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The readership of the Gremlin series has grown exponentially. This article is an expansion of the series with “the other side” or opposite of self-defeating behavior. GUARDIANS are self-esteem building character traits and behaviors. This is the first release of the guardian’s side of the articles. Guardians are symbolized by various styles of angel wings. Remember, feed your guardians and starve your gremlins!

Staying on the right path in life is not always easy, especially with your own personal gremlins. You can tame your gremlins by strengthening your guardians. Guardians in this sense are your inner strengths or positive character. You might envision them as the opposite of gremlins or self-defeating behaviors. Guardians for our purposes are self-esteem building behaviors and cultivating them displaces or neutralizes gremlins. You may have heard of the old adage, “Starve a fever, feed a cold.” Perhaps we could change it to “Starve a gremlin, feed a Guardian.” Guardians reveal themselves in various forms and as you may limit and minimize gremlins, you may unleash and maximize your guardians.


Consider the guardian Integrity which informs your personal character. Integrity has been defined as “doing the right thing even and especially when you are alone.” A person cannot have a little integrity as it is all or none. If one cannot be trusted then Integrity is not present in one’s life and character. Obviously, one may cultivate honesty and trust that will support the presence of Integrity. One challenging fact about Integrity is that if others perceive it has been lost, then it is difficult to regain. Integrity is received in one of four ways:

  1. One is granted Integrity on the basis of title, position, or status.
  2. One is loaned Integrity on the basis of references from friends who are perceived to have Integrity.
  3. One has earned a high level of Integrity over time one decision at a time.
  4. One is earning Integrity little by little after a failure due to a lack of Integrity.

John is a high school student and is having ongoing conflict with his mother. John has been a compliant and reasonably obedient son most of the time until recently. He got in trouble with some friends when he cut class one day. They had been drinking beer in a house that was under construction when the police happened to show up. Of course John was charged with several crimes and the one incident caused his mother to lose trust in him. In her eyes he had lost integrity. He had done everything he was supposed to do for the last three months but she still would not allow him to do things with his friends. He wondered how long it would take for him to earn his Integrity back.

Another challenge regarding Integrity is that it is seen and evaluated through the opinions of others. While it is true that “Integrity is doing the right thing even when you are alone,” when there is a failure of one’s Integrity, there may be severe consequences. Private failure may become public knowledge resulting in a loss of reputation leading to failure…a loss of Integrity.

Young people gradually earn trust as they demonstrate their honesty and consistency regarding their word. After a time of proving themselves, they may realize the presence of Integrity. However, after graduating from high school the student may find that entering college or a job, they find they have to almost start over earning trust that eventually adds up to Integrity. The point is that we go through stages of life and career in which Integrity must be earned and re-earned based on the perceptions of peers and superiors as well.

Gremlins as self-defeating behaviors are constantly eating away it the foundation of one’s integrity. One must tame the gremlins and empower the guardians. Integrity is one of the chief guardians and STAY ON THE RIGHT PATH.


Do you possess Integrity in your life? What will you do to cultivate a  life of Integrity? How have you noticed that you lived through waxing and waning integrity through passages of life, education and work?


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is

a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching| Leadership



In the movie Far and Away, Tom Cruise playing the part of a young Irishman named Joseph Donnelly, travels to the United States with Shannon Christie played by Nichole Kidman. Their intent is to get a new start and find land in their new country. In one scene Joseph has bragged about how quickly he has finished cleaning his laundry while Shannon clearly does not know how to clean her clothes. Joseph proceeds to show her how by taking a garment, placing it on a washboard, and plunging it into the soapy water and scrubbing it on the washboard. As he demonstrates the technique he tells Shannon, “You plunge and scrub, plunge and scrub, and if it still is not clean then…you plunge and scrub and plunge and scrub.” Later in the movie Shannon demonstrates the technique to her mother who is not used to doing her own laundry.

As a professional life coach I have recently had the opportunity to work with some young adults who, like Shannon Christie in the movie Far and Away either do not know the virtues of personal hygiene or are too lazy to apply the principles. It is particularly troubling as some of these young adults were certainly taught the rudimentary methods of bathing, brushing their teeth, and washing their clothes by their parents but the sitcom Friends left a greater impression. It is true that we live in a time when narcissism rules but if you expect to get a job and keep it or have a meaningful relationship with someone, then perhaps you need to get back to the basics.

