Questions to Ask for Reviewing 2013

I posted this last year, but wanted to go back to it as a very practical resource/application for the end of the year. It's important we take time as leaders to reflect and look back over the last 12 months, as well as looking forward to the next 12 months and beyond. Year End Review Questions:

1. What are the 2-3 themes that personally defined 2013 for me?

2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2013?

3. Give yourself a grade from 1-10 in the following areas of focus for 2013: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.

4. What am i working on that is BIG for 2014 and beyond?

5. As I move into 2014, is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?

6. How am I preparing for 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

7. What 2-3 things have I been putting off that I need to execute on before the end of the year?

8. Is my family closer at the end of this year? Am I a better friend at the end of this year? If not, what needs to change immediately?

14 Organizations worth a Year-end Gift

Okay, I wanted to recommend a few organizations that I think are worth a year end gift. All of these organizations are ones that I'm invested in- both in terms of giving gifts and supporting them, as well as knowing the staff and the people behind these organizations. So as you think about year-end giving, I would recommend any of these organizations as a great place to invest.

1. Red Eye Inc. - my friend Justin Mayo heads up this "under the radar" community of young influencers and creatives in some of the leading global cities (LA, NYC, Sydney, London) that are using their talents to make a difference in a positive way.

2. Compassionsponsor a child. I sponsor several. I've seen their work up close in Rwanda and Ecuador. Your money is being stewarded well.

3. Young Lifebeen involved with Young Life since college. No one creates better experiences for teenagers and introduces the Gospel in such a compelling and loving way.

4. Gift Card Giverfull disclosure on this one- I serve on the board so I'm a bit biased. But there is very little overhead and you can give a gift or a gift card to help out.

5. Convoy of Hopethey've brought their trucks to Catalyst the last several years, sponsored the Present: Hope Bike Tour a couple of years ago, and are the official Disaster Relief partner of Catalyst. Their disaster relief and community development is amazing.

6. International Justice MissionGary Haugen and the team at IJM have been fighting sex trafficking and human slavery for the last 19 years. Rescuing victims as well as bringing justice to areas where no justice exists.

7. HOPE Internationalrun by good friend Peter Greer, HOPE Int provides micro-finance loans all over the world, helping give dignity and lift people out of poverty. A $100 gift goes a long way.

8. charity: waterperhaps my favorite non-profit organization in the world. Scott Harrison and team have revolutionized the concept of providing clean water globally, and are only getting started.

9. One Days WagesEugene Cho makes it easy to see the impact of giving up one day of your salary. And he leads by example.

10. First Response Team of Americagood friend Tad Agoglia and his team provide help and hope at times when communities need just that- following disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

11. Atlanta Mission- an amazing organization focused on ending homelessness in the city of Atlanta. One of the best run homeless missions in the country.

12. A21 Campaign- headed up by Nick and Christine Caine, rescuing those trapped in human trafficking and modern day slavery all around the world, their goal is to end injustice in the 21st century.

13. Word Made Flesh- I love what they do in serving the poorest of the poor around the world.

14. Your Local Church- make sure you are giving regularly to your local church body. That is the place to start!

Treat Your Customers Like Celebrities

It's important you treat your customers, your tribe, your clients, those you do business with like celebrities and VIP's. What do I mean by this? If Tom Hanks, or Denzel Washington, or Will Ferrell, or Beyonce or Oprah showed up at your office, what would you do? How would you talk to them? What would be your body language? Would you be too busy with other things to say hi to them???....

A few thoughts:

1. Make your customers feel important. Shower them with encouragement and act like they are the only person in the room. Listen to them, and look them in the eye.

2. Show an amazing attention to details. Remember their names, their kids names, their favorite color, where they went to college, favorite movies, favorite snack, etc. And when they request something, even if very small, make it happen and execute.

3. Create a "customer rider." Celebrities have riders, that provide demands on quirky stuff. Same with customers. Allow your best customers to create a "rider," thus providing a way for you to get to know them better. A form they can fill out that will allow you to serve them well.

4. Truly be interested in what they are interested in. If they like the ballet, then learn about ballet. If they like sports, take them to a game. If they like art, give them a painting for their birthday.

5. Be eager to serve them. Your mindset should be to drop everything you are doing to take care of them. If Denzel or Beyonce walked in your house or your office, you would get them a diet coke and not be worried about the spreadsheet you are working on.....

6. Provide them swag. Celebrities get swag all the time. So should your customers.

7. Refer them to your friends and make connections for them that are win/win. Celebrities get tons of opportunities many times because people are always willing to introduce them to their friends. Make those same connections for your customers.

8. Respond immediately. Call them back the same day, return their emails in 24 hours, those kinds of things.

A Leader Must Be

1. Ready to take the fall. 2. Willing to have to sacrifice.

3. Always informed enough to make the tough decisions.

4. Constantly learning.

5. In touch with reality.

6. Able to plan for the future while leading in the present and honoring the past.

7. Quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. (Yikes!)

8. Humble and Hungry.

9. Never satisfied, but always content.

10. A great follower who understands how to be led.

11. Wise and discerning.

12. 100% trustworthy.

