Leadership In A Word: Rest

Provided by the author.

Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work. – Ralph Marston

As summer slowly draws to a close, I came across a rather interesting article about the workplace and how employees are using their vacation time. A Glassdoor survey last year reported that millions of Americans are giving back their vacations to their employers. At first glance, I thought perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me. Say it ain’t so! But here’s the explanation:

“Why don’t they take what’s due? “Fear,” says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor. “That’s the underscoring theme.” They fear getting behind on their work (34%), believe no one else at their company can do the work while they’re out (30%), they are completely dedicated to their company (22%), and they feel they can never be disconnected (21%). As workers shoulder a heavier work-load post-recession, he says others are afraid of not meeting goals.”

That millions of Americans are giving back vacation time because they fear getting behind on their work, that no one else in the company can do their work while they are out, complete dedication to their company, and that they can never be disconnected to their work, speaks to the importance of my series theme word this week*.

While the reasons listed for not taking vacations might sound noble on the surface, it does speak to other underlying leadership concerns such as the need for cross-training, having a healthy work-life balance, and what is a healthy workload with recognizable boundaries that management has in place.

A hard truth that is lost on many is that we are not indispensable. We can be replaced. And while the above-listed reasons for not taking vacation sound valid, one can do more harm than good – to themselves and their company- by not taking time to rest.

I will not presume to say what that should look like. But here are a few simple reminders as to why rest is important.

It’s a time to recharge

This is the value-added consequence of taking the time to rest. Your body, soul, and mind, can only run for so long and still be useful to you. Rest affords you the opportunity to recharge mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

Recharging your leadership through the lost art of rest will do you a world of good. When you are recharged you give yourself a fresh perspective on the issues at hand and it will give you the energy needed going forward. Rested and recharged you will position yourself for a great second half of the year.

It’s a time to reflect

During downtime and rest is the perfect time to reflect. It’s a time to look back at the first half of the year to see where you’ve come- to put it all in perspective. It’s a time to look ahead, not in the heat of the moment when there is no time to properly absorb what is taking place – but to do so in a state of mind that gives you the context you need.

In your time of rest and mid-year reflecting it’s also important to be present in the moment. “We always project into the future or reflect in the past,” says Marina Abramovic, “but we are so little in the present.” How much do we miss as leaders – family, children, memories we can never have again – simply because we were too busy and missed living in the moment?

It’s a time to reconnect

The benefits of rest can be substantial. Times of rest is important for us in ways already mentioned. But the good it can do for you as a leader will make you a better one.

A rested leader is a more effective leader. Your thinking clearer,  your instincts are sharper, and your temperament is more balanced. Yet, none of these benefits would be possible without making the conscientious decision to rest. Rid yourself of the stigma that to rest is wrong, and embrace this important area of your leadership.

Rest is the secret ingredient to your balanced life and leadership. Discover this secret and you will be better for it.


© 2018 Doug Dickerson

*(Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for the year. See my website at Dougdickerson.wordpress.com to catch up on all my entries to date).

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Postcards From China

Challenging Assumptions

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

As I write this postcard, I am in my fifth and final week here in the Guangdong province of southern China. It’s been an incredible journey – one that I will never forget.

As I reflect on my time here, I must make a confession. I came here with a lot of wrong assumptions. Of course, if we are honest, we can all look to times in our lives when we’ve made wrong assumptions about people or things. That can be good, or bad, depending upon your individual circumstances.

In my case, I am glad to say I was wrong. My preconceived views of this beautiful country and its people were not tied to the realities of everyday life I see here. It had been skewered by the lens of political and religious differences, while real, made me unnecessarily cautious.

The Chinese people are warm, hospitable, beautiful, and most willing to help a stranger. So, enjoy a few pictures of this remarkable country, and as you do, think about old assumptions that you’re holding onto. Perhaps it’s time to let them go.

Until next time,


The smiles of the children will light up your world. We need more smiles.


“I try to have as much fun as I can, and I travel around the world doing what I love”. – Red Gerard – Yep!


“The best education I have ever received is through travel”. – Lisa Ling  So true!

Wherever you go, go with all your heart”. – Confucius (Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong)

Watch the road!

“You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself”. – Ella Maillart

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Postcards From China

Life Can Be A Circus

Keep the circus going on inside you, keep it going, don’t take anything too seriously, it’ll all work out in the end. – David Niven

Week three of my adventures in China is about to begin. It’s been an incredible experience so far.

After overcoming many unexpected challenges and obstacles last week, it was only fitting over the weekend for our team to drive down to Guangzhou to attend the famous Chimelong International Circus.

Chimelong International Circus.
Provided by the author.

If you ever make your way over to this part of the world, put the Chimelong International Circus on your list of things to do. It’s simply amazing and there are leadership/life lessons to be applied.

Your life in leadership can resemble a circus at times. Think about it – there are many moving parts–a ton of distractions, near disasters, a ton of thrills- all while entertaining the masses.

Sound familiar?