As a teacher I have been known to begin my classes with a quiz of five well chosen questions, so which of the answers below as related to clothing is the correct answer?

  1. Throw the garment against the wall and if and when it falls to the floor it is okay to wear.
  2. Clothes, including underwear, can be worn at least ten times before washing them.
  3. As long as I take a shower, clothes off the floor are a reasonable choice.
  4. I can skip the shower as long as I use body spray and deodorant.
  5. I shower or bathe once a day and wear clean clothes that have not been worn more than twice between washings.

GROSS! I hope you know the right answer because if I have to tell you then you have a problem. It is indeed odd that this issue must be addressed but with such dysfunction in families and society, it is needed. If you have interviewed high school AND college graduates for employment lately then you might agree. I went to traffic court a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at what people wore to court. In fact the judge told one woman to come back to court the next week because she was scantily dressed in something that was entirely too small. He refused to hear her case until she was dressed more modestly.

I interviewed one young man on several occasions and it was likely that he had bathed but body odor was evident on his clothes. Another young man almost gassed me with his bad breath. It would seem that these are common sense issues but not anymore. If you follow the following guidelines then if you don’t get the job or keep it, your loss will not be due to a lack of personal hygiene.


  1. Shower or bathe daily…with soap. Maybe you are trying to be like the Europeans or a water conservationist but the question is, “Do you want the job and/or relationship or not?” When washing yourself give attention to underarms, feet, and private parts. (I didn’t think I would ever need to write that so plainly, but times have changed.)
  2. Use deodorant, body spray, and cologne conservatively. Not too much and not as a substitute for a shower or bath. I guarantee that others can smell body odor through Channel #9 and you don’t need to add your own personal spice to Old Spice.
  3. Guys, trim your nails and clean the gunk out from under them. A female interviewer will notice.
  4. Do something with that hair. Don’t go to an interview or to work with bed hair or unwashed flakey hair. Also, be careful about giving yourself a quick trim. One young man I knew decided to give himself a haircut and looked like he was on chemotherapy.
  5. Guys, depending on the job or potential job, shave or groom your beard and mustache. Also, nose hair is not the in thing for most job interviewers and supers.
  6. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash. If you eat garlic, or ramps for my Appalachian readers, some parsley oil such as Breath-Assure will neutralize the odiferous herbs. A couple Tic-Tacs can also help but you probably don’t want the rhythmical rattle of a Tic-Tac package in your pocket. I like to just take a few with me every day just for good measure.
  7. God gave humans two eyebrows but nature sometimes gives some people just one. You might want to make sure you have two but be careful not to eliminate one or both.
  8. Wear underwear! Many years ago when I joined the U.S. Navy and had a “group physical” I was amazed at the number of guys that did not wear underwear. It’s not clean and the practice does nothing to keep your clothes clean if you know what I mean.
  9. Perhaps you like your tattoo but it may not win points with an interview as a new business executive or manager in training. Cover it up. Better yet…don’t get one! I know that mine is an ultra conservative position on this one but do you want the job or not?
  10. Wear clean clothes. If they have been worn once already, do the smell-test. The problem is that individuals cannot always sense their own odors…but everybody else can. You may use some discretion as related to clothing in some cases. If you are going to work around the house, then that pair of jeans that you have worn twice might be okay. However, err on the clean side. Remember to dress appropriately to the job or occasion. It is usually better to over dress slightly than to under dress.
  11. Wear clean socks. Some people wear socks once and put them back in the drawer to wear again. Not cool.
  12. Because bacteria particularly like to colonize shoes, it’s a good idea to spray them occasionally with a product for the purpose that kills the organisms and neutralizes foot odor. It also might be a good idea to clean and polish your shoes if appropriate.

The list could go on but these are the very basics. Add more in the comments section.

Perhaps you are saying, “Why do I have to do all those things to get a job?” While you may not agree, your perspective employer is looking for an employee who will project the image THEY want. While hiring you is about you, it’s also about them. They are looking to see (and smell) if you are a good fit. Will you project their desired image and will customers and coworkers want to be around you? The BIG question is, DO YOU WANT THE JOB OR NOT?

Life is limiting enough without limiting one’s choices because of poor hygiene.