13. Willing to risk when it's needed, and not afraid to create change.

14. Constantly encouraging. (Yikes#2!)

15. Casting vision on a regular basis and creating a picture of the end goal.

16. Responsible. Your yes is yes and your no is no.

17. Anticipates what needs to get done.

18. Always hustling.

Among many, many other things.....

Do You Have 2nd Level Influence?

Had a great conversation the other day about "what really is influence?" Ultimately, what is TRUE Influence? Many folks talk about influence and feel like they have influence because they have followers. Which in essence is true. If people read your blog, listen to you speak, follow you on Twitter, friend you on Facebook, and buy your book, then in essence you are influencing them.

But true influence is about more than just someone listening or reading. It's about action. And it's about change. If I simply buy your book and read a few chapters, but don't put anything into action, are you really influencing me? If I listen to you speak, but make no changes in my life or the way I lead, are you really influencing me? If I follow you on Twitter, but it doesn't change anything for me, are you really influencing me?

True leadership, in my opinion, has to include action. Influence that leads to application and change. 2nd Level Influence. That notion that I am making a change, am taking action, am putting something into practice, and I will be different because of what you've said to me or what I've read from you.

Plus the idea that your influence has exponential impact- through my networks, through all of their networks, and so on. Passed on much farther and wider than just to me. That's true leadership.

Seth Godin has 2nd Level influence with me.

Andy Stanley has 2nd Level influence with me.

Scott Harrison from charity: water has 2nd Level influence with me.

Jeff Shinabarger has 2nd Level influence with me.

Michael Hyatt has 2nd Level influence with me.

Craig Groeschel has 2nd Level influence with me.

Christine Caine has 2nd Level influence with me.

Louie Giglio has 2nd Level influence with me.

Jim Collins has 2nd Level influence with me.

There are lots of examples of people who I listen to, but they don't truly influence me, with 2nd level influence. Katie Couric, all Sportscenter anchors, Charles Barkley, most politicians, Ryan Seacrest, many pastors, and numerous other "voices" in our culture. There's lots of noise being created, but not alot of action or change. It doesn't mean any of these folks don't have influence, they just aren't influencing me at a 2nd level.

So the question we all need to be asking is this: How can you make sure you are a "2nd Level" Influencer with those around you?

What are you afraid of?

What are you afraid of? What are you scared of? What frightens you? Let's face it. We are all scared of something. And all of us need a dose of courage to confront what currently is making us afraid.

Courage is facing up to something that frightens you. Looking at it straight on and dealing with it, straight up.

Reality us, we all need courage. Especially leaders. Courage to overcome. Courage to break through barriers. Courage to charge and climb the next hill. Courage to face fears. Courage to conquer and control fears. Fears. Yep.

Many times what holds us back is fear. Being scared. Living scared. Leading scared.

But take courage. Be FEARLESS, not fearful.

Boldly step into all God has created you to be. 

Today, what are you scared of? What is holding you back from all that God has created you to be?

For me, my biggest fear is failure. Occasionally it creates some very unhealthy leadership landmines and roadblocks that I have to work through. And is paralyzing, because when a leader is afraid to fail, taking risks then gets moved to the side, and maintaining status quo is the focus. Reality is, for many type A leaders, we are scared to death of failing. Afraid of what our friends will say, what our families will say, and how it will impact our next career season. And afraid of potentially losing what we "feel" like we've helped build or create.

And many of us incorrectly assume that in failure, the leader should take all the blame and is responsible no matter what. Not true, but something that still evokes fear.

Fear and failure don't have to go together. Failure is not something to be scared of. We should respect failure, but not fear it.

Take a bold step. Today.


Bonus: here are some random things I'm been scared of over the course of my life:

1. Storms- up until I was 13 0r 14, I was absolutely petrified of storms. I mean scared out of my mind. If there were clouds in the sky in the morning with a chance of storms, I would get physically sick I was so scared. And have to stay home from school. Literally petrified. And in Oklahoma, storms are for real. Tornadoes all the time.

2. Certain Dogs. This one still haunts me because of being bit by a pit bull when I was 5 or 6 years old. Still have the scar on my shin to prove it.

3. Bugs and Snakes. Not a fan at all of spiders or snakes. Actually, pretty much all small bugs shake me up a bit. Bees and wasps as well. I'm sweating just thinking about it.....

4. The Elevator in the St. Louis Gateway Arch. If you've been, you know what I'm talking about!!

5. Jellyfish. Hello. Who's with me?

20 Social Innovators you should know

Check out the work of these social entrepreneurs and innovatorsThis is NOT a top 20 list, but just 20 friends who I recommend you check out and learn more about their stories and the work of their organizations. They each inspire me! Scott Harrisonfounder of charity: water.

