Category Archives: Leadership

Leadership thoughts, principles and application

Are You REALLY Willing to Win?

LIFE event at Visalia Convention CenterThis weekend, Amy and I had the privilege of joining Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and the other members of LIFE Leadership in Visalia, California and Columbus, Ohio for our annual Winter Leadership Conventions. One thing I tried to emphasize as I spoke to groups of people who are committed to becoming leaders was the importance of the will to win.

The will to win says, “I will do it, no matter what.”  Of course, “no matter what” involves a lot of hard work. In fact, it’s critical to winning that you be willing to work – and usually, that work begins with working on you! The will to win comes from looking honestly at where you are and deciding where it is you want to go.

I suggested seven questions that a leader should ask of himself, to evaluate where he is and how much he really wants to win.

1. Do I blame others for my lack of success? Every leader will find some kind of failure in victory. Do you blame yourself or others when things go wrong?

2. Do I have to be continually motivated or fired up? There is nothing wrong with being encouraged, but  leaders don’t require others to build them up before they get into action.

3. Am I driven more by looking good and recognition than I am by doing good and being good? Growth in integrity is more important than growth in business, or being recognized for an accomplishment.

4. How do I spend my discretionary time?

5. How do I spend my discretionary money? Where you invest your time and money exposes what things are most important to you.

6. Who are my heroes? Who do you look up to and why do you look up to them? Watch what is going into your mind, because that’s where your heroes come from.

7. When I am alone, what do I dream about? If you dream about the things you claim are valuable, then that will shape your actions. These thoughts will help you become the leader you want to be and develop your will to win.

How do you measure up when you go through these questions? Are you willing to work, and to win?

God Bless, Tim Marks

If We Aren’t Humble, We Will Be Humbled

My mentor, Orrin Woodward, says leaders should value excellence over ego. I couldn’t agree more – in fact, I’m convinced that humility is an essential quality of a great leader.  I included a section on humility in my upcoming book, The Voyage of a Viking. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

God Bless, Tim Marks

 

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke, 14:11, ESV

 

Defeat can be a blessing.  Many times it is.  Defeat forces us to face reality and admit our weaknesses.  If we are in the process of becoming a leader, defeat is used to prepare us for that responsibility.  It’s better to make a mistake leading a small group of people and improve yourself then, rather than NOT learn the lesson and make that same mistake when you are leading a large group of people.

 

Maybe we are harsh with people, as I was and sometimes still have to be on guard against. Maybe we are disorganized. Maybe we are moody, or unpleasant to be around. Maybe we are negative. Whatever we need to improve, defeat usually has a way of pointing out our “area of opportunity.” As Tommy Newbury says, “We often don’t realize it, but we frequently come face to face with the exact obstacle we need at just the right time to sharpen us where we need it the most.” Hopefully, we can swallow our pride, admit we need to grow in a certain area, and say, “I need to overcome this weakness.”

 

One area of character that defeat really helps us manage is arrogance and pride. If we aren’t humble, we will be humbled – count on it! I know when I started having fast success in building my leadership business I made the mistake of “reading my own press clippings.” I listened to those who were praising me and cheering for me, and I started to get a big puffed up chest, thinking I was “all that and a bag of chips.”  Well, God corrected me on that one pretty quickly by causing my business to slow down until I faced my arrogance. In fact, any time my pride has gotten out of hand, He sends me a gentle little reminder to knock me back into place.

 

I’m amazed at how we struggle with arrogance and pride, because a lot of the time we look pretty goofy to the people around us. It might do us some good to stop trying to look good all the time and just come down to earth. C.J. Mahaney, author of Humility: True Greatness, suggests one way to manage pride. He says, “First, play golf as much as possible.  Yep, golf. In my athletic experience, I don’t think there’s a more difficult or humbling sport. Rather, humiliating – because if you play at all, you know all about those shots that result in laughter from you partners and humiliation for you. No one escapes them.” I think we could all benefit by loosening up and allowing ourselves to look silly more often.

