As a coach, trainer, and speaker for the John Maxwell Group, I have been researching leadership issues and strategies on a daily basis. Throughout my preparation in teaching a Mastermind group in the “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” I began thinking about how much we have on our plates and how we must learn to balance it all.   I came across the six balancing acts written by John Maxwell.

I put this together in hopes that you may read it, apply it, and live it. I have, and it works! I recently read this and fully believe that it is true, “Great leaders combine an assortment of skills into a single repertoire from which they inspire and guide their team.” Good leaders are able to somehow merge and mix contradictory traits, which they effectively include in their daily activities and interactions.

Here are the six things that I have tried to instill and follow in my own life and leadership style. These are taken directly from the John Maxwell article found in Leadership Wired.

  1. Leaders are both confident and modest – You need self-assurance to lead, but you also must be able to set aside your ego. Being a leader is not about making yourself more powerful. It’s about making the people around you more powerful. People follow leaders who have a healthy sense of self-worth, and are yet humbled by their responsibility. Egotistical leaders use others to advance their self-centered pursuit of perks, titles, and other status symbols. Eventually, they disillusion their people and stunt the growth of the company. Confident-yet-humble leaders derive satisfaction from serving others. These leaders unlock the potential of people and equip them to further the company’s mission and vision.
  2. Leaders communicate passionately and listen patiently – Listening to others improves ideas, sends alerts to unforeseen issues, and allows for closer relationships with employees.  Listed below are some important quotes on listening. “Big people monopolize the listening, small people monopolize the talking.”  “Listening is the way to gain wisdom, because everything you say, you already know.”  Effective Leaders allow others to tell them what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.” One of the best ways to persuade others, is with your ears, by listening to them.”
  3. Leaders give encouragement and they are never satisfied – Effective leaders encourage people, affirm their work, and constantly push them to even greater performances.  A group’s primary motivation comes from a passionate leader who positively expresses dissatisfaction with the company’s status, along with a sincere belief that the group can take things higher. Leaders should stretch people, but they can only do so to the extent they can demonstrate care and goodwill towards those they lead.
  4. Leaders protect their people from danger, but expose them to reality – Most people want a leader who insulates them from difficulty, rather than encouraging action to overcome it. People need adversity to grow; otherwise they level out. A leader’s responsibility is NOT to protect people from EVERY difficulty, but to PARTNER with them in facing life’s trials.
  5. Leaders blaze the trail and show the way – Leaders are not afraid to buck convention and strike out in a new direction. However, they get no pleasure from living as mavericks. Leaders want to link up with others, push into new frontiers, and better guide others down the road.
  6. Leaders initiate changes while standing for values that don’t change – One job of a leader is to help people identify what habits and assumptions must change in order for the company to prosper.  At the same time, leaders must ask; which values and operations are so crucial to our core, that if we lose them we lose ourselves?

In short, leaders must bring about change without surrendering the organization’s identity.  Balancing everything in our personal and professional life is an intricate task.  However, in order to maximize enjoyment in your personal life and still maintain professional upward mobility, you must master the balancing act.




I recently wrote a piece titled, “Winning is Not Always the Measure of Defeat”.  It dealt with having high expectations and situations not turning out the way you wanted or expected.  I find myself writing on a similar topic, but really focusing on humility in the time of defeat.  Last week was the final home game for Oklahoma State University (my Alma Mater).  However, it was against University of Texas.  Texas is my home state.  So naturally there was some trash talk before the game.  Well, my trash talk.  Didn’t hear much from my family and friends.  I think they knew better.  It is better to talk trash after the game, not before it.  I quickly realized that I messed up.  We loss 28-7.  The trash talk really began, but it was them, not me.  I deserved it.  I had to take a very humble approach and admit my defeat.   It also made me think about the work and study I’ve done around humility.  Let me share some insight into humility.  An area of my life that I have personally been working on (not always my choice).

When people talk about leadership, they don’t use the word “humility” very often. More likely, they describe a leader as strong or focused or ambitious. They would probably say the leader is confident or assertive. “Humble” may not ever come up, and if it does, it might not be used as a compliment.

But I believe humility is a character trait that every leader should posses. Benjamin Franklin once said“there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

I think without humility, no real success is possible.  You can’t lead people, without first being able to admit your mistakes.  Most leaders have an abundance of ambition, talent, and confidence, but few possess the humility necessary to sustain influence over time.  I’ve found that many leaders typically shun humility because they see it as a sign of weakness or self-doubt.  Many feel they have to be right on everything.  After all, they are in charge.  I find my character and personality tends to go down this similar path.  Personally and professionally, I find myself trying to maintain self-preservation (whole different topic) and feel if I admit fault that I might be viewed or perceived as a weak leader.  However, I consistently find that is not the case.  When I am sincerely humble, I find I gain respect, loyalty and wisdom.

