scrabble pieces spelling rest

Spring BREAK

Growing up in the 1980s, I played a lot of “The Oregon Trail” video game. For those not familiar, “The Oregon Trail” was a simple game where the player assumes the role of a wagon leader and tries to guide settlers from Missouri to Oregon. Being able to play the game was usually an award for finishing some homework assignment in grade school. My buddies and I always raced to see who could make it first to Oregon. Unfortunately, I do not think I ever made it.

My character always died because I pushed him too hard and ignored the warnings about disease and malnourishment. In fact, as I was retelling this to my wife, not only could she not stop laughing, but I found out her character (supposedly) always made it to Oregon. She claims her character was probably an hour or two late in leaving Missouri, but I digress.

The reason she was laughing is because “little Alex” (as she likes to refer to the 1980s me) already had that get-up-and-go mentality. “Video game me” would push onward, even when my character had a snakebite or dysentery. Predictably, death would soon follow. Thank God it was only a video game!

Pivot to the present. One gift COVID-19 has given me is perspective. Being forced to slow down has showed me how much my life has been built on adrenaline. While this realization did not sit well with me at first, I came to appreciate it for the gift it is. And as a Christ-follower, I came to treasure the Sabbath for the gift it is as well.

Taking a break is often the hardest thing for a leader, like myself, to do. Tell me to hit the gym harder, read more books, or fly to the next sales meeting in Europe and I am on it! These things are actually easy for me to do. But, tell me to rest and do nothing, I immediately start to have heart palpitations.


I actually have a coach in real life because I am such a mess. He once told me NOT to read any books for a month. I laughed at him. He smiled back, but before he could say it again, I did it.

My self-worth is built on achievement, and achievement necessitates a never-ending “go-go” mindset.

Can you relate?

The reality, however, is that rest is needed to maintain health. It is needed for me, and it is needed for you.

So, here is the obvious formula for today’s post. Pay attention to it, so you do not miss it………

The only way to get rest is by taking a break.

That’s it. Take a break this week and rest.

If you are like me, you might need a few pointers. So, here are a few ideas I think about each week during my Sabbath. The list is not exhaustive, and meant to start priming your pump on what might work for you:

-Have fun by doing the “I get to” things, not the “I have to” things.

-Do not think about work, do work, or even mention work, for 24 hours.

-For the golfers, play an afternoon 9 without keeping score (or don’t keep track of whatever hobby it is that you enjoy. Do it only for the love of it!)

-Read fiction

-Get outside, look around, and explore

-Take a long walk without headphones or other distractions


-Drink the “I am saving this bottle for a special occasion” wine

-Hug your spouse and kids

-Grill some good food

Your list can be entirely different. Just make sure your break is different from every other day or time in your normal day-to-day life.

And be sure to give yourself one before your real-life self begins to develop health problems.

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young people talking at table with ipad

The Gift of People and Resistance

The two things needed to become more patient are present in every organization. As you can tell by the title of this post, the gift of people and resistance is the focus and how each of these help to grow one’s patience.

If you are like me, perhaps the time your impatience is most noticeable is when you are on the road and in a hurry to get somewhere. Naturally, these are the times when other people are on the road also and every stop light turns red. People and resistance remind us of our impatience. So, the next time this happens to you take a deep breath, and grow in patience.

Easier said than done, right?

To be sure, not all impatience is bad. For example, impatience around social justice is healthy. Similarly, improving the speed we have access to information can help both people and organizations make better decisions. There are many more examples of healthy impatience.

But, in the context of leadership, there is wisdom in patience. This is so because leadership is always about relating to other human beings. Leaders who are intentionally patient with people, while strategically impatient with change in their organizations, are the ones worth following.

In relating to other people, leaders worth following strive to be the kind of people who accept diverse viewpoints. Other people naturally have different views, values, and even political beliefs (oh my!). Learning to listen to them, understand them, and value them, is a key element of leadership. Patience is the key that opens the door to it.

Similarly, every new idea a leader has is bound to face resistance. This is so because other people have, as I just mentioned, different ideas, values, and beliefs. Again, this is a good thing because it forces a leader to think differently about the ideas they have. This process also requires patience since impatience plows forward without any consideration. It barges through the door, rather than taking the time to properly open it. When this happens, a leader tramples others rather than leading them.

Occasionally, when I am processing my day with Sarah, usually as she is cooking dinner, I will say something incredibly foolish about how frequently I was interrupted that day by people. Sarah then looks at me with a smile and asks, “isn’t that your job?”

She is right …… like almost all the time.

I share this because my worst moments as a leader are the ones when I am so bogged down by processes and to-do lists, that I am impatient with others. The same can be said when I hold so tightly to my ideas that I disregard the resistance of others. Conversely, I am at my best when I make time for others and hear their ideas. Often, their resistance to my idea helps me make the idea better than it was when it was just mine.

People, and resistance, will grow your patience. The next time you notice them in your life, I challenge you to slow down, lean in, and grow in patience.

You will become a better person and a better leader in the process.

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sign that says be optimistic

Quit Sheltering in Place From Your Positive Attitude

Deep inside all of us is a belief that things can be better. Regardless of how our life has played out so far, it is there. I say this confidently because each of us learned to walk as a baby. We were encouraged by our parents, or whomever was taking care of us, and through practice and effort we learned to walk.

Walking demonstrated to our forming minds that more was possible. A little seedling sprouted inside us the day we took our first steps. If we could walk, we had to wonder, what else was possible?

Life is not easy however. Everyone falls down, some more than others. Over the course of time, the seedling can disappear altogether. We can even be tempted to think that more is no longer possible.

Because of this, a temptation is born. The temptation is to shelter in place from our positive attitude. We can rationalize giving into this temptation by saying that we are being realists. Experience, after all, teaches us that not everything is possible. Or is this too just another temptation? Is it something we tell ourselves to soften the blow of unbelief in ourselves?

The opposite of this is returning to the belief that more things are possible than we can see, or even believe, today. This is true because as John Maxwell reminds, we can grow in matters of choice. Having a positive attitude is, after all, a choice. This is different than matters of skill, where only so much growth is possible.

To that end, I concede that not everything is possible. I am, after all, still chasing the golf round where I make 18 consecutive birdies. Golf, after all, is a mostly a matter of skill. Too often, however, I shelter from the belief that I can even shoot par, a reasonable goal for a single-digit handicap, let alone make a couple birdies when I need to. To this end, my negative mindset holds me back from my skill’s fullest potential. The good news is that mindset is, to John Maxwell’s point, a matter of choice. By believing more is possible, more becomes possible, especially in golf!

Coming full circle, leadership is a lot like the role our parents played when we learned to walk. Leaders need to be the kind of people that encourage others when they fall down. Further, when they question whether or not they will ever be able to take the next step, we need to be there telling them they absolutely can! And when they do, we need to celebrate as our parents did when we took those first steps.

Doing this starts with positivity in our mind. We cannot give what we don’t possess. My guess is your best moments, and mine, were birthed from the seedlings of positivity.

So, never underestimate its power. Quit sheltering from it, and bring it with you wherever you go. It will not only light up your path, but also the path of those you lead.

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robert hoffer

Dear Grandpa: Here Is What I Have Learned the Past Year

The first week of March always reminds me of my grandfather because he was born on March 3, 1919. What follows is a letter to him.

Dear Grandpa,

Little did I know on your birthday last year how much things in our country would change. The past year has been unlike any other that I have lived, so I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learned while leading the company with my two sisters.

COVID-19 brought a countless number of challenges with it. I would have to write a book to explore them all. Suffice it to say, I have thought a lot about your values, and how you lived your life, when making COVID-related decisions this year. For example, my sisters and I thought you would be slow to take out loans so we did not. Nor, did we have to, thanks in part to decisions you made decades ago. This reminded me how decisions I make today can, and probably will, impact future generations.

You would be amazed at the technology we have these days. It allowed some on our team to work from home early on in the Pandemic. But, I suspect you would caution the reliance our society has on technology. In fact, your example of walking the production floor daily motivated me to mask up and do the same, even when the Pandemic was at its worst. I suspect you would also advise that if our people on the plant floor are working, we better be there to support and show appreciation. So, that is what I, and our entire Executive Team, did.

I mentioned masks in the last paragraph and I should clarify that you have to wear them everywhere these days. I am not a fan because I do not like how they fog my glasses, and how they can make it harder to breath. But, I wear them anyway because I want to set an example. When I was an intern working on the roof cleaning air conditioners, you reminded me that everyone would be watching. That “lecture” made it easy to push my preferences aside and lead by example with regards to masks, temperature checks, and other personal protective equipment requirements we must adhere to these days.

