Swing at Every Pitch

Why Taking Risks and Failing is Worth It

My son Tucker plays “coach-pitch” 7 & 8 year old baseball. I am not coaching his team this year, but his coach asked for a volunteer to pitch and I answered the call.

The first practice I was pitching to the kids in the batting cage and trying to figure out their skill levels, how aggressively to pitch to them, etc. The third batter into the cage was the smallest kid on the team, but I knew immediately I was going to like this kid. He stepped into the batter’s box with a very confident approach and  no matter where I pitched it he swung, and he swung HARD! One pitch was a little low, he swung at it, but didn’t hit it because it was almost on the ground. I said, “sorry, that wasn’t a very good pitch. You don’t have to swing if it’s not a good pitch.” He replied emphatically, “It’s okay. I swing at EVERY pitch.”

I literally LOL’ed.  While his approach may not be approved by the MLB or score well with Sabermetrics, but having coached little leaguers for about 10 years, his is a good problem to have. The overwhelming majority of my players have had to be taught to swing the bat, and swing aggressively. They are more concerned with finding the right pitch or not getting hit by the pitch than they are to give it their all on every pitch. By being passive in their approach they let a lot of really good pitches go by.

What’s your approach in life and leadership? Do you have an “I swing at every pitch” mentality or an “I don’t want to swing at a bad pitch so I let some good ones go by” mentality?

I recognize that this metaphor has some holes in it. Not every pitch is worth swinging at, but so often people miss great opportunities because they are being too cautious.

I’ve heard you have to spend money to make money. I’ve read that a large percentage of millionaires have also filed bankruptcy. Some of my favorite authors talk about being embarrassed when they read their first published book. Maybe you (or your “friend”) laments missed business opportunities, the investment that “would have” made them tons of money, or the guy/girl they “could have” married if they’d had the courage to ever ask them out.

Don’t be that person. Be aggressive. Take a risk. Sure you may strike out every now and then, but you’ll also have way more fun playing than the guy who watches every pitch go by and walks back to the dugout knowing he never even tried.

 

Taking the Necessary Steps

Learning how God answers some prayers

There is a famous story in John 2 about Jesus turning water into wine. I think it teaches us all something about the way God meets our needs.

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.  – John 2:6-8

I don’t know exactly how they filled the jars with water but it appears to me that they had 2 choices.

  • They could carry the jars to the well and fill them up to the brim and carry them back, or
  • They could go to the well with smaller pitchers, fill those up, walk back and fill the larger jars, and repeat that process until it was finished.

Either way, we’re talking about a pretty good amount of work.

I did some research and if you split the difference between the 20 and 30 gallons these jars held, you get 25 gallons of water, which would weigh about 200 pounds. So each of these jars, when full would have weighed 250 lbs or so including the stone jar itself.

So, they either carried six 50 pound jars to the well, filled them up and carried six 250 pound jars back, or they carried 1200 pounds of water one gallon at a time.

Often when I pray for God to do a miracle or answer a prayer I want it done RIGHT NOW. I’m looking for those “Suddenly” moments from Scripture, and He can do that. But what if God meets needs another way too?

What if the answer to your prayer looks more like a process and the miracle you seek takes more than a minute?

You pray and ask God to “fix” your marriage. You want it fixed by the time you say “amen” and open your eyes. But what if God is fixing it one counseling session at a time?

You pray and ask God to “help” your finances. You mean give me more money or lower my bills. But what if God is helping your finances every month you create a budget?

You pray and ask God to “give” you a promotion at work. You’re expecting the boss to offer you the job today over lunch. But what if God is teaching you some things in this job so you’re ready for that job 3 years from now?

Our miracles are usually the culmination of faithfully walking to the well time after time to fill up the jars, and carrying the heavy things because Jesus asked us to.

I think my favorite part of this story is when Jesus asks the servants to draw “some” out and take it to the master. Draw some what out? They had just put water in those jars, why would they give the master water? But they drew it out and the master tasted wine.

What you put in during the miracle isn’t what you draw out after the miracle.

Be patient. Don’t get frustrated. Do what Jesus is telling you to do and…

TRUST THE PROCESS.

 

My Freshman Year of College Almost Killed My Parents

Navigating an Awkward Transition in the Parent Child Relationship

Recently my dad and I had a heart to heart conversation reliving some of the details of my freshman year of college. In his words, it was one of the hardest years of his and my mom’s life. For me, it was probably the most confusing year of my life.

