Perspective From a Recovered Victimist

A Fallen World:

Evil lurks in all corners of the globe and expresses itself in many ways. Wars, terrorism, domestic violence, sexual assault, racial injustice, and other hate crimes seem to fill the front-page day after day.

While suffering is inevitable, we do not have to allow past sufferings to keep us in bondage. Life is too short to allow hardships to define us or keep us from growing into what we were made to become.

I do not write this to minimize anyone’s hardships or to suggest that the journey to overcome is a simple one.  Rather I write this to help bring understanding on how we may be able to disassemble one of the most powerful strongholds in our world, the metal roadblock that keeps so many people in bondage.


As a business owner, and leadership coach with a primary responsibility of helping individuals grow into what they were meant to be, I have had the privileged of sitting across the table from hundreds of individuals over the years. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to help someone get past their personal roadblocks and discover their purpose in this world.

Over the years I have noticed some distinct common threads that nearly all the most successful people in history possess. The greatest characteristic is that they are overcomers. They all faced many obstacles such as oppression, physical disadvantages, economical disadvantages, and competitive opposition, but somehow pushed through to acquire the place they seemed to be destined to reach.

While there are external forces all around us that wage war against our personal success, I have found that the obstacles we glorify in our heads present the greatest obstacles. The limitations we allow to exist in our own thoughts far outweighs the external circumstances we must overcome. The reason they are so hard to overcome is because we think these ideas are supposed to help us.  Theseh forces have an appearance of wisdom but have an inverse consequence that keeps us in emotional bondage. We push these buttons harder and more often with unintended consequences, and it seems things only get worse. Much like struggling to free yourself from quicksand we set the stage for our own demise.


I believe that the greatest roadblock for many in this generation is a victim mentality. I will use the term “Victimism” to describe this state of mind.  A person who embraces victim mentality would be a victimist.  To be clear, there is a difference between a victim and a victimist.  We are all victims of circumstances and evil behavior pointed toward us at times in our lives.  Some far more than others.  Victimists embrace a victim mentality as a defense mechenism. Not all victims are victimists, many are overcomers. Not all victimists are victims, they tend to play the part for personal gain (as I did). Many victims use their experience to become victimists. Victimism comes natural to most people. It is also taught and encouraged by other vicitmists.

The Urban Dictionary says:

“Victimism can similarly be defined as a kind of philosophy whereby one chooses to perpetually see one’s self as a victim of some sort for the purpose of accruing sympathy and empathy. The ultimate purpose of victimism is simply to attain social power, influence, and status by exploiting the well-meaning sympathies and good intentions of the general populace for its social/political support. If one “plays the victim” one can gain power and influence by exploiting the sympathies of the masses.”

Successful people encounter hardship just like everyone else.  Sometimes the hardships make them even stronger. Individuals that have been protected from hardship are ill-equipped for success and find they have not been prepared to go the extra mile. It takes a measure of persistent struggle to develop a finely tuned agent of victory.  The greater the obstacle, the greater the achievement.

Michael Jordan has a ferocious personality that is bent towards overcoming.  The more you tell him he cannot do, the more determined he is to prove you wrong.  There is no victimism in his head. This persistent mindset is common amongst high performing athletes, leaders and top-level performers in any field.

Responsibility and Victimism

Make no mistakes, victimism is not a responsible position to embrace. It is what happens when people run from responsibility.  It fills the gap left behind. Victimism gives you the excuse for why you have not reached a higher level of success.  It allows you to be blameless in your quest for justification. Victimism focuses on the outward circumstances as the determining factor or blame for your own inadiquate status.

I believe victimism is the mindset that keeps people stuck far more than their external circumstances. It is the mindset that keeps us in bondage.

Overcomers will always tell you that they are NOT a victim. They will go to great lengths to make sure they are not perceived as such. They understand that overcoming and victimism are in direct opposition to one other.  Once they experience the freedom of escaping victimism, their eyes are opened and they are able to see their lives and future with more clarity and certainty.  You may be a victim in your mind, but you don’t have to stay that way. You cannot simultaneously be both a victimist and an overcomer.  One requires a fixed mindset, the other a growth mindset.

Principles of an Overcomer:

People who overcome victimism have several mental principles that they have discovered and adopted as their personal mantras for success:

  • Overcomers take 100% responsibility for their lives. They understand that what they achieve is going to depend on their desire to overcome rather than helplessness that comes from obstacles placed in their path by other people.
  • Overcomers have a “No Excuses” mindset. They do not push responsibility onto others as they once did when they were a victimist.  They own up to mistakes, make amends and pay restitution when appropriate.  They are quick to apologize and slow to point fingers or place blame on others.
  • Overcomers are problem solvers – They look forward and focus on solutions, not backwards toward blame. They are looking for resolution, not justification or blamelessness.
  • Overcomers believe that “No one owes me anything”. They are not entitled and do not believe their success depends on anyone else.
  • Overcomers have Appreciation – They appreciate everything they have been given and don’t dwell on whay they have not.
  • Overcomers don’t feel sorry for themselves. They don’t embrace self-pity or try to gain sympathy from others.  Because of this, they have a stronger self-image.
  • Overcomers are not quitters. They do not focus on the suffering. They focus on the outcome that comes through personal perseverance. They expect pain.  It is the cost of success, always.
  • Overcomers don’t have a need to embellish the truth to change people’s perceptions. They thrive on exposing the truth rather than manipulating it for personal gain.
  • Overcomers want to help other people to face their own victimism so they can overcome as well. They have discovered something great and want to share it with the world.
  • Overcomers do not surround themselves with victimists. They surround themselves with overcomers.

I’ve Been There:

In full transparency, I was a victimist for nearly half of my life.  During that time, I didn’t even know that I was.  It was like I had a vail over my eyes. Victimism has been in my family all of my life and I was systematically trained up with this mindset.  I didn’t know any other way. I learned that emotional manipulation as the ultimate survival technique.

As a young adult, I had been hurt and was angry at my parents, and most everyone. Due to a divorce, my mother, younger brother and sister were struggling just like me and I was angry that my siblings were put in this situation at such a young age. Our world had been turned upside down. It seemed like everyone had abandoned us, either physically or emotionally. It felt like that, because I was a victimist. Reality was a bit different, less dramatic. My mind puffed up my plight.

I was a victim in a minor sense, but then I quickly became a victimist. It was easier than growing up and facing responsibility for my own life. It was easy to make someone else responsible for who I have become.  I embraced it and used it as my shield.  It was my mask that kept everyone else from seeing my scars and my ugly wounded heart. With my mask, I didn’t have to grow up. It gave me a free pass by lowering everyone’s expectation of me, including my own. In my mind, I wasn’t to blame for my failures. Victimism didn’t expect anything from me, nor did I.

The Hope:

But, there is hope. Through a time of self-discovery I became face to face with the truth about myself. At 23 years old, I was about to take responsibility for my life for the first time EVER…

To hear the rest of this story please contact me and I would be glad to share how I overcame victimism.

It’s Your Choice, But Not Your Rules

Christians, how often do you hear the term “God is on our side” ? As if God is watching over us protecting us on our individual journeys.

I am running into more and more churchgoers who identify as Christians that believe we all have an internal moral compass that we should follow. That if we stay true to this compass, God will bless us. I have heard it described as “staying true to myself”, “being at peace with myself”, or even “following my heart”.

I’m not sure that reflects a biblical worldview.

The Bible says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Mat 7:21. This implies that rather than seeking for God to be on our side, maybe we should get on God’s side.

Now I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with “staying true to myself”, “being at peace with myself”, or even “following my heart”, however if my internal moral compass is driving or justifying my behavior or ethical positions, I am missing the boat. I am putting myself on the throne.

Our internal moral compass is subjective towards our own personal bias. By nature we are under a curse that leads us to put our selfish needs before others. When everyone’s internal moral compass is conflicting with everyone elses internal compass, chaos ensues.

In the spirit of President Kennedy’s inaugural address, we should ask not what our God can do for us, but what we can do for our God. There’s a word for when we use God as a crutch for self-serving purposes. Religion.

Behaviors that are just and right are not for us to DETERMINE within ourselves, but to DISCOVER outside of ourselves. Just as there is a set of natural universal laws that govern our physical universe, there are also universal laws that govern how we should behave towards one another.

God put you on Earth for a reason, for a purpose. He has given us our identity in his kingdom. We have the choice hold on to our own self-directed identity, justifying ourself buy our own measuring stick, or we can surrender to the creator of our universe. It’s your choice, but not your rules.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Like 9:23-24.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Truth Matters:

“If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked.” Prov 29:12

An expanded and more modern context may be:

“If a leader buys into biased, inaccurate or exaggerated information, their followers will be misinformed, causing them and others to stumble.”

Spreading falsehood is a big problem in our world. But possibly a bigger problem is when we believe it. We do not have to believe falsehood. We can anchor ourselves to truth.

We all very in our level of maturity and intuitiveness when it comes to our vulnerability to be convinced of something that is not true. Some ofvof us are naive, and some have very well-developed B.S. filters. I encourage you to humbly consider where you might stand on this spectrum.

“Spreading falsehood is a big problem in our world. But possibly a bigger problem is when we believe it”

Wired to be fooled:
We want so badly to believe the things that line up with how we are wired, or what we have experienced. We tend to ignore information that does not line up with our preconceived notions. In short, we want to believe lies that seem to benefit us. It’s part of our sinful nature.

We have seen small groups, big groups, organizations, churches, countries and civilizations become duped by false information and bad ideas. Ideas have consequences.

Our blind spots keep us from discerning perception from reality. Perception is not always reality, only when you see the actual truth.

