“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” We have come to the end of this four-part short series called Cycle Leadership. In the past three work days we've explored, “weakening”, “stuck” and “promising”.  Today, we ...


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day 2312: Cycle Leadership – Growth

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall”

We have come to the end of this four-part short series called Cycle Leadership. In the past three work days we’ve explored, “weakening”, “stuck” and “promising”.  Today, we close it off with a good but cautious place to land; “growth”.

We are now in the third longest economic expansion in U.S. history.  No one knows how long it will last, but it has some legs.  That leaves us potentially experiencing growth like we have might never have managed.  All the indicators are up and to the right and that opens up a potential flood gate of investment, hiring, and spending.  However, growth can slip away quickly and I hate to be the one to let the cat out of the bag, but it will.  Growth can’t last forever, so it would be smart to plan ahead and be ready for when the growth runs out. I was talking to a friend who leads HR for a well-known, high growth tech company and we both were concerned that the next generation of leaders might have only managed at senior levels during a growth cycle and never in a down cycle. So, maybe it’s important to be sure that we have those who look at growth as something to be treasured and  thoughtfully managed with measure.

With growth comes confidence.  Confidence though can turn to hubris, which then can turn to arrogance and pride. Growth that comes faster than our competition and peers can also create a sense of power and as we know, power can corrupt.  I know you are probably thinking that I am going to use an example of those who are in the news today (sadly, more daily), but instead we have to look no further than King David.  We are well aware that King David, while on the top of his kingdom (at the time on top of the world), fell prey to the power that he could wield over others from his position.  What do we take away from the fall of King David?  There is much to learn, but today, we can walk away recognizing that with the blessing of growth, comes the perils of pride and power.  If we have the chance to experience growth, and maybe even be a leader during a growth stage, let’s let the lesson of King David keeps us humble and grounded.  If we can, then we will be able to speak into this stage putting the thanks where the thanks truly belongs.

Happy Thanksgiving! We have much to be grateful for tomorrow and the rest of this long weekend.

Reference: Proverbs 16:18 (New Living Translation)


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day 2311: Cycle Leadership: Promising

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Yesterday, we explored the business leadership phase that might be the hardest; feeling “stuck”.  Before that, we checked into the “weakening” stage.  Today, we turn the corner to “promising.” We know this feeling as the business starts to pick up, the product improvements start to work, our services get recognized and word starts to spread.  We know we aren’t there yet, but the signs look right.  This is usually the stage when we start to feel confident to talk about ourselves, raise some money, hire, or even spend more on marketing to scale the business.  It’s a great feeling that doesn’t come around often.  Start-ups hope to reach their promising point so that they can reach the dreams they have worked so hard to achieve.  But, like fame, promising can be fleeting.  So, let’s be sure that we are evaluating where we are correctly so that our next step of growth will be built upon what is sustainable.

It is when life and things start to look promising that we can begin to look away from God. It’s counter-intuitive as we might have just spent an inordinate amount of time on our knees trying to figure out how we are going to get unstuck, but now that things are looking up, we lessen our dependence and start to rely upon ourselves.  And, let’s be honest with ourselves, when we start to go this way, we know that we are on our way to trouble.  But, we still we do it.  If today is a day where everything is going your way, and I hope that it is, be sure and take a humility check so that what is promising doesn’t become a new stumbling block. Instead, let’s move our dependence back to where it belongs!

Tomorrow, we will be thankful for what “growth” looks like!

Reference:  Proverbs 3: 5-6 (New Living Translation)


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day 2310: Cycle Leadership: Stuck

“For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.”

Friday we looked at what it feels like when our business is weakening. Today, we explore what it is like to feel “stuck”.

Being “stuck” finds us in the nadir of the business cycle. Revenues have stalled, or our product has failed, or we just lost our major customer to the competition, or something has happened with leadership that feels irreparable, or we can’t find the next round of funding, or we just can’t connect with the new coworker, and we could go on and on.  Not everyone has experienced this stage of business, but those that have know how scary, alone and filled with desperation this stage can be. It’s probably too general to make this assumption, but more often than not, we get stuck because we didn’t do what we should have done to avoid this place. There are certainly external forces at play that we can’t control but few hit the bottom without having helped themselves to get there.  As I write this,the news cycle is dominated by the failure of some of our most recognized people in power. It started with the well-known movie executive. And, with this, we are seeing the company he co-founded on the verge of collapse.  The company line is that it is, “business as usual” as they sort through the survival options.  Allowing the “business as usual” was what got them into trouble in the first place.  If our business has passed into weakening, we must be diligent to not start grasping at whatever we can, but instead step back and remove what has gotten us to where we are, take our medicine, and do what needs to do to step by step dig ourselves out of the hole we are in.

