How to Easily Get Your Man to Take the Initiative

Ladies, do you wish your man would get off his butt and get some things done without having to be told? Men, do you wish your woman would get off your back and quit nagging you? If you are married or in a long-term relationship you know exactly what I’m talking about here. So who is ultimately responsible for breaking out of this all too common downward relationship spiral? The man, or the woman?

Argentinian TangoPhoto courtesy of Kallpa Tour Operator

Recently, a female friend of mine opened a can of worms on her Facebook page, saying if more women acted like women, then more men would have the opportunity to be men. The reaction was mostly positive, but some questioned her sentiment, wondering if maybe there wasn’t too much cultural baggage associated with telling someone to act like anyone other than themselves. After all, what does it mean to act like a woman or a man?

Her point to women was simply this: If you’re wondering where all the good men are, or more specifically, if you want your man to step up and “be a man,” then you need to step into your feminine power as a woman. Get out of the way. Don’t be a hindrance to what, ultimately, will benefit you. Instead, help and encourage him. You’ll be much better off.

Relationships Are a Dance

I love Dancing With the Stars. I haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, but it’s on the DVR waiting for Mindy and I to have a spare moment to enjoy it (my money is on Nastia and Derek). I love watching the stars – some of whom can’t dance at all – develop into competent dancers.

But what’s particularly fascinating to me is how the female professional dancers teach their rookie male dance partners to lead.

A dance doesn’t work unless one partner is leading and the other following. The woman can lead, but usually, the man leads and the woman follows. It doesn’t mean she is any less valuable, less important, or less critical to the dance. It doesn’t mean she can’t lead or is incapable of leading. On the contrary, she is quite capable of leading, much moreso than her rookie male partner! But the dance just doesn’t work if he doesn’t lead and she doesn’t follow. It looks awkward at best, and it’s a train wreck at worst.

Relationships are much the same way. The problem today is, a lot of guys think the music has stopped. And the ladies are throwing their hands up, wondering why they are being left alone on the dance floor.

Embracing Masculine and Feminine Polarity

The point my friend made on her Facebook page is, I believe, a critical one for us today. Telling women to act like women is not a judgment on the necessary advances of the feminist movement. It is simply an acknowledgement of the polarity of masculinity and femininity. And we need to embrace this polarity if we are to have less fear, less hurt, and more satisfying, fulfilling relationships.

I believe masculinity is a “thing” and femininity is a “thing.” I believe they are both woven into the fabric of the universe. And I believe they have utterly transcendent as well as psychological aspects. Ultimately, they are rooted in the Divine. There are numerous examples in cultures throughout history of this masculine-feminine polarity.

Neither masculinity nor femininity are stronger, superior or more valuable than the other. They just are. And, both genders have both elements. Psychologically speaking, masculinity and femininity are simply two complementary poles within each human psyche. The masculine and the feminine together, within both men and women, seek recognition, affirmation and balance.

So why are guys leaving the dance floor in droves?

Unaffirmed, Insecure Men

As a result of the feminist movement, a lot of guys are in tune with their feminine side. Ok, got it – check! But the pendulum has swung too far, and men are now shrinking from true masculinity, almost apologizing for it – and it’s killing us all. There are a number of reasons why men seem to have lost their masculinity, which I won’t get into here. But it affects men, women and children alike.

The problem today is men are not affirmed in their masculinity.

Please hear me out on this folks, this is the crucial point. Until men are affirmed in their masculinity, women will not be fully affirmed in their feminine power. Until men are affirmed in their masculinity, little boys will not be affirmed in their growing sense of masculine energy. Until men are affirmed in their masculinity, little girls will not be affirmed in their flowering sense of feminine energy. For a woman to realize her full feminine power, her femininity must be affirmed by the masculine.

Think about the incredible influence of a husband and a father, for good or ill. Think about the deep wounding a man inflicts on his wife and children when he is insecure in his masculinity. I am pretty sure you can think of how you’ve been hurt, let down or wounded by the men in your life, past or present. I know I can. Hold those thoughts of wounding in your mind and heart for a few minutes.

Now, think about the beautifully healing, freeing and empowering presence of a man who is secure in his masculinity. Think about how such a presence reverses the hurts and wounds of women and children. If you’ve ever had a man like that in your life, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Being a man – a real man – is a weighty responsibility. One we as men dare not take lightly – for the good of our families, our communities, and the world.

