Pride Goes Before the Fall

Proverbs16:18

G.K. Chesterton once said, “If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.” In my opinion, pride is a major problem in today’s world.

Leadership author, John Maxwell, wrote a great article about this proverb a few years back, titled Pride Comes Before the FallIn it, he discusses how we are able to point to famous athletes, actors and businesspeople who are living examples of this proverb while others seem to thrive professionally in the midst of having big egos and pride:

Muhammad Ali’s brash egotism did not prevent him from triumphing in the boxing ring. Charlie Sheen’s sickening smugness may have burned relationships at CBS, but he has never been more popular, selling out several nationwide tour dates in a matter of minutes. The conceit of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been noted by competitors, colleagues, and friends alike, yet he ranks among the world’s wealthiest men.

What can be said, then, about pride? Is arrogance really as dangerous to leadership as some people would insist? On the surface, it seems that pride does not necessarily hinder success. However, I maintain that pride is every bit as destructive to the welfare of a leader as the ancient proverb forewarns.

Along with the propensity to see themselves as superior to others, Muhammad Ali, Charlie Sheen, and Larry Ellison share in common the attainment of enormous success. However, each also appears to have left a wake of destruction relationally. While their pride may not have cost them professionally, privately it seems to have taken a toll.

In its truest sense, success involves more than material wealth and career accomplishments. When considering the implications of pride, we must remember to see the whole picture. An individual may be standing atop the world with respect to a career, yet still fall to the deepest depths.

The opposite of pride is humility. Albert Einstein once said, “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” I know there have been situations in my life where I thought I knew everything only to find out very abruptly that I did not. And most of those times, I learned something new once I made the decision to humble myself and change my attitude.

We learn the most when we have an attitude of curiosity and openness and miss out on important lessons when we are too busy pretending to be know-it-alls. C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Pride puts the focus on “me” instead of others. If you want to be a leader, you need to be a servant. True leadership starts with being willing to humble one’s self and serve other people.

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Stop, Think and Start Living Life

Proverbs 4:26

NIV- “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

ESV- “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.”

Know Your Why

Often we hear stories of people who once had big dreams for their lives when they were in their 20s and 30s only to wake up one day and realize that over time they slowly moved off that course (probably without even realizing it). Along with this realization usually comes regret.

I heard someone say this one time and I’ve never forgotten it: “If you don’t know where you are going, you aren’t going to be happy with where you end up.” Too many don’t take the time to stop and think about where they are going. And when they look back, they don’t like where they’ve ended up.

What are five ways we can ‘ponder the path’ and prevent looking back with regret?

Stop
Just stop and as this Proverb says, ponder your path. Think about the direction you are moving in. Nothing in life is static. The truth is that we are either progressing or regressing. Which one are you?

Know Your Why
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What’s your hot button? Maybe your why is that you want to have financial freedom. Maybe you want to be able to provide for your child to go to daycare. Or even be able to be at home with your children. Usually the why is something larger than ourselves. Find out what your why is and get in the pursuit. Life is so much more enjoyable when we are in the pursuit.

Focus
Where and what is your focus and is it in line with where you want to end up? If not, the good news is that you can always re-focus. It’s never too late to start over or get a new goal.

Set a Goal
If you have a goal then you’re ahead of most people. If you don’t, then set a goal. What do you want to accomplish? What is your purpose? I believe that we’ve all been created for a purpose in life. We all should have goals.

Have Fun
Have fun. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Life isn’t going to be fun 100% of the time but we weren’t given the gift of life to not live it to the fullest. I see too many people who look miserable all the time. Live life!

This post is also live at http://www.brandonhelderop.com.

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.

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 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.

What We Can Learn from Insanity

Proverbs 26:11

ESV- “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

I was taught at the beginning of my business career that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I later found out that it was Einstein who said that quote.

What practices are you holding onto that aren’t producing the right results yet you continue to do them in hope that your fortunes will change? I wrote on a similar topic in my post on Proverbs 29:1. In that post, I wrote this:

“There is a difference, however, between being stubborn and refusing to quit. When we face challenges, there are those who truly believe in what they are doing. Then there are the people that the NIV translation calls “stiff-necked”. Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.” People like this hold onto ideas or practices that haven’t worked in the past and continue not to work in the present. They stand in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change. This stubbornness is not only stiff-necked but also foolish. Furthermore, the end result is never positive and can usually be summed up in one word: regret.”

