The Season of Too Busy

awareness Dec 06, 2018
A hiker in the woods

A hiker came upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. “What are you doing?” asked the hiker.

“Can’t you see?” replied the man working in the woods. “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look tired! How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours … and I am exhausted! This is hard work.”

“Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen your saw? I’m sure the job will go faster with a sharp saw.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man declared. “I’m too busy sawing!”

How sharp is your saw?

Have you ever behaved like the person with the saw? It's easy to become so involved in “doing” that you don't take the time to sharpen your saw.

This time of year is particularly busy. You may already be seeing the signs: bright lights on the outside of houses, glossed-over eyes on the people...

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Are You an Idea Digger?

awareness Nov 15, 2018
The Power of Thinking

As John Maxwell reminds us in “No Limits”, success has as much to do with thinking as it does with acting. We are all given opportunities and challenges. We all face difficult choices or moments when we aren’t sure what to do next.

That’s why we need to develop our thinking capacity. It’s not enough to come up with ideas, we need to deepen those ideas. We need to become what John Maxwell calls an “idea digger”. It doesn’t happen with one shovel full of dirt. We need to keep going deeper into the ground. This kind of thinking takes real muscle and it’s worth every bit of the effort.

For over 18 months, the UpCloseTeam has been working in Fort McMurray, helping local businesses revitalize. As much as doing, this has involved a lot of thinking. We’ve put John Maxwell’s ideas on how to become an idea digger to the full test. The results have been good for the whole community.

Five Steps for Deepening...
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Seven Proven Tips for Prioritizing

awareness Oct 24, 2018

Prioritizing takes careful thinking and thinking takes time. When our schedule becomes loaded with deadlines, it’s natural to want to keep chugging along. But if we don’t stop to ask ourselves whether we’re focusing on the right things, we may not be serving our organization or ourselves.

We can become so focused on catching up with our workload, we can forget the starting point for every single day. Stephen Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Scheduling priorities is on ongoing activity that takes effort and focus. Here are seven proven tips to help keep you on track:

1. Go over your priorities at the start of each day. Strong leaders understand how important this is. That’s what keeps them both focused and calm. Before they do anything else, they turn their attention to what is most important and they carry that confidence throughout the day.

2. Concentrate on things only you...

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Standing on Solid Ground

leadership Oct 12, 2018
The Importance of Trust

John C. Maxwell writes about trust in “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. He calls it the Law of Solid Ground and it’s an apt metaphor because trust is the foundation of leadership. Without trust, we have nothing to stand on.
Yet we tend to take trust for granted, or view it as a mysterious force beyond our control. Stephen Covey challenges that way of thinking. He says, “Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actional asset that you can create.”

We don’t trust leaders because of their job title or the power they have over our lives. We trust leaders because of the strength of their character.

Why Character Matters

Every professional knows they must continually keep their technical skills fresh. But do we know that we must also keep our character strong? Strength of character can change the world.


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Three Surprising Qualities of Empowering Leaders

leadership Sep 21, 2018
Empowerment begins within

We all know how important it is to empower the people in our organization. As leaders, it’s our job to recognize areas of strength and foster the growth of others. This increases productivity and job satisfaction. It helps sustain work environments that are positive for everyone.

But what does being an empowering leader mean from the other side of the equation? What do empowering leaders need to do for themselves? It’s a fresh perspective worth a closer look. Don’t be surprised if you meet resistance. Casting a fresh eye on what you need to do for yourself could mean letting go of long-held assumptions about positions of control.

Challenges to empowerment

Seventy-five-year-old John Timpson has been empowering the people who work for him for decades. He’s chairman and owner of Timpson, a successful shoe repair chain with more than a thousand shops in the United Kingdom.

He follows a philosophy called upside-down management. Take a...

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Six Ways Leaders Inspire Respect

influence Aug 30, 2018
The Law of Respect

People naturally follow leaders stronger themselves. Great things are accomplished because of that. John Maxwell calls this The Law of Respect and it’s a powerful force. It doesn’t rely on age, experience or resources. All it takes is a great leader who is willing to speak up.

Ryan’s Story

Canadian hero, Ryan Hreljac, was six years old when he began to inspire the respect of a leader. In school, he’d learned about how difficult it was for many people in Africa to access clean water, and he wanted to help. His parents paid him for doing household chores and he diligently saved the money, but it wasn’t enough. Since he’s a leader, he didn’t stop there. He began reaching out to clubs and schools and anyone who would listen. Because he was sincere and inspired confidence, he gained respect. People wanted to help. Within a year he raised $2000 and the money was used to drill his first water well in Uganda.

After that initial...

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Living with Gusto

awareness Aug 15, 2018

Each of us starts the day with a valuable resource within ourselves. We're so used to relying on it, we hardly recognize it's there. But when that resource dwindles, we can be brought to a complete halt. The resource I'm talking about is energy, but it's more fun to call it gusto.

It can happen at the peak of success, when you're going all out and enjoying the passion of the moment. It can also happen when you're in a period of transition and redefining your life goals. It can even happen during routine moments of ordinary life.

Managing your Energy

We all know what it feels like to run out of gusto. Everyone has those days some of the time. We have to push harder to get things done and our capacity for handling challenges is not as strong. It's not that we don't know how, but our energy levels are low.

John C. Maxwell recognizes this challenge and he knows how important it is. Like he says, "it's more important to manage your energy than to manage your time." In his book, "No...

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If you don't learn from your mistakes, why make them?

mistakes Aug 01, 2018

No one likes to make a mistake. I know I certainly don’t. But it happens to all of us. Some mistakes are the result of a poor choice.

Other mistakes are just dumb. They happen during a temporary lapse of attention, and afterwards we can see how easily they might have been avoided.

A few years ago in the early weeks of December, I made a dumb mistake. For a moment, I did not pay attention. As a result, a person I value might have felt uncomfortable and just as he was starting a new role.

Lucky for me, the person in question has a great sense of humour.

It was my job to organize a gathering of board members from across Western Canada. We began with a networking dinner, which was to be followed by meetings the next day.

I selected an appropriate restaurant and arranged for the menu in advance.

People arrived in cabs I'd organized. The networking was great, the dinner was delicious, and the atmosphere was fun.

Everyone thanked me as we were heading out the door. I hailed some cabs...

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We All Like To Be Heard

communication Jul 18, 2018

As John C. Maxwell says in his book, "Everyone Communicates Few Connect", the key to success in life and leadership is connection. If you can connect with people, you will have a genuine influence on the world. People will be happier and more productive. Teams will be stronger. Communities will be better places to live.

We all like to be heard. We all like to feel that we've been considered. That's what connection is all about. It's about identifying with people and relating to them in a way that makes them feel valued.

"When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other." – Margaret Wheatley

Forming Human Connections

In today's world of information overload and busy people, we could all work harder at forming basic human connections. It's the fabric of our society.

Recently, Jon had an appointment with an eye specialist. He needed to talk to several people and...

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Making the Impossible Happen

leadership Jul 12, 2018
A Clear Purpose and Harmony

Around the world, people have been glued to the news, watching progress on the cave rescue in Thailand and daring to hope. For more than two weeks, twelve boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a flooded cave in the Chiang Rai province. We all celebrated when they were rescued from the cave a few days ago, alive and well.

We are glad the young lives were saved and that is a big part of the collective sense of gratitude. But there is another element to this story that has captured our attention. This rescue is proof of what can be accomplished when people with a clear purpose work together in harmony.

The rescue seemed close to impossible. The pitch-black caverns were already flooded, and since it was monsoon season, they were in constant danger of flooding more. The children in need of rescue did not know how to swim, never mind dive. The rescue divers struggled to find a safe route through the murky water.

But the central purpose was clear to...

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