Search This Blog

Monday, September 24, 2018

This Will Blow Your Mind(set)

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about one of my favorite business concepts: mindset. I know when that term first lodged into my thinking. It came via one of my radio associates in Dallas who, in turn, learned the importance of mindset from one of the radio legends, Ron Chapman. I’m sure Ron learned it from somebody else.

Many articles have been written on the topic. There’s even a website for seekers— In the most basic of definitions we can say that mindset is the established set of attitudes held by someone.

It shouldn’t take much to understand how this plays out in the workplace. My wife and I enjoy a remarkably inexpensive meal option (okay…cheap) at Taco Bell. The other day on a visit, we saw the all-male cast of very young workers, each doing their “job.” Very few customers were in this location. Several tables needed to be cleaned. Napkins and other waste was on the floor. And in the quite visible kitchen area, there was a LOT of food droppings waiting to be cleaned up. Apparently, no workers had the mindset of cleanliness.

Or take my recent car experience at a local auto dealership. One of our vehicles needs some work on the electrical system. The service manager offered me an estimate—which I promptly rejected to pay since we have the full coverage option on the vehicle. He said he needed to check on our coverage but could not do so on the weekend. He would need to check on Monday. And he would call. And he didn’t. So I called. And he did not call back. And I emailed him. And he did not respond. Clearly, the mindset of the service manager does not really focus on service. He needs a tuneup.

Virtually all employees show up on the job with a mindset. It’s not always so critical that we know what their mindset is. It’s vital, however, we lay out very clear expectations that reveal what the mindset of leadership is all about. AND… how the employee mindset needs to be adjusted so that employment will continue.

A world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, takes credit for researching and developing strategies on this. She wrote the book MindSet, which came out in 2006. However, I was learning about this twenty years earlier.

Here’s a bit of Carol’s thinking: “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.” Read the book for a more complete perspective on this.

You should also check out the recent article, “These four small mindset shifts will make you more productive.” (link below) To save you time, the four are:

To move…
  1. From chaos to choice
  2. From “to-do’s” to agreement
  3. From performance to outcome 
  4. From urgency to impact

If you are wondering why productivity gets stalled in your workplace, or why you personally are not making much progress, consider studying up on mindset.

The life of Jesus of Nazareth is a remarkably good example of mindset shift. The Jewish people were promised a Messiah for centuries—one who would be their champion and raise them up as a people of greatness once again. In their minds, they expected a kind of king—of royalty.

Jesus arrives and explains that His Kingdom was not of this world. Every step along the way in His earthly life, Jesus offered a new way of doing things. He challenged both the experts and the common people to think differently. Live differently. That is exactly what a great leader will do. His followers are expected to do this. As you come to faith in Jesus, the mindset shift journey begins.

One final thought. The messy fast food restaurant and the non-servicing service manager go beyond the problem of a poor worker mindset. They reflect management mindset. And that…is when leadership fails us.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information:

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Day in the Life of the Constitution

They are words that should be very familiar to all Americans. Most of us learned them—memorized them—in civics class in junior high. They are the opening words of the guiding document of American freedom: the US Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Today is Constitution Day. Oddly, we take a holiday on July 4th to celebrate our Declaration of Independence. But this day gets minimal notice despite the significance of the Constitution in our daily lives.

The contents of this historic document have come under scrutiny a lot in recent days during the committee hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The politics of those hearings were brutal and ugly. A committee vote on his confirmation should come this week.

A major issue and point of disagreement for many is the term “originalist” as it relates to the Constitution. Judge Kavanaugh describes himself as an originalist. An excellent article explaining the variant views on interpretation is found at the website. It is titled, “On Originalism in Constitutional Interpretation.” The article is written by Steven G. Calabresi, a Clayton J. and Henry R. Barber Professor of Law at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Kavanaugh’s view of interpretation contrasts with those who hold the Living Constitutionalist viewpoint. To the judge, the constitutional text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time that it became law. This can be discerned in various ways and from different documents. As the article cited explains, “It can also be inferred from the background legal events and public debate that gave rise to a constitutional provision.”

In contrast, Calabresi tells us that “living constitutionalists believe that the meaning of the constitutional text changes over time, as social attitudes change, even without the adoption of a formal constitutional amendment.” He then proceeds to offer ten purposes behind our US Constitution. It is Calabresi’s contention that all ten purposes favor the originalist viewpoint.

The consequences of the difference in viewpoints matters. Depending on your personal perspective, the judge or justice you select can send interpretation of law in very different directions. And, of course, such interpretation can impact social policy. I tend to side with the originalists.

Getting the law right is important. But it can also get in the way of living rightly. Jesus of Nazareth gives us a clear example in Mark, Chapter 7, verses 5-13 (God's Word translation).

The Pharisees and the experts in Moses’ teachings asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples follow the traditions taught by our ancestors? They are unclean because they don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus told them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites in Scripture:
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is pointless, because their teachings are rules made by humans.’"

“You abandon the commandments of God to follow human traditions.” He added, “You have no trouble rejecting the commandments of God in order to keep your own traditions!…Because of your traditions you have destroyed the authority of God’s word. And you do many other things like that.”

Jesus directly challenged the way these people treated the law. What was meant to lead to righteousness had become corrupted. A heart change was needed.

We need our Supreme Court to ensure that our Constitution remains the powerful guiding document it was meant to be. While it never mentions God, the wise justice knows that true wisdom to interpret all of life needs wisdom from above. It is the right heart in legal matters that gives us justice.

