Want Impact? Focus on these Two Elements of Life

 

Maybe you have heard the phrase, “if everything matters, then nothing matters.” The reality is, every area of our life does not have the same impact on outcomes. This is true for leaders as well.

When we look at the life of a leader, we tend to gauge success by external things. We look at the size of their company, how much income they have, what type of home they live in and other such elements of life that become the Mendoza line for what may be considered a great leader.

But we’ve also seen a number of leaders who appeared to have great “success,” — all the external things in place — but based on a poor decision now face a life that is crumbling around them.

Why?

Recently, I have come up with a term to consider how far a leader will go. I call it ” The Slingshot Effect”. The premise is that which is closest to you will determine how far your life and leadership will go. Let’s explore this.

 

1. Inner Life

What is going on the inside of you will eventually make its way to the outside of you.  If you are falling apart on the inside, the outside of your life will eventually do the same.

Our inner life is about connecting to things that are near to us and the parts of our life that are bigger and beyond us. This includes our faith, our motivators, and attitudes.

You have to take time out of your life to invest in your inner life. For me, investing time in prayer, meditating, reading the bible, and reflection is a game changer.

Taking the time in your schedule to do these will also help deter you from making poor decisions based on a bad condition of your soul and spirit. While it may seem to cost you valuable time, it’s really an investment that will pay off long term. Whatever you invest in this season, you will be able to pull from the next. The best investment you can make is investing in your inner life.

2. Inner Circle

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he shares a study conducted by Dr. Robin Dunbar. In the study, Dr. Dunbar created an equation to figure out the number of relationships primates can have, including humans. According to Dunbar, you can have 150 casual friends, 50 close friends, 15 friends you can confide in, and a support group of five.

The one that will have the biggest impact on your life is the closest five. Jim Rohn is known for saying you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This means that those you are spending the most time with today, are shaping who you are becoming tomorrow.

If you don’t like who you are becoming, you may want to take a look at your short list for your inner circle. I want to challenge you to make sure that your inner circle is made up of people of these three shared attributes.

  •  Mutual values

Except for family, those in your inner circle should have values that align with yours. Our value system is the foundation of all that we say and do.

You can be friends with anyone you choose, but those closest to you should share values. It’s even more important than having similar interests. Having similar interests may make the relationship more interesting, but having the same values will make it more enduring.

  • Mutual Direction

If you are leading others, you need to make sure that your closest friends are people who are going in a similar direction as you. If you want to be a person of strong faith, lead a family well, and/or have a good work ethic, you don’t want to be spending the most time with those whose lives are going the opposite direction as yours.

You want people who will encourage and challenge you to reach your God-given potential in the areas that you deem to be most important.

  •  Mutual Trust

Relationships are built on trust. If you can’t trust people in the present you can’t trust them with your future.

Apart from similar values, the most important characteristic I was looking for in a wife was that she was trustworthy. The same is true for friendships.

Someone being trustworthy is simply a fruit of a person who lives a life of integrity.

I challenge you to take some time and reflect on your inner life and circle. Here are some questions for reflection.

  • Do I like what is going on in my inner life? Do I like who I am becoming?
  • Do I have mutual values, direction, and trust with my inner circle?

If you want to go far in leadership, you have to monitor what you allow closest to you. That which is closest to you will determine how far your life and leadership goes.

What is one area you could improve in in your inner life or circle?

My wife and I are in one of the busiest seasons of our life. We currently have four young children, lead a church, lead a coaching business, and are renovating a house.

While we are definitely blessed, we have to be careful that our busy schedules don’t push us away from staying on the same page. For this reason, dialogue with one another is critical to the health of our marriage.

There are times when good communication comes more naturally and is not as rushed. This is what I have found to work for us.

1. Nightly Devotional.

When Christa and I are in bed for the night, we have a couple devotional that we read together. It goes over a ton of subjects such as communication, children, intimacy, and faith.

At the end of each devotion, there are questions designed to help strike up a conversation on the subject we just went over. This helps us connect with one another’s heart on a daily basis.