Is there a young adult that you know who might benefit by reading this article? Do you have some “tasteful” suggestions to add for males and females regarding hygiene? Do you have an interesting or funny story about hygiene as related to interviewing or hiring? Please post “tasteful” comments that will add to the discussion.


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is

a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching| Leadership


This article will benefit high level leaders and company owners as they evaluate their organizational culture. It will also benefit leaders and managers at all levels as they seek a new position. How do you want your company or the one for which you work to feel to leaders, employees, and customers? Level 5 leadership requires that leaders be selfless and intentional to the tactility of the organization as well as issues such as professionalism, curb appeal, and profits. What does the outside of your organization look like? It likely communicates a professional business. The professional licenses and certifications of personnel hang neatly on the walls and doors and nametags announce each employee’s official position. Many businesses put great emphasis on the outer appearance of their offices, brand identity, business cards, people, and even uniforms. All of these communicate professionalism with one desired motive of recruiting new employees, managers, and leaders. However, before you accept a position you should look past the curb appeal and the impressive branding.

Perhaps you are an experienced manager seeking a position at another company and you have interviews scheduled for companies abc and xyz. Both positions appear fairly equivalent so how may you differentiate and make a choice?

You must choose, but choose wisely.


Google search will tell you mostly good things about the organization but you should learn as much about the company as possible before your interviews. You can learn little facts such as how many offices do the businesses have and where are they located? Do the locations of their offices suggest anything about the organization that will help you in your interviews? Employers are often impressed when prospective employees know some details about their company. Yet, this only goes so far in helping you make a good choice. You need to know about the culture but where can you find the best information?

  • What do detail sales people say? If you are a leader in a specific field, then you likely know detail sales people who service the competitor with whom you are interviewing. Detail sales people often know much about the companies they service and may offer useful information without violating any ethical boundaries.
  • What do other leaders say? Professional leaders within a geographical area often circulate between competitors and may share valuable information about the cultural feel or tactility of a workplace.
  • What do professional associates say? If leaders in your field require certification and continuing education units (CEUs), they may provide helpful information.


The following questions are not exhaustive and you should probably not ask them of the person doing the interview at your prospective new job. However, the following questions will put you on the proper investigative path to learn some valuable things about the cultural feel at your probable new workplace. The answers will help you know whether you truly desire to work there.

  1. How long has the CEO been in his or her position?
  2. In the last ten years, how many CEOs have there been?
  3. If there have been three or more CEOs in ten years, were two or more of them fired?
  4. Have mid-level managers been promoted from within or recruited from outside the organization?
  5. What kind of leadership training has the business provided to promoted mid-level managers?
  6. Do CEOs and upper managers micromanage and control or do they empower and develop leader-makers?
  7. Is guilt or intimidation used to “motivate” employees to perform?
  8. Are continuing education and conferences provided equitably to all employees?
  9. Are employees expected to work through breaks and lunch breaks on a regular basis?
  10. Are employees treated with respect when they need unplanned personal time off to take care of their children?
  11. What has been the turnover rate of employees over the previous 5 years?
  12. Would employees recommend their workplace to their friends?

A toxic workplace probably points to toxic leadership.

Here is #13- Are employees’ answers to the 12 questions stifled and censured? Troubling answers to two or three of the above questions is little cause for concern. However, if a pattern emerges from six or more of the questions, then the work culture is probably toxic. Be warned!


Is there a difference between the reputation you think your organization projects and the opinions of employees, sales, and customers? What are your answers to the 12 questions? What role does your Board of Directors play in the culture of your business? What steps would you take to improve the culture and tactility of your business?


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is

a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book CoachingLeadership


Becoming a growing disciple of the Lord requires that we respond to the “defining moments” placed before us on the path of life. The dictionary defines “defining moments” as: a point at which the essential nature or character of a person, group, etc., is revealed or identified. Though it is not a biblical phrase there are many “defining moments” in the Bible that reveal the character of those involved. We might say that the Bible is the ultimate Book of Defining Moments as it still determines the character that is revealed under pressure of modern-day disciples. This article discusses the nature of defining moments as related to disciples of Jesus Christ and how they might miss those defining moments based on personality types- DISC.


On January 15, 2009 Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III had a defining moment as he crash landed his stricken U.S. Airways plane onto the surface of the Hudson River with 155 passengers all of whom survived. Captain “Sully” said that he had been preparing all of his career for that one defining moment. Characteristic of defining moments, Captain Sully had no time to reflect and consider, “Is this a defining moment?” Will you be ready for your defining moment?


