An Uncommen Blog

Center Stage


The Stage

When is my chance on stage? When will people look to me for advice and consult? Heck, “Why won’t people listen to me?” Have you wondered any of these things?

Imagine you are going to a major conference to hear from the experts in your industry. You arrive to the main auditorium early (because you are a leader), and you sit down quietly to check your smartphone. As the time for the speaker’s address nears you look up and the seats around you are empty, but the stage is almost full. Eventually, a shoving match breaks out due to lack of space on stage, and punches begin to be thrown between those closest to the microphone. Crazy, right?

This scenario would be crazy, and yet, some of you feel like that’s happening at work as people try to get face time with your boss. Some of you are jealous of a peer who has started a business or received a great promotion. Some of you are amazed at a buddy who has tons of followers on social media. The Internet provided a stage of sorts. A stage without guidelines as to who qualifies as an expert and without security guards surrounding it to remove those who threaten to drown out or interrupt those that are ready to speak tested truths or display well practiced talent.

When will I know I am called to the stage?

Speakers on stage need an audience. In many situations, we would be wise to be the audience. After all, we’ve got two ears and one mouth.

Men, sometimes we can confuse our pride in our existing knowledge as a calling to leadership. However, the best speakers, authors, and leaders I’ve ever been around have a mentality that they are always learning. In fact, study the great leaders and you will find their ego takes a back seat to their effort.

Great leaders are crazier about their cause than they are about hearing their name called. Common advice is to take charge of your own destiny. An Uncommen approach would be to spend your time amassing knowledge, proving diligent to the little tasks, and serving others. If you can bring the energy to learning, diligence, and serving, you will be tapped for leadership or advice at the right time.

If not now, then what?

First, appreciate a season of preparation. According to most historical scholars, Jesus died in his thirties and had a ministry that lasted approximately three years. Do you ever wonder what he was doing for 30 years prior? John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach who won 10 national titles, coached high school for 11 years! You too can wait for the right timing.

While your waiting, focus your energy on crushing every task assigned to you and not having to be asked twice for something. Learn with vigor and accept responsibility with class. Engage your colleagues with encouragement; there are things you can learn from each other and when you are given a platform to lead, those relationships will benefit you most if you have practiced being approachable and servant hearted.

You need to be quiet and listen to be surveying for opportunity. When you stop worrying about how much you need to be heard, you will start seeing voids of leadership that you might one day fill. You will see an unfulfilled need that will be the start of your business. You will find out what your bosses biggest challenge is and solve it, leading to the promotion. You will hear mounting misinformation and be prepared to be the voice of tested truth.

If right now, then what?

If you have the stage right now, approach it with humility. Practice servant leadership and be approachable. Invest in a leader in waiting. Speak genuinely so you aren’t part of the noise. Elevate your cause more than your name. Bring maximum effort.

Final word.

When your ego takes a back seat to your effort and when your helpfulness outweighs your need to be heard, you will undoubtedly be tapped for advice and leadership. Get crazy about your cause and stop worrying about hearing your name called.

This week’s post written by UNCOMMEN contributor, Bill Hawks.

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UNCOMMON Leaders Fail Fast


UNCOMMON leaders fail fast.

Did you know that half of all tackles made in the NFL are by guys who have already fallen down?

An ancient proverb says, “But the righteous falls seven times and rises again.”

Oscar winning director Andrew Stanton who helped bring Toy Story to life and directed Finding Nemo and Wall-E is known around the Pixar offices for saying things like, “Fail early and fail fast…be wrong as fast as you can.”

He equates failing to riding a bike – you’d never learn without a few scrapes and crashes.

Failure is never final. Most leaders will tell you failure is just another step towards success. Inventor Thomas Edison, when asked about how he endured so many failures while creating what would become the lightbulb, said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Listen, we all will get knocked down. We don’t have perfect line of sight. Our opinion isn’t always right. We will believe strongly about the wrong things. What will you do with your failure? Flounder or flourish?

Maybe failure teaches us what success cannot. Think about it, you tell stories about what went wrong far more than what went right. I’m not sure what you think about the Bible, but unlike many ancient books, it never sugarcoats the failures of its leaders.

Considered the Father of three faiths (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), Abraham demonstrated great faith, but to save his own skin, hid behind his wife’s skirt. Moses parted the red sea, but also had a murder rap sheet. David felled a giant and then fell for a married woman. Peter, nicknamed the Rock, looked more like Pebbles when Jesus needed him most.

Though Peter pledged he’d endure prison and death for his friend, when confronted by a servant girl, he pretended like he never met the guy. I’m sure Peter’s denial hurt Jesus, but it didn’t surprise him. Jesus predicted as much: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

What if our failure moves us toward success. Get up. Try again. You are one more attempt from the light coming on.


Written by UNCOMMEN coach, Brian Goins

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Priorities & Big Rocks


A motivational speaker closed her conference by bringing a big clear cylindrical container on stage. She filled it with a few big rocks. Then she poured in some smaller rocks around the big ones until rocks spilled over the top. She asked the audience, “Is it full yet?”

They shouted, “Yes!”

She then pulled a bag of pea gravel out from under the table. She poured in the gravel. It clattered around the smaller rocks.

She asked again, “Is it full yet?”

Wiser, some in the audience yelled, “No!”

This time the speaker produced a bag of sand and dumped it into the container. The white sand filled in all the gaps.

Once more she asked the audience, “Is it full yet?”

Though they couldn’t imagine anything else fitting into the cylinder, they couldn’t bring themselves to say, “No.”

Sensing their reticence, the speaker grabbed a bucket of water and poured up to the brim. She asked, “Now it’s full. What’s the point of this illustration?”

One man said, “There’s always room for more in our schedules?”

“No,” the speaker retorted, “Anyone else?”

Another piped up, “We can handle more than we think?”

“That’s true,” the woman conceded, “But that’s not the point.”

The speaker glanced around the room. She quietly stated, “If you don’t get the big rocks in first, they never will go in.”

What are your big rocks?

It’s common to measure our effectiveness by our busyness, but UNCOMMEN leaders are busy keeping the main thing, the main thing. When thinking about the rocks, the common answer is to write names: Spouse. Kids. But verbs are far more powerful than nouns, even proper names. The trick is how you will make those rocks top billing in your life. What action steps will you take this week to create consistent habits?

Here are some UNCOMMEN thoughts about how to keep focused on the big rocks before the pea gravel overwhelms you each week.

Keep a standing 20 minute meeting with your wife at the start of every week. Talk about the week’s commitments, expectations, and responsibilities. .

If you have kids, take the breakfast challenge – take them out one morning to the restaurant of their choice and have a few questions ready. Make it a regular appointment at least once a month.

Be UNCOMMEN this week.

Written by Brian Goins, UNCOMMEN Coach

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No Job Title No Problem


So it’s 2016, and you’re hoping to make this year’s resolution stick.  You know the one where you take better care of your body, or the one where you promise to make more time for your family.  Here’s the one that’s often overlooked- be a better leader.  Maybe this is a part of your goals simply because it’s a part of your role.  You’re a team leader, a manager, a volunteer leader at your church or some other organization.  Your commitment to be a better leader has everything to do with other’s expectation of you.  But what if you don’t own a single title that demands respect?  What if your title went away?  Would you lead anyway?

When I was in high school I used to stare at a quote in my 10th grade English class daily.  It stated:

I am not who I think I am

I am not what you think I am

I am what I think you think I am

  • Anonymous

Maybe the same Anonymous who has taken credit for many internet hijinks wrote that quote just to terrorize me.  Even back then I was plagued by the pressure of living up to the expectations of others.  My mother used to say, “people will follow you, so you better lead wisely.”  I wanted to retort, “I’m only 15!”  My coaches seemed to push me harder than others, and my teachers taunted me with constant reminders that I had “potential.”  I cannot help but think that I wanted the attention of being called a leader, team captain, group leader, shift manager, but I didn’t really want the responsibility.  So I wore the badge, took the honor, but balked at taking the responsibility when things didn’t go right.  Yes, many years later this is still a fight.  Maybe you can relate.

