The Top 14 Posts of 2014

2015 On Athletics All Weather Running Track

Leadership Insights

Every year, people ask me to recap the year’s most popular posts. It’s always a challenge to develop a list. For this list, I am including only some of my original posts. I will separately share the interview list.

Unpredictable Results

Talk to any blogger and you will likely hear the same thing.  It is always a surprise to see what becomes popular.  I may work like crazy on something for hours, post it and it may see very little traffic.  Something else ends up taking off and it was almost a last minute thought.  You just can’t predict.

In putting together a list of popular posts, there are also so many ways to look at the data.  Do you measure purely by the traffic?  If you do it that way, doesn’t that give an unfair advantage to content posted in January?

After looking at the statistics, I decided to pick the top posts by traffic with a weight based on the date.  If a post was dated later in the year, it received a slightly higher weight to equal things out.

 

The 14 Top Original Posts

In reverse chronological order, here are the top 14 original posts of 2014:

Dec 22, 2014: 50 Things to Drop Before the New Year

“To design your future effectively, you must let go of your past.” –Charles Givens

 

Nov 25, 2014: How to Live a Life of Thankfulness

“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas and goals.” -Skip Prichard

 

Nov 17, 2014: Assume the Positive

“See the best in people and watch how they fight to prove you right.” -Skip Prichard

 

Sep 29, 2014: Why Standing Out is More Important than Ever

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” –Dr. Suess

 

Sep 25, 2014: 11 Leadership Qualities of Nelson Mandela

I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying. –Mandela

 

Aug 18, 2014: Leading With Others in Mind

“Servant leaders give more in value than they receive.” -Skip Prichard

 

Jul 28, 2014: 4 Ways to Get Appreciated at Work

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  -William James

 

Jun 11, 2014: Leading with No

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” -Tony Blair

 

May 10, 2014: 9 Leadership Lessons from Mom

Leaders create results by letting others shine. -Skip Prichard

 

Apr 24, 2014: The 3 Most Limiting Words

Only you have the power to determine whether your future mimics your past. -Skip Prichard

 

Apr 19, 2014: 7 Characteristics Leaders Share With Peeps

“Leaders use failure as a fuel to propel future success.” -Skip Prichard

 

Apr 16, 2014: Selling to the C-Suite

“Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” –Zig Ziglar

 

Mar 12, 2014: The Price of Right

The joy of being right is short-lived. The joy of peace lasts a lifetime. -Skip Prichard

 

Feb 12, 2014: The Outs and Ins of Employee Loyalty

“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back.” -Tommy Lasorda

 

And the most popular guest post of the year is from March and was written by the very talented Thai Nguyen:

Contentment is the enemy of improvement. -Thai Nguyen

 

My mission for this blog remains the same:  to have a place to rant about whatever I want!  (Ahem!  Let me try that again.)  It’s all about leadership insights, ideas, and information that will make us all better leaders.  Whether through more productive meetings, healthier living, better use of social media and technology, deeper friendships or strategic vision and execution, I hope you find it a useful resource. I’d love to hear your ideas for future posts or the direction for Leadership Insights.

Thank You

I especially want to thank you for reading and a special thanks for those who have taken the time to comment and share these posts. For years, I would read blogs and never comment. When I started to participate, it was amazing how different of an experience it was. I began to develop relationships and get to know people on a deeper level. Try it – consistent sharing and commenting will likely help others as you share your own experience.

I wish you a happy and successful 2015!

The Best Book Covers of 2014

Trophies

I love books.  In fact, I think I must confess that I have abiliophobia, the fear of being without a book or at least something to read.

In recent years, my career has me surrounded with books whether in a library, a book warehouse, a bookstore or my home.  And what captures my attention? Book covers.

Book Covers Pull You In

Do you ever buy a book because you are attracted to its cover?  Book covers do that.  A well-designed book jacket stops you. Maybe makes you squint or smile or pause for a second. It calls you to pick up the book and look inside.

Each year, I make a list of the best book covers.  And, it’s not only fun, did you know that book covers also offer valuable leadership and goal setting lessons?  (Click here to read more.)

If you want to compare this year’s list with previous years:

2013 Best Book Covers

2012 Best Book Covers

2011 Best Book Covers

Drum roll, please.  Announcing the Best Book Covers of 2014.

 

2014 Book Cover List

 

Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

9780374534493

 

Bad Teeth by Dustin Long

9780544262003

 

The Fracking King by James Browning

9780544262997

 

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

9780062024350

 

50 Things to Drop Before the New Year

Eliminated Red Square Grungy Stamp Isolated On White Background

The Eliminate List

There are some things that we just need to eliminate.  Don’t take them into next year.  Here’s a few in random order of what we can all drop:

  1. Grudges
  2. Anger
  3. Toxic habits
  4. Clutter
  5. Negative thoughts
  6. People who drag you down
  7. Limiting language
  8. Bitterness
  9. Extra weight
  10. Unrealistic expectations
  11. Self righteousness
  12. Meanness
  13. Rudeness
  14. Partially hydrogenated anything
  15. Hatred
  16. Swearing
  17. Excuses
  18. Distractions
  19. Blind spots
  20. Frivolous spending
  21. Busywork
  22. Being cheap
  23. Drags
  24. Texting while driving
  25. Lateness
  26. Limiting beliefs
  27. Road rage
  28. Time wasters
  29. Doing it all alone
  30. Too much screen time
  31. Laziness
  32. Jealousy
  33. Stress
  34. Old clothes
  35. Gossip
  36. Debt
  37. Correcting others
  38. Perfectionism
  39. Self-sabotage
  40. Roadblocks
  41. Procrastination
  42. “Um” and other filler words
  43. Junk food
  44. Worry
  45. Sense of entitlement
  46. Thinking the worst about people
  47. High blood pressure
  48. Empty and false promises
  49. Seeking the approval of others
  50. Some money in an envelope and send it to your favorite charity.

7 Lessons on Giving from Jimmy Wayne

 

Walk to Beautiful

One of the most moving and true stories I have ever read is Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who  Found the Way, the story of Jimmy Wayne.  Jimmy is a country music singer-songwriter whose songs have topped the charts.  His song “Do You Believe Me Now?” was played over 100,000,000 times on the radio earning him the millionaire award. He is also now a NYT bestselling author and has a movie based on his book Paper Angels.  With all that success, he still identifies himself more as a foster kid who faced numerous challenges growing up in a difficult system.

Recently, I was visiting Nashville and met Jimmy at an event to raise money for the Salvation Army.

 

Saved By Love

Do you know how this country music star got his first guitar?  If you have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program, you will have the answer. That anonymous gift was the beginning of a musical journey.  Each year children in need fill out angel tags containing gift wishes and place them on a tree.  Jimmy received his first guitar through this program.  You can make a dream come true by helping others through the Salvation Army’s program.

After reading his compelling story and speaking with him, I thought about 7 lessons Jimmy Wayne taught me about giving and sharing.

Jimmy taught me to:

 

1. Give the gift of encouragement.

As a homeless teenager, Jimmy befriended an elderly couple, who took him in. When he speaks of this couple, and the words of love and appreciation they expressed to him, you will be reminded of the power of encouragement.  Contrast that to the words spoken by a prison guard; words that, to this day, still seem to haunt him.

Use every opportunity to encourage others with words of love and appreciation.

 

2.  Give with no expectation.

So often we give and expect something back.  True givers experience the joy of giving with no expectation.  Anything given with an expectation is not really a gift.

“Anything given with an expectation is not really a gift.” -Skip Prichard

 

3.  Give of yourself.

Bea Costner opened her home to Jimmy, gave of her time, her talent, and her love. She demonstrated the power of giving is when it comes from the heart with nothing held back.

“The power of giving is when it comes from the heart and nothing is held back.”

 

4.  Give your unique giftedness.

Leaders Open Doors

Silhouette of businesswoman with briefcase standing in doorway

An Approach to Lift People, Profit and Performance

“I got to open doors for people!”

When Bill Treasurer heard his five-year-old son say those words, he immediately recognized this as valuable leadership advice. With decades of consulting experience, Bill wrote Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Leadership Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance as a new approach to leadership. Bill Treasurer is the founder of Giant Leap Consulting. He has led corporate workshops for clients ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue to NASA.

 

“Leadership is about momentum and results.” -Bill Treasurer

 

I wanted Bill to share his approach to leadership and how Leaders Open Doors.  Bill is also careful to explain that leaders open doors, but that does not mean they have always-open door policies:

 

“Allowing yourself to be continuously interrupted is a recipe for lousy leadership.” -Bill Treasurer

 

Open Door Leaders Make People Uncomfortable

What’s most important about leadership?

The focus of leadership should not be the leader. The focus should be on what the leader is doing to create opportunities for those he or she is leading. Ultimately, followers reap the rewards of effective leadership.

I call leaders who focus on creating opportunities for those they serve Open-door Leaders.

 

“Vulnerability is critical to leadership because it mitigates the leader’s ego.” -Bill Treasurer

 

Explain why you say that a leader’s job is to make people uncomfortable.

FINAL 2 (1)People and organizations grow, progress, and evolve by taking on challenges, which are, by definition, uncomfortable things. An Open-door Leader’s job is to nudge people into their discomfort zones.

The trick is nudging people far enough outside their comfort zones that they become motivated to pursue a higher standard of performance, but not so far outside their comfort zones that they get paralyzed with fear.

To be clear, making people uncomfortable does not equate with stoking their fears. There’s nothing more childish than intimidating leadership. Fear is cheap leadership – it takes no effort or thought. Open-door Leaders, conversely, make people feel safe enough that they want to pursue uncomfortable challenges. By creating safety, the leader helps people become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, the CEO of IBM, said it best: “Growth and comfort do not coexist.”

 

“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” -Ginny Rometty

 

Restoring Confidence

How does a leader restore confidence in someone who is discouraged?

Three ways:

  1. Sharing stories of his or her own hardships and struggles. When leaders share stories about their own imperfections, failures, or mistakes with us, we judge ourselves less harshly.
  2. Believing in us more than we believe in ourselves. Leaders have to constantly remind us of our potential so we can see momentary missteps in a larger context.
  3. Give people another shot. Consider, for example, when you were learning how to ride a bike. What did your parents make you do whenever you fell? Get back up and try again. They didn’t stop believing in you just because you fell. They viewed the setback as part of the learning process. Likewise, after a career setback or failure, the leader should help us draw out corrective lessons, and then have us re-attempt the thing that set us back.

 

“Leaders open doors.” -Bill Treasurer

 

How do leaders shift perspective in others?