Leaders Walk

Cambodia 2010 009.JPGIn November of 2015 I had the honor and pleasure to serve the Lord and a local mission organization called NeverThirst through a short-term mission trip to the country of Cambodia. Cambodia is a country about the size of the state of Alabama nestled between Vietnam and Thailand. It has a horrific recent history having been though a largely unknown genocide in the 1970s. During five years of terror, the Khmer Rouge killed almost 2 million people of the 8 million residents targeting anyone educated, religious, or with glasses. The results left a country broken and tormented by their past and in desperate need of the Gospel and leadership. Nearly half the country today is 30-years-old or younger and many of them have lost hope of the country ever fully recovering. But God.

I love that phrase from the Bible because it usually follows some terrible news and then transitions to “But God”. With those two sweet words, the story always yields a new result of how great He can make everything.

malachiWhile I was in Cambodia, I had the chance to meet with many leaders and pastors who truly showed me what a servant leader really was. Today I want to share you the stories of 2 men I met who taught me invaluable lessons on leadership and life. Malachi is a tuk tuk driver (tuk tuk is a Cambodian motorcycle taxi) in the city of Phnom Penh and he is a pastor on the weekends. The village he pastors for is 120 km away or about 2 hours by motorcycle. He wore sandals as almost everyone there does and he rides his bike (when it is working) every Saturday to the village, stays overnight, preaches and stays with the people on Sunday. Monday, he then drives back to the city for “work”. He told us how his bike is old and it doesn’t always work and frequently quits on his long drive to and from the village. I asked him what he did when his bike breaks down? He told me, “I walk if I’m close enough, hitchhike (not recommended in Cambodia), find a mechanic and barter with whatever I have. The village’s need is bigger than my obstacle”. Are you kidding me? This man receives nothing from his time in the village that we can see but he does receive the joy from obedience to Christ. Malachi taught me that leaders recognize that the need of their teams is greater than the obstacle in their way. Malachi is changing lives through his preaching and teaching along with challenging his people to start growing more crops and raising chicken and pigs to produce income instead of relying totally on rice.   The people follow him because he is absolutely mind-heart-body committed to being a servant.

Think through that. He never let an obstacle keep him from his service, his commitment is seen and felt by his people, his motives are pure, and his reason for leading is Divinely given. We can learn much about leading our teams and companies from Malachi. Keep reading though because I have another inspiring gentleman I came to know in Cambodia.

lwPastor Chiamen was another leader in another part of Cambodia that taught me about leadership. Pastor C was preacher, farmer, school principal, caregiver to his mother and served the people of his village daily. Pastor C let us stay in his school while we were building bio sand filter with the NeverThirst local partners. One night after dinner Pastor C announced to me, “Let’s go”. When I asked where we were going, he responded simply, ”prayer walk” I probed him needing to know exactly what a prayer walk was. He explained, “We walk and we ask people what they need us to pray about.” Before I could even ask the question, he answered it for me, “We ask any people we see.” With a lump in my throat and my heart overwhelmed we started walking. How simple yet how amazingly impactful of a concept. How can we know how to serve people if we aren’t asking them what they need?

Can you imagine the impact of walking through your office asking people what you can do for them? Do you have what you need? Are you happy?   Is there anything you can do to help them succeed?

What a concept as a leader to value you people enough to GO TO THEM!!! Sure you can have an open door policy, but this concept is not at all the same. This is about you going to them. Go to their office door or cubicle or job site and earnestly requesting an opportunity to help them. Pastor C lead us through a village and down a railroad track at dusk. We prayed with and for people along our walk. Pastor C was showing me being a leader means so much more than our culture lends. It means taking care of the flock you are leading.