Some of our team members still tell stories about what you would put up with, and often, the many things you would not! The latter has challenged me this year as a leader. Too often the human side of me, the one that wants to be liked, wins over and I fail to do a good job leading. You seemed to balance this better than me, or that is how it appears so many years later. Regardless, the topic of leading others, and nudging them out of their comfort zone, are the topics I would want to talk to you about if I had the chance.

Here are two things you would approve of:

Our rally cry during the downturn last year was to save as many jobs as possible. To that end, we did not lay a single person off!

We will go back to meeting face-to-face with customers when it is allowed. “Get your butt out and sell” is still an unofficial motto.

And, here are two things you would not approve of:

We often wear jeans to work. Even my dad occasionally!

The office is often quiet and we rely too heavily on technology to communicate.

While the former is going to stay, we are working on the latter. We are still a family, which means that relationally we have to be together in person.

A week ago I was driving home from an appointment and went a little out of the way to drive by your old house. Grandma and you lived there from 1953 until the end. This was a shining example of contentment. It struck me that you were always content at home and never content at Hoffer Plastics. I hope to model this in the year to come.

I miss you.

Signing off to go walk the floor.



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graduates tossing caps in the air

Dear Class of 2021 (And Leaders)

In a few months there will be the usual onslaught of commencement speakers, albeit this time on ZOOM, across the nation. Since I won’t be speaking anywhere, here is the advice I would give to graduates. It happens to be the same advice I would give to leaders.

First off, read insatiably. Living in the Information Age, everyone is bombarded with information. We have more media than ever. Yet, we are becoming shallow and settling for crumbs rather than the full entree. This is why graduates should start with reading. Notice that reading is not skimming. It is also not listening. It is definitely not scrolling. It is reading, or the activity that people have done for thousands and thousands of years. It is a form of slowing, thinking, and contemplating. It is adamantly opposed to immediate reactions, meaning thinking is required!

What should you read? In short, everything. Your learning should be insatiable. It should challenge you, and at times, tick you off. There is a growing danger in our world of only skimming what we agree with. If you want to set yourself apart, read what you vehemently disagree with. Understand the other’s point of view. Don’t be surprised when others judge you for doing this because it will change you. It will also give you the kind of depth that is intimidating to those who are shallow. But press on, because you can only become the real you by reading insatiably. For, it is the surest way to self-discovery!

Next, define the endpoint. The endpoint is your destination. Others may disagree, but I found it impossible to “chase my passion” when I was twenty-years-old because I had so many passions. It was not until I read hundreds of books (yes hundreds!) that my passion became clearer. From there I could define the endpoint and set the course.

This advice seems obvious, but it is easy to fall prey to the temptation of chasing multiple endpoints. For example, some say their endpoint is a successful career in whatever field their passion is. In their next breath, however, they also claim to want to —eventually —be happily married with kids. The conventional advice nowadays is that you can have it all! I have come to discover that is only partly true. In this example, a successful career and happy family can be opposed. The career may cost more than the spouse, or kids, are willing to pay. So, which endpoint are you willing to sacrifice for?

I am not making a judgment statement on which one matters more. Rather, I am asking you to decide and be clear on your decision. What are your priorities, really? What does success look like to you? What can’t you live without? These are some of the questions you need to answer in order to define your endpoint. There is no rush in determining these answers, but they have to be determined eventually. Otherwise, you risk gaining the whole world and losing your soul.

Finally, this brings us to the last point, begin. Be impatient to start! Here is something I learned later, no one tells you when the race begins, so just start! If you want to be an entrepreneur, start a business online now. Learn what works in attracting customers, and also learn what does not. If it fails, so be it. The same can be said for just about any other field; start small, begin, and learn.

This last step takes what you have learned in reading, combines it with the direction you want your life to go, and tests it in the way a hypothesis is tested in a lab. Action is humble in its respect for the preciousness of time. For it never presumes time’s availability at a later date. So, out of gratitude it uses what’s there today by beginning.

These three together—reading insatiably, defining the endpoint, and beginning—place one at the start of a trail. Notice that your gender, sexuality, religion, race, or any other marker, does not matter to the advice given above. Nor, do the limiting beliefs inside your head, or of those around you.

All of that is noise.

What matters is your ability to take in the surroundings, absorb what is around you, and move towards your endpoint one step at a time.

So, let the journey begin!