I believe the major crisis today is with men, not with women. I believe this because of the undeniable impact a man has on women and children, for good or ill. When men are healed, the healing of women and children will naturally follow. However, generally speaking, we now have a generation of sons whose fathers, for several generations back, have been unaffirmed as men. The father who is unaffirmed in his own masculinity cannot adequately affirm the son in his.

The Authentic Masculine Voice

Because of the glaring absence of affirmed men and fathers today, men have turned to seek affirmation from the feminine instead. Don’t get me wrong, we need feminine affirmation – it is the feminine voice that grounds a child in his or her sense of being and well being. From the time a child is born, he or she does not know him or herself as separate and distinct from the mother. The child looks to the mother for everything.

Assuming we have been given a solid foundation from the feminine voice, we then need the masculine affirmation – it is the masculine voice that calls a child out from his or her mother to recognize him or herself as an individual, separate and distinct from the mother. And for boys, it is the masculine voice that calls them out and sets them on the path to real manhood. But the feminine voice can and often does override the masculine voice, especially if there is no masculine voice present to begin with.

What Men Need in Order to Lead

Ladies, letting your man lead doesn’t mean you are unable or not allowed to take care of yourself, own yourself, and make decisions for yourself. It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to rise up and become CEO of a company, or start your own business and just kill it! It simply means that in relationships, men need to initiate, lead, protect and provide. It’s in our DNA. And I’m afraid the cultural pendulum has swung too far in the direction of men not knowing what it means to initiate, lead, protect and provide. Women have been telling us for awhile now they don’t need us, and we started listening.

So how can you teach your male partner to lead the dance? Here’s how:

  1. Stop being so in control all the time. If you’re in control all the time, he’ll just coast and let you stay in control. If you try to control him, he’ll either one up you, in which case you’ll end up in an awkward tug of war, or he’ll hide, and you’ll be even more frustrated with him. And if you’ve been hurt before by letting go of control, you have every right to be scared. I’m not saying to let your guard down. I’m not saying don’t protect yourself. I’m saying trust, but verify.
  2. Respect him. Aretha had it right, not just for women but for men as well. Real men are all too familiar with their own faults and flaws, and they don’t want to be worshipped. But they do want, and need, to be respected.
  3. Positively recognize, encourage and embrace his efforts. We need to do good for you, no matter how clumsy, awkward, misdirected or late to the table we are. We need you to receive our attempts to initiate, lead, protect and take care of you. Many of us are already wounded by our fathers. We are resilient, but we cannot sustain wounds from both our fathers and from you, and at the same time give you what you need as a woman. We aren’t looking for trophies, party streamers and balloons when we do something right. Just positively encourage us, and you’ll get more of what you need.
  4. Tell him, in plain language, what you need from him. Say “Look, babe, you want me to respect you? Love you? Quit nagging you? I need you to step up. I need you to take control in [xxxxxx] area. I need you to quit being a jerk to me when I’m simply frustrated or upset about something. Quit trying to fix things. Just look me in the eye and listen to me.” Or whatever it is you need from him.
  5. Love him with your body and soul, together. Sex is a key component – it incarnates and communicates your love for us. But sex, by itself, isn’t everything. Any guy who is being completely honest would admit that empty sex may be fun for awhile but never ultimately satisifies. No, what we need and want is a deep emotional and spiritual connection with you, expressed and realized through physical intimacy.

A man who is loved, cherished, and respected by his woman is the most powerful, positive, unstoppable force in the universe. In this way, you can affirm him in his masculinity with your powerful feminine voice and get him to step up and start taking the initiative like you want him to.

In doing so, women can help make the world a better place for themselves and their children.

And the dance will be beautiful.

Agree or disagree? Who is ultimately responsible to get things back on track? Men? Women? Both? Leave a comment below!

In the Shadow of the Father: The Life and Death of Jax Teller

I love the mega FX hit television show Sons of Anarchy, but it’s gotten really dark this final season. Too much death, and too much of it with protagonist, Jax Teller, on the giving end. I felt heavy and conflicted after watching the penultimate episode last week, and I don’t like those feelings.


[SPOILER ALERT: read only if you are up to speed on the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy.]

I shouldn’t be surprised after all, given the premise of the show. But da-yum Kurt Sutter, did it have to be this brutal?

Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly had this to say about Jax last week:

I wrote an email to EW’s resident SOA expert Mandi Bierly after Tuesday night’s penultimate episode with just three words: “I hate Jax.” And how could I not? THE BASTARD GUNNED DOWN UNSER FOR CRISSAKES!!! Unser, who always protected the club. Unser, who had become the conscience of the show after anyone else with a conscience was either killed off (Opie, Piney) or lost it long ago (Jax). Unser, who is terminally ill. When Jackie boy killed Unser—who was only trying to protect his assailant from offing his own mother—he became impossible to root for. And therein lies the genius of Sons of Anarchy.

