Letter from the Editor

Getting New Year’s Resolution Back on TrackWe’ve only reached the mid-point of the first month of the year, and many people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. How about you – have you gotten off track? If so, get back on track and stop making yourself wrong for what you haven’t done. Beating yourself up has no value in getting you mentally, and even physically, back online with your goals. Standing there, you can get present to what it is you say you want to achieve and be unstoppable in getting there!

If your plan is already buried under days of paperwork, get it out! Keep your plan visible and review it regularly too, taking particular note of who is on your team. If you don’t have a team of people around you that you allow to hold you accountable and support you in your request to make whatever changes you desire, keeping your resolutions and reaching your goals is going to be much, much harder than it needs to be.

To get what you say you want in 2015 you must be unstoppable no matter what comes your way! Those who are most successful and happy in life are unstoppable in their own behalf. They get things done when others say they can’t; they move people when others say they can’t be moved; they see what other people don’t see; they do what others can’t or won’t do!

In the end, getting any New Year’s resolution back on track is about forgiveness (of yourself and your team too), staying present to what you want and the plan you have for getting there, and being unstoppably committed! Don’t allow yourself to be stopped and question: “Why me?” CHOOSE to get back on track, be determined, and never ever give up on getting what you say you want in 2015.

Remember: You are the only person who has a say in how your life turns out!

Clay S. Nelson

Clay S. Nelson

10 Must-Do Tips for Reaching Your “Replacing You” Goal in 2015

Reaching your 2015 goal of “Replacing You”Editor's Note: Please see the first entry in this series in the December 2014 issue of More Than Just a Thought.

Reaching your 2015 goal of “Replacing You” is all about creating room for you to grow and follow your vision for what’s next, and to do that, you must have a team of leaders capable of standing beside you. It is an ongoing process. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes commitment. Yes, it takes an unstoppable mind-set in order to keep the old feeling of, “I can get this done faster if I do it myself just this one time,” out of the way. However, if you will stick with it—not ever giving up—you will create a team of phenomenal leaders capable of seeing your vision through!

Here are 10 musts for reach your “Replacing You” goal in 2015:

#1: Teach What You Know - Teach your team/your replacement(s) all of the things you do to keep your business moving forward and the best way to get clear about what those things are is to write your job description. Write down everything you do for two solid weeks... except for eating, sleeping, and personal time. This will give you a clear picture of what you need to include in your written job description and what you need to teach to your replacement(s).

#2: Be an Effective Teacher - When a team member comes to you with a question, you need to be the question instead of the answer! Ask your team member what they think; ask what they would do if you weren’t there. This provides your team—and replacement(s)—with the benefit of thinking through issues and developing their problem solving skills, and it provides you with the opportunity to see what your team knows and what they don’t know, who has natural abilities in what domain, and who’s choosing to grow and who isn’t.

#3: Have a plan - Without a written plan you don’t know where you are going and you have nothing to teach your team from. Have a clear written plan for who is responsible for what, which will provide your team and your replacement(s) clarity around where they are going and what they are responsible for accomplishing and by when they are to accomplish it.

#4: Be in Full and Complete Communication - Leaving your team out of the proverbial “loop” or expecting them to do things under the guise of “... because I told you so!” is no way to build a team of leaders around you. If you want your replacement(s) to stand tall beside you and take on more responsibility, always communicate fully and completely. Start with communicating the plan for putting your vision into action! Your team needs to know what is expected of them, by-when, and what part they play in fulfilling your vision for the company.

#5: Delegate - Replacing you requires you to not only teach your replacement(s) how to do what you do, but you also have to let them do it. Be clear about what you are giving up and delegate those responsibilities/tasks to your replacement(s).

#6: Create an Accountability System - You are responsible for doing what you say you are going to do and by-when you say you will do it, and your team members have to be clear that they also are accountable for producing the results you agree will be produced. When you have a clear system of accountability in place, there is no room for “I could have...” or “I should have...” or “I just plain don’t want to...” With accountability, we either are our word or we aren’t.

#7: Stay out of the way - Give up being a control monster, and allow your team to put your vision/plan into action. Your team members learn the most when you allow them to stand on their own two feet and learn, not only from the their successes, but also from their mistakes.

#8: Allow your team to contribute to the team and to you - Trust the training and instincts that you are building in your team by allowing your team members to contribute to not only the company, but to you directly. By doing so you empower your team to be 100% engaged in accomplishing the goals and vision you create.

#9: Be open to learning and doing things a new (and possibly even better) way - Listen to what your team members have to say about what they see and what they believe could or should be done in any given circumstance.

#10: Do not make your team members wrong when they make a mistake - We all learn the most when we make a mistake. So, turn mistakes into teachable moments asking, “What is a better way to do it next time?”

When you put those 10 must-dos into action, replacing you becomes infinitely easier. Will it be a perfect, trouble-free process? No, but even with a few bumps in the road, the following benefits make it all worthwhile!

Replacing you means:

  • Having a team empowered to accomplish your vision.
  • Your team thinking not just in terms of checking off tasks from a list, but in terms of asking, “How can we do this better and more efficiently? How can I contribute to the success of the company?” Your business becomes more efficient and profitable!
  • Your business working without you having to be there 24/7.
  • Having time for yourself and your family!
  • You create room to BE the visionary, the creator of new ideas and goals, rather than doing all of the work.

Tell me: Does the end goal justify the things you have to take on and do differently? I think so, but I want to hear from you! Chime in the comment section below. Let’s get the conversation started... share your own thoughts on “Replacing You”... let’s make a difference together!

Make Replacing YOU your #1 goal for 2015 and as both you and your team grow and move forward to what’s next... you will see that anything is possible!

Leadership Essential: Forgiveness

Leadership Essential: Forgiveness[Forgiveness is] a deliberate act on our part. Revenge evens the score; forgiveness wins the game."
—Family Walk

One of the secrets of effective leadership is the ability to forgive on your feet—forgive someone in the moment when that person does or says something that offends or hurts you; forgive when someone fails to be their word or messes up on the job. Forgiving on your feet means not wasting precious time or energy being resentful or resisting the urge to not trust and do it all yourself, again.

Forgiveness is about regaining your power. That’s right! As long as you are resentful, the person or circumstance that you are resentful of has power over you. When you forgive, you reestablish control over your life and reclaim your personal power. You give up the stress that carrying resentment or hurt creates, and you give yourself an immediate benefit of stress relief.

Leadership is a choice not to let your important life decisions be run by your feelings. Forgiveness is a choice we can make, even in the face of our feelings, including our fears. Forgiveness means we are willing to be vulnerable again... to take the risk. Forgiveness means choosing to give up being a victim and give up being right.

Forgiving on your feet takes practice. It may seem difficult at first, but the way to improve your ability to forgive is to practice, practice, and practice some more! You’ve probably noticed that life gives you several opportunities every day to forgive on your feet—the banker cutting off your line of credit, being cut off on the freeway, the restaurant server taking too long to bring your check to the table, your son spilling a gallon of juice on the carpet, a member of your executive team loosing a major account... you get the idea! So, every time you recognize a new hurt or anger, practice choosing in that moment to let go of it quickly. You simply have to practice choosing a forgiving attitude. Leaders forgive quickly. Leaders know that giving over their energy to resentment or a grudge robs them of their ability to lead effectively. They have to forgive and move on in order to stay the course and get what they say they want, by-when they say they want it.

Leaders know forgiveness is 100% their responsibility. The power of forgiveness lies in the fact that it has NOTHING to do with the other person. Forgiveness is for, and all about, YOU! It's about you giving up hurt and your judgments about others. It's a precious gift you give to yourself, your self-esteem, and to your relationships with everyone. Forgiveness is 100% your responsibility because you are 100% in control of your behavior and choices. So, how about choosing to be a forgive-on-your-feet leader right now?

