The Treasure Of A Techable Spirit

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Jimmy Evans was a victim of an unteachable spirit in regards to his marriage that was on the brink of divorce.  The morning he was going to sign the divorce papers he read a simple Bible verse, John 16:13, which states “the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth.”  Evans believed that there was a way to succeed at his marriage and that God would lead him to the answers.  Today, he is the co-founder of Marriage Today, a national marriage counseling ministry.  Can you guess who the other co-founder is?  That’s right, it’s his wife Karen and they have been married for 35 years.

Below are some of the attributes that Evans and many others have played by to maintain a Teachable Spirit.  They are broken down into 2 categories: Four Characteristics of an UN-Teachable Spirit and Four Characteristics of a Teachable Spirit.  As you go through these, keep in mind that we all have our own struggle with teach-ability.  Some of us might be teachable in sports or cooking but unteachable in marriage or money.  Congratulate yourself on the characteristics you already have and strive to apply the rest.

Four characteristics of an UN-teachable spirit:

1. Chronic Failure: All of us have failed at certain things but if you have a knack for repetitive failure in money, marriage, parenting, emotions, self-control, personal discipline, and other inevitable life characteristics then you need to check your teach-ability.  The reason why chronic failure is first on the list is because the answers are out there. There is no reason to continually fail when there are plenty of great leaders setting a more than excellent example on how we can move past our failures.  The most successful people are constantly surrounded with counselors and advisors but those who struggle heavily won’t even read a book about it.

2. An Argumentative and Defensive Nature: Do you care about what others have to say or do you feel threatened by those with differing opinions? Learn to listen to others and really try to understand where they are coming from.  Don’t be quick to state your case.  Put the other person’s interests ahead of your own.  Instead of raising an argument, ask questions about the points that don’t make sense to you.  This will either shed some light on issues that you are not familiar with or help the other person to examine their own advice without confrontation.

3. Isolation and Withdrawal In Times of Difficulty: Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of wisdom.  “A man who isolates himself seeks his own judgment; he rages against all wise judgment.  A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” -Proverbs.

4. Laziness: Proverbs also says, “the lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.  The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”  A lazy person thinks they have it figured out but they are really at the bottom looking up.  A lot of times they are already at the bottom of the pit of laziness before they figure out where they are.

Four Characteristics of a Teachable Spirit:

1. Humility: Admitting that you don’t have it all figured out is the place to start.  Welcome to the club!  Realize that everyone has their own character and teach-ability flaws.  Go seek out wise instruction on how you can improve.

2. Graciously Accept Correction and Input: Proverbs 9:8 says, “rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”  This does not mean that you have to agree with everything people say but we all should have an open mind and a heart to listen to others.

3. Seeking Wise Counsel In Times of Decisions, Difficulty, or Chronic Failure:  This is not weak.  This is a practice of wisdom and all successful people do it.  Notice that it says “WISE” counsel.  Do not confide in anyone.  Find someone who has been successful in the quality you are trying to improve. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”

4. Submitting To Authority and Staying Accountable: Respect those who are over you even if you don’t agree with everything they say.  Put their good attributes into practice and learn from their faults.  Find someone to keep you accountable in the areas you are trying to improve.

The author of proverbs, Solomon, is said to be the wisest man to ever set foot on the planet.  In Proverbs 12:1 he says, “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”  Most parents teach their children not to say “stupid” but Solomon was definitely trying to make a point.  We are all born into this world not knowing anything but the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is not aptitude, it’s attitude.

4 Qualities People With Great Attitudes Possess:

A construction worker opens his lunch and pulls out a bologna sandwich.  “Another bolgna sandwich!” he shouts, “I hate bologna sandwiches!  Why do I always get bologna sandwiches in my lunch!”  His co-worker, taken back by his attitude, tries to calm him down, “It’s alright, you can take care of this.  Just go home tonight and ask your wife to make you something other than a bologna sandwich.”  Leave my wife out of this!” the man exclaims in return, “I pack my own lunches!”

Most of the bologna we carry around in our lives was packed by us!  Get rid of your bologna by applying these 4 qualities people with great attitudes possess:

1.  Possess a teachable spirit.  Put into practice the teaching you have learned.  Be approachable and not defensive.  This requires the will to accept criticism.  Be willing to take a long hard look in the mirror and admit if you are the problem.

