Beware of Greatness

Beware of greatness.It can be a trap.

I know. I know. Leaders are supposed to move from good to great, but I’m telling you, greatness can be a trap.

The reality is most people find themselves motivated by selfishness rather than servanthood. They chase greatness thinking they will find happiness.

Ambition rules the day.

Abraham Lincoln understood the dangers of ambition. While few would argue with his legacy of greatness, it was the following mindset that kept him grounded. In his own words …

“Dazzled with hype, we cannot see the cheat,

Of aiming with impatience to be great.

When wild ambition in the heart we find,

Farewell content and quiet of the mind.

For glittering clouds we leave the solid shore,

and wanted happiness returns no more.”

Lincoln is perhaps the greatest president in history. Why? Because he was a disciplined leader, who practiced disciplined thinking and disciplined actions.

However, Lincoln’s greatest trait might have been his respect for ambition.

I hope the same can be said for you.

Again, beware of greatness. Especially if the person you are trying to impress, is … YOU.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Why do you think leaders are so susceptible to ambition?

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Are You Facing Your Biggest Fears?

When asked what he was afraid of, Thomas Edison once replied, “I am afraid of the dark.” So what did he do? He invented the light bulb. For me the phobia is different … Heights.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to “go Edison” and attack my fear. I was at Six Flags with my daughter and one of her friends.

On the way to the park the girls asked me if I would ride Arachnophobia with them.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Arachnophobia (as I was), just envision the tower of Babel on steroids.

Did I mention the girls were 10 year olds? As such, they were giggling. So I thought, “How bad can it be?”

Let’s just say the ride should be illegal. As we walked up to the line, I knew I was in trouble. I think it was the fact I began to silently weep and wish somehow my Mommy would show up and rescue me. She didn’t!

I was a mess!

The girls wanted to know if I was crying. I told them “No,” that something was wrong with my contact lenses. My daughter reminded me that I didn’t wear contacts. I told her I was thinking about getting a pair and that was probably what was causing my eyes to water. She and her friend giggled.

The next thing I knew, I was harnessed in to a skyscraper. The thing shot me up to Heaven and I asked God if I could just stay. I didn’t hear an answer. Only a little girl on either side, now screaming and giggling at the same time.

That’s when the bottom fell out of my world. Free Fall back to earth. And just like that, it was over. The ride, that is, not my fear of heights. As I look back, I can tell you this. It was not as bad as I thought it would be.

Is there something you have been putting off because of fear? A project? A confrontation? A career change? A conversation?

Maybe the best thing you could do would be to not only face your fear, but to attack it? You have what it takes to overcome your fear. Stop putting it off and do what you need to do. I think you will find that the thing you are dreading isn’t nearly as strong as you are.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is your greatest fear?

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Are You on the Right Road?

As I awaken today, I am really excited about my future. More excited than I have been in a long time. I’m convinced it is because I recently made a turn onto a different road in my work life.

A few months ago I was on pavement. The same pavement I had been on for several years. It was a comfortable road with friends I love and work that came easy. But over time, the blacktop had become too familiar; the landscape changing very little.

It was a good road. Just no longer the right road for me.

I remember the way I felt as I considered my choice. A painful choice. Should I stay on my comfortable road, or should I exit off and head in a new direction? I knew exiting would require courage and, even worse, a departure from some of the greatest teammates on the planet. Perhaps these realizations kept me on the pavement longer than I intended … I have no regrets.

Two things convinced me to turn on the blinker.

First, I knew in my heart the road I was on would never take me to the place I dream of going. Truthfully, I’m not even sure I know the name of my destination. I do know it will be a place where my gifts and talents will be called on to encourage leaders and teams on a broader scale.

The second reason I made the turn is I remembered the old adage, “Your direction determines your destination.” I knew the longer I stayed on my old road, the further I would ultimately end up from my target.

Dirt Road

My new road is dirt. Unfamiliar and rugged. The horizon is distant. But after years of being a traveler, I am both smart enough to know I am naive, and quite certain I am headed in the right direction.