“Viking” Sets Sail in Early 2012

Viking ShipJust a few days ago, my mentor and friend, Orrin Woodward, posted an announcement on his leadership blog about a soon-to-be-released book.  I’m also excited to add my confirmation that The Voyage of a Viking, which chronicles my own journey in leadership and many of the things I’ve learned along the way, is due out early next year. Orrin graciously agreed to write the forward, which you can read here.  I have posted the article in its entirety below.

God Bless, Tim Marks

_______________________________________________________

Tim Mark’s new book The Voyage of a Viking, is to be released early next year. I had the honor to read a galley copy and write the foreword. Although expecting excellence, since Tim accepts nothing less from himself, this book surpassed my highest standards. I found myself laughing then crying, inspired emotionally, and finally, thankful that I know such a man and leader. Chris Brady and I routinely remark at Tim’s ability to constantly improve himself and he has done it again! Here is the foreword that I wrote for his upcoming book. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

In today’s age, many people blame others for their non-productive lives, proclaiming themselves victims of society’s mistreatment. Tim Mark’s early life had all the signs of qualifying for victimhood, with one extremely important difference, he refused to go along with society’s labels. Tim’s near legendary success today – tens of thousands of people within his leadership community; keynote speaker in front of tens of thousands of people, loving husband to his beautiful wife Amy and father of four wonderful children – can easily overshadow his humble beginnings; which is why Tim’s new book, The Voyage of a Viking, is part autobiography, personal development, and leadership, all married into one.

In the book, Tim first shared his life story. I found myself pulling for young Tim as he explained some of his struggles with schooling, parent’s divorce, and latch-key childhood. Tim’s inspiring stories of dreams, struggles and victories will move millions of others to action who started out on the “wrong-side of the tracks.”  It’s so easy to see the finished product, but not realize the arduous journey taken in order to achieve it. Few people have overcome as many obstacles in so short a time. So many lessons are taught through his stories that I found myself in awe of Tim’s overcoming spirit and God’s redeeming grace.

Second, Tim shares the key principles of personal development which helped him in his journey from viking to victory. I have had the honor of mentoring hundreds of leaders over the last eighteen years, working with Tim for the last twelve years. No one that I personally mentored moves from problem identified to problem solved as quickly as Tim Marks! In fact, Tim’s ability to confront issues and change is directly related to his humility. Instead of defending his ego and sacrificing excellence, Tim chooses to defend excellence through sacrificing his ego. The lessons he teaches on his viking journey will enhance everyone’s life.

Lastly, Tim captures the essence of leadership – example. Tim lives the 13 principles that I share in my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. Remember, example is everything in leadership, it’s the only thing. Tim leads by example in everything that he does, whether it’s through encouraging the downhearted, loving the unloveable, courageously confronting, or celebrating others victories. Tim started out as a student of  leadership but has now graduated as one of the best teachers and examples of leadership in America today. Moreover, I find I learn just as much from Tim as I teach because of the man of grace he has become. Not to mention that he has become one of my best friends and a person whom I trust unconditionally.

Tim and Amy Marks story should be shared around the world. At a time when heroes are nearly an extinct species, their story displays that with courage and the right principles, heroic lives are still possible. Don’t just read this book. Devour it. Choose to live and lead with the principles in this book, becoming another example of what God’s grace can do in a person’s life. What are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to start you start your learning voyage through the Viking’s life and leadership?

Great Goals Only Come Out Of Great Dreams

One thing my mentor, Orrin Woodward, has helped me develop is the habit of setting goals. G-O-A-L-S, goals. Goal setting not only helps me structure where I want to go in LIFE, but it gives me a way to keep score.

Great goals only come out of great dreams, but once you have a big dream you’ll be more apt to get some goals together. Of course, there is more to goal setting then just sitting down and thinking them up. There is a little bit of strategy to it. Really great goals need to be three things: written, specific, and scheduled.