To give you just a bit of backstory: I was a “good kid” growing up. Pretty smart. Room stayed clean and organized. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I didn’t do a lot of the normal stupid teenage stuff. I wouldn’t say my parents were strict, but they had pretty specific expectations for me and my brother.

So I moved away to college and experienced my first taste of true freedom. I didn’t go to class like I should. I rarely went to church that year. My grades were AWFUL! I didn’t come home to visit and called less frequently than they would have hoped. I made other VERY poor decisions.

I realize in the greater scheme of things there are still worse things I could have done, or that others have experienced. However, within our context it was a very trying year.

From over a decade working in Student Ministry and  another 5 years or so walking with families that are making similar transitions I believe there are several reasons parents and children struggle in the “off to college/moving out” phase.

  • Distance

For most, it is the first extended period of time that distance is created between parent and child. Whether they are moving across the country, going to backpack around the world, or moving into the dorm across town, the physical separation is a huge adjustment for both parties.

  • Decisions

Again, this is perhaps the first time that decisions are being made completely autonomous from parents. These are no longer petty decisions. They are choosing majors, potential life-long relationships, and financial decisions with long-term effects. Which leads us to…

  • Dollars

Often, parents are, wholly or partly, invested financially in the decisions their kids are making in this college season. They are paying tuition, co-signed on the student loan, or sending living money. So when they see their kids making poor decisions or not honoring the time and resource being invested in them it creates stress and strain on the relationship.

So, if you are a parent (or child) who is trying to navigate “the first year away from home” transition season I would offer the following advice. I am a parent of 4 kids not yet in high school, so I offer the advice as someone who lived on the “child” side of this equation and as a “spy” in a foreign land through my years in ministry to students and families.

Try to maintain proper perspective

I once read a quote that was attributed to John Maxwell. I haven’t been able to corroborate that it was actually him, but I’ll attribute it to him nonetheless. He said, “If someone overreacts in a situation involving someone else they are saying they value the situation more than they value the person.”

Now please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I realize some things need a reaction, maybe even a big one. However, if you can maintain a proper perspective you might be able to correct a wrong and still convey your love for the other person without overreacting. If you overreact you run the risk of losing the relationship over something that may or may not be important 5 years from now.

The reality for a lot of parents is that they are reacting out of a desire to help their children avoid some of the mistakes they made themselves. I heard a parent say not too long ago, “Walking through some dark days and living with the consequence of my poor decisions made me the person I am today. But I want my children to just become those kinds of people while avoiding the things I didn’t avoid. I’m not sure how that’s possible.”

While we want the best for our children there are various stages in their lives where we have to let them live with their decisions and the consequences. As long as their life isn’t in jeopardy and their future is still possible, it may require parents to step back for a season. On the flip side the son or daughter has to realize that mom and dad really are trying to help. They aren’t trying to rob you of fun experiences or get in your business, they just see with a little more clarity the possible repercussions of the things you are doing.

Keep talking

When I do premarital counseling I probably say the word communication 25-30 times an hour. It is that important. Well the same could be said for parents and young adults during this season of their lives. Keep talking. Communication is the key.

Some conversations will be better than others. Some conversations will end with one or both of you hanging up angry. Just keep talking. Maintaining the relationship and open lines of communication now will help to have a relationship in the next season.

Take the long view

While this may seem like it fits within “Maintaining proper perspective”, it’s somewhat different. The difference here is realizing that this season won’t last forever. Yes, I know, some students may take the 10 year plan toward graduation. But it won’t last forever.

Ultimately you want to be sitting in the crowd cheering at their graduation. You want to be standing beside them or sitting on the front row when they get married. And you want them to want you there.

Try to remember those future moments in the present moments you’re not sure you can live through.

Every situation is different and I realize you could read this and say, “Well you just don’t know our set of circumstances.” And you’d be right. But I lived through this season in my life. And my dad and I were able to talk about it and laugh the other day. I pray you can too one day!

Keep going. You can make it!

What advice would you offer to others in this season? Comment below.

 

3 Reasons Fast isn’t Always Best

The Power of the Process

My wife is an amazing “homemaker”. That’s probably not even the right word for what she does. Sometimes she is a DIY furniture maker. Other times she finds obscure antiques or knick-nacks and turns them into statement decor in our home. She is also the self-proclaimed “fastest painter in the world.”

She finds a color she likes, picks up a gallon, and we are moving furniture to the middle of the room that evening. We don’t obsess over color selection. She knows what she likes when she sees it. If we get it on the wall and don’t like it we can paint over it.