Eugene Chofounder of One Days Wages.

Laura Waters Hinson- director of the movie As We Forgive.

Mike Foster- founder of People of the Second Chance

Jamie Tworkowskifounder of To Write Love on Her Arms.

Tad Agogliafounder of First Response Team of America.

Matt Chambersfounder of Safe World Nexus.

Jonathan Olingerfounder of Discovery the Journey.

Rani Hong- founder of the Tronie Foundation.

Tyler Merrick- founder of Project 7.

Jeff Shinabarger- founder of Plywood People.

Jonathan Golden- founder of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee.

Hannah Song- president of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK).

Neil Blumenthal- c0-founder of Warby Parker.

Peter Greer- president of Hope International.

Shannon Sedgwick Davis- president of the Bridgeway Foundation.

Blake Mycoskie- founder of TOMS Shoes.

Charles Lee- founder of the Ideation Conference.

Jena Lee Nardella- ex director of Blood:Water Mission.

Kohl Crecelius- co-founder of Krochet Kids Intl.

(this is a repost from fall 2012)

10 reasons I'm hopeful and excited about the next wave of leaders

I love leaders. And especially next generation leaders. Specifically those leaders who are currently in their 20's and 30's. And I’m incredibly hopeful regarding this next wave of leaders. Incredibly excited and hopeful and expectant. Expectant that they are going to take the reins and move things forward like no other generation before them. Here’s a few reasons why I've got great confidence in the next generation of leaders:

1. Passion for God. Everyone seems to think we've lost a generation of Christ followers in our country, but after seeing the 60,000 college students gathered at Passion Conference earlier this year, and the 20,000 + who gather at Urbana every other year, and the 20,000 who were just in Kansas City for the IHOP One Thing gathering earlier this year, and the thousands who gather at Catalyst, and Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Worship Central, and many other venues- this instills confidence that the next generation of leaders love Jesus and are passionate about serving Him and making Him known for their generation. Read Gabe Lyons' latest book The Next Christians for further explanation and clarity.

2. Willing to work together. 20 and 30 somethings are more willing to collaborate than any other generation before. They trust each other. Really. And see collaboration as the starting point, not some grandiose vision of teamwork that is far off in the distance. Collaboration is now the norm.

3. Don’t care who gets the credit.. For the next generation- it's way less about who, and way more about what and why. The next wave doesn't care who gets the credit. It's way more about "what's right" instead of focusing on "who's right."

4. Generosity and sharing are the new currencies of our culture. In business, relationships, networks, platforms, technology, distribution, content delivery, etc- Open source is the new standard. This new wave of leaders has tools/resources such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and tons more social media tools that make influencing much more readily available.

5. Understand the holistic responsibility of influence- They are wiilling to connect all of life together- faith, compassion, charity, work, career, church, family, friends. It’s all connected. There is way less compartmentalizing of life among the next generation of leaders. .

6. Authenticity wins. Trust is incredibly important. Leaders won't have followers going forward unless they trust them and see that they are authentic and real. Authenticity is not only important to the next generation, it's a requirement.

7. Not willing to wait. Young leaders are ambitious and passionate about making a difference now. They are not necessarily willing to wait their turn. They want to influence now. Evidence of this is the explosion of church planters in the last 4-5 years, along with social innovation and social entrepreneurs.

8. See social justice as the norm. Leaders who care about the poor and lean into causes and see the social gospel as a key ingredient to following Christ are no longer seen as the exception. Young Leaders see taking care of the poor and sharing the Gospel as BOTH crucial to the advancement of the Church and of God's Kingdom. 20 somethings I believe are and will continue to become more balanced in their pursuit of both. They don't have to be one or the other.

9. Seeking wisdom and mentors. Overall, I sense that 20 and 30 somethings are highly willing to be mentored, and are hungry for wisdom from older leaders around them. Those of us Gen X'ers tend to think we have it all figured out. Millenials and Gen Y are assumed to have it all figured out because they have so many tools and technology at their fingertips. But from what I've experienced, they still are seeking wisdom, just as much as any other generation before them.

10. Change the world mentality. The next wave of leaders have global visions way beyond generations who have existed before. They truly believe they can make a difference, have an impact, and build significance, regardless of resources, organizational help, team, and overall scale. This kind of vision inspires, and also forces leaders to work together, hence #2.

How about you? Are you excited or concerned about the next wave of leaders?

Young Influencers List, November edition

Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here. 1. Jessica Kim - CEO/founder of BabbaCo, a start up specializing in content, activities, and innovative products for kids and busy mothers.

2. Katelyn Beaty- Managing editor of Christianity Today magazine, and also oversees the This is our City Project and co-founded Her.Meneutics.

3. Elijah Kirby- founding pastor of Fellowship Church London, a brand new church plant in Central London.

4. Hannah Joiner- creative director, Orange team member, and amazing artist/painter who has painted for us at Catalyst several times.

