Take Back Control of Your Time

How many of us wish we had more time in our day?

Most likely, the majority of people reading this post would jump at the chance to add a few more hours of “cushion time” to get everything done. That’s why time management is so crucial, and yet, as hard as we try, we never seem to be quite in control. Some of us end up giving up on the idea altogether…

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Leadership Insights: Sensors vs. Intuitives

Alas, we come to the final post in our series on Jungian Personality Type for the Sensor vs. Intuitive type preferences. Now that we’ve thoroughly explored what your preference means for the way you process information, let’s take a look at a few descriptors that will help you round out your understanding of S vs. N tendencies. After that, we’ll dive into some crucial leadership insights that you, as a Sensor or Intuitive, can take away from this series for immediate, powerful application in your everyday life.

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5 Voices Series: The Power of Your Voice

In our first post about the 5 Voices, we covered the tendencies of each voice and what they bring to the table. Today, we’ll be diving deeper into the voices to identify their “weapon systems.”

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20 Things You Should Never Assume

For Goodness Sake, Stop Assuming!

As I look back at my journey, it’s amazing to me how many leadership failures came from poor assumptions. Success, greatness, breakthrough, liberation and overall peace are all at risk when we assume.

So here are 20 things you should not assume in the future, in no particular order: Read more

8 EQ Questions Effective Leaders Cannot Ignore

In a society that lives and breathes “bottom-line results”, it’s easy to allow “productivity” to become the sole focus of great leadership. But if you want true influence, you’re going to have to master another art form:

Being present.

EQ Questions

Relational intelligence is the future competitive advantage for leaders. In the new world the capacity to establish, develop, and maintain key relationships both inside and outside your organization is going to become the primary currency of leadership influence.

People can actually learn how to connect well. While some people are naturally good at it, others struggle mightily. Yet those who practice can become masters at being in the right gear at the right time. These are people who “know themselves” and “lead themselves”…

…and benefit from the influence and respect that follows.

We are tired of seeing people run over others.

We are tired of dads and moms not being present with their children. We consistently see disconnections between bosses and those they lead, and the lack of awareness that comes from busy adults married to their tasks and missing the point of their lives.

These behaviors are precisely why we created the 5 Gears system. The world is going through unparalleled cultural upheaval right now.

We want to provide a practical solution that can transform behavior in adults who have begun to become self-aware of their disconnected lives and trade them in by learning the art of being present.

Relationships are more important than ever.

8 EQ Questions Effective Leaders Cannot Ignore

Be honest about your reality.

  1. Do you know what it’s like to be on the other side of you?
  2. Do you know how to connect with people in every social context?
  3. Are you easy to connect with in your work setting?
  4. Do people like being around you?
  5. Are you able to be physically and emotionally present with people even when you have tight deadlines?
  6. Do you always have to win?
  7. Have you truly ever experienced being present with someone else?
  8. Do you know how to slow down enough to hear what someone else is saying?

These are the EQ questions that will differentiate the leaders of the future. IQ and hard skills are essential but they are no longer enough. When you learn to grow your relational competency—the ability to connect with others and be present—then you will be able to build long-term relation- ships and obtain a world of opportunity that most will miss.

Telling Your Time Where to Go (Instead of Wondering Where it Went)

Big Picture: Just as budgeting your money allows you to be in control of your finances, time budgeting allows you to be in control of your time (instead of the other way around). This post shares some practical tips to help you be more in control of your time.

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Dave Ramsey

We typically think of budgeting from a money perspective. Many of us have a love-hate (or even a hate-hate) relationship with the practice. Regardless of the emotions that surface when the subject comes up, however, most of us would admit that budgeting, when done right, is a useful tool for taking control of your finances.

The same can be said about your time. Think of it this way… “A {time} budget is telling your {time} where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? When is the last time you wondered where your time went? With some proper planning and intentionality, you can begin to take more control of your time. And, as we look to start the new year right, this is a perfect opportunity to “tell your time where to go”.

