Leadership In a Word: Complacency

Credit: Google Images

Complacency happens almost without notice. Check and renew your heart daily. – Jim George

A word about complacency

By definition, complacency is ‘showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements”. Not very flattering is it?

Yet one of the chief enemies of leaders can be wrapped up in this one word. It’s been said that success breeds complacency. While I do believe that a certain amount of dissatisfaction with one’s talents and abilities can be healthy, complacency can devastate your leadership.  

Consider the great pianist Paderewski. He achieved a great deal of success in America. In spite of that, he is quoted as saying, “There have been a few moments when I have known complete satisfaction, but only a few. I have rarely been free from the disturbing realization that my playing might have been better”. In other words, he was keenly aware that there was always room for improvement.

As a leader, it’s important to avoid certain dangers as it relates to complacency Here are a few of them.

The danger of pride and arrogance.

This is how the smugness of uncritical satisfaction or complacency manifests itself. A leader full of pride or arrogance mistakenly thinks it’s all about them. So long as this attitude continues to manifest itself in the actions and words of the leader, the more that leader will become isolated.

There’s no room for pride or arrogance in a leader. It’s one thing to show pride in one’s work that fosters an attitude of excellence, but another thing entirely to lead from a position of self-serving pride and arrogance.

The danger of not having a personal growth plan

This type of leader exhibits a lack of depth or wisdom to think long. As leaders, we never stop growing and we never stop learning. Not having a plan in place whereby you are continuously learning and being challenged can be fatal to your leadership.

Consider your own growth plan for just a moment. Is it well thought out and intentional or is random and sporadic? Your personal growth and development is an investment in your future and in the people you lead. If you are not growing as a leader then how can you expect it from the people you lead?

The danger of believing that past achievements will guarantee future success

Your successes and achievements are milestones on your leadership journey. What you achieved yesterday is not necessarily a predictor of your success tomorrow. It’s when you become complacent that you believe that one automatically guarantees the next.

What complacent attitudes are you holding onto that are holding you back? Smart leaders are continuously striving to excel, learn, grow, and are looking for new and improved ways to do it. Be thankful for past wins, but don’t live there.

The danger of believing your best days are behind you

While it’s important to believe your past successes will not guarantee your future success, it’s equally important -if not more so, to understand that your best days are not behind you, they are before you. A complacent mindset will lull you into believing the former. Don’t believe it.

My encouragement to you as a leader is to shake off any complacent attitude about your life and leadership. Don’t allow yourself to be surrounded by negative influences that would hold you back. Complacency – not matter it’s form, voice, or identity is not something you have to associate with or be defined by.

Complacency quotes

“The dream is over only when you become complacent” – Lorin-Morgan Richards

“He who is content with what has been done is an obstacle in the path of progress” – Helen Keller

“I will not allow yesterday’s success to lull me into today’s complacency, for this is the great foundation of failure” – Og Mandino

“Change before you have to” – Jack Welch

A final word

One of the sad consequences of complacency is that it keeps you from fulfilling a God-inspired purpose for your life. It tarnishes your past and robs you of your future. Don’t allow complacency to hold you back you as a leader. You have too much to gain and far too much to lose as a result.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership In a Word: Anchors

Courtesy: Google Images

The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations. – St. Augustine

A word about anchors

In his book Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado shares a story about weathering Hurricane David while living on the Miami River in a houseboat. While many people along Florida’s Gold Coast were boarding up their homes he was desperately trying to figure out what to do to save his boat.

In his desperation, he recalls a story of a friend who came to his aid. He writes:

I was reaching the end of my rope, in more ways than one, when Phil showed up. Now Phil knew boats. He even looked boatwise.

He was born wearing a suntan and dock-siders. He spoke the lingo and knew the knots. He also knew hurricanes. Word on the river had it that he had ridden one out for three days in a ten-foot sailboat. They made him a living legend.

He felt sorry for us, so he came to give some advice … and it was sailor-sound. “Tie her to land and you’ll regret it. Those trees are gonna get eaten by the ‘cane. Your only hope is to anchor deep,” he said. “Place four anchors in four different locations, leave the rope slack, and pray for the best.”

Think for a moment of the many times in your own life and leadership when you’ve faced storms and trials. We’ve all been there.

In leadership, as in life, you will need to take the advice of Phil and anchor deep. You will need to know that your anchors are deep and will withstand the storms when they come.

What about you? What are the anchors that keep you grounded? Here are a few anchors that work for me and have worked for me over the years. See if you can relate to any of these.

The anchor of faith

My faith has sustained me over the years through many times of testing as a leader. I am thankful for God’s strength to empower me, faith to encourage me, grace to forgive me, and His love working through me to empower and encourage those around me.

