How to Make Your Daily Routine Build Dynamic Relationships

In 1982 a book called In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman was published. Even though it was a business book, it made quite a hit in my seminary classes as well. (Way back when, even before it became the standard practice it is today, Ralph Hardee had us reading business books!)

One of the most important lessons of that book then, and still important today, is the idea of MBWA, or Managing by Wandering Around.

With MBWA, “what you see is what you get.”

Peters, in his book The Little BIG Things, added these thoughts about MBWA:

  • Get out of your office!
  • Unplug your laptop!
  • Put your smartphone in the drawer!
  • Chat up anybody whose path you cross…especially if they are not among your normal chatees.
  • Go strolling in parts of the organization (or your neighborhood) where you normally don’t stroll.
  • Slow down.
  • Stop.
  • Chat.

There is a lot of value in putting “wandering” on your permanent formal agenda. It may sound counterintuitive, but “aimless wandering” requires strict discipline. We all fall into ruts, even in our wanderings. Same route. Same people. Same time of day. Etc. Etc. Etc. Somehow you’ve got to introduce spontaneity.

Make a pledge to “just wander” at least a half-hour each day. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you come back to the pile of work on your desk or the files open on your screen.

A podcast by Lee Cockerell, former Executive VP for Operations at Walt Disney World, put this into perspective. Before he came to Disney, he was a general manager for Marriott hotels. He made it his practice to walk every floor of his multi-story hotel 3 times per day. This allowed him to see and be seen by all three shifts. It also allowed his team to become comfortable enough to engage in conversations, and bring matters to his attention. This in turn instilled a sense of purpose and value to each employee.

This principle applies to ChurchWorld, too. I’m fortunate, as I get to see it in action every week at the Lake Norman Campus of Elevation Church in Charlotte. Our Campus Pastor, Matthew Drew, and the rest of the staff, Chad, Brennen, and Nicole, make it a part of their weekend routine. It’s not scheduled, but they can be seen circulating outside the entrance, talking with Guests and team members. You see them on the sidewalk between the building and the parking lot, smiling and welcoming everyone they see. On occasion, they even venture into the parking lots, just to check things out.

There’s plenty for them to “do” inside, but they realize the value of connecting with as many people as possible – even if only for a moment – each and every weekend.

They have refined MBWA to LBWA…


Are you the senior leader on your team? When was the last time you walked the front lines?

What are you waiting for?


At Their Service

Ask yourself daily:

What did I specifically do today to be “of service” to members of my group or team? Was I truly a “servant” to them?

Robert Greenleaf, writing in the classic Servant Leadership challenges leaders to be servants. To help leaders understand the concept, he had two “exam” questions that leaders should ask concerning the people on their teams:

  1. Do those served grow as persons?
  2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?


Tom Peters translates these questions as follows:

  1. Leaders exist to serve their people. Period.
  2. A team well served by its leader will be inclined to pursue Excellence.

Use the word “Serve.” (That’s what you do.)

Use the word “Service.” (That’s what you provide.)

Use the word “Servant.” (That’s what you are.)


John Maxwell, writing about the Law of Addition:

When you think of servanthood, do you envision it as an activity performed by relatively low-skilled people at the bottom of the flow chart? If you do, you have a wrong impression. People are drawn toward those who serve them sacrificially, not repelled by them. It’s about attitude.

Leaders seek ways they can add value to others, and the primary way they do it is by serving them. In John 13, the Savior of the world exhibited that He was also the greatest Servant of all time. In a powerful object lesson of servanthood, Jesus stripped down to a garment around his waist, looking the part of a servant. He took a basin of water and a bowl and began washing his disciples’ feet.

Christlike Servant-Leaders

  1. Are motivated by love to serve others (vv. 1,2)
  2. Possess a security that allows them to serve others (v. 3)
  3. Initiate servant-leadership to others (vv. 4-5)
  4. Receive servant-ministry from others (vv. 6, 7)
  5. Want nothing to hinder their relationship with God (vv. 8, 9)
  6. Teach servanthood by their example (vv. 12, 15)
  7. Live a blessed life (vv. 16, 17)

When leaders serve, they add value to the people who receive their service. It might be something as simple as feeling special; it could be a resource we give others or a word of encouragement. Whatever it is, people always receive something and feel better about themselves because of their leader.

Leaders should add value to everyone they serve. Seek to replenish and resource them to live the higher life God has called them to.

Jesus served – should you do any less?


The Most Important List You Can Make Today

Jim Collins, teacher to companies around the world and best-selling author (Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, and Great by Choice) speaks and writes about it frequently.

Tom Peters, consummate speaker and game-changing author (The Search for Excellence, Re-imagine, The Pursuit of WOW!, and The Little Big Things) doesn’t just speak on the subject – he rants about it.

Steven Covey, business consultant, professor, and author (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, First Things First, and Principle-Centered Leadership) made it the foundation of his time management principles.

Richard Swenson, physician-futurist, award-winning educator, and best-selling author (Margin, The Overload Syndrome, and In Search of Balance) thinks it is one of the keys to restoring balance in our lives.

Maybe you’re getting the idea it’s a big deal. It is…

…especially for such an innocuous thing.

Here it is:

“To-Don’ts” are more important than “To-Dos”



A little elaboration:

  • What you decide not to do is probably more important than what you decide to do
  • You probably can’t work on “to-don’t” alone – you need a sounding board/mentor/advisor/nag that you trust to act as a drill sergeant who will march you to the wood-shed when you stray and start doing those time-draining “to-don’ts.”

With only a little tongue-in-cheek:

The top of your “to-do” list for today is to immediately begin working on your “to-don’t” list!

Is Your Life a Story?

