Why Aren’t You Pursuing Your WHY?

Right now I’m reading one of the best books I’ve ever read called Start With Why by Simon Sinek. In the book, Simon fires off so many nuggets that I could literally dedicate a series of posts just to this book. However, I was reading yesterday and came across a quote that really grabbed my attention and prompted this blog post:

“All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves.” (Start With Why, pg. 134)

Simon goes on to tell Bill Gates’ story and how his WHY is to “help us all become more productive and achieve our greatest potential.” (pg. 134) Want to know a leadership secret? Because of his WHY, everything Bill does is dedicated towards his WHY and his cause. Great leaders have a crystal clear WHY and, as a result, dedicate their lives to finding new ways, different WHATs to bring their cause and passion to life. That’s why Bill and Melinda have the Gates Foundation. Through their foundation, they’ve led the charge for around 100 billionaires who have pledged to donate half their wealth to philanthropy as well as leading the charge to defeat malaria. Through these two missions, their goal is to help millions of people have the opportunity to realize their greatest potential.

Maybe your why isn’t as huge as Bill Gates’, though. Guess what? You have a driving purpose, a passion, a dream. As a Christian, I happen to believe that God has given each and every one of us a dream and a purpose for living. What is yours? If you don’t know, I would highly encourage you to take some time to think about it.

Now think about WHAT you are doing right now in your job, business ventures, free time, etc. If you know your WHY, are your current WHATs helping you achieve that cause and passion? If not, maybe that’s why you aren’t happy doing what you are doing.

Your WHY should determine why you do your WHAT. People tend to feel like they are in a rut because they aren’t following God’s purpose for their lives. The reason a WHY is so inspiring is because it encompasses something that is greater than ourselves. It shouldn’t just be about you. If it is, then your WHY is too small. If we pursue our WHY, we are intended to touch the lives of a large number of people. That’s how a God-inspired WHY works.

But not only that… if we pursue our WHY with passion, because it is touches the lives of so many others, it’s very possible that others may begin asking you if they can be a part of it. According to Sinek:

“When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and may want to take part in bringing it to life. If that belief is amplified it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hands and declare, “I want to help.” With a group of believers all rallying around a common purpose, cause or belief, amazing things can happen.” (pg. 136-137)

I’d really suggest that if you don’t know what your WHY is, figure it out. I promise you that God has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has placed a dream and cause on your heart. I’ve heard it referred to as the “sweet spot”. It is up to you to figure out what that is.

Life will not always be perfect. However, it will be much more fulfilling if you can figure out what your “sweet spot” is and run at it with full speed and might. Pursue your cause so that great strides and achievements can be made. This world will be a better place if you are aiming to pursue your dream.

Brandon is the founder and author of Proverbs and Business. He is currently in the process of moving Proverbs and Business to his new website, www.brandonhelderop.com. Brandon enjoys writing about Leadership, Social Media and Politics. You can follow him on Twitter at @b_helderop or contact him at brandon@brandonhelderop.com.

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How To Increase Your Influence

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the type of influence I have (and need to have) in the positions that I currently occupy as a husband, friend, mentor, co-worker, etc. More specifically, am I influencing others as I should by the example I am setting and, also, am I developing other leaders as a result of my leadership? As a matter of fact, what does influence even mean? There are two quotes that come to mind by John Maxwell, my favorite leadership guru, that describe influence. First, “Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” Second, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” And a bonus quote I like by former President John Quincy Adams who said, “If your actions inspire others to do more, to learn more, to dream more or to become more, you are a leader.”

Leaders that have true influence understand the stages of leadership. I’ve heard the stages of leadership presented by several leadership speakers/authors (however for the sake of citing I am taking from Tony Morgan’s website):

Set the Example
The first stage is this: true leadership and influence starts by being the example-setter. It’s impossible to inspire and lead others if you yourself don’t know the way, go the way and show the way as Maxwell says. If you want to position yourself as a leader in your organization, you’ll have to begin setting the example for others. If you are in sales and want to be the top salesman in the office, start by making more phone calls than anyone else. Recently, I ran into someone that was telling me that their company’s salespeople make 30 cold calls per day. Instead of doing the minimum and the status quo, he had instead decided to make a daily habit of calling 50. As a result, he was booking more meetings and creating a larger amount of new business than anyone else. Setting the example means being the bar-raiser in the organization.