2. Take responsibility for your attitude.  First, it is important to fill your mind with good things.  Then, meditate on these good things.  Finally, practice these good things.  You are responsibly for what you put in your mind.

3. Travel the high road.  The low road – treat people worse than they treat you.  The middle road – treat people the same as they treat you.  The high road – treat people better than they treat you.  You can’t always control what you go through but you can control how you go through it.

4. Understand the value of attitude.  “There is little difference in people but that little difference makes a big difference.  The little difference is attitude.  The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

A good attitude has value at the beginning of the task.  Starting positive will help you finish positive.  A good attitude had value in the middle of the task.  What you appreciate will appreciate and the more you complain the less you will obtain.  A good attitude has value at the end of the task.  All is well that ends well.

Recently John Maxwell visited Gateway Church in Southlake Texas where he taught a message entitled Filling Your Mind to Fulfill Your Life.  This post was inspired by that message.  You can find it here.  If you like that, you should also check out John’s personal blog on leadership here.

Thirteen Ways To Stay True to Your Followers

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Michael Hyatt is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishing, the largest Christian publisher in the world.  His philosophy is that if you are going to lead well, you must be thoughtful and purposeful about it.  He is also the host of a highly successful (and addicting) leadership blog (michaelhyatt.com) with a goal to create insightful, relevant content that you can put to work in your personal and professional life.

In one of his recent posts entitled Thirteen Ways to Frustrate Your Employees, he discusses the top flaws that he experienced from bad bosses over the years.  Each points hits on key character mishaps that, if avoided, will make you a great leader.  Upon dissecting his post, I was overwhelmed by the amount of leadership gold contained inside.  I was determined to take each “character flaw” described and re-write it reverse order to point out the Thirteen Ways To Stay True to Your Followers:

1. Be responsive. Be a good steward to those who reach out to you.  Return voice mails and emails in a timely fashion.  Do not assume that in time they will simply solve the problem on their own.

2. Always follow through on scheduled meetings. Some might have had to travel to the meeting or do a lot of preparation beforehand.  Make it a priority to put those under you above your personal priorities.

3. Never reprimand others in front of their peers.  There is nothing more demeaning than being critizied in front of your other co-workers or subordinates.   A public reprimand is a sure-fire way to loose the trust of those following you.

4. Stay true to your plan of action.  You have spent time getting everyone excited about moving in a new direction, they’ve invested lots of time, energy, and possibly even money.  Suddenly changing directions well into your plan shows your followers that you lack visionary wisdom.  If you have no choice then sit everyone down and explain your reasons for a change in detail.  Be prepared to present a new game plan that you can get them excited about.

5. State your expectations. Clearly state your plan of action and everyone’s role within.  Make sure each individual is given clear direction and that they know exactly what is necessary to accomplish their piece of the plan.  This will not only make them feel valued and well equipped but will also give you good grounds to keep them accountable on when the annual-review rolls around.

6. Give grace with work-ethic. Yes, “being prepared” is a much needed quality of success but not even the best leaders are perfect.  Encourage your followers to be attentive but don’t make them feel like they are walking on egg shells around you.  If they present a summary but forgot the backup, don’t say, “Where’s the backup for this? You don’t expect me to make a decision without the detail, do you?” Instead, say, “This is a great summary and I bet your report will be just as good.  When do I get to read it?” Then, work out a due date that is reasonable for both parties.

7. Focus on substance over the superficial.  Pay attention to actual accomplishments rather than redundant details like how much time they spend at their desk or in the office. Their quality of work is much more important than how many Internet hours they log or the way they dress.

8.  Do not micromanage. It is important to be responsive to their needs (see #1 above), but don’t insist that they keep you informed every step of the way. Don’t be to quick to evaluate every decision they make.  Provide an environment where they can grow from their mistakes.  Instead of breathing down their neck, encourage them, and allow them to get some work done.

9. Don’t do all the talking.  Just because you’re the boss, don’t assume that automatically makes you smarter, funnier, and more experienced. Listen to others and really try to understand where they are coming from.  Ask questions and don’t give advice prematurely.

