“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Because your heart is extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. I take my garbage to the street every Wednesday night. It is picked up on Thursday morning. It sits on the sidewalk all night, completely unguarded. Why? Because it is worthless.
Not so with your heart. It is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self—the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.
Just like your physical body, if your heart—your spiritual heart—dies, your leadership dies. This is why Solomon says, “Above all else.” He doesn’t say, “If you get around to it” or “It would be nice if.” No, he says, make it your top priority.
Because your heart is the source of everything you do. King Solomon says it is the “wellspring of life.” In other words, it is the source of everything else in your life. Your heart overflows into thoughts, words, and actions.
In Tennessee, where I live, we have thousands and thousands of natural springs, where water flows to the surface of the earth from deep under the ground. It then accumulates in pools or runs off into creeks and streams.
If you plug up the spring, you stop the flow of water. If you poison the water, the flow becomes toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Everything depends on the condition of the spring.
Likewise, if your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything else. It threatens your family, your friends, your ministry, your career, and, indeed, your legacy. It is, therefore, imperative that you guard it.
Because your heart is under constant attack. When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone—one in which there are casualties.
Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war. We have an enemy who is bent on our destruction. He not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him—including us.
- Listen with your heart. Words are a small part of any communication. The intellectual exchange is only part of the exercise. You can pick up a lot by paying attention to the non-verbal cues, including the other person’s eyes, their tone of voice, and their body language.
- Be aware of how much you are talking. I try to talk in sound bites. Frankly, I learned this from doing hundreds of radio and TV interviews through the years. If I didn’t periodically stop talking and give the interviewers a chance to speak, they weren’t bashful about interrupting me or bringing the interview to a close. People are more polite, but you can still lose them, as the would-be consultant did with me.
- Hit the ball back over the net. Nothing communicates value and respect to a person more than asking them what they think. Unless you’re giving a formal speech, every encounter should be a dialogue. That means you have to consciously hit the ball back over the net and give the other person a chance to respond. The best way to do this is with thoughtful questions.
- Ask follow-up questions. The best listeners I know never stop with just one question. Like peeling an onion, they ask follow-up questions, going deeper each time. This is where you learn the most and where you tap into the possibility to add real value to the other person’s life. One question I like to ask is this, “How did it make you feel when that happened?”
- Provide positive feedback. A “poker-face” may help when you are playing cards, but it does not help build trust or develop relationships. People need to know that you are listening and understand them. Nodding your head and providing verbal affirmation are critical skills that anyone can learn, but they must be cultivated.
From Michael Hyatt’s blog The Gentle Art of Conversational Ping Pong
From Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Hyatt pulls out five characteristics of weak leaders.
General George B. McClellan, commander of the “Army of the Potomac” and, eventually, first general-in-chief of the Union Army…
- Hesitating to take definitive action. McClellan was constantly preparing. According to him, the Army was never quite ready. The troops just needed a little more training. In his procrastination, he refused to engage the enemy, even when he clearly had the advantage. He could just not bring himself to launch an attack. When Lincoln finally relieved him of his duties, he famously said, “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”
- Complaining about a lack of resources. He constantly complained about the lack of available resources. He didn’t have enough men. His men weren’t paid enough. They didn’t have enough heavy artillery. And on and on he went. The truth is that, as a leader, you never have enough resources. You could always use more of one thing or another. But the successful leaders figure out how to get the job done with the resources they have.
- Refusing to take responsibility. McClellan was constantly blaming everyone else for his mistakes and for his refusal to act. He even blamed the President. Every time he suffered a defeat or a setback, someone or something was to blame. He was a master finger-pointer. Great leaders don’t do this. They are accountable for the results and accept full responsibility for the outcomes.
- Abusing the privileges of leadership. While his troops were struggling in almost unbearable conditions, McClellan lived in near-royal splendor. He spent almost every evening entertaining guests with elaborate dinners and parties. He insisted on the best clothes and accommodations. His lifestyle stood in distinct contrast to General Ulysses S. Grant, his eventual successor, who often traveled with only a toothbrush.
- Engaging in acts of insubordination. McClellan openly and continually criticized the President, his boss. He was passive-aggressive. Even when Lincoln gave him a direct order, he found a way to avoid obeying it. In his arrogance, he always knew better than the President and had a ready excuse to rationalize his lack of follow-through.
From Michael Hyatt’s Blog