Letter from the Editor

12_01By now most, if not all, of your holiday celebrations with family and friends are wrapping up, with the exception of ringing in the new year! As you prepare to welcome 2015, have you thought about what you want your new year to look like?

I’m not talking about the normal New Year Resolution that is quickly tossed aside. I’m talking about what YOU really want and how you are going to make it happen. Yes, you need a plan... yes, you need a team... yes, you need to be 1000% committed to getting what you say you want. But, before you jump in to whatever goals you set, please take part in this simple year end exercise. It will change your outlook; your attitude and the results you attain in 2015.

Year-end Completion Exercise:

Sometime within the next few days, I want you to sit down in a quiet space (by yourself, with your significant other, or your family as a whole) and write down all of the things you have accomplished since January 1, 2014. Write down all of your accomplishments including: personal, business, health, financial, recreation, communication, relationships, and anything else you can think of.

The purpose of this exercise is to shift your focus from any negative self-talk to positive; from a glass half-empty way of thinking to a glass half-full way of thinking! By focusing your energy on the good you do and the goals you have achieved, you instantly create a whole new attitude about where you are in life and what your abilities are. Standing there, you can then take on your plan for reaching your 2015 goals from a much more powerful state of mind!

Do you want to know how to make your list even more valuable? Teach from it! You can keep the list hidden in a drawer for your eyes only, but consider the value you get from sharing it with others. Your kids will get lit up seeing all that has been accomplished as a family. Your team will be energized through the realization that they are a part of a dynamic team, and you will teach others the value of acknowledging their own accomplishments.

So, please, get out your paper and pen, take some time to reflect on all that you, your family, and your team has accomplished this year, and write down everything you can think of! Instantly, you will transform your attitude and the prospects for your new year too!

For more information and a complete explanation of the end-of-year completion exercise, take 45-minutes and watch the recording of my most recent webinar - “New Year. New Attitude.”

Best Wishes to You for an Outrageous and Happy New Year!

Clay S. Nelson
Clay S. Nelson

Why Replacing You Should Be Your #1 Goal for 2015

Why Replacing You Should Be Your #1 Goal for 2015The last several years have no doubt been difficult on your business’ bottom-line, and with the economy once again moving along, succeeding in your #1 goal of growing your business actually seems attainable! But, if you aren’t careful, you can actually hinder your progress. Don’t get caught up in “doing it all” in order to grow your business! Instead, make replacing YOU your #1 goal and the rest will follow!

What do I mean by “Replace You?” What we’re talking about is how to raise the bar on who you are being as a leader; taking on a mindset where you can step out of controlling it all, grow your team, teach others how to do what you do, and be the leader you need to be in order to have the freedom to grow your company to its greatest potential!

Think about it:

  • If you do it all, where do you get to rest?
  • If you do it all, where does your mind have a place to create from?
  • If you do it all, how can you take on whatever is necessary to move on to what’s next for you and the company (and team) you lead?

The consequences of “doing it all” are clear, but fear can keep even the greatest of leaders from truly stepping out of doing and simply being. The problem with this, however, is that there is a limit to how much you can do yourself, and it has a negative impact on your team as well! The cost of choosing not replace you includes:

Poor morale—If you don’t allow your employees to contribute their talents to the good of the company, they will eventually find a place to work where they can contribute and where their talents are recognized and put to good use. Note: The number one need an employee has is to be acknowledged!

Burnout—You as a leader can’t do it all, and if you insist on doing it all, eventually you will run out of energy.

Not seeing the big picture—When you are busy micromanaging your team and your business, you risk not seeing the big picture, missing opportunities, and making hasty decisions that in the long run are either too costly or are out of line with what your plan says you want to achieve! And, if you don’t involve your team in what it takes to do what you do for the business, they can’t see the big picture either... they don’t have a clear vision of why anyone is doing what they do, which diminishes the energy and the passion they put behind the job they do.

Limiting growth—If you as a leader insist on being involved in absolutely every detail of your company – what you produce and how it is produced, knowing about every change order, micromanaging office staff, or even insisting that all communications with clients filter through you – then you are the limit to that which can be achieved!