Here are some tips on better managing your time in the new year:


Admitting is half the journey. When I ask people where they spend most of their free time, however, a common answer I get is, “Free time, what’s that?!” I can understand that. There are days that get away from me and weeks where I’m exhausted just trying to keep up with my calendar and workload. But there is an important designation that we need to make. Free time isn’t empty time.

Free time isn’t the moment you tell yourself, “Wow, I’ve got three extra hours today that I have no idea what I’m going to do with!” (Does that even happen?) We always find things to fill those empty spots. Unless you’re on vacation, most of the time you’re not going to have empty time, and that’s okay because that’s not what we’re talking about.

When I talk about free time, I’m talking about time that you and I have control over. You are the one who is going to make the decision about what you will or won’t use that time for.

We all have time that other people control, don’t we? We have an employer/work time where we’re responsible to somebody else who pays us for our use of that time. We may have family time where we’re responsible to a spouse and/or children and others in our family for. But each of us also has time that we determine how to spend.

You do have time you can control.


Let’s consider what free time looks like. Use the following questions to think about how you use it…

  • Where do you spend most of your free time?
  • The last time you had a choice about what you did with your time, what did you use that time for?
  • Think through your typical day. What do you typically fill your available time slots with? (It might be good to walk through this process with both a typical week day and a typical weekend day.)
  • Make a list of the top five things that take up the time you control.

Now, consider the following… “What are five things that you wish you had more time for?”

Compare those two lists. Why do you wind up spending time doing the things on the first list (the things that take up your time) instead of the things on the second list (the things that you wish you had more time for)?

  • Oftentimes, the urgent things in life squeeze out space for the important things. When did you last experience this?
  • Make a list of the top five things that steal the time you control away from the things you wish you had more time for.

After walking through these questions, you should have a good idea of where your biggest time barriers are. Be more aware and intentional this week to recognize those barriers and work to take control of them.


Another helpful exercise is to think through your week and block out what you would love your ideal week to look like. Author Michael Hyatt has written a great article walking through this process (he even provides an Excel template you can use). You can check it out at the link below. Natural seasonal change points (like a new year) are a great time to review how you would like your days to look and to be intentional in setting up your schedule with purpose.

Read: “How to Better Control Your Time by Designing Your Ideal Week” by Michael Hyatt.


Even when we have an idea of how we would like our days to look, our reality doesn’t always match. Most of us don’t have the luxury of completely dictating our schedules without the input of others. There are obligations and meetings that demand time from us that we don’t have as much control over. Even when we do have a certain level of control, unexpected interruptions can derail us quickly. Here is how I have experienced this in my life…

I oftentimes would get completely sidetracked and sapped if I had days that wound up looking something similar to…

  • Meeting
  • Short window to work in-between
  • Meeting
  • Short window to work in-between
  • Meeting

It was hard to re-engage in what I was working on when meetings kept interrupting my days. I would usually get to the end of those days and feel as though I had accomplished nothing or very little.

To avoid this, I decided what times I wanted to be meeting-available times, and then I blocked everything else off on my calendar. This was as straightforward as scheduling a meeting for myself, calling it “No Meetings”, and then setting my availability status to “Busy” during those times. This meant that when people wanted to meet with me and went to schedule the meeting, they only saw my ‘meeting available’ times. My focused work blocks were preserved, as was the flow of the day that I was seeking.


Question: What time hacks do you use to be more in control of your time? Share your tips and best advice on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Good Communicators Know When Writing is Wrong

Do you think you’re a good communicator? Do you ever consider the nature of your message relative to your medium of communication?

The graphic below represents the chance your message is being perceived they way you intend given the vehicle you choose to communicate.


The amount of times I find myself moderating gross misinterpretation of written messages is becoming frustrating. Perhaps I should look at it differently. The amount of toxins that go into corporate culture through passive aggressive email or text rants is creating a great business opportunity for the leader development space I occupy.

