The Only Person Who Welcomes Change is a Wet Baby: Leadership Series, Part 2

“It is easier to introduce a fourth person into the holy Trinity than it is to change the color of the carpet in the foyer.” – Karl Beck

“Just remember this important lesson,” the leadership expert said. “When you return from this conference the people you work with want nothing to change. People have created their own levels of dysfunction and are happy in them.”

After 35+ years of studying leadership dynamics, I believe the greatest test of leadership is to positively navigate people through changes.

Here are the reasons I’ve observed as to why people don’t like change:

  • Change assumes they’re doing something wrong that needs fixed. So, at it’s core, change attacks value.
  • Change almost always involves loss and we are not comfortable losing our status, our projects and the niche we’ve worked so hard to create.
  • Change involves fear of the unknown and people don’t like fear. In fact, most of the chaos that comes with change has, at it’s roots, fear as the driving force. People don’t act rationally when they’re afraid and will almost never admit it.
  • Change often requires learning new skills and, surprisingly, many people resist learning new ways of doing things.


Here are ways I’ve observed good leaders leading people through change:

  • Reaffirm the contribution the person has had to get the organization to the point where it is.
  • Provide incentive with new titles, pay increase, extra time off, educational support and verbal rewards of those who might be struggling, but are willing, to adapt to change.
  • Help people manage the loss that comes with change. Sometimes it as simple as reassuring them they will continue to have a job.
  • Cast the vision as to why the change is needed in order for the organization to grow to it’s potential.
  • Regrettably, some times leadership has to cut ties with people who are so resistant to change that their subversion is a threat to the organization. Leaders have to do what’s best of the organization as a whole, not just cater to the individual.

The ancient philosopher, Heraclitus, said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Things are always changing and those who master the current are the ones that go the farthest.


10 Lessons I’m Glad My Father Taught Me

My Dad has been gone for more than 30  years, but the lessons he taught me my first 26 years have guided me through life. Here are 10 lessons he taught me:

  1. Faith is more important than religion – My Dad was hungry to know God and to interpret all of the circumstances of life through faith. He believed Jesus was real, alive and intimately involved in his life every day.
  2. Read, read, read – Dad never had any formal education past high school, but he could go 10 rounds with any Biblical scholar I ever knew. He had a voracious appetite for books and, when he passed, he gave me his library.
  3. Life is not fair – Dad had no toleration for whiners or whining. Yes, life was generally unfair, but how you react determines whether you are a man or child.
  4. Work hard – Be the hardest working person in the group. Your reputation as a hard-worker was the grace through which people would forgive you for all other shortcomings.
  5. Fight through the pain –  Although Dad was stricken with crippling rheumatoid arthritis when I was 12, he continued to fight the battles of life with courage and faith.
  6. Forgiveness truly is divine – Dad believed that an unforgiving heart was a bitter heart and bitterness was the worst character flaw a human could possess.
  7. Laugh so hard you can’t breathe – Dad was terrible at telling jokes because he would start laughing so hard half-way through the joke, he couldn’t finish it. So we laughed at him, rather than the punch line. I’ve picked up that trait.
  8. Save your money – Dad knew that having money on hand was more about saving money than it was about making money.
  9. Treat the rich and the poor the same – Dad believed we all put our pants on the same way each morning, one-leg-at-a-time, so no one is any better than anyone else – they only think they are.
  10. This life is just temporary – I can not imagine dealing with excruciating pain every day of my life, but my Dad did for the last 13 years of his life. He could have become addicted to painkillers, but he hated them. The pain drove him deeper into his faith and the more he read the Bible, the more he believed this life is just temporary and there is a life, yet to come, where there is no pain or sorrow.

Some time after his death, I wrote a song about him. The refrain goes like this:

Behind my father’s doors, was a place that I could run and hide, a place that I called home

Behind my father’s doors, were arms outstretched to welcome me and a love to keep me warm

And someday I will see him there,

Behind our Father’s doors. 