10. Go out of your way to recognize your people for their accomplishments. People feel empowered when they know they are doing a good job.  Find details that are individually unique in each person’s work and point them out.  Make sure that this is done evenly amongst the entire work force. Instead of getting frustrated with those who are struggling, find something they are doing well and commend them on it. This will make them more acceptive to suggestions of improvement.

11. If you catch someone doing something wrong, maintain good character. First, never be quick to acknowledge other’s mistakes.  But if you find someone crossing the line, pull then aside with a cool head and handle the matter in private.   Don’t lay into them when you are alone but instead stress concern for their well-being.

12. Hold humility high. Your followers don’t need to hear why you are the boss and how good you do your job.  Instead, don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and flaws.  This will show people that you are real rather than stuck on your reputation.  Humility is oxygen to a positive working environment.

13. Cultivate a consistent positive attitude. This is probably the most important tip I can give you.  Do not switch from being happy – to angry – to content – to irritated – etc.  You don’t want people constantly asking your assistant for a “weather report” before they meet with you.  It is OK to have a bad day but you should never take it out on your followers.   Everyone has off days, so plan ahead.  Have a game plan for your next unexpected sour hour.  Call your mentor or spouse, get a breath of fresh air, take a moment of solitude to gather yourself, read the funnies, or do what you need to do.  Then, get back out there and set an example for those looking up to you.

Everyone Needs A Mentor

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There are great mentors all around us that enjoy installing wisdom and life into those who are eager to soak it in.  They have the answers to your tough questions and motivational insight with a powerful second wind.  Even the most successful people have mentors to help them take their potential to the next level.

One of the best ways to get better at what you do is to hang around people who have mastered it.  A great mentor helps you to continually evolve into the best possible you.

Who is mentoring you?

It is a good idea to meet with your mentor on a regular basis but there is no set rule for that.  Maybe your potential mentor can only meet once a year – and that annual meeting might be the most influential experience of your life.

How do you get the most out of your mentor? (These tips were inspired from Rick Warrens leadership newsletter)

1) Ask questions: If you are not willing to ask questions then you will miss out on golden information.  You will be surprised – Your mentor will probably appreciate the fact that you are interested in what they have to say.  Here are some solid questions that you might want to ask your mentor:

  • How do you handle stress?
  • What have been the greatest successes in your life, and what are the causes of it?
  • What were the greatest failures in your life?
  • What would you do differently if you were doing life over?
  • What kind of books do you read?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • How do you manage your money?
  • What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned?
  • What have been the greatest surprises in your life?

I have my my own set of questions that I ask my mentors that are applicable to my life.  What questions can you add to your list?

2) Accept feedback: If you’re not open to feedback, you’re not going to learn, you’re not going to grow, and you’re not going to develop. You need to learn to accept criticism.

We all need mentors. No matter how successful I become; I will always need a coach. Michael Jordan needs a coach and Pavoroti has a voice coach.  All the pros have coaches. You need one too. Go out and find someone you trust, someone with skills and experiences you can learn from – and most of all someone you can trust – and ask that person to be your mentor.  You won’t regret it.

Never Forget “Rule Number Six.”

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Two Prime ministers were sitting in a room discussing affairs of state.  Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and baning his fist on the desk.  The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.  The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying.  Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.”  Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.  When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague:  “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this.  Would you be willing to share with me the secret of this Rule Number 6?”  “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister.  “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.'”  “Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.”  After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?” … “There aren’t any.”Benjamin Zander, symphony conductor, teacher, and motivational speaker told the Rule Number 6 story to a group of executives at a company in Europe.  Several months later, when he returned to that city, he stopped by their headquarters and was invited into the presidents office.  There, on the desk was a plaque facing towards the president’s chair, inscribed were the words, Remember Rule Number 6.  A similar plaque now stands on the desk of every manager in the company, with the inscription facing both ways.  The president explained to Zander that a transforming climate of cooperation in the company has resulted from this one simple act.

A simple shift in the way we think can help us distinguish the part of ourselves that is forced to live in the competitive business world obsessed with measurement.  When we practice Rule Number 6, we help our “calculating self” to lighten up.  By doing so, we break its hold on us.

 

You can read more about Rule Number 6 in Zander’s book, The Art of Possibility: