An Uncommen Blog

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.

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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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Get Your Good Samaritan Game On!


It’s that time of year again, where gift lists are circulated, eggnog prep is underway, and red cups create controversy. In the Lanier household, we bought our Christmas tree early this year, and decorated it an entire week before Thanksgiving. Please don’t report us to the holiday etiquette police! Sure, colors in our house have a weird blend of orange and browns colliding with reds and greens, but no one is confused about what season we’re in.  It’s the Holiday season. Not Fall, not Winter, not football or basketball, those things all exist to help feed our nostalgia around the season. The season where Pilgrims and turkeys, and fat dudes in red jumpsuits take up rows of store aisles and jingling bells reign in every auditory environment. Tis the season.

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