There are a couple of natural laws I wish to discuss:

1. The Law of Overcompensation.

This law says basically, when we don’t see the truth of the matter as it really is and allow ourselves to believe an embellished, exaggerated or emotionally charged version of it, the output will be at least as wrong as the input. This causes the problem to continue, and oftentimes to become exacerbated.

Some examples of this in our society are:

  • Fight or Flight,
  • Heroes and Villains
  • Any form of stereotypes
  • Dramatizing for effect
  • Always and Never
  • Emotional manipulation
  • Narcissistic mentality
  • Victim mentality
  • Just follow your heart
  • Justice at all cost
  • Compassion at all cost
  • Racial prejudice (don’t hate me)

2. The Law of Opposing Forces (also Newton’s 3rd)

Like a pendulum that swings back and forth, this law says that opposing forces will always provide resistance leading back towards the norm, or middle ground(true center). One action tends to counter or compensate for another.

Some examples of this in our culture are:

  • The law of probabilities,
  • The law of supply and demand,
  • Checks and balances,
  • Liberal vs. Conservative
  • Justice vs. Compassion
  • The devil’s advocate
  • An eye for an eye
  • The plight of the underdog
  • Truth and consequences
  • Cause and effect
  • Sowing and reaping
  • And of course, Bumper bowling

The first law pushes perception away from centralized truth, like a pendulum being pushed further away from dead center. The second law moves to correct the imbalance.

We Think More is Better:

Unfortunately, many people use the first law to overcompensate for someone’s grenade, by throwing two back at them. Somehow, we think we are going to stop the pendulum from swinging with our extreme or exaggerated counterbalance. That is not how it works. It perpetuates the problem.

I can just see a small child in a swing being pushed from both sides. Parents competing to push harder. How will it ever come to a halt?

I believe that the Bible has a different perspective. Rather than addressing one untruth with a countering untruth, we need to seek Truth in two ways. Biblical truth as well as reality, the way things really are apart from your perception.

  • Not an untruth that we can use for a personal gain.
  • Not an untruth that will justify our actions.
  • Not an untruth that will make us feel better.
  • Not an untruth that will exonerate us.
  • Not an untruth that will remove our guilt.
  • Not an untruth that will give us an appearance of righteousness.
  • Not an untruth that will validate or affirm us.
  • Not an untruth that will validate or affirm other people.
  • Not any untruth!

Sometimes our sinful nature can drive us to do things that we feel are so right and necessary. Emotions can be the biggest deceiver especially when we just follow our heart. Our emotions can tell us what is right is wrong, and what is wrong is right. Emotions can be anchored to truth, but also can be anchored to sin. It is up to you.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

As Americans and especially believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be seekers of the truth. We need to be able to look at the details and unbiased facts of the situation the best that we can. We need to be willing to recognize and remove our blind spots that keep us from being aware of the bigger picture.

My challenge is to all church leaders out there. People are watching you and trusting that you are opinion is more accurate and trustworthy than their own.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”      Heb 12:1 NIV

Seek justice, seek compassion, but more than anything, seek truth. Be anchored in the Word that is truth.

So, What is the Value of Life?

So, what is the value of life?

How do we determine whose life is more valuable than others? How do we weigh the value of quantity of life vs. quality of life? One legislative or executive decision can give hope to one group of people and seemingly threaten another.

The decisions that our government officials must make during this crisis are extremely complicated and inner woven more than we can know. Before we pitch our flag in the ground and take a stand. I think we all could grow by taking some time to examine the crisis from all angles, or as many as we can. This means we may need to suspend judgement and dig for more information. This is hard for a culture that feeds on instant opinions.

Divided Perspectives

It is not all black and white as it may appear to some (actually most). On the one hand, there are the lives of the most susceptible to the COVID-19 virus and those who WILL lose their lives. There are all the family members that will experience the devastating loss of a loved one due to the virus. They likely would do whatever it takes to protect their family including locking down the world to save the life of their loved one. Subjective? Maybe, but real. There are the lives of people on the front line working hard to save lives, puting their lives and their families lives at risk. All these lives are important and have their own story to tell.

On the other hand, there are those that will and have committed suicide due to the loss of their companies or their jobs. Many forecasts that I have seen suggest that suicides that come directly from decisions made to lock down, could surpass the number of deaths caused by the virus. I am not sure how true or accurate that is. We likely cannot know until the smoke clears. But we need to bring it to the forefront and talk about it. Only one side currently is.

There are the 20% of our countries workers that have lost their jobs and may not commit suicide but will be faced with tremendous economical and family hardships. Bankruptcy, divorce, poverty, and mental instability will certainly rise in the fallout. What is quality of life worth?

Unintended Consequences

Some decisions made by our government may have other unintended consequences. If we are not aware, we may miss them and fail to consider them in our mental decision-making equation.

Good things could come from what we perceive as a bad decision, or bad things can come from what we perceive as a good decision. For instance, the decision to lock down the country may indeed save many people from a horrible COVID-19 death but cost us the lives of many from suicide. That seems to be overlooked by many. That same decision to lock down the country may force non-essential business to close leading to abortion clinics being unable to perform abortions. This leads to an actual GROWTH of our population. Some would say that more lives are saved due to the lock down. This too seems to be overlooked.