The type of people that amaze me most are the ones that don’t have a prominent title of manager or boss, they just operate like one.  These are the people that see a need and run to fill it before someone sends off the distress signal.  These types of leaders send short shout outs of encouragement to their coworkers and colleagues, not  just their underlings or employees.  These types of leaders sometimes possess the title, but seek to serve instead of being served.  These types of leaders don’t concern themselves with manipulating the attitudes of others in order to get their approval.  These leaders are UNCOMMEN, because they are driven by something greater than themselves.  Take a look in the mirror and say this with me, “Be this type of leader in 2016.”

This week’s blog post written by UNCOMMEN head coach, Dee Lanier.

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UNCOMMEN Model Integrity


How much is your integrity worth?

I’ve heard it said, “Life is caught more than taught.” Ever since college I have caught a lot from Neal Gooch – often in random places. One time at a drive thru the woman at the window clearly undercharged us. I thought, “Bonus!” Neal looked at the receipt then he let the lady know she gave him back too much change. The woman quizzically looked as if to say, “Who does that?”

As we pulled away from the restaurant, Neal looked at me and said, “My integrity isn’t worth $2.48.” Without 3 points and a poem, Neal taught me what integrity was all about.

I picked up a few more life maxims on Saturdays doing house projects with Neal. He often invited me and a few other guys over for what he called, “quality time.” I think it really meant he got quality work done without much quantity pay. As poor college students he knew exactly how to bribe us. Enticed by bacon and eggs, or pastries, or pizza, me and my buddies left the comforts of our dorm room and found Saturday’s filled with spreading mulch, cleaning out a basement, or painting walls. The food was the hook, the brotherhood was a bonus, but the real prize was watching a husband love a wife and a dad play with his kids in between the chores. Often after hauling boxes and cracking jokes, we heard how Neal spoke kindly to his wife, watched him kiss his eldest son on the forehead, and saw him dust off his youngest after a fall and say, “You’re ok, dude. Brush it off.”

As a young college guy who didn’t grow up with a dad, I caught what a dad at home looked like. Today Neal and Jennifer Gooch and their four sons live in Johannesburg, South Africa. My wife and I traveled there recently to spend a few days with their family. Once again, I found myself catching Neal show me what being a husband and dad looks like. Watching him interact with the family, especially his teenage sons, gave me a glimpse of what I aspire to become: a man who stands by his word to love his wife, raise his children to model integrity, and not sell his integrity for a few bucks.

Dee Lanier

Head Coach, UNCOMMEN

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We’re Thankful for Role Models

I wasn’t fortunate enough to receive guidance and support from my father, but there are several men in my life who have acted as role models by sharing their time, wisdom and good attitude when I needed it most. Because of them, I am forever grateful for the example they have given me to be a better dad. These men include my grandfather, my uncles and a mentor. But the one man I probably learned the most from is my father-in-law, Randy.


I never expected that my best friend’s dad would one day become my father-in-law, and that I would establish a close relationship with the man I had always heard wonderful stories about from my friend, Josh. I had been a bit jealous then, listening to Josh talking about his trips to visit his parents, and invariably a notable story involving his father. Josh’s experiences were foreign, yet mesmerizing to me. Most of the anecdotes that caught my attention were the ones about how he and Randy worked to restore a car or repaired a car Josh was having trouble with. No one had ever invited me under the hood like that. I did learn some things about car maintenance from my mom, but never experienced the bond that happens between a father and son while working together.

A couple of years later, I fell in love with Josh’s sister and Josh’s dad and I began sharing the intricacies of mechanical repair under the hoods of many cars. Sure I would still have the embarrassing moments where Randy would ask me to hand him a three quarter eighth something or other and I would fumble my way through his tool box looking for the correct bit, or lug nut, or ratchet. But despite my clear novice in repairing much of anything besides a computer, my father-in-law began sharing great life lessons. My relationship with Randy made me aware that it doesn’t matter whether it’s your father or father-in-law. Everyone on this Earth can experience a personal connection with One who cares for us, shares with us and teaches us about life if only we will let him.

written by UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier

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