5. Darren Lau- graphic designer, videographer, web designer, and overall creative specialist. Currently working on JohnnySwim video and freelance graphic designer for Jesus Culture.

6. Jarrid Wilson- speaker, pastor, social media strategist at Logos, and author of 30 Words.

7. Andre "ZoOm" Anderson- London based artist, Olympics brand ambassador for Adidas, past intern with design agency Sid Lee, and author of  Kingdom: The Rise of the Creative Church.


Leaders: Let your Ego Leak

As leaders, one of our biggest struggles many times is our Ego. Those of us who are Type A Leaders really struggle with Ego. With pride. Being boastful about our own accomplishments. Arrogance. Untouchable. Always talking about ourselves and making sure everything revolves around us. No one sets out to be arrogant or to have a larger than life ego, but it just usually happens slowly over time, without us being aware.

And once everyone notices, many times its too late because we have so many things in place allowing our ego to flourish uncontrollably. The more influence you have, the more you are pulled away from reality and having those around you who will keep you humble.

Here is a simple solution: LET YOUR EGO LEAK. 

Ego leak is the practice of ridding oneself of pride through the pipeline of praising others around you.

Ego Leak is a GOOD THING, when it's focused in the right direction.

Squelch your own ego by focusing ALL of your bragging, arrogance, pride and boasting on and around OTHERS. Talk constantly about your team, about your children, about your spouse, about your family, about your friends, and about your staff.

Brag on God, on Jesus, on the Church. On His goodness and grace.

Let your Ego leak freely on behalf of building others up.

If you are like most of us who consider ourselves to be leaders, your ego will leak out regardless, so you might as well put it to good use, bragging on those around you.

9 Keys to Great Customer Service

I've worked on some great teams over the past several years, and seen great customer service in action. One of the places I learned the most about great customer service was Lost Valley Ranch, an incredible 4 diamond guest ranch in Colorado. Serving the guests was part of the DNA of the staff. We took great pride in our ability to create a great experience for our guests through unmatched excellent customer service. Here are a few of the ways we did that through great customer service:

1. Treat someone like you would want to be treated- the Golden Rule. It really does work. And it makes sense. Common sense. Use it.

2. Remember someone's name. Always. Especially when you've met them before or talked with them before.

3. Let your actions speak way louder than your words. Don't just talk about it. Make it happen. Your work can be a great example of your attitude and commitment to service.

4. Anticipate. Stay a step ahead of your clients or guests. Don't wait for them to ask for something. Be proactive. Figure it out before they even need it.

5. Go the extra step. Have a "+1" type of attitude and demeanor. Not just anticipating, but actually doing more than what is expected or required of you. Make memories for your client or guest by wowing them with the "above and beyond."

6. Engage in meaningful conversation. Listen really really well. Serving creates opportunity for impact- it builds a bridge. So make sure to connect with your guests or clients through conversation when it's appropriate. Understand who they are by understanding what they read, what they watch, where they travel and what their interests are. If you deal with families, learn their kids names and hobbies. Little things add up.

7. Give permission. Make sure your entire staff and everyone in the organization feels empowered to respond immediately to a customer service issue. Empower your employees at every level in the organization to respond and resolve. Especially those on the front line of service. Give them freedom to say yes as often as possible.

8. Own the relationship, and the result. Your answer should never be "that's not my job." Take initiative to see the problem or the issue through to the very end. IF you have to hand the relationship off to someone else, make sure you literally walk them to that other person, introduce them, and hand them off well. If over the phone or through email, the same applies. Constantly make sure you are "walking" with that person through the process.

9. Look people in the eye. This one gets forgotten like #2 above. But makes a big difference.


10 reasons why Leaders need a Confidant

Leaders are called to be courageous. And Confident, yet constantly humble. Being Confident is important. But change out the "e" for an "a" in confident, and this is also a huge need for leaders: A CONFIDANT. defines Confidant as "a close friend or associate to whom secrets are confided or with whom private matters and problems are discussed."

Every leader I know needs a Confidant.

So here are a few thoughts on leaders having a confidant:

1. This is not someone on your team who reports to you or is a peer.

2. This is not your boss. And for non-profit and church leaders, this is probably not someone on your board.

3. This is probably not a family member, since family members seem to only see one side and not the whole picture.

4. Make sure it's someone with honesty and integrity, who you are 100% sure won't talk to anyone else about what you are sharing. Loose lips sink ships.

5. It is someone you can rely on, share with, lean into for tough decisions, gripe about things, and receive counsel from.

6. There are lots of executive coaches out there. And I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea for your executive coach or life coach to potentially be a confidant. But ideally, your confidant is not someone you pay to help you.

7. A confidant doesn't make decisions for you, they ADVISE you. Don't allow your confidant to be your final decision maker.

