Leadership Lessons on a Fieldtrip by Jim Johnson

Today, my leadership team, my CEO, and I had lunch with Brenda Gerber today.  Brenda is the VP of Development at Lifeline Youth & Family Services in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  This was our 3rd “field-trip” that my my leadership team and I have been on in the past several months.

Brenda has a fascinating background.  She has been a professional fundraiser, has started an organization that helps the mentally ill in our community, and has served our former governor (now Vice President of the United States) and his wife in various roles.  Brenda is a mentor and public speaker.  She is a devoted wife and mother.

Today at lunch, Brenda poured her heart into my leadership team.  She encouraged and challenged them to intentionally grow and develop.  She called on them to get uncomfortable in order to become the leader they were intended to become.

These field-trips are designed to get outside of our office walls to learn how rich our community is and to meet the leaders that make it great.  Brenda is one of those leaders.  I am grateful for her investment in us today.




Persist Without Exception – thoughts from The Traveler’s Gift

If you are looking for an inspiring book to read, I recommend Andy Andrew’s book, The Traveler’s Gift.  It is full of meaningful insights, and it will make you think.

What hurdles or obstacles are you facing right now as a leader?

  • Your team is not meeting its goals?
  • Your team is slow to change?
  • A team member needs more counseling than coaching?
  • You face a difficult project and the deadlines are looming near?
  • The culture around you is lack-luster and you wonder if you can influence it?

Below are some of my highlights from a chapter in The Traveler’s Gift.  I trust this inspires and motivates you if that is what you need today.

I will Persist without Exception

  • A person who is depressed is spending too much time thinking about the way things are now and not enough time thinking about how he wants things to be.
  • The tragedy of life is not that man loses, but that he almost wins.
  • Those who quit lacked faith.
  • I know the outcome I desire. I hold fast to my dreams.
  • I do not quit.
  • I will persist without exception.
  • It is only important that I continue the process with my eyes on the outcome.




I just had a weekend of ups and downs.  Life.  Typical life.

  • My daughter’s dance trio earned a spot to compete at the State Championship.  I drove over 5 hours round trip to watch her 3 minute dance, and it was worth it.
  • My son’s robotics team missed going to State by just 4 points.  It was their best effort yet.  Go RoboHawks!
  • My wife was (is) ill.  Maybe moving towards bronchitis. I feel for her.  I hope she doesn’t infect me.
  • Our WiFi router has needed to be reset multiple times a day.  I called in for tech support and lost 3 hours of my life with no resolution.  I even purchased a new router that would not work.  Maybe the Amish are on to something…
  • I cleaned the garage and both of our vehicles.  I hope they will remain clean for a least a week.  I’m not holding my breath.

Yes, all that is life.  I’m not complaining.  It is what it is.

But this morning, I needed a mental refocusing.  And I found it.  I was on the app, Stitcher, this morning and began listening to Success Talks.  It was an interview with Mel Robbins.  She was talking about her “5 Second Rule” – no, not that kind of rule.  I won’t tell you what is it about.

Listen to it yourself here:  http://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=49149903&refid=asa




Right Now?

I had a team member from a different department reach out to me recently asking to meet. He wants to talk about how he can get into my department.  I have a relatively small department with no immediate openings.  But that’s not what I’ll focus our conversation on later this month.

Instead of addressing “is the time right now?”, I’ll be asking “are you the right person doing the right things”.

I’ve seen this play out too many times in my career.  People want to create an opportunity when I wish they would work on character (being the right person) and results (doing the right things).

If a person wants to be considered for a promotion, move to a different department, find a job, be considered for that next big project – they need to be focusing on what they can control TODAY to be prepared for tomorrow.  None of us can control timing.  But we can control our character and our results.

If a person is lacking in character and not achieving the necessary results, timing won’t matter.  It’s too late if you’re the type of person no one wants to work with and you’re known for not performing up to the company’s standard.

So what can a person do to be prepared?

Demonstrate integrity in your interactions.  Encourage others.  Be helpful.  Collaborate.  Innovate.  Be the right person.

Know your goals and not only achieve them, but exceed them.  Help your team members.  Find new avenues for revenues.  Do the right things.

THEN…at the right time (which you do not get to control), you’ll be ready.  Will all of this guarantee a promotion?  NO.  But I can guarantee you’ll not get far if you ignore being the right person who is doing the right things.

Right now starts today to create the tomorrow you wish to have.


2017 Goal Update

One of my 2017 goals is to read 12 books this year. For the most part, I followed Jeff Olson’s advice and read 10 pages a day. How have I done so far?

I just finished book #4.

  1. The Traveler’s Gift 
  2. Pay-off
  3. Gritty
  4. Take the Stairs

Now, most of these books are not long books. But I did read them. And I’ve accomplished more by doing small, incremental steps towards my goals (what Olson calls “the slight edge”).  

On to book #5!