds of people came together and served people in need. We fixed up homes, but we also listened to the homeowners and prayed with them. We built a connection and a relationship. Trips like that will change your life.

  • You change the world one person at a time.

We all are among the richest people in the world.  Most people in this world don’t have anything. We don’t realize this until we go and see how other people live in other countries or other neighborhoods.  Showing compassion can start right here in our own backyards. When you start looking for people that need help and people that need encouragement, your eyes are opened to a whole new world.  Every day we come into contact with people that need our compassion. When was the last time you did an intentional act of kindness for someone? Who is your one person?

  • It does something to the heart of God – It blesses God.

Think about your own children, if they hurt you hurt.  Think about how much God loves His children and how much He must hurt when his children are struggling and hurting.  Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.” Have you turned any heads lately with your light?  

Most people start out with good intentions, but then get busy and preoccupied and forget about all the other people out there.  We forget that the local church is in the people saving and serving business. I believe that the local church is the hope of the world, and that together the church can make a huge impact in our communities and around the world. Let your light shine!

5 Principles For Dealing With Change

Things around us are always changing.  Think about your job and the number of changes that have happened in the last 3 months.  How about the stores that you like to shop at or the restaurants that you enjoy eating at.  Even the roads that we drive on are changing.  I’ve hit a few huge potholes lately!  In all these areas, things are either changing for the better or the worse.  Things are either deteriorating or being improved.

One area that is in constant change is the people around us and relationships we have.  People are constantly changing, lets face it we are emotional beings and so there are lots of ups and downs for all of us.  People are complicated and difficult, and yet we need people and relationships in our lives in order to thrive.

So when it comes to all this change around us how do you not get totally stressed out and just give up.

I’d like to give you five simple principles that can help you navigate the changes going on in your life or to help create positive changes in your life.

  1. Control the Controllable – Most of things around us, and all of the people around us are out of our control.  If we do try to control the things or people around us we add additional stress to everyone’s lives.  This principle brings the focus back to us and what we need to do, and what we can control.  We can control what we say; what we do; what we focus on; who we listen to; what we study; what we learn; what boundaries we set; what we spend and where we spend it.  We control what and when we eat, how much sleep we get and the amount of exercise we get.  The choices and decisions we make are within our control.  What other people say or do is out of our control, but we are in control of how we respond.
  2. Monitor the Conversations in Your Head – We talk to ourselves more than anyone else.  Those conversations are what I like to call narratives or stories that get replayed over and over again.  Our internal conversations come from past experiences, things we have learned or picked up along the the way.  For many people those conversations or stories are not as positive as they should be.  Those conversations with ourselves lead to decisions, choices, words spoken and outward behavior whether good or bad.  So start being more aware of what you are telling yourself.  Start to question if it’s really true, maybe you are believing a lie or deceiving yourself.  Maybe you need to start a new story.
  3. Ask Questions & Ask for Help – If you don’t understand something or someone it’s always a good practice to ask questions with the intent of wanting to understand.  What goes right along with this is to listen well.  When you ask good questions and then listen intently you can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and mistakes.  A great practice is to repeat back to the person what you heard them say.  Ask clarifying questions if you need to.  Fear keeps us from asking questions or asking for help.  When you are struggling in any area of life it is wise to ask for help.  There are other people that have gone through what you are going through or have helped others with similar things.  So ask honest, sincere questions to help you fully understand what the other person is saying or asking you to do.  Also ask for help if you don’t know how to do something or you are stuck in an area of your life.
  4. Keep Growing – The books you read and the people you meet will determine the kind of life you will have.  The people that are constantly growing, learning and interacting with other people have the most influence in this world.  Put a plan together of what books you want to read and the people you want to meet or reconnect with.  Make sure you are growing intellectually, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  5. Make Your Faith a Priority – The one thing that I believes helps us the most when it comes to handling change is faith.  The Christian faith has been what has guided me for most of my life.  Learning from Jesus Christ has been the biggest help in making good decisions, handling stress and change, and dealing with all the relationships in my life.  Make growing in your faith a high priority and many of these other things will fall into place.

Doing these five things will bring your stress level down, improve your work and relationships and bring more contentment and joy to your life.  Life will never be perfect, but it can be better.

Seven Fundamental Behaviors of Successful Leaders

If you are leading a company, a department, a team or a family you know that leadership is challenging.  The key in leadership is that you are growing learning and getting better.  If your not growing you are going backwards.

As a leader there are some key responsibilities and behaviors that are extremely important to long term success.  Here are seven fundamental behaviors that will set you up for success.

  1. Set and Achieve goals – People that take the time to map out an action plan do much better than those that don’t.  Writing down your most important objectives and then listing specific goals to meet that objective is a fundamental leadership behavior.  It’s not only setting goals but it’s also achieving them which means you must act on those goals.  That’s why it’s important to also set up deadlines and have accountability.  Set goals review them regularly and do a progress report every week on how you did last week.
  2. Continually Innovate and Improve – Another key behavior of successful leaders is that they are always exploring and thinking about how to improve on the current way of doing things.  This is a mindset of continuous improvement.  How can we be more efficient?  How can we streamline and improve systems?  Asking those how questions keeps your organization moving forward.  I like to say: what can we improve by 1% this week.  If this is part of your culture then you should be getting lots of ideas and feedback form your team.  Listen, discuss and let the best ideas rise to the top and then make those changes.
  3. Solve Problems and Make Decisions – Every unachieved goal is a problem waiting to be solved.  This is how things get done and keep moving forward.  You don’t want to be the bottle neck on your team.  That is why you can’t be the only one solving problems and making decisions.  Teaching and empowering your team is a key leadership behavior that can accelerate your companies growth and productivity.  Leaders are problem solvers not just problem identifiers.  Define the problem, identify possible solutions, get some feedback and then make a decision and assign it to someone with a deadline.
  4. Take Full Responsibility – A leader takes full responsibility for the their decisions and the success and failure of their team.  As the leader you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your company, department, team or family.  That can be scary but you can’t lead well if your afraid to take responsibility.  Facing your fears and owning mistakes brings credibility and trust to your leadership.
  5. Be a Good Example or Role Model for Others – This is all about character.  Do your actions and your words line up.  Are you doing the things you want your team to do?  Are you treating people the way you want to be treated?  Are you making the difficult decisions and having the difficult conversations?  Are you quick to admit a mistake?  As a leader people are always watching you.  No one is perfect so leading with integrity is not about being perfect it’s about being honest and vulnerable.  If you’re a mess then your team will be a mess.
  6. Persuade and Inspire – A key behavior of successful leaders is the ability to persuade people to buy in to your vision.  That takes a combination of good communication, being intentional and repetition.  When people trust you and you can clearly articulate the vision you can keep moving in the right direction.  Inspiration comes when people have bought into you as the leader and understand the vision and their part in achieving that vision.  This also takes self-confidence and believing in the vision and values you have and the message you are trying to communicate.
  7. Get Results and Don’t make Excuses – If you’re not getting results then you are probably not doing the right things or focused on the right things.  When the results are not there you don’t make excuses, you look at what is not working and make the adjustment.  You admit mistakes and take responsibility.

There is much more to leadership than just these seven things but these are some of the basics that will set you up for success.  Again, the key is that you are growing, learning and changing as a leader.

If your feeling stuck as a leader or organization send me an email and let’s set up a time to discuss next steps in getting unstuck.  Email – castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com