Book: On the Shoulders of Giants by Jack Tester

Jack Tester is the President and CEO of the Nexstar Network. And my employer.

I started training for Nexstar in 2004 and took a full time role there in 2015. In this book, Jack outlines the journey of Nexstar – how we have been able to have an incredible impact in the skilled-trades industry.

I’m proud to be in this industry and proud to work with Jack and the team at Nexstar. Check out the book, learn our story.

Check out Jack’s podcast, Leadership Lounge (and my guest appearance).

Friday Challenge: Patterns

You have heard “actions speak louder than words”. I recently saw a post somewhere in the world of social media that said it a little better.

Patterns speak louder than actions.

Patterns are actions, repeated over a time. 

Question words,

Test actions, 

Trust patterns.

The trouble is that for many of us, our own patterns are caught squarely in our blindspot. It is easy to see the patterns of others. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see our own without help.

This is one of the most powerful and vulnerable questions you can ask another person. It is also one of the most possibility-unlocking questions you can ask:

What are the patterns you see in my life?

What would be possible for you if you could see the patterns in your life that are caught in your blindspot?

I have had the privilege of doing handwriting analyses for a few different people over the years. I always find it amazing that these patterns are evident inside the handwriting. And almost without exception, those patterns have been hiding in plain sight. Once exposed, however, the patterns begin to change almost immediately. 

The experience follows a very predictable routine. 

  1. Revelation. “Wow, that really is me. Do you think everyone notices this?”
  2. Contemplation. “I wonder what people actually think of me. I wonder what I’ve missed out on because of this. I wonder what would be different in my life right now…”
  3. Transformation. This tends to come fairly quickly. The challenge is revelation. Awareness plus accountability creates a very expedient path to growth. 

How will you expose the patterns in your own life? Who will you ask? Better yet, who will you ask today?

I want to thank the mentors in my life for their courageous input into my life. You know who you are. I love you.

Book: The Motive by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni delivers yet another leadership lesson embedded in a very readable fable. Perhaps his best written fable yet. This book does very well in audiobook format.

Many aspire to become leaders. We want to rise to the top of the proverbial food chain. And then we get there and cannot articulate why it was so important. What is/was your motive for becoming a leader?

Lencioni mentions early in the book that this is recommended first read from his lengthy list of books because it establishes a foundation from whence to build a leadership career.

If you are a leader, or aspire to become one, please add this book to your reading list!

Insight: The World Is a Beautiful Mirror

The world is a beautiful mirror.

I tend to find that in most circumstances of our lives, what we see most often and others are the same things that exist in us. This seems to be especially true when we have negative traits that seem to be in everyone around us.

For example, if I constantly find the people around me to be arrogant, it just might be true that I am seeing in them a small reflection of what is a prominent characteristic in myself. Our brains have an incredible ability to hide this information from us. And it truly appears as though the problem is only in others.

Jesus uses hyperbole to describe this problem. In Matthew 7 he reprimands:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’

Matthew 7:3, NIV

No one actually has a plank in their own eye. It is telling, though, that the plank is made of the same substance as the sawdust. This is the underlying principle of the mirror.

That which I readily see in others is likely originating with me.

This is equally true only of positive and negative characteristics. If I tend to be highly trustworthy, I will likely find trustworthiness in others. If everyone around me is a thief and a liar, it might to me well to check the mirror for some honest personal reflection.

As leaders, this principle tends to flow through our teams. I have observed this in many different organizations. Business and non-profit, paid and volunteer. I have even come to recognize that the people begin to resemble one another in physical presentation. They look alike. They dress similarly. They speak in similar ways.

What is the application for you? What is it that you are constantly finding in others that frustrates you? What are you finding in others that you like?

The Problem

Seeing your own reflection clearly can be difficult. Your brain has worked a lifetime to hide from you the very things you wish to see. Often, it takes the eyes of another to clearly see what seems hidden to one’s self. Choose someone you trust, and someone who will speak candidly. Resist having this kind of conversation with a person in whose eye you see the ‘sawdust’. Find a trusted, neutral, third party.

And then turn on your listening. Just absorb and contemplate. You may find that you want to defend yourself. That is only reinforcement that you need to dig in and listen.

The mirror is beautiful because it reveals to us that which holds us back. It shows us the way to self improvement. It unveils leadership deficiencies. It is an important part of your growth.

Are you willing to look in the mirror?

Book: Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini

I am a student of influence and persuasion. Dr. Cialdini is the world’s leader on research in this arena. I have had the privilege of working with him in person and have a personally signed copy of this book in my possession.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is ever in a situation where you are either the deliverer or recipient of a message in which persuasion is necessary.

“‌The guiding factor in a decision is often not the one that counsels most wisely; it’s one that has recently been brought to mind.‌”
‌Dr. Robert Cialdini‌

Examples: Parents, employees, students, CEOs, salespersons, human beings, etc.

If you find yourself in any of those categories, read this book. What you are exposed to before a message has a massive impact on how you will receive the message.

Reading this book altered the way I think about my work as a public speaker. It informed a bunch of the training programs I facilitate. It changed the way I parent my children.


Book: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

I read this for the first time as a very young man. I really did not have a clue what leadership was about. 

John Maxwell is the master of lists and sub-lists. You will find this book packed with great information. I would recommend reading with a pen in hand, ready to take careful notes.

With a list of 21 Laws, there is a sense that this book is really broad. Some overlap slightly. All of them have value, and are actionable. 

My personal highlight:

Law 15: The Law of Victory
-Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win

I have had the privilege of coaching sports for my kids for many years. Many times, I have heard other coaches use the popular refrain “The most important thing is having fun”. These  are usually coaches whose team is doing a lot of losing. Why does anyone play any game without an intent to win? It seems pointless. So manage your team well. Find a way to win. Celebrate winning. Everything about leadership becomes easier when you and your team are winning.

The most important thing IS having fun. I completely agree. And you will have a lot more fun if you are winning.

Book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Book #2 on my Top 10 List

This book was the spark that ignited my love of books. I was given a copy by a mentor. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was to take my time reading through this book and I was to do every exercise as directed. I took it seriously, and my mentor and I reviewed my work through this book. I have since completed that same mentorship with many others, having them work through the book and guiding them along the way.

I was 19 when I first read this book. Habit 7 is to ‘Sharpen the Saw’. To continue to work on my own personal growth and leadership development has become a lifelong quest. I started reading voraciously. I ordered audio programs (first cassettes, then CDs, now everything is digital — either podcasts or audiobooks).

There is not a self-help book that has had a deeper impact on the person I have become.

If you only ever seriously read one self-help book, this is it.

This is a sit and read book. It is available on audiobook platforms, and if you choose to listen to it, do so as a supplement to an actual read.