Remember: What’s next for you as a Visionary Leader—who’s replacing yourself—is about being outrageously committed and present to who you are being inside of that commitment. Standing there, you can then create a vision and plan of action for getting anything you say you want for your company (and yourself and team)!

So while replacing you can be a scary thing, just imagine:

  • Having a team empowered to accomplish your vision.
  • Your team thinking not just in terms of checking off tasks from a list, but in terms of asking, “How can we do this better and more efficiently? How can I contribute to the success of the company?"
  • Your business working without you having to be there.
  • Having time for yourself and your family!
  • Being the visionary, the creator of new ideas and goals, rather than doing all of the work.

Just imagine what you, your company, and your team can accomplish with that kind of power, clarity, and team work behind it!

Make Replacing YOU your #1 goal for 2015 and as both you and your team grow and move forward to what’s next... you will see that anything is possible!

Editor’s Note: Be sure and see next month’s issue of More Than Just a Thought, for the steps you need to take and systems you need to put into place in order to reach your goal of Replacing You.

Create More Fun

Create More FunWhen you think about what you want your new year to look like, be sure to include the goal of having more fun!

Yes, there is always work to do, but don’t be someone who sacrifices fun whenever anything else remains incomplete or unfinished in your life because you just don’t “have time!” Fun is an important part of life. It helps you relax, reduce stress, and stay sane in the midst of a crazy world. Fun can be in the form of physical activities, hobbies, volunteer events, games, movies, or anything else that you LOVE to do. If you are having trouble thinking of something fun, just observe kids of any age...they will remind you what fun is all about.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Throw a party for no reason at all
  • Draw pictures in the sand or snow
  • Camp with your kids in your own backyard all night
  • Give flowers to a total stranger you pass on the street
  • Take a bath by candlelight with soft music
  • Go play paintball
  • Participate in a volunteer run/walk for a charity
  • Commit to having a good, out-loud belly laugh every day, even if you just laugh at yourself
  • Get some fun friends and spend time with them

Keep in mind, FUN doesn’t have to cost anything either! You don’t have to go on vacation or on a shopping spree to have fun, but to make sure your fun doesn’t get pushed aside when life gets hectic, you do have to plan for it and actually schedule it in your calendar... in Ink!

Schedule time for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly fun activities that light you up just thinking about doing them. Now, put your plan in the car, on your bathroom mirror, and up at work—everywhere you need to put it so you don’t ignore it! Ask your spouse or significant other to hold you accountable for keeping your appointments with FUN. Let the fun begin, and remember—there is no FUN prison!

Letter from the Editor

Comfort Zone - Where the Fun IsIf the calendar doesn’t clue you in to what is looming around the corner, the major cold-snap a huge portion of the US experienced this past week will! The fourth quarter of the year is almost upon us!

With the yearend looming in the background of everything we do, it is not uncommon to look at where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, what we haven’t accomplished, and put off what we’ve been “trying” to get done until the new year. We take on the attitude of, “If it hasn’t gotten done by this point in the year, it isn’t going to. So, why bother?” Good question! Why should you bother?

There are nearly 4 months until January 1, and for every moment you put off doing what you said you were going to accomplish in 2014, you miss a moment of opportunity. You miss opportunities to grow personally and financially. You miss opportunities to learn what you don’t know. You miss the chance to teach and make a difference for others.

You miss out on the fun that awaits you. And, one thing I’ve learned is to not waste a day, a moment, or even a breath. Our time here on this planet is a gift. Don’t waste it! Step out of your comfort and get moving.

Carpe Diem!

Clay S. Nelson
Clay S. Nelson

P.S. Be sure and check out this month’s newsletter article titled The Power of By-When for more information to help you to get past trying and actually do instead!

Free Webinar: Fine Tuning Your Focus for 4th Quarter

Fine Tuning Your Focus for 4th QuarterPresented by Clay S. Nelson

We have reached a time of year where there are a lot of distractions that can keep us from being on target during the 4th quarter! However, if you take time now to fine tune your focus you can complete 2014 powerfully, and on track, to meet and even exceed the goals you set for yourself at the start of this year.