The anchor of family

Family tends to be your most honest brokers. They are the ones who love you unconditionally and the ones who can give it to you without the filter. Family will stick with you when others walk away and weather the storms with you when times are tough. I am thankful for my family.

The anchor of values

The hardest and most important decisions you make as a leader must be made through the lens of your values. Not what is expedient at the moment or the most politically advantageous. You will be defined by your values so be sure they are clear to you because that’s how others will evaluate you as a leader.

The anchor of your why

Knowing your why  – living out your God-given purpose as to why you are on this earth will keep you anchored. It’s your filter for the good things that you say no to in order to say yes to the greater things that are in store for you. When you know your why it will keep you grounded and it will keep you focused.

The anchor of friends

When you surround yourself with good friends they will, like family, keep you grounded, keep you humble, and call out the best in you. Have friends around you that will speak truth to you, believe in you, and be that friend in return. I am thankful for so many friends that have been there for me through thick and thin.

Anchor quotes

“Have an anchor so that life doesn’t toss you around.” – Debby Ryan

“Cast your cares on God; that anchor holds.” – Frank Moore Colby

“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values- that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.” _ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

A final word

The anchors we need in life and in leadership are not mutually exclusive. One serves to the benefit of the other. Learning how to incorporate them into our lives and what anchors we need is the question. No matter what the trial or difficulties you may face, remember what Phil said, “anchor deep”.


©2018 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership In a Word: Disappointment

Credit: Google Images

Sometimes when you get disappointment it makes you stronger. – David Rudisha

A word about disappointment

In 1858 the Illinois legislature–using an obscure statute–sent Stephen A. Douglas to the U.S. Senate instead of Abraham Lincoln, although Lincoln had won the popular vote. When a sympathetic friend asked Lincoln how he felt, he said, “Like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh.”

Lincoln’s reaction is a good reminder that we all at times can feel the sting of disappointment. In leadership, it’s much the same. We have those times when we feel let down or disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we planned. In short, life happens.

When disappointments come your way as a leader, here are three truths you need to remember.

Disappointments are inevitable

That statement is not meant to discourage you but rather to motivate you. No leader is immune from times of disappointment. It comes with the territory. So here is what you need to know – you are not the sum of your disappointments, setbacks, or failures. They are not your roadblocks, they are your stepping stones. The inevitability of disappointments coupled with the right attitude and outlook will set you up for the inevitability of your success. Don’t give up!

Disappointments are proportional to your risks

Simply put, the more risks you take, the more disappointments you will experience. Thomas Edison knew about this first hand. He suffered many setbacks and losses. It was his attitude in the face of those disappointments that set him apart. Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. It was his positive attitude that caused him to succeed even in the face of adversity. Don’t allow the size of the risk or disappointment keep you from chasing after your dreams.

Disappointments are opportunities to regroup

The outcome of every disappointment is not meant to be fatal. Sometimes there is a greater purpose to the disappointment – something beyond what you see at the moment. Don’t allow your present negative feelings to cloud your thinking or how you can make your situation better going forward. Let the disappointment be your teacher, and move forward with the wisdom you’ve gained.

Disappointment quotes

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.” – Robert Kiyosaki

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” – Thoreau

“Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead.” – Les Brown

A final word

Thomas Edison also said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Disappointments will come your way as a leader, but don’t be discouraged or sidetracked. See the big picture and know that your disappointments are only momentary.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership In a Word: Legacy

Credit: Google Images

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.  – Billy Graham

A word about legacy

The world was saddened to hear the recent news of the passing of Rev. Billy Graham. His life and ministry were one of selfless service to the world.

If you were to look back on the landscape of history the past one hundred years or so and point to leaders who have made a lasting impact for good upon the world, Billy Graham would most certainly be on the short list of those people.

In a world filled with so much division and strife, his passing is a reminder to us of a better way.

Ours is a culture that in many ways has forgotten what selfless service, love, grace, and forgiveness is about. The opening sentence in Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life crystallizes the point that must be made, “It’s not about you.” Yet, too often our lives and actions say otherwise.

The legacy of Billy Graham is not one of just numerical measurements. Yet, a report I read said he conducted 417 crusades around the world. The impact of those crusades will only be known in eternity.

The legacy of Billy Graham will be marked by a life lived in obedience to God’s calling and his selfless service to others. His life modeled servant leadership. It was a life well lived.

What about you? Your life and legacy as a leader may not rise to the scope and reach of Billy Graham, but your service matters.

It matters to the people you serve in your community.

It matters to the children you foster in your home.

It matters to the people you serve in your local soup kitchen.

It matters to the colleague you work alongside who needs your encouragement.