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I went to Cambodia to help build wells for clean water and show others that God’s love is worth obedience. In return I took home wisdom that leaders serve at all cost, leaders care for others above themselves, and when there is no other way to get to their people, leaders will find a way and maybe even have to walk.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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The Millennial Mindset – Bridging the Gap

mindsetI am member of the largest, most misunderstood generation this country has ever seen.   Millennials are different than our predecessor generations. We expect a lot from people and from companies.   The stereotype for us is that we addictively play video games and we bounce jobs like we don’t know where we are going or what we want.  We are painted as entitled, lazy, and “know-it-all’s”. And if you are a Millennial, you will read that and cringe because you don’t like how you are automatically portrayed; but you will also personally know of people your age who behave exactly just that way. Let’s face it. 90% of Millennials are making the other 10% look bad!

The reality for many “baby boomer” business owners is that the Millennials are in line to inherit the next generation of your businesses.   That means the company you own or work for right now might be run by one of those nitwit 20-30 somethings in the next 10-20 years. Consider that for a moment, the youngest baby boomer will turn 65 in 2029, that’s only 13 years away.

The issue for management is two-fold.

  1. How do employers attract the 10% of Millennials that are already on the right path?
  2. How do companies create a culture that can motivate their other Millennials (the 90%) to live up to their potential?

Education for both groups is paramount.   Improving communication to allow for real collaboration between a multi-generational workforce will mean ultimately the success or failure of many companies over the next 10 years.   Human Resource departments have to address these issues in now in 2016 not 2020 and certainly not 2029.

Three ideas Millennials want you to know about them.

  1. Look backwards: To better understand this younger generation, consider the environment they grew up in. Author of the book Sticking Points, Hayden Shaw, calls this history “Ghost Stories”. On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in 9th grade Spanish Class when a teacher ripped open our door and frantically yelled at my teacher, “We’ve been attacked in New York.” We watched as our country mourned and then rallied together and, if only for a moment, that sense of community was immensely strong and it stuck with us in a profound way. While still in our formative years, our nation endured what is the worst attack against the country ever and we had to figure out what to take away from it.   We were taught as kids to expect a toy in every meal, have never known anything but technology growing and regrowing every 12-18 months.   New technology gets us incredibly excited but outdated technology is disproportionately more upsetting. We watched our country’s economy grow by leaps and bounds through the 90’s only to graduate from college in 2008 and watch hundreds of companies’ layoff hundreds of thousands of people each month. In that recession, there was no loyalty. Loyalty cost money and companies literally couldn’t afford loyalty. We saw that. We made note of it.   We watched our parents, our aunts, uncles, and our parents’ friends get laid off after years of service for their companies. Now, don’t get mad yet, I’m not bashing companies for doing what they needed to do to survive but I’m trying to get you to see that our lack of loyalty was born from what we learned about employers and companies during the breakdown in 2008. We are the first generation with helicopter moms and participation trophies. We were literally programmed to believe that we deserve more and to not be afraid to ask for it.  So when we want more, we do just that.
  2. Learn to speak our language: We may use the same words as everyone else but we certainly have our own language. Communication is not the same now as it was for most baby boomers when they entered the workforce. Millennials require a bit of finesse. Have you ever heard the saying, “Say no by saying yes”? This was a phrase taught to me in my first sales training class in Houston, TX. The concept is that when someone asks you for something that you cannot, or will not give them, you counter their request by offering something that you are willing to do instead of just saying no. Just because we are needy and feel entitled to ask for too much too soon does not mean that you have to comply, but instead of saying a flat “No”; what if you said it a different way? Now if something is company policy then you should not be expected to bend those rules, but I will challenge you with this. If you are going to play the card, “It’s company policy”, you should know why that is the policy. Is the company actually better off because of that policy or is that just way it has always been done? You can count on the fact that the Millennial employee is going to ask, “Why?” Let’s look at an example. One hot topic recently has been a flexible work schedule/environment. While there is lots of data that shows flexible work hours increase productivity, let’s just assume that your company can not comply with this request. Instead of giving a flat NO to the request, what if you said, “That’s an interesting question and I’ve been asked about it a few times now. Would you be willing to put together some data for me on how that might look logistically for everyone? Build a case and let’s look at it together. I can’t promise anything because we’ve never done this before but I’m willing to look into it.” This doesn’t hold you liable for anything and you might be surprised by what you learn, but ultimately you have allowed them to figure out how it will or will not work on their own. It is just as likely as not that they are going to realize the “Why” during their research and accept that it will not work OR worst case scenario, they figure out how it could work and it increases your productivity, morale and rapport with all employees.   Now, if you are a boss that thinks, “Whatever I say goes and they need to deal with it”, I would be willing to bet you have high turnover, low employee morale, and probably no loyalty in your workforce. You may have to step out of your comfort zone to learn to speak our “language” but the benefits are immeasurable when you consider what it means if you don’t.
  3. Mentor Us: Millennials have what I call “Google Syndrome”. You call it being a “know-it-all”, but it’s the same thing. I timed myself, and in 90 seconds I learned the circumference of the Earth (24,901 miles), the number one sales tip by New York Times, “It’s not what you say, it’s what your customer believes”, I learned the weather forecast for the next 10 days and I learned quite a bit about the best commercial doors you can put in a school for both safety and quality. Between Google and Millennials, we literally do know almost everything. The problem is getting us to see that knowledge does not equal ability. I know how to lift 500 pounds, I’ve watched a video on proper form, but I still cannot lift 500 lbs. Your Millennials need a mentor. They need someone who is willing to harness their enthusiasm and energy and direct it through wisdom. Wisdom = knowledge + experience. Walk softly here though. Be careful to not belittle us. If you are going to breakthrough to a Millennial, you cannot treat them like a kid and say things like, “Just because you read an article on how to do this doesn’t mean you can do it. That takes experience.”  Our mental response is very likely to be, “Well get out of the way and let me try it!” Those failures are ugly. They get lots of press in large companies and do no good.   Instead, set up some opportunities for “controlled fails”.   You are right that we probably can’t do something but at least we read the article, at least we tried to learn.   Don’t kill that enthusiasm, direct it. If you start looking at your workforce as a group of mentees and not employees, you will go much further.