Hopefully, we have the right person in Brett Kavanaugh.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Believe in Something. Even if it Means Sacrificing Nike.

A significant shock rattled the advertising world this past week. The company with the famous “swoosh” logo branded on a myriad of sports products put a controversial face on its latest ad campaign. Colin Kaepernick.

The message being delivered by the unemployed NFL quarterback encourages his brand of protest. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Of course, Colin really doesn’t want to sacrifice everything. He’d love to be back hurling footballs at wide receivers and tight ends. Also, likely taking his famous knee before the game during the National Anthem.

Politics and business have not mixed well for the NFL. Mr. Kaepernick has found the way to drive a wedge between fans and one of the most popular sporting events in America. In some communities, love of country and love of football go hand in hand. Colin has fostered a kind of fan divorce in this game.

The National Anthem controversy has become so divisive, ESPN decided NOT to even show anthem performances before Monday night NFL games it covers. The National Football League itself has had a terrible time locking in on a policy that purportedly would respect the players' rights and fans' loyalties to our nation. What a mess!

So Nike enters the fray by throwing its corporate weight of support behind Kaepernick. And they did it in a somewhat “in your face” style by airing the first of the “Just Do It” ads that featured Kaepernick in the first commercial break of the third quarter last Thursday night. That was the season opening NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. The ad ran two minutes.

The two minute commercial featured superstar athletes LeBron James, Serena Williams, and others. Content dealt with the controversy of NFL players protesting racial inequality, police brutality, and other issues by demonstrating during the national anthem. It’s part of the Nike “Dream Crazy” campaign.

The narrator, Colin Kaepernick, appears about half way through the ad. CBS News reported, “As a camera pans to reveal Kaepernick's face, a reflection of a United States flag is reflected on the facade of a building behind him.” And it ends with him saying, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Touching. But to many, insulting.

A report from Morning Consult reports some interesting research findings. Before the announcement from Nike, the company had a net +69 favorable impression among consumers. That declined to a +35 favorable. Even in key demographics of younger generations, Nike users and African Americans, that rating declined. And how about this: before the announcement, 49 percent of Americans said they were absolutely or very likely to buy Nike products. That dropped to 39 percent now.

So how does Nike benefit? Bloomberg reported that according to the Apex Marketing Group, Nike generated $43 million in media exposure in the first 24 hours after the ad announcement was made. So some in the media industry believe the risk is worth it. And a company the size of Nike can afford to take that risk.

So do we applaud this effort by Nike…or not? I offer this assessment from Jim Geraghty’s opinion piece in the National Review:

“If you ever wondered what it would take to get the whole Social Justice Warrior crowd to loudly support a multinational corporation with nearly $35 billion in revenue in 2017; that pays its assembly line workers about 2.5 percent of production costs; that faces accusations that its factories bar independent inspections of working conditions; whose workers frequently faint from heat and exhaustion, and suffer wage theft, forced overtime, restrictions on their use of toilets, exposure to toxic solvents, and padlocked exit doors . . . well, apparently Colin Kaepernick is all that it takes.”

Note that revolutionaries can be positive. I follow one. His name is Jesus. He dealt with social justice by way of action. Caring for the poor. Healing the sick. Even raising the dead. Offering hope. Showing true sacrifice. I like His game plan better.

Instead of simply believing in something, pursue believing in someone. Discover the real Jesus. Then join me in taking a knee.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information:

Monday, September 3, 2018

Thinking Like Solomon

Today being a Labor Day holiday, I am turning to a wise counselor as a guest for my blog. He’s Rick Ezell—life coach and workplace chaplain with Employee Care of America. Here is some sound guidance from Rick:

Solomon wrote, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Proverbs 4:23, GN) It’s been said, “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.” Mohandas Gandhi wrote, “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. So if you want to change your actions, change the way you think. If you want to change your attitudes, change the thoughts you put in your mind.

Granted, this is easier said than done. But let me give you some practical steps for positive thoughts.

  1. Make your first thoughts God-directed. Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you crawl out of bed, crawl into his presence. C. S. Lewis wrote: “The moment you wake up each morning . . . [all] your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job of each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”
  2. Focus your waiting thoughts on uplifting ideas. Consider that by the time your life is over, you will have spent six months at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, a year and a half looking for lost stuff, and a whopping five years standing in various lines. In the waiting moments, the common becomes the uncommon, by becoming a cathedral as you pray, or a classroom as you learn from a teaching CD or read a book.
  3. Center your repeated thoughts on the winning outcome. We all talk to ourselves often saying the same thing over and over again. Make sure those repeated thoughts are positive and will benefit you, not bring you down. Positive self-talk is one of the most powerful tools we can use. We are going to talk to ourselves (some of us will even answer ourselves). The point is to make those words uplifting and encouraging. We, in many respects, are the benefactors of self-fulfilling prophecy. We become what we think and say to ourselves. I remember when I was playing competitive tennis I had a few phrases that I would repeat to myself. I would say, “One point at a time,” or “Concentrate on the ball and hit a winner,” or “Racquet back, watch the ball, follow through,” or “You can do this. You’re a winner.” I would repeat those phrases throughout the course of a match. These repeated thoughts helped me to stay positive and focused. Likewise, we need to utter repeated positive thoughts so we can stay positive in everyday life. 
  4. Give your final thoughts to God. Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his forgiveness. Seek his wisdom. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4, NIV).
Thanks Rick! You connect with Rick Ezell and sign up for his newsletter at either of his websites: and

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.