However…

We are both impatient. We like to paint the room, move the furniture back and take the “After” picture. The project needs to feel complete before we go to bed. While we are still passionate about the idea we want to leverage our energies toward completion.

I’ve adopted and love her get it done now mentality with painting. However, I have come to realize that I carry this same attitude with me into everyday living. Undone projects tend to eventually become the things we’ll get to “one day”. So I rush through to get the job done. After all, no one ever takes an almost finished picture.

The problem is, a lot of things worth doing can’t be done quickly. Financial responsibility starts with a decision and hard choices initially, but it’s never really “finished.” Weight loss or healthier living is ongoing. Educational endeavors take time.

So what do we do?

Stop comparing your “work in progress” to someone else’s “finished product.”

      The reality is they probably aren’t finished either. They just may be a little further down the road than you. It’s also important to view everything on social media like you do the objects in your rearview mirror.

While the mirror tells you “objects are closer than they appear”, social media should come with the caption “not as fabulous as presented.” The perfect Instagram picture of their clean house doesn’t reveal the dirty laundry hidden behind the door.

      The glowing Facebook post about their weight loss journey doesn’t show the lingering insecurity in front of the mirror.

If you allow yourself to be shaped by someone else’s well-crafted narrative you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary heartache.

Appreciate the benefits of “sleeping on it.”

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve painted a room, cleaned up, moved the furniture back and gone to bed, only to have the light of a new day reveal a spot we missed. Taking a little extra time gives you a perspective that finishing too quickly will rob from you.

My dad says he has two financial decisions he still regrets to this day. Both were made without walking away to sleep on it and returning the next day to close the deal. There are very few things that can’t wait an extra 12 hours.

Remember the original “why.”

Pastor Mark Batterson talks about the power of a picture in a cow pasture.

It’s not that the cow pasture has any power. It’s just that he originally felt the call of God on his life walking through that cow pasture. So he went back and got a picture of himself standing in the pasture and hung it in his office. On those days where his job feels “unfinished” he looks at that picture to remember his excitement for the original calling.

Why did you start out on this journey? Why did you originally go back to school? Why did you originally want to save money? Why did you commit to purity before marriage or faithfulness within your marriage, in the first place?

If you can remember WHY, you’ll eventually figure our HOW.

If you’re like us you love to finish the job and cross the item off your to-do list. But don’t be afraid to embrace the work in progress.

It’s where life is actually lived!

 

The Last New Years Resolution Post You Need to Read

4 Things to Focus on in 2017

We’re only one week into the new year, but I’ve already read about more resolutions than I care to remember. I’ve broken one resolution already, but I don’t want to talk about it.

So I won’t bore you with the same old things you’ve already read somewhere else…maybe.

This past Sunday I spoke at our church on “4 Things to Focus on in 2017.” If you’d like to listen you can CLICK HERE.

While there are a number of things you could focus on this year, I believe these 4 things will lay the foundation for everything else.

1.  Spend more time with God

Now I realize there’s almost no more cliche thing for a Pastor to tell you than to spend more time with God. But I wouldn’t tell you, if I didn’t believe it.

Pastor Chris Hodges tweeted recently,

“2017 will be the best year of your life if it’s the best year spiritually.”

I genuinely believe this to be true.

Pick a Bible Reading Plan and stick to it. Commit to pray daily. Be in Church. Surround yourself with people who are growing in their relationship with the Lord.

Look at this from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 14:22-23 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,

If Jesus knew it was important to spend time with the Father, you and I should too.

2.  Trust God More

It’s an amazing thing that God forgives our sins and saves us. I am so thankful that He is my Savior. But did you know that He also wants to be Lord of your life? He wants to lead and guide and direct our lives. Who better to do that, than the One who is writing our story?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Maybe the greatest thing you could do in 2017 is trust God beyond your ability to figure it all out.

3.  Forgive more

The 1st two really focused on you and God. The 3rd thing I think you and I should focus on more in 2017 is forgive more. Look at this:

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

I don’t think the point Jesus was making is that you have to forgive someone 77 times, but once they do wrong for the 78th time you can write them off. I think He was trying to make the point that we should be a forgiving people.

It has been said that “Forgiven people forgive people” but I’m not sure that’s always the case. I know a lot of “christians” who can’t, or won’t, forgive others.