 

  • Written – In Launching a Leadership Revolution, Orrin and his co-author, Chris Brady, underscore the need to have written goals. If they’re not written down we’re tempted to think that our goals are not important or we might even forget what they are. Write your goals down – that’s step one.
  • Specific – Be specific about your goals, because when you focus on specific goals you tell yourself, “I am going to keep score.” When your goals are specific then you know exactly what you’re aiming for. This works for me and I’m sure it will work for anyone else. I perform differently when I am keeping score. Make your specific goals aggressive yet realistic. This is where a mentor can be a big help. Just like Orrin and I work together on goal setting, get with someone who can help you come up with some specific, realistic goals.
  • Scheduled – Great goals are set on a time-line. There needs to be an end date set for getting things done, and it should be something that is sooner than 3012. Having a time-line in mind will get you moving rather than spending all your time planning. This makes all the difference in the world. As Stephen Covey says, “A mediocre strategy well executed is infinitely better than a well executed strategy that sits on the shelf.”

Now some people look at goals and say, “I don’t want to have a goal because what if I miss it and then I won’t feel good?”

If you have a big enough dream, then your goal is going to be something that will fire you up, even if you miss it. I don’t hit that many of my goals the first time I set them. I  still rarely hit them the first time. I think I’ve only hit one or two in their original time frame. That does makes me mad! But if I don’t hit it, I just say, “Here’s an opportunity for me to get better.”

You are going to miss goals along the way, but I can tell you this, if you have an expectation that you’ll hit a goal, then your mind will find a way to make it happen. So get with a mentor and set some written, specific, and scheduled goals – then get out there and execute them!

God Bless, Tim Marks

Ready to Launch – LIFE Leadership!

StaLIFE Leadership begins 11-1-11 photorting this evening, Orrin Woodward and the leaders of LIFE Leadership will gather in Columbus, Ohio to prepare for the launch of something that will change the face of our business for the better forever. LIFE Leadership is a merger of four difference industries. It’s community building meets self improvement, and  life coaching meets network marketing – all combined in a way that will bless and change the lives of those involved.

It’s history in the making this weekend in Columbus. Are you ready? Here we go!

God Bless, Tim Marks

Shifting Lanes in Life

In their book, Launching a Leadership Revolution, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady write, “The right lane is never crowded. There always seems to be a shortage of leaders, but a plethora of people heading the other way.”

Which way to go photoBut why are all these guys going the wrong way? I believe it’s because they don’t know where they are going, don’t know when they’ll arrive and they don’t care or don’t have the courage to change directions. Many of them might be just like I was, driven by pride and a sense of self-preservation that closes the mind.

Shifting to the right lane isn’t always easy. I know, when I first heard about Orrin and the LIFE Leadership business, I wanted nothing to do with it. A couple of friends tried to show me the plan and I said, “Get that thing out of here.” Literally, I hit the paper.

“No, it’s stupid. It won’t work.”

Still to date I don’t think I have met anyone who is as close-minded as I was when I was exposed to this industry. Probably the biggest thing that changed from that first day was that I opened my mind.

When I saw the network marketing industry, my only thought was to defend my position and I had no interest at all in seeking the truth. Ultimately what was driving this was my pride and self-preservation because of all the work that I had put into becoming an engineer. I didn’t want to admit that it might not take me where I wanted to go because I did work so hard at it.

That is natural. I still see people today who do the exact same thing. They are willing to sacrifice success on the alter of pride because they don’t want to let go and consider that what they are doing might not get them where they want to go. Most people have bought into this typical way of thinking.

“Hey if I just go get a degree then I will be successful.” If that were true, then ninety-five percent of the people wouldn’t be broke out there.

Now I am one hundred percent for education. When I was exposed to LIFE Leadership, I was only for college education, and I thought that was the road to get me where I wanted to go. Then I read a book called The Magic of Thinking Big. It does exactly that, it gets you to think big, and I really fell in love with the process of education. I wasn’t just educating myself out of duty, which is what I think a lot of people do, but I developed a hunger for truth.

That has effected so many areas of my life – in my business life, my marriage life, my faith life.  A hunger to know the truth keeps me pointed in the right direction.

So if you find yourself traveling down the wrong lane, open your mind. After all, a mind is like a parachute – it’s not worth much if it’s not open. Fall in love with learning, hunger for the truth and seek it. It could turn your life around.

God Bless, Tim Marks

Resolved to Lead

I love what the movie Courageous teaches about resolutions fathers should make in leading their families. Working with Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I’ve learned that many of the same principles apply to leading a team. Within families and all other areas of LIFE,  John Christian Bovee has it right when he says, “Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire.”

High-performing teams tend to start with high-performing leaders. If a leader is a bump-on-a-log, leading through position or intimidation, any high-performers on their team are probably looking past them with an eye towards gaining the respect and attention of a better qualified leader higher up on the ladder.

If we are ever dissatisfied with how our team is performing, whether it is our team at work, at church, on the sports field or even our family ‘team’, we should never point the finger at the other people involved. We should always have a conversation with the leader in the mirror and ask “What more could I have done, and what more can I do now?”

Bill Hybels says “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.” He’s right. If we cannot say ‘Follow me,’ to our followers – and mean it – then we’ve got a problem, a big one. A great leader has to be able to say, “Follow my values. Follow my integrity. Follow my work ethic, my commitment, and my communication patterns. Fight as I fight. Focus as I focus. Sacrifice as I sacrifice. Love as I love. Repent as I repent. Admit wrong as I admit wrong.”

But it’s not enough for leaders just to say they are going to do these things, leaders worth following must be Resolved to live this way. This is what I love about Courageous. It calls fathers (or anyone for that matter) to live according to certain principles.

    I WILL confront evil, pursue justice and love mercy.
    I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect and compassion.
    I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
    I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins and walk with integrity as a man [or a woman] answerable to God.

These and other statements like them should form our resolve as we lead out in our homes, our churches and all other areas of LIFE. When LIFE Leadership launches on 11-1-11, it will bring with it great opportunity to put these principles of leadership in to practice and change the community building industry for the better forever!

Commitment

Commitment. We all struggle with it in some way shape or form – we just have to be aware of it. Zig Zigler says “Most people are about as committed as a kamikaze pilot on his seventh mission.”

That is kind of funny if you understand what a kamikaze pilot is.

Think about marriage or college. Only about 50% of people who go to college actually finish. I’m told that only half of those who do graduate college actually work in the field that they studied. Gym memberships are another one that comes to mind. Each January, thousands of people in every state make a commitment. “Hey I’m going to work out. I’m going to get in shape.”

Now I know there are some people who enjoy working out, but even they probably like the end result more. The reason that people go to the gym is because they want the end result. They want to lose weight. They want to feel better about themselves. The minute they take their eyes off that they won’t go do the action because they have not committed to it.

We have to commit. There is a reason that gyms have unlimited memberships but limited equipment. Why are there a limited number of machines in there? Because the gym owners realize that people do not keep their commitments.

Another quote I love is “Good sailors are not made on calm seas.”

Back in the time of the sailing ships they didn’t have access to instant weather and GPS. You couldn’t call a phone number and check the weather or get on the internet and look up the weather report. Good sailors are never made on calm seas, they are made on rough seas. These sailing ships would go out, and when you are fifty, eighty, a hundred miles off the coast and a storm comes, you’re going to learn to be a good sailor. You’re pretty much committed. You will become a good sailor.

That level of commitment does not exist in so many of our lives because we just don’t need to be that committed. For whatever reason our country has become incredibly noncommittal. We think commitment is only for the speKayaking photocial or the strong.

I remember seeing a poster about commitment once. It had a picture of a guy in a kayak and he was going over this waterfall that looked to be about fifty or sixty feet tall. Once you get over the precipice of that waterfall you are fully committed. You are going, no matter what you want to do. I am pretty sure there is no reverse on a kayak. There was a cute saying and it was a very inspirational thing to look at, but it raises a crucial question.

We have to ask ourselves, like the guy in the kayak, are we committed to anything? Are we that committed to anything? What is it in your LIFE, that you need to commit to today?