How do you measure the value of suicidal person verses an unborn person verses a COVID-19 susceptible person? How do you so easily cast off one group vs another in the name of rights or compassion?  How do we determine who gets to make the choice? It is not as black or white as you think.

Us vs. Them Mentality

Over the past month I have seen so many examples of people on both sides who are latching onto a group of people and discarding other groups. It is as if we feel we need to pick a side. Do most people in America suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder? I do not believe that, however I do believe that very few of us seek to see the big picture from an objective position and fall back to a position of comfort and tradition. I am not suggesting that I see the big picture always, but I recognize the value of it and try.  We as people are not naturally good at thinking outside the box if we are not intentionally working at it. We like to huddle together with our peers and jointly point our fingers at the other side.

I mention all of this not to try to swing you to one side or another, but to encourage you all to increase your awareness of the situation to become a more knowledgeable and responsible opinion holder. We need to be carful where we get our information from.Sometimes we need to get it straight from the horses mouth and not from someone telling you what the horse said.  Other times we just need to give an opposing view a chance and seek to understand it better.

I believe when we increase our circle of awareness and empathy, the truth starts to become clearer. Ignorance is the source of fear and panic. Selected ignorance is the source of  disorder. Fear and panic subdues rational thinking and causes us to cling to comfortable, yet uneducated beliefs. Selected ignorance makes us to blame for divisiveness and discord.

Do not put your subjective opinions above your relationships. We cannot afford to allow slanted subjective views to cause divisiveness when only unity will do. So, before you take up your protest sign or pit yourself against an opposing view on FB, try to walk in their shoes for a minute and ask yourself what you may be missing. Now go be nice!

HELP! My Bias is Making Me Look Stupid!

The Rub

We all have our ideas on what individuals and government officials should be doing to combat the COVID19 crisis. I am amazed at the wide spectrum of opinions out there. Some are pragmatic and believe we are becoming emotionally unhinged and over-reacting, and even “destroying our country”. Others hold the compassionate position and are convinced that we should “Save them all at any cost”. Both sides are convinced they are right and somehow embody a more robust perspective.

Of course, both examples represent the two extremes. To be fair, I believe most people from both sides generally mean well, they just start from a different worldview and have different levels of emotional intelligence to guide them.

With that said, they CAN’T all be right. We all recognize this. It is evident by how wrong we believe others to be when they disagree with us.

If you are convinced that you are fully aware of your personal biases and have them fully in check, you are WRONG! In fact, you can’t. No one can. Even worse, you think you don’t even have a bias. There is a word designated for such a person, “fool”.

“…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Rom 12:3

Wired to Fool Ourselves

Our personal biases are amplified by our pride. The more convinced you are that you are right, the greater your blind spot is. Our biased perspective gives us a false sense of assurance of being right and makes us stupid. We are okay with this, because we like to be right. We find favor in superiority. We are wired in such a way to believe what we want to believe, or what we have already been conditioned to believe.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”. 2 Tim 4:3

Our Blind Spot

This principle applies to everyone everywhere. I am not talking about everyone who disagrees with you. Don’t use this article to internally justify pointing your finger at those who you oppose. This applies to YOU, and me. It is called Confirmation Bias and we are all infected by it whether we like it or not. If you didn’t know this… It’s because it remains in your blind spot!

We can’t see our own blind spots. That’s why they are called blind spots, but everyone else can spot them in us a mile away.

The Counterweight of Perspective

There is something we can do to help combat this internal force that lies to us and creates unintended stupidity in our heads. We can intentionally subject ourselves to countering ideas. We can listen to, and seek out other ideas, even those we don’t want to believe. Not with skepticism but giving reason a chance to prevail.

“May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you are bringing some strange notions to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” Now all the Athenians and foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing more than hearing and articulating new ideas.” Acts 17:19-21 NIV

There is a truth to every matter and to help us keep our own biases from pulling us further away from it, we need a counterweight to bring us back.

We lie to ourselves so much. We are by far our own biggest source of distraction from seeing truth clearly. Only when we realize this, can we fully understand and appreciate how much we need others to help us develop a proper sense of perspective.

Drawing Better Conclusions

Our self-awareness desperately depends on others to help us see our blind spots. Ever try to see the back of your head without external help?

The more we seek to learn what we don’t know or understand, the more we can truly begin to draw closer to better ideas, better reasoning and better conclusions. Oh, and better relationships. There is a word designated for such a person that thinks in such a way, “wise”.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” Socrates

Self-Awareness – Identify the Stupid in You.

I realize how foolish I can be when I close myself off from external input. Because I realize that I am cursed with this potential for stupidity, I have determined that I am going to do my best to try to always seek out the other side of the story to help draw me closer to truth. I will seek to widen my perspective to keep my bias from decieving me and leading me down the path of foolishness. When I fail (and I will), I hope I can have the awareness to see my need to humble myself before those that have discovered my foolishness. Otherwise I will always be a fool in their eyes.