God didn’t intend for us to be filled with fear, resentment, anxiety or desperation.  He provides us with many promises and lessons how to work through these times. He also gives us role models for us to look.  Joseph spent a great amount of his life in places that felt as though he was stuck.  A well, slavery and prison.  Clear pictures of being stuck. But, what did Joseph do?  Did he become filled with fear?  Did he become desperate?  Did he blame God? Did he grasp out at those things that were not of God?  No, he was consistent and faithful.  He counted on God to deliver him and while he was literally stuck, he was never stuck without God. There is so much we can learn from Joseph’s example to help us through the times we feel stuck in place.  Let us remember and rely on what we can learn from his account.

Tomorrow, things start to look a little more “promising” as we explore the third of four leadership cycle stages

Reference: Philippians 1:19 (New Living Translation)

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day 2309: Cycle Leadership – Weakening

“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?”

Last month, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia speaking with Christian entrepreneurs.  It was an amazing trip and I got to see the growing start-up community that is emerging throughout the country.  I gave a presentation on the four stages of a business cycle.  The first of the four to explore is “Weakening”.

When a business starts to slow down or runs into a speed bump or two, the overriding sentiment that can creep into the business is “doubt”.  Doubt can be sensed a mile away. I know someone who is an analyst and he spends most of his days listening to earnings calls. I asked him once what he gets from listening to all the calls versus just reading transcripts, etc.  He said he listens for “tone”. You see the trained ear can hear doubt.  And unfortunately, almost all of our ears are tuned to pick up doubt, fear and anxiety.  So, if we are in, or entering, a weakening time of the business cycle, then be overly cognizant that doubt will want to seep into the culture and that we need to do all we can to dispel any of this sentiment.

I don’t think that Thomas would have doubted it was Jesus had not he and the rest of the Disciples been at their weakest and most vulnerable point.  We don’t know, but we can imagine that they were drained emotionally and physically, maybe even not sleeping, or with any appetite.  They had lost the One they were following and with His crucifixion all that they dreamed and expected.  And it is here that we can be like Thomas.  We are easily susceptible to doubt. And when we are in a stage of weakness, our vulnerability goes way, way up.  So, in times of weakening, we have to over-commit and double-down on our time with God.  And, we must not try to go it alone. If we do, we might find ourselves in a worse stage of the cycle….and that is for Monday’s post.

Reference: Luke 24:38 (New Living Translation)

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day 2308: Voice Recognition

“You have spoken in my hearing,and I have heard your very words.”

Everything is heading towards voice recognition.  There might be a generation of us who are still more comfortable with our hands on a keyboard, but I predict that in the not too distant future we will hear the jokes about us old people who used to actually have to “type and write”.  The adoption rate of the Amazon Echo and the Google Home is astounding and we are already talking to our Cable Box/DVR remotes.  This curve will move fast. I don’t know if “Alexa”,  “Okay, Google” or “Siri” will be the end games, but I know for sure that if we have a consumer product or service that demands some kind of tactile interaction, then we better think again and think quickly.

I was having a conversation with a friend who told me he has been seeking God’s direction and he thinks he knows what he is supposed to do, but is hesitating because he’s not sure that he is hearing God right.  My first response was, “Welcome to the club.”  After I got that out of the way, I asked him, “Have you been reading God’s Word with your question on your mind, seeking the scriptures to speak to you?”.  He said, “Yes.”  I then asked him, “Have you been praying earnestly over this decision, asking for wisdom and guidance in the decision and surrendering yourself to God’s will?”  He said, “Yes”.  I followed up with, “Have you been talking this over with other godly people in your small group or others who also believe and follow?”  He answered, “Yes”.  Finally, I asked him, “From those three sources are you hearing a voice inside you that is telling you to do one thing, versus another?”  He responded, “Yes”.   So, I took the bold choice of telling him that the voice he was hearing, was the voice that he should listen.  For, if we are in God’s Word, in surrendered prayer, and seeking Godly advice and counsel, then we should rest assured that our voice is recognized by God and that He is speaking back to us.  The hidden blessing is that His voice recognition goes both ways in all that we do.  BTW, it just so happened to be a job decision that my friend was concerned over.  So, yes God’s voice recognition is in ALL that we do.

Reference:  Job 33:8 (New Living Translation)

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