Archives For Leadership

Blog posts and articles related to leadership.

The 20-mile March

June 6, 2016

Jim Collins writes of a fascinating race to the South Pole:

In October 1911, two teams of adventurers made their final preparations in their quest to be the first people in modern history to reach the South Pole.

Roald Amundsen

The two leaders — Roald Amundsen, the winner, and Robert Falcon Scott, the loser — were of similar ages (39 and 43) and had comparable experience. Amundsen and Scott started their respective journeys for the Pole within days of each other, both facing a round trip of more than 1,400 miles into an uncertain and unforgiving environment, where temperatures could easily reach 20? below zero even during the summer, made worse by gale-force winds. And keep in mind, this was 1911. They had no means of modern communication to call back to base camp — no radio, no cellphones, no satellite links — and a rescue would have been highly improbable at the South Pole if they failed. One leader led his team to victory and safety. The other led his team to defeat and death.

So what was the difference? Why did one team succeed while the other failed?

The difference was in a simple choice of leadership by Roald Amundsen: he set the goal of marching 20 miles every day.

Throughout the journey, Amundsen adhered to a regimen of consistent progress, never going too far in good weather, careful to stay far away from the red line of exhaustion that could leave his team exposed, yet pressing ahead in nasty weather to stay on pace. Amundsen throttled back his well-tuned team to travel between 15 and 20 miles per day, in a relentless march to 90?south. When a member of Amundsen’s team suggested they could go faster, up to 25 miles a day, Amundsen said no. They needed to rest and sleep so as to continually replenish their energy.

In contrast, Scott would sometimes drive his team to exhaustion on good days and then sit in his tent and complain about the weather on bad days. In early December, Scott wrote in his journal about being stopped by a blizzard: “I doubt if any party could travel in such weather.” But when Amundsen faced conditions comparable to Scott’s, he wrote in his journal, “It has been an unpleasant day — storm, drift, and frostbite, but we have advanced 13 miles closer to our goal.”

For Amundsen’s team, it was a race to victory and a safe return home. For Scott’s team, it was a devastating defeat, reaching the Pole only to find the wind-whipped flags of their rivals planted 34 days earlier, followed by a race for their lives — a race that they lost in the end, as the advancing winter swallowed them up. All five members of the second Pole team perished, staggering from exhaustion, suffering the dead-black pain of frostbite, and then freezing to death as some wrote their final journal entries and notes to loved ones back home.

You can succeed in the same conditions in which others fail, if you have a 20-mile march and the discipline to stick to it. It takes a long time to become an overnight success.

  • What habits or activities do you need to do on a daily basis to get where you need to be spiritually? That’s your spiritual 20-mile march.
  • What habits or activities do you need to do on a daily basis to get where you need to be physically? That’s your physical 20-mile march.

(You can read more from Jim Collins about the 20-mile March here)


A friend and I had the privilege of attending the 2012 Chick-fil-A Leadercast this past week. It is a one-day conference featuring speakers like Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni, Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer, and many others. The event was simulcast to over 126,000 leaders around the world. The leadership content was outstanding.

I thought I would share a few of the quotes on leadership from the event:


All choices lead you somewhere; where they lead you is up to you.

On an average day, we make 8,746 choices.

“You can be a looter or a lifeline. The choice is yours.” – Soledad O’Brien

“The goal of leadership is not to eradicate uncertainty but rather to navigate it.” – Andy Stanley Continue Reading…

Think Before You Act

November 14, 2011

Arcelor-Mittal Steel, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO. The new boss was  determined to rid the company of all  slackers.
    On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business. He  asked the guy, “How  much money do you make  a week?”
A  little surprised, the young man looked at him and said, “I make $400 a week. Why?”
The CEO said, “Wait right  here.” He walked back to his office, came back in two minutes, and handed the guy $1,600 in cash and  said, “Here’s four weeks’ pay.  Now GET OUT and don’t come  back.”
Feeling pretty good about  himself the CEO looked around the room and asked, “Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?”
From across the room a voice said, “Pizza delivery guy from Domino’s.”

Sometimes we think we know what we’re doing, when we don’t. As a leader, it’s important to make decisions based facts, research, prayer, and group input. Hasty decisions made in an emotional moment rarely turn out well.

Unless you’re the delivery guy for Domino’s.

How do you avoid foolish decisions? You can comment here.

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This is a guest post by Michele Cushatt. She writes articles, stories and devotional meditations for numerous publications including MOPS International, and Today’s Christian Woman, and has been featured on the Focus on the Family radio program, Hearts-at-Home conferences, and Compassion International.

Michele, her husband Troy, and their three teenage boys make their home in Colorado along with Nika, one adorable but very hairy black lab. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and her fabulous blog.


As a speaker, writer and a coach for those who do both, I’ve discovered many communicators forget the single most important aspect of communication.

They spend ample time doing research, preparing outlines and illustrations, practicing jokes and stories until each rolls from the tongue with precision and wit. Often they craft powerful openings and write conclusions that echo in their audience’s psyche for days, weeks even, long after their time together comes to a close.