2. Weekly Schedule Layout.

At the end of my weekly review, the goal is for Christa and me to go over our upcoming week. This is to make sure that we are not missing something important and we are staying on the same page.

3. Biweekly Date.

Typically, we go on a date every other weekend. In our time away, we spend time conversing with one another to ensure we are keeping up with what is going on inside of each other’s hearts.

Since our stress level is lower when we are on a date, the conversation is more natural and not as hurried as it would be in the day-to-day. If you are looking to reignite your passion for dating in your marriage, check out this post.

4. Quarterly Check-Up

A few times a year we go through a list questions to help determine where our marriage is at. This usually occurs on a date night. Here are the questions we go through:

  • What’s one thing I like about you?
  •  What is some new information you have for me?
  • What’s one question you have for me about anything?
  • What’s one complaint you have about me?
    • This one has to be a behavioral complaint.
  •  What one dream hope or wish that you have?
  • What’s one prayer request?

These three different times of communication helps to keep our relationship together. Communication helps keep your marriage together when life it trying to pull it apart.

[bctt tweet=”Communication helps keep your marriage together when life it trying to pull it apart. #marriage #communication ” username=”justinsetzer”]

What times have you found best to help keep consistent communication with your spouse? 

Do you ever get the feeling you need to start or stop doing something? I believe we all have experienced this.

I recently met with a key leader. During our bi-weekly meeting, we discussed our normal three evaluation questions:

  1.  What has been your biggest win(s)?
  2.  What has been your biggest obstacle(s)?
  3.  What hot topics do we need to discuss?

During this talk, the conversation shifted. We discussed the effectiveness of the different areas he led. The shift went from simply talking to evaluating an area.

This was when I introduced him to three words that would help him in his evaluation process. In fact, these three words can help you improve not only at work but at home as well.

1. Keep. What do I/we need to keep doing?

These are the areas of your life or business you need to keep doing. These areas are important to your future success.

For your business, this may include staff meetings, one-on-one’s, dynamic customer experience, etc.

For your personal life, this may include personal devotional time, exercising, consistent date nights, etc.

2. Start. What do I/we need to start doing?

There may be things you or your team are not doing but should be doing. These are the new things that will energize you/your team to reach your desired outcomes.

For instance, if you want to have a culture of leadership development at your organization, but there is no defined plan to make that a reality, that would be something that needs to start.

The things you start should help connect where you are today to where you want to go.

3. Stop. What do I/we need to stop doing?

This can be the hardest, but most important, question to ask. Are there negative habits you or members of your organization must stop doing?

For your personal life, this may include activities that negate your most important relationships. You may have gotten into a habit of bringing your work home with you, and it has affected your family life. That may need to stop.

For your business, this could include you stop allowing employees to bypass their department heads, and go straight to the top when they have questions or concerns.

The keep/start/stop process has effectively been used by countless individuals and organizations. The process was designed to be used for feedback and is, therefore, very effective when used with a team, whether that is your family, department, or volunteer team.

I would love to hear from you, “What is something you need to keep, start, or stop doing.” Leave a comment below and begin the conversation.

Do you ever wonder how your marriage is doing? I mean, really doing.

I’m someone who enjoys knowing where I stand. I remember asking my wife a while ago if she felt like I made her a priority. Her answer: “Sometimes.”

Ouch!

It was hard to hear that. But it would have been far worse to not know that she felt that way.

Christa and I had a date night less than a week ago. During our date, I asked her if she wanted to do a marriage checkup. I had learned about the marriage checkup from Randy Bezet, Pastor of Bayside Community Church.

A marriage checkup consists of these six questions:

1. What’s one thing I like about you?

It is great to start off the checkup on a good note. Telling your spouse something you like about them gives them a sense of self-worth.

2. What new information do you have for me?

Life can be incredibly busy, and during certain seasons your marriage can feel like two ships passing in the night. You don’t really know how your spouse’s day went, and sometimes each of you can miss some very important information.