Lead Others
Once you have become the example-setter and bar-raiser others to follow, people will soon want to know what you know so they can do what you are doing. At this stage, while you are still taking ownership, you begin to delegate responsibilities to others that are following you. Also, you begin to teach. They see you booking more appointments and bringing in more new business than anyone else and want to know how you are doing it.

Develop Other Leaders
While it’s important to lead by example and lead people, as leaders, one of the ways to judge our effectiveness is by the fruit we are bearing in the form of new leaders. My suggestion is to first find a mentor if you don’t have one already. However, make it a goal to find a mentee. That person is someone that you can pour into and offer guidance to just as your mentor will do the same for you.

Answer this riddle: would you rather have a million dollars or a penny doubled everyday for 31 days? Hopefully you chose the penny because on Day 31 you would now have over $10 million. Influence is such an important aspect of bearing fruit as a leader. Our own leadership influence is limited. However, as we develop leaders, our influence increases because it multiplies, just like the penny.

Inspire Leaders
While you should always be setting the example, leading others and developing new leaders, at stage four your focus changes. For example, a guy like John Maxwell has several leaders that he mentors in his organization, EQUIP. Those leaders are leading the charge and taking ownership of their positions. As a result, John’s focus doesn’t necessarily need to be on the first three stages. While all three stages of leadership are still essential, John’s job is to cast a vision and inspire his front-line leaders as well as those who read his books and listen to him speak. That should be the goal.

The truth is that not all leaders make it to stage four. Many may never make it to stage three either. However, it should be our goal to continuously grow. If we can set the example and be bar-raisers, lead an organization, develop leaders within that organization then we’ll position ourselves to be stage four leaders whose job is to inspire and cast the vision for our organizations.

It’s a process, though. You won’t be a stage four leader today or tomorrow. So make it a goal to start today by striving to be an example-setter and bar-raiser for your organization. Go the extra mile. Make 20 more calls than anyone else as my friend did. That will put you on the right track.

Brandon is the founder and author of Proverbs and Business. He is currently in the process of moving Proverbs and Business to his new website, www.brandonhelderop.com. Brandon enjoys writing about Leadership, Social Media and Politics. You can follow him on Twitter at @b_helderop or contact him at brandon@brandonhelderop.com.

Four People (Dead or Alive) I Would Invite To My Dinner Party

I came across a blog post recently that really got me thinking. The title of that post was “Ten People You Would Invite to Your Dinner Party”. Since the goal of having this dinner party would be to soak up wisdom and knowledge and learn from the greats, I’ve decided that four people would be a perfect number. In my opinion, a smaller group equals a more intimate and special setting. With that in mind, the following are the four people (dead or alive) I would invite to my dinner party:

Guest #1 – Ronald Reagan
If you know me, you know that I am extremely passionate about politics. I love studying past history and have spent many late nights reading about past Presidents and the United States’ Founding Fathers. One of my favorite Presidents is Ronald Reagan, not only for his accomplishments, but also for a few other qualities. First, Reagan was a phenomenal storyteller which allowed him to draw the interest of the American people and effectively connect. At my dinner party, he would keep us entertained with his entertaining stories. Also, Reagan had a great sense of humor and ability to lighten the mood when the time was appropriate. As the story goes, following the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan, as he lay on the hospital table, he looked up at the surgeons and said, “I hope you’re all Republicans”. Another story goes like this: during mike check for his Saturday radio broadcast, Reagan came on and said to everyone’s surprise, “My fellow Americans. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes.” He had a great personality and ability to make people laugh.

In addition to those qualities, I would love to pick his brain on why he was so successful as President. In the future, I plan on running for political office so who better to take mentorship from than the one they called The Gipper.

Guest #2 – The Apostle Paul
If you’ve read any of my past posts on this blog, you would know that I speak often of the Vertical Alignment. The Vertical Alignment is how we prioritize our lives. For me, God is #1 in my life. Therefore, everything I do, believe, value funnels through my personal Biblical worldview of how I see the world.

The quality that stands out to me about Paul is that he was fearless and unapologetically bold about his faith. Paul knew he was called to be set apart for the gospel and, as a result, had purpose in everything he did and preached to all with absolute boldness. When someone is sold out for something like that, it is contagious and that’s why Paul’s ministry was so successful. My prayer is that I am unequivocally sold out for my faith like Paul was.

I would love to have Paul at my dinner party because I would love to be around somebody like that who is so contagiously sold out for his faith. Also, I would love to hear some stories that didn’t happen to make it into the Biblical canon.