Ross goes on to explain that Sutter is picking up the same element of all great anti-hero shows, that of daring us to continue cheering for the main character, no matter how horrible they become – Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey, Walter White, etcetera. We might be able to forgive Jax for everything that has come before, but killing Unser – the conscience of the show, the man who has had SAMCRO’s back time and again, the man whose loyalty knows no bounds – is unforgivable.

In discussing the show with a friend on Facebook last week, we both agreed there is much about Sons that almost compels you to watch week after week, if at times only peeking through fingers as you cover your face. It gets violent, brutal and nasty. But what makes the show particularly believable, rich and entertaining is the racial and ethnic diversity together with the complex, flawed and human characters. Gemma, Jax’s damaged-but-strong mother, is particularly loved by many fans.

Brilliantly written and acted, this show.

Ross makes an excellent observation. Daring us to continue to root for Jax as he turns dark – even after offing Unser – is brilliant indeed. But I think the real genius of the show comes from a different angle. It’s subtle and wanes as each season of the show passes, but is ever present and could very well make a final appearance tomorrow night – the shadow of John Thomas Teller (I bet we’ll also see JT’s 1946 Harley Davidson Customized FL Knucklehead bike play a key role).

In the pilot episode, Jax found his father’s book, The Life and Death of Sam Crow: How the Sons of Anarchy Lost Their Way, in storage and began reading it. The manuscript points out how the club started, and where it went wrong. JT is portrayed as a philosopher with strong anarchist tendencies, but a good man who wanted to do the right thing for his family and the club.

After reading the manuscript, Jax takes his father’s wishes for the club as his own. Time and again in his journaling sessions, Jax is either conversing with his father, or speaking as a father to his boys. Like his father, Jax wants to do right by his family and his club.

Later, Jax is shown to despise his father, believing him to be a coward for not leaving the club when he wanted to and instead just writing about it. Jax eventually finds out that JT and others were on their way to a meeting with the IRA to end the gun running business, but JT was killed before it could happen. Knowing the truth, and with renewed purpose, Jax is finally able to succeed where his father did not – he clears the way for the IRA to run guns to August Marks and the Niners, effectively getting SAMCRO out of guns for good.

And then Gemma up and kills Tara, with whom Jax had recently reconciled, and all hell breaks loose. As if it hadn’t already.

At the beginning of this current and final season, Chibs tells Jax “the last time I heard you share your vision, you were talking about cutting the ties to the things that were killing us.” Jax confesses, “I don’t have a vision anymore.” So we’ve watched as Jax turns from non-violent leader into death-dealing reaper, by placing his personal vendetta to avenge his wife’s death above everything and everyone else – including his boys. He has clearly lost his way.

Does he even know who he is anymore?

How can Jax redeem himself, and live up to the legacy left by his father, JT? We are given an image of JT as a man who gave his life to return the club to peaceful pursuits – to get the club out of guns and on legitimate footing. How can Jax live up to that vision of leadership when he has no vision anymore? Does he even want to?

I think he does – desperately – and I think we’ll find out tomorrow night.

What is it about the father’s voice that is so compelling? Why is it that all kinds of social ills are linked to fatherlessness? Is there a father-shaped hole in our hearts, that only a father can fill?

I say Jax needs to pull his shit together, stick around, and be a father to his boys. Those boys need their daddy! Can we not have Jax ride off into the sunset towards Nero’s ranch with Wendy and the boys? Alas, that wouldn’t make as powerful or dramatic a final episode as we all expect. Besides, he’s in too deep now. He’s committed too many crimes. The worst one, according to SAMCRO rules, being the murder of Jury White, Indian Hills SAMCRO president, then subsequently lying about him ratting out the club. And for that, he must pay.

We won’t know the details until tomorrow night, but from all signs given in last week’s episode, Jax is likely to follow his father’s footsteps in death. Will it be at the hands of his fellow SAMCRO club members, like his father, or will it be on his own terms?

One way or another, mayhem – as the other chapter presidents said last week – has to land.

We are all responsible for our own sins. We can no more blame our fathers for our own choices than anyone else. But like it or not, we were all shaped by our father – whether he was good, bad, present, absent or somewhere in between.

We all live in the shadow of our fathers.

