Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Viewing entries tagged

Self-Awareness part 1: Mission Statement

Self-Awareness part 1: Mission Statement

“If we are unaware of where we are, or if we have lost our bearing and wandered off course, any leadership we provide may not assist in leading our followers to the desired destination.” This post will help you create something of great value


Your First Hour

The alarm rings and you sit up, what do you do? You have two choices:

1. Hit snooze or

2. Get up

You want to get up, but you just can’t. Why is it so hard to get up?  You really wanted to get up and start your day off well. You planned a morning with purpose so your day has purpose. The alarm rings again. Now you have to get up because you are late. The first decision you made in your day you already regret because now you are hurried and the momentum of your morning will follow you all day. You rush out the door, tear down the freeway and weave past hundreds of cars. You are easily frustrated. You have no patience for people, computers, phones, reports, etc. You drop things. You forget appointments. You have a small fuse and little things set you off. And all you think about is getting back to bed. You even promise yourself you would go to bed early that night to get yourself back on track the next day.

Sound Familiar? 

According to new findings, more than a third of American adults hit the snooze button at least three times each morning, and more than half of people ages 25 to 34 press snooze daily. Furthermore, the snooze button will make you wake up sleepier then when you originally woke up. 

(Click for study

What you do in the first hour of your day sets the tone and direction for the rest of your day.

 Here are four tips for having a great first hour of the day: 

1. Get Things Prepared the Night Before.

Before you go to sleep, develop a routine. Get coffee in the pot with water and all you need to do is flip it on. Lay out your clothes. Make your lunch and put it in the fridge. Do everything you can so you don’t have to think or worry about it. Now you can relax and enjoy the morning. 

2. Get Enough Sleep.

I have a few friends who are convinced they can live off of 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I once had a conversation with a lady who napped 2-3 hours a night and spent the rest of the time working. I am not making this up! Sleep is good. Think about it: when children are growing, they sleep more; when people get sick, they sleep more. Don’t underestimate your need to sleep. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. See how good you feel. 

3. Slay your Dragons. 

Take care of the important issues right away. Work out, read your Bible, eat breakfast, etc. Click here to read my post, How to Slay your Dragons. It’s a good one.

4. Use Your Time Wisely.

Have a game plan what you would like to accomplish before the morning begins. Have a routine you like. In my ideal first hour, I would get up on time, spend some time reading my Bible, get ready before my kids are up, help my wife get the kids ready for the day, and enjoy breakfast with the family. Doesn’t that sound nice? When I use every minute of my first hour, I am intentional with my time and my family, I can accomplish my goals and stay focused throughout the rest of my day. Now on the days this doesn’t happen, it’s usually because my first choice of the day was: hit snooze. Make the better choice – GET UP!

8 ways to Grow as a Leader

Coach Ayers fist.jpg

1. Desire Growth

First, you have to want to get better. Are you satisfied with “pretty good” or just getting by? You may justify that you like to be comfortable in your job, but in reality are you striving for a reason to be lazy? Laziness is not a trademark of a leader. Lazy is for sheep. If you are reading this, you want to be a shepherd. You desire growth.

2.  Be Humble in the Face of Criticism

Correction is hard to take. But no one does it perfectly. Some of the best lessons I have learned as a leader have been challenging and hard. I like to think that correction from someone not only gives me the opportunity to change, but allows me to think through other perspectives. As a leader, you must have thick skin. You can’t build massive biceps unless you work hard and tear up your muscles at the gym.

3. Seek Wise Counsel

It is important to have people in your life that are readily available to give you wise and trustworthy counsel. I have 4 guys I regularly go to; each of these friends have a specific role in my life and how they counsel me in my leadership. Do you have anyone you can go to? One of George Washington’s best contributions was the invention of his carefully appointed advisors, known as the Cabinet. This wasn’t written in the Constitution, but he created this because he knew the importance of having a group of men around him to give him counsel. Who is in your cabinet? Do they know their roles?

4. Have a greater purpose

The famous quote by Eric Liddle states, “God made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I recently had a talk with a mentor of mine who mentioned this statement. He talked about the importance of what I do and how I feel when I take part in it. Fill in the following blanks:

“God made me ________, and when I ________ I feel his pleasure.”

