The life of a leader can be both exciting and challenging; rewarding and exhausting at various time. Leadership can also be incredibly lonely at times, but it does not need to be.

The first few years of my current leadership position were exciting and lonely at the same time. I loved my calling but soon realized the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top,” had some truth to it.

I fought against the loneliness by trying to reach out to other people. I knew in my line of work this took more perseverance than I expected, as my first few attempts at connecting to others in my role were just me leaving voicemails. I didn’t give up, and it paid off.

Eventually, I found a local gathering of others in my position, who met once a month. Through this group, I realized that leaders need to break away from isolation and have others join them on the journey.

I believe, in order to thrive, Leaders need to invest time in five different relationships.

1. God– If you are passionate about what you do, you may have a hard time shutting down the “Thinktank.” For this reason, and others, every leader needs a daily quiet time.

As a person of faith, I spend this time in prayer, scripture reading, or worship. If you struggle to have a devotion time, this post may help you out.

2. Family – This may sound as if it is a given, but it is not. Leaders who are passionate about their organizations, sometimes do so at a heavy price to their family.

I heard someone say, “Do not trade something that is unique to you (ie.your family), for something that may not be permanent.” Your family is permanent, but your job or business may not be.

3. Your tribe – In his book Tribes, Seth Godin states, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea……A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

The group that meets once a month is my tribe. It is helpful to meet with others who can clearly relate to what you are experiencing.

4. A coach– Coaching is one of the best investments you can make in your personal development. I define a coach as someone in your corner to challenge you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Yes, there is usually a price with this, but the return on your investment far outweighs the cost. I personally have had multiple coaches, and have invested thousands of my own dollars, but I believe it was more than worth it.

You can hire a coach that is either experienced in your industry or has the skills to help you reach your desired goals. If you need more motivation to hire a coach, read this article by Forbes.

I have used the services of coaches for years, and now am coaching myself.

5. A friend- This is the person you want to go fishing with, watch a ballgame, or meet up with for coffee. You can talk about a myriad of subjects with this person, or say nothing at all.

You can also share about things that have been bottled up and needed to be shared. An article from the Harvard Business Review tells us:

“Emotional support is equally essential. Like anyone else, executives occasionally need to vent when they’re dealing with something crazy or irritating at work, and friends and family are a safer audience than colleagues. This [support] serves as a much-needed outlet from the pressures of raising a family and leading an organization.”

As you can see, a leader does not need to be lonely. The relationships mentioned can help a leader endure challenges and thrive in their role.

The level of change I have experienced when I have all of these relationships in my life is revolutionary. Prioritizing these relationships not only helps you keep the right perspectives by honoring God and your family with time, but you are also getting the other supports you need to be the best version of you, you can be.

Take out your calendar and give some space for each of these relationships.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Is something else you would add to the list, or are there one of these that you struggle with?

Do you remember when you were a kid and you had huge dreams? Maybe you are still a kid; regardless, I hope your dreams are huge.

What was your biggest dream when you were a kid? Depending on what generation you grew up in, you may have wanted to be an astronaut, doctor, or professional athlete, etc. But what happened? You either achieved your dream or you “grew up” and realized it was not realistic for you, or the fear of not being able to accomplish it held you back.

Maybe God has placed something in your heart as an adult. There is something God has placed in your heart, where you truly make a difference in this world and shine. Yet there is something that is still holding you back. It’s fear.

Fear causes many things, including being held back from what God has planned for your life. I am not talking about committing your life to Jesus, yes, that is the first step. But God’s plan is BIG, and that means, His children will do big things for His glory.

God delivered the children of Israel from slavery from the superpower of the day, the Egyptians. His desire was to bring them to a prosperous land, but fear slowed them down.

1. Fear Spreads.
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, (the leaders of that day) and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and shown them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country–a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! Numbers 13:25-28

When God places a good opportunity in front of us, sometimes all we do is talk about the obstacles, as if God wasn’t aware of these things. He is aware of those things, but He is also aware of His power to help you overcome those obstacles.

Caleb, one of those, who scouted out the land, believed God was able to do what He promised, but watch how others spread fear.

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. Numbers 13:30-32

2. Fear Reacts.

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”  Numbers 14:1-4

Fear can turn into an emotional reaction. In this story, they spent all night crying over their perceived fears. Then their fears caused them to have poor judgment. They wanted to get a new leader and return to the country where they were slaves.

The real result was a missed opportunity and a ton of wasted years. The children of Israel wasted decades of their life. God intended one thing for them, but their fear kept them back from getting all that God had for them. I heard someone once say, The biggest regrets you will have in life are not the things you do, but the things that you did not do.”

How to Overcome Your Fears

1. Fear is destroyed by faith.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:6-8

God uses people to accomplish His plan, the question is will you be one that He uses. God told the people that He would be the one who would give them the land. He would do the hard work. He just needed to find someone who would believe Him.

2. Fear God not man.

Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

Maybe you have heard the statement that a man who fears God has nothing else to fear. When you have a healthy reverent respect for God, it can destroy the fear of man.

3. Know that God is with you.

“This is My command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Joshua was able to be courageous for one simple reason; he knew that God was with him. When you know that God is with you, there is no reason to fear.

If you allow fear to rule your life, you will never reach your potential. Yet, if you destroy fear by a healthy respect for God, faith, and an understanding God is with you, the sky is the limit. You can run after your dreams and accomplish them!