Questions to get the conversation started…leave a comment below!

  1. Will Jax find redemption tomorrow night? Can he ever find redemption, given his deeds?
  2. Can Jax still be a good father, even when mayhem lands on him?
  3. How have you felt the influence of your father in your own life – good, bad or otherwise?

How to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think

A friend came up to me yesterday at church, pulled me aside and asked if he could speak with me privately. Sure, I said. As we walked off, he had a pained look on his face. Something was really bothering him.

inside your own head
Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

My friend Greg is really more of an acquaintance. I don’t know him that well. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but a regular at church, and every time I’ve talked to him he’s been really pleasant.

He said, “About 4 or 5 years ago, you and I and a few other guys were talking in the fellowship hall after the Liturgy, and William mentioned he was Facebook friends with me. I looked at William with a bit of a smirk and said ‘Hmm. Well, we must be BFFs then.’ As soon as I said that, you looked at me like I was some kind of fuckin’ asshole. You didn’t say a word, but you gave me this look…”

My initial thought was “Wow, is he gonna take a swing at me right here in the church parking lot?” I couldn’t tell if he was pissed at me, or just really burdened, or something else.

He continued, “Just…that look you gave me…it’s been on my mind ever since and I had to bring it up.”

“Man, I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention. Obviously it’s been bothering you and I’m glad you had the guts to say something,” I said.

Ugh. My heart just sank. I felt absolutely horrible. This guy genuinely cared about what I thought of him, and couldn’t get past the thought that I apparently thought he was an asshole!

My next thought was, “I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.” I really didn’t! I could not, for the life of me, remember the situation he was describing. I told him I honestly didn’t remember this, then I apologized for doing anything to offend him. Then I said, “Greg, I don’t know you that much, but there is no way I think you’re an asshole. No way at all.”

I could almost see actual weights being lifted off his shoulders in that moment.

Later as I processed the discussion with Greg, I realized how important it was that I watch my actions, and my words. Granted, I’m not going to walk in constant fear of what people might think or of perceiving something the wrong way, but I do need to be more conscious of how I come across to people.

Living Inside Your Head

And then there’s the living inside your head part of all this. Do you ever find yourself in Greg’s shoes? I’m honestly not sure that I flashed him that look. I may very well have, but I really don’t remember doing it. Regardless, he perceived something in that moment which he interpreted as “Matt does not like me at all” and it stayed with him. For 4 or 5 years. It’s probably not something he thought about every single day since then, but he was certainly reminded of it everytime he saw me. And it was draining him.

Do you ever react towards something somebody does or says to you and dwell on it for days? Months? Or years? I do. Ultimately, it’s a struggle to be present. Not so much from what other people may or may not think of me, but it seems I am constantly struggling to be present because of either 1) the distractions of the past, or 2) worries about the future. I mean, we all know this, right? But how many of us actually live in the present? How many of us can say “I spend the majority of my time every day just being present in the moment with the people and the situations I find myself in”?

Worrying about what other people think of you is living inside your head. It keeps you from being present, which in turn keeps you from being effective at work, at home and in the various communities of which you are a part.

How to Get Outside Your Head and Into the Present

There is an old saying: “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” Here are some things that have helped me get outside my own head, quit worrying about what other people think, quit worrying about the past or the future, and get into the present moment.

  1. Have a creative outlet. This blog is one of my creative outlets. We are made to create, and if you are not creating something, your gifts, talents and mental energy will likely be used for something else (like, worrying about what other people think!). My new men’s mastermind group, The Fulfilled Man, is another creative outlet of mine.
  2. Meet with like-minded people. There is something freeing about being transparent with a close group of trusted individuals. I meet once a week with a mastermind group called SoloLab and it has been one of the most important steps I’ve taken to get moving in the direction I want to take my career, and my life.
  3. Have a purpose greater than yourself. Life is about serving others. If you don’t have a purpose to get up in the morning other than to collect a paycheck and pay your bills, find one. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available. What really stirs your soul? Take steps in that direction.
  4. Pray and/or meditate. I believe God exists, that He created us, and that He hears our prayers. Recognizing that I am not the center of the universe – and having gratitude and thanking God for all I have – has been a huge part of my ability to live in the present. I have a prayer rule that I strive to keep daily.
  5. Fill your mind with positive affirmations. When fearful thoughts or angry thoughts or uncertain thoughts creep into my head, I replace them with positive thoughts and intentions. What we focus on is the reality we create for ourselves. The more specific and applicable to your situation the intentions are, the better. You can keep them on 3×5 index cards or on your smartphone or tablet device. It’s easy. For more on the power of specific intention to create reality, see my previous post.

