The Center for Personal Growth & Development

Maximizing your capacity for growth.

Legacy Building…(From my monthly newsletter, The Pathfinder)

Your Legacy…

What do you want others to remember about you? I heard John Maxwell once state, “There are two important moments in one’s life. The moment they are born, and the moment they discover why.” Those were very powerful words to me. I have studied leadership principles over the past few years and have discovered that there is a wealth of information regarding leadership that I still need to learn. However, I have also come to an understanding that I have to intentionally live my life so that when I am gone, others will have no doubt about what my life was about.

You have an opportunity to construct how you want others to remember you. The key is to begin putting some principles in place. First, you must clearly define what you want in life. This means that you must form a direction for your life from all of those dreams, goals, desires, and intentions you have been mulling over all of these years. I once heard Andy Stanley put it this way, “It is direction, not intention, that determines destination.” Therefore you must be intentional about formulating a vision from the big goals and desires of your heart.

Secondly, you must begin to prioritize those dreams, and begin to cast a vision. When you begin to make that vision become clearer in your eyes, you will see that you will need a host of people to help you achieve it. That’s where the third step comes in. You must begin creating a team of like-minded people who have strengths that are different than yours. You are most productive when you are working within your strengths. Therefore, take a strengths-finder survey, and identify what your strengths are. Then, intentionally seek out those who are think similarly to you, yet possess different strengths. As you begin pouring into their lives unselfishly, and sharing your vision with them, you will see that they will begin adding more value to you as well.
Thirdly, once you have your team in place, it is important to consistently add value to them. Don’t just “spend” time with them, invest your time with them. Begin to work with this team on a regular basis because as you work toward your vision, you’ll see that it’s not just about you, it’s about the investment of your time with them in the process. 

Lastly, it is about the process. I have often heard people say that life is about the journey. And while I believe them, I now see life as a process. And it is this process that makes life worth living.

To wrap up, you must believe more in adding more value to other people than expecting to get from others only the things that you want. Life is about creating a team, of those you grow to care about deeply, those whom you want to pour your life into. As you develop your leadership skills, and begin to cultivate leaders within your team, you’ll discover a deeper meaning in life. Most of all, do not forget that life is a process, but it must be navigated. Once you’ve cast your vision, and it has become shared with you team, you will discover that having a navigational plan makes all the difference in the accomplishment of your goals. So, in order to establish your legacy, pour into the lives of those closest to you. And then, continue to pour into them. Then watch them grow. Focus your time, talents, energy, money on developing them. Soon, you’ll begin to see the legacy you are trying to build. And others will begin to see this legacy come to life.

So, take a few moments to reflect, and write down what you want your legacy to be. Then begin living it!

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Manning Mania from my perspective…

In recent days, much hype has been given to the Denver Bronco’s acquisition of the National Football League’s arguably “best” quarterback. Many believed that Manning would join any of a host of teams who were interested in obtaining his skills with the hope of returning to the Super Bowl. As I watched the media frenzy, I couldn’t help but evaluate the list of possibilities through the “leadership lens.”

Several people asked me which team I thought Mr. Manning would choose. Each time, my answer was Denver. There are several reasons why I chose this answer, but most importantly, my answer was chosen because I understand John Maxwell’s Laws of Magnetism, and Lid.

You see, the Law of the Lid states that one’s effectiveness is determined by the level of leadership one has. A person with a lid level of 8 on a scale of 10 would mean that this person would not have much room to grow to being a 10. And this is where I saw Mr. Manning. And since everyone in the NFL was seeking his services, it was obvious that John Elway’s influence, based on his prior performance in the league, made the Broncos a legitimate choice for Mr. Manning.

Secondly, the Law of Magnetism states that, “Who you are is who you attract.” John Elway was a winner as a quarterback, and a good one at that. Couple his winning records with his sole ability to “lift” Peyton Manning’s lid, and you have a logical choice for the much sought after quarterback.

I am not downplaying Tim Tebow, or his ability as a quarterback. Obviously he is a good quarterback, or he wouldn’t be playing in the NFL. However, he has a special set of strengths, and those strengths are best suited for another football team.

Since Peyton has chosen the Broncos, we will see his continued metamorphosis, and watch as he continues to stun sell-out crowds. Please understand that he will be successful wherever he goes because of his unique set of talents.

Many of you will be upset with this post because you are Tebow fans. I understand that. However, one cannot argue that the real reason Peyton became a Bronco was so that he could grow as a leader. Keep an eye on him, because within five to ten years, you’ll see him in the front office of an NFL team as a vice-president. Because after all, John Elway is now his mentor.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it clarified why the Bronco’s acquired Peyton Manning. Also know that he will now continue to grow professionally, and become a household name in some franchise’s front office.