By asking this question, you show that you care about what’s happening in your spouse’s life. It also gives you a chance to catch up on the pertinent information you need to know.

3. What’s one question you have for me – about anything?

This may be a question you’ve wanted to ask for ages, but it never seemed like the right time. This is the time.

4. What’s one complaint you have about me?

This can be the most important question and the one whose answer requires the most maturity to hear. One key to this question is that it must relate to something behavioral.

5. What is one dream, hope or wish that you have?

In the midst of busyness, you can forget that your spouse has dreams and ambitions. By asking this question, you show that you’re still interested in making their dreams come true.

6. What’s one prayer request?

You can ask this question, and then grab your spouse’s hand and pray. This is a great way to end the marriage checkup.

Though some of these questions will be painful, they will help you both know where your marriage is at.

Our last date was amazing, and the marriage checkup added much to our conversation. If you need to rekindle dating in your marriage, check out this post.

Take what you learned in this post, add a question if you like – and begin the conversation!

Three Reasons to Give Priority to Your Marriage

If you ask most people if their marriage is a top priority, they would probably answer yes. Yet when you look around at the conditions of many marriages, this does not seem to be the case.

I remember a season when my wife and I were not connecting as well as we should. It was frustrating, and we seemed to be firing on different pistons.

Looking back, I believe one of the reasons we were not connecting was that I wasn’t giving her the priority she deserved in my life. Call it what you will, but I was neglecting my most important human relationship, and it was beginning to show.

While making your marriage a priority will not happen by accident, it is well worth the benefit. In fact, I believe that every person should give priority to their marriage because of these three possible benefits.

1. The marriage will last. A lasting marriage is not only part of our plan, but it was God’s original design. Take a look at what Jesus said:

“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:7-9

Like many people reading this, I grew up in a “broken home,” meaning my parents got divorced. I have very few, if any, memories of my parents leaving the house to go on a date together. I believe if you aren’t intentional at doing things together, one of you will walk out the door alone one day forever.

2. The marriage will remain enjoyable. Someone I know told me a story of their grandmother telling them how long she had been married. I would love to tell you that when her grandmother told her the number of years she had been married, she did so with joy in her voice, but this is not the case. In fact, the wording she used before she gave the number is not something I can say.

Their marriage had fulfilled the first benefit in that it was a lasting relationship, but it was no longer enjoyable. I believe that they had possibly lost giving each other the priority they deserved, and their marriage had gone sour.

Fortunately, I have countless examples of marriages I know that have remained enjoyable for decades. These couples are still into one another, go on dates, vacations, and other adventures together.

3. The marriage will reach its full potential. I remember a season where my wife and I would wait until a Friday night to decide on whether or not to go on a date. Some of those nights we would go on a date, and sometimes we wouldn’t. It was frustrating, and I know we were not reaching our full potential.

My lack of intentionally making our time together a priority caused our relationship to be mediocre.

Much of this changed when I created a personal life blueprint, what others call a life plan. In this plan, you prioritize what is most important to you and then schedule it. Herein is the most important thing you can do:

Schedule time together:

• Dates: My wife and I started to have scheduled date nights every other Friday. Our relationship has been so much stronger, and my wife feels loved and cared for. If you need a boost in your dating life, read this post.

• Vacations: At the time of this writing, a good friend of mine is on a vacation with just him and his wife. He owns a thriving business and has three children, but he understands that he needs to give undistracted time to his marriage. They could have given a million excuses why they couldn’t go, but they knew how important investing in their relationship is.

I believe every couple should have a few overnight getaways a year, plus one that lasts a few days. Remember that you will still be together once the children are out of the home, so this is a good practice.

If I looked at your schedule, I would be able to tell you what is important to you. Take some time this week to schedule time with your spouse because if you don’t, it will get crowded out by the busyness of life. If you need some other ways to bless your spouse, read this post.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject below. If you love the post, please share with your friends and family.

 

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock 

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?