What are some things that you can think of off the top of your head that you are doing over and over yet not getting the results you’ve been hoping for? As the verse says, fools repeat their folly. So the question I want to answer is this: how do we not continue to repeat folly? Here are 4 check-marks that we should review when things aren’t going the way we’d like:

1) Listen to the Holy Spirit

First of all, I’ve written from day one on this blog that we need to pursue God and offer up everything we do so He can lead us. We need to be in tune with what God’s plan is for our lives. He has a plan for each and every one of us and it is our purpose to figure out what that is. If you don’t feel God’s calling on what you are doing, then it may not be right. However, if you do feel God’s call on whatever venture/project you are pursuing, then run forward.

2) Personal Growth

Have you grown through the process of pursuit? If a venture/project isn’t going to stretch you and/or force you to experience personal growth through it, then it isn’t worth it. In that case, you might want to take a step back and analyze what you are doing. On the other hand, if it has stretched you, then you are probably on the right path. Keep stretching and growing yourself.

3) External Impact

Are you impacting others through the process of pursuit? External impact is similar to personal growth. If a venture/project isn’t benefiting others around you then what’s the point? It’s very difficult to get any type of satisfaction out of a venture if you are having zero impact on others. But if you are impacting others positively, then keep doing what you are doing.

4) Making Some Progress

This one is a tough one. There are going to be times when you feel like you aren’t making any progress. That can be a very discouraging feeling. If you truly believe that you are doing what God has called you to do, then make it a goal to take baby steps. Don’t go for the home run. Just do a little bit everyday to move yourself and your venture/business/job forward. On the other hand, if you are going backwards with little hope, then you might want to rethink what you are doing. It may be foolish to keep going.

The definition of a fool (according to the dictionary) is someone who “acts unwisely or imprudently”. The French writer, Simone de Beauvoir said, “In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid.” It’s imperative we understand when it is okay to be stubborn and when it is not.

Next time you hit an obstacle, analyze your expectations and use the 4 check-marks above to help you figure out if you are moving in the right direction. Are you doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If so, make some adjustments. Maybe even try something new. You’ll be happy you did.

Find Your Groove and Start Dancing

Proverbs 29:10

NIV- “The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.”

ESV- “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.”

This verse in Proverbs is a warning that we, as Christians, must endure persecution if we choose to take up our cross and follow Christ. Persecution is promised all throughout the Bible. In Matthew 5:11, Jesus says “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

And how should we respond to persecution? Persecution is something we should wear with a badge of honor. Jesus says to “Rejoice” and “Be glad”. It’s proof that we are living for something greater than ourselves. But at the same time, we are told to love those that persecute us. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

If you truly believe that God has called you to do what you are doing, here’s the best way to respond to the persecution: Love your enemies that persecute you but combat the insults and curses by continuing to pursue what you have already begun pursuing.

In the same way, as entrepreneurs and innovators, those of us that step out in faith to follow God’s plan for our lives are going to get those tomatoes thrown at us. In a recent blog post, entrepreneur and writer, Josh Linkner, likens it to dancing and calls it “following your own groove”. I’m going to re-word that: God has planted a groove in our hearts. Our job is to figure out what that groove is and start dancing to it. Josh goes on to say this:

“Ever notice the people making the biggest impact in the world?  They are the first to be shunned.  When these rule-breakers emerge, they’re told to “get back in the line” and are pressured to comply with the “social norms.”

The heroes we celebrate, from the Beatles to Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison to Dr. King, were first laughed at and sharply criticized.  Thankfully, they didn’t waste the time or energy to care much about the onlookers pointing fingers.  The jealousy and fear of others didn’t strip these renegades of their vision; the world would certainly be a much duller place if it had.”

If we, as believers of Christ, make a decision to follow what His plan is for our lives, there are going to be naysayers. Sure, we’ll have some supporters but the naysayers tend to be the loudest. They’ll think we are crazy. They’ll probably tell all our friends about how we went off the deep end. Why? Because us stepping out in faith to do something great makes them feel uncomfortable. I love Mr. Linkner’s message later in the post:

“In your own pursuits, don’t validate those casting doubt and ostracizing your fresh approach to comfort their own selves. Focus every ounce of your energy on your art, and you will change the hearts and minds of those that lack the courage to dance their own dance.

The more original you are, the more friction you’ll notice (if you bother looking). So let the naysayers blend into the background while your unique rhythmic interpretation shines. Before long, they’ll be copying your moves and celebrating your creativity.”

So figure out what that groove is that God has planted in your heart. Enduring persecution from naysayers is part of the process. But, as Josh says, let them blend into the background. If you pursue and achieve the dream God has planted in your heart, eventually the naysayers will become your biggest supporters. So what are you waiting for? Start dancing.