Setting And Tracking Your Personal Goals

Post by Tommy Bowman

Today I took a much needed break from everything. I went and sat at places where nobody knows my name. I used the day to force myself to stop thinking about work and take a hard look at myself; the state of where and who I am and the state of where and who I want to be.

My life seems to flow best when I use the flow of the church where I lead. Therefore, January, May, & September are my reset months. And with February 1st around the corner, it’s time to set my personal goals from now through May 1st. Here’s what I do and hopefully it helps you:

1. Align

Make sure your goals align with the values that you hold to. This may seem obvious but too often we aim to accomplish things that are at the core of who other people are or who other people expect us to be. Make sure your goals are driven by your core values.

2. M.A.R.C.H. 

You’ve probably heard of the SMART method for goal setting and it’s a great method. But after I read Jim Collins’ Great By Choice, I came up with the M.A.R.C.H. criteria for goal setting.

  • Measurable – Can you measure the goal?
  • Attainable – Does the goal promote effort?
  • Requiring Faith – Does the goal promote faith?
  • Clear – Is the goal specific?
  • High & Low Bounds – Does the goal promote discipline?

3. Record 

Write down and record your goals somewhere. This is easy and important. This sets your intentions into motion.

4. Review

It’s important to review your goals on a regular basis. Knowing where you stand will inform how you need to act. There is a new app that I am using to accomplish this. It’s called Strides. When you review your goals be sure to know why you’re ahead, on target and even behind. This will also inform the next action that you need to take.

5. Shoosh!

You know the feeling, right? When we tell someone a dream, plan, or goal that we have, we tend to let the announcement let us off the hook. When we do this, we are feeding the holes in our identity versus promoting growth. If someone isn’t going to be a partner in you accomplishing your goal, don’t tell them.

So based on my last point, I’m not going to share the goals I’ve set. But I’d love to hear how you set and track goals!

Tommy  is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams. Connect and learn more about Tommy at or @tommybowman.

What Blows Up Our Lives?

This is an excerpt from a brand-new book, Home Run: Learn God’s Game Plan for Life, co-authored by Kevin Myers of 12Stone Church and Atlanta and John C. Maxwell. In the book, Myers and Maxwell share their thoughts on four key ideas crucial to win in life and leadership: Connection with God, Character, Community, and Competence.In this post, Kevin shares some thoughts on why character matters.

What Blows Up Our Lives?

I watch a lot of movies. I love them for the entertainment factor, but I also often see spiritual truths in them. A favorite lesson can be found in the 2008 movie Iron Man. It’s the story of Tony Stark, a playboy inventor who inherits his father’s fortune and his interest in the weapons manufacturing industry he founded. Though Tony is a genius at creating weapons, he is also a picture of self-indulgence and irresponsibility. To say that he’s someone who has neglected first base is an understatement. But his nonchalance toward character does catch up with him, and as is true for all of us, his actions have consequences.

In a pivotal scene of the movie, the military vehicle in which Tony is riding somewhere in Afghanistan is attacked, and the convoy is destroyed. Tony runs for his life, only to come face-to-face with a bomb that has been launched by the enemy. To his shock, the bomb has the name and logo of his own company on it. When it explodes, Tony is near-fatally wounded.

What does this have to do with character and first base? The message is painfully clear: We are like Tony Stark. What blows up in our lives usually has our name on it! The problems we experience—we often create. And like Tony, we are often surprised when they blow up in our faces and ruin our lives.

Has that been true for you? Are you surprised by the blowups in your life? Or do you have the eyes to see your own role in creating many of them? Do you have the courage to confess how you contribute to the consequences you experience? If so, you probably understand the connection between consequences and character flaws. Once you understand how you blow up your own dreams, you have good reasons to win first-base character.

Now, I’m not a millionaire playboy, and chances are you’re not, either. So if you don’t relate to Tony Stark, here’s an image that may resonate with you. Character problems are like sinkholes. Sinkholes are fissures or chasms hidden under the surface of the ground that collapse, creating an open hole in the ground. I’ve read that Florida is full of them. Water erodes the limestone underground and leaves empty pockets. When the ground above them gives way, a hole is created. Some are tiny. But others are big enough to swallow a car, a house, or, according to one article in the Wall Street Journal, an entire car dealership! What’s amazing is that the moment before the sinkhole opens up, nobody has a clue there is a problem. One minute you’re in your house and everything is normal. The next minute, the ground collapses and your house is destroyed.

People who don’t take care of character issues are like houses built over sinkholes. They may look great. They may appear solid—not only to the casual observer but also to the residents in the house. But as soon as pressure comes, because the foundation is weak, cracks appear, and total disaster may be only seconds away.

Good character creates an invisible foundation in a person’s life, upon which relationships, career, and purpose can be built. With a strong character foundation, you can withstand life’s storms and pressures. Without it, you implode and your entire life can get swallowed up like a house in a sinkhole.

Hear more of what Kevin and John have to say about Character and other vital qualities for leaders by check out the book. Visit to learn more.

Follow the Thread

Post from Pete Scazzero

Take a few minutes to meditate on this lovely poem by William Stafford (1914–1993). It lays out the indispensable foundation for both the Christian life and great leadership.

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Pete is the Founder and Teaching Pastor/Pastor at Large at New Life Fellowship Church, a large, multiracial, international church with seventy-three countries represented. Pete is the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006) and The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2010).

Top Leadership Quotes from 2013

Two days of world-class leadership talks and inspiration, here are some of the Top Leadership Quotes from The Global Leadership Summit in 2013:

“Every significant vision that God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.” @BillHybels

“There is no such thing as an unimportant person in an organization.” Colin Powell

“Love God, love your neighbors, and do stuff!” @BobGoff

“N.O. means Next opportunity.” @MarkBurnetttv

“Lead like a multiplier and the people around you get smarter and do better work.” @LizWiseman

“Are you building God’s Kingdom or your reputation?” @_chris_brown

“You want to change the world? Learn how to change your behavior.” @JosephGrenny

“Innovation = idea + leader + team + plan” @VijayGovindarajan

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.” @BreneBrown

“To be alone in ministry is to waste an opportunity to mentor a young leader.” @OscarMuriu

“The hardest thing a leader has to be in charge of is him or herself.” @DrHenryCloud

“You will never do anything more significant in your life than serve the local church.” @AndyStanley

“I didn’t know what I was going to do until my feet got to where I was supposed to be” @Michaeljrcomedy

What are your top leadership quotes from 2013? 

How Bill Hybels Stays Replenished

We all know that you lead at your best when you are filled up. Bill Hybels talks to leaders about staying replenished. His message reflects on his own journey navigating a healthy work life balance.

How do you stay replenished? Share you thoughts and best practices. 

5 Ways To Start Your Year At The Office

Post by Tommy Bowman

It’s a new year and if you’re like me you’re back at the office after a nice, long break. And perhaps you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Well, don’t be. Try these steps this week as you get back to work:

1. Map it out

Before you start working, be sure to map out your week. Prioritize what must get done first. Know what you must accomplish and know what can wait. This is true of all weeks but this week especially, block out your calendar for maximum productivity and hold to it. It’s probably not the week to be flexible. Save that for next week.

2. Stay “out of office”

Hopefully you had your Out Of Office on over your break. Well, leave it on. Just for one more day. Perhaps change it to “I’m playing catch-up…I’ll be sure to respond first thing tomorrow morning.” Spend day one responding to the pile in your inbox and then get back to your responsive routine tomorrow.

3. Shut your door

There are a ton of questions to ask and even more to answer when you return to work. You could spend your entire first day in conversation and not on work. Map out a time during step one to get your necessary check-ins scheduled. Keep them tight and then get in your office and shut the door.

4. Ease into it

I might be too late for this one. If so, use this one next time. I find it helpful to get into the office a day before your first day back. Erase your whiteboards, clear your desk, get any needed supplies. This is also a great time to do step one.