8. Nothing to gain- make sure your confidant is not motivated one way or the other by the outcome of your decisions. For example, as a professional athlete, many look to their agents as their confidants- but ultimately that can be a bit risky, since the agents job is to get more money for the athlete, thus gaining more money themselves.

9. Confidants are more for listening, than they are talking. Advice and counsel many times can be best given by being a sounding board than a clanging gong.

10. Start early in your career. You don't need to be a CEO or President to have a confidant. As a leader, having an outside voice to give advice at any level in the organization is helpful.

Who's the eight at your dinner party?

Okay, you've got 8 spots at your dinner table for an upcoming gathering at your house. Invitees have to be alive. And has to be people you've never met. Who's getting the invites? Here's my eight:

1. Nelson Mandela

2. Will Ferrell

3. Beyonce

4. Denzel Washington

5. Jase Robertson (Duck Dynasty)

6. Oprah Winfrey

7. Richard Branson

8. Bono


Who's at your dinner table?

Friday with Friends: my recent interview with Sarah Cunningham on her new book

It's Friday with Friends on the blog. So please meet Sarah Cunningham.
I first met Sarah Cunningham at a Catalyst conference almost a decade ago when the church she worked for, Westwinds, put on an experiential service for our attenders. She was in her early twenties and just getting ready to write her first book, Dear Church: Letters From a Disillusioned Generation.

"I was intensely driven back then," Sarah remembers, "But a lot of times, I took on tasks that were either bigger or faster paced than I knew how to emotionally manage. It led to some messy leadership rhythms for me early on."

Fast forward to 2013 and Sarah's now aiming to not only help people move beyond disillusionment with the Church (an updated version of her first book re-titled as Beyond the Broken Church comes out in May, 2014), but also to help them avoid some of the leadership traps that sidelined or slowed her down early on.

"I learned a lot by mistakes and by the generosity of smarter, healthier people who managed to drop life-penetrating wisdom into my world exactly when I needed it." Sarah explains, "Eventually, I got serious about collecting those insights that gave me a breath of fresh air and helped add health to my leadership rhythms."
Sarah's now capturing those insights in The Well Balanced World Changer: A Field Guide for Staying Sane While Doing Good which released last month. The book offers a collection of 2-5 page essays, each of which presents a sticky idea or piece of wisdom that helps reframe expectations, inspire perseverance, set healthy pace and so on.
I recently interviewed Sarah about the book:
Me: So much about leadership is about striving to accomplish something meaningful. Do you think leaders worry that being too "balanced" might hold them back in terms of achievement or drive?
Sarah: I do think a lot of us like being the man or woman who is known for hoisting a huge ambition on our backs and charging forward. That kind of intensity drives us and we like the hard work and energy and momentum it brings to our lives. But being well-balanced doesn't mean siphoning away that leadership energy. It can sometimes mean directing it.

For example, over the years, I've seen (and maybe at times been) the leader who secretly (or publicly) thinks their great ideas are being overlooked. Publishers are passing them by, conferences aren't platforming them. They become cynics who write attack blogs venting about how exclusive the "Boys Club" is. Granted, sometimes there is need to advocate for including more people. But for a lot of us, I think the "balance" in this stage isn't retreating onto your couch and switching your dream out to watch a sitcom. The balance is saying, "If I want to be perceived as someone who has something worthwhile to say about this subject, than I need to get out there and take action, make a dent, and prove I'm in it for the long haul. If I want to be considered legitimate, then the best thing I can do is get out there and BE LEGITIMATE."