But in all the preparation and expert delivery, too many communicators forget the driving force behind their communication to begin with:

The audience.  Continue Reading…

Having grown up in a pastor’s home and been in the ministry all my life, I’m very familiar with the strains and stresses of pastoring. Many of my friends are in the ministry, and if there was only one video clip I could show them all, it would be this one. In it, Rick Warren sits down with Andy Stanley and talks about avoiding ministry burnout.

Catalyst West 2009: Rick Warren Interview Part 2 from Catalyst on Vimeo.

He shares words of wisdom on what he considers to be the three keys to staying fresh and focused:

  1. Divert daily
  2. Withdraw weekly
  3. Abandon annually

(You can also watch the first part of Rick’s talk here.)

Have you suffered ministry burnout? What helps you avoid it? You can comment here.

Norman Borlaug is ninety-one years old. His work hybridizing corn and wheat for arid climates has saved two billion people on our planet.

The Butterfly Effect - Our Actions Make a Difference!

On the surface you would think, that’s incredible! But by reading history and understanding the far-reaching consequences of our actions, I understand that it wasn’t really Norman Borlaug who was responsible for saving so many lives… Continue Reading…

This is a guest post by Brandon Gilliland. He is a medical student, youth worship leader, and blogger. His blog seeks to “Amplify God’s Kingdom!”

I attended a powerful leadership conference last year featuring speakers such as Terry Bradshaw, Laura Bush, and General Colin Powell.

But Rudy Giuliani’s comments were the ones that really stuck with me. Not only was he a great speaker, he was a great leader during a tough time in America. Here are some of the highlights of his speech:

1. Know what you believe in.

Manage to your beliefs. Have goals set to determine the destination and stick to them.

2. Be an optimist.

Being optimistic is a mind set. Our natural instinct is to think about and focus on the negatives in life. Remaining optimistic is important in leadership. To keep an optimistic mindset, continually visualize your dreams. You have to dream in order to achieve something great! After the vision and the dream have started to become clear, it’s important to set goalsContinue Reading…

There are many things that can derail you as a leader. But there is no pitfall more dangerous than distraction.

The following video details the danger and destruction that distraction can cause:

Distraction often leads to destruction. That’s why it’s so important to stay focused.

As a leader, how can you avoid distraction? Here are two ways:

1. Focus on where you are going – The tragic stories in the video were the result of people’s focus being drawn away from the direction they were headed. Keep your destination in full view at all times. Refocus on it every day. Watch your steps carefully, lest they slip. (1 Cor 10:12)

Is your attention on the things around you? It is easy to get distracted by criticism, circumstances, or the past. Driving while looking behind you is dangerous. And many people live life that way. They are consumed by the past. They are totally focused on what’s behind them. It’s important to keep our vision and attention on where we are headed. Where does God want to take your church? Your organization? Your family?

2. Understand that our distractions endanger others – The lives lost due to texting are not just those who were doing it. One person’s distraction can cause another’s devastation. Every decision we make and every word we say affects others. As leaders, our influence is multiplied. And the necessity of avoiding distraction is not just for our benefit, but for those around us. Others benefit when we are focused and attentive. And others are put in danger when we are not. Your life is influencing people far more than you realize. You are making a difference!

The roads we drive in our cars are dangerous. So are the highways of leadership.

Let’s seek to avoid distractions on both.

Do you text and drive? How do you avoid distractions as a leader? You can leave a comment here.

>>> If you know someone who should see this video, you can email it to them.

Every communicator, every preacher, and every speaker, needs to understand something called the RAS.

RAS: Your Reticular Activating System
At the back of your brain at your brain stem is a filter that God put in your brain to keep you from having to consciously respond to every stimuli – everything you see, taste, touch, smell, and feel. Your body is constantly taking in incredible amounts of information from your five senses. If you had to consciously respond to every sight and every sound in life, you‘d go crazy.

So God put a filter in your brain (you can find this in any neurology textbook). It‘s called the Reticular Activating System. If something is going to get your attention, it has to get through that filter before it does so.

3 Things Get Our Attention
Scientists have done study after study on this and discovered that there are three things that get our attention. Continue Reading…

Great leaders are constantly improving. They try to find ways to grow and learn each and every day. As John Maxwell says, “If you’re at the head of the class, you’re in the wrong class.” What does he mean? That we as leaders need to surround ourselves with people and resources that stretch, challenge, and teach us.

Here are some great resources that have taken me higher:

  1. Michael Hyatt’s blog: – Focused on leadership, publishing, productivity & social media. Mike is a New York Times best-selling author and the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing- the 7th largest publishing company in the world. He is relevant, funny, honest, and shares great insights and resources. (By the way, check out my guest blog post on his site today; an article on what separates good leaders from great ones: For other great leadership blogs, check out the top 50 leadership blogs of 2010.
  2. Books by John Maxwell – He is one of the world’s foremost leadership experts, and his books are invaluable to any leader. Here are some of my personal favorites:
    1. Thinking for a Change11 Ways highly successful people approach life and work. Good thinkers are never at a loss to solve problems, they never lack ideas that can build an organization, and they always have hope for a better future…A person who knows how may always have a job, but the person who knows why will always be his boss.
      Continue Reading…