Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Month: September 2016 (page 3 of 3)

Who You Are Deep Down

soul-printBatterson hasn’t written a deep book of esoteric philosophy, but a practical book about the true potential all humanity could obtain through trusting the God of their soul to reveal our purpose. As the back of the book rightly states,

In Soulprint, Mark pours the contagious energy he’s known for into helping you experience the joy of discovering who you are…and the freedom of discovering who you’re not.” 

I agree that this end is met by reading Soulprint with an willing heart and an open mind.

One of the unique values for me (and I do read many books of this nature) is the focus and advantageous need to openly discuss what we are not. I have met and worked with a great many leaders who know who they are, but deny the truth that there are many things they are not. This one truth can bring some much peace to a person needing to be released from what they thought was a weakness but that turned out to simply be not part of their nature. Once your focus becomes singular in your pursuit of purpose, your soul prospers. Third John 2 states that when our soul prospers all others areas follow suit. Batterson has done us a great favor in assisting us all look to our soul for life value now and not just in some celestial eternity. 

The back of the book also claims, “A self-discovery book that puts God at the center rather than self” is a bit of a misnomer as you cannot help but connect the two. What Batterson does though is provide a path beyond simple self help to better your life for your own sake and better your soul for the sake of God’s great plan. When we all function within the deep nature of who we are, we win, our families win, and all those around us win. Further, God wins as he smiles on his child for living out their destiny!

 I recommend this book for any leader, but specifically leaders (church, education, and business) working with youth and young adults – many label them millennials today. Yes, it is great for older leaders also, but I think the idea needs to be instilled at a young age. Scripture is full of younger men and women finding their destiny and even Batterson references those stories (in this and other books he has written).

Wondering how to take care of your soul while searching for a grander purpose? If you answer “yes” or even “I don’t know” Soulprint is for you. Journey on… 

Seven Questions to Ask If You Need to Apply Boundaries in a Relationship

I have had multiple conversations as of late revolving around boundaries. Seems like everyone in my life is either needing boundaries, setting, boundaries, or lamenting not having boundaries.

When I slowed down, I realized some of the issues I was facing could be made more manageable or even alliterated by boundaries. A solid book for this discussion is Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. I will not be utilizing his book here, but wanted to tag a link for those who want to dig deeper.

feedback-book-3d_transparentbackground-300x349The book I will utilize is Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

When bringing up boundaries, most everyone I talk with agrees they are needed. Nevertheless, many of them do not know WHEN they are needed to be applied?

In their book, Stone and Heen lay out seven questions to ask your self if boundaries may be needed:

ONE – Does the feedback giver attack your character, or your behavior?

There is a line between attacking an issue to resolve for the better, and attacking a person and their character. You should never feel attacked at a personal level, but you cannot be so sensitive that you make a behavioral conversation personal all the time. Both parties must step back and deal with the issue.

TWO – Is their feedback unrelenting?

You know a boundary discussion needs to happen when all you get is feedback and little to none forward progress is being made. Unrelenting feedback has another term in causal vernacular; it’s called nagging. We all know where nagging goes…nowhere!

THREE – When you change, is there always one more demand?

Once you feel like you received solid feedback, made the appropriate course correction, and feel good about the progress, you find one more thing pops up as wrong and in need of change. This may naturally happen once or twice, but after that you are in a pattern.

This is often where people deal with what is called perfectionism. You change and change and change (and maybe at first for the better), but the change requests never stop and they soon become a hindrance to your forward progress. The advantageous side of the perfection coin is we can all strive to be the best us, but to know at our core that we are good enough! The destructive side of the perfection coin is change for change sake because nothing is every good enough, we are never good enough, and something has to change to bring about core level happiness.

As Rene Brown writes, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” (Daring Greatly, page 10). At some point, we all need to realize we are enough, and to stop allowing others to constantly be trying to change us! Boundaries help us accomplish this.

FOUR – Does the feedback giver take your relationship hostage?

In other words, you can choose to take my advice or not, but when you don’t accept and act upon it, you are responsible for the relationship failing. This becomes especially true of those who do not know how to express their fears or anxieties well, and therefore, this ploy is their attempt at control without expressing feelings.

Know this, you can be empathetic when you realize this in the feedback giver, and yet not give into their ploy and become hostage. This may be difficult, but often a third party (such as a counselor or spiritual adviser) can help bridge the gap between the feedback giver and the receiver. The third party should never be another family member, as this only leads to more broken and complicated relationships.

FIVE – Are they issuing warnings – or making threats?

A warning explains that danger is approaching and change can still be made and the situation salvaged. Threats are given when there is no choice in the situation and all information must be followed to the letter or ending the relationship is the only potion.

Most people are fearful of losing a relationship (especially a family ones), so they tend to give into threats. Remember the previous hostage discussion. Nevertheless, when boundaries do not work in a threat situation, some ending are necessary. If you feel you are in one of these situations, I suggest you grab a copy of Dr, Henry Cloud’s Necessary Endings as soon as you can. There is hope, but the process is incredibly painful. Stay the course!

SIX – Is it always you who has to change?

Are the conversations turning for the worst, with you always being on the end that needs to change. Is the feedback giver willing to change with you? Do they allow the conversation to be reciprocal?

We all have blind spots, so if we allow ourselves to be open to them, those who provide the feedback must be open to it also. Communication is a two way street, thus when it becomes a one-way rode, boundaries need to be set.

SEVEN – Are your views and feelings a legitimate part of the relationship?

Finally, if you are not allowed to ever bring up how you feel when feedback is presented, a danger warning alarm should sound. Although we should not go through our life and leadership spewing out every tiny emotion that desires to surface. No one wants to work with a person who cries when you bring up the most minor needed change. Notwithstanding, there are changes required in our life and leadership with attached difficult emotions and a place needs to be made for those.