If you enjoyed the post, please share the love by sharing on your social outlets.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

One Scripture That Will Help All of Your Relationships

While I don’t believe in any silver bullets in relationships, there are a few simple things you can do that will have a tremendous impact.

Relationships will challenge all of us. Whether it is with your spouse, child, parent, boss, or colleague there will always be times of friction.

The relationship that has challenged me the most is raising children. I get the privilege of not only raising my own son but also being a part of foster children’s lives for short seasons. While I am blessed by the opportunities I have been given, there have been days where I needed a little wisdom in my parenting journey.

At the time of writing this, my wife and I are leading a small parenting group. Each week we watch a twenty-minute teaching, and then we spend the rest of the hour discussing what we learned. One week, during our discussion, a scripture popped into my head that will be helpful in any relationship:

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Jas 1:19
This passage gives you three things you can do to help all your relationships.

1. Quick to listen. When a loved one wants to talk to you, be ready to listen. I truly believe listening to someone is showing respect to someone.

When you listen to someone, it tells them that you care about what they are saying. Someone once told me that the person who had the biggest impact on their life was simply someone who had listened to them.

2. Slow to speak. Our quick responses get us in trouble. When we take a few seconds to filter through our emotions, we are more likely to respond instead of reacting.

We are to T.H.I.N.K before we speak:

  • True. Is what I am about to say true?
  • Helpful. Is what I want to say helpful?
  • Inspiring. Is what I want to say inspiring?
  • Necessary. Is this really necessary to say?
  • Kind. Is what I want to say kind?

The best way to be slow to speak is by being quick to listen. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.”

3. Slow to get angry. Anger in itself is not a sin, but the Apostle Paul told us, “to be angry and sin not.” If we allow our anger to control us, we are likely to make snap judgments. All of us can think of a time when we wish we had not allowed our anger to get the better of us.

Many times anger is heightened because of the issues we are already dealing with internally. These could be bitterness, rage, or envy. For this reason, we need to be proactive towards anger by spending time with God and casting our cares on him. If you need help getting your devotional time going, check out this post.

Imagine how much your relationships would be different if you put these three principles to use. People around you would feel loved and respected, and you would have fewer regrets.

Which one of these three is most challenging for you? How have you been able to overcome your struggles with the three principles listed above?
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

Five Ways to Bring Dating Back to Your Marriage

I had been single for most of my twenties, so when I saw a section on dating in our church library my interest was piqued. The first book that caught my eye was the Divine Revelation of Hell. Obviously, the book had been put in the wrong section, but it was slightly humorous.

Fast forward 10 years. I now had an amazing, beautiful wife, but our dating life was just okay. Honestly, I didn’t look forward to date nights as much as I should have. We knew things needed to change. Like most married couples, we could not say our dates were a “Revelation of Hell,” but we couldn’t say they were heavenly, either.

The reality is most people don’t put much effort into their dates. Sometimes, dating in marriage becomes more of a struggle than a blessing. We wait until Friday night to ask our spouse where they would like to go, to which we get the classic response, “I don’t know, where would you like to go?” Many times these conversations become sources of frustration as couples try to figure out what to do with their evening. My wife and I were left feeling as if there must be a better way, and there is.

1. Have a scheduled date night. We don’t want to show up on Friday night and decide whether or not to go on a date. Pick a day and frequency that works for you, and don’t let anything get in the way. It’s that important. My wife and I have date night every other Friday. This is non-negotiable for us. We need this time to connect one-on-one. We have to adjust which days we spend time alone as seasons of life change, but the frequency stays the same.

2. Plan ahead of time. This was probably one of the greatest frustrations of our dates. My wife loves it when we have a plan. There are some questions that have to be asked ahead of time—What are we doing on the date? What time? Who will watch the kids?

3. Ask your spouse on a date. I know you are married, but there is just something about asking your spouse to go on a date. When we get married the passionate pursuit of our spouse should not stop. You can call them, leave a note, send a text, etc.