Guest #3 – Rich DeVos
Hands down my business hero is Rich DeVos. For those of you who know me, you know that I have a background in network marketing that began when I was 19 years old. While I’ve since moved on to other ventures, I would not be the person I am today if not for my time in the Amway business (co-founded by Rich DeVos). A quality that sticks out to me about Rich is that he believes in people. That belief is so evident in the Amway organization. In Rich’s book, “Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People”, he writes, “It’s been said there are two types of people–those who enter a room and say, “Here I am!” and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are.” Rich is the second type of person. It’s no coincidence that the last phrase in that book is a simple one: I love you. I can attest that Rich uses that phrase. I was lucky enough to receive a few wedding presents from Rich in the form of signed books. Each one at the bottom is signed with “To Brandon. Love Ya, Rich”.

I want to emulate that kind of belief in and love of people and would love to pick Rich’s brain. Not to mention, he’s a phenomenal communicator and storyteller as well.

Guest #4 – John Maxwell
I love to read books on leadership. Specifically, my favorite author is the leadership guru, John Maxwell. In fact, it is because of him that I blog on the topics of Proverbs and Business. I heard a talk of his a few years back in which he told of many leaders he knows personally that consistently read the book of Proverbs each month (one chapter per day). John is not only a leadership author and speaker, he is also a pastor. I love that he comes at you, the reader and listener, with leadership knowledge based on a Biblical foundation.

If you are looking for a good book, you won’t go wrong by picking up any of his books. My favorite, especially, is his book Failing Forward. I’ve written in the past about an online community I’ve co-founded in Metro Detroit, along with two others, called Fail Detroit which is based on the idea of failing forward like John talks about in his book.

I would have a ton of leadership questions for John and he would probably get tired of all the questions I would throw at him. The guy has one of the greatest leadership minds so I’d definitely take advantage of having someone like that to talk to. Not to mention, he is also a phenomenal storyteller as well. Seems to be a common thread among many leaders.

I think this would have to be an all-night dinner party or maybe week long because between all the knowledge, wisdom and entertainment, I wouldn’t want it to end.

Your turn: What four people (dead or alive) would you invite to your dinner party?

How To Stop Worrying and Start Looking For Solutions

Do you spend more time worrying than you should? Recently, it seems like I’ve been running into a lot of worried people. Many about job security. Others about company revenues being down. Some are worried about reports from the media that say economic statistics may be pointing towards another potential recession. And, among others, is health.

While there are some things we can and should be worrying about, we need to look for the silver lining and make sure we are worrying about things that we actually have control over. It’s easy to get caught up in things happening externally, like the negative news in the media. The problem, though, is that many of the worries we experience are out of our control and, as a result, we waste much-needed energy on them.

If you worry is job security. This is something you can control. Same thing with your health. Instead of wasting much-needed energy worrying about these types of issues, how about we look for solutions. If you are in danger of losing your job, set personal goals that will lead to an improved performance. Up your sales goals, come in a half hour early, stay a half hour late, join a personal improvement class, join a networking group to expand your personal network. At the same time, improve your health by eating a well-balanced diet, joining a gym, exercising regularly and dropping alcohol and smoking.

Maybe you’re worried about the government’s actions. As someone extremely invested in politics, this is one area I struggle. I find myself, at times, getting worked up about politics. While you can speak to your local representative (or even run for office) to make your voice heard, in the grand scheme of things, there’s only so much one can do. Make your voice heard and do your part but don’t lose sleep over investments that you cannot directly control.

If the media and news is causing you to worry, while you cannot change the news, there is something you can do. Turn off the TV/Radio/Internet! Stop worrying because it is out of your control. Instead, put good things in your mind. Philippians 4:8 says this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Instead of buying into the negative that closes your mind, fill your mind with positive. Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Your mind is like a parachute. It only works if it is open.” I see entrepreneurs and employees that, because of negative economic reports, allow the news to affect their jobs. By chance, all of a sudden, there are no opportunities out there. Look at the glass half full. When we are looking at the glass half full, we are looking for the opportunities, rather than feeling bad for ourselves.

I love the quote, “You can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution.” When we are worrying about things that are out of our control or not taking actions to fix worries that are, we are allowing ourselves to be part of the problem. Next time you find yourself worrying, ask yourself this: Is this something I can control? If so, take the necessary steps. If not, save your energy for the things you can control and start looking for solutions.

What types of worries do you have on a daily basis and what are some solutions?

Three Questions To Take a Step Back and Ask Yourself

Proverbs 10:6,9

MSG- “Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse. Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.”