It matters not so much in the big things we do but in the small.

How you will be remembered tomorrow is created by the random acts of kindness that you do today. Your legacy is a choice. Today matters.

Legacy quotes

“God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.” – Billy Graham

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” – Shannon L. Alder

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” – William James

A final word

I am thankful that I can say I was able to attend a Billy Graham crusade in my lifetime. His life and legacy will always be remembered. He set the bar high as it relates to living a life of service to others. I am glad he did. The world is a better place for it.

What legacy are you preparing?

©2018 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership In a Word: Doubts

Credit: Google Images

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Word study


  1. To be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe
  2. To distrust
  3. Archaic. To fear; be apprehensive about

Source: Dictionary.com

A word about doubts

Doubts. It’s a confession that many leaders are not willing to own up to. But if you hang around in leadership for any length of time you will have your fill of doubts. I know I have.

I am reminded of a story from Bits & Pieces some years ago about Lord Halifax, a former foreign secretary of Great Britain, once shared a railway compartment with two prim-looking spinsters. A few moments before reaching his destination the train passed through a tunnel. In the utter darkness, Halifax kissed the back of his hand noisily several times. When the train drew into the station, he rose, lifted his hat, and in a gentlemanly way said:

“May I thank whichever one of you two ladies I am indebted to for the charming incident in the tunnel.” He then beat a hasty retreat, leaving the two ladies glaring at each other.

That amusing little story subtly reminds us that our own self-doubts have a way of glaring back at us from time to time. But what tends to be the source of our doubts? There are perhaps numerous reasons why we tend to have our doubts as it pertains to our personal leadership and confidences we should have. But here are three common ones.

We have doubts when we listen to our critics

If we spend too much time entertaining the voices of our critics we can unwittingly position ourselves for disappointment. This happens not because the critic is right but because we allow those opposing voices to linger.

Mindset author Carole S. Dweck said, “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”.  It’s when you change your mindset that you erase the doubts of your critics and most important – yourself.

We have doubts when we have the wrong attitude

The day you own our attitude is the day you begin to tear down the destructive force of your doubts. Zig Ziglar was right when he said. “Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.” You can’t expect to grow as a leader and reach your full potential so long as negative attitudes fill your mind.

Take a moment, right now, for some intentional reflection. If your current attitude/mindset was set like a thermostat for the rest of the year, do you think you could confidently look back a year from now and believe in your heart that you would be better off at that time? How do you think your attitude impacts those around you? What needs to change?

We have doubts that serve a greater purpose

We have to be ever-mindful and vigilant about the messages and voices we entertain and the mindset we develop. It’s an intuition skill that we develop over time.

But not every doubt serves a negative purpose and not every critic is wrong. This is where, as leaders, we must listen with a discerning ear.

As a leader, don’t mistake constructive criticism from a friend or peer as a critic out to harm you. Trusted confidants who are able to speak truth into your life are essential to your leadership growth. How you receive the truth along with how you apply it, will make all the difference to you going forward.

Not every doubt is your enemy; not every praise your friend. As a leader, you must know   the difference.

Doubt quotes

“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality”. – Ralph Marston

“Face your fears and doubts, and new worlds open to you”. – Robert Kiyosaki

“I think you’re not a human being unless you have doubts and fears.” – Mike Krzyzewski

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” – Amelia Earhart

A final word

If you have doubts as a leader from time to time welcome to the club. We all do. Never allow your doubts to get in the way of your destiny. You are stronger than you think. You are not the sum of your fears. Turn your doubts into stepping stones on your way to achieving your dreams and fulfilling your destiny.



©2018 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership In a Word: Resolve

Credit: Google Images

Wise to resolve, and patient to perform. – Homer

Word study

1 obsolete : dissolve, melt

4a : to deal with successfully : clear up

  • resolve doubts
  • resolve a dispute

b : to find an answer to

c : to make clear or understandable

d : to find a mathematical solution of

e : to split up into two or more components especially in assigned directions

  • resolve a vector

5: to reach a firm decision about

  • resolve to get more sleep
  • resolve disputed points in a text

Source: Merriam-Webster

A word about resolve

As in many words that come to mind when one thinks of leadership, resolve is one that continuously makes the list. It’s in our resolve that we made as leaders.

I was reminded of a story I heard about President Abraham Lincoln. The final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was taken to Lincoln at noon on January 1, 1863. Twice the president picked up his pen to sign it, and twice he laid it down. Turning to Secretary of State William Seward, he said, “I have been shaking hands since 9:00 this morning, and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, ‘He hesitated.'”

The president then took up the pen again and slowly but firmly wrote, “Abraham Lincoln.” That historic act endeared Lincoln to the world as the Great Emancipator.