  • Simple tools you can use to reinvigorate your passion and have more fun.
  • 4 easy lessons to keep you focused and on track.
  • The number one key to get past “trying” and instead, be in focused, committed action that gets results.


Click Here to Signup for this Free Webinar »

Balanced Life Essential: Ask for Help!

Balanced Life Essential: Ask For HelpWe’ve entered a time of year when life takes on a whole new intensity. Schools are officially in session, we’re gearing up for fourth quarter at work and for what it brings to our personal lives, as well. Fields are being harvested and apple orchards are open for business and in full swing, fall sports leagues are chugging along, and if you are like many, many people you may be feeling like you have been branded with a giant “S” on your chest. Yes, you very well may have the Super-Hero Syndrome!

You know what I’m talking about:

Getting up in the morning, getting yourself and the family ready for their day, working all day, attending a charitable board meeting, having dinner, coaching your child’s little league team, working on homework with the kids, mowing the lawn, housework, getting the kids in bed, giving the dog a bath, getting organized for the next day, making sure you have clean socks, collapsing in bed somewhere around midnight, and then starting all over again early the next morning tired and used up!!

You attempt to be all things to all people, and if you could swing from place to place like Spiderman, that would be perfectly alright. However, we can’t! So, why don’t we ask for help?

How do you cure the super-hero syndrome?!

Easy! Ask for help! Think about it: How can anyone help you if they have no idea you need help? You can’t possibly expect the people around you to read your mind and to know what help you need. Heck, most Super-Heroes move so fast that most everyone around them concentrates on staying out of their way for fear of getting blasted by the “hero’s” cosmic rays. Therefore, if you need help you’ve got to slow down and ask for it!
Remember: No matter how sure of your super-powers you are, they can be weakened. Superman has kryptonite, Spiderman is afflicted at times by a pure lack of confidence, and those of us who are mere human-beings are afflicted with humanity, meaning if we could get to where we’re going by ourselves, we’d be there already!

So ask for the help you need, when you need it! It is that simple.

The Power of By-When

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
Will Rogers

Do you ever sit around and analyze (and over-analyze) why you haven’t produced the results you say you are committed to producing? Do you surround yourself with spreadsheets, charts, lists, analyses, and other research tools TRYING to figure out why you haven’t reached your goal? Well, check it out... do your goals, objectives, and action items have by-when dates attached to each of them? Hmmmmm....

How to Get ResultsNine times out of ten, missed goals, stagnant plans, or unmotivated teams are a direct result of not having any by-when date. A plan without a date is a tremendous way to get absolutely nothing done, because without a date, what have you really committed to? So, stop wasting time and don’t let your fear of the unknown or of failure keep you from being in committed action. Stop procrastinating and put the power of by-when to work for you!

Procrastination has been defined as “the deliberate act of excessive postponing.” Notice that word....deliberate. That means it’s a choice. Just as you can choose to put the incredible power of the by-when date to work in your own behalf!

You can talk all day, have meetings, make written reports, make lists out of your lists and review them until the cows come home. But, people who accomplish great things have a plan of action that includes dates by-when they are committed to doing what they say they are going to do!

Letter from the EditorLetter from the Editor

Last week as Susan and I traveled through the mountains near our home, we happened upon a herd of goats; a very large herd of goats! There had to of been several hundred of them all being wrangled by a handful of goat herders, dogs and horses. It was really something to see, and I was amazed at how clearly one could see the hierarchy within this group.

Of course, the top level was made up of the goat herders themselves. They commanded respect simply by their actions, confidence, the way they communicated, and sheer commitment to keep the herd moving in a safe and unified direction. The next level was made up the “leader” goats. The one’s who clearly had influence over their fellow goats and whom others were willing to follow anywhere, which brings us to the next level… the followers.  The followers simply went in whatever direction the backside in front of them was moving, and then there were the stragglers… the trouble-makers… the rebellious goats who wanted to go their own direction and who required a lot of attention to keep with the herd.