5. Work after hours

This is a secret tip of mine. In the process of easing back into it, try going home early, getting a workout in, eating a meal with your family, and going back in for an hour or two in the evening. You’d be surprised by how focused you can be in the evening. Especially with an empty office.

Give these a try this week as you get back to work in 2014. Please share a comment and add a helpful tip of your own!

Tommy is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams.

Are You Complacent in Your Clarity?

Re-post from Jenni Catron

Every year I grow to understand myself a bit better.  My strengths become clearer.  My passions are more easily defined.  I know better what I like and dislike.

This is mostly good.  I have greater clarity on my purpose and calling and am less compelled to chase the dreams of others.  Most of the time.

But I’m also realizing that the better I understand myself the more opinionated and less flexible I’ve become.

Phrases like “That’s the way I’m wired” or “I need to play to my strengths” are quick to roll off my tongue.

And while I firmly believe we need to chase diligently after an understanding of our unique gifts and passions (our Clout if you will), I can’t help but fear that my seemingly clearer picture of myself is inhibiting me from pushing myself to grow.

Do I chase knowledge with the same fervor as I did a decade ago?

Will I put myself in new and uncomfortable circumstances to stretch my thinking and my comfort zone?

Am I trying new things, engaging different conversations, meeting new people?

While purpose and clarity are incredibly important, watch for the drift in your life to become complacent in your clarity.

As you begin dreaming and planning for 2014, I encourage you to consider these questions.

How can I chase knowledge in a new way?

What new environments do I need to explore?

What new things can I try?

What different conversations should I have?

Who do I need to meet?

New knowledge and experiences will continue to add layers to the clarity of who you are and who you are becoming.  Don’t let your clarity lull you to complacency.  Keep growing.  Keep learning!

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

Do The Right Things vs. The Nice Things

Post by Mark Miller

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you can easily discern a pattern over last few posts. I’m thinking about next year. It happens every year during the fourth quarter – I want to figure out how to have more impact in the upcoming year. I believe every leader should struggle with the same issue.

Mi 2 Doors

My assistant shares my passion for continuous improvement. Recently, Teneya shared an idea that challenged me in a profound way – she has a habit of doing that.

While talking about how both of us could make a bigger impact in 2014, she said, “We’re going to have to decide to do the right things vs. the nice things.”

I’m still processing the implications of this idea. However, I know she’s right. How often do we find ourselves trading the right thing for the nice thing? For me, I’m afraid it happens far too often.

What does this look like in your world? Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things and which ones are the right things. I’m betting you’ll know the difference.

Nice Thing or Right Thing?

Set a new strategic direction or stay the course to avoid challenging anyone?

Attend a portion of an all-day meeting or stay all day so as not to offend the host of the meeting?

Challenge a team member who fails to prepare for a meeting or avoid the issue?

Decline a speaking engagement or accept every request regardless of the audience?

Dismiss an employee who can’t grow with the business or keep the person on the payroll indefinitely?

Eliminate a program to reallocate needed resources or sacrifice new ideas so outdated ones can be funded?

Have a difficult performance conversation or continue to give inflated performance ratings?

Say “no” to non-strategic work or say “yes” to non-strategic work?

Confront problems and issues or avoid discussing problems at all costs?

Give stretch assignments to people and expect them to struggle or avoid giving stretch assignments because they may create some discomfort?

Cut your losses when a product or program has failed or continue to let a project flounder to avoid confronting the project leader?

Pursue truth through conflict or avoid conflict because it makes some people uncomfortable?

As I’ve begun to talk about this issue with people, the immediate question is, “How can you tell the difference between the Right Thing and the Nice Thing?” That’s a fair question. Clearly, it’s not always as obvious as the examples above. I’ll share some additional thoughts on how we might discern the difference next week. But here’s my experience – my challenge is not knowing the difference. My challenge is finding the courage to act on what I know.

Business leader (Chick-fil-A corporate staff), author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. Called to encourage and equip leaders around the world. Check out his blog