I’m Guest Blogging this Month…

Hi folks! Just wanted to update you to let you know that the newest #leadership post was completed on my friend’s website (@MarketingMel). Mel was gracious enough to ask me to guest blog for her this month. Please visit her site and post a reply.

Talk with you soon!

The John Maxwell Team announces YouthMAX, May 6-12, 2012!

International YouthMax Leadership Event

Please contact me for more information and to reserve a presentation.

Scott Starnes



I know of no one who loves to experience change, myself included. But, there is a fundamental principle that everyone needs to remember when experiencing change: Change = Growth. We do not necessarily need to learn to love change, but we do need to embrace it.

In 2008, I wrote an article for the Domain3, a peer-reviewed journal for the National Association of Emergency Medical Services Educators. In that article, I discussed the concept of change and the change process and offered a recipe for managing change. You see, I firmly believe that no on can lead change. I do however believe that change, and the change process as a whole can be managed and lead.

There are two fundamental type of change, procedural and disruptive. We all experience the former on a regular basis while performing action research. This is a fancy term for trying something for a brief period only to discover that there is a little something that needs to be modified in order for it to work properly. We are masters of this type of change.

Disruptive change involve lots more people, and plainly stated, is messy. This type of change is usually the result of something within an organization, or one’s life, that drastically needs to be changed. It may be a new operations procedure, a way that clients are served, or some other thing that alters how business is conducted. It requires the people within the organization to stretch themselves, and take on a new way of doing things. And, since no one really wants to change the “way we’ve always done it,” the implementation of change becomes a distinct process, LEAD by the leadership team.

The formula for implementing change, according to my article is SIMPLE:

Schema construction and articulation – This refers to the building of the followers knowledge base. This is, in effect, the one way to alleviate fears within the followers of organizations. Provide as much background knowledge, and training, as necessary to educate the people who are involved in the change.

Interpersonal relationships – The most important for the leader of any organization to do is develop authentic relationships with the stakeholders of the organization. Integrity and transparency are keys to the development of these relationships.

Moral purpose – Leaders of organizations in this day and age are looked to almost reverently. It takes a special type of person to want to lead an organization in today’s society. The cultivation of a purpose for an organization rests with the leader, and this leader must make his/her decisions based on a firm moral background.

Professional competency – Leaders are called upon in times of change. Peter Drucker stated that managers do things right, while leaders always do the right thing. If a leader has a firm moral purpose while leading an organization, s/he will consistently do the right thing. People do what people see. Be what you want your organization to become.

Leader as motivator – Not everyone is a motivational speaker. When I first thought of this competency, I was flooded with images of Bear Bryant, Vince Lombardi and the like. Most leaders are motivators naturally. They encourage others to attempt that which they do not know. Remember those of history who never quit when they experienced failure.

Enculturation – Leaders understand that the previously mentioned components of this recipe are actually steps. When implemented properly, they become pieces of the puzzle that make up an organization’s culture.

Therefore, when you see that your organization needs to change, be willing to follow this SIMPLE recipe, and you will effectively manage the change process. No one ever claimed that changing was easy. On the contrary, it is the most difficult task of leading an organization. However, as you plan change for your organization, remember this recipe, and try it.

If you would like to read the entire article, please send me an email. And, no matter how your change process turns out, I’d like for you to follow up with me via email so that I can discuss it with you. I can be reached at

Law of Process…

“Leadership develops daily, not in a day.”  John Maxwell

The first month of 2012 is drawing to a close. Ask yourself, “What have I accomplished in the past month?” For some, the answer to that question will make them feel as though they have been a tremendous success, while for others, they will feel as though they are now behind on their resolutions and will struggle to find further purpose for 2012.

Take a moment and study your life in each of the following areas: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Now, get a piece of paper and write each in specific parts of the paper. Identify 10 things you can do during 2012 to show progress and development in those areas.

There is a principle that I want to share with you that will help you experience accomplishment in each of these areas. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your production comes from 20% of your priorities.

So, now that you have listed 10 activities in each of these four areas of your life, prioritize them in order of importance, and circle the top two. On another piece of paper, draw a box, with lines separating it into four categories. Write the headings physical, mental, social, and spiritual in the corresponding category. Beneath each label, write your top two priorities. Now post them where you will see them every day, and make a conscious effort to take a small step in the direction of those priorities every day.

Andy Stanley said, “It is direction, not intention, that determines destination.” So, verbalize these newfound priorities and purposefully live your life to accomplish your goals for 2012. Remember that it is not what you’ve failed to do in January, but what processes you have now put in place to become successful in meeting your goals. Just remember that accomplishing your goals is a process, and if you’ve done this exercise, you are well on your way to success! None of this will be accomplished in a day! It is what you do daily that will help you arrive at your purposed destination.

Leadership Transparency…

I’ve been planning for a book that I expect to release this year on the subject of creating quality professional learning communities. The subject has intrigued me for the past four years, and I simply can’t read enough about them. The first step to creating a professional learning community, a community in which everyone believes in developing their professional knowledge about any topic within a group of people, is to establish true transparency.

Transparency, as most of us understand it, is simply the ability to see through something. In this case, it refers to the leadership within the organization. Every stakeholder who has a vested interest in the organization should be able to see and understand the mechanism that the leaders use to make decisions, and why they make them. In this sense, nothing is held from the public’s eye. If there is not sufficient transparency within an organization, an atmosphere of distrust develops and the climate, and eventually the culture, becomes toxic. At that point, influence by the organization’s leadership cadre within the organization begins to die.

Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline1 offered a set of 5 disciplines that if incorporated within the organization, will assist with transparency, and create a culture in which professional learning communities fully thrive. The disciplines are as follows:

  1. Systems Thinking – This is looking at everything from a systems’ perspective.
  2. Personal Mastery – This is simply knowing the fundamentals of your job better than anyone.
  3. Mental Models – These are assumptions or mental images that influence understanding of the world in which we live, and how we take action.
  4. Building of a Shared Vision – Fostering a shared vision provides an environment where team members excel and learn because they have chosen to.
  5. Team Learning – Team members suspend their feelings in an effort to engage in a true dialogue with other team members. An atmosphere of genuine and sincere trust has been developed within the team. This is a process, and should be viewed as something that will take time to develop.

These five disciplines, if incorporated properly, will begin to challenge previously held assumptions regarding what and how people within organizations.

So, how are you changing the atmosphere within your organization? Which of these disciplines have you purposefully adapted to become a part of your culture? Are there ways that I can assist you with incorporating them? Send me your thoughts!




1Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. (Revised ed.) New York, NY:    Doubleday.

Leading Life…

I recently came across the story of William Danforth, founder of the Nestle-Purina Company. I was intrigued with the story because, as most people, I am intrigued by those who have a tremendous vision and and put feet on it to make it come reality. However, what struck me the most was the part of his story that details the founding of the company’s logo.

For the majority of the American population, when the word Purina is mentioned, there is a portion of our brain that automatically recalls the image of the checkered square with four red squares. Until I read Mr. Danforth’s story, I never realized how, or more specifically why, the company chose that particular logo. This post is devoted to challenging you to evaluate this piece of history, and apply it’s meaning to your everyday life.

The four squares, from top left to bottom right, stand for “the four aspects of our lives,” and include the mental, physical, social, and spiritual. This is an amazing concept that many of us have never given thought to. We are to live the mental life of exercising the mind by committing to learning something new every day of our lives. We were given an ability to reason, and therefore we are to use this gift to create and reflect on the things that we experience daily.

The second square stands for the physical aspect of life. I, like most Americans, continue to struggle with this aspect of my life as I am not in the best physical condition that I could be. It is noted that Mr. Danforth walked one mile daily, and kept his weight under control by eating moderately. Additionally, it is said that he had a personal agenda to sleep at night with the windows open. What small step can you take today to put yourself on a pace to regain control of this particular area of your life?

The third square stands for the social aspect of life. This is not stating that one must go out and party like an animal. Rather, it is stating that we are to prudently seek out and establish meaningful relationships with the people we encounter daily. We are social beings and designed to share life with other people. This aspect

The fourth square is development of the spiritual aspect of our lives. It is this spiritual life that manifests through our character. My pastor, Greg Depriest, at Christ Fellowship Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, has helped me to understand this concept well. He has helped me to understand that we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. It is as simple as that. As such, we struggle with the earthly things that entice us through our senses. However, as Greg noted just today, we must invest in this aspect of our lives if we expect any fruit to manifest itself. Greg’s message this morning claimed that there are two ways we can invest in our spiritual development. The first is to manage your thoughts. The second is to control your actions. I challenge you, just as was challenged by Greg this morning, “guard your thoughts, for they lead to attitudes. Those attitudes lead to choices, and those choices lead you to where you are today.”

So, my question to you is, do you want to put yourself on a journey to personal growth? If so, get a pen and a piece of paper and begin by drawing a square divided into fourths. Label each square (mental, physical, social, and spiritual). First, write down one goal that you want to accomplish in each square in 2012. Then, simply list two things you can begin doing daily to make those goals become reality. It is a challenge because it is hard to take the first step. However, I want to assist you in your journey. I would like to walk alongside you on this journey. I invite you to send me an email. Even if you don’t contact me, find one or two other people who will work with you by becoming an accountability partner for you as you navigate this journey. Feel free to leave a comment below.