As I watched this process from our car, it occurred to me that this group of goats isn’t much different from a team of humans. You have the primary leader, an executive team that helps direct the masses, the overall team taking action based upon the direction they are lead, and finally, you have those who simply need extra attention and guidance to stay on track. So, which type of “goat” are you? There really isn’t anything wrong with being any one of those as described. After all, each one serves a purpose, even the rebellious goat who just might have a better way of getting to where they want to go.

However, I have to admit that for me, the thought of being a follower in the middle of the herd is certainly the least attractive (if not stinky!) option. And if that is where you are and don’t want to be, it is time to push your way to the front of the herd! We need more leaders in this world who are willing to step up, be bold and committed, lead with confidence and conviction, and make a positive difference. Life is too short for anything else. Just a thought.

Warm Regards,

Clay S. Nelson
Clay S. Nelson

Raising TeensRaising Teens

Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart. It never has been. However, raising teenagers to be more self-sufficient, responsible, respectful, happy, and compassionate is most often about who we are to them as living examples and what we allow them to experience.

Generally speaking, teenagers have a pretty limited view of the world around them, and teens don’t necessarily understand or appreciate what the adults in their lives take on in the teen’s behalf… while they are at school, after the teen goes to bed or while they are texting their friends and posting selfies on Instagram. So, my recommendation to all parents is:

  1. Allow your teenager to do the things that require survival in the world. Teach them how to do laundry and let them do it. Teach them how to do housework so that when they leave the nest they know how to clean a toilet! (You’d be surprised the numbers of young adults I’ve come across that don’t know how to do these things because it was always done for them, which can make for one scary bathroom!)
  2. Teach them how to manage money and let them manage it. Once they make a poor decision and lose it all, they’ll think twice about doing it again. And which is better… wasting a $20 a week allowance or an entire paycheck their first month on a new job?
  3. Teach them the value of community service and making a difference for others and do so together as a family. This will help to create and maintain their connection to the planet, not just their connection to a smart phone or an Twitter.
  4. Have family meetings where you have room to say what you need to as a parent, and possibly even more important, the teenager can say what they need to say, no matter what it is, with the agreement that you listen until they are finished talking. You show them respect… they will show you respect!
  5. Be the question and not the answer. Quit telling your kids what to do and instead ask them what they think they ought to do and listen to their analysis. Then suggest other ways if appropriate. Don’t tell them that they are doing wrong and then what you think is right – of course, unless we are talking about life and limb here… there is a limit! Do give them guidance and coaching and allow them to create a future that they live into and are responsible for.
  6. Last but not least, acknowledge your teen for the great things they do. Encourage and support them. Make sure your teen knows your are their biggest fan and that you do what you do out of love and respect for them.

Just as you, the parent, are responsible for that which you create, plan for, and put into action, your teenager also needs a place to call his/her own. Without an opportunity to create that place on their own, kids eventually end up floundering, unsure, low on self-esteem, and getting into trouble simply out of never having the opportunity to discover who they really are and what they really want for themselves.

For all our good intentions, often times we as parents create in our children the exact opposite of what we had hoped for them. So, next time you do a load of laundry, wash the car, or volunteer at a charitable event, get your kids involved. Yes, even your younger children – the younger you start the better — and allow them to be a responsible member of the family, acknowledge and respect them as such, and you will see a responsible, respectful, connected and compassionate teen emerge before your eyes!

Leadership Essential: AppreciationLeadership Essential: Appreciation

When employees leave their jobs, often they participate in exit interviews. Those exit interviews reveal that many employees decide to leave because they don’t feel valued or appreciated. As leaders of our organizations, we should be aware that even when everything is going well in our organizations—it isn’t the time to just sit back. The employees who are making everything work well need to be appreciated and acknowledged…and often. When things aren’t going as best as they could be within the organization, that’s the time when appreciation is needed even more!