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

In our interactions with each other when we are divided, let us show grace and humility. Embrace a spirit of curiosity, learning from each other with a common goal to enrich each other with mutual understanding. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I know I am going to work on getting better at this. Call me out if you see me fail. My bias desparately needs a counterweight.

How about you? Want to chat more about this stuff?

Joel Smith

Upside Down World

We are all born upside down. We usually don’t realize it for many years, and many go their whole lives and never get it figured out. We don’t feel upside down, so we figured the rest of the world must be. Let me explain.
When we are young, we begin to make observations about our world that seem to make sense. If we want something, like a toy or candy, we can take it from someone else and then we will have. We learn that if we want attention, we can try to gain sympathy or manipulate others into giving us what we want. When we are little, this seems to work well.
This type of behavior comes naturally, and we don’t need to learn It. It’s more of an acknowledgment rather than a learned perspective. It lines up with what we already want to believe. It’s our nature.
We live in an upside-down world. It is the biggest enigma in history. Those who figure it out, can make the flip and move on. Those that don’t, get caught up in a trap that keeps them assuming up is down, and down is up. It’s easy to get caught in this trap, even after we have figured it out.
Have you heard of the Golden Rule? We are born into a different set of rules. This is where it gets interesting. The Golden Rule says, “Treat others as you would have them treat you”. That rule goes against our nature. This is not at all what comes naturally, nor does it even seem right to our upside down nature. Its easier to say “Do to others, before they get a chance to do to you”.
I have heard people say “You have to have your own back, because no one else will,” or “You can’t trust anyone but yourself.”
I see a common pattern in people who are unhappy, failing to find their purpose . It seems to be that by default, we are the main character in our own story. We live in such a way that we try to funnel joy, pleasure, attention, acceptance and resources to ourselves. We want admiration. We want to have resources and power that allows us to shine among others. More than anything, we want others to think well of us, to be accepted, even admired.
The Golden Rule seems like foolishness, or at best a tool to help us shine. The greater we exalt ourselves the more we will shine…
The Paradox of Generosity says “The more we give, the more we will have, and the more we take, the less we will have.” It seems more logical to say that “The more we give, the less we have, and the more we take, the more we will have.” That lines up with our upside down logic and reasoning. And this is the crux of the problem.
What if?
What if the secret to life is to flip our paradigm upside down? What if it’s not about me? Instead of the main character in our own story, what if we could see ourselves as a supporting character? Someone in a supporting role existing to add to other people’s stories. To funnel joy, pleasure, attention, and acceptance toward others.
Not seeing the world from their own self-serving perspective.
All our stories are overlapping. What we do affects others and what they do affects us. It’s time to stop treating others as if they are a part of your story. It’s time to consider removing yourself as the main character at the top of the pyramid. We were born upside down, but we don’t have to stay that way.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-25
I can’t think of a better main character.

Five Ways to Raise Your Value in the Workplace

  1. Know what is expected of you – Find out what is required to be great at what you do, know what your benchmark of excellence is according to your employer or clients, then study it and adopt it as your own. Own it!
    • Have an uncompromising target – Don’t redefine excellence according to you or others if it gets too hard.
    • Don’t compare yourself with others. Keep your eye on the target.
    • Have an accurate target – If you don’t know exactly what is expected of you, find out.
    • Have a worthy target – Find out what the best in the industry do, and then do what they do. Be the best at what you do.
  1. Personal Growth – Grow yourself daily. People are willing to pay you more now, if they know you will be worth more down the road.
    • Be teachable and ask lots of questions. Learn from the experts and allow others to add value to you.
    • Accept and ask for constructive criticism. Don’t be easily offended and proud. Pride subtracts from your value.
    • Make yourself great, don’t just reach the goal. Become a person who naturally does the goal.
    • Learn how things work – Seek first to understand then to be understood. Listen more and speak less.
    • Take responsibility – Make no excuses and blame no one else for your difficulties.
    • Fail often – Own your failure, learn from them, and grow faster.
  1. Alignment – If you wish to be more valuable, make sure that your values line up with the values of the organization. If they don’t, find somewhere that does.
    • Represent the organization with integrity and class at all times.
    • Protect the brand and reputation of the organization.
    • Take pride in your organization and be part of something bigger than you.
    • Work toward interdependance and synergy. Not independance and individualism.
    • Don’t out think your superiors, trust the system and commit to the them. If it’s a bad system, you are in the wrong place.
  1. Results – Finish the job, reach the finish line and excel past expectations.
    • If you proclaim what you are capable of, then do it. Show that you are what you say.
    • Commit yourself to the desired outcomes. No one completes a task without a commitment.
    • Don’t try harder – Reject the “Try Harder” approach. It implies that effort is more important than outcomes.
    • Less is not more – Don’t show you can do what you are getting paid to do. Show you can do more than what you are getting paid to do. By doing so you may get even more to do and paid even more to do it.
  1. Leadership – Leading your self is most important. But if you have the ability to influence others, you will multiply your value by infusing your abilities into others.
    • Leadership raises the value of everyone around them, thus raising your value.
    • Leadership is influence and has exponential growth. It multiplies your efforts rather than just adding to them.
    • Leadership is much harder to find, thus putting you in higher demand to others.
    • Leadership brings solutions to a world of problems, and order to a world of chaos.
    • Leadership raises the lid of your potential, and gives you financial leverage.