We aren’t as bad as you think and you will need to figure out how to engage us soon if you haven’t already. As a self-proclaimed ambassador for my generation, I promise I’m going to work my hardest to kick us into a new gear. If you are willing to work to attract, harness, and communicate with Millennials, your company will have an almost endless supply of innovation and energy that when guided correctly will literally change the world!

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Peyton Manning and Super Bowl 50

pmPeyton Manning famously said, “It’s not wanting to win that makes you a winner, it’s refusing to fail that makes you a winner.”  Michael Jordan encouraged thousands with his monologue of humility when he claims to have missed over 9,000 shots; and when his team was depending on him to make the gaming winning shot, he missed 26 times. Yet he is still arguably revered as the greatest professional basketball player of all time. Tenacity is the word that comes to mind when I think of these athletes, but the truth is still – Failing Sucks!

Come on, you know me by now.   There is no political correctness here. Failing is not fun; it hurts; it’s infuriating; and while you certainly should get back on the horse if you fall off, it doesn’t mean that the pain from falling off is going to go away quickly.   Actually, far from it. You see the stink from failure can linger for days, weeks, years for some people and that pain, or rather the fear of that pain is often paralyzing. Don’t believe me.   Ask any teenage boy why he does not just walk up and talk to the girl he’s been staring at and ask her out.   Ask any entrepreneur that talks about her Shark Tank’s  ideas all the time but she is stuck in a dead end, do nothing job, because the fear of failure is enough to leave her catatonic.

So, now that we are all sufficiently depressed, let’s look for the light in this message.

I have 4 steps in this equation that will help you any situation where failure is a possibility.

 1.  Admission: Step one is to admit. Admit that there is no success without some level of risk and go ahead and acknowledge that failure is not only a possibility but a probability.

That’s a weird way to start a journey isn’t it? “Okay team I hope everyone is ready because we are going to change the world and oh by the way we are likely going to fail, perhaps miserably, but that’s not going to stop us!

2.  Action: Step two is the gut wrenching and utterly terrifying act of taking a step. You cannot improve results until you HAVE results!

If you are like me, this literally took me standing in front of the mirror looking at myself saying, “You might fail, if you do that’s okay, take good notes and try again.” Unless you are sky diving or riding a motorcycle over the Grand Canyon or walking a tight rope with no harness, then your failure will not kill you. So after you have accepted the fact that failure is likely, then you need to take a step!