*All information pertaining to William Danforth came directly from the Nestle-Purina website.

Navigating Your Journey…

I recently read John Maxwell’s book, Put Your Dream to the Test. I was fascinated by the title because I have been a student of leadership and its various components for many years. I have been fortunate to have had great role models to learn from, I’ve had the opportunity to interview several political leaders from my geographic location, and am currently pursuing an educational leadership position.

Something resonated in my while reading this book. It was the concept of dreaming. Many of us have allowed our dreams to fall by the wayside, and have given up on them. I’ve had to give up some of my dreams, and it caused me grief and frustration because I couldn’t understand why I was put in the position to give up. This book helped me to realize that it could have been that my dream didn’t pass the realistic test.

I have often struggled with getting an early start on a project, only to realize that the project I was undertaking hadn’t been fully thought through. I’m not sure how many of you have fallen in to that trap, but it is extremely frustrating to realize you need to give it up. In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Maxwell notes that this situation is a lack of attention to the Law of Navigation.

The Law of Navigation allows us to evaluate our project, and create a “bird’s eye” view of it, and plan the project from beginning to end, including all of the stops along the way. This past semester, I was fortunate to share this law with my high school students. Many were astounded at the simplicity of applying this law. They now understand that, “anyone can steer the ship, but a leader charts the course.”

You see, once we have a dream, we have to critically evaluate it, and begin to see all of the components of it. As we do, the dream metamorphoses into a vision for what we want to accomplish. And, once we have an established, and especially written it down, we have the ability to begin putting together a plan for how to realize the vision. Those with leadership skills already understand that this is what we refer to as a mission. As we write out our mission statements, we inevitably begin to detail our plan and are equipped at that point to write out milestones, or goals, so that we can keep our eyes on the vision. This allows us to see how the mission and vision are becoming accomplished, one step at a time.

Interestingly, as be begin to accomplish more and more of these individual goals, we begin to see how the mission is progressing. And the more we see the mission progressing, the closer the vision becomes to being realized. Now, please don’t believe that I am saying that every single thing you ever try to accomplish will work. We must be realistic in our thought process. However, as my pastor once told us, “get yourself a BHAG” (big hairy audacious goal) and begin to see the individual steps to making it become a reality. Then find the people you know whose strengths match your weaknesses, and begin to walk the journey with them. As you add value to their lives, they will begin to add value to yours. Soon, your newfound team will be accomplishing things you thought were simply dreams.

Become intentional about what you’re going to accomplish in 2012, and develop a team to walk with you. After you form your team, grasp some of those lofty dreams, and shake the clouds off them. Remember the process:

  1. Dream BIG! Get a “BHAG.”
  2. Brush the clouds off of the dream, and begin to see the vision.
  3. Write a mission statement that will put you on the path to accomplishing the vision.
  4. See all of the milestones along the path, and begin setting individual goals that help you achieve these milestones. These are your goal statements.
  5. Record and celebrate your milestones with the team, remembering that they are the reason you were able to achieve them.
  6. Continue the rest of the journey along the path, and realize your vision!

Leading Leaders…

Leadership transcends the field of business. It is found in the home, church, school, sports, the military, as well as a myriad of other places. It is impossible for anyone to completely avoid the precepts of leadership. The reason leadership cannot be avoided is because as John Maxwell noted, “leadership is influence.” Understanding this principle should provoke each of us to desire to study the topic with earnest diligence.

My background is in the emergency medical services, education, and in several non-profit organizations. I understand leadership from several different perspectives, however I also understand that I must become a life-long student of its principles. I am passionate about teaching leadership, and have devoted my life to teaching its principles to everyone with whom I connect.

  • As a paramedic, I realize that I influence not only patients, but my partner, and all other public safety and in hospital personnel.
  • As an educator, I realize that I influence students, parents, peers, and administrators.
  • As a member of a couple of non-profits, I realize that I influence other members, the leadership, and the community.

There is one last area where I have a great deal of influence. As a husband and father, I realize that I have influence with my wife, children, and other family members. The most important realization in all of this is that while I may influence them, they have just as much influence on me. You see, there is a concept of leadership that John Maxwell wrote about in The 360 Degree Leader. We can lead from anywhere in an organization. Leadership in this sense is like a compass. We lead those who follow us, our peers, and those above us.

Again, the words lead and influence can be used interchangeably. We must learn to accept that we will influence many people over the course of our lifetime, and that there are many who will influence our lives. Therefore, I would like to ask you the question, “What are you going to do in 2012 to maximize your influence on others?”

My vision is to inspire, equip, and promote the leadership abilities of individuals in the fields of EMS, education, and non-profits and provide practical knowledge of leadership principles so that they are prepared to lead leaders.