How Rockstar Restaurant Leaders Build a Rockstar Staff


Restaurant leaders realize how important it is to have quality people on your staff.  People are the building block of all businesses.  Nothing is more important.

  • Every food order gets made by a person,
  • Every customer has their order brought to them by a person.
  • Every business decision is made by a person.
  • All problems are caused by people and solved by people.
  • Nothing happens in a restaurant that isn’t affected positively, or negatively, by efforts of people.

The most important responsibility for a restaurant leader is to recruit, hire and keep quality people. So why do so few restaurant leaders do it well?

I am a firm believer in the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 principle. This principle says:

  • 20% of our efforts lead to 80% of our results.
  • 20% of your people are responsible for 80% of your production.
  • 20% of the people make 80% of the decisions.
  • 80% of the money is owned by 20% of the people.
  • 80% of our problems are caused by 20% of our habits.

I have seen this principle played in the service industry over and over again.  The top 20% of restaurant leaders attract the top 80% of the most qualified employees.  The bottom 80% of restaurant leaders are left with the remaining 20%.

If you could measure the effectiveness of each of the restaurant leaders in your city or metro area, you could distinguish the top 20% from the bottom 80%. The 80/20 principle says there is a significant different between how the average top 20% leader, operates verses the average of the bottom 80%.

I will call the top 20% Rockstar Restaurant Leaders (because that is what they are).  The bottom 80% I will call Mediocre Managers (because that is what they are willing to settle for).

The problem? 

Mediocre Managers generally have one thing in common.  They manage according to what feels natural.  It is that simple. Mediocre Managers typically do as little as they have to, instead of doing as much as they can. It is the popular mindset of our current culture of managers in the service industry. And this is exactly what provides the top 20% of the leaders a distinct advantage.

Here are 3 Ways Rockstar Restaurant Leaders build their kingdom with Rockstar Employees.

  1. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders have a Winning Mind-set.

Mediocre Managers adopt a scarcity mindset when it comes to staffing their store.  They believe the available prospects are poor candidates. It seems all the good people are taken.  In their case, they may be right.  They may have created this environment.

They are discouraged by people failing to show up for interviews or show up on their second day of work.  They believe that the results from recruiting people are not worth the time they are required to put in.  Many of these managers, find it difficult to let go of underperforming employees. There is no one to replace them with.  So, they think.

Rockstar Restaurant Leaders have an abundance mindset. They fully understand that the quality of their staff is 100% up to them.  They believe there are plenty of great candidates out there, they just need to go get them. They are intentional about creating a margin of time. They develop resources to maximize their recruiting efforts. They understand that nothing is more important.

Mediocre Mangers will blame the job market and lose hope. They will wait with skepticism for quality employees to walk through their door. They leave the future of their staff up to chance.  They are a victim of their circumstances and play that role well.  Being short staffed is their default expectation sealing their destiny.

“Once there were 3 bricklayers. Each one of them was asked what they were doing. The first man answered gruffly, ‘I’m laying bricks.’ The second man replied, ‘I’m putting up a wall.’ But the third man said enthusiastically and with pride, ‘I’m building a cathedral.’” –Author Unknown

In her mind a Rockstar Restaurant Leader is building a cathedral!  Don’t settle for being a bricklayer.

  1. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders are Magnets.

They are the glue that holds everything together.  They are honest, hardworking people who care about their team.  They understand how to cast a vision that motivates their people to become the best they can be.  They are not dependent on anyone, yet they don’t work independent of the organization. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders understand the importance of inter-dependence.

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Zigler

If you want to have the best staff, you have to be the best leader. We are competing for the best people. Sometimes you don’t even have to be the greatest leader to have an excellent staff. You just need to be a step above all the underperforming managers out there. There lies our opportunity. The Mediocre Managers have set the bar pretty low.  We need to decide to rise above the level of mediocrity.

People believe that our current job market is the most difficult in decades. That’s only because they want to reap what they have not sown.  We have the best opportunity to create a Rockstar staff than ever before.  We need to be a better leader, provide a better place for the better people to go. When we do, people will follow.

I have mentioned the following to several people over the years. Sometimes it has not been received well.  I suspect that believing it makes it difficult to blame external circumstances.

There are people out there that are great at staffing a team. Wherever they go they always attract the better people and tend to retain better people.   No matter the local job trends or unemployment rate, these leaders will establish a quality team in a short amount of time. Wherever they go they leave a wake of superior teams.  They are Rockstar Restaurant Leaders and they create their own opportunities.