The next time you are about to press send on a challenging message over text or email, please consider these three questions?

  • Am I being lazy?
  • Am I avoiding confrontation and preserving my own comfort zone?
  • Do I just not care about that person enough to have a conversation? (Please go deeper if you answer yes to this question.)


Consider the Power of the Medium every time you have a challenging word for those you lead. And remember, this isn’t just when you’re at work; it applies to your personal relationships, too.


Living ALL of Life

Once again Tom was late for his son’s game. It was becoming more than a habit, it was the way of life for the Spencers.

They were used to their dad always being in “4th Gear” work mode. They were used to the evil eyes as they tried to carry on a conversation in the back seat while their dad was on the phone with a work colleague after work hours.

Tom has no idea that his inability to shift from his addictive work is driving a big wedge between his kids and him.

Then there is Sarah. She is a sweet mom of three kids. The only problem is that Sarah is always talking about her kids and their needs. She has no idea that she is driving others away from her because she hasn’t learned how to shift into the right gear at the right time. She is so focused on her kids and their needs that she is showing that she is disinterested in everyone else.

That leaves you and me. What is our deal? Are we stuck in a gear and possibly not aware?

The 5 Gears

Life is meant to be full of all seasons and all gears. Here are the gears I’m referring to:

  • 1st Gear Recharge
  • 2nd Gear Connecting
  • 3rd Gear Being Social
  • 4th Gear Multi-tasking
  • 5th Gear Hyper Focus

We need them all!

In the 5 Gears book, there is a story of Heather who was so fixated on serving her team and fulfilling her duty that she got stuck in 4th and 5th gear to the demise of her husband and family relationships. She didn’t mean to, but she was not aware that her 4th and 5th gear work addiction was killing the relationships that she loved the most.

The Gears metaphor and book are simply intended to help each of us live all of life, not just one part.

Some of you are addicted to 4th and 5th gear. Others of you, 3rd Gear. I know a good number of you that are so fixated on personal recharge (1st Gear) that others are struggling to find time to connect with you.

From Manual to Automatic

Every automatic vehicle has gears that get shifted for us by the automation in the vehicle. Our cars know when they should shift. If only we knew — we would have less divorce, less drama and more depth in relationships.

If you want to become automatic in your influence and relationships, then it is vital to shift into the right gear at the right time — to live in all the gears. Really, that means that you need to be aware of what gear you should be in at any given time and adjust appropriately.

For the past few years I have been working hard to shift into the right gears and to be fully alive. I dare you to try. Learn the gears and use them well.

Next Step

Here is a video that you can use to help you think about a new way of living intentionally rather than accidentally.

jeremie5gears-email snapshot

How To Banish Fear From Your Leadership

Growing up, I had a number of irrational fears, the most embarrassing of which was the fear of the shark in our (above ground) pool. Many thanks to Jaws for planting that seed in my young mind. Fear is common to all of us. There is a scene in the Dark Night Rises Where Bane says to Batman, “You think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it…” I have 4 children, and what I know is that they all cried at birth. What were those first tears about? They weren’t tears of regret or love, they were tears of fear — you were born in it.

Too many leaders operate from a base of fear.

  • Fear of the worst happening.
  • Being consumed with what others think of of you: Will they like you? Will they accept you? Will they think you are competent?
  • Fear of making what you know to be the best decision because of the kickback you know you’ll get.


Living with constant worry, anxiety or fear is damaging to our leadership influence and to our physical health. Though our bodies are hardwired to respond when real danger is present by firing up our nervous system so we can respond well, when we are captive to fear, our bodies are “on” all of the time. We shake. We struggle to sleep.

Fear restrains, restricts and keeps us from realizing our full potential.