Me: That kind of sentiment, that our dreams or goals aren't unfolding fast enough, is a common sentiment. Why do you think that is?
Sarah: It's true. One of the essays in The Well Balanced World Changer pokes a little bit of fun at the way we tend to idolize "overnight success" stories. We (or some news reporter) locks onto some great road to glory story like Seth Godin's, for instance. And we say, wow, look, Seth Godin gave away thousands of copies of his book and it skyrocketed him to fame. The media and publishers were beating down his door, rolling the red carpet up to his house all because he had that one fantastic idea. But what a lie we tell ourselves, right? Then we set our psyches up to think, "All I need is that one great idea and I'm going to make it big!" It would be way smarter for us to lock onto other stories that emphasize all the years of day-to-day hard work that Godin put in before that big idea of giving his book away was able to gain traction.
Me: That mentality can definitely set people up for failure. What do you think is often the biggest disappointment for leaders as they strike out after their goals?
Sarah: I think leaders are often passionate people. They feel their goals deep in their bones. Some cause or vision stirs inside of them white hot and they basically are compelled to bring it to expression. But the trouble is that they have this romantic idea that because their cause is so worthy and so noble and so high-priority for them that the world--or some industry or group--is going to immediately recognize and support their work. Sometimes that happens, but a lot of times it doesn't.
It's tough when we realize that even though we are fighting against the world's evils or working to make life or faith a better experience for many, cheerleaders don't always greet us when we step out of the house. It's tough when we realize that millionaires aren't going to line up at our door to bankroll our ideas or that volunteers aren't necessarily going to wrap around the block waiting for the chance to sponsor a child, donate to our cause, or take on a leadership role in our church or organization. There are these tough leadership moments when our ideals crash into reality and we have to figure out what to do next.
Me: And what do you suggest leaders do in those moments?
Sarah: The Well Balanced World Changer is basically dozens of stories that answer that question. But for one, I think we commit to self-management. That means we make a conscious effort to review our own patterns and history and become aware of the triggers that usually trip us up. And secondly, I think we intentionally make time in our schedules for ongoing assessment and re-calibration.
For me, a big part of that was learning that when a huge task is in front of me, I used to think the best question was to ask, "Can I do this? Do I have the skill sets? Can I work hard enough and long enough to get it done?" And now, as I stare those big dreams in the face, I tack on, "Can I do this? Do I have the skill sets? Can I work hard enough and long enough to get it done? AND...can I do it and stay healthy?"
Anyone can crash their lives and lose their heath, family, relationships and job pouring themselves into workaholism to achieve a goal. But real leaders manage what they take on so that they aren't just leading today but they're leading ten, twenty, thirty years from now.
Sarah's book is available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. You can also find great shareable content at her book's Pinterest page. And you can contribute your own life lessons to an online collection of wisdom using the hashtag #worldchangerbook. You can find more great content at Sarah's blog

Young Influencers List, October edition

Here you go, the October edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's editions here. 1. David Kim- Executive Director of Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC.

2. Elizabeth Dias- journalist, reporter, and religion and politics writer at TIME.

3. KB- rapper, songwriter, hip hop artist, pastor and boxer. (real name is Kevin Burgess)

4. Brooke Wright- director of marketing at Giant Impact, and founder of Mwana, creating and selling blankets to help friends in Malawi.

5. Morgan Blake- Atlanta based photographer, storyteller and designer; one of our photogs at Catalyst events.

6. Justin Zoradi- social entrepreneur, author, and founder and CEO of These Numbers Have Faces.

7. Laura Lasky- founder and executive director of Solace San Francisco, providing care to men/women in the sex industry, and victims of sex trafficking.

12 Music recommendations you don't want to miss

An update on me, and why this Catalyst theme of KNOWN is so personal

I am pumped about this theme of "KNOWN" we just concluded at Catalyst in Atlanta last week. And we'll be carrying this theme of KNOWN through the spring of 2014 with Catalyst West and Catalyst Dallas. If you weren't at the event, you can still plug in to post event stuff here. What do we mean by Known? Well, the simple idea is that to lead well, you have to wrestle with 3 key areas of your leadership- Identity, Calling, and Legacy. 

Identity is focusing on who you are, Calling is focusing on what you do, and Legacy is focusing on what you will be known for. 

Your identity starts with the understanding that you are radically loved by Jesus. That the God who KNOWS all truly KNOWS me. Being truly KNOWN means being truly loved by Jesus. Period. Such an unbelievable but radically incredible concept.

And getting to the heart of being known means you understand as a leader that Being comes before Doing. What we do is always determined by who we are. Your significance and security is founded solely on the idea that your identity is found in Jesus. And ultimately, I can truly Know myself, because I am truly Known by God. Remember: Who you are determines what you Do. We need Leaders who are leading from who they are.

Over the last 14 years, every Catalyst theme we've ever had has been personal. Mainly because these themes always flow out of felt needs for our team. They are personal to us. Every time. And this year is no exception. It's personal to me.

This theme of KNOWN is rocking my world. So much that I'm intentionally stopping. Taking a timeout.

Stopping at this point in my life to intentionally answer these questions:

1. Who am I? Really? Truly?

2. What has God called me to do for this season of vocational life, and even into the next season?

3. What do I want to be KNOWN for?

For the last 12 years, my own personal identity and calling has been wrapped up in being "the Catalyst guy," which is amazing and has always been a huge honor. But again, I think it's imperative for leaders, and I mean every leader, to stop. Take a pause. Evaluate. Rest. Recover. Refresh your mind, heart and soul. And reimagine.

So what does that mean for me? Well, I'm taking a 3 month sabbatical starting this week. In my 12 years of being a part of Catalyst, I've never really taken an extended vacation. I will basically be non available through the end of the year. On sabbatical.

The sabbatical will be a time for me to rest, recharge, connect with some of the key people in my life, spend some time doing a major leadership intensive and 360 feedback evaluation, and creating space in my life to think, dream and pray about what's next for me. This is something I'm incredibly grateful for. Everyone I've talked to says that taking a sabbatical gives fresh vision and perspective, and you return better than when you left. Leaders- we all have to step away at some point to get fresh perspective and vision. I've noticed in my own leadership the need to pause. Even this summer, I had several conversations and moments where I just realized that my own personal leadership was getting stale, I was in a rut, and needed to step away for an extended time just to refresh.

