Better Illustrations = Better Communicator

I wanted to call this post: Illumination Through Illustration. There is a powerful connection that takes place between speaker and audience when one can share the right illustration, at the right time, and for the right reason.

The right illustration adds value and meaning to your message. The wrong illustration will detract and distract from what you’re trying to say.
The right time allows the audience to connect with your illustration at both the heart and head level. Tell the right story at the wrong time and people are left scratching their heads.
The right reason affirms message you are trying to convey. It might be a great story, but if that’s the only reason you’re telling it, you’ll send a lot of mixed messages.

The type of illustrations I’m talking about are the anecdotal stories that come alongside and help to support the point you are trying to make. I have found a well-placed illustration helps an audience see your message in action. It is a picture of what your point looks like in real life. It helps  people connect what you’re saying to their own lives.

If you want to illuminate your audience through the power of illustration, I encourage you to practice these seven tactics of illustration wisdom:

Self-Discipline Starts With You

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not: it is the first lesson that ought to be learned and, however early a person’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he or she learns thoroughly.”  – Thomas Huxley

David continually turns work in late.  Josh can’t seem to find the time to exercise.  Stacy keeps maxing out her credit card and paying the high interest rates.  Julie dreams of a better future, but keeps putting it off, thinking that tomorrow she’ll do what needs to be done.

What do all of these people have in common?  In one way or another, they struggle with issues related to self-discipline.  Huxley rightly states that one of the most valuable abilities in life is “to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”  A leader understands that there are no shortcuts to achieving their greatest potential.  And greatness usually begins with small steps in the right direction.

Ray Lewis Leadership In A Losing Locker Room

It may feel like a loss is based on one play. But it isn’t.
It may seem like the pain of losing will never fade. But it will.
It may look like you can’t bounce back. But you can.

Just came across this recording of Ray Lewis, middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and easily a Hall of Famer, speaking to his teammates after their loss to the New England Patriots this past Sunday. The Patriots go to the Super Bowl. The Ravens go home. The Ravens lost by three points. What makes it even harder to swallow is that they looked like the better team throughout the game. Listen in.

It’s easy to lead a winning team. Everyone likes to be on a winning team. But losing exposes who you really are. When a team loses, you get to see what kind of leader a person really is.

The truth is, crisis can build character. But it also exposes it. I love what I saw out of Ray Lewis. Respect for that guy continues to grow.

UPDATE: Got a link to the Ray Lewis speech unedited.

3 Keys To Creating Consistent Character

Somewhere…someplace…someone is stepping down from a leadership position.

It’s not because they didn’t do their job right. It’s not because they went over budget. It’s not even because the majority of people no longer followed their leadership anymore. It’s something else.

There is a growing percentage of leaders who have to step away from leading others because they failed to lead themselves well first. They had all of the right capabilities but they lacked the character to sustain their leadership.

The truth is, you can be a leader with poor character…just not for very long.

In our quest to find authentic leaders, we want to follow someone who is the person they claim to be (both in public and in private). We not only want a leader with good character, we want someone with consistently good character.

Change Is Coming…Ready Or Not

Have you ever found a story that is so good that you created a blog post – simply to share the story?

I have. This is it.

The focus of this story (which I believe is true) deals with change. While most paradigm shifts within history used to take thousands of years (bronze age, silver age, iron age, etc), now they take place in less than a decade. The truth is: change is coming no matter how hard you fight against it.

Here’s the story:

Learning To Lead By “The Rhodium Rule”

Put on your chemist hat because I’d like to introduce you to RHODIUM.

Rhodium is a rare, hard, silvery-white, lustrous metal . It is highly reflective and extremely resistant to corrosion. It is not attacked by most acids. Rhodium appears on the periodic table with the atomic number 45 (don’t you just feel smarter knowing that?!).

One of the most important leadership lessons I’m learning and teaching right now is influenced by this precious metal. You might not be familiar with Rhodium unless you’ve recently purchased some jewelry made of white gold. Rhodium is used to both protect and add brilliance to white gold. Rhodium-coated white gold is better protected from scratches, tarnish, and makes it look more white and bright.

Basically, Rhodium enhances other elements.

Now I know you’ve heard of the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and perhaps you’ve heard of the Platinum Rule (do unto others as they would have done unto them). I would like to offer The Rhodium Rule

Do unto yourself what will inspire the best in others.

The Rhodium Rule focuses on leading yourself in such a way that it enhances the lives of others.

What Can Leaders Learn From Tim Tebow

NOTE: This is a guest post by Mark Miller, Co-author of Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life

Some of you are Tim Tebow fans and some of you are not — got it. Regardless of your feelings, let’s not miss the chance to learn something here about leadership. Here are a few things I’ve observed watching Tebow this season that may help you on your leadership journey.

Leadership Matters — Team sports require leadership. In the NFL, there is an expectation that the quarterback will provide that leadership. Business, ministry, government and academia are all TEAM SPORTS. If you are going to win, someone must lead. Tim provided leadership for the Broncos.

Passion Matters — The intensity of the team is always a reflection of their leadership. If the leader is not passionate the team won’t be either. Tim gets this. This was a critical ingredient in 6 fourth quarter or overtime victories this season! How high is your passion for what you lead?

No Style Points on the Scoreboard — Winning is the ultimate measuring stick in the NFL. Pretty or ugly, it doesn’t matter. Tim knew the goal was winning – not his QB rating. What does a win look like for your team? Is everyone on the same page?

Leadership is a Platform for Influence — When you and I lead well, our influence will grow. What we do witth that influence matters. One of the things Tim does is host disabled young people to attend both home and away games. He says that it inspires HIM to see their courage and helps him keep the game in perspective. How will you steward your influence?

Take Responsibility For Your Titanic Mistakes

By now, you have probably heard about the tragic accident that took place on Friday, January 13, 2012. The Carnival Cruise Ship Costa Concordia ran aground just off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. The massive ship then capsized, killing 11 people (that they know of at the time of writing this) and injuring many more. The resulting chaos caused by this horrific accident was compounded by the outrageous lack of leadership demonstrated by the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino.

While I don’t know all of the details that led to capsizing the ship, I do know that what happened following the accident is a powerful case study in the need for leadership during times of crisis. Here are three initial observations: