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Month: February 2019

Prayerful Question

Sam is good leader. He knows the two things that matter — 1) What he wants, and 2) the primary question a person needs to answer to become a leader.

When Sam called me to help him with his team, the team was not in trouble; as a matter of fact, his division had led the company in production and profits for many years. When I asked how he had accomplished this, he gave some credit to “the luck of the draw” on his part, then without the slightest hesitation, he gave the lion’s share of credit for success to the amazing people on his team. Sam had called because he sensed the team may have peaked, and he wanted talk about ways to make this team even better.

In a few verbal bullet points, he spelled out the vision he hoped for his team and the impact they would have on the organization. Then he said “Over the last few months, I have been asking myself is there something about me that is keeping this team from moving to the next level of performance?”

Is there something about me? Philosophers, poets, prophets and presidents — found in prayers, speeches, and books since civilization began — have put this single inquiry forward, in different words, from altering angles. It is perhaps the one indispensable question necessary for the growth of anyone seeking to influence others toward something better or bigger.

Legend has it that in some ancient tribal cultures, the warriors (or the leaders in the tribe) strived to walk as if every step they took was a prayer. I have yet to learn what words were in those prayers or if this only figuratively represented a posture of humility and gratitude. But I believe if there were such a “walking prayer,” and that a warrior did indeed pray this prayer on his road to leadership, it might have been something like a reworking of The Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the thing I can, and the wisdom to know that it’s me.

Journal Entry: Are you feeling like things are good and hoping that things could be even better? What might happen if you sought the answer to this one prayerful question as you consider your next move in your leadership and life?

Physical strength can never permanently withstand the impact of spiritual force. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better. – Abraham Lincoln

It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. – Mahatma Gandhi

Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. – Ann Landers

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – The Bible’s New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 7 verses 3-5

The Right Questions

Of the things we think, say, and do we will ask ourselves—

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I have been an active member of Rotary International for 24 years. Rotary has 1.2 million members in 200 countries. This network of clubs has one big goal, which is to promote ethics in business and peace in the world though strategic investments of financial resources and hands-on action. One of this organization’s many objectives is the eradication of polio in the world. I still marvel at the effective stewardship and influence of this 110-year-old organization.

The Power of Rotary
The power of the organization is founded on the core value of “service above self.” Underlying this value is the real leverage of Rotary: it is individual members’ shared commitment to a simple criteria for living and working each day, as expressed in what is called The Four-Way Test (as you read above).

Dr. William E. Hull, in his book The Four-Way Test—Core Values of the Rotary Movement, states, “The Four-Way test does not decree how we are to honor these four criteria but only puts them in the form of questions which we must answer for ourselves. In the pluralistic world of the twenty-first century, differences run so deep that the best place to begin a dialogue is not by discussing our conflicting answers, but rather to agree on what are the right questions.”

Question Your Meetings
On a more day-to-day note—have you ever wondered if there is a way to prevent meetings from lasting so long and accomplishing so little? My experience is that if you change the meeting agenda from a list of topics to be discussed to a list of questions to be answered, 50% of your meetings will never need to be held, because you’ll find you can answer the questions without a meeting. And the meetings you hold will take 50% less time, if you agree that the meeting will dismiss when the questions are answered, not when your scheduled meeting time is up.

Journal Entry: Are you facing a potential divisive conversation or dreading another unclear meeting? Could settling on the right questions beforehand possibly help all concerned get what they want and have more time for the good stuff in leadership and life?

Resource: To learn more about Rotary International check out Rotary.org.


He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. – Chinese proverb

You can have everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar from See you at the Top

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. – Henry Ford

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci

We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong. – Bono

One man there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ – John, a disciple, from the book of John chapter 5 verses 5 & 6 – The Bible’s New Testament

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