  1. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders find the RIGHT people and remove the WRONG people.

The wrong employees take up space leaving no room for the right employees.  Mediocre Managers goal is to find enough employees to fill the schedule and try not to lose them.  They don’t like to recruit so they put off recruiting until they fall behind.

The eagles get tired of working with turkeys and fly the coop. The result is they are always running behind playing catch up surrounded by turkeys they can’t fire.  In our company we call this backwards leverage.

There is a lie out there in the service industry that suggests that turnover is BAD!  I say turning over eagles is BAD! however turning over turkeys is GOOD!   Learn to embrace the eagles by intentionally turning over the bottom 25% of your crew (the turkeys).  Those that master this will create the space required to build a Rockstar Staff. Eagles will flock to an environment like this.

The RRL does not compromise on finding quality people.  The eagles appreciate the high standards and the turkeys don’t fit in.  One by one the RRL begins to build their team one eagle at a time, building a core group that stands out above the crowd.

If you need help becoming a Rockstar Restaurant Leader, please contact me.



Six Things Rockstar Restaurant Leaders DON’T Do

RockstarRockstar Restaurant Leaders are the men and women that make the restaurant industry go around.  These are the leaders that people run through walls for.  They have a certain ability to get things done when others fall behind.  When a Rockstar Restaurant Leader is in the house, everyone knows their Captain is running the ship, and everything is all good.

These extraordinary people come in all different sizes and shapes. They very in personality types and skillsets.  They have many different styles and temperaments, and sometimes seem to have little in common apart from their effectiveness.

I have discovered that Rockstar Restaurant Leaders have several things in common that they DON’T do.

1. The don’t waste their time indulging in self-pity.  They have far too many more important things to do to waste any time feeling sorry for themselves.  They are focused on a bigger picture than simply their felt needs.

Self-pity is the ultimate time waster.  People who are easily offended or need others to affirm them, have a hard time directing their focus away from themselves.  When you are always looking inward, you can’t see the big picture or the goal at the end of the road.

2. They don’t make excuses for their mistakes or shortcomings. You may have heard the saying “If you want to keep your excuses from making you useless, stop making useless excuses.”

Blamelessness is a value that too many people feel emotionally driven to uphold.  They believe people will look down on them and “Judge” them if, God forbid, they have to admit a mistake in front of people.

Unfortunately many people believe that their identity is tied to their mistakes or failures.  When people fail, they believe they ARE a failure.  Rockstars.. well, they seek out opportunities to fail.  That’s how they learn to tackle problems, seek out solutions and make people better.

Failure is their building block to problem solving.  Rock Star Restaurant Leaders are great problem solvers.

3. They don’t go into their adventures any less than fully committed.  You will never accomplish anything to a greater level than you are committed to.  Our commitments define and raise our ceiling.  When we are working on moving up the chain of command, we don’t necessarily need to commit long term to our position or even the company we work for.  But we do need to be fully committed to the position we have and the responsibilities placed before us.  We need to be fully committed to give your best efforts and attention to adding value to the people around you.

Too many people fail to commit to anything.  Afterall, why should we do more than we are getting paid to do?  SO PEOPLE WILL SEE US AS VALUABLE.  Our value comes from the amount of value we add to our employer, to our customers and to our team that we work with.  That is our one job.  Make things better for everyone around you.  We need to get to the other side!  You can’t do that with one ore in the water.

4. They don’t stay the same. Rockstar Restaurant Leaders are hungry.  They are driven to constantly be working on improving their skills, their attitude and their ability to influence their team.

RRL’s are not really motivated by incentive plans and bonuses.  They appreciate them, but they are more driven by a dream of becoming great at what they do. Not just a Rock Star, but a Super Hero Rockstar. They have a vision of what they will become and they visit that image in their head every day.  It is what makes them lose sleep at night thinking about it.  They have the ability to look past the everyday obstacles and keep their focus on the road ahead.

If you want to have something you don’t have, you have to do something you have never done.  Your future depends 100% on what you do to make yourself a greater person.

5. They don’t take shortcuts or take the easy way out when others aren’t looking.  They understand what it means to be exceptional.  Exceptional people don’t blend in.  The go to great lengths to stand out from the crowd.  They understand that the crowd is just fine with mediocre and that creates a clear path to getting ahead.  Sometimes it’s not how great we are, it’s about what we refuse to settle for.

RRL’s do not operate independently.  They are not attracted to chaos or rebelliousness that come with a free spirit.  They have long graduated from their dependent, and independent phase of life and embrace the need for interdependence.  They are fully accountable for all of their actions and enjoy the freedom that accompanies transparency.  They draw near to other people seeking excellence.  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

6. They don’t feel that anyone owes them anything. They do not have a sense of entitlement.  Our current situation in life is the sum total of all of the decisions we have made to this point. We are not limited by our circumstances. Whatever we accomplish, we have to earn.  No one is going to give it to us.