4. Alternate responsibility. This has been a game changer for us. We alternate the responsibility to plan the night out. To even sweeten the deal, the partner who plans does so for the other’s pleasure. Husbands, when it’s your turn, select activities you know your wife will enjoy.

5. Let this be a no-distraction zone. It’s unfortunate this has to be said, but it’s a sad reality. When you are on the date make sure it’s about the two of you and not about Facebook, the ball game, etc.

If you put these five simple rules into effect, you will revitalize your dating life. I can’t tell you how much more I look forward to our date nights since we implemented them. Instead of being frustrated, I am focusing on one thing- my wife- and we are connecting with each other. For other ways to be a blessing to your spouse, check out this post.

Get together with your spouse this week and go through the list. Schedule a night, time, and planning responsibility and make it happen. Bring dating back to your marriage; you will be glad you did!
When are you going out on your first revitalized date? What else could you add to this list?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

5 Ways To Be a Blessing to Your Wife Everyday

When family life is going well, it seems to help every other area, the opposite is true as well.

I have come to the end of many nights, and wondered, “Where did I go wrong?” My wife is an amazing woman, but I can tell when I have left her feeling less than blessed.

When my wife is left feeling less than blessed, it really bothers me. My desire is for my wife to always feel cared for and special. I know I have a responsibility to love my wife, however my decisions don’t always give that desired outcome.

As a husband, I have a mandate to be a giver to my family. The apostle Paul coined this phrase, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.” So I need to be intentional at giving to my wife.

Here are five simple things you can do to help show love to your wife:
1. Leave margin for her to talk. I realize my wife needs more time to talk then I do. She needs to have a chance to decompress from her day, and one of the greatest things I can do is simply to give her a listening ear. I need to learn to follow what James, Jesus’ brother said,” You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

Just leaving space for my wife to talk everyday, can do a lot of good for her heart. Schedule some time each night to allow her to discuss her day.

2. Be part of the team, everyday, when you get home. When you get home from work your day is not done. In fact, you have come home to your more important job, your family.

It is not normal for me to come home and immediately engage- talking with everyone, getting dinner on the table, helping with homework, etc. Since being ready to engage with my family, right when I get home, may not be natural, I have set up some reminders for myself.

  •  I have set up an IF recipe, that sends me a text message when I get home that says, “You are home now, unplug from all other distractions. The rest of the world can live without you tomorrow, but your family can’t.” (If you don’t want to use that app, set up a reminder that goes off each day at the approximate time you get home.)
  •  I sometimes change my clothes- when you go work or the gym, you wear certain clothes which prepares you for the activity you are about to embrace, why not do the same at home? Yes this is quirky, but it helps me.

When we get home we need to be all in- ready to engage, and be a leader by the examples we set.

3. Let your first impression be awesome. When you walk through the door be positive and intentional at acknowledging your family. Give your wife a hug and kiss, and say hi to your children.

This is way better than coming in, talking on your phone, and giving a quick wave while you walk away from them. If you need to finish a conversation, take a minute to do so before walking in the house.

4. Send your wife some love during the day. A simple text message can go a long way in saying that you are thinking of her. Remember you pursued your wife passionately when you were dating,  so you shouldn’t stop after you’re married. If you need a little boost in your marriage, I encourage you to re-read this post regularly and implement it.

5. Lead your family spiritually. God has designed men to be the spiritual leader of the family. For our family, we simply have a short devotional after dinner and read a portion of scripture to the children at bedtime. Once your children are in bed, you can take a moment and pray with your wife. It is much harder for a couple to fight against each other, when they are praying together.

In order to lead your family spiritually, you need to be leading yourself. If you need help getting in the habit of having a daily personal devotional time, then read this post.

You have maybe heard the saying, “Happy wife, equals happy life,” I believe most husbands see truth in this statement. As husbands, we are to lead the way by showing love and care for our wives.

Being intentional in these few small things, can go a long way to bless your wife. If you do these five things, I believe you will leave your wife’s heart full of love.

What habit can you begin to do today to bless your wife? What else can you add to this list?