How do you become a humble leader? Here are 5 things that bring about humility in a Leader.

  1. Responsibility – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your mistakes. Humble leaders readily accept responsibility for failure.
  2. Objectivity – In the words of Ezra Taft Benson, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.” Humble leaders do not consider their own ideas and projects to be sacred.
  3. Open-Mindedness – BE OPEN!! Humble leaders have awareness of how much they don’t know.
  4. Inspiration – Humble leaders are appreciative people.
  5. Respect – Humble leaders see life as far bigger than themselves, and add value to other people by serving them.

C.S. Lewis said…………..”Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of your self less”.  

I love this old story set in the Roman Empire times.

A general returning from a great victory in battle is greeted with great acclaim by the population of the city. They cheer for him as he travels in a grand procession through the streets, hailing him as a mighty warrior and leader. But the general, aware of his own weaknesses and wanting to be sure he doesn’t get too caught up in the celebration, asks a fellow soldier to do something to keep him humble. So as the procession winds through the city streets, this soldier’s one job is to crouch on the floor of the chariot, where only the general can see and hear him, and whisper, “You’re only a man. You’re only a man. You’re only a man….”  

That general understood that he needed to avoid letting all the attention go to his head. He knew that by remaining humble, he would be able to keep growing and improving as a leader and warrior.

We should not be concerned about not who is right and who is wrong.  Leadership is about influencing people.  It is about adding value to them.  When we become humble leaders, we are able to get through the muck and mire of everyday task and situation.  We are able to put aside the “trash” talk and focus on what provides value to those we lead.  Once this occurs, we are on the path to excellence.

Great leaders are humble leaders.  Humility is a must in leadership…………NEVER FORGET THIS………………IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!!…………IT REALLY ISN’T!!!!


It was an absolutely beautiful morning as we arrived at Oklahoma State University. There was a sort of excitement and anticipation in the air. Orange and Black was everywhere. Today, it was homecoming. It was getting back to my alma-mater, remembering and reminiscing about those good ‘ol days. For me, it was standing next to Old Central and looking East to Fire station #2. It was remembering the courses, the labs, long evening and nights figuring out the metric conversions to all those Borgelt papers. It was remembering great Professors, and not so great Professors. Nostalgia, it was. But was it really all that? Ummmmmm, NO, it was about beating the HECK out of West Virginia!!!!

Shortly after kickoff, it was evident this might not turn out the way I planned. The nostalgia and the memories quickly turned to frustration and anger. Were these Cowboys going to win? The answer is well, not the game. However, it made me realize that winning is not always the measure of success. You see, OSU lost 45% of their Letterman from last year. The only team in college football to hold that honor. That means there are a lot of new and inexperienced players.

So as fans, and loyal alumni, winning is our first choice, as I am sure that is the same for the OSU players, coaches and staff. Well as you can probably figure out, OSU did lose the game. But did they really lose? I don’t believe so. In our life, our profession and yes, even with our football team, winning comes in many ways. As I sat there thinking about the game and the losing performance on the field, I started thinking about what the Cowboys did accomplish during and after that game. What will make them a better team, better athletes,better students and ultimately a better person? I came up with 3 things that I believe the OSU Cowboy football team got and what you and I get out of every winning or losing situation and experience.

Clarity- There is no doubt these players gained more clarity on plays, speed, talent, etc. You see, I believe the more you understand what it takes to perform your daily activities, the more you understand your interactions with people, the more clarity you get in your leadership of employees, staff and even family. The sooner you become clear on the activities, task and relationship interactions, the sooner you will experience your desired outcomes.
Consistency- Consistency is huge. Football players perform the same drills every day in practice, they run the same plays over and over and over until they can run them with their eyes closed. Consistency creates simplicity. When you add consistency in your life and business, you add simplicity. “Practice makes Perfect”, right? The more we practice, the more consistent we become. The more consistent, the more competent we become, the more competent, the more people believe in you. The more people believe, the more they trust you. The more they trust you, the more you can influence. If you can influence someone, you can lead them.
Character – I could talk about this forever. I promise you, Character was built-in those football players on Saturday. Character is evident when things don’t necessarily go our way. Our character is much more than just what we try to display for others to see, it’s who we are even when no one is watching. It’s who we are we on the inside. Our reputation comes from what others believe about our outside. Our character represents who we are on the inside. So if we focus on being better on the inside than the outside, over time we will become better on the outside. Character is who you are and who you are determines if people will follow. If people follow, then you can influence them, if you can influence them, then you can lead them!
Whether we win or lose is really up to us. Our goal is not to keep score and count our wins and losses, it is more what insight we gain in those wins or losses.

As leaders we must realize that winning is not always the measure of success, but it is what we gain from the experience that ultimately determines the outcome.

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