After the sabbatical my plans are to return to Catalyst, but not be in the same role that I've been in the last 12 years. Not sure what a new role will/should look like, but part of the strategy of this sabbatical is for me to step out of the day to day running of Catalyst, and let someone else step up. The plan is for Tyler Reagin to step up and be the Catalyst team leader, and really run the day to day of Catalyst, and we'll figure out how I fit in going forward. Again, part of the goal of the 3 month sabbatical will be to gain clarity on what the next season looks like for me, through study, prayer, reflection, conversations, and rest.

So why do I even share this with you?

Well, I want you to be in the know, but I also think there is a powerful leadership lesson here that I am getting the chance to live out. WhatI I've realized is that in many ways I am a case study for this theme of KNOWN. And I want my journey and current season to be of value and hopefully pass on lessons to other leaders.

Handing something off that you love is not easy. Stepping into a different role even though you feel like you are just starting to settle into something is not easy. Allowing those around you to take on more leadership and stewardship and make decisions differently than you, and go potentially in a different direction is not easy.

But it's time for me to pass the baton and move into a different role. This is a requirement of leadership. If we are going to do our job well as leaders, part of our responsibility is to pass the torch. To create a proper trail of succession. To realize that you are not the reason for the success, and the organization doesn't revolve around you, and life will go on once you've stepped into a different role, and that younger leaders on your team will step up and replace you.

I am passionate about raising up the next generation of leaders, and I want to make sure I am passing on the torch of Catalyst to the "next generation" way before I need to. I think this is a demonstration of proper stewardship and generational transfer. I've watched way too many organizations, and type A "founder" type leaders, hold on for way too long and continue to lead even when everyone around them and on their team were hoping they would step to the side. That is unacceptable.

There is no story behind the story in this case for me. No performance questions, no moral or personal failure, no personality conflicts, nothing besides just the continual pursuit of what is best for Catalyst, and what I feel like my role should be and what God is truly calling me to do. All of this started with me talking with a good friend Steve Cockram (some of you know him) and us having a conversation about Catalyst and my role and what the next 5-10 years look like. And I just realized that I want to make sure I hand off the running of things before I really need to, and also make sure I'm in a role that continues to challenge me and fits my skills and gifting. And positions me best to live out my calling for this next season, and ultimately leave a legacy.

I'll still continue to blog during my sabbatical over the next 3 months. And I'm also working on a 2nd book, so will be spending significant time writing, and will share some of those learnings and discoveries on the blog over the next couple of months.
Thanks for being part of the journey with me!

5 Simple Keys for Growing as a Leader

5 Simple Ways and Keys to Grow in your Leadership: 1. Read- leaders are readers. Pure and simple. I recommend business books, Christian living, historical biographies/autobiographies, and magazines. And of course the Bible as your #1 source.

2. Serve- jump in and help wherever needed. Ultimately, just keep Leading- more and more and more. The more you lead, the better leader you will be. And believe me, if you keep asking to take on leadership in your organization, you will continue to have more responsibility piled on you.

3. Watch- and learn from those around you. Who are more experienced, wiser, and have something to offer. Find a few leaders who you want to learn from, and seek them out. Ask them for advice.

4. Pray- the prayers of a righteous man/women accomplish much. Pray for wisdom, pray for favor, pray that your influence will be expanded. And pray for humility.

5. Connect- hang around other leaders. Go where other leaders are. Catalyst, Leadership Summit, Leadercast, Hillsong Conference, etc. Local gatherings. Small roundtables. Large conferences. Lunches. Receptions. Whatever. Osmosis really does work when it comes to growing as a leader. And getting outside of your "norm" is essential to growth- many times just hearing how another leader is handling a situation will bring great clarity and perspective.

What you do matters

Do you love what you do? Do you enjoy your job, or are you just enduring it?

Is it just simply a means to an end (money, fame, margin) or do you see your vocation as crucial to your life purpose?

Is the greatest intent of your week to only get to the weekend? Or to suffer until the next vacation day?

Is what you do an extension of who you are?

If someone told you that you have to quit your "job" tomorrow, would you be relieved or disappointed?

Many folks go through life simply enduring what they do, instead of loving what they do. Not all of career life is glamorous, or constantly fires us up. I get that. Some things you just have to put up with and endure. But if you daily dread getting out of bed and diving in to your occupation, to your career, to your vocation, then something has to change. It's not worth it.

Don't settle for just going through life enduring the 5 days of the workweek, to only have as your greatest goal of the week to make it to the weekend.

Love what you do, or at least like it. It's too important not to.

Headed to Catalyst this week? Here are 16 things You need to Know

A few tips for those of you attending Catalyst for the first time this year, or maybe it’s your 2nd or 3rd time, or maybe 14th in a row!!. Hopefully these are helpful and allow your Catalyst experience to be the best ever! 1. Arrive early. Especially on Thursday morning Oct 3. The pre-show starts up around 6:55 am, so we’ll try our best to entertain you while you wait for the doors to open around 7:50 am.