While the things you do may not rise to the level of the Emancipation Proclamation,  resolve, nonetheless, is crucial to your success as a leader. Many things will compete for your time and attention. Distraction will come your way. Tough and unpopular decisions will be yours to make. Your resolve in these times is what will see you through. So here are a few points of clarity to help you define your resolve with yourself and with the people you lead.

Resolve to listen to your people

What makes you a leader of significance is found not so much in your ability to talk but in how well you listen. Listening is a lost art in communication. Resolve to listen more.

Resolve to believe the best in your people

The people you lead not only need your ear but they also need your heart. When you resolve to believe the best in your people and see them as “10’s” they will rise to the challenge.

Resolve to challenge your people

Bringing out the best in your people means raising the bar for your people. Let them know that their goals, dreams, and aspirations and yours are one in the same. Resolve to lift your team to new levels.

Resolve to never stop growing

Simply put, the growth of the leader determines the growth of the people. As a leader, you set the example. You can’t lead people to new levels of growth and development if are not growing yourself.

Resolve to live in your ‘why’

“The two most important days in your life,” said Mark Twain, “are the day you were born and the day you find out why”. Resolve to know your ‘why’ and live it. This is your purpose, this is your destiny, and this must be your resolve as a leader.

Resolve quotes

“Resolve never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation”. – Jack Nicklaus

“Resolve to learn something new everyday. Because every 24 hours, you have the opportunity to have the best day of your company’s life”. – Harvey Mackay

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of roadblocks that lay before you”. – Denis Waitley

A final word

A leader’s resolve, I believe, is one of the noblest of characteristics he or she possesses. With it, you can lead with integrity and authority. In many areas of your leadership, you will be required to summons resolve. Courageously embrace it.


©2018 Doug Dickerson

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership In a Word: Mentors

Credit: Google Images

Seek out counsel and be a mentor to people, because they learn how to be mentors. – Cathy Engelbert

Word study

: a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son Telemachus

2a : a trusted counselor or guide

  • a mentor who, because he is detached and disinterested, can hold up a mirror to us
  • —P. W. Keve

b : tutor, coach

  • The student sought a mentor in chemistry.
  • Source: Merriam-Webster

A word about mentors

Long before John Maxwell, Jim Collins, Andy Stanley, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni and many others who have inspired me on my leadership journey; there was Dr. Tom Wilson.

It was in Dr. Wilson’s organizational behavior and leadership class at Southeastern University more than thirty years where the flame and passion for leadership was ignited in me.

We bonded quick and shared a passion for reading. We’d exchange books and talk about them. He was a challenging professor but caring. He inspired and prodded us to become our best and did it in a way that if he said we were going to charge hell with squirt guns we’d all sign up and do it.

But most of all, he was a mentor. And for that, I will forever be grateful. With great sadness, I’ve learned of his recent passing. He will be remembered fondly and missed greatly.

As I reflect on what Dr. Wilson meant to me personally, I can’t help but think of the impact and importance each of us has for mentors in our lives.After more than thirty years removed from his classes and more than a few gray hairs now, I am more intentional about the impact I can have in the lives of others.

Writing the Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger addresses the critical need for leadership training at an earlier age. HIs research shows that the average age of supervisors entering leadership training is 42. However, the average age of supervisors is 33. Simply put, we are waiting much too long to equip them with the leadership skills needed to succeed.

The simple truth is this – we need mentors who can impart their wisdom and knowledge on to us. As leaders, we never stop learning and we must never stop growing. Mentors can speak truth into our lives and help us keep a healthy perspective.

My purpose – my why is about developing, inspiring, and mentoring as many leaders as I can. That passion, in large part, was because one professor cared enough to pour into the lives of his students in ways he probably never realized.

Thank you, Dr. Wilson and Godspeed.

Mentoring quotes

“ The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people”. – John Maxwell

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing, but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done”. – Junot Diaz

“The delicate act of mentoring is someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”. – Steven Spielberg

“My best mentor is a mechanic- and he never left the sixth grade. By any competency measure, he doesn’t have it. But the perspective he brings to me and my life is, bar none, the most helpful.” – Brendon Burchard

A final word

Being a mentor is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Be it in your house of worship, community, company, or otherwise enriching the life of a child – mentoring is one of the greatest acts of leadership and service.


©2018 Doug Dickerson

*Note: Leadership In A Word is my writing theme for 2018. Each week the focus will be on a word that impacts you as a leader. My style is new but my message and commitment to delivering fresh leadership insight to you are the same. It’s my sincere desire to help you grow as a leader and to partner with you in reaching your full potential.

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment