Tag Archives: leadership qualities

Viking Leadership

Now if you have read my book, Voyage of a Viking, then you already know that there was more to these Norse warriors than the looting and pillaging helmeted guys we so often see in the movies. In fact, while there definitely were plenty of coastal raids, there were a lot more things that the Vikings did well – things modern leaders can learn from.

The more I looked over these “Viking Laws” the more I liked them, and I started thinking of some of the principles that great leaders employ as they seek to grow their businesses and endeavors.

Let’s take a few minutes to learn something from our Viking brothers

The Viking Laws

1. Be Brave and Aggressive: Be direct, Grab all opportunities – In other words, don’t be afraid to take chances. You do have to do the work to gain success, it doesn’t come to those who just sit around. What are you waiting for? The perfect time never comes.  So don’t be a whiner – instead take the Viking way, get out there and do something! It might get hard along the way (in fact, it probably will) but as the great leader Winston Churchill once said, “If you are going through Hell, keep moving!”

2. Be Prepared: Keep your weapons in good condition, Keep in shape, Choose good battle comrades – Of course, if you are going to get out there and do something you ought to be prepared. Have your weapons (products, information, tools, business cards) ready. Keep in shape mentally through reading great books and taking time to focus on personal growth.  Find people like that to be your “battle comrades” as you continue along your success journey.

3. Be a Good Merchant: Find out what the market needs, Don’t make promises you can’t keep – A great leader is out to meet needs and shows integrity and character in what he or she does. John Wooden, an amazing leader on and off the basketball court, taught his players a lot more than the game. He underscored three basic life rules – never lie, never cheat, and never steal. Living by these three simple things will assure that you are a leader people can trust.

4. Keep the Camp Tidy – This is where I have to break from my Viking comrades and say, “Nope, make a mess!”  Sometimes leadership is messy business, and to get things done you have to wade in and get your hands dirty (see Law 1). If you try to put together the perfect, tidy conditions before you get going, you will never go anywhere. Don’t fear the mess and don’t wimp out.

Now, I’m not saying just charge in a without any care, shattering anything and anyone in your way. Instead, be honest and work on yourself rather than looking around and trying to figure out what is wrong with the world, and encourage your battle comrades to do the same. That’s the only way you will grow (and the camp will stay relatively tidy).

For all that might be said about the Vikings, they certainly knew how to get things done. So grab up your own ax and helmet and start to put these laws into practice in your business. You might be surprised what successes await when you begin leading the Viking way.

Have you applied any of the Viking Laws to your business or other endeavors?

God Bless, Tim Marks

Develop Mental Toughness

Whether you are an athlete on the gridiron or in the boardroom, a certain quality is always found in the guys who remain standing when the storm winds blow.  When rejection hits these guys it bounces off them like spitballs off of a battleship.  They chuckle at groundless criticism.  They bounce back quickly from setbacks.  They feel energized to try even harder after a defeat.  That special quality these warriors are showing is something called “mental toughness”.  Wikipedia defines this as “a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders – generally describes a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.” (Emphasis added.)

Each of us will receive a gut shot at some point in our lives that knocks the wind right out of us.  It’s not a matter of whether you will be struck by disaster, but when.  In my first book, Voyage of a Viking, I describe in detail many of the challenges I faced through my life.  I’ve faced my storms and I know that I have more storms awaiting me.  I also know that you do as well.  Rather than sitting around moaning and complaining when we are being pelted by chunks of hail the size of golf balls, we can put on a suit of armor to deflect whatever life throws at us.  That suit of armor is your mental toughness.

You can’t measure mental toughness; you measure its effect.  You can’t measure what’s going on inside a leaders head, but you sure can measure their behavior!  You see it when they lose their biggest customer one month, and it ticks them off just enough to go smash a sales record the next month.    You can see mental toughness when someone is running a marathon and they are gasping for breath, and the only thing keeping them putting one painful footstep in front of the next is their strength of will.  You see it when someone is totally exhausted, yet they keep throwing hundreds of shots into the basketball hoop to perfect their free throw (like my awesome daughter Mya!).  In fact, Mya had to make 1000 free throws; in order to reach that goal, she had to shoot a couple of thousand.   She wanted to quit many times during that experience, but she had committed to a number of people that she would reach her goal.  It’s amazing how a twelve year old girl will follow through on her committment more effectively than most adults.  Mental toughness is courage in action.  When you’ve got it, you cope better than your opponents with the demands you face.

How do we develop mental toughness?  Here are a few principles to get you started:

Principle #1: Realize Mental Toughness Can Be Developed.

Some people might be born with a certain personality, like a “Choleric” or “D” personality type, and maybe this personality type handles adversity a little more effectively than others.  But that’s not always the case, and either way, anyone can develop this side of their personality.  Don’t cop out on yourself by selling yourself any victim thinking, like “That’s just the way I am.”  Brothers and sisters, you can CHANGE.  How do you build mental toughness?  The same way you build muscles in the gym: by pushing yourself to new limits and increasing the pressure or resistance you are pushing against.

Principle #2: Mental Toughness in the Gym Correlates to Mental Toughness in life.

The gym is the ultimate proving ground for “tough guys” and “tough gals”.  You really find out what you’re made of when you’re doing hack squats or leg extensions.  Most people get into the gym, start doing bicep curls, and as soon as it starts to get uncomfortable, they say, “Okay, I’ve done enough for now,” and they stop exercising.  This is actually the exact wrong thing to do, if your goal is to develop your muscles.  You see, when it starts to hurt, that’s the lactic acid burn in your muscles screaming, “Great job! Keep going!  You’re making progress!”  But when most people start to feel discomfort they choose to ease off.

You don’t become successful at anything by letting your foot off of the gas pedal when the going gets tough.  This includes the gym, your marriage, and your business.  When it hurts to do even one more rep of an exercise, that’s when the real muscle development starts!  (By the way, I’m not talking about pushing through pain when you are actually injured; I’m referring to the normal discomfort we feel when we are tearing down our muscles during a workout.)  If you throw in the towel on the bench press, you train your brain to quit when things get tough.  When you force yourself to keep pushing the weight even when you want to give up, you are training your brain to keep pushing.

Principle #3: Champions Fall in Love with Discomfort

Winners know that the path to success is steep and rocky, and the path to defeat is like a sign pointing at a waterslide that says, “Slippery, Fun and Easy to Reach the Bottom in a Jiffy!”  Bad habits are easy to slip into, like a warm bed when you’re exhausted.  Good habits are pretty much guaranteed to feel tough for most people because you end up denying yourself luxuries and pleasures. You must learn to do what is uncomfortable for you. To develop the psychological edge, you must have extreme discipline to give up the comfort zone that you train and live in. Delaying immediate satisfaction is the ultimate sacrifice that all warriors must choose.

 Become a champion and develop mental toughness in your business, your health, your relationships and in life!

God Bless, Tim Marks

 

Lessons off the Basketball Court – Part 2

For most college basketball fans tonight is the greatest game of the season. At the end of the night a new national champion will be crowned. Legendary coach John Wooden celebrated a record 16 such victories with his UCLA Bruins. But before any buzzer sounded or a ball was tipped to begin the game, Wooden taught his players something infinitely more important than the skills that would lead them to championships time and time again. He introduced them to the code his father had passed on to him, a simple Seven Point Creed to live by.

Here it is…Lessons off the basketball court picture

Be true to your self.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Help others.
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
Make friendship a fine art.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

I’ve already shared some thoughts on that first one, Be true to yourself, so let’s take a look at a couple more.

Make each day your masterpiece.

In other words, how would you spend today if your entire life would be judged by this one day? If you knew that tonight at  twelve o’clock you were going to have a heart attack and die, how would you live? What would you do?

For most of us, just the idea of our last day brings up other questions – What would I do? Who would I spend time with? What would I appreciate the most? How would I treat people? How would I plan my day?

These are all questions to ask if you want to make each day a masterpiece, especially that last one – How do I plan my day? The reality is that most people don’t plan their day. In fact, most folks in North America spend more time planning their wedding than they do planning to work on their marriage every day.

Zig Zigler has a great quote: “Live your day by the clock and your life with a vision.

Live your day by the clock – be on time for things, respect others time and your own.
Live your live with a vision – go after a vision of what you want your life to be like. What do you want to do? What do you want to be?

Plan your day and plan to make each day your masterpiece.

Help others. This was John Wooden’s dad’s third point.

To really help others we need to learn to love others. To learn to love others we need to learn about people. There is a great book called Encouragement, The Key to Caring by Lawrence Crabb. If you’ve not read it I highly recommend that you do.

Now, I have a reputation of being a Viking, though I’m not really that way anymore. I try to show my family especially that I’m not the way that I used to be. One way to do this is by modeling for my children a willingness to help other people. Whether that’s stopping to help out the guy who’s tire blew out on the side of the road or serving in our church, it’s important for me to set the example for my family.

Helping others doesn’t stop with strangers, though. Help those that are close to you. So many husbands neglect their families for the sake of work, not realizing that their wives and kids are starving for love at home. So many wives run from meetings to sports events to church functions, so caught up with being busy with the kids that they neglect their husbands. Help the strangers stranded on the side of the road, but don’t forget to help those closest to you too.

God Bless, Tim Marks

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.

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