Regardless of what life or leadership throws at you, here are a few things worth remembering- a few lessons from the circus…

Laughter is good medicine because life is too short

Along the way, don’t forget to have some fun

Even clowns serve a purpose

When the show is spectacular no one will remember your mistakes

And yes, the show must go on!

Provided by the author.


Until next time!



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Postcards From China

Greetings from Dongguan, China

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting,  so…get on your way! – Dr. Seuss. Oh, The Places You’ll Go

I am writing to you from Dongguan, China, in the province of Guangdong, on the east coast of China – on the mainland.

I am here leading a team of teachers and students for five weeks teaching ESL classes to Chinese students. Needless to say, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. How could I pass it up?

So on this blog for the next few weeks, I will be sending you these postcards to share my reflections and insights about my stay here in China. Here’s the first takeaway I’d like to leave with you.

What separates us is not nearly as important than what unites us.

What I’ve learned is that too much time is devoted to what separates us – be it our political points of view, philosophies, religious beliefs, etc… we tend to categorize people and places based upon our own prejudices.  And in the process, we lose perspective.

Here I see just how small the world is – and what divides us is not as important as what unites us. We are all part of the human race.

The loving affection in a mothers eye as she holds her little girl or the father’s proud hand on the shoulder of his son is a universal language. It knows no boundaries.

I’ve been blessed to travel to many parts of the world and this is a universal observation.

Sunset over the South China Sea upon approach to Hong Kong.

The late Sam Walton once observed: “The bigger we get the smaller we have to think…” And while we need to think long, dream big, and pray hard…I hope the world and what truly matters will get smaller and become more in focus.

It’s when we realize that we have more in common we can begin to make the world a better place for everyone.

Until next time,





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Leadership In A Word: Generosity

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Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. – Frank A. Clark

A word about generosity

The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right even to lift a solicitous hand. Yet the Emperor threw him several gold coins.

A courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need. Why give him gold?” Alexander responded in royal fashion, “Cooper coins would suit the beggar’s need, but gold coins suit Alexander’s giving.”

Generosity is one of the great privileges of your leadership. It’s where your words and actions align for the benefit of others. It’s about the impact you desire to have as a leader and stepping up with a generous heart to make it happen.

Generosity will take on many forms for you as a leader. Learning how to manage and make the most of your opportunities will require discipline on your part. Be that as it may, the most successful leaders are the most generous leaders. Here are three ways to express your generosity as a leader.

Be generous with your time

Time is the most precious commodity you have as a leader. We go to great lengths to manage it and protect it. Jim Rohn was right when he said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you”. So when it comes to generosity, the giving of your time is one of the most generous acts of your leadership.

Think for a moment about the impact that your time could have as a mentor, or time spent out of your office with your team, with a local charity, or with your place of worship? Your generosity could be the difference-maker that someone has been waiting for.

Being generous with your time is to understand that it’s not about what you are giving up or sacrificing, but what you are contributing. It’s about servant leadership.

Be generous with your talents

Your expertise as a leader can be an invaluable source of inspiration for those you serve. The things you’ve learned, the wisdom you can share, and the pitfalls to avoid can be priceless for aspiring leaders.

Regardless of your vocation, your talents as a leader can serve people from all walks of life. Your life lessons and experiences may not mirror that of everyone you meet, but your message and encouragement can make a huge difference in their life. (Read What I Wish I Knew About Leadership 30 Years Ago)

Give it some thought. What talents do you possess that can add value to those in your sphere of influence? Don’t underestimate your contributions nor deprive others of your gift. Your message may very well be the one they need to hear.

Be generous with your treasure

One of the blessings of your leadership is found in the sharing of your treasure. This, of course, is not about a dollar amount, it’s more about the attitude and generosity of your heart.

This treasure I speak of includes the generosity of your finances, but it not limited to that. By all means, be a blessing with your finances. But your generosity can be shared through other resources such as a good book on leadership that could be helpful.

Generous and selfless leaders are in high demand and are needed now more than ever. Now is not the time to hold back, now is the time to step up and show the world what generous leaders look and act like.

Generosity quotes

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it’. – Proverbs 3:27

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need”. – Khalil Gibran

“Where grace happens generosity happens”. – Max Lucado

“Generosity isn’t an act. It’s a way of life”. – Chip Ingram

A final word

As a leader, commit yourself to the selfless life of generous living and leadership. Together we can show the world a better way to do leadership.

©2018 Doug Dickerson


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Leadership In A Word: Yesterday

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Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Now it looks as though they’re here to stay oh I believe in yesterday – John Lennon

A word about yesterday

In his book, No Limits, John Maxwell presents a most thought-provoking question that is worth some consideration. He asks: “When was the last time you said goodbye to something that was special that no longer works today?”. It is a truly intriguing question.

Perhaps in our more nostalgic moments, we look back with some degree of fondness and recall a particular time in our leadership journey that was important to us. Maybe it was a particular success or big win that propelled you to where you are today.

But if we are not careful, we can get stuck in a place, time, and mindset that no longer serves us or the people around us very well. We become stagnant and are looking backward to the “good old days” rather to the future. Sound familiar?