Life is just a series of moments. Don’t spend those moments worrying about what people think of you. In doing so, you give them more power than they deserve in your life. And chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.

(Editor’s note: names have been changed for purposes of this post).

Have you ever dwelled too long on what somebody did or didn’t do/say to you? How has it distracted you from being effective and present in the moment? Share in the comments below.

The Secret to Bulletproofing Your Business

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?

Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.

5506522783_e89f355e83_oPhoto Credit: Carlos Carreño via Compfight cc

I’m a big fan of the film The Matrix. The premise of the film is that reality as perceived by most humans is actually a comforting, simulated reality called the “Matrix”, a computer program created by machines to subdue the human race. In the real world, humans are plugged into incubation pods and kept in a vegetative state – by running the Matrix program in their brains – so the machines can use their heat and electrical activity as an energy source. Computer programmer/hacker Neo learns of this, and joins others who have been freed from the Matrix in a rebellion against the machines.

The leader of the rebellion, a man named Morpheus, becomes Neo’s instructor. He explains that the Matrix is just a simulated reality, and those who have been rescued from it have the ability to bend its physical laws by exercising seemingly superhuman abilities. Morpheus believes Neo is “The One”, a man with the ultimate power to manipulate the Matrix, and who is prophesied to end the war between humans and machines.

While it seems far-fetched, there’s actually a lot of truth in this premise for us as entrepreneurs and business leaders. Are you struggling to find your niche? Trying to generate leads? Maybe you’re having problems filling orders for clients. Or maybe complaints from customers are starting to roll in. How do you perceive these challenges? Do you see them as problems? Do they get you down? Piss you off? What goes through your head when these things happen? Do you blame the market? Your network? Your partner? Your employees? Your customers?

Do you blame yourself?

How you perceive and think about these challenges has everything to do with whether your business moves forward, or stalls. The fact is, we create the reality we live and work in everyday by how we view ourselves and the world around us.

We have tremendous capacity to influence reality, for good or ill. Nothing is set in stone. And nothing is as limiting, or as freeing, as our own thoughts.

Consider the following:

What are we to make of these things? The mechanistic theory of life and the universe says living organisms are physico-chemical machines, and everything is explainable in terms of physics and chemistry. But critics of this theory are starting to put forward compelling reasons for doubting that all the phenomena of life, including human behavior, can ever be explained entirely mechanistically.

Bulletproof Your Business

Shortly after Neo learns the truth about the Matrix from Morpheus, he is given a choice. Take the blue pill and go back to the Matrix, or take the red pill and join the real world in the fight against the machines. Neo takes the red pill, and begins an intense training regimen that includes how to free his mind from what he now knows to be the artificial constructs of the Matrix. He is put through various tests that build his confidence in manipulating the Matrix. These tests include actual re-entries into the Matrix where he encounters the Agents, who are powerful sentient programs designed by the machines to eliminate any threat to the system.

In the climactic scene of the movie, while inside the Matrix Neo is cornered in a hallway by three Agents sent to destroy him. They raise their guns and fire at him multiple times. In that moment, through all of his training and work, Neo realizes his full power and is able to stop the bullets in their tracks. As the bullets slow to a halt just before hitting him, he picks one out of the air and looks at it while the others simply fall to the ground. Fully believing in his newfound powers, he effortlessly fends off the lead Agent before forcing himself into the Agent’s body and destroying him from within.

The truth is – whatever science proves or doesn’t prove today – our thoughts, intentions and words influence reality more than we are willing to admit. And I think we know this, deep down, in our gut. The crazy thing about this is it takes work, either way. You can blame your circumstances or someone else and continue to experience the pain and stress of that choice until somebody or something comes along to rescue you. Or, you can choose to rise above it and realize that whatever your circumstances, you have a choice as to how you respond.  And that’s what makes all the difference, even in life’s most painful moments.

No matter what challenges you face in business or in life, remember how much you are actually in control. 

What are your thoughts and intentions?

What reality will you create?

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use your thoughts and intentions to drive results in your business, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at I’d love to hear from you!

The 4 Essentials of Getting Your Managers to Work Together

Have you ever worked with a manager in another department who just didn’t quite get it? He was great at what he did and could direct a team, but when it came to working with his management peers, not so much. You probably had better luck getting a TPS report to sprout legs and walk across the room than getting that guy to budge. Frustrating right?