Tom Peters thinks so.

In fact, he goes even further. In his book The Little BIG Things! Peters has a chapter entitled:

You Are Your Story – So Work on It!

A few highlights:

He/she who has the most compelling/most resonant story wins:

  • In life
  • In business
  • In front of the jury
  • In front of the congregation

Stories are 100 percent about emotion – and emotion, far more than dynamite, moves mountains.

-> Your schedule today is…a short story with a beginning, narrative, end, and memory that lives on.

-> Your current project is…an unfolding story about making something better, exciting users, etc.

-> Your organization’s reason for existence and therefore its effectiveness, is…a story.

-> Your career is…a story.

Master the art of storymaking-storytelling-story doing-story presenting.

How are you writing – and telling – your story today?


inspired by The Little Big Things, by Tom Peters

The Little Big Things

How Are You Celebrating “Evaluate Your Life Day?”

I haven’t been to the Hallmark store to see if there’s a card for it, but today is apparently “Evaluate Your Life” day. Being reminded to reflect on your life – where it is, where you want it to go – can be a valuable exercise. In the spirit of that thought, here’s a repost from an earlier series called “Brand You.”

Very Old New Job Security

Tom Peters was one of the early leaders of the “Brand You” movement. First writing about it in Fast Company magazine, he soon expanded into a series of books. Writing in “The Brand You 50”, Peters has the following comments about job security:

Job security – as we have known it – is vanishing.

So…what now?

My answer: Return to Job Security. Actually, it’s Very Old New Job Security.

It’s what job security was all about before – long before – Big Corporations. Before Social Security. And unemployment insurance. Before there was a big so-called safety net that had the unintended consequence of sucking the initiative, drive, and moxie out of millions of white-collar workers.

I’m talking about job security in the Colonies and in the first century after our country was founded. Which was:

  • Craft
  • Distinction
  • Networking skills

Craft = marketable skill… Determination = Memorable. Networking Skills = Word of Mouth Collegial Support.

It’s about being so good and meticulous and responsible, about what you do (and making sure that what you do is work that needs to be done) that the world taps a speed path to your laptop (or mobile phone – or iPad).

My modern-language term for this ancient, self-reliant, networked, word-of-mouth-dependent, distinguished craftsperson: Brand You.

What are you doing to create “Brand You?”


Other Brand You posts you might be interested in:


Pursuing Excellence…


From an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America:

Cooking is an inexact science, and this is where the art comes in. You’ve got standard ratios that work up to a point. There are always variables, as far as: Did you cook all the roux out? How high was your cooking temperature? How much evaporation did you have? How much did it reduce? You have to take all those things into account, and see what your final product is, and figure out how to fix it. You have to be not so stressed out or under pressure that you can say “I know it’s not right and I need to fix it.”

“You can’t ever send a product out if it’s not right,” he continued. It doesn’t matter how busy you are – your reputation is on the line every time you put a plate out. If you send it out hoping they won’t notice, then that’s the kind of chef you will be all your life.

“So. Start. Good habits. Early! Do it right. Take your time.”

As Tom Peters would say:



If not EXCELLENCE, what?

If not EXCELLENCE now, when?

Excellence is not a goal – it’s the way we live, who we are.

What’s up at your place, excellence-wise? Are you content with the same old, same old? Is is good enough? Or are you pursuing excellence?

Strive for excellence – ignore success.

When Was The Last Time You Asked: What Do I Want To Be?

You know why parents keep asking their kids “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The parents are looking for ideas.


Tom Peters, one of the most well-known and respected business thinkers since the early 80s, was probably the first to coin the phrase “Brand You.” In a ground-breaking article in Fast Company magazine, and then in several books since then, Peters drives home to point that a revolution is underway, and those who survive will have to adapt and reinvent themselves – quickly and often more than once.

In today’s wild wired (and increasingly wireless) world, you’re distinct – or you’re extinct.

Peter’s solution? Survive, thrive, and triumph by becoming Brand You!

Brand You is a pragmatic, commercial idea. It’s about how to survive when the stuff hits the fan (especially the white-collar fan). But it’s also about opportunity. And liberation. and self-definition.

What do I want to be?

What do I want to stand for?

Does my work matter?

Am I making a difference?

Feel free to ask yourself these questions regularly!

Over the next few weeks (or more!) I want to drop in a couple of times a week and take a closer look at Brand You concepts. I hope you will join me!

Everything Communicates

In a previous post here I wrote about the “Brand You” topic. Since it’s high school graduation season, and having survived our fourth and youngest son’s graduation last Saturday, I thought it appropriate to explore the theme a little more this week. Consider it an extended graduation speech, if you will.

“Everything Communicates” is the fundamental message of Tom Peters’ Fast Company magazine classic, “The Brand Called You.” Companies, products, and services aren’t the only things that get branded: we are all brands. In an economy of knowledge workers and free agents, project-based employment and team-based activities, we have to decide what our brand stands for.

Each of us is a brand, and every choice we make communicates what our brand stands for. Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company magazine and author of the great book “Rules of Thumb” lists some of the ways we communicate – even when we don’t realize it:

  • Your business card communicates – from the shape and size to the choice of title and font, you’re sending a message that often speaks louder than the card.
  • Your personal practices communicate – do you have a personal practice that sets you apart?
  • Your web site, blog, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. communicate – because design is so immediate, your digital communication often speaks louder and more frequent that what you intended it to say.
  • Your office communicates – from the front door to the furniture, the spaces we design and occupy tell a lot about us.
  • How you communicate communicates – your brand is a lot more valuable if you can talk business using real English, not the latest buzzwords or insider jargon.

First, figure out your personal brand. Then remember that everything you do – and don’t do – communicates it.