Cultivating Great and Amazing #Experiences

Recently my wife and I visited Waco, TX the home of Chip and Joanna Gaines owners of Magnolia Homes and Magnolia Market.  Chances are you have heard of or seen them on their HGTV show “Fixer Upper”.


What we found when we visited their shop located at “The Silos” impressed us on every side.  Their building is beautiful.  Their location is family friendly with ample room for kids to run, as well as on site food options in the form of food trucks.  Lastly, but most critical was their store’s customer service.  Everyone was smiling, working, and friendly.

How does a trip to Waco, TX fit with this blog?  What can we learn?  Two words.

Experience.  Memories.

The environment created by the Magnolia Market at The Silos in Waco, TX allowed our family to have both an excellent experience, and create memories as a family.

This forces the question – what are we doing in our interactions with customers,  coworkers, and family members that creates an environment for positive experiences and good memories?  Are we designing our organizations with this is mind?  I’d love to hear your opinion, or a story of an organization that gets this point through and through.

My Take on “The 3 Gaps” by Hyrum Smith

One of the greatest needs I hear about from people as well as read about in books is how a person wants to have purpose and meaning.


“The 3 Gaps” by Hyrum Smith is a quick read at only ninety-nine pages and asks it’s reader the following question, “Are you making a difference?”

The book is broken into three chapters which focus in on the three gaps: beliefs, values, and time.  In each section Hyrum introduces the gap, gives an illustration of the gap and then offers practical steps on how to close each respective gap.

What helps separate this book from others are what follows in each chapter – a personal account from one of three separate individuals.

In this way you read a real life account, and how this specific individual closed their respective gap.

The intent is to offer you a dose of reality, exposure to the emotions of those experiencing a life event, and what they learned from that event.

To conclude the book you are challenged to write down what stood out, reflect on that for 36 hours, and then to go out and teach what you reflected on to at least one other person with 48 hours.  This focuses on a powerful idea – what is the point of knowledge, if it’s never applied?

One of the most interesting things I found in The 3 Gaps is a reference to a personal constitution.  This concept is covered in depth in a separate book by Chris Edmonds, “The Culture Engine”.  Essentially a personal constitution outlines your values as a person.

If you’re interested in making a difference in your own life, and consequently in the lives of others, you’ll enjoy this quick read and it’s powerful first person accounts of those who’ve closed the gaps in their life.

***I have two copies that I would enjoy sharing with someone in the audience.  All I need you to do is either leave a comment saying you’re interested in a free copy, or send me a tweet indicating the same.  I will randomly select the person, and then contact you for mailing information.

Pain vs. Misery?

Pain vs. Misery?

In 1978 Rabbi Harold Kushner published a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  The book stayed on the New York Times Bestseller list for many months.  It was the first of many books that explored this topic.  One of the reasons, no doubt, for the success of the book is that is addresses a question that comes to everyone sooner or later.  Why is there pain in my life?


Rabbi Kushner points out in his book that pain, in one form or another, visits every life.  It may be physical pain, caused by illness or accident.  It may be emotional pain, caused by the death of a loved one, or by the loss of a long-cherished relationship.  It may even be mental pain, caused by the difficulty of making a “Sophie’s Choice” in which each option brings with it a bad side effect.

Misery is different than pain.   Pain is related to a specific instance or circumstance.  Misery is the dwelling on it, the allowing it to take over a life, to color everything else that happens.  We have all known people who could not get past a painful experience.  It’s as if the experience, whatever it was, is happening to them over and over.  First, it makes them miserable.  Then it begins to affect the people around them.

So, how do we keep from allowing our painful experiences to linger on?  I have found that the best medicine is often the most difficult to take.  It involves looking outside ourselves for someone else that we can help.  Perhaps it is someone who is dealing with pain of their own.  Or it is just someone who needs a friend.  Or it is a neighbor who needs a visit and a listening ear.  The fact is there are always unlimited ways in which we can reach out and help others.

There are organizations that help groups of people that are always looking for extra help.  Is there a group in your town that helps tutor children?  Perhaps you could help there.  Is there a group in your area that gathers and distributes goods to areas of the world where disaster has come to call?  These groups always need additional help.  Is there a way that you can tutor students in a particular skill you have, or just in reading or arithmetic?  The fact is that looking outside yourself is the best antidote to prevent pain from turning into misery.

The other thing we can do in such situations is to maintain and expand our network of friends and associates.  Misery generally seeks solitude.  Misery tends to cut people off from their social circles and, in some cases, from their family members.  In the book The 3 Gaps there are first person examples of people who moved past their pain into productivity and happiness.  It can be done.  When I re-read those stories, I am reminded of the boundless potential in each one of us.  It is something we all need to remember.


Hyrum Smith is a distinguished author, speaker, and businessman. He is the co-founder and former CEO of FranklinCovey®. For three decades, he has empowered people to effectively govern their personal and professional lives. Hyrum’s books and presentations have been acclaimed by American and international audiences. He combines wit and enthusiasm with a gift for communicating compelling principles that incite lasting personal change. You can visit him on the web at

What is your “Yes!” – A post on #Perseverance

Overcoming Significant Challenges:  Perseverance.

board-928392_640In the summer of 2012 my wife and I decided to participate in a foreign hosting program that brought orphan children to the United States.  After that experience we decided to adopt our third child.  That choice proved to be one of the most difficult decisions we have ever made.

