4 words that have most impacted my leadership and why

Posted on by Cor in LEADERSHIP | 25 Comments

These words are incredible. They are simple but powerful.

They can be used in most every situation and setting.

They need to be at the ready when talking with friends, colleagues, classmates, strangers, spouse, and family.

Preparing yourself to return to work tomorrow morning

I use them often as a pastor. I find them helpful in the midst of conflict resolution, staff interactions, marriage counseling, decision making, teaching, and leading the church.

I use them as a husband and father. Countless situations in life and marriage and parenting call for them.

I use them because they are simple but powerful. What are these four simple words?


That’s it? Yep. Like most adages, though, it’s the power latent within this phrase that can change our leadership.

So, why are these words so beneficial and what can you expect them to do for you?

* Breed clarity.

We don’t want to listen. Most conversation resemble two monologues rather than dialogue (a classic example from Jerry MaGuire – click here – hit stop at 1:10 to avoid cuss). Am I right? I can be guilty of this in my marriage. This phrase, “help me to understand” (HMTU), encourages me to actively listen and gives my wife a chance to clarify her words.

* Delay a decision.

Have you been there? They share one sentence composed of 8 words that is going to change your business, organization, or student group forever…and they need a decision NOW. HMTU slows them down and gives me a chance to hear more so I can make an informed decision.

* Foster the relationship.

When you say HMTU, it shows the other person that you care. You’re not blowing them off (though you might initially think their idea is ludicrous). You’re not ending the conversation. Rather, you’re inviting them to tell you more. It shows care and care can be hard to come by. And it’s important they know this because of the next two.

* Highlight reasons for differing opinions.

I use these words often when someone shares an opinion I don’t hold. Rather, than dismiss them because I disagree (which can be tempting to save time), I want to hear why they believe what they believe. How did they come to that opinion? Is it well thought through? Has it been tested? Do they even know why they believe it? I once asked a lady to share her spiritual journey with me. As she shared, it became clear to me (and, maybe, even her) that she didn’t have great answers to the question of why she believed what she believed.

* Hone in on disagreements.

HMTU can help you avoid conflicts by breeding clarity (#1) and fostering relationships (#2). But, there will be times when someone holds a different opinion (#3) and neither of you are going to change. HMTU permits me to hone in on what exactly we disagree with. Taken away are excuses that they weren’t heard out, or that they weren’t understood, or that they weren’t cared for. And what can come to the forefront is what we truly disagree about.

It’s the classic iceberg analogy. 10% of life is visible. This gets most of the attention because it’s easy to see. 90% is unseen. This is where so much of the disagreement can stem. It’s usually the 90% that makes clear why the 10% is as it is. So, take time to get beneath the water line.

* Increase future partnership.

My aim with HMTU is to create an environment conducive to relational development in the long term. I want them to share more so I can see their thinking. I want them to develop a mind for leadership as I take them through my thinking and why I disagree. Though I may end up disagreeing on a particular issue, I want that person to know that my door is always open. I want to be their advocate. I want to see them thrive in leadership.

Help me to understand. Four simple words, but powerful!

What now? What should I do and why?

* Subscribe to justcor. What does that have to do with HMTU? My hope is that juscor can be founded upon relationships and conversations for mutual benefit. Subscribing ensures you’ll be at the table when we cycle back to this topic. And if you’ve subscribed now and if you’ve tried using HMTU, you’ll be ready then to share how it’s helped you.

* Use HMTU! Start today. Use it at school, home, work, grocery store, in all types of settings and scenarios.

* Report back. Return here and encourage us with a story.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts? Do you use HMTU or something like it? Please, share a comment below!


That moment when you realize your life has changed . . . forever

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 8 Comments

Just a few weeks prior I was living the dream.  I was on the football team (going head-to-head with Tyrone Carter), studying chemical engineering (they made the most $$$), and chilling at the University of Minnesota.  There was NO questioning my place in the world because I was on top of it (think Leonardo DiCaprio with arms outstretched in Titanic).

On this day though, I was empty.  I was questioning my place in the world.  I was questioning my place at the U of M.  I was questioning my place in life.  I was all alone and I felt it (think Kate Winslet at the beginning of Titanic…okay enough Titanic references…it’s not as if I like the movie…*just realized I own it*…yeah).

So, not knowing what to do, I prayed.  Up to this point in my life, I really didn’t pray at all.  Even though I grew up going to church, I didn’t know much about God and I certainly didn’t know how to pray.  So, I said, “God, if you’re real, I need you to show up.  Show me that you give a rip about me and what’s going on in my life.”  That’s not the moment when my life changed forever.