How do you say “thank you” to people without whom you’d be lost? Be specific, base your comments on behavior you have witnessed, and make sure you acknowledge the action soon after it occurred. Appreciation doesn’t have to take long.

Suppose you overhear your employee dealing effectively with a difficult vendor on the phone. When the employee gets off the phone, ask if you can speak to them for a minute. Say something about what you saw and why you liked it. “I overheard the way you handled that vendor on the phone. I really admire your patience and the way you explained the situation to the vendor simply, but not in a condescending way. That went a long way toward enhancing the public impression of our company. Thank you!” This kind praise costs nothing, takes little time, and will absolutely make an employee’s day!

Appreciation is best expressed spontaneously and personally. Don’t delegate to someone else the job of expressing appreciation on your behalf. Do it yourself!

Words of praise often suffice, but if you do give a gift, “wrap” the gift in your words of appreciation. Think about what the person does for you, the team, and your organization. Say your “thank you” face-to-face with a genuinely warm attitude and a smile. Remember: appreciation costs nothing to give! Give it freely, and you’ll be amazed at how far your appreciation will go.

Letter from the EditorLetter from the Editor

The other day my bulldog, Cooper, began barking incessantly. It was the kind of bark where I just knew something was outside. So, I looked out the window and there she was… A momma bear and her baby! She and her cub were absolutely beautiful, and as I reflect on that morning, it occurred to me what I might have missed had I not been present to what Cooper was telling me.

The world around us is a wondrous thing. There is beauty everywhere, whether we live in the mountains, the desert, the plains, or on the coast, but so often we are lulled into a complacency of sorts. We are so busy doing stuff that we don’t take the time to be present to what is around us.

So, as we journey through these summer months, I encourage you to make a point of being present to the world around you. Really listen to what what nature and those around you are saying. You will be amazed at the beauty you see and all there is yet to learn.

Warm Regards,

Clay S. Nelson
Clay S. Nelson

Backyard Talent Show

It's Not Easy Being a Leader

By Beth Geier

Editor's Note: This article is a repeat from 2012, and as the date for the 7th Annual Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude approaches, these children have now raised $78,000 over the lifetime of the show. And last year, they worked with and mentored over 50 children who participated in the show. These girls are doing amazing things! They are making a difference in the world, and there is a great deal we can learn from them. So, please read on, and if you’d like learn to more about the event that is providing Claire and Katie with these learning opportunities go to The Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude, at: www.backyardtalentshow.shutterfly.com or www.facebook.com/backyardtalentshow

"It's not easy being a leader." That phrase has been swirling around in my head for a few weeks now, and it is something I've seen many people wrestle with. However, I never really imagined watching my daughters dealing with it at the ripe old age of 13! (Note: Claire and Katie are now 15!)

Summertime for many kids is all about swimming, sleep-overs, and sleeping in! And while my daughter's do their share of those things, Claire & Katie also work during the summer putting together a charity event.

Claire and Katie are co-founders, with their cousins, of the Kids Helping Kids Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude. Started in 2008, literally in the backyard, they have raised over $40,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They recruit the show talent, write scripts, dance in the opening number, organize and recruit restaurants to provide show concessions (all for donations to St. Jude), promote their event, and they are the most unstoppable girls I've ever known.

Last year their show outgrew the backyard and now hundreds of people pack a local park for this annual event. As the show has grown, and the girls have gotten older, they recently had the realization that in order for this event to continue, they had to grow in their leadership role. So, this year they put a succession plan into place and began sharing their vision with other children capable of replacing them in the future; mentoring them, getting those children's families involved in show planning, and teaching others how to do what they do.

Of course, all of this has not gone off without hiccups. During a recent practice for the show's opening number, in which the show founders perform with 25 other children, Claire and Katie were at their breaking point. It was 100 degrees. The girls were tired, and being with all of these other children was really the last thing they wanted to do. Before they even got to the park, they were convinced of how miserable the next hour was going to be.