4145340529_e791694b91_bPhoto Credit: lanskymob via Compfight cc

In the Fun stage (see Part 1 of this series for more info), Les McKeown says managers’ responsibilities are primarily vertical – down to their direct reports, and up to their boss. Only limited contact with fellow managers is necessary for decision-making purposes. However, if your company is in Whitewater, your managers will increasingly need to interact with each other in order to get decisions made.

In other words, lateral management.

Lateral Management

The second step to building your decision making machine and lauching your business into the Predictable Success stage is the introduction of lateral management. This simply means all managers now have a dual role – along the vertical axis (direct reports and boss) but also along the horizontal axis, by managing their fellow managers.

Some managers will see this step as unnecessary bureacracy and a distraction from getting the real work done. “Why do I need to talk to this manager over here about a customer’s concerns? Why do I need to lobby that manager over there for resources?” they’ll say. The reason is because without it, your company will not be able to make fast, flexible decisions.

Getting Your Managers to Work Together

Making this transition requires a lot of determination, hard work and perseverance on the part of senior management, but it must be done. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make the addition of lateral management explicit. Unless they are told otherwise, most managers will rely on the “vertical-only” model of management. It must be explained to everyone that those days are gone, and being a manager in this organization now permanently includes both vertical and lateral roles.
  2. Have managers meet proactively, in a non-issue-based context. When it does occur in Whitewater, manager interaction tends to focus on problems and issues: Why can’t you guys deliver the product on time? Why are the fulfillment forms never completed properly? Senior management needs to encourage managers to meet ahead of issues, rather than about issues. For example, sales and operations managers should meet at the beginning of the month to plan customer delivery schedules rather than at the end of the month to discuss why deliveries were late again.
  3. Model the benefits of lateral management. If they see it modeled, they’ll do it. The company’s founder/owner, CEO or preducent can become an excellent role model by collaborating effectively with the senior management team. This will start a cascade effect down through the organization. Managers will see that you are serious.
  4. Hire new managers who can mentor others in lateral management. When hiring new managers, keep this factor in mind and look to hire those who have worked successfully in a lateral management role before. They can be a role model and mentor others in the company.

This is part two of a six-part series on how to build your organizational decision-making machine and launch your organization into Predictable Success. Next up, How to Get Everyone Moving the Same Direction.

Did you miss part one? Click here: The One Problem More Urgent Than What You’re Dealing With Right Now.

The Real American Revolution and 5 Other Supercool Facts About John Adams

Happy Independence Day! The 4th of July always makes me think of John Adams, one of my favorite founding Fathers. John Adams was a leader who accomplished great things despite his humanity, faults and fears. Here are six supercool facts about him I bet your history teacher didn’t tell you!


The Real American Revolution

During his retirement years, John Adams was fond of saying that the war for independence did not constitute the real american revolution. The war, he said, was only a consequence. The real revolution began 15 years before a shot was ever fired, as an intellectual and moral revolution in the minds and hearts of the people.

In a letter to Hezekiah Niles, on February 13, 1818, he wrote:

The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

Here are five more supercool facts about John Adams:

  1. He was the only president of the first five U.S. presidents not to be a slaveholder.
  2. Against tremendous pressure, he courageously defended the British soldiers accused of carrying out what would come to be known as the Boston Massacre. Six of the soldiers were acquitted, and two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences.
  3. During the presidential election, when the final tabulation of votes arrived at the Senate, it was Adams who opened the envelope as president of the Senate. He won 71 votes to Thomas Jefferson’s 68.
  4. He was one of only two founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence who later went on to become president. The other was Thomas Jefferson.
  5. Both he and his political rival and friend Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams will not necessarily be remembered for skill in diplomacy, or the ability to shrewdly turn others to his point of view. His independent mind and unwillingness to compromise ultimately led to his political isolation as president. But one thing is certain. He led from his convictions about what was right, good and true. As a leader, he gave voice to and became the embodiment of the intellectual and moral revolution occurring in the minds and hearts of the people. He lived, and died, to see a new nation come to birth.

The Glorious Fourth of July

On his deathbed, when asked by his servant Mrs. Clark if he knew what day it was, he replied:

Oh yes, it is the glorious Fourth of July. It is a great day. It is a good day. God bless it. God bless you all.

He died just a few minutes later.

By his leadership and personal example, John Adams shaped a culture.

In doing so, he shaped a nation.

P.S. – If you are looking for something good to watch this weekend check out the critically-acclaimed, multiple Emmy award-winning HBO miniseries John Adams. It is must-see-tv, people!