3.  Reflection: Step three is to take time, at set intervals, to reflect on everything that just happened.

For me, I schedule these times as part of my goal setting, and they are flexible. i.e. If I fail before the allotted time period then I will reflect immediately. I hate when that happens. But if the project is moving along I try to make short term goals that I can evaluate regularly to identify my progression. Remember sometimes these phases move so fast that going to a coffee shop and sitting down with the music blaring in your headphones is not an option. Reflection should be intentional but does not have to be formal. Put down your phone, close your laptop and take 5-10 minutes to figure out where you are, what you have accomplished and where your next step is. Then BOOM! Right back at the grind!!!

4.  REDO: Step 4 and the last step is to redo it! If you failed don’t do it the same way, if you didn’t fail then redo it the same way or an even better way!!!!

Generally, in life, the goals and projects that we are working on will take persistence, simply meaning that we are not just doing them once. So, whether your goals are met or you failed so badly that it’s actually hard to tell what you were trying to do, do it again! Perfect it, push the boundaries, and keep going. If you get scared, see step one and start again!

The reason for this entire post is simple. I have 2 emotions – HAPPY and ASLEEP and when failure introduces sadness, frustration, anger, or anything except happiness or asleepidness (I know that’s not a word) it can mess with my head and sometimes I need reminding that I am bigger than that. I would imagine that many of you are the same and to you I say, failure is not an indicator of how good you are at something, it is only an indicator how good you were at something in that one single attempt. Don’t be afraid to fail, be more afraid of never doing anything that matters.

-Caleb

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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Motivated for CHANGE

Welcome to my blog. I am Caleb Bagwell and if you know me at all or have been following my Motivated Monday series on Facebook, I’ll bet you can guess that I am a better speaker than I am a writer. I fully recognize the eloquence and poetry that accompanies written word though and I want to join the blog world so I can shutterstock_288646823add my “two cents worth”. I fully intend to focus on my strengths of speaking, but with the mission I have in my heart, I will not miss any opportunity to reach as many people as I can.

I think to begin it may be a good idea to introduce myself and give you a little of my background as it will give you some insight as to my passion and purpose moving forward. If I sit and think, I believe this current chapter of my life started in college when I finally figured out that I wanted to become a financial advisor. Shortly after that I met a girl that was very different from most girls and I promptly pursued her relentlessly for 6 months before she agreed to a first date! Six year later, we are happily married and she still challenges me every day to be better than I think I can be.   Over the past 4 years of our marriage I have watched her work tirelessly to complete medical school (with honors I might brag), and begin her life as a resident where 12-hour work days are her short days. My wife has taught me the true value of a “Purpose”. She knows hers and is willing to work tirelessly to achieve it.  A life purpose should be so defined and so uniquely yours that if it takes 12 years of constant pursuit, you will still not be deterred. To my wife I have to say, “Thanks Babe! You are the strongest person I know.”

As Sarah has worked through medical school, my purpose too has been developing. Through several divinely placed steps in our lives, I have been given the opportunity to meet with people from all of the world and help them with their finances. Trust me, I am aware that in the grand scheme of life on this planet, personal finance is a relatively unimportant aspect. In my opinion though, it is one of the biggest tools the adversary uses to keep us from reaching our full potential. My heart breaks every time I hear about a college grad that has been called to the mission field and literally can’t go because he has $100,000.00 of student loans. My heart aches when I meet with a couple that say they fight over money and my face turns red with anger when I hear someone accept that they have climbed as high as they can get in the world because they think no one believes in them.

My purpose is simple, my tools are unique, and my audience is clear. Help those that feel the call to be something more reach their full potential by setting them free from the burdens of money through proper stewardship. God has made me distinctly for this job. Motivated, Educated, Changed. He has made me aware that the fastest way to change the world is to convince everyone around me that they are meant to change the world too. I promise to challenge you, I promise to push you out of you comfort zone, and I promise to always believe in you. Let’s blog.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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