I think we can learn from short distance runners that a good start is important. Every day we all start off in the blocks, some get ahead, while others lag behind.

The way you begin your day can have a huge impact on how the rest of it plays out. In light of this, it is imperative that we choose the right activities to begin the day with. Equally important is to stay away from those things that distract you from what’s truly important.

When it comes to waking up, I typically get up later than I desire. This resulted in me not accomplishing my desired results in the morning and left me feeling as if I was behind. I would then spend the rest of the day playing catch up. I am sure this has never happened to you.

This all changed after one of my personal quarterly reviews. As I was reflecting on my life, I realized that in order to get the desired results I wanted, I had to get more accomplished before I began work.

1. Devotional time with God. Since my relationship with God is important to me, my goal is to start off each day by spending time with Him. If you need help with your devotional time you can read this post.

More than any other activity, my quiet time gives me the right focus for the day. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

2. Connect with your family. When you have school age children, the mornings can seem rushed. Instead of rushing to get out the door in the morning, wake up a little earlier, and incorporate a 5-10 minute healthy breakfast with your family.

Having breakfast together is a great way to connect with your family. This may not be possible in all seasons, but it is a good goal to aim for.

3. Exercise. “Research suggests in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better,” says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. This may not be the best time for everyone, but for many, it will be. If you don’t exercise in the morning, the chance of other activities and responsibilities crowding it out is higher.

It has been shown that exercising in the morning can give you hours of increased focus and energy. Enlist the help of a workout partner if you need extra accountability.

4. Plan out your day. Begin the day being proactive, and choose ahead of time what you want to accomplish. You may want to ask yourself what are the three most important things you need to accomplish in that day. If you don’t prioritize your schedule, someone else will place their priorities in it.

My days are themed ahead of time as a part of my weekly rhythm. I have my days systematically planned ahead of time. You can learn more about how to create a weekly rhythm here.

My life has changed since I started beginning my day on the right foot. I have more energy, focus, and feel better connected in the relationships that matter most.

You will either start the day proactive, or you will go through the day being reactive. While we can’t control everything that happens in the day, we can give ourselves a better opportunity for success by being intentional how we begin the day.

Be on the outlook for an upcoming post about how to become a morning person.

Which activity will you add to your morning routine to get the most out of your day?

Take Care of These Five Priorities and They Will Take Care of You.

Life can speed by at an impossibly fast pace. It seems as if every year there is another child, more child activities, extra responsibilities at work, more bills to pay, or new church initiatives when we are already struggling to keep up with what we have.

I am the type of person who can be hyper-focused on one area of my life at the expense of other areas. Early in my marriage, I was super excited about following Dave Ramsey’s principles (which, by the way, I think everyone should). The problem was that it consumed me. I was excited and we were getting ahead, but other areas of my life were not doing so well.

Everything changed when I started the life planning process. I was introduced to this by Ministry Coaching International, a sister company to Building Champions. Building Champions is known for their Core Four- Life Planning, Business Vision, Business Plan, and Priority Management.

When I started doing a life plan, I began to invest in areas of my life in proportion to their priority. Instead of focusing on one area, I looked at my life and decided what the most important areas were. I believe there are five areas of life that will keep you moving in the right direction if you take good care of them.

1. Relationship with God. I am a Christian, so this is my number one area. Growing in my relationship with God is vital. I believe everything else in your life hinges on your personal relationship with God. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” If this one is off track, it will affect every other area of our lives.

To get the most out of our devotional time with God, we should pick a time and a place. Some people will get the most out of spending time with God early in the morning, while others will benefit most from spending time at night. Choose the time when you can give God your best. If you want more information on how to get the most out of your devotional time, check out this post.

2. Spouse. Many will agree in theory that their spouse should come second only to their relationship with God, but in reality, this area is not usually given the attention it deserves. With so many other things competing for our time, we usually push this priority down the list. I once heard someone say, “Never trade something that is unique to you for something that is not permanent.” That means we shouldn’t put our family below things that may not be permanent, such as career and finances. Common sense and wisdom tell us quality alone time with our spouse is a must. I wrote about ways to be a blessing to your wife in this post.

3. Children. When it comes to your children, making memories is more important than making money. My wife once told me you show how much you value your children by time spent with them, not the amount of money spent. Mark Merrill, the founder of Family First, wrote a great blog post on how to have a positive influence on your child.

4. Health. If your health deteriorates, it will be a burden on many of the above relationships. To be honest, this is an area in which I need to improve. We all know the essentials of good health— diet, exercise, and rest. The issue is putting to use the knowledge we have. Instead of going from one extreme to the other, decide on two things you can improve today that will have the biggest impact on your health

5. Finances. Like health, this is more behavior-based than knowledge based. Everyone knows you shouldn’t spend more money than you make, yet many do. I believe the greatest defense against financial problems is making a monthly budget and sticking to it! Deciding where your money goes is much better than trying to figure out where it went. Early in my life, I really struggled with money management. It wasn’t until I decided to follow the principles laid out in Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, that I got on track. I learned all I know from Dave Ramsey, so I encourage you to buy his book.

Keeping all these areas in check is not easy, but it is easier when you have a personal life blueprint. Being intentional in these areas will keep the rest of your life in the right lane.

What area(s) do you need to give a higher priority? What could you add to this list?

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