The Kind of Leader Every Organization Needs

My sister Heidi is the Principal of a 100% special education K-12 school. The world needs more leaders like her. Let me tell you why.

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Her school serves children with autism spectrum disorders, severe emotional disabilities, and other mental health issues. As you might imagine, it’s a tough environment. And, she is the fourth new Principal the school has seen in as many years, having taken the job mid-year after the previous administrator was fired. So it’s even tougher now, given the turnover in leadership.

The kids are tired, angry and acting out. The teaching staff is cynical and beyond burned out.

She called me a couple of days ago and said, “Matt, this is the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career. I’m a new Principal, my staff is leaving, and those that are still here are griping, complaining and gossiping. Incident reports with the kids are up. I have a vision for what this place could be, but it’s all I can do right now just to keep things together. My next staff meeting is tomorrow and here’s what I’m planning on saying. What do you think?” She had formed an action plan and needed to know who was with her, for real.

I was delighted she called, and so proud of her for taking this on. Anyone who knows Heidi would tell you she is very intelligent, compassionate and resilient. But most of all, they would say she really cares about people.

She has poured her heart and soul into this school. She’s listened to complaints from parents and teachers, she’s sat with kids, she’s dug deep and called on resources she didn’t know she had. But she hasn’t seen much change yet, and was clearly frustrated.

I offered little more than an ear and some encouragement. She already knew the way forward.

One thing jumped out at me as we talked. “The staff really wants somebody who can make decisions, but you know me, brother. My default setting is listening to people. And I’ve listened. A lot. This is going to really suck, but it’s time to put a stake in the ground, ask for their commitment, and hold them accountable. Do you think I’m on the right track?” Heidi said.

“Absolutely, yes!” I said. She had given those teachers what they needed. A leader who cared, who listened, who showed them that she was in this fight with them. But now it was time to draw a line in the sand. They were either with her, or not. And it was time to let them know in no uncertain terms.

I could sense the worry, and the fierce determination, in her voice.

Then I thought, here is vulnerability! Here is someone willing to push through her fears and confront them head on.

In her New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, vulnerability researcher and professor Brené Brown says:

After spending the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness, I’ve come to believe that leadership has nothing to do with position, salary, or number of direct reports. I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes. And contrary to the myth of the ‘all-knowing-all-powerful’ leader, inspired leadership requires vulnerability: Do we have the courage to show up, be seen, take risks, ask for help, own our mistakes, learn from failure, lean into joy, and can we support the people around us in doing the same?

To me, this sums up my sister. Who wouldn’t follow a leader like this?

Here is someone who cares deeply, and dares greatly.

Here is the kind of leader every organization needs.

The One Problem More Urgent Than What You’re Dealing With Right Now

Growing organizations face numerous challenges. Most have to do with balancing the needs of the business – managing cash flow, addressing new opportunities, servicing existing customers – with the needs of employees. Often, the founder/owner and senior management find themselves in fire-fighting mode as complexity increases.

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Fires run the gamut from collecting receivables to problem employees to customer service issues. But the one problem more urgent than anything else you’re dealing with right now is not having an effective decision-making structure in place.

In his phenomenal book Predictable Success, bestselling author, business coach and advisor to CEOs Les McKeown says the only way to overcome the complexity of a growing organization is to build a machine for effective decision-making. What follows is a brief synopsis of McKeown’s approach, something which I intuitively resonate with, having been part of it myself at a growing mortgage company.

This is Fun!

In what McKeown calls the Fun stage, organizations are typically characterized by fast, customer-led growth, positive momentum, fluid job roles, and centralized decision-making from the founder/owner. Frequent, seemingly instant decisions are made about what’s needed to drive sales and keep up – how fast can we get this order filled, when is the next supply shipment coming in, etc. The founder/owner knows she can count on her small team to execute, and the organization is extremely responsive to customer needs.


Sooner or later the organization inevitably enters what McKeown calls “Whitewater.” Having added more employees to keep up with demand, decision-making becomes increasingly difficult. Management layers are added, and those responsible for implementing the decisions aren’t in the loop like they were in the Fun stage. In Whitewater, it takes a lot more time to make and implement decisions. The organization becomes less nimble, stuck in place, and unresponsive to customer needs as a result. Water starts lapping up into the boat and it’s all you can do just to hang on.

