5 Questions That Help You Succeed

by striatic

photo by striatic

Success is defined as “the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted” in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and there are 5 key questions that you must ask yourself if you want to succeed. These questions will help you start thinking of what needs to happen for success to be part of your life.

1. What is God’s will? To truly be successful in life, you must follow God’s will. The desire to accomplish things should come from him. Think about what God has in store for you in life. No one can become successful in life without following the will of God. Do you already know what God wants you to do but you’re hesitant to do so? Are you trying to figure out what God desires of you, but cannot figure it out? If you do not know what God wants you to do, there are plenty of resources for you. There are life coaches that can help guide you. There are books out there for you to read. You can spend time with the Lord, listen to his voice, and try to find out what God has in store for you.  Sometimes we know what God’s will is for us but we run from it like Jonah running from Nineveh.   If you know what God wants for you run in that direction until he shows you something different.  If you are not sure what God’s will is continue to seek him.  Some of the questions below will help you as you seek to find God’s will for you life.

2. What do I love to do? What do you enjoy? What makes you feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment after you do it? Always remember what you are drawn to. Remember what you love to do, because you will only burn yourself out if you are stuck doing things that you do not enjoy, even if you are outstanding at it. So identify what you love to do. You may not be able to do exactly what you wish to do, but try to find a way to incorporate what you love into what you already do. For instance, if you love to play basketball but cannot find a job as a professional basketball player, you can train to be a manager or a physical trainer.

3. What am I good at? Usually, what you are good at goes hand in hand with what you love to do. If not, you can always find what you are good at and fit that into what you love to do. It is important to identify what you are good at, because if you do a mediocre job at something, you will not succeed. You have to capitalize on your gifts and talents. It is what makes you stand out from the rest.

4. What more can I do to become better in what I do? There is always room for improvement. Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Never stop improving. This is a huge key for becoming successful and staying successful. Keep the motivation up and running. Figure what you can do to become better, and apply that to your life.

5. What roadblock is keeping me from reaching my highest potential? Are there any barriers? Anything hindering you from reaching your highest potential? First, identify the things that are keeping you from being the best that you can be. Next, figure out how you can eliminate this road block. Better yet, if you can figure out how to make this roadblock enhance your highest potential, it would be even better! If you cannot completely eliminate or use the roadblock to your advantage, find a way to suppress the effects that it has on you.

Remember to ask yourself these five questions if you want to become successful. Once you know what God’s will is, what you love to do, what you are good at that can be implemented into what you love to do, what you can do to improve, what is keeping you from being your best, you are 5 steps closer to being successful. Being successful is not easy, and it’s not just a destiny but a journey.  As you keep these questions in mind, you will see yourself transforming into a successful person and it will be the kind of success first of all that brings honor and glory to the Lord and then brings you joy and fulfillment as well.

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The Power of Accountability

Do you have someone keeping you accountable in certain areas of your life? Are there others in your life that you keep accountable?

I am up at 10:48 after the busiest week of my year and a really long day to boot because of the power of accountability. A couple of weeks ago I had to tell a coach of mine that I hadn’t met my goals of putting up content on the site and then letting people know about it.

My goal for this month was a post every other day. I created the posts before I left for spring break that would go up automatically while I was gone. Then I thought I would have some time today to post. As it always seems to do, life didn’t go exactly as planned. I could have headed to bed like my body wanted to do right when I got home but then I would be telling my accountability partner/coach in a week that I almost but didn’t quite meet my goal. I don’t know about your personality type, but for me that’s something that I don’t want to do ever again and especially not in consecutive meetings, so here I am typing as my eyes are starting to close like a heavy garage door once it’s passed the tipping point and gravity takes over causing the door to slam to the cement of the garage floor.

I started off asking if you had someone keeping you accountable for things.

Currently I have my friend/coach/accountability partner who is keeping me accountable for content on this site.

I have Ray who is keeping me accountable to some areas of leadership in leading my team and my ministry here.

I meet with Ron and Mark each week who keep me accountable to memorizing scripture and loving my wife well.

How many of us would do taxes without the accountability of the IRS?