The next day a guy called me asking if I’d be willing to talk about God.  Whoa!  “Prayer works,” I thought to myself.  “I should have prayed for a car!”  That’s not the moment when my life changed forever.

This man knew God and he brought God into my dorm room that day.  He shared that God loved me (sweet!) but that sin (what the heck is that? aka imperfections) separated me from God (CRAP! that didn’t sound too good).  He asked me how I was going to overcome this and waited an awkwardly long time for me to answer (think Michael Scott).  I didn’t know.  Finally, he relented and said that Jesus put himself in my place on the cross so that I could have a relationship with God.   He told me I could enter into this new life through faith and get it started with another prayer (my 2nd!).  Even though I was getting my prayer on pretty big time now, I didn’t feel comfortable praying with him there.  So, I said thanks and he prepared to leave.  That’s not the moment when my life changed forever.

My life changed forever when the man who had brought God into my dorm room left…but God stayed.

From that time, life has never been the same.  It has not been easy.  I have not become perfect (ask my wife!).  I still fight sin.  I still have moments when I wonder if the Lord knows what he is doing.  I still may feel alone at times, but I know that I am not.  I thank God for changing my life…forever.

YOUR TURN: What about you?  When was the moment (just pick one!) when your life changed forever - when you knew you’d never be the same?  Who was there?  How’d it happen?  You don’t need to share everything.  But, would you share a piece of your story?  Thanks!

APPEAL: If you are feeling alone (which can happen to all of us), do not hesitate to contact me (pastorcor@gmail.com) or some other trusted person in your life.  I started this blog because I love to engage people in all kinds of conversation.  Many of these conversations, especially as a pastor, can be quite serious and deal with deeply personal issues.  If you find yourself in a place needing to talk, know that I am here.

Starting a blog to finish a blog

Posted on by Cor in LIFE | 17 Comments

Starting a blog to finish a blog

I think often of starting a blog.  I have even started a blog…several times…and failed in seeing it through.  But, I’ve yet to start a blog, continue a blog, and finish (finish, really?) a blog.  That’s what this is.

There are several reasons why I often think of starting a blog, but only one that keeps me coming back.  I love engaging people.  I love connecting with others the way I suspect Stephen King loves writing or Etta James loved singing (The first dance my wife, Jill, and I had at our wedding was to At Last) or Billy Crystal loves hosting the Oscars.  Every other reason to blog is a distant second.  The opportunity to engage others is why I’m picking up blogging again.

So, what makes this attempt different?

#1 – I’ve gotten organized through the leadership of Michael Hyatt.  Dude is smart!  With his help I’ve planned the work.  My plan is to write on Monday and Thursday nights and post three times a week on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from March through May.  I did not previously have a plan for blogging and the lack of results speak for themselves.

#2 – I’ve counted the cost.  Blogging may be something I desire to do.  But, it needs to find its rightful place behind God, marriage, family, friends, pastoral work, and a few other biggies (See: Christmas! and house projects).  I’m prepared to make it work given these other considerations.

#3 – I’ve learned that I want to blog in order to start conversations.  Previously, I understood a blog to be an online journal, or monologue, where the writer bared his soul to the world.  I suspect this would often cause readers to shield their eyes as from the sun.  I don’t want this.  So, I’m looking for two, or 20, or 200 of us to join together in conversation.  As Cheers star Sam Malone once uttered, “Let’s conversate!”

#4 – I have gradually improved as a writer with the help of the Grammar Police (See: Tim and Naty).  Consequently, I’ve come to enjoy it much more.  Who knew?  If you are good at something, you are more likely to enjoy it.  So, I got that going for me, which is nice (you’ll learn I speak in movie lines quite often…anyone catch that last reference? *hint* Bill Murray).  I’ve still a long way to go.  But, I’m further than when I started.

So, here I go again.  But this time I continue and finish.

The concept of starting a blog is understandable enough, but how does one finish a blog?  By the time you read this first post, I plan to be finished writing 20 blog posts (*update* not quite!), approximately half way to my goal.  Like the two marathons I’ve run, I trust that if I’ve made it halfway, I can finish the dang thing.  And then I’ll finish the last 20 as we go and that’s it.  “Really?”  Yep.

Of course, I could pull a Paul Wellstone.  He was a well-respected, former politician of MN that, sadly, died in a plane crash.  In pursuing his first term, Wellstone had promised he would not become a lifetime politician.  But, when the end of his term came he said the stakes were too high to discontinue.  If that’s the case, if my aims for the blog are being achieved, I leave open the option of continuing.

But, at this point, my aim is to start, continue, and finish a blog.  That’s what this is.

QUESTION: So, who is with me?  Will you add your voice to the mix?

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