Extreme Ownership

The leader must own everything in his or her world. They take Extreme Ownership of everything that impacts their mission.

Leaders empower team members to fulfill a mission, but sometimes they fail at the mission. The leader is ultimately responsible for the failure of the mission. Leaders take ownership of the failures and help the people under them succeed next time. Leaders cannot be mad at their members and expect them to do better next time. Failing is never bad; it is how we respond to failure that determines the next outcome of the mission. This is why it is so important for leaders to develop members through extreme ownership.

Leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance and develop solutions to those problems.

I love this concept because the statement lays out how to solve problems as a leader. First, take total responsibility. Do not pass blame, accept it. Second, if the problems continue to happen then it is time to come up with a solution. Problems will continue to grow when they are only addressed but never solved. Do not have unsolved problems as a leader.

Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them.

Not everyone is on the same level as you. Speak to them at a level they understand. Do not try to make yourself look smart because that will only cause confusion. It is like the saying goes, “Keep it simple, stupid.” The same goes in leadership. Remember, you did not know everything you know now. Speak to your team like you are in their shoes because at the end of the day, you all are wearing the same shoes with the same mission.

As a leader employing Extreme Ownership, if your team isn’t doing what you need them to do, you first have to look at yourself.

Leaderships starts with you. The only person to blame in leadership is yourself. That is the concept of extreme ownership. It isn’t about what your team members are not doing, but it is about trying to get them to focus on the mission. Learn your team members before you try to lead them. You also have to know yourself because the last thing a team member wants is a lost person looking to find purpose. Leaders have to get up every morning and conquer themselves before they can conquer the world.

Extreme Ownership is a book that will challenge you. It takes you on a journey as a Navy Seal and how they operate. They do not blame but accept responsibility for every victory and failed mission. They do not focus on what did not work but focus on solutions to make sure it would never happen again. So, if you are willing to take a jump in your leadership abilities grab this book and a pen.

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The best things that have happened to me in the last five years weren’t things I planned.

YES! Planned lives leave no room for adventure and faith. To be honest, the best things will not happen when we try to control the outcome. We miss out on opportunities when we try to plan our journey. The only one that is writing our story is God, and we have to let Him write it without our planner on his throne. His ways are always better than ours and are usually a surprise.

Forget finding a purpose. It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty. Live with purpose instead.

I loved this perspective in the book. We spend so much time as humans finding a purpose for our lives that we miss the point. The point is never to find our purpose but realize our life is purpose. If you have a heartbeat, then your life has purpose. Don’t find it; live it. 

But money isn’t a calling. It’s a consequence.

Money does make the world go around, but it should not control your life. I remember running my nonprofit and not being paid to do it. I believed in my dream so much that I was willing to work full-time and do the nonprofit in the evening. I wasn’t called to make money, but I am called to serve people. Pursuing money will leave you empty once you realize you have everything but the dream in you. Don’t sacrifice money on the altar of your dream.

You need to spend more time practicing your dream than you do promoting your dream.

Talk about a punch in the face. Too often, we spend more time telling people about our dream than we do living our dream. Do not tell me about it; show me your dream. Practice, research, and excel at your dream. Stop waiting for your promo to make it big, and let your dream be your promo. If I wanted to watch a promo, then I would go to the movies and watch a trailer. Do not put your dream trailer on the big screen until you are living it and continuing to learn through your dream.

I read this book in two days. Jon Acuff is a great author, and he is a little funny. I am thankful for the person who bought this book at full price and gave it to McKay’s. It saved me some money. I will pay full price for Jon Acuff next book. I highly recommend this book if you feel stuck or in need of a boost to get you back on track.

 

 

10 Seconds of Insane Courage

Every successful person has faced enormous unknowns, but they found enough courage to take the leap and give their idea a shot.

This is the story of my nonprofit journey. I remember being a junior in college with a crazy idea of starting a nonprofit. I developed the idea for a class, met with my local United Way, and the journey began. I was scared to death, but I wanted to help the community. The courage I had was because of the people I was serving. I did not focus on what I did not have, but I believed after every need was posted that community would meet the need. I am not doing the nonprofit anymore, but it is still a part of me. I had to step away from it, and that took a lot of courage, but at least I gave it a shot.

 Fear says, “Play it safe. Hang on to what you’ve got.” Courage responds, “Let go. Life happens outside your comfort zone.”

 I love this statement! Nothing is safe about courage. It is true: life happens outside of the comfort zone. Comfortability traps us in the known, but courage happens in the unknown. You will grow as a person in the unknown. I grew a lot more as a person having faith in the unknown than I did in the known, running my nonprofit. One of the craziest stories was when I received a message from another ministry. It said, “We have a sprinter van that we would like to donate to you for your nonprofit. We see that you are always looking for trucks and renting vehicles.” WHAT?!?! It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was living outside of my comfort zone, and that is when another ministry met a huge need for the nonprofit.

If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.

Failure is the best medicine for personal growth. I failed an enormous amount of times running the nonprofit. The first mistake was not setting guidelines. I came into the office one day and had 15 yellow slips on my desk of people needing furniture. I developed a system shortly after that to reach a target audience. The second mistake was doing everything for free. The next time I do this nonprofit, I will develop a furniture bank based on income. We will setup a system where people/families can buy furniture at a huge discounted price. The nonprofit would probably still be operating today if I had done this from the beginning.

When we begin to change how we think about failure, we have far more hope for the future.

I remember doing the nonprofit and having so many challenges and failures, and I questioned if I was doing the right thing. It felt like I was doing all the right things but in the wrong place. I believe I will still develop this nonprofit idea but in a different location in the future. I have learned from my failures, and I still believe in the future of the nonprofit. I did not focus on my failures, but I chose to focus towards the future because I know it will happen.

I read this book in two days! I actually avoided my MBA work to read the book. It will give you a spark to not give up on a dream. Courage is insane, and sometimes 10 seconds can change your life. Don’t be afraid of insane courage.

Lessons I’ve Learned from Launching a Nonprofit

The past two years have been a roller coaster for me when launching a nonprofit my senior year of college. I’ve learned a lot about the nonprofit world in a short period of time. I wanted to share a few take away points. These are points I would give to anyone before they launch their own nonprofit.

  • Check with your established nonprofits in the community and see if your idea is already put into place. It is better to use your gifts and talents with an already established nonprofit.
  • Develop partnerships with other local nonprofits. Starting a nonprofit is a lot of work but getting support from established nonprofits makes the process a little easier. This shows that you are there to help the community and are willing to work together.
  • Develop a board that is not all your best friends. Have a board that comes from a variety of backgrounds and careers. For example on our board, we have a lawyer, sociologist, pastor, digital media manager, IT specialist, three business owners, and a handy man. They are friends of mine but I do not hang out with them everyday.
  • Develop a system before fully launching. In the beginning, we were helping anyone that called with a need. We launched with no system in place and got overwhelmed really quick with people in need. You can’t help everyone but you can help someone. I learned to narrow the focus so we could serve people more effectively. For example, our nonprofit is called Transition Furniture, we restore hope in hopeless situations by giving furniture/appliances to families/individuals that have had a house fire, moving from homelessness to housing, domestic violence, natural disaster, and grandparents getting custody of grandchildren.
  • Get involved in the need before launching an organization. I was the volunteer coordinator over the summer in April 2011 when tornadoes ripped through our town and in March 2012, my role switched to unmet needs when we had a smaller scale tornado come through our town. I had families calling me saying they lost all their furniture and if we could help them. This was the first time I was involved in a need that was bigger than a one-time event. I realized that none of our agencies helped with this need and the idea of Transition Furniture started.
  • Push through! Starting a nonprofit will be hard! You’ll run into a lot of brick walls but every brick wall built can be knocked down. It’s up to you to determine if the brick wall will be a roadblock or a hurdle you learn from.

Please feel free to contact me about any questions concerning launching a nonprofit. I would love to hear your idea! I’m new to this whole nonprofit world but it’s always fun to connect with other nonprofit leaders and founders.

Leadership is a lot like Steam Rolling

Have you ever been on the interstate and seen steam rollers going as slow as possible to flatten the interstate? It got me frustrated because traffic is so backed up because the interstate only has one or two lanes open. It is all because of this big machine going so slow to flatten a drivable surface. As I got out of the construction area, I started to think that I’m thankful for that slow machine because it made the surface flat that I’m driving on. This is a lot like leadership.

Leadership is a process that never ends. As leaders we are always learning new lessons and traveling over different surfaces at a slow pace. I just picture myself driving a steam roller as all these cars are passing me and I’m just focused on my path that is set before me. As leaders it is easy to try to speed up as others are passing us but other people’s courses are different from ours. We get into trouble when we try to speed up our course. The consequence is that we start getting off course and sometimes have to go back and fix those missed spots. The best leadership is slow leadership.

This is what I mean by that last sentence; it is better staying in a place under great leadership rather than stepping out too quickly. Could you imagine what would happen if a steam roller started to get off course and go onto another course? I’m pretty sure it would be a mess. Leadership can get messy if we try stepping out too quickly. I’m learning in my life that going slow and learning more is better than going fast and learning less. Once opportunities start arising, you will be more prepared on a slow path where you had time to develop instead of a fast pace course where you had to learn by turning around. Yes, leadership can be fast pace but your experiences on the slow pace track should help you control the fast pace leadership.

Next time you get frustrated with the process of leadership, remember that you are developing into the leader God has called you to be. Don’t speed up the process! Learn everything you can in the slow pace environment. Don’t worry about the people passing you, just stay on your course. Sometimes you will pass people that passed you because you slowed down and developed as a leader.

“To do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves is to disempower them” Robert Lupton Toxic Charity

“To do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves is to disempower them” Robert Lupton Toxic Charity

This statement has been on my mind a lot. It has to do with my experience working with a lot of people in poverty on a daily basis. You learn quite a bit from working with people in poverty including people who are just looking for another handout. I learned my lesson pretty quickly when starting a nonprofit. I was serving anyone and everyone and it was taking a toll on me. I soon realized that I had to narrow down my focus in order to make a greater impact.

It was hard telling people “no” after we focused on the people we needed to serve but it resulted in eliminating some  of  the hand-me-out people. I’m not saying that I dislike the hand-me-out people; I’m just saying that helping them doesn’t do any good. A lot of the hand-me-out people have the potential to help themselves but they do not want to work for it. Yes, some may not know of the resources and then it is the job of our agencies to point them in the right direction. I know it’s hard because you want to help them so much more, but you find out a lot about a person when you point them in the right direction and let them go. It’s crucial that as agency leaders we don’t do for people we serve what they can do for themselves. This is a lesson I learned quickly.

People may not like this quote and say that we should serve the people anyway but that is because we do not take the right approach. Asking the right questions in the nonprofit and church world is the key. We need to learn how to ask the questions so that we can really help people. Another point is that if we spend all of our resources on the people who can help themselves, how are we supposed to serve those who really need us? Sooner or later we would run out of resources. I believe in helping people but there has to be a balance. This is why I believe in this quote and would recommend this book to any missions pastor and nonprofit leader. It will make you think on how you’re serving people and how to improve that process.