Accountability is often great when we need a little extra push to get something one. Perhaps you have the desire to do something but you lack the self discipline. Bower it from an accountability partner or a coach until it becomes internal or innate in you to do whatever task you currently don’t want to do.

I have a friend that was struggling with porn so he gave me his laptop for a season then installed a filter that sends me an update each week of what he has been doing online and that has kept him from pursuing pleasure outside of the ways that God intended.

My favorite discipleship tools is based on accountability. In fact, we call them Mutual and Accountability and Discipleship groups. MADgroups for short. You can go tot he download page and download the brochure if you are interested in starting one. There is accountability built in to flee from sin and pursue righteousness. There is accountability to be reading the word of God because if you don’t read at all your friend has to read again as well as you. There is also accountability to be praying for your lost friends to come to know Jesus as Lord and savior.

Accountability is strong. You need to have it to help you in those areas where you lack the discipline to stick to the path of becoming who you want to be and who God wants you to be. If there is an area where you aren’t all you can be right now, look for a friend that can’t help to keep you accountable to a higher standard.

My Personal Leadership Values

I am working on my personal leadership values specifically as I think about leading my staff, and volunteer staff. This is a first draft. Any feedback you have would be welcomed.

Buddy Rathmell Leadership Values
*Passion for Christ *Each of us is responsible for the development of our own spiritual lives though we will encourage one another in this area.
*Competent *Able to accomplish the responsibilities of the role OR the ability and desire to learn how to do them.
*Take Initiative and Risk, Be Proactive *Willing to try new things to improve on what has been done in the past without prompting of others.
*Ministry as a Lifestyle not just a job *Desire to be used of God in every area of your life. Not just punching the clock.
*Openness & Honesty *Be willing to talk about tough issues and be open about our lives with one another.
*Growing/Learning/Moving Forward *Desire to grow, learn, improve and be a tool fit for God’s use in whatever way possible.
*Everyone working in their gifts and strengths *As much as possible we want to have you working in the areas that God has gifted you and that strengthen you.
*Following the will of God *Listening and obeying the voice of God in your life.

My expectations of teammates:
*That you will work hard and to the best of your ability.
*That you will let me know if there is anything you need from me.
*That you will be pursuing the Lord on your own.
*That you will be thoughtful, loving and kind to others.
*That you will be working on personal growth.

How I need your Input:
*Directly, don’t need to beat around the bush.
*Bullet points especially when talking business.
*Freedom from disruption when I am working on projects.

Reading Right – How to Get the Most from a book.


“Leadership development is synonymous with personal development.”
– Henry Blackaby

Effective leaders maintain an aptitude for learning throughout all of life. Show me a great leader, and I’ll show you a hungry learner. The old Irish proverb is true: “You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather is.” When a leader grows, he or she opens the door to organizational growth. In the words of Henry Blackaby, “As leaders grow personally, they increase their capacity to lead. As they increase their capacity to lead, they enlarge the capacity of their organization to grow. Therefore, the best thing leaders can do for their organization is to grow personally.”

One of the most basic expressions of a desire for growth and openness to learn is a leader who is a disciplined reader. Read any good books lately?

I routinely ask that question of leaders around the world as I interact with them. I find many of the books I read have been recommended to me by people I respect. But in asking this question – Have you read any good books lately? – I have learned that not all leaders are readers and that not all readers are learners. Let me explain.

Sometimes when I ask a leader what he or she has been reading, I’m met with a blank stare – that “deer in the headlights” look that makes me feel as awkward for a moment as they do. I usually try to bail them out by recommending a book I’m reading or one I feel could be helpful based on where they are in their journey. I want to gently nudge this kind of leader to become a reader because I know they will be vulnerable to “plateauing” if they don’t cultivate the discipline of personal growth. One of the most common barriers to finishing well is to plateau as a leader.

Other times I find leaders are quick to list the latest books they have purchased and begun to read. So I follow up by asking, “What was the most important new idea you gleaned from reading that book?” And now I have yet another deer in the headlights.

Still other leaders share in a straightforward and self-assured manner what they are reading and what they are getting out of it. That’s a leader who is both a reader and a learner. And if you dig a little deeper inside this kind of leader, you will almost always find a leave of proactivity or “intentionality” to their reading. So let me ask you again – have you read any good books lately?