What would you place in those blanks? What is your greater purpose in your leadership?

5. Stop the Repeat

I have been an assistant coach for a number of head coaches who have said the same thing. “I have been doing this for 35 years. I know what I am doing.”  What I wanted to say in response was, “No, you did it once then just repeated it for 34 more years.” This should give you a healthy fear of repeating the same performance. Stop the repeat and get better. There is always something to tweak, change, or make better. Good leadership never settles for mediocrity.

6. Learn from Everyone

My dad used to tell me, “They teach you how to do it and how not to do it.”  Before I became a head coach, some of the worst coaches I coached for taught me a lot, mostly how not to do things. Are you looking to learn from the worst leaders?  They can teach you more than you may realize.

7. Read

Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Read. Then read some more. Read with a friend. Read with a spouse. Gain new perspectives and further your understanding in order to improve on whatever you’re reading about. I try to read for about 30 minutes before I sleep every night. (Sometimes more if the book is really good). I sleep better and I learn something. Knowledge is in books, not on American Idol. 

8. Celebrate Small Victories

Do not be too important to be passionate about your role. Be enthusiastic with your leadership. Some of my favorite coaches to watch are Pete Carroll or Jim Harbaugh – their passion and excitement is contagious. Athletes want to be led by a coach that is charismatic in their beliefs. Do you believe in your own leadership? Don’t be too important to miss out on what is happening around you. Be excited about having Gatorade dumped on you after a win; tackle an athlete that just broke the school record; storm the court after a win. Show that you care.

Growth will happen when you seek it out. It will not happen because you were given a title. It is an unfortunate commentary, but a good leader is an exception not the norm. Be the exception!


Common Mental Mistake #5: Negative Self-Talk

Common Mental Mistake #5: Negative Self-Talk

Our words are powerful, and they can build up or tear down. Unfortunately, many of us fall prey to the common mental mistake of Negative Self Talk, and may not even be aware of it.

Identity Crisis: To Be or To Do?

“To be or not to be? That is the question.”

– Hamlet Act 3 Scene 1

How do you identify yourself? By who you are or by what you do? My sense is that on your tombstone one day it will not read: “Here Lies A Waste Management Specialist” or fill in the job title. Unfortunately, we begin most relationships by asking, “What do you do?” Why is that?

“Hi my name is JT. What’s your name? It’s nice to meet you. So, what do you do?”

This simple and very common conversation starter is saying a lot.  We are making inferences about their identity based on what they do not by who they are. A true, authentic relationship cares very little about what a person does.

What is valuable is who the person is.

Think of it like this:

What they do may reveal:

(Caution - most of us are guilty of making these big assumptions)

-       How much influence they have

-       How much power they have

-       How important they are

-       How much money they make

-       How how happy they are

-       What kind of house and neighborhood they can afford

-       What school their kids go to and how smart they will be

-       What kind of parents they are (because of money and house size)

-       What kind of college and eventual job the kids will have

-       Start at the beginning and repeat cycle

We also begin thinking about how they can provide a service for me. What they do for work may benefit me in some way.

Of course we would never consciously think of all this. This is where we all need to be honest and begin asking, “Why don’t we ask who they are rather than what they do?”

I have a “To be” list. This list is a small list of who I am. 

What we do flows out of who we are.

I challenge you to make a “To be” list. Begin to understand who you are before you begin identifying yourself by what you do. This list is in order of priority.

My list:

1. Christian

2. Husband

3. Dad

4. Brother

5. Friend

6. Son

7. Mentor

8. Neighbor

9. Co-worker

10. Son-in-Law

Make your own “to be” list. Now make a list of what you do.  Compare both lists and see if what you do is a reflection of who you are. Chances are that the decisions you make are a reflection of how you see your identity at that moment.

Bad decisions happen when you mix up the order of your “to be” list and begin putting “do” items on your “be” list. 

Depression and lack of confidence can result from identifying ourselves by what we do. This will never be good enough. In contrast, if you want to be a great friend, encourage and remind someone how he or she is doing within his or her true identity.

“You are a wonderful and affectionate mother.”

“You are a good son.”

“You are a mature Christian.”

“You are a kind-hearted mentor.”

“You are a loyal friend.”

“You are a caring co-worker.”

And remember…

“You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your khakis.”

– Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club