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gauge measuring volts

Harshness Reflects the Hidden You

One of the my favorite weeks of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Work seems to wind down, while time with family winds up. Having three kids (9-7-4 respectively) our house was full of energy this year. Unlike other years, however, we had nowhere to go. This combination worked well about 95% of the time, but the other 5% was more indicative of me than our family.

If you haven’t noticed in my other posts, I am a type-A driven leader. My natural inclination is to wake up early and start working the “plan.” Our 9 year old is my junior in this sense. He gets up early, gets his plan done, and he even voices displeasure at how messy the house (sometimes) gets. More so, he organizes and cleans the house himself because “he cannot stand it” (Our parenting book entitled, “Making Children Work For You” hits stores in the Spring – just kidding). Meanwhile, our other two kids are awesome and profound in their own ways, but not as concerned with how orderly the house is.

I mention all this because it sets the scene for my frustration with our kids just being kids one afternoon during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. By kids being kids, I mean three kids running around the house (a clear violation of our house rules – running is only allowed in the basement!), and making things messy. Even our 9 year old gave into temptation and allowed things to go (trust me, he would have cleaned it all up later!). I do not know if it was the cloudy skies outside, or the cabin fever inside, but I turned into a caricature of a grumpy old man. The next thing I knew I was barking orders at the kids that were akin to Clint Eastwood yelling, “get off my lawn.” While some of my lines made Sarah chuckle — she is too kind to say such things — the words were overly harsh. I soon felt convicted that the harsh words said towards the kids were more an indication of where my heart was rather than their actions. This realization led me to do two things: journal and ask for forgiveness.

Pete Scazzero stresses the importance of journaling on the “iceberg,” in his book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” 80% of an iceberg is below the surface of the water and Scazzero contends 80% of our emotions are hidden inside us, or below our surface. So, the act of journaling about what we are feeling helps us not only understand what we are feeling, but frees us from being enslaved to those feelings. Or, in my case above, from lashing out at my kids for no good reason. Four questions that help in this process are: What are you mad about? What are you sad about? What are you anxious about? And, what are you glad about?

Answering these questions is vital for leaders because they cannot lead others well without understanding what is going on inside themselves. Let that sink in. Leaders cannot lead others well without understanding what is going on inside themselves. If 80% of your car’s engine was not attuned to your steering wheel, how safe would that car be? Driving down a rural street absent from people might not be too much of a problem and could even be fun for a while. But, take that car into a city where there are people present and disaster awaits. Leadership always involves other people. So, if you are out-of-touch with 80% of yourself, how can you keep from running over those you are attempting to lead?

This brings me back to the second thing I did, ask for forgiveness. One of the things I want to model as a parent is my willingness to say I am sorry and mean it. This is why I mess up so often (I wish!). Whether it is “tossing” a golf club down in their presence, saying a naughty word when the refs blow a call in the football game we are watching, or saying a harsh thing to them as in the above, I always ask for forgiveness. More so, I explain why what I did was wrong in the first place. In the above, I did emphasize the importance of safety (no running), while also giving them space to be kids and make a mess for the time being (my issue). We then all went downstairs to the basement and had a blast!

Before closing, I also want to model this in leadership. I have said harsh things to direct reports in the past and asked for forgiveness. Maybe, this is your application today. If there is someone in your life you need to apologize to, I suggest you stop reading this post and go apologize.

I close with this reminder, harsh words said to others often reflects the hidden you. When you feel, and say, harsh words, I challenge you to ask why? What are you mad about? Sad about? What hurt from the past is bubbling up? Or, what resentment do you need to process in your journal, or with someone else over coffee?

Doing this kind of internal work is not glamorous. But, leaders are always the kinds of people that do the things no one else wants to do, especially the work on the inside of themselves. They do this because in order to be someone worth following, they need to orient 100% of themselves towards other human beings. While the work of emotional health is always ongoing, the process and self-actualization described above helps leaders stay focused on those they are leading.

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anxious woman gnawing on pencil

One Action To Save Time and Lessen Stress

Here is something I am working on to save time and lessen stress: Rather than having a conversation with someone in my mind, I am working on having it with them directly and in person.

That’s it.

Maybe you can relate to my issue, which is the issue of stewing over potential conversations with others. There was one conversation last year that I stewed on for weeks. I had the conversation more times than I could count in my head. I even practiced getting worked up over the conversation. I sacrificed sleep to practice the conversation at odd hours of the night. Unfortunately, all this stewing did not help me resolve the issue, nor did it help when the conversation finally occurred.

I would have saved time, and stress, having the conversation earlier. Hence, this week I am spotlighting my lesson learned.

Besides saving time and lessening stress, having a conversation directly is the kind of thing that people worth following do. To be classified as a leader, one has to be moving from point A to point B. To this end, leaders are those that put into action what they know. If the action needed is a conversation, a conversation is what they have.

So, what about you? Is there a conversation you need to have right now?

Today’s post is shorter than normal on purpose. Why not take the time you normally would use to read the rest of the post and identify the conversation that you need to have?

Gather your thoughts, find your courage, and go. Be gentle, but direct. With love, or the desire to put another’s interest above your own, go and have the conversation you have been avoiding.

You will save time and lessen stress by doing so.

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photograph of abraham lincoln

Learn From History: Applying Lincoln’s Wisdom

More books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than any historical figure save Jesus Christ. So, there is not much I can add to what has already been said about our 16th President. What I want to do instead is apply one aspect of his wisdom to modern-day leadership.

David Reynolds’ 2020 book, Abe: Abraham Lincoln In His Times, is a biography of Lincoln that details the various cultural forces present in his day. The most obvious being the battle between abolitionists in the North and slave holders in the South. By the time Lincoln became a relevant national figure in 1858, this debate was at a fever pitch and the country was on the brink of war.

One aspect of the book that makes it worthwhile for leaders is its demonstration of how Lincoln used language to pursue his belief that slavery needed to be abolished. Unlike some of the more arduous abolitionists of his day, Lincoln often clothed his rhetoric in moderation. He did this for two reasons. First, he wanted to ensure that he could attract the most people to his side. Leaders, as I write often here, are those others follow. So, what good would it do Lincoln to use language that could possibly alienate those on the fence? Admittedly, those of us in the twenty-first century have a hard time understanding how anyone could be on the “fence” with slavery, but history details how many there really were.

Next, Lincoln also used language of moderation to advance his own agenda. We don’t think of Lincoln as a politician, but in reality he was. Lincoln was “political” in the sense that he understood how his words would either attract, or detract, others. So, in the political sense he had to ensure that he could attract enough votes to gain the positional authority—the Presidency—to achieve his aims. While historians still debate whether the Lincoln of 1860 believed in the full emancipation of slaves, or whether it took three years of civil war for him to get to that point, what is apparent is that Lincoln was intentional in the years leading up to his Presidency with regards to the slavery issue.

The point for modern leaders to consider is that of language. Does the language unite, or divide? If it is the latter, not only are followers lost, but influence is also lost. To that end, we need to consider what is worth losing influence over and what is not. For example, is it worth losing influence over the political issues of our modern day? Or, is there a deeper cause worth fighting for that people can unite to? Only the leader can answer that question.

What is apparent in our day is the power of language. Admittedly, I am free speech advocate. This means I welcome debate, especially the kind that I do not agree with. To that end, I am troubled by the silencing that is going on in our country even though, often times I do not agree with the views of those being silenced.

My encouragement to those people, however, would be to use language in a more effective matter much like Lincoln did. Please note, history states that many still disagreed with Lincoln. After all, the bloodiest war in our country’s history was fought after he was elected President, but, he made every attempt to unite the nation with conciliatory language, as evidenced in his second inaugural:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Despite Lincoln’s best efforts, however, he was gunned down 41 days later by someone present when he said the above, John Wilkes Booth.

I close here because despite our best efforts, our language may still divide. As leaders, however, we are responsible for making effort to unite and bring people together. Our nation has progressed because this is what Abraham Lincoln did.

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boss and subordinate

Learn From My Mistakes: Confrontation

The other day I was walking through our plants and noticed that a few presses were running slow. In our business, a slow cycle hurts profitability and delays orders. It should always be addressed. Yet, when the Plant Manager walked up to me and asked how things were going, I did not mention the slow cycle time. Rather, we talked about some general work things and then pivoted to our shared interests outside of work.

Walking back to my office I felt like a failure. I knew what I should have done, yet I did not do it. The difference between knowing and doing is often the difference between poor, and good, leadership. In this moment, I was obviously a poor leader.

I later shared this story with Sarah and reflected on why I did not do my job. For starters, I value the relationship I have with this Manager and placed that priority above doing my job. But, this is the unloving thing to do. As Sarah pointed out, if I truly cared for this person shouldn’t I have had the conversation with him to help him get better? Isn’t that the loving thing to do, rather than leaving him to fend for himself?