John R. Mott: A Historical Model

One of my favorite historical mentors is John Mott, the leader of the Student Volunteer movement for over thirty years. Mott was a reader and a learner. On one 17-day voyage to South Africa, he booked a second cabin on the steamship just for his books! Mott sat on the deck of the cabin on the ship reading one book after another. An opinionated leader, he was observed ripping pages out of books he didn’t agree with and “flinging them into the sea.” On at least one 10-day trip, John Mott read almost an entire book each morning before feeling up to writing letters and reports.

What Makes a Good Read?

Remember the last time you were disappointed by a book? What makes a good read, and how can I maximize my time and resources when it comes to learning through reading? I’ve been asking myself that question and sought to organize my thoughts. I believe the right combination of content, format, style, timing and approach makes the best opportunity to read and learn.

* Content. I know it is not very profound, but if the author doesn’t have much of value to say it will be hard to harvest a great deal from the book. You would think the publisher ought to be your ally in screening out poor content, but plenty of fluff gets printed and promoted these days. But what if you get going on a book that turns out to be disappointing from the perspective of content? I believe it is the author’s responsibility to engage my mind and stir my heart. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with a bad book. It’s amazing how many people feel some sort of moral obligation to finish a book, no matter how disappointing it may be, before they move on to the next title. Learn to find the balance between giving up on a book too early and bogging down in a quagmire of disinterest or disappointment.

* Format. Books come in a variety of formats including biographical, inspirational, devotional, instructional, recreational, etc. (By format I’m obviously not referring to fiction/nonfiction or hardcover/paperback) While it is ideal to develop an appreciation for a wide variety of formats, most people gravitate toward one of two. And authors tend to stick with a specific format as well. I prefer biographical and instructional formats. I don’t do much of any reading in the inspirational, devotional, or recreational formats. (By devotional I’m referring to a genre of writing, not the personal time spent in worship, prayer and the study of Scripture.) When good content is combined with one of my favorite formats, I know I’m building momentum for a good read.

* Style. Some authors use flowery word pictures and lots of illustrative material while others write in a more natural or conversational style. The format of the book often dictates to some extent the style the author will choose. I like illustrative material but not when it gets in the way of the content. I prefer a conversational style of writing where I can almost imagine the author speaking out loud to me as I read. I like charts and graphs in more technical books to give visual depictions of the concepts. I have found some very popular authors whose books have sold extremely well write mostly in an inspirational or devotional format with a style that is harder for me to digest. I don’t tend to buy this type of book although I know many other leaders who purchase everything these authors write.

* Timing. In some cases the only thing between me and a good read is the timing of what is happening in my life when I pick it up. We have all had people enthusiastically recommend a book as “life-changing” only to be disappointed upon purchasing it. Six months later the same book can become life changing for me too. Why? It’s all about timing.

* Approach. The people I know who benefit most consistently from reading books have an approach to reading that is intentional if not explicit and preconceived. Leaders who are both readers and learners have an approach to reading that enables them to get the most out of the material and develop systems that enable them to utilize what they learn well into the future.

One Approach to Reading Right

I have met very few younger leaders with a well-developed approach to reading books that maximizes the potential for learning. So let me share with you how I’m seeking to read and learn with the goal of inspiring you to develop a system that works for you.

Before you Read

As the following questions of a book before you get into reading it:

* Why do I want to read this and what do I hope to get out of it? (There is nothing wrong with reading a book for fun. That in itself is what you hope to get out of it. Knowing what your purpose is will almost always enhance the value that comes from reading a book.)
* What is the subject of this book, and how much do I already know about it? (Obviously if you are new to the subject matter you will need to process the information differently than if you have a lot of expertise in a given area.)
* For whom was this book written? Who is the target audience? (Knowing who it was written for helps you understand how hard you are going to have to work to apply the principles to your situation. A book written about marketing to corporate heavy hitters will require some careful processing when applying the ideas to a very small nonprofit organization.)
* What is the format of the book and the style of the author’s writing? (In most cases the title and flyleaf copy will answer this question but you may need to adjust your opinion after you get into the book.)
* Based on the above information, at what level should I interact with this book? (If you know a lot about the subject, you may simply want to scan or browse through the book looking for new ideas or helpful illustrations. If it is a subject you really need to dig into, you may want to read it word-for-word or even study it by reviewing portions of it several times.)