We hit obstacle after obstacle.

These obstacles arose, despite our deep knowledge of adoption through the foreign adoption of one child and our ongoing process to adopt another child.

It wasn’t just paperwork delays.  It was lost paperwork.  It was financing the adoption. It was being denied grants despite being on one income, and adopting special needs.  It wasn’t just the fact our adoption didn’t work the first time we went to court.  It was the heartache of it not working out when we were in front of a judge.  It was the devastation and belief that adopting a child we had grown to love was no longer possible.  It was watching a country plunge into civil war, but unable to bring our child home.

All of our fears and worries piled up.

Despite everything seemingly pointing against us, we chose to persevere.  We chose to keep trying.  We enlisted the support of our friends, and asked anyone who was prayerful to remember us in their prayers.  We threw our hands up in frustration.  We cried.  We trusted.  Two years, various amounts of cash, and five trips to a foreign country later we finally completed one of the most difficult journeys of our life.

Reflecting on this experience we now understand that what we endured at the time was preparation for our future.  Additionally, it was as if we were being asked on a daily basis, “Are you 100% certain you want to do this?”

Our answer every time – yes!  To this day we are challenged to say yes.

Think of a moment in life when you felt all hope was lost.  How did you endure it?  What helped give you hope?  Where did your strength come from?

Quiet for a Reason –> But not What You Think

The blog has been quiet for a reason.  Our family has been doing something we’re very passionate about, and as such it took a precedence over the blog.

game-768514_640I hope you will appreciate both the work we’ve been doing, and the reason.

We’ve adopted two children in a years time, are hosting another, and trying to encourage people to support orphans.  Please check out a small story about what we’re doing.

And, if you think it can encourage just one person, would you share the link?

#Leaders Open Doors #Serves Others

On a trip to Ukraine in March, I devoured Leaders Open Doors.  At the time I was unaware that the author, Bill Treasurer, sold the book prior to it being picked up by ATD Press.  Apparently, it had sold well.


Becky Robinson’s team at Weaving Influence was instrumental in helping me become aware of such a valuable resource dedicated to serving others.

Bill Treasurer demonstrates why it’s important to serve others, to help others win, and how the right attitude helps all people in an organization, and in turn entire companies.

What stands out the most in Leaders Open Doors is the consistency of the message.  The author never walks off, forgets his message, nor his readers.  It’s refreshing.

The next element of the book that makes it shine is found in the epilogue.  I don’t recall any point in any book I’ve read that makes me want to refer my readers to go and see the epilogue.  Yet this book is unique enough to do so.  Why?  It’s loaded with some of the most trusted names you can imagine in the “leadership” space sharing how they got started as well as who “opened” their door.  Not only is it powerful, it’s priceless.

The read is relatively quick, but do not assume that it’s 124 pages will be short.  The spacing is tight, while every page is filled densely with content.  Once you reach the final page, you’ll undoubtedly know you’ve spent your time with an almost singular purpose: helping share opportunity with others.

To finish out this post I thought it would be fun to hear your stories of how a leader opened the door for you.  How did it energize you?  What was the long-term impact it had on your career?  How have you passed it on?

Lessons Learned from the #Leadership Pill by Ken Blanchard and Mark Muchnick

The Leadership Pill is a very quick read, less than three hours and 112 pages.  In those few pages you’re dropped into a fictional setting with an unnamed leader.

mountain-918520_640If you do not like the parable style of teaching leadership Ken Blanchard is famous for, you won’t like this book.  However if you like learning from others, simple to the point illustrations, and messages you can remember this book is for you.

The story follows the path of two separate teams, one led by a leader who takes a newly created pill, the leadership pill.  It’s considered the latest and greatest development, and companies are clamoring for it.

Yet there is one extractor.  A proven leader who believes that leadership isn’t something you bottle, and take like a supplement.  Needless to say this leader guides the other tea., and a year long battle ensues.

The most powerful point demonstrated throughout the book is:  “Leadership is not something you do to people it’s something you do with them.”

If you only learn to apply that single message, this book will be worth your time and money.

Too often people in places of authority mistake their position as a place of leadership.  Simply put by Ken Blanchard and Mark Muchnick, “the true test of leadership is to win the trust and respect of the team, keep their motivation running high, and help them reach new heights.”

Therefore true leadership cannot be commanded, only earned.

Take a moment to reflect on yourself, your team, your church, or your business.  Are you a true leader?  Are you helping or hurting your organization?  Is your leader commanding, instead of earning behavior?

If there is a less than desirable response, consider this: “Leading with integrity means being the person you want others to be.”

That’s simply stated and biblical (think “golden rule”).

How do you live the way you want others to live?  What is one outcome you have noticed as a result of your example?  Leave a comment below.



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