An online dialogue about defining moments with other leadership specialists revealed several issues. Perhaps some of those points of discussion will help us understand defining moments better and here are some questions:

  1. Is it possible to miss defining moments?
  2. If we can miss defining moments, is it possible to learn to recognize them at the crucial point of decision?
  3. Is it possible to anticipate defining moments?
  4. Is it possible to recapture a defining moment?

We may safely say that every person has missed a defining moment and probably more than several during their lifetime. We are not simply talking about small situations that may be “fixed” after our first reaction or poor decision but we are talking about those life-altering, life changing decisions that are rare. Like lightning strikes, they strike rarely and seldom in the same place, situation, or set of people. They are deal-makers and deal-breakers for people and organizations. They go with the saying, “You snooze, you lose.”

Missing defining moments may help us recognize defining moments as they present themselves. We do not choose defining moments, they choose us. Great leaders learn to recognize them instantly and take appropriate action. Your action or inaction will define you. They are like exams for which you receive the lectures and answers later. The problem is that some defining moments that reveal our character are costly. Those are the ones we regret and replay over and over wishing we could get the moment back.

Defining moments are often missed, as they come and go with no warning because they are often subtle. Defining moments are probably not like the CEO who calls your phone to offer a job, gets a busy signal, and then proceeds to call the next person on the list. They are moments when we may remember later that we should have done something differently.


When in high school I played on the football team. Small and thin, I was not well positioned as a lineman on offence and a linebacker on defense but that was where I was placed when I went out for the team. The next year during spring training the coach sprang something new on several of us. I found myself in a drill carrying the ball through tacklers. In the drill I was to move forward like a tailback and receive the ball from the quarterback when the ball was snapped. Then of course I was to run through the lines of the opposing tacklers. I did not give it my best effort. I was still trying to figure out what was going on. When I should have been concentrating on giving my all, I was asking myself, “Self, why am I doing this. Yea but I’m a linebacker or a guard or a tackle. What is the coach doing?” It did not take long for me to be defined as a linebacker or a guard or a tackle. It was not until later…years later, that I realized that was a defining moment that I missed. When playing football in the yard, my friends would compliment me on my balance and how difficult it was for them to tackle me. But I failed to make the connection that one day the coach tried me out for a different position. Another day like that never came and I often wonder what it might have been like to score a touchdown for the team. Notice that “yea buts” kill the opportunity presented in defining moments.

Some defining moments cost little but others are costly. So, how can you prepare? If you have a developed life-plan, passion, and purpose you have a better chance to see a defining moment when it arrives. Get a life-coach and work on your plan-passion-purpose as soon as you can.


We live in an exciting time of technology with cell phones that have texting, instant messaging, Skyping, email, music, movies, games, and voice calls at our disposal 24/7/365. The problem is that defining moments attract distractions. Further, the distractions will certainly cause you to miss a defining moment. Acting on defining moments requires you to live in the present which means that you must turn off all of the distractions. Practicing presence is a developed skill of living and being in the moment and making eye contact instead of dozing off. Nobody sleeping ever caught a defining moment wave…they always miss it!


Disciple’s DISC

Many people in leadership training are familiar with DISC personality type profiles. They are not predictors or definers of one’s actions but they are remarkably accurate in many applications. Each personality type may react to defining moments differently. When it comes to missing a defining moment, each personality type tends to be predisposed to miss it in unique ways:

Dominant (D) personalities have great potential to respond quickly to a defining moment in a positive manner. However, Ds have a habit of being busy controlling situations and events. Defining moments defy control and when controlled they often evaporate. People of this personality type need to slow down and be “in the room,” in the moment,” and sensitive to their intuition that will likely provide the first indication of a defining moment.

Inspiring (I)personality types enjoy being the focus of a group as the leader or in some other role. As the leader they have great positive energy that can inspire others as a defining moment presents an opportunity. However, Is are often so self-focused that they miss defining moments. If you are of this personality type, remember that you cannot be the center of attention if you are going to seize a defining moment. If you are trying to BE the defining moment you will miss it.

Steady (S) personalities are generally laid-back people. With training, experience, or a situation that matches their abilities