Note: In some cases you may decide not to read a book at all after answering these basic questions. I like to approach reading a book like I would attend a seminar. I’d never go to a seminar without giving some through to what I hope to get out of it, who it is for, and what I already know about the topic.

While You Are Reading

Devise a system that works for you to identify the key concepts from the book so that you can readily process and utilize them later. I typically look for ideas, research/facts, quotes, and illustrations. (If the book is biographical, I look for process items – how God was shaping this person; pivot points – the key turning point moments in their journey; and heart-stirring vignettes-the biographical equivalent of an illustration.)

I mark these various items as I read and transfer the page number to one of the blank pages in the front of the book along with what is it – quote, illustrations, etc. This allows for a much easier review of what I want to harvest after I have finished the book.

After You Have Finished

If you have invested a few hours interacting with a book, it is important to bring closure to the process sin a n intentional manner. Here are a few questions to consider when closing out a book.

* Do I need to engage this material at another level? (Sometimes a book you intended to browse through may turn out to be work reading or even studying. Sometimes the author will quote another source that piques you interest and is worth pursuing.)
* What are the most important ideas I have gleaned from this book, and how can I apply them?
* What research, data, or facts have I gleaned from this book? How can it help me?
* What quotes have I gleaned that are worth keeping?
* What illustrations have I gleaned that are worth keeping?
* How would I rate this book against others dealing with the same subject? Would I recommend this book to others interested in this subject?

If you want to keep growing you will need to find a way to learn from what you read. My approach might not work for you without some modification. Find an approach that enables you to maximize the benefits that come from reading good books, and use it.

This article is reprinted from the book Leadership Insights, with permission from Steve Moore and Top Flight Leadership. To purchase Leadership Insights or subscribe to Leadership Insights Online, contact Top Flight Leadership at www.TopFlight.org or call 866-9LEADER

With that in mind…have you read any good books lately?

Looking out for the good of others

Thinking about the definition of leadership from the last post that is under girded with the desire for success of everyone that is around us kind of through me for a loop yesterday.

In my 6 ½ years in the land of great customer service, Japan, (minus the fact that they lie from time to time) it seems that customer service has gotten worse here in the United States. Yesterday I was on the phone with customer service and I was getting three different stories from three different people. Normally under these circumstances I feel free to point out how horrible the customer service is or how I have been wronged etc with little to no concern about the person on the other end of the phone. One time I actually felt like I had gone too far and called back and apologized but usually I just vent to some degree and move on.

Yesterday, though, I was thinking about how if I want to be like Christ I have to have concern for the person on the other end of the phone even when I feel like I am getting the shaft from their company or product or whatever. Some I am 24 hours into trying to be like Christ with complete strangers and not really sure what to do in certain situations.

While pulling out of the parking lot on a date with my youngest daughter Megan a car pulled behind us to get in the drive through lane. Not a big deal, I can be patient when I need to be. The next guy purposefully didn’t look at me at all and pulled up right behind me as well. I am continually amazed at how people don’t look out for anyone’s interests but their own especially in a case like this where it doesn’t cost them anything to help someone else out.

I jumped out of my car and walked over to the car to ask the guy to at least pull up to the bumper of first car that was behind me so that I can pull out. He won’t look at me and his female companion in the passenger seat leans over and locks the door. Seeing her lock the door really through me for a loop. What did she think I was going to do? Start screaming and want to fight? I guess in our country there aren’t enough people living like Jesus so that we automatically assume the worst of those around us. As I sat back down in my car and waited for that guy to pull forward, (the next car let me out, thankfully) I thought about how we have to go overboard to be Christ in the world around us because of how people automatically look at strangers with distrust.

The cool thing about our journey with Christ is how the Spirit of God applies different things to our lives. Looking out for the good of others would look completely different for you than for me. Right now, I think God is impressing on me the need to be looking out for the good of complete strangers that more than likely I will only have one contact with in life.