J Calaway

Lead with Diligence

J Calaway - Lead with Diligence

Power of Presence

power of presenceIt was about 7:30am on an amazingly beautiful spring day. My wife was laying on table in an operating room.  Our third child was coming and due to complication with our first, Vicki (my wife) had to have a C-section. Her face was turned to the doorway. The Anesthesiologist’s back was to her and the door and he was prepping her and monitoring her vitals. I simply walked through the doorway and the Anesthesiologist looked at the monitors and turned around. Vicki smiled and the Anesthesiologist said to me you’re the best drug we have. When Vicki saw me she calmed down. Her heart rate, BP, breathing, everything seemed to go back to normal. The power of presence is incredible.

We are human beings not human doings.

The Power of our presence shouldn’t be underestimated. Have you ever walked into a room of people you know, love, and lead and see their faces? It’s not about the money you made, the things you’ve done or the gifts you bring. It is simply you took the time to be with them.

When your present:

  • You add value
  • You add stability
  • You add sincerity
  • You add security
  • You add honor

The term diligent leader can be rewritten, as one who draws near. In our age of technology and virtual relationships this one principle of leadership is becoming an endangered species.

Presence is imperative in:

  • Times of crisis
  • Times of change
  • Times of celebration
  • Times of loss
  • Times of expansion

You cannot delegate your presence–Only you can be present

You cannot be present for everyone but you can for those you directly lead.

Your presence is powerful when you:

  • Put away distractions (no phone, no texting)
  • Get your work done early
  • Look them in the eye
  • Pay attention
  • Give affirmation


Question:  What are some times you have been present and it has made the difference?

3 habits that will cripple your leadership

R128 Leadership Crutch picThe need for fully healthy and strong leaders seems to be increasing. The reason is too many leaders are crippled by their habits. Leaders by nature deeply want to help people, that’s why they are leaders. Yet we get into certain habits we don’t even realize. There are 3 habits that cause leaders to hobble around as if they were on crutches and never seem to heal or through those crutches away.




Crippling Habit #1—Comparing – Focus on others

  • Never leads to excellence
  • Determines the least common denominator
  • “…At least I’m not like him…”
  • “…Why does she get all the good stuff…”
  • Hides what you have
  • Focus is on their progress not on yours
  • Their path becomes your boundary
    • Called keeping up with the joneses
  • Demands a winner – you ultimately win they loose.
    • Or you compare yourself to those who are better and you become defeated

 It is not Goodness to be better than the worst – Seneca


I often find myself in the midst of other men and women doing what I do. When I get around them I am tempted to compare myself to them. Their circumstances, experience, and surroundings cannot possibly match mine. It will always be an unfair comparison.


Crippling Habit #2—Criticizing – Focus on Self

  • Form of Pride
  • You think you can do it better than others
  • Put you up above the one you criticize
  • Critical spirit is different than critique
  • Critical spirit skews your perception
  • Focus on the negative over the positive
  • Points out the wrong and never sees the right

Getting into the habit of criticizing clouds your perception and vision. Criticizing leads to excuses and blame shifting. It’s a focus on what is wrong over what is right or good.

Crippling Habit #3—Complaining – Focus on Problem

  • Makes you the victim
  • Is focus on the problem not the solution
  • Leaders are problem solvers not problem pointers
  •  Is the hit and run, drive-by-shooting of organizations.

Complaining keeps you wandering in circles. The Jewish people of the Old Testament (the Bible) wandered around in the desert for 40 years partly because of their habit of complaining.

These three habits are partners. They usually run together and limit, stifle, and eradicate influence in the leader. The leader is left limping from one ineffective meeting to another not accomplishing anything.

3 things to do to stop the habit

  1. Compare to yesterday – Be better today then you were yesterday
  2. Evaluate – Ask those around you how you can help.
  3. Creativity – Solutions come from creative minds not complaining voices.



What habits have you seen that Compliment the Leader and not Cripple him or her?

Don’t Let Memories Steal Reality-5 Ways to Keep Memories-Memories

1st apt picThe other day we went by our first apartment we lived in 30 years ago. My heart sank when I saw the dilapidated old house. It was run down and probably needs to be condemned and demolished. My memory of the house remained the same as when we moved in. You know the feeling, when you meet someone you remember as a 10 year old kid 10 years later. You still see them as you remember them. Our memories don’t age even if those in the memory do. Many times leaders fall into the same problem with their leadership. They keep using things that should be condemned or demolished. Worse yet they continue to treat the next generation like they are still 10 years old.

5 ways to keep your memories memories

  1. Keep visiting the memories of your life in reality – Go back and see how far you have come!!!
  2. Spend time with the next generation or 2 behind you – They have insight you need
  3. Remember but do not ponder – Don’t Wish for the good old days, they weren’t as good as you think.
  4. Realize memories stand still – Time and culture doesn’t
  5. Realize memories are in HD – They tend to be bigger, brighter, better than they really were.

Let memories make you thankful. Let reality make you diligent!!!


Question: Have you ever let memories dictate your reality?

1 hour to WOW! your week–How to start your week

Download free Ebook

weekly schedule pick

Here’s a Post I wrote a while back.  Make your sunday afternoon or monday morning productive and WOW your week!!!

Has this happened to you; Friday comes and you look back on your week and wondered if you actually accomplished anything at all?  For many years I have started my day in a certain way, everyday the same way.  I wrote about this a few months ago in a post Determine Your Day.  But a few years ago I began purposely starting my week.  I found starting my day right was good, but many times events of the week crowded out the good intentions of the day.  Here’s how I do it.

 1.  Join a faith community – Church

  • I always start my week in church

(I know, I’m a pastor—It’s my job—when it wasn’t I still started my week in church)

  • This always reminds me to put first things first
  • I am encouraged when I am around people of faith

On Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning I take 1 hour and prepare for my upcoming week.  I first review, then preview, then schedule.  Here is a breakdown of how I do it.

1 hour to WOW! my week 

2.  Review

  • Accomplishments and projects in progress
  • This helps to know what needs to be dealt with
  • What communication needs to go out?
  • Good job and thank you notes for accomplishments

3.  Preview

  • I look at the overall schedule of what is coming up and make the necessary adjustment due to the events of last week.
  • When I preview my week I can prepare myself for a heavy schedule or a light one.
  • I also prepare my family for the possibility of missed dinners, family events, or the need to reschedule events. When my kids lived at home we would have a weekly family meeting/dinner to go over the weekly schedule for everyone.  The weekly family meeting became a strategic part of family life.

 4.  Schedule

  •  Set Goals to accomplish
    • If deadlines aren’t made there can be no accountability
    • Keeps me purposed and productive
  •  Schedule the important things
    • Family time
    • Exercise time
    • Social time
    • Spiritual time
    • Mental/personal time

Keeps me focused and doesn’t let days and weeks go by without sharpening the saw (Keeps me sharp).

  •  Schedule meeting and appointments
    • This gives an overall view of the week
    • Helps to avoid double scheduling and overbooking
  • Schedule tasks
    • This seems to be a no brainer but many times when I don’t schedule and prepare my task list it doesn’t get done.

Question:  What do you do to be productive?


Download free Ebook

Don’t phone it in-Show Up

Don't phone it in pictureI was watching one of the singing competition shows the other night and one of the coaches on the show told the contestant to always show up and give 200% and never just phone it in. I thought about that in our digital online age we live, and how easy it is to “just phone it in”. To simply send the message instead of being the message or showing the message is a crucial mistake in current leadership.

Social media has taken our world by storm. We believe we can be part of something simply because we are following, friending, connecting or poking someone. The reality is, while social media has a place in our relational connections it cannot be the relational connection for leaders. Those you lead want to see, feel, touch, and hear you. They need the security of your presence and the safety of you being in the same boat as they are.

How do you show up and give 200% each time


The key to all in is preparation. Make sure you know what you are talking about when you show up. That you have put in the time and energy to present something worthwhile. It does not matter if it is a weekly staff meeting, or a multi-million dollar presentation to change the course of the company. Always show up prepared. Do your homework when everyone else is asleep or doing their work so you can focus on those you lead when they are around. I always prepare early and show up early so I can walk the halls, and hang out with people instead of rushing around trying to get my stuff together because I didn’t prepare.


During times of leading change or a shift in direction make sure you are seen much more than you are heard. Leaders make changes, decisions, course corrections and other things that can cause followers to feel unsettled. It is important that those you lead see you. Sense you are in the drivers seat and know you know what you are doing. Absence or phoning it in will cause even greater unsettledness and even distrust. Be willing to walk, talk, and listen to those around you as they process your leadership.


True leaders take their position seriously, and so do those they lead. It is important to realize the influence and impact the leader position has. Leaders who “phone it in” do not realize the impact of their position or the damage when not in position.


There is a basic promise made when a leader leads. The leader promises to go somewhere, protect, and make decisions. The leader, who shows up, who doesn’t “phone it in”, keeps the promise.


Question: How do you give 200%

Founding Fathers, Firecrackers, and a Four year old

Freedom isn’t Permanent

On July 4th, 1826, 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Founding FathersIndependence, two of the founding fathers died just hours of each other, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson the second and third presidents of the United States. James Madison died just 5 years later on the same day, July 4th. Each man played a central role in establishing the United States.

3 founding father died on July 4th, what an amazing coincidence. As I was watching the fireworks with my four year old granddaughter Haley May, I was reminded that some day she will be doing the same thing with her kids—celebrating our freedom and honoring the past. Jefferson, Adams, and Madison were watching the sky light up in the conflict. Now they and the generations after them are gone and it is up to us to remind those coming after us of the freedom we have.

What I learned from 3 founding fathers dying on the same day


Remember the day.

  1. The price each paid

What the day represents.

  1. Freedom
  2. Independence
  3. Interdependence

The success of the day is not permanent.

  1. The price paid by our founding fathers continues to be paid today.
  2. Freedom isn’t permanent

Make the day my own.

  1. This is not my father’s freedom, country, or life
  2. This is my freedom, country, and life
  3. I will fight for it!!!

Question:  What have you learned from celebrating our freedom?

Reflection is not about the Past!

Reflection picSummer is a great time to reflect and introspect to prepare for the coming season. The schedule is laid back, things seem to slow down. Picnics, festivals, and vacations are all on the calendar. Why not create some space during this time to reflect over the past 6-12 months. It is kind of like window cleaning. Sometimes we keep looking out for what is coming we forget to take the time to clean the window in order to get a better, clearer picture of what’s going on.

Take a day or a weekend, go on a walk, close the door, turn off the outside interference and just begin to reflect on your life for the past year.

3 Things to reflect on

 Reflect on your failures

What did you do the past few months that just didn’t work? List them out and ask some questions

  • Should I try it again?
  • Did I give it my best effort?
  • Why did it fail?
  • Were the right people involved?

List these things out and spend some time reflecting on how you felt.

 Reflect on your successes

What did you do the past few months that was a home run or at least you got on base.

  • What made this a success?
  • Can I repeat it?
  • Should I do it again?

 Reflect on your relationships

  • Spouse
  • Family – Kids, parents, brothers/sisters, etc.
  • Friends
  • Professional
    • When was the last time I was on a date with my spouse?
    • Do I know the names of my kids friends, favorite movie, music, food?
    • Are my relationships adding or subtracting in my life?
    • Am I adding or subtracting in their lives? 

Practice Reflexion – (notice the spelling change-with an x) the practice of Reflexion is a deep introspection with the intent of responding better for those around you in the future.

Reflexion is the action of looking into yourself and determining how the outcome of an event could have been different in regards to your actions. It is a deeper exercise than reflection. Reflexion involves asking questions of ones self and making the needed adjustments in character, practice, decision-making, among other things, in order to improve.

Remember Reflecting and Reflexion is all about the future. Becoming the leader with greater success, fewer failures and stronger teams and relationships.

Question: What failure and success have you had recently? What did you learn for the future?

3 Don’ts for a Guilt Free Vacation

It’s Summer time again and that means road trips and vacations.  Check out this repost to make them the best ever!!!

It’s vacation season and there is nothing better than packing up the mini-van and kids and heading out on a family trip.  A few days with the family can be a highlight of a child’s life or it can become a speed bump in the road to family bliss.  Here are a few things to consider when planning a guilt-free vacation or holiday family trip.

1.    Do Not Go in Debt

This should go without saying, but I am going to say it anyway.  DO NOT GO INTO DEBT TO GO ON VACATION!!!  Ok, maybe I yelled it.  But you get the point.  This can take some creativity, effort, and a good sense of what you can afford.  If all you can afford is to pitch a tent in the back yard, then pitch a tent in the back yard and call it vacation.

2.    Do Not Go with Regret

There is another area of a guilt-free vacation.  What I mean is prepare for the vacation.  Here are three things you need to do before you go:

  • Get your work done or delegated

Don’t take work with you.  Make sure all items are completed or you have communicated with everyone what needs to be done while you are away

  • Deal with unresolved issues

The risk of a vacation going bad is high if there are unresolved issues within the family.  Many times families can live with issues because we are busy and doing our own thing.

The schedule is clear and you are together usually for at least a week.  Any unresolved issues will come out.  This may be good but does not bode well for a guilt free vacation for all.  Regret will follow.

  • Share expectations

Communicate to your co-workers that you are on vacation and at what level you expect any communication.   Also, share your expectations with your family.  One family member may have the expectation of sleeping in until noon everyday while, another family member may have the expectation of waking up at dawn to go hiking.  This can lead to a disappointing vacation at best and an all-out-war vacation at worst.

 3.    Do Not Go Alone

My point here is about not being alone even though everyone is with you.  Find activities that everyone can enjoy or at least make compromises.

When my kids were in their pre-teen years we took a three-week vacation to Florida to visit the Mouse (aka Disney World), I was ok with going, but not completely excited.  I was more interested in visiting the Civil War battlefields that dot the route from northwest Indiana to Orlando.

As we began to plan the trip, we told our kids we were going to visit all these battlefields.  They were not too impressed about seeing fields, cannons, earthworks, prisons, and museums.  So I said I would make a deal with them.  If you will enjoy and learn during the time we visit the battlefields, I will enjoy (not just act like it. but really enjoy) the Mouse House .

The whole three weeks we were gone everyone got to do what they loved doing.  We all enjoyed each other and no one was alone.  We learned, celebrated, and became closer as a family simply because we determined not to go alone.

Question:  What kind of vacation do you like taking—leisure or active?

Speak? Who Me?!?!?!

Speaking-Who Me!?!?!? Picture

My first public speaking event was when I was 12 years of age. My Dad was the pastor of a church in Iowa. He asked me to preach a message at one of our services. It was 8 minutes long including the response time we preachers call “the Altar Call” Those that listen to me now wonder where those 8 minute messages have gone. That was 36 years and 1000’s of speeches ago.

Leaders are required to speak. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, supervisor, PTA president, or the head of your local neighborhood watch group. If you lead people, there will be a moment in time where you will be called to speak in front of, to, and with people. The most effective leaders are also the most effective communicators. Leadership and communication go hand in hand. As leaders are made so are communicators. You can become a good, if not great communicator. It just takes some time, practice, and a few tips.

5 tips to preparing a speech


  • Know your audience

As a minister, I was asked to open a community breakfast in prayer. Our city had just gone through a dramatic property tax assessment. It caused many people to loose their homes. As I began I referenced the struggle our city found itself in and mentioned a time when Jesus disciples did not have enough money to pay the taxes and were instructed to go fishing. They found a gold coin in a fish’s mouth. I equated that story to our reliance on Christ and prayed for us as a city to rely on the providence and provision of God. A simple five-minute thought and prayer was effective because I knew the needs of the audience.


  • Know your topic – Don’t fake it – you’ll loose credibility
  • Read, read, read, read, read, read, read everything!!!!

Leaders are readers!!! Reading is what gives you depth of message. If you are not reading, your message will ultimately prove shallow and old. Reading gives you new ideas, current trends, and foundational principles.


  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • I always have an introduction
  • But keep it fluid
  • Use what has happened in the room to connect

Set the podium free!!!

  • Do not be chained to your notes
  • If you are speaking about your passion this will not be a problem
  • If you are speaking on an assigned topic this could be a problem
  • Know your material enough to speak it not recite or read it

Speak from your heart

  • Remember you are the message. Roger Ailes wrote a book entitled “You Are the Message”. I recommend every leader own it and read it at least once a year. What you communicate is not just the information you give but also who you are.
  • Do not speak on something you know nothing about

In other words – STUDY!!!!!

Solicit a Response

  • Leave them with something to do
  • Application

Abraham Lincoln would secretly attend church in Washington. He would sit in the pastor’s study with the door cracked hear and see the proceedings. Upon walking back to the White House he was asked how he enjoyed the service. He concluded that the message was very well delivered and had good points, but there was no challenge or application.

Different speeches, sermons, presentations require different endings. Yet, every speech should challenge the hearer to some action.

The Lost Art of Hard

Download free Ebook

Hard Things Picture

Have you ever simply done something because it was hard?  I think we have lost the Art of Hard.  Those things that need to be done or would challenge a generation to be greater if we did them simply because it is hard.  Yet I keep hearing, reading, and seeing the easiest way to do something, 5 easy steps to fix your marriage, loose weight, find a mate, get rich, or get the job you’ve always wanted.  President John F. Kennedy challenged this nation to go to the moon in less than a decade.  Why?  Simply because it was hard, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

8 Benefits to doing the Hard Things


Tests and increases your energies, skills, and capacity.  Without doing anything hard you never know what your capable of or increase your capacity.


Doing the hard thing creates a willing spirit in you and others around you.


Doing the hard thing requires vision in yourself and those around you.  It develops focus and purpose in your life and organization.


Doing the hard thing requires organization, goal setting, administration. Dedication and discipline are forged in the accomplishment.


Doing the hard thing requires you to involve others and learn team building skills.


Doing the hard thing develops new ways.  NASA has pioneered 6,300 new technologies from the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission.  Easier ways are found to do the hard thing so you can move on to achieve more.


Doing the hard things develops an attitude of winning and determination.  Each time you accomplish something that is hard there is an expectation and culture of “We can do this”.


Some wish us to stay where we are but when you choose to do something hard you progress into new areas and new adventures.

All great and honorable actions are accompanied by difficulty.–William Bradford, 1630

The worthwhile and important things are hard.


Question:  What hard thing have you done lately?

Download free Ebook