3 Ways to Move People from Chaos to Unity: Leadership Series, Part 1

Is your work environment, home life, civic group or faith-based organization in chaos? Does it seem like no one knows where the group is going, who is doing what and how things are supposed to be done? After more than 30  years of being in leadership roles or watching other leaders, both good and bad, here is the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned.

3 Ways to Move People From Chaos to Unity

Create a Shared Vision: It is true that, without vision, people perish. Shared vision is critical because it involves the most important motivators of humanity: hope and purpose. Mark Twain said the two most important days of our life are the day we are born and the day we learn why. Does your company have a vision? No, I’m not talking about a mission statement; that is different. A mission statement says, “this is what we are currently doing. A vision statement says, “this is where were going.” If you can cast a vision, then you can create purpose.

A football team has a vision to march 100 yards down the field and place a player with a ball in his hand across the goal line. Everything from the front office to the water-boy is involved in helping that player cross the line. What’s your goal line?

Define Roles: Have you ever heard of a football team full of quarterbacks? Of course not, because in order to make the team work as a unit, you need 11 different roles on offense and 11 different roles on defense. Most often, chaos happens when people don’t know their roles, don’ do their roles or decide to take on someone else’s role. Most car accidents happen when people leave their lane; the same is true for life; people leaving their lanes create chaos.

Create Processes: Football teams call it a playbook; it’s a set of processes that help the team either move the ball down the field or stop the other team from doing the same. Processes written out are critical because without them, you are dependent on the decision making of the person that happens to be responsible for that step and, should that person leave and you replace them, then you’re subject to the whims of the next person in that role.

You can also use these three ways to identify current situations involving chaos. Does the group have a vision? Are there clearly defined roles? Are there replaceable processes in place so the vision can be accomplished?

I learned these 3 ways early on in my career and they have always proven right. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a leader?

A Trip to the Mailbox, Part 3: A Memorial Day Tribute

Harry wasn’t sure what he would do to entertain his ten-year-old grandson for a summer, especially since he didn’t have electricity in his old cabin in the mountains. But Harry couldn’t remember the last time he had been this excited, or nervous. Gladys had been gone for ten years now and often the loneliness overwhelmed him like a dark storm that lingered for days.

He pushed his glasses up on his nose and reread the letter from Ethan for the umpteenth time.

“Dear Grandpa Harry,

Mom said I could spend time with you as soon as school is out if that is okay with you. She can bring me up over Memorial Day. She said I could stay a week but I’d really like to stay all summer. I hope you can teach me how to be a mountain man.”

What would make a ten-year-old boy want to leave electronics and constant activity to spend a summer with an old man in mountain cabin? Something mysterious happened inside of Ethan back at Thanksgiving when he read some of the letters Harry wrote home to Gladys during World War II. What it was, he didn’t know, but he was thankful.

He heard Ethan stirring in the next room then stumble out to the living room rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Harry chuckled softly. “Ready for breakfast?”

“Sure, Grandpa,” Ethan yawned. “Chopping firewood yesterday kind of wore me out. But I really like it. Can we do more today?”

“Well, today is Memorial Day so we’re going to the Yellow Pine cemetery and visit Gladys,” Harry said. “The American Legion is having a service there at nine this morning so we need to hustle.”

Harry fired up the old ’49 Ford with the fading letters of “Wither’s Sawmill” on the side panel. Together, they scissored down the mountain road to town.

“What’s the American Legion?” Ethan asked. “I’ve heard the name, but don’t know anything about them.”

“The American Legion consists of men and women who have been in the military. They joined one of the Armed Services like the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines to protect our country. When that soldier ends their time and either retire or are discharged, they join the Legion. “

“What do they do?”

“Oh, most importantly, they help protect soldiers who help protect America,” Harry explained. “Sometimes our government has a funny way of treating the very people who provide them the freedoms they have, so the Legion stands up for the soldiers to make sure they receive a good education, medical and mental health care and, most importantly, are treated with the respect they deserve.”

“So what will they do today at the cemetery?”

“Well, Memorial Day was created to honor soldiers that died protecting our freedoms,” Harry explained. “There’s another day called Veteran’s Day that honor all veterans dead and alive, but Memorial Day is for soldiers who died in service to the country.”

“So what’s this little red flower you gave me before we left?”

“That’s a poppy and it’s a symbol of soldiers who died in battle. During the first World War, there was a doctor named John McCrae from Canada who wrote a poem about Flanders Field and the poppies that grew among the soldier’s graves. The legion adopted that as their official symbol of remembrance in 1920.”

“My government teacher in school said that we spend too much money on the military and that we all need to get along,” Ethan said. “He said that wars are fought by fools and it’s wrong to kill other people.”

“I often wonder about folks like him and if they would change their minds if they would have been with my battalion when we set the Jewish prisoners free in Hitler’s death camps. It sounds like a nice thing just to try to “get along,” but the fact remains there are people who will go to horrific extremes as rulers and they have to be stopped. Governments have a role, and a right, to protect their people at all costs, including war. I’ll bet that feller that’s your teacher has never been to a country to see what happens when evil rulers are left unchecked.”

The old truck shuddered to a stop behind other cars parked in the cemetery. Ethan slipped his hand in Harry’s as they made their way across the grass to a small crowd gathered under a flag flying at half-mast.

Harry straightened his back and stood stiff at attention as he saluted the flag. Ethan jumped each time the volley of rounds fired for the 21-gun salute.

Ethan looked up at the weathered face of his Grandpa with his pinched Marine cap slightly tilting over his white hair. Rigid as a board, Harry still stood at attention, saluting the flag.

All young boys are looking for heroes and that day, on that sacred ground of the Yellowpine Cemetery, Ethan discovered his. He moved a bit in front of Harry and, facing him, slowly raised his right arm and cupped his hand like Harry’s.


Then saluted him.






Five Reasons You Need a Hobby

Hi, my name is Rick and I’m a workaholic.

Since I was in my mid-twenties, I have lived by the Floyd Hammer motto, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I have not punched a clock since I was 24 because I don’t need someone telling me when to start work or when to stop. I don’t wait all week until Friday nor do I dread Monday. I love what I do but I can, at times,  be too consumed with it.

However, I have learned that my work productivity significantly improves if I spend time on my hobbies; woodworking, fly fishing, photography and writing. If you don’t have a hobby, let me suggest a few reason why they’re good for you.

5 Reasons You Need a Hobby

  1. Hobbies tap into your creativity – Whether you admit it or not, you are a creative person; each person is born with a creative streak. I’ve often wondered why there are arts and craft in kindergarten and not in high school. Early childhood development folks understand how important it is to foster creativity.

    Made for me by my grandchildren


  2. Hobbies help your mind find solutions to problems – Sometimes when I am overwhelmed by a challenge, I’ll go to my wood shop or grab my fly rod. I don’t do it to get-away-from-it-all, I do it because I’ve discovered I find a lot of answers while I’m sanding a board or unhooking a fish.

    Breckenridge Rainbow


  3. Hobbies help you to relax – While woodworking and fly fishing help me relax, golfing does not. I don’t keep score with fish, but I do keep score with golf. For some dumb reason only my mind knows, whenever I keep score, I become extremely competitive and that’s not a good thing.

    My Writing Desk


  4. Hobbies are good way to build new relationships – I have met some of the most inspirational, creative and fun people through my hobbies. Whether its the South Kansas Woodturners or legendary fishermen like Jim Brown and Bruce Smith, I meet incredible people.

    Bruce Smith catching bass at Barrett Lake, CA


  5. Hobbies provide ways for me to give delight to others – Everyone loves a handcrafted gift or the ability to learn something new. I enjoy creating wood projects as gifts for people as well as teaching someone new how to fly fish. The opportunity to give delight to others is another one of those natural parts of us that we are designed to do. Just ask a five-year-old.

I’d be curious to know what your hobbies are and why you like them so much.

I’d also be curious to know why you don’t have any hobbies, if that is the case, and how soon you plan on starting. I’d be happy to share what I know with you to help you start! Just let me know…