Worse, I did not have the conversation because of my own comfort level. I could list a bunch of excuses here: this happened in the middle of December and I was tired from all the demands of year-end, this mold was running in a press that is problematic or this Plant Manager has had to deal with more personnel problems this year than any of our other Managers — see, I had rehearsed them all in my head. But, these were all excuses! The truth is that I was being selfish and putting my own comfort first over doing my job. The truth is also that leadership is about doing the things that nobody else wants to do because they are uncomfortable (and often not fun to do).

After talking about this with Sarah, we prayed as we do every night after the kids go to bed. I use a helpful acronym (C.H.A.T.: Confess, Honor, Ask, Thanksgiving) to guide my prayers, so I began confessing all the things I had done wrong this day. This started with confessing the lack of love, and selfishness, I exhibited above. Whether or not you are one who prays, I would encourage all leaders to have daily reflection so they can own, and then take action on, their mistakes.

After asking God for forgiveness, I moved on with the night. But, the story does not end there.

The following day, I did what I should have done the day before by acting. Not only was the conversation short and respectful, the Manager even laughed and said he was relieved I brought it up. Together, we devised a plan to get the mold into a press that would allow it to run at cycle.

The reality is that I will mess up again in the future. I suspect that you will too. All leaders make mistakes. Owning the mistakes, when they happen, and taking action to correct them, are the things that make leaders people others want to follow into the future.

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colorful mural with believe spelled out

Learn From Our Success: Believe

My leadership in 2020 quite possibly pivoted on one, single conversation. While there were countless important conversations in 2020, one outweighed them all. It outweighed all the others because had it not happened, the door would have been shut to possibility.

The conversation was one I had on ZOOM with my Executive Coach. It was sometime in the Spring, at the beginning of the pandemic, and I was outlining where the business was. Without thinking about it in advance, the words came out of my mouth that, “we probably would not be profitable for the next few months because our business had taken a downturn.” There is so much wrong in that statement that it is embarrassing to write in this blog, but it is what I said in the moment. Without hesitation, my coach immediately pushed back and asked, why?

I had more reasons for “why” than I care to share here. I had rehearsed them while I worked out, while I vented to my wife about what the politicians were doing, and even to my sisters as we talked about the downturn. I was proficient at this question, but I knew what my coach was getting at. He did not want to hear any of those lame excuses. What he wanted was extreme ownership.

I paused before responding.

I thought for a second.

Deep down inside me I knew I had already errored by surrendering leadership to circumstances. This kind of blaming, and lack of responsibility, is the birthplace of lousy leaders. As dark as the current situation was, and our company had just taken a loss, I had to turn on the flashlight and begin crawling out of the darkness.

I had to believe.

Before going on further, some of you are rolling your eyes at the word believe because you have been punched in the face one too many times. I get it. I am a driven, type-A leader. Belief on its own won’t get you to the promised land. Like Joshua and Caleb, we are going to have to work hard to enter the promised land. But also like Joshua and Caleb, we are going to have to believe the promised land is where we need to be.

Without belief, the only guarantee is failure. With belief, opportunity arises.

So, I responded back to my coach that I knew what he was going to tell me. After he asked me what that was, I told him that I could not open the door to disbelief. Rather, I had to LEAD our team with the BELIEF that we COULD be profitable.

A few days later, someone on our operational team asked whether we could reforecast our sales and profit goals. My immediate answer was no.

The team pushed back.

I stood my ground.

We must hold the line, I told them. While we did not choose the pandemic, it is what we are dealing with. Further, if we gave an inch, everyone would take a mile — not because they are lazy, but only because they are human and had multiple demands being placed on them in, and out, of the workplace. I repeated, we are holding the line.

We had to collectively believe profitability was possible.

I do not have time to go into all the things we did, but rest assured the hard work was done by our various teams. They worked harder than ever before. They are the heroes in this story. Because of their hard work, we handed out more in bonuses in December than we had the year before. Our operational team now believes they can reach higher goals in future years because of how everyone came together.

They believe now too.

Leaders, your team will rise or fall to the level of your belief. This starts with your attitude about everything and everyone.

Believe in your company.

Believe in your teammates.

Believe everyone can get better, starting with you.

Believe you can overcome when things get bad.

Believe you can work whatever the problem is.


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