Many people are more focused on what they have coming to them, affirmation, a raise, promotion or to be recognized for the greatness they are.  Being labeled and rewarded as a Rockstar is more important to some people than becoming a Rockstar.

A True Rockstar finds comfort knowing that they are worth more than they are being paid at the present time.  They don’t mind because they fully understand that their future wage is 100% dependent on them, not their circumstances.  They enjoy having the job security of knowing how valuable they are to the team and their employer.  An overpaid employee, as good as they may be is still OVER paid.  They have negative value.  This means the company would be better off if they didn’t have them, hence the term over paid.

As a RRL continues to stretch the margin of their value. They create space for potential financial gain by polishing themselves as a coveted gem. A person who over achieves will always have people knocking on their door to offer them more responsibility that leads to more money.  Creating a margin of value creates options for your future. Go get yourself some options!

What is it that you need to NOT do?

What Are You Projecting To Your Team?

Diane Cooper says “You do not know how anyone feels or is. Everything you see in another is a projection of an aspect of yourself”.

This is a great description of The Law of Projection.

The Law of Projections says that our external world-view is an extension or a projection of the beliefs you have internally about yourself and your experiences.

Simply put, honest people believe that most others are honest as well.  This doesn’t mean that they believe that absolutely all people are honest, rather they believe it until it is proven otherwise.  They may need to adjust for a dishonest individual, then they will move forward giving others the benefit of the doubt.

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Mat 12:34

Likewise, if you are generally dishonest with yourself and don’t trust your own judgment, you will believe you can’t trust others or trust their judgment. Untrustworthy people don’t trust others. It may take quite a bit to learn to trust another person, and when you do, the chances are you will continue distrusting most others and treat the honest person as the exception.

Thieves tend to believe that most everyone steals. People that lie believe everyone lies. People who aren’t responsible for themselves believe everyone else is irresponsible. This is how we can know how someone see’s themselves.

“…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  Mat 7:17

I have learned over the years how this plays out in the workplace.  People can’t help but to project their internal perspective onto peers, subordinates, and customers. Good or bad.  A person with a low self-image and doesn’t like who they are, will find it challenging to refrain from being critical of others. Low confidence in yourself will lead to having little confidence in others.  A person with a healthy self-image will find it natural to believe the best in others and treat them as such.

Much of the time we don’t even know that how we perceive others is how we perceive ourselves.  We judge the motives of another and it makes us angry.  Well, how could we feel angry unless we have a similar personal experience to relate to?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  Mat 7:3

When we are distrusting and skeptical of others, we believe we are that way for a good reason.  We believe we are justified for such view because of our experience of being let down by others.  We react to our own personal experience.  We may believe our cautious ways are a product of wise thinking, however it may be something more cynical going on in our minds.

“If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” – Every Mother ever

Do you have anything good to say?

So how do we know if our thoughts are accurate interpretations of our circumstance, or just a faulty projection from our own sinful mind?  How do we know that our fears we project aren’t just a product of self-preservation?  How do we know when our thoughts are separate from reality(poor self-awareness)?

These are tough questions, however here are a few questions to consider;

  • Does it line up with reality as you normally see it?
  • Does it line up with not only in your own experiences, but also with everyone else’s experiences?
  • Does this thought truly serve your long term wellbeing?
  • Does it line up with your values, and vision for the future?
  • Does it serve others?

Of course, we cannot know what everyone else has experienced, but we can open up our own mind to seek out a broader base of input that expands beyond our own realm of conscious awareness.

If you want to know what message you are projecting, just ask others. Ask then to help you see what others see when they look at you. Give them permission so you will receive it well. Open yourself up to a new perspective on life that takes you out of your skull and into a more introspective view on the world and other people.

When preparing to write this blog, I sat down and wrote out the different things that set me off about other people.  Then I asked myself if these attributes I dislike in others I find in myself.  The answer was an eye opening experience for me.  I was aware of this to some degree, but had not realized that these were entirely applicable in one way or another to how I view myself.

The best leaders I have ever met are people who have first addressed the mess in their own head so they can have an honest and inspiring message to project to others.  It all starts with the content on the movie projector and not with the image on the silver screen.

People need a reason to believe better about themselves.  Sometimes they have some pretty dark blinders on and a thick wall established to protect them. People become very comfortable with others being to blame for where they are in life.  It is easier than taking responsibility.  People with a dim perspective naturally project a dim perspective on others, not really knowing the diminishing effect it has on the culture.

black-and-white-building-dark-722664Great leaders shine their light brightly onto others bringing a hopeful spirit to an environment in desperate need of good news, encouragement and direction.  The power of a person with a great message is inspirational and transforms the people around them.  People will follow a person with a better message than the one they own.  It may not come automatically.  They may have some obstacles to overcome, but they are paying attention.  I promise!

Don’t be the reason your team members stay stuck.  Be the light that pulls them out of darkness!