Maxwell continues by asking, “Are you willing to let go of some things you love? If not, you’re going to have a hard time being creative and becoming any better than you are today”. Now, that truly is thought-provoking indeed.

Obviously, reading this caused me to think about my own practices, routines, and my mindset. Have I been guilty of this? Am I guilty of this? In what ways is this mindset hurting me?

My reflections led me to these conclusions. Perhaps you will relate. Perhaps you could add to the list. But here are just a few of my observations.

Yesterday’s creativity will not sustain me

Creativity is the life-blood in leadership. The creativity I had thirty years ago when I was first starting my leadership journey may have served me well then, but it has no bearing on the creativity I need to succeed today. The landscape today is much different.

Leadership Checkup: Are you availing yourself of every opportunity to grow and learn new things?

Yesterday’s structure will not carry me

Leadership and management styles have drastically changed over the past few decades. The flow charts of top-down, bottom-up have mostly been replaced by more lateral lines with collaboration as the approach of choice by many.

Richard Branson observed: “People often remark to me that it’s great how Virgin thinks outside the box. They are genuinely surprised when I tell them, “Actually we don’t! We just never let the box get built in the first place.’”

Leadership Checkup: Are you relying on yesterday’s structures to guide you today or are you finding new approaches to new problems?

Yesterday’s attitude will not equip me

The attitude, faith, and mindset I needed all those years ago may have been sufficient at the time, but no longer. Not because I have arrived, but because my goals, dreams, and aspirations of today demand it. Going to a higher level of achievement requires an exchange. And it will be required in your leadership as well. The exchange will be to give up some things from the past that you loved in order to have the growth and success you desire today.

Leadership Checkup: What attitudes and mindsets of the past do you need to let go? Are you still surrounded with people whose mindsets are holding you back?

Quotes about yesterday

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then”. – Lewis Carroll

“What worked yesterday doesn’t always work today”. – Elizabeth Gilbert

“…But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”. – Philippians 4:13

“You can’t have a better tomorrow if you’re thinking about yesterday”. – Charles Kettering

“Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?”. – Steve Maraboli

A final word

We gain wisdom, understanding, and perspective from our past, For better or for worse, our past shapes us. While it’s certainly appropriate to reflect on the good things in our past, we must live in the moment and be forward in our thinking. It’s also time to let go of the past with all of its mistakes and failures and seize the moment that a new day brings. The challenge in leadership is to never stop growing, learning, adapting, and applying all that we can.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

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Leadership In A Word: Listening

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One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. – Bryant H. McGill

A word about listening

Listening. Yes, I know, it’s a leadership topic that’s been tackled by the best of them for a very long time. But read up on any of the current writings about employee engagement, bad bosses, what causes people to leave their jobs, etc., and usually in the mix somewhere is the issue of listening – or the lack thereof.

At its core, listening is one of the most basic soft skills in leadership. If offered, it would be a 101 leadership course in college. Unfortunately, it’s not.

I asked an aspiring manager in a prominent retail chain some time ago what was the most frustrating thing she dealt with as it related to her direct reports. Without hesitation, she conveyed that they just don’t listen. How many of you can relate to her plight?

As leaders, intuitively we know that listening is a priority. Yet, our lives are structured in such a way that listening is an afterthought. Simply put, we are just too busy. Unfortunately, many leaders make the mistake of believing it’s more important that they are heard, therefore, failing at one of the most important things that they can do – listen.

Here are three reminders on why listening is a key ingredient to your leadership. I hope that it is helpful to you.

Listening empowers your people

If you want your people to feel empowered then listen to them. So long as they feel that they have a voice and it’s being respected and heard then you will win them over. When your people are empowered they will go to great lengths to serve you and your organization. Listening creates buy-in. It’s a momentum builder. If you want to empower you people listen to your people.

Listening keeps you grounded

This is the trap that far too many leaders fall into. It’s when you stop listening that you lose touch with what’s going on around you. When you stop listening to all voices and only a few voices, then how can you truly benefit? Soon, the only voices you hear are the ones telling you only what you want to hear. When this happens, your leadership is diminished. Keep the doors to your leadership open with your ears and with an open mind. Often time the best ideas and input flow into your office, not out of it.

Listening keeps you connected

Much like staying grounded, listening keeps you connected to your people. You never want to be so far removed from your people that you don’t hear their heartbeat. To listen to your people is to know your people. When you stop listening to your people, you stop knowing your people. Don’t be so far removed from their heartbeat that they no longer hear yours. Because if you do, then you are only presiding over your own demise as a leader. Stay close, stay connected, and keep listening.

Listening quotes

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemmingway

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak”. – Simon Sinek

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. – Stephen R. Covey

“If the person you are talking to does not appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear”. – Winnie the Pooh

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking”. – Bernard M. Baruch

A final word

The only way listening becomes a strong leadership skill is when we become intentional about it. Remove distractions. Show respect. Put your cell phone away. Look your people in the eye and let them talk. These are just basic courtesies that we need to return to. But we have to look past the basic “how-to’s” and get to a deeper understanding of the greater benefits and how listening impacts us as leaders.

What do you say?

©2018 Doug Dickerson

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