J Calaway

Lead with Diligence

J Calaway - Lead with Diligence

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

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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?

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10 ways we miss saying “I love you”

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I love you HeartWell, Valentines Day is over and the delivery people are rushed as fast as they could to finish the last of the chocolate, flower, teddy-grahm deliveries to get home to their valentine.  I’m a little cynical when it comes to valentines.  Don’t get me wrong; I love to tell and show my Valentine (who is my wife, best friend and lover) how much I love her.  It just seems to be so much pressure for one day.  I’m the spread it out all year long kind of guy.  As I was thinking of some creative ways to say “I love you” I thought of some ways that we might miss.


Here are 10 ways to say I love you through out the year:

  1. Say “I Love You”

  2. Pray

  3. Exercise

  4. Eat Right

  5. Put Work Away

  6. Show Up; No really, Show Up!!!

  7. Write Notes (with your hand; Hint: you need paper and a pen)

  8. Rest

  9. Quantity of time (quality will come through quantity)

  10. Put down the smart phone, tablet, ipad, Facebook, Twitter, and look up, you’re missing them saying “I love you”


Question: What ways do you say “I love you”?


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3 Things you DON’T Do in a Relationship

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connection keyboard picture

Connecting with people is an amazingly wonderful and dangerous adventure.  Whether it is in a marriage, parent, work, or social relationship it is an adventure.  We are all messy and connecting with each other can and will be messy at times.  To have a High Quality Life-Giving connection with others takes work and forethought.

To have this kind of relationship for the life long haul don’t do these three things:

 Don’t Stop Talking

  • Communication is the tie of all relationships
  • If there is no communication there is NO relationship
  • Talking cannot be overrated.

Don’t Be Inflexible

  • Relationships are with people.  Need I say more!
  • Inflexibility will diminish your capacity
  • There will be up times and down times in all relationships
  • Learn to accept both the ups and downs and
  • Being flexible will give space when space is needed and deep connection

 Don’t Stop Listening

  • Communication is a 2 way street
  • If you are not listening and only hearing you missed your opportunity to understand before you talk.
  • Listen with empathy—Listening from their point of view.
  • When you truly listen you add value to the other person.

High Quality Connections is what makes up our life.  They are the only thing that matters.  Work at them, focus on them.

Question:  What is your definition of a High Quality Connection?

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4 Ways to Make the New Year NEW

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New Year -- Fresh Start

How to make the New Year NEW

The New Year is an incredible time.  I love the feeling of getting a clean slate and seeing what can be written on it.  Yet too many times we come to the end of the year and there has been nothing changed.  We are still dealing with the same stuff.  The average person makes the same New Years Resolution 10 times without success.  That would be the definition of a rut.

What can be done about it.  Here are 4 things you can do in the next 45 days to break the routine and accomplish something new this year.

4 Things to do in the next 45 days

Start something new

  • It’s a new year so make it new
  • Breaking out of the old ruts sometimes simply takes doing something new
    • Read something different
    • Try a new kind of food
    • Attend a different kind of entertainment
    • Sign up for a different activity or service project

Go on a retreat

  • If possible do a 3-day prayer, strategy, planning retreat
  • If not possible to do 3 days then at least take 1 day and retreat
  • Do this with your team, spouse, or family.  Establish together and alone times

Do some kind of fast

  • This is a good way to refocus for the new year
  • Benefits both spiritual and physical being
  • Aligns your body, mind and spirit.

Connect in a greater way

  • Creator

    • Start praying everyday if you haven’t been
    • Start reading or doing a basic devotional Bible study
    • Start a deeper Bible study than you have been
  •  Church

    •  Start attending if you are not
    •  Start serving if your are simply attending
    •  Start financially and physically contributing
    •  Join a small group
  • Community

    • Set a goal for how many hours you plan to serve the community
    • Join a volunteer/civic/neighborhood group
    • Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, shelter, homeless center, school, boys & girls club, etc.
    • Attend the town council meeting
      • Find out what is needed and volunteer to help

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5 Ways to Beat the Resolution Odds

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The odds of you keeping your New Years Resolution aren’t good.  That’s why many people give up making New Years Resolutions.  That doesn’t make much sense either.  It doesn’t matter what your resolution is.  As long as it is designed to better you, your family, or your community, keep making them.  The effort is better than doing nothing at all.   But the fact remains only 2% of all resolutions made in January are still in effect the following December.

  • In business or organizational terms 70% of organizational projects or goals fail.
  • ¼ of people who make New Year’s Resolutions will give up after one week.
  • The average person makes the same New Years Resolution 10 times without success.

Accomplishing something resolved is not for the faint of heart.

It is hard work!

But you can do it!!!

It just takes a little thought and some discipline.

Here are 5 things you can do to beat the Resolution Odds

1.  Create a Plan

Set down and think about and write down what needs to be down and when in order to accomplish your goal.

2.  Connect with someone

Tell someone your resolution and ask them to hold you accountable.  Set up a time when they call or ask each week or day how you are doing.

 3.  Create an Environment

Connect with those who believe you can accomplish your goal.  If it is weight loss get rid of the bad food and connect with those who won’t buy you Cheetos.

4.  Connect with Information

Look for information on your goal.  If your resolution or goal is to write more, read a book on writing, follow a blog, sign up for a writing class.

5.  Create a System

Systems are a powerful tool to use in accomplishing goals.  A system is an interconnected group of tasks that accomplish a larger goal.  If you’re goal is to exercise more, create a system.  Establish a certain time everyday to exercise, make an exercise room or space in your house or join the gym.  Each component of the system relies on the other components.

These 5 simple tasks will increase your likelihood of beating the resolution odds.  But there is one thing above all that you need to have

Discipline – the simple determination to not quit.

 Question:  What are Your New Year’s Resolutions?

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