Jesus tells a story later in Matthew 18 about a man who owes 10,000 pieces of gold. The king calls the man in to pay his debt, but the man says, “I don’t have it to pay.” So the king orders that his wife and kids be thrown into prison until he can pay it. He begs and the king relents and cancels the debt. The man gets up and goes outside where he bumps into a guy who owes him 100 bucks. He asks for it, but the man says “I don’t have it.” So he orders that the man be thrown in jail. The king is informed about this man who was forgiven much but refused to forgive and he has him thrown in jail and tortured. That story leads me to ask this question of me and you.

What if we could only receive as much forgiveness as we gave?

The last focus for this year is

4.  Pray Big Prayers

In the book of Joshua there is an amazing story.

The children of Israel have captured Jericho and defeated Ai. So the kings in the area get scared thinking that they might be next. So they band together to protect themselves and they attack the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites call out to Joshua for help and he leads them on a march all night to come to the Gibeonites’ rescue. When they get there, they attack, defeat the enemy and chase them down. Then we read one of the most amazing passages in the entire Bible.

Joshua 10:12-15 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

I know sometimes when we read the Bible there is a temptation to think, “well that was back then, this is now, that can’t happen anymore.” But what if you started praying big prayers just on the off chance that God could actually answer them?
Pastor Mark Batterson doesn’t call them Big Prayers, he calls them Bold Prayers. He says “God honors bold prayers, because bold prayers honor God.”

I know it doesn’t work like this, but I want to pray the kind of prayers that gets God’s attention in heaven. Prayers so bold He has to stop what He’s doing to make sure He heard me correctly. Again, I know that’s not even theologically correct, but it sure does illustrate how I want to live my life this year. I’ve been asking myself the following question to get me started.

What could I ask God for that makes me a little bit nervous?

Maybe you could ask yourself the same thing as you focus on

Spending More Time with God

Trusting God More

Forgiving More, and 

Praying Bigger Prayers!

Happy New Year!

Why I Got Mad at My Wife and You Do Too

Using My Mistakes to Make You Better

The other night my wife Corrie was doing laundry and discovered something that had a stain on it. After searching the laundry room she discovered that she didn’t have what she needed to properly treat the stain. So she asked me to go to the grocery store and pick it up.

I did. Walked in. Went straight to the correct aisle. Looked at the detergents, but couldn’t find the powder version she requested. They had powder in every other name brand, but not the one she wanted. So I found the liquid in that same brand. It said “Stain Remover” on the front. I paid for it, and returned home.

When I walked in, Corrie immediately noticed that I had liquid instead of powder. She said, “I don’t think this will work. I needed the powder.” I calmly responded, “They didn’t have powder. I looked ‘EVERYWHERE’. They had it in other brands, but not this one.” She replied, “I’m pretty sure they did, I was just in the store earlier today.”……

This is the point in the story where I started acting like a child. In no uncertain terms I told her it was insulting that she didn’t believe me when I told her it wasn’t there. I said if she was so sure it was there she could go look herself…(or something like that. I don’t exactly remember.)

She remained calm and just said, “I think you may have been looking with the detergents, but the powder would be with the stain remover. Did you look there?” (I had NOT looked there)

I grabbed the liquid bottle, walked back out the door, drove back to the store, told the guy I needed to exchange it, walked to the correct aisle, passed the detergents, found the stain removers…and there it was…right where she said it would be.

I came home, tail between my legs, and apologized to my wife for acting like an idiot. She was so kind the whole time it made my behavior even worse.

I don’t tell you that story to demonstrate my ignorance about detergents. That’s painfully obvious.

I tell this story to ask us all a question.

Why do we get so upset about being wrong?

I know Corrie loves me. I know she knows I’m not perfect. So why did I take a posture that she was insulting me for being wrong, when I was, in fact, wrong? She wasn’t even upset that I got the wrong kind.

Why do we lash out? Why do we lie to cover up our mistakes? Why do we get so angry?

Most of the time I think we act this way out of our insecurity. Other times it’s our pride.

What if you took 2 minutes and evaluated your recent similar reactions to the one I just described? Why were you so upset? Drill down beyond your behavior to the motivations that caused your reaction.

Maybe these 2 minutes will save you embarrassment, hurt, and a necessary apology next time.

Spring 2017 Coaching for Lead & Campus Pastors

An Affordable Way to Grow as a Leader

I have previously written about my involvement in coaching for Pastors and church leaders. I have been on the receiving end of some incredible coaching over the years that has made me a better pastor, husband, father and leader.