In his book The Heart and the Fist, former Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar and Navy Seal Eric Greitens tells us how to banish fear. While training as a Navy SEAL officer, Greitens learned that banishing fear as a leader is easier than you think. He writes:

For fear to take hold of you, it needs to be given room to run in your mind. As a leader, all the room in your mind is taken up by a focus on your men. I got to a point where my senses were attuned to every physical, verbal, emotional, even spiritual tremor in the crew. Who looks like he’s about to lose his temper? Who is worried about his kid? Who’s limping? Who’s feeling sorry for himself? Who needs to be coached? Who needs to be challenged? Once I came to know these men, leadership…wasn’t really hard at all; it became easy because I had no place for my own pain, my own misery, my own self-pity.

Fear is banished when we get the focus off of ourselves, our needs, our best, and we become genuinely for others.

Week in and week out, we have the privilege of sharing this transformational message of liberation. We are for you. We genuinely want to see fear cast out of you. Take a step to get irrational fear out and bold confidence in today. How? Get focused on your people getting ahead. Focus on someone else winning.

Bringing Effective Challenge to the People You Lead

I’m a word person, through and through. I especially love puns and clever plays on words. Years ago, I discovered The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational Word Contest, where people subtracted or added one letter to an existing word and invented a new definition, all for comedic effect. For example, intaxication: euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. Or, beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out. (I laugh out loud every time I read that.) My favorite, though is sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

bringing effective challenge 2


Funny, yes, but there’s an element of truth embedded in the humor of this made-up word that paints an excellent picture of the effect of negative criticism on relationships. Sarcasm is a relationship killer. Whether it’s at work, at home, or in the community, this biting form of humor creates the antithesis of what people need to be effective and feel valued. Rather than creating a culture that is for people, sarcasm and negative criticism create dissension, separation, rifts and division.

Now, I’m not suggesting we need to adopt a Pollyanna, overly-optimistic approach to managing our relationships — we can’t grow without appropriate challenge if all we ever hear is how great we are. But, there’s a distinct difference in bringing challenge to someone that is life-giving versus criticism that tears a person down. Sarcasm is the worst of this kind of negative talk, but unnecessarily negative criticism is equally damaging.

At GiANT, we talk to pioneering leaders, who usually prefer to focus on the future, about building bridges for their teams. Those carrying out the daily details of the current plan in organizations are most often present-oriented and need lots of information to understand the what and why behind a strategic change. Wise leaders take time to intentionally connect teams members to their vision by asking what details and data their staff need to feel safe moving forward with a new plan. We call this building a bridge.

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You can extend the metaphor to the concept of sarcasm and negative criticism, as well. If a cohesive team is the goal, any bridges that have been built will be rendered useless or torn away completely when mocking digs in meetings or harsh criticisms of performance are the norm. People certainly won’t feel safe in these scenarios, and if they follow you, it will only be because they have to. Yes, we have to critique and analyze to be able to make changes for the better, but those necessary critiques have far better results in the long term if they are offered as challenges that validate the people on the other side of the table.

Bad: “That was as poor an excuse for a marketing report as I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe how unprepared you were in our client meeting today. It wouldn’t surprise me if they quit us today after that performance.”

Better: “That was not a productive meeting. What did you think about how it went? [Pause to listen to the team member.] You know, I’ve seen your excellent work before and I have some suggestions to make it better next time. Let’s talk.”

As you can see in the above examples, pushing a negative criticism on the other person can create defensiveness, whereas challenge, calibrated with the right amount of support, opens the door for improvement. (If you can’t see that, we really need to talk, and fast!)

My challenge for you is this: Ask yourself if you default to sarcasm and negative criticism under stress. If you do, consider why it is you do that. And next time, instead of defaulting to behavior that will surely have a negative outcome, do what Diane Sawyer suggests, “I learned something great on one of the stories I did,” she says. “Someone said to me… ‘A criticism is just a really bad way of making a request. So why don’t you just make the request? Why don’t you just say, Could we work out this thing that makes me feel this way?'” (Huffington Post)

Bring effective challenge, skip the sarcasm, and make the request. You’ll be glad you did.