October 2013

Don't Care Who Gets the Credit

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit. I don't know if President Truman came up with this thought, or if he found it somewhere. Kind of funny - but in the spirit of the quote - it doesn't really matter who gets credit for originating the quote. Did the person write the quote so they become a famous quoter… or to help people become better leaders? 

The Wisdom of Edmund Burke

There are times when we need to sit with the wise philosophers -  historians - statesman of the past. Edmund Burke is one whose wisdom seems to transcend time and culture. One of Burke's quotes is among the most profound I have ever read. Then, I recently came across another that comes alongside it, very nicely. Here are the quotes:

Max De Pree on what Leaders Do

Max De Pree was the incredible sevant leader of the furniture company Herman Miller. De Pree was such a good leader and wrote such excellent books on leadership, that eventually a Max De Pree Center for Leadership was founded

Two of my favorite (still worth reading) books my De Pree are:  
Leadership is an Art
Leadership Jazz

Here is one of the most powerful definitions of the Work of the Leader I have yet encountered. There are three things a leader must do.

Greatest Motivational Speech Ever

Too much Testosterone here? Maybe! But on the other hand - there is something powerful, stirring, ennobling, purpose-giving.  They are about to embark on a battle against overwhelming odds. Defeat and Death is certain. But Henry V gives the St. Crispian's Day, "we few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers" speech to rally the demoralized English soldiers.

Heroic Leadership that is willing to fight for what is right, no matter the odds, the cost or the outcome...

Too much testosterone? Maybe! 
Certainly superb acting and speaking.
Some of Shakespeare's finest writing, as far as I am concerned.
You can read the text here.

May you each have a Band of Brothers, or Tribe of Sisters, or Community of Missional Friends who believe passionately in the work of God and who are willing to dream great dreams, pay a great price and stay the course to the end.

What Happens When Your Week is Disrupted?

It happened to me this week! TWICE!!!
The first was on Monday when my computer had a major malfunction. Some code got messed up in my User Profile, so I could not access anything on my hard drive. That took about five hours of time at the Apple Genius Bar (which by the way was great customer service). But FIVE HOURS out of my busiest day! The day when I teach two different topics that evening... and a session Tuesday morning.

Learning Takes Time

This is a short follow up or continuation from yesterday's post.

Learning takes time.
Great learning takes a lot of time.
The best leaders are those who learn over a lifetime.

Okay - I'll come clean. I do love to learn. On my Strengths-Finder test, my top five include input, intellection, learner and ideation. (For the entire list, click here.) As you can tell all three are going to incline me toward Life Long Learning. Fortunately, I am also strategic, which means I want to do something with my learning.

Thinking takes time... good thinking, sound thinking, strategic thinking, wise thinking - Takes a LOT OF TIME.

Creative, Innovative, Entreprenurial Thinking - Takes EVEN MORE TIME.

Not every leader is in the role of being a Thought Leader - but some of you are. For some of you - it is your BUSINESS TO THINK. 

Peter Drukcer and Peter Senge tell us that leadres need to be learners so their organizations can be learning organizations. It just TAKES TIME. 

Here are some practical suggestions.

Sharpen the Saw Daily

by Reading, Thinking, Writing, Conversing & Acting

I know you are familiar with the famous quote by Francis Bacon.

Here Francis lists three of my FIVE.
Reading fills your mind with the best ideas.
Conference (or conversation) is how you process your ideas and see how others respond.
Writing is the way you sharpen your own positions about your best ideas.

Vital Optimism

I think I first heard the phrase VITAL OPTIMISM when Gordon MacDonald spoke at one of the Leadership  Summits of Living Word Community Church. That phrase has stayed with me ever since. In part - because I am not naturally wired for this. I can easily default to a "Glass is Half Empty" kind of person. It is easy for me to see what is wrong in the world. On the plus side, this is partly since I am a visionary who dreams of things that can be much better than they are. Still . . . Vital Optimism is not my strong suit.

Yet, Vital Optimism is part of the work of creating emotionally healthy workplaces of RESONANCE. Optimism, confidence, encouragement, affirmation, warmth, belief, hope, joy - all this is part of the Vital Optimism Mindset. It is so much better to be around these people and it is so much better for you to be this kind of leader.

Two Lists to Create for Greater Results This Week

Leaders want to get results. We want to make a difference. We want to add value to the world. We want to change things for the better. That is our heart and desire.

But STUFF gets in the way. In the early years of the 21st Century, the overwhelming reality is TOO MUCH STUFF.