Last year I began serving as a facilitator for Next Level Solutions, out of Next Level Church in Fort Myers, FL. Pastor Matt Keller has a heart to help Pastors and created an amazing model of online coaching that still facilitates relationships while providing practical content and invaluable access to their team. Next Level was recently named one of the fastest growing churches in America, but what I really love about them is that they have spent a little time at every size while growing from 14 to over 4000 in attendance.

Their level 1 coaching, “Making the Jump”, consists of 7 online sessions meeting every other week where we discuss things like:

  • The S-Curve of church growth
  • The health of the leader
  • Practicals for leading staff and volunteers
  • Tools for evaluating your Sundays
  • and so much more!

I have a new group kicking off on February 15th and I would love for you to be involved! The cost is $350, which comes out to just $50/session. However, if you are a church planter, church revitalizer, or a pastor of a church under 75 I have a discount available for you.

Just fill out this form to let me know you’re interested or to get more information. I’ll follow up to answer any questions you may have or to get you all the necessary info to get registered.

Your Niche’ Can Be Your Noose

Why What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

If you were to ask me what, more than any other factor, has been most detrimental to my progress as a leader in 15 years of ministry, I would say “personal preference,” and it’s not even close.

I know what I want, and I want it now.

When I chose pastoring as my profession, I entered with set ideas and preferences about the “kind” of church I wanted to build. Some of those preferences changed over the years, but like a good pair of sweatpants, most of those originals likings have stuck around. Not only are they still around, but I would go as far as to say they have been the driving force of a lot of my success. The same applies to you. If you’re smart, you double down on the unique qualities about yourself that stand out to others. Your preaching style, relational ability, singing voice, etc. The danger comes when our comfort and preference keeps us from growing into the next season of leadership God wants us to experience. Let me show you.

In a podcast interview with Carey Nieuwhof Craig Groeschel said: “When you find a quality or practice in a leader who is ahead of you, pay attention to what makes you uncomfortable about their leadership, and you will have identified where you need to grow.” Dang Craig!

Have you ever gotten to know or observed a leader ahead of you and been bothered by things that go against your personal preference?

  • Does it bother how much the pastor of the larger church talks about money?
  • Does it bother you how all the worship leaders look young and trendy?
  • Does it bother you how honoring the church or staff is towards the pastor?
  • Does it bother you how Spirit-filled or non-spirit filled the services are?
  • Are they too direct with their team?
  • Do they make too much salary?
  • Does the youth pastor not spend enough time with the students?
  • Does the children’s pastor use fun more than scripture to teach the children?
  • Is the facility too big, nice, or expensive?
  • Does it bother you, you have to go through their assistant to reach them?
  • Does it bother you they don’t handle pastoral care (visits, calls, etc.)

Once you identify the bothersome practices and preferences of a leader beyond you, chances are high you just identified your biggest potential for growth.

All leaders have strong opinions; it’s almost a requirement. Leadership requires a core conviction to drive a vision and mission down through the organization. The danger is when our opinions and preferences become our niches’.

Often the thing we think is our niche’ is really a noose holding us back from going to the next level of leadership, It’s hard to admit and even harder to change because our niche’ helped us get to where we are. Our small corner on the market is our identity and the single biggest factor for our success to this point. You’re the funny guy, the yelling preacher, the soloist, I get it. People love you. You love you.

When you get to this point you have a really difficult choice to make, one sadly many leaders choose not to make; are you willing to give up your preference in order to grow to the next level of leadership? It’s an important question because what got you here won’t get you there.

I’m an ISTP from the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile quiz (If you haven’t taken the quiz you need to. Click here to take it.) ISTP describes me with spooky accuracy, but it also gives me a convicting revelation. Only 3.1% of people in the world are ISTP’s, which means (in general terms) 3 out of every 100 people prefer what I prefer, and 97 people out of 100 disagree with me at any given time. The most popular Myers Briggs profile is ISFJ, 13.8% of the world’s population fall into this personality category, meaning even the most popular preference is only shared by 13 out of 100. This may explain why the average small church built around preference is less than 80 people.

What do you love about yourself? Go ahead and admit it, no one will know but you. Do you like the way you preach or sing? Do you like saving the day as people’s hero? Do you like being a critical thinker or perfectionist, or identifying the flaws in ideas? Do you like being unorganized? (Silly to say I know but how often do unorganized people say things like, “I know here everything is in all this mess,” or “I need it a little chaotic to be creative.”) Do you like that you worship from a hymnal or wear jeans to church? There a million little idiosyncrasies and preferences that have brought you to your currently level of success and leadership. There’s nothing wrong with them unless you want to grow. If you want to grow you’re probably going to have to lay them at the altar.

To be clear, I’m not talking about changing your identity. You can always care for people; you just have to figure our new scalable ways to care. You can always preach, but you have to figure out ways to reinvent your preaching. What you can’t do is keep trying to put new wine into old wineskins.

Learn to say “for now” instead of “never” it will save you a lot of humiliation in the future. This is just how we do it for now.

Admitting your self-percieved strengths are actually hindrances is the apex of self-realization. Most can’t grasp it, but if you’re willing to lean in instead of pull back from new ideas outside of your comfort level you will likely experience a new season of growth reserved for only those brave enough to lay down their preference.

The Best Thing You Can Do This Week

You have probably had an advantage over the last 2 weeks that you might not have for several more weeks or months.

That advantage?

For most people it was a few days off from work for the holidays. Why is that an advantage, you ask? Because it keeps you from doing your job. Said another way, you aren’t working “in” your job. Let me explain.

The greatest enemy to strategic thinking, planning and evaluation is the constant grind of doing your job. There are emails to be dealt with. Phone calls to return. Meetings to attend. Presentations to prepare. You get the idea.

But to truly be effective, you need to do something different than work “in” your job. You need to work “on” your job.

I call this “zooming out.” This is pushing back from the routine to look at the bigger picture. Focusing not on the things that you need to do today or even this week, but the things you need to do in the next 60-90 days and beyond.

The problem is, it’s very difficult to work with this perspective sitting at your desk in between meetings. The crush of the urgent keeps you from truly being able to see all that needs to be seen for longer-term strategic thinking.

So, being off of work for a few days might just be the best possible scenario for your effectiveness this first quarter of 2017…if you’ll take advantage of it.

I realize there are things to rush back to, but what if you set aside some time this week to “zoom out”? Schedule a meeting with yourself at Starbucks for 3 hours one afternoon before this next week is over. Block out some time one morning and go rent some co-working space to help foster creativity.

Your success, and the productivity of your team, in the next 60-90 days could depend on your willingness to “zoom out” some this week and “work on it, not in it.”

The #1 Way to Be Successful in the New Year

Hi, my name is Jeremy, and I have a problem. I’m a cliche.

I get very nostalgic, and super motivated as one year is closing and another is beginning.

There’s just something about the calendar turning from one year to another that seems momentous. I realize the difference from December 31 to January 1 is the same amount of time as from May 6 to May 7, but it feels so much bigger…doesn’t it? I can’t be the only one.

So, as the year winds down I’m sure that you, like me, are contemplating some version of new years resolutions. Maybe you want to lose weight…again. Maybe you want to try to save money…again. Maybe you want to communicate better, get more sleep, invest in relationships, etc, etc, etc.

But, do you want to know the secret to being more successful in the new year?

Reflect on this previous year (and others before it) first.

I know, you think there’s no way it’s that simple, or you’re convinced you’ve done that before. But I would contend that if you are really going to be successful in the new year, you must understand what made you successful (or not) in the previous year. Why didn’t you lose as much weight as you hoped you would 365 days ago? Why isn’t your savings account more filled? Where did you go off the tracks with your plan to get more organized?

Until you know where you got lost, it’s almost impossible to confidently chart out a new course. You’ll just repeat the same behaviors as before.

So, before you make any “new years resolutions”, what if you created a list of “previous year reflections”? Things like:

  • I struggled to lose weight because I ate out with coworkers for lunch too much.
  • I didn’t save enough money because (see item above, or) I didn’t create and stick to my budget each month.
  • I failed to generate the number of business leads I needed because I filled my “free time” with too much Netflix.

A couple of keys for this to really work. First, you have to be honest. If you can’t be honest with yourself you’re just wasting your own time. Second, you have to own it. Notice that my examples above start with the word “I”. Even though I mentioned other people, I must own my decisions and shortcomings.

When I create a list like the one above then I don’t have to have vague, ambiguous resolutions about losing weight. Instead I have specific actions plans that change behavior. For example:

  • I am going to take my lunch to work at least 3 days per week in an effort to eat healthier and save money.
  • I will make 3 cold-calls every workday for every hour of Netflix I watch.

The goal is pretty much the same, but it’s specific, measurable and easier to hold yourself accountable.

Take some time over the next few days and look back so you can truly look forward with intentionality.

Go get ’em!