So, how about you? Are you on the right road?

If not, I want to remind you that you are running out of time. There is only so much fuel left in your tank.

At some point, you also will be faced with a choice. You can stay on the pavement, or turn onto the dirt. The question is, where do you want to end up? Remember, like me, your direction will determine your destination.

The dirt road is scary, but it sure is exhilarating and the view is amazing.

And by the way, you won’t be alone. It is where you will find me.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is one change you need to make over the next year?

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Does Your Team Go the Extra Mile?

In the Bible, Jesus gives His followers a challenge with the following words.

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Two Mile Marker

I loves these words because they remind me of the power of going the extra mile in serving others. 

Yesterday, I wrote about former Ritz Carlton CEO Horst Schulze and the value he places on laying a proper foundation with new team members. 

During his orientation process one of the things Schulze emphasizes is this idea of extra mile service. It has led him to create extraordinary hotels around the world.

Schulze has hired great people, personally trained them, and then created space for them to go the extra mile.

In his words, “We are superior to the competition because we hire employees who work in an environment of belonging and purpose. That is my mantra. We foster a climate where the employee can deliver what the customer wants. You cannot deliver what the customer wants by controlling the employee. Employees who are controlled cannot respond caringly, you need superior knowledge and real leadership, not management. Because of this we specifically developed a selection process for leaders; we don’t hire managers.”

Creating room for his team members to love and care for guests has led to some pretty amazing “extra mile” service.

One example, according to Schulze, is a night bellman who went with a guest to the hospital (the guest had appendicitis) and stayed all night with him. Schulze says, “That’s who we are.”

As you look at your life and your team, is that who you are? Do you have an extra mile mindset?

If not, you are missing out on one of the most powerful leadership principles ever taught.

Leaders go the extra mile and coach their teams to do the same.

I encourage you to identify a need in your leadership world today and then double the effort that is required to meet that need.

If you will, someone is going to be blown away. And that someone might just be you.

Leadership Begins at Home,


When was the last time you saw someone go the extra mile in their service and what was the result?

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The Importance of the First Mile

For the past few days I have been chewing on the words of former Ritz Carlton CEO, Horst Schulze.

Having hired dozens of people myself, and helped train them, I am challenged by the former CEO’s view on the importance of the first mile.

Mile 1

Schulze says, “The first 40 hours are the most important of a persons career.”

Wow! What a sweeping statement.

What Schulze knows is those first few days are the best chance a leader will have to cast vision, set boundaries, clarify roles, and model core values. In fact, Schulze, who recently opened a another chain of luxury hotels, is so passionate about training and orientation, he leads the process by personally spending time with his newbies.

In an interview with Forbes, Shulze says, “the finest people in the world work in our hotels and I don’t let just somebody train them. When we open a hotel, I train them. I did that in 50 Ritz Carltons and I still do it. I do it because I love it, not because I have to.”

If you have plans to expand your team, maybe you should put your orientation process under the microscope and evaluate your personal involvement.

I encourage you to remember the following:

1. A new person is like a sponge. They soak up whatever is made available to them. If the leader is absent, they might learn from the wrong person and get the wrong idea about your leadership. Your reputation is on the line. Be present!

2. A new person is not just a learner. They also have fresh eyes and can give you much needed input from an outsiders perspective. Ask them what they see and then after they tell you what they think you want to hear, ask them what they really see. You might be surprised at what you can learn. Listen as much as you talk!

3. A new person needs to be connected. Coming in from the outside can be challenging when you don’t know the language, metaphors, stories, or people. As the leader you are best positioned to paint the picture and foster vital relationships. Be strategic!

It’s true … you have one chance to make a first impression. If the first 40 hours are the most important of a persons career, don’t leave the training to chance and hope they “get it” through osmosis.

Be intentionally present, open, and strategic, and you too can lay a foundation that will lead to lasting impact.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What other things does a team member need during the first 40 hours on the job?

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