Building Your Decision Making Machine

To get a handle on all this, you need some key systems and processes in place. The first step to building your decision-making machine is to completely reshape one of the most underutilized tools in any organization – the org chart. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Re-build the entire organization structure, focusing on key positions needed rather than on the people you think should fill those positions. It should focus on the what is needed to move operations forward, not on the existing power structure or some textbook theory. If you have three business development managers, is one of them, in reality, the VP of business development? Is he the “go-to” guy? If so, the org chart should reflect that reality.
  2. Next, job descriptions with clear responsibilities, key results areas and key performance indicators should be put in place. Again, the focus is on the positions and what is needed from those positions, not on the individuals. Those who are most dependent on each position should be engaged to help write the job descriptions – both internal and external customers.
  3. A regular meeting cadence should be established. For effective decision-making, ask yourself who needs to meet with whom, for what reasons and how often? How do you know what’s needed? Ask the same people who helped develop the job descriptions. Meetings are simply a conduit for decision-making. Experiment with different meeting styles, facilitators and routines. Be flexible and open to change.

This is part 1 of a 6-part series. Next up – The 4 Essentials of Getting Your Managers to Work Together.

What Really Holds You Back From Letting Go

You know those things that have to get done, but you just don’t want to do them? One of those for me this past weekend was changing the rear wheel inner tube on my nine year old’s BMX bike. It had been flat for a couple of days and it was time. Let’s just say I’m not the most mechanically inclined person in the world. I was not looking forward to the task. I know there’s a YouTube video for everything nowadays but I just didn’t want to spend the time on it.

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But that voice inside me (you know, that voice) said, “Jeez. Really, Redard? This is so not a big deal. Quit whining and just do it.” So off to the bike shop I went to get a new tube. It should be a relatively painless exercise, right? Besides, I reasoned, I am NOT paying the bike shop an extra $6 to watch some teenager do the labor. I am man, hear me roar!

The Problem

We think the only way to get something done right is to do it ourselves. The do-it-yourself approach works, for a while anyway. But as we take on more responsibilities at work or at home, sooner or later we run out of capacity. Some of those plates we have spinning start to wobble. So what do we normally do? We run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to maintain everything. Spend too long in this cycle and we end up wondering who we are anymore.

Sometimes we just plain don’t have anyone to help us.

But a lot of the time, the problem is our pride.

Overcoming Our Pride

After about 20 minutes of struggling, I got the inner tube stuffed into the tire, pried the tire back onto the wheel with a couple of screwdrivers, then aired it up. Boom – done! Check that off the list! I took some tools back to the workbench and when I got back, I checked the tire just to be sure. It felt a little soft. It was losing air. Seriously??? Now I’m really pissed. I’m mad that the dang thing isn’t fixed yet, and I’m mad at myself for being so headstrong. I finally admitted I was going to have to take it to the bike shop.

For some of us, getting over ourselves and asking for help is not an easy thing to do, but it’s a necessary part of our growth as leaders, parents, and professionals – no matter what level we’re at.

Admitting you can’t do it all doesn’t mean you are a defective leader. In fact, quite the opposite. It will endear people to you, and your influence will grow even more as a result.

How To Let Go

  1. Find someone you trust. Trusting someone to do a job, the results of which you are ultimately responsible for, can be difficult depending on what’s at stake. Finding someone you trust can be even more difficult. But it’s the only way to get unstuck and increase your capacity. Maybe you have a trusted colleague or friend you can lean on for assistance, or at least some advice. The complexity of what you’re dealing with will dictate who can best help you.
  2. Realize you’re going to spend time and energy, one way or the other. You might as well spend it on the front end than on the back end, cleaning up a mess because you took on too much.
  3. Ask for help. Say, “I need a favor. Can you help me with…? Here’s what I need, and here’s the result I’m looking for.” Be very descriptive with the results you want.
  4. Provide feedback. Stay engaged and observe how things go. Your input will provide the necessary course corrections to make sure the project or job stays on track.

Yesterday, my gracious wife volunteered to take the bike in to the shop so I didn’t have to mess with it on Father’s Day. (Love her!) So it’s all fixed now. I still don’t know how to replace a bike inner tube, but I’d like to think I’m a little wiser for the experience.

What are you dealing with right now, and what holds you back from letting go? Share in the comments below.

‘If you don’t start, you can’t fail.’ It sounds ridiculous when you say it that way. But of course, it is ridiculous. It’s (quite possibly) the reason you’re stalling. On the other hand, there’s no doubt that, ‘if you don’t start, you will fail.’ Not starting and failing lead to precisely the same outcome, with different names.