God Bless, Tim Marks

Follow a Great Leader

There is no substitute for following a great leader who has vision, results, and humility. My mentor, Orrin Woodward, is a great example of this.

As you are growing in life, you want to learn from those who have developed a huge vision and are working to make it happen, because a leader has got to have vision and he has got to be taking people with him. One of the biggest things that I see in Orrin Woodward is just that – he is vision driven. The great leader focused on vision is the person to learn from.

But how do you find somebody like that? That’s where it can become very difficult. Try to learn from a leader who has what you want in most areas of their life. You might find someone who has great results in one area, and think, “Man, this guy has great leadership qualities, he can inspire people. People want to follow him.”

When you look again though, you might notice that he’s been divorced forty-seven times and he doesn’t treat his kids very nicely.

Now, I’m using an extreme example, but the point is that I want to follow people who have success in most of the areas that I value in life because I believe that when you live your life by principles it will carry over into all areas of life.

That’s why I choose to follow a leader like Orrin. When the whole industry was going backwards I watched him grow. That in itself is a rare thing. I watched him build a community of people who were willing to follow him through tough times. But not only that, I’ve watched him work hard to be a a better father, to be a better husband. He reads books and the results show up in his life. Orrin is not ashamed to grow in any area, even as he mentors others.

Which brings me to the last thing to look for in a leader worth following – humility. A great leader isn’t caught up in his own success, but is focused on continuing to get better. I’ve seen so many leaders who have had marginal successes, read their own press clippings, and stop growing. Look for the opposite in a great leadership.

Orrin Woodward get more humble as the years go by. The more success he has in leadership, the less he reads his own press clippings. He’s always hungry for more growth and an eager student in all areas of LIFE.

If you are looking for a leader to follow, keep your eye out for vision, results and humility. Where you find them, you find a great leader.

God Bless, Tim Marks

What’s Your Passion?

Here’s a question every leader should ask, “What am I passionate about in life? How much can I focus on my passion? What do I really like to do?”

When I was going through engineering school, I have to be honest, the thing that I was most passionate about was spending time with my wife, Amy, and only son (at that time), Cam. I didn’t get to do that very much, so that passion became dull. I worked hard, but I lost track of that passion.

What's your passion?My mentor, Orrin Woodward, is the co-author of the bestselling book, Launching a Leadership Revolution. He and fellow author, Chris Brady, teach in their book that to truly have success in life and be happy, follow three simple steps.

Step One: Define what it is you want out of life.

Step Two: Learn from someone who has what you want.

Step Three: Go out and Do what that person did.

That sounds so simple, but very few people do it. I did the “Define, Learn, Do” process backwards. I did what I had to do to pay the bills – I went out and got a job. There is nothing wrong with that, it is certainly respectable to have a job. Then, I went to work and learned from a bunch of people who had the same kind of lifestyle that I had or even worse. The things I learned defined my lifestyle. If I had done it the other way, I would’ve asked myself, “Tim, what are you passionate about?”

We often ask children, “What are you going to be?” or “What are you going to do?”

Well, what about you? What do you want to be? What do you want to do? What’s your passion? What’s driving you? Where do you see yourself going?

My son, Nash, is nine years old and he wants to be an NFL football player. I totally support him in that. I am not going to tell him, “Hey Nash, you know, only so many people make it into the NFL and you are homeschooled, so you are really going to have a little bit of a tougher time. You’ve got to have skills and you’ve got to have certain kind of talent. I don’t want to see you get your feelings hurt.”

That’s a line of garbage that we would never tell our children. So why would we ever tell ourselves that? I think the answer is that we aren’t passionate. We have lost our passion about whatever it is that’s important to us. Everyone ought to get a grip on something they are passionate about. Maybe you want to go do missionary work. Maybe you want to be a builder. Maybe you want to be an engineer. Maybe you want to start your own business. Maybe you want to be a plant manager and make a difference.

Figure out what it is that you are passionate about and follow that three step process. Define, Learn, Do.

God Bless, Tim Marks