In doing research for this post, I came across a quote I felt was applicable to this passage:

”Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson

I love that quote by Thomas Jefferson and it is so applicable when discussing the book of Proverbs. Honesty and integrity need to be the basic building blocks and the foundation for anyone conducting business. Nobody wants to be affiliated with a person who lies, cheats, tricks people, etc.

Recently, I was chatting with someone who was sharing with me their frustrations regarding a competitor that they know is not conducting business morally. This particular business owner has inherited a reputation within the industry for lying, cheating and, essentially, stealing from his customers. However, his customers haven’t picked up on that reputation yet. And as a result, to make things worse, he has had some short-term success as a result of these deceiving actions. And to add even more to the person’s frustrations that I was talking to, this gentleman is attempting to bring his competitors down by spreading lies about them in order to make himself appear better.

I was getting fired up just listening to that story. Definitely felt for the guy. Sometimes as someone who is striving to conduct business morally, it can seem flat-out unfair, especially when it seems like you are getting beat by the person acting without integrity. It may even be tempting to move to the other side since it seems to be working. My suggestion is to remember the passage above during these times. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people in the business world who are willing to strive for success by bypassing honesty and integrity. The Bible talks about how you reap the seeds you sow. If you sow negative actions, you’ll eventually reap negative results. Likewise, if you steadfastly remain firm, sowing good seeds, God promises blessings.

Business Ethics vs. Honesty and Integrity

We hear the phrase business ethics. Every organization seems to have something about it in their mission, vision or value statements. Conducting business with honesty and integrity goes way deeper than simply acting “ethical”, though. In my opinion, practicing business ethics doesn’t go far enough. There is way too much grey area. In my eyes, there is right and there is wrong. If God’s Word is your foundation (like mine is), then the difference between right and wrong should more times than not be black and white. There is no grey area with God.

As we are conducting business, my advice is that we take a step back and ask ourselves these three questions:

1. Am I treating my clients and employees the way I would like to be treated?

We all learned the golden rule when we were kids: treat others as you yourself would want to be treated. You wouldn’t want to be lied to or cheated against. We expect others to be honest in working with us. We should do the same to others.

2. Do I have to rationalize business decisions?

If we have to convince ourselves that doing something is okay, then it probably isn’t okay. God blessed each of us with a conscience that helps us decide between right and wrong. If we are struggling with a decision because our conscience is leading us in one direction but we want to go in the other direction, we may be rationalizing.

3. Do I do what I say I am going to do?

Our word is our bond. One of my favorite quotes is this:

“If you lose your money, you’ve lost nothing. If you lose a friend, you’ve lost something. If you lose your word, you’ve lost everything.”

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Simple as that.

Bonus question: Next time you are in a “sticky” situation and struggling with what to do, ask yourself this: Will I be able to sleep well tonight as a result of my decision?

Remember, one day we will have to answer to someone higher. In addition, the message above in verse 6 is that God’s blessings accrue on a good and honest life. There are a lot of people out there in the business world who claim to be practicing honesty and integrity but not enough living it out. My hope is that we can all aim to make honesty and integrity core principles in our business practices. Talk is cheap. Let’s strive to live them out.

Can you think of any more questions we should ask ourselves to make sure we are acting with honesty and integrity?

Sloth: What Is It and Why You Need to Avoid It

Proverbs 3: 11-12

RSV: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Photo: “Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt,  1665

I have been somewhat alarmed at writing this post. Over on twitter, I have been expressing regularly how God has written more on my heart in writing this post than I have written down on paper (or screen). I have been alarmed because the same topic kept coming to mind: the sin of sloth. Let me explain.

In Proverbs 3. 11-12 , the author writes, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

In writing about the Word of God, I often find that I write the things I do because those are the things that are normally going on in my own life. You can see why, then, that the writing of this post has been of concern to me.

Sloth is one of those deadly sins and topics that is misunderstood and frankly, hardly talked about. That is because most people don’t know what it actually means.

Sloth does not mean laziness or sleeping in too late for church: it’s much more spiritual and deep than that. Sloth is despair in striving for God and His ways. It’s a spiritual laziness or sadness in wanting to be holy; at it’s core, a mistaken belief that God’s ways are less-than, and not more-than.

It is one of the most dangerous sins, and it is why history has labeled it a deadly sin.

Unfortunately we live in a culture which believes that the least important things are the most important things, and the most important things are the least important things. It’s not difficult to see: more money is spent in the porn industry than in any other industry. To them, lust is first and love is last. 

As Christians who are still on the journey home, we must ever be vigilant to stay on the path to the promised land, lest we get distracted in the desert and mistakenly desire to bow down to Pharaoh and his false promises of freedom. 

Now that we have defined what sloth is, the question begs, “So what do we do now as business owners, entrepreneurs, and young professionals?” I would suggest three things in the context of the rest of Proverbs 3.

First, as entrepreneurs, professionals, and even just as people who desire wisdom, we should always look outside of ourselves for the right answers. The author in verse 5 writes, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” We should find people to learn from, but not just any people. Find people that we want to be like. In this case, holy people: people who have persevered in running the race after God, who have loved others sacrificially, who have given their opportunities back to God to serve Him and people.

Second, just like in business, we need to build our spiritual house on solid rock. Interestingly, one of the best ways to do this is to start confessing your sins out loud to another person, somebody you trust. Verse 11 states, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Because I am Catholic, I can testify from experience that verbal confession is one of the best experiences of living the Christian life. Yes, it is God alone who forgives sins, but there is a real freedom in letting it out and hearing that even for this terrible sin that I just confessed, I am forgiven and set free anew. The second part to confession is the counsel that is shared by the other. It is critical to find somebody who will help you through the valley: somebody who will love you enough to tell you where you are wrong and what steps you need to take to grow.

Third, I think sloth can be avoided and conquered if we ask for more faith. With the eyes of faith, we will realize that being a disciple of Jesus is more, not less, unlike what the culture wants us to believe. We can run our businesses with integrity, with honesty, not taking advantage of our employees or our clients, and we can still win. In fact, we will win more by aligning our hearts with the servant heart of the Lord because we will experience the joy of sacrificial giving. But notice- it first requires us to take actions to align our hearts with His before we can understand such riches. 

With these three things in mind, let us hope that we can experience the joys of discipleship and steer clear of sloth, for wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her, those who hold her fast are called happy.”

Ryan Eggenberger is a writer, blogger, and social media consultant for political, religious, and business organizations. He teaches people how to come up with creative ways to make money doing what they love. He blogs regularly at
RyanEggenberger.com. Follow Ryan on Twitter!

How to Utilize the Secret Weapon

Proverbs 24:6

NIV- “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.”

One of the most important decisions we can make in our professional lives is to surround ourselves with mentors. If you are an entrepreneur, spend time with people who have been entrepreneurs for a longer time than you and have the success that you would like to have. Maybe you aren’t an entrepreneur but work for a company and have big aspirations and career goals. Seek out people who are higher up and have also been around longer than you. The best way to gain knowledge and wisdom in business is not through making mistakes yourself; it’s by learning from other people’s mistakes and how ultimately they persevered through them and became successful.

I came across an article recently titled The Secret Weapon of Young Entrepreneurs by Dave Lavinsky, the president and co-founder of Growthink. In the article, Lavinsky writes about how young entrepreneurs need to assemble their own Board of Advisers. What does this look like? According to Lavinsky, this Board of Advisers should be made up of “successful people that you respect, and that agree to help your company. They are generally successful and/or retired entrepreneurs, executives, business owners, service providers, professors, or others that could help your business.”

The problem with young entrepreneurs is that not enough utilize the advisers they potentially have access to. Quite frankly, too many don’t even realize the knowledge and mental capital they had access to if they would just be willing to pursue it. Lavinsky gives a breakdown of how to go about finding that Board of Advisers:

“Start by creating a list of entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, and others who you feel can help your business. Then arrange informational meetings with them. My pitch to get these meetings is generally, ‘I’m a young entrepreneur. I have a lot of respect for what you’ve accomplished. I was hoping I could grab a few minutes of your time to tell you about my venture and get your take on it.’ If during the meeting you feel the person would be a great advisor, ask them to join the Advisory Board.”

Don’t just stop there, though. Once you have a Board of Advisers, it’s important to report your performance as well as share objectives and goals to get their input.

While it’s imperative we have advisers to advise us in our careers, it’s just as important that we utilize advisers in other areas of our lives as well. For example, it’s so important we have spiritual leaders to mentor and we meet with us regularly. Here’s another example: those of us who are married need mentors in our lives who have been married longer than us and have more experience. Mentorship doesn’t mean you have a problem. Mentorship means you are willing to humble yourself and learn from those who have greater wisdom and experience than you.

Leadership author and speaker John Maxwell says, “Big-picture thinkers learn from their experiences. But they also learn from experiences they don’t have.” Learn from the experiences you have but don’t solely rely on them. Pursue mentorship in your life.