  • Too much information coming our way.
  • Too many opportunities and too many options.
  • Too many invitations.
  • Too many distractions.
  • Too many interruptions.
  • Too much busynes EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Leaders have to Focus. They have to Prioritize. They have to Do First Things First. They have to know how to separate the Truly Important form the Merely Urgent.

So - here are two practical suggestions that will help you do this. You need to create two lists.

Your Story Matters

It Matters to God and it Matters to Others. So Make it a GREAT ONE.








You are living and writing your STORY. That story matters a very great deal. It matters to God, it matters to others.

It is a wonderful mindset to understand that our universe, our world (God's Kingdom) - as vast as it is, is a collection of many, many, many TINY STORIES. Every story matters. Your story, as tiny as it is - matters to those around you. And it matters to God who is co-authoring your story.

Part Of the Solution or the Problem?

My father was not known for his command of poetry but there was one poem that he taught my brothers and me that has stuck with me over the years.  These past three weeks of governmental gridlock and government shutdown reminded my of the poem.

As I was walking through a town,  I saw some men tearing a building down

I asked the foreman "Are these men skilled,?"  "No indeed, common labor is all I need"

"I can tear down in a day or two, What it takes talented men years to build"

And so as I left that town, I asked myself, "Am I building up or tearing down?

Personal Love for Jesus

Michael Casey is a Cistercian monk of Tarrawarra Abbey in Austrailia.
The Cistercians were a renewal movement within the Benedictine tradition. The great founders of the Cistercians included people like Bernard of Clairvaux and Aelred of Rievaulx. Central to their way of spirituality was the deep love of Jesus and to grow in one's love for God. The list below is found on pages 147-154 of :

Strangers to the City: Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of Saint Benedict

Each of the following points receives a very moving exposition by Michael Casey. But I at least wanted you to see his main points about our "personal love for Jesus."

Archimedes, Big Ideas and Platforms

Archimedes is going to help you MOVE YOUR WORLD.

His quote is famous: Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I will move the world. Isn't that exactly what leaders want to do? We want to move the world. Influence the world. Touch the world. Change the world. Add value to the world.

So - how do you do that?
You find a lever long enough . . .
You find the right place to fix your lever . . .
You start working the lever . . .

Here is what that means for you.

Breaking Visibly With the World

The need to break visibly with the ways of the world,
and to assert something more defintely by one's lifestyle,
becomes more and more urgent as our society
plunges morally into the abyss,
and socially into disruption.
The need is for witnesses whose witness is both intelligible and unmistakable,
for witnesses who know how to reject and rebuke evil however disguised,
and likewise proclaim what is good.
(Abbot Parry)

When I read the Desert Fathers and Mothers, I am in touch with the ancients who believed every word of what Abbot Parry (a Benedictine Abbot) says above. They were saddened and disgusted by the excessive immorality of the cities of the ancient world. They went out to the desert to find solitude and silence... not for the sake of solitude but for the purpose of finding God. In the cities, there was too much noise, busyness, distractions, hurriedness, and interruptions.

Four Fatal Assumptions About you the Listener

This is a follow up thought from yesterday's post on communicating. It also comes from ORANGE. Again, it is prevailing wisdom, but they just say it so creatively that it bears passing on to you. For more of their insights, check out their book - Playing for Keeps.

I speak quite a bit. Some preaching, a lot of teaching, seminars, conferences, retreats, small groups . . . And like most communicators, I think I am pretty good. (Talk about Fatally Flawed Assumptions.) It is interesting that when communicators are surveyed as to how good they think they are, they rate themselves as very good, in the top 10% of communicators. Then you ask their audience to assess them... and the general assessment is - AVERAGE.

Four Essentials for Good Communication

Everything is changing. That includes how people learn. The kinds of communication that grabs hold of them. Their attention span. Their interests. All this means that how public speakers communicate has to change.

I ran across this idea as far back as 1986 when I was introduced to the brilliant, provocative, paradigm changing book - Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. Postman's contention was simple: TV has changed every profession that uses public discourse/speaking as key to its vocation.

Three Simple Rules

Sometimes it is Complex, Other Times Simple is Real Useful
I am not one to oversimplify, but I do like to make things clear. Life, leadership, relationships, spirituality (really anything that is important to us) - all these things are wonderful, mysterious, messy and possessing a great deal of complexity. At the same time, there are simple frameworks that are useful as models and steps to touch part of these Vast Realities. Here is one of them.

If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it.

Time Matters

... and it Matters a Lot!

I have been thinking a lot about time these days.