2. Attend LABS. LAB sessions occur on Wednesday, October 2nd, and are a great way to dive deeper into practical topics. We still have a few tickets left for LABS (and pre-lab with Reggie Joiner on Wednesday morning), so you can register online or walk up. Labs officially start at 11:30 am on Wednesday with the opening session featuring Henry Cloud. Can't wait!

All of the LAB sessions will be great, and I recommend every session that we’ve created. But just want to give you a few names of some of the LAB speakers you may not know but will definitely want to hear:

** Bryan Loritts, Shelley Giglio, Jenni Catron and Sherry Surratt, Rebekah Lyons and Bianca Olthoff, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson/Bethany Hoang/Peter Greer, Leonce Crump, Dr. Raj Shah, Eugene Cho.

3. Listen to the Catalyst Podcast Roadtrip Edition on your way to the event. The episode includes clips with Andy Stanley, Judah Smith and Priscilla Shirer, as well as helpful tips, entertainment, and even recommendations on how to get to KNOW your team on your drive in. Download here.

4. Bring food with you. Because parking is free, and there is now plenty of it because of a new parking deck, you’ll be able to get to your vehicle no problem at lunch and dinner. So with that in mind, plan to tailgate! Bring the grill, or just an ice chest and some extra food. It’s really a pain to drive somewhere for lunch or dinner, so just hang out and soak up the sun! We will also have food for sale onsite outside, so that is also an option.

5. Attend the evening session on Thursday night. Do not miss Thursday night! Judah Smith, plus the Passion band. It will be a great time. You’ll be tempted to go back to the hotel room and turn on the baseball game or Thursday night college football, but stick around!

6. No reserved seating. Because there is no reserved seating, you’ll want to arrive early. And if you are attending Catalyst with a big group, make sure you bring some 5 x 7 cards or paper (and tape) to be able to tape on the seat so that you’ll remember where you are sitting!

7. Sing loud. 12,000 voices together worshipping our God is epic. Don’t stand (or sit) idly by with arms crossed and lips closed. Join in. Stand up, Hands held high and voices raised.

8. Catalyst Backstage- if you can’t attend, no worries. Join us on CatalystBackstage starting on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 pm EST, and then on Thursday and Friday mornings at 8:30 am EST, all day long on both days. We’ll have interviews with speakers, behind the scenes footage, and several LIVE look-ins for some of the sessions.

9. Purchase t-shirts and jackets early at the resource centers. If you plan on buying a t-shirt or jacket, purchase them at the first break. They sell out fast, so don’t wait. And it will be a bit chilly in the mornings this week, so you'll need a new tee or jacket anyway!

10. Bring items to give back and help others. In partnership with ATLANTA MISSION and CONVOY OF HOPE, we are asking EVERY Catalyst attendee to bring PAPER PRODUCTS, including TOILET PAPER, PAPER PLATES and NAPKINS, and PAPER TOWELS, along with GIFT CARDS, to give back to those in need in the city of Atlanta. Please stop on your way into Atlanta and the Gwinnett Arena and pick up these items. We want the collection bins to OVERFLOW! There is a Kroger right across the street from Gwinnett Arena if you forget!

11. Bring an extra bag for all the Catalyst swag. There are lots of great partners at Catalyst all around the lobby and concourse. Bring an extra bag to collect all the goodies.

12. Hang out in the Reflective Prayer Tent- allow yourself some time to hang out in the reflective worship tent. And, we’ll have a prayer team available the entire conference that will pray with you, for you, and over you. Some of us just need a fresh dose of God’s provision and goodness, so take advantage of this area.

13. Hang out in the upper concourse Lounge area. Thanks to our partners at NIV Bible Live!, we have an upstairs Lounge area (upstairs on concourse level opposite of front doors) where you can chill out, have conversations, charge your phone or computer, and just relax on some comfortable furniture!

14. If u tweet, use the hashtag #CATALYST. And follow Catalyst on Twitter @CatalystLeader. 

15. Purchase the Catalyst Experience Kit. Every year we try and put together the best of the best so you can take the Catalyst experience home with you. This year is no exception.You can purchase it before you get to the event and then pick it up onsite without having to mess with the lines. I highly recommend this! Includes all kinds of great stuff, including the talks from this event, plus brand new resources, and my book The Catalyst Leader and the accompanying DVD curriculum.

16. EngageMeet other leaders. There is an incredible amount of wisdom and influence gathered in one place at one time, so take advantage of the other leaders who are present. Many of us go to leadership gatherings and conferences and never really connect. We get distracted by things going on around us. This year we want you to truly Laugh. Listen. Sing. Pray. Engage. Connect.

Can't wait to see you there!