After a pep talk, they got up on stage, went through the motions of the opening dance, and things generally went okay. During a break, however, Katie approached me with her shoulders hunched over, grumbling, and complaining. I allowed Katie to say what she wanted to, and then said to her: "I get how hot it is and how tired you are, but remember this… every one of those kids on that stage with you are hot and tired too. You are all in the same boat, with one exception. Those kids are looking to YOU for guidance. You set the stage for how everyone else chooses to BE. If you choose to BE hot, tired, miserable, and complaining they will too!" As Katie stomped away, a friend of mine standing nearby called out to Katie saying, "It isn't easy being a leader!"

With that, Katie got back up on stage, and with a huge smile on her face and pep in her step, Katie chose to BE the leader that she is. During subsequent breaks, she continued to come to me privately to vent and have a pep talk, but she never let her emotions spill over on to the other children.

How cool is this? A 13-year old BEING what many adults think is impossible simply by clearing the thoughts and feelings that were in her way, and choosing to stand tall in a difficult circumstance. Not for herself, but to the benefit of those around her.

In one fell-swoop, Katie showed not only how difficult it can be to BE a leader, but also the power we have as leaders to make a difference simply by who we choose to be at any given moment!

No, Katie's choice to BE unstoppable didn't change the air temperature or keep the batteries in their music player from running low. What her choice did create, however, was the space for those watching her to choose to be unstoppable too!

Just think about that for a moment. This is HUGE. Now, what if all of us as leaders chose to take that on that kind of commitment too? In the words of Clay Nelson, Just a Thought! 😉

Learning to Say "No"

Balanced Life Essential: Learning to Say “No”

Life has a way of serving up an incredible about of busyness all at one time. You may even be multi-tasking your multi-tasking just to keep up with your work, your family, your social commitments, and your kids social commitments. Oh! And then there is taking time for you!

Given all that you do day-in and day-out, have you ever considered simply slowing down and actually saying “No” from time-to-time? No one has an infinite amount of time or energy to give another, and if you give away every ounce of what you do have, where can you go to get re-charged?

Yes, being a giving person, making a difference for others, is very important. The world needs leaders like you to give of themselves. However, you can’t give what you don’t have. So, rather than driving yourself into the ground, you have to learn your limits, and learn to say, “no!”

How do you determine what you are going to say “no” to and how do you do it without upsetting those you turning down?

  1. You have to make you and your time a clear priority – Put standards in place around the number of hours you will put in at the office, which social commitments you are most passionate about and want to continue, and even the number of activities you are willing to run each of your children to and from.
  2. Take a look at the activities you take on as your own that could be delegated. For instance, hire a service to clean your house, instead of doing it yourself! Have your animals bathed and groomed by a professional. Hire a college student to mow the lawn. Your spouse wants to change the color of the paint in every room of your house… hire a painter! You get the idea!
  3. Include taking care of you in your list of priorities. Keep your batteries charged with things you love to do, which can be done efficiently and quickly, and do them frequently enough to keep you from running low on juice!
  4. Have your priorities and commitments written down in a plan – If you have a plan and are clear about what you will and will not do it makes it easier to say “no” when necessary. Having a written plan also provides a tool from which others can hold you accountable for doing (and not doing) what you say you are going to do (and not do)!
  5. Give up worrying that you will make others mad by saying “no!” Now, I’m not advocating that you growl your “no,” but you do have to respect yourself enough to not be overrun with extra activities, tasks, and unreasonable demands for your time.
  6. Finally, when you find yourself having to turn down someone’s request, first ask permission to speak straight. Say, “I can’t do that. I have a portion of my life I need to take care of and this is the only time I have to do it.” Or if the “no” involves a request from someone at work that would require extra and/or unreasonable demands on your time, put your schedule down on paper. Include the items you are doing, show the person making the request the schedule, and ask which items should take priority or be replaced in order to accommodate the request.

In the end, living a balanced life, which includes work, family, community, and you, starts with making a commitment to put you first. Once you do that, saying “no” where appropriate becomes much easier to do. You’ll find yourself more energized and enjoying what you do say “yes” to much, much more!

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