About how I am using my time (since it seems to be in precious short supply).
About how much time I have left (my 57th Birthday is fast approaching).
About what I want to do with my time (thinking about legacy issues). 
About how fast time is flying (as I watch my son Matthew making his way through college).

I have often reflected on the verse from Psalm 90:12.

Women in Leadership

Today's post is a link for a nice collection of Quotes About Women in Leadership. These quotes are found on the website, Words Heaven. You would have to dig a little if you simply go to their site, but the link I provide takes you to the right spot.

While I hope the women readers of our site will really enjoy them and find them useful stepping stones for reflection, I also hope that men will find them just as useful. 

Some of the quotes are funny, some are powerful, many are inspirational, others instructive . . . all are movtivational.

If you want to read a really good book about women in Leadership, check out Sheryl Sandberg's book:


When it comes to learning, I typically prefer to read longer, more substantial works. In other words - give me a good book and I am happy. I have learned how to do deep reading so i truly maximize the time I spend in the book. Right now I am working through:

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch
Formed for the Glory of God: Learning From the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards by Kyle Strobel
Christian Mysticism by William Ralph Inge (The Oxford Lectures of 1918)
The Conferences by John Cassian (written about 400 AD, advice to the monastic communities)

They Are Making Me Change Again!

And I didn't like it.
I didn't like that "they" were not asking me to change. They were requiring me to change. It's happened before. I know it will happen again. I can be as CHANGE RESISTANT as the next person. Especially when I really like things the way they are.

So, here I was and there they were. You may be wondering - who is the they?

Why it is the good folks at Apple and the good folks at Google. Those creative, innovative, design and sell products people who are running the world, making truckloads of money, and changing the our way of life. That is who THEY are.

I liked the operating system I was using on my iPad and my iPhone. Then I had to update and upgrade to the new operating system. I did. Like a trillion other users, who apparently all had the same ideas on the same two days. It took, well, I'll be discrete - awhile to download.

Great Perspective about Leadership From Steve Jobs

. . . for some Monday Morning Motivation

Here is a great 25 SECOND video clip of leadership as Steve Jobs defined it.
Bill Gates finds it pretty funny... so does Jobs...

I love it.
Your team and organization as a sinking ship. Your job is to point it in the right direction.
It's that simple.
Have a great week.
Back tomorrow with a bit more substance.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International


We Would See Jesus

. . . the Invitation to Image-Bearing and Christ-Imitation

The Image of Christ
The Imitation of Christ

Back to the Basics

I have been studying leadership for a long time. I have hundreds of books on the subject. While my reading in that field has declined, I still read 20+ leadership books every year. But you might be surprised at some of the books I read. For several of them are pretty basic. It is stuff I already know. So you might wonder - "Why do you read books about what you have already learned?"

Because I am forgetful.

By that I don't mean I literally forget ideas I once knew (although that does indeed happen). But I am "Neglectful." I neglect to remember what I know. You have often heard the phrase, "Out of sight, out of mind." In some odd way that is how the memory works. Here is how I want to tweak the idea for this discussion.


This image resonates with me. This is what life is suppose to be. Adventure, change, creativity, discovery, exploration, freedom, hunger, innovation, journey and longing.

As such, it requires faith, hope and a vision that is beautiful, compelling and clear.

It also requires courage. Courge to try.  Courage to fall short, to fail, and then to try again. Courge to persevere. Courage to struggle against the odds.

There will be suffering. All good things that are laid upon you, for you to do - will only be done at a cost. There is always a price to pay. If anyone tells you something different - walk away from them. 

Yogi Berra on Observation

My friend had missed it. Really missed it. The signs were there. The clues were all around. He was just too busy to notice, too distracted to focus, too caught up in the frantic needs of the moment to see. Life was busy, fast, and challenging. He stopped watching. To his great regret. Too late, damage done, warning signs ignored . . . the relationship was past the point of no return (well, with God's grace all things are possible, but our carelessness makes some exceedingly unlikely).

You can observe a lot by watching. Yogi Berra said that.

Attention matters. Paying attention, noticing, focusing, scrutinizing. Painfully obvious isn't it? Sadly overlooked - just as obvious!


. . . is a Sad Way to Live and a Worse Way to Lead!

It is an acronymn that I came across in Joey Reiman's book, The Story of Purpose. It means:


It is a little embarrassing to say that I have been a CAVE man. And I know a few CAVE women as well. The CAVE problem transcends age, gender, nationality, personality, ideology and a host of other things. But for some people the CAVE mentality runs deep.

Critically Against Virtually Everything