I recall once working for a resort and being called in by the vice president. I was a young leader and was not good at being a team player. Because of my youth, I would often demand respect from those I led who were often twice my age. When I brought correction (even when it was needed), the responses ranged from anger to tears.

Back to being called into the VP’s office. There I was being given needed feedback on how to be a better leader, but in a very forward and demanding fashion. I began to well up inside. Before I knew it, tears were flowing. The VP looked at me and told me to straighten up and pull myself together. The VP didn’t give me any room to process just as I gave no room for those I led to process emotionally.

How did it end? Well, remember I was young, so I stood up, pulled myself together, and quit. I am not he best role model! It wasn’t for years later, was I able to look back at my blind spots and the blind spots of those above me. What a painful and ironic situation! I didn’t realize the benefits then, but I am sure glad for them now.

You may be dealing with a tough situation or relationship now, and there is no easy way but to travel through it. Know this, one day you can look back and use it to better yourself. Or potentially use the seven ideas above to bring about an advantageous solution.

Any relationship saved is worthy of a celebration. Don’t give up!

Lead happy my friends!

Upcoming Book


First, let me thank all my readers, especially my subscribers. You make it possible to be heard in a world full of noise. I appreciate you all.

I am currently in the process of writing two books, both on leadership – one more personal and the other more pragmatic.

Below is the introduction to the more personal one in which I will lay out the 12 Things I wish someone would have told me 12 years ago when I started in high level leadership. I would love some feedback on what you think and potential changes, deletions, and editing you would suggest. I am all ears!


Graduating college, I felt like I could take on the world. Somehow I believed the world needed me and my unique talent and skills to spin on. It took less than three months to realize how wrong and naive I was. It was July 2001, when it all began to crumble.

Many would have seen my life a picture perfect from the outside. I come from a supportive family that never divorced. I am a middle child (and middle children know exactly what that means). I grew up in a small town but with a high standard of education. My wife was also my best friend through high school. We ended up going to college together and planned on marriage after graduation. We graduated in May 2001, and less than three months later (literally four days before our wedding date), Lynette was diagnosed with cancer. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Monday, following the Saturday we were married, skipping the extravagant getaway honeymoon, we found ourselves in a hospital room as Lynette would begin 11 months of chemo and radiation. This would be the first of many sufferings we would overcome as a couple and as young leaders.

Fast-forward to the present, my wife is a 15-year cancer survivor. They told us we would not be able to have children, and we have two beautiful daughters. Both of them did not come without hardship either, as our oldest we had to leave at the hospital in NICU as we went home without our tiny princess. Our youngest had a children’s orthopedic specialist before she was six months old due to bone growth and hip concerns. Both of them are doing incredibly well now and more of their stories are expounded on throughout the axioms.

Finally, I focus only on myself as a way to help you connect to me as the writer and why I feel I am worthy of writing such a treatise. When I read books, I often do so, especially, when I connect to the author in some way, even if it is a minor way. When I was 33, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. The four years following the diagnosis, I had four surgeries – three full hip replacements and a cervical neck fusion. Now don’t worry, I don’t have three hips! The second surgery performed on my right hip cracked my femur and a year later had to be redone. That was the longest year of my young life! As of this writing, I am in the process of scheduling a shoulder surgery (say that three times fast) and a lower back fusion. Needless to say, I collect orthopedic doctors like some guys collect baseball cards!

Why do I mention all of this? Well, I am glad you asked. Because I believe all of these things happened for a reason. I believe that no pain is to ever be wasted. That each of us has a unique pain and that pain is a grace allowing us to move forward in our life and leadership.

Our sufferings don’t shape us, our reactions to them do!

Through all of the circumstances described above and other I will add later, I have been able to not only lead, but lead well and find promotion, satisfaction, and success. Plus, I did it all by being happy through the process. Happy doesn’t mean everything was easy, as a matter of fact, as you will find throughout this book, many issues were crippling and hard and lead to times of what classical theologians call, the dark nights of the soul.

Happy describes my core belief not my outward circumstances.

Well enough about me and now onto you and how this book will benefit your life and leadership.

12 Things is designed to be read as you like without being sequential. Each chapter is stand alone in the principles and observations. You can read the ones that stand out to you or you can use this as a regular resource to come back to when you encounter leadership issues that connect with the topics. Axioms are powerful tools. Their mantra can help you focus and center yourself in the world wind we call leadership and life.

I have also added “Learn to Lead” sections at the end of each chapter. This will allow you to journal and take it further or to lead your staff or volunteer teams through the principles.

These sections are also downloadable PDFs at www.leadinghappy.com/LearntoLeadDownloads (note: link is not live yet)

This book isn’t original or infallible, but it is approachable and easily applicable, and for that reason, I wrote this for you! You are the leader in the trenches on a daily basis, high fiving, praying, crying, celebrating, and even mourning. Yours is a confusing and fast paced world that never seems to end, and we are all called to somehow lead and even grow as leaders. When do we find time for that? Again, for this reason, I have written this book to be a short and quick read, with others to follow with more depth.

Just so you know, I am currently in the trenches daily as a leader. I am not writing from the safety of a plush office any longer. I recently left a thriving church of over 3,000 as an executive pastor to direct a nonprofit that fights to alleviate food insecurities in Southern Missouri. I work alongside underpaid teachers, rub shoulder with the incredibly wealthy, and unify high caliber community leaders to create sustainable transformation in our county’s cities. I have tested the advice over 20 years of leading and it has yet to fail me, so I know it won’t fail you. As the title suggest, I wish someone would have told me these twelve years ago when I started leading at an executive level.

No matter where you are lead well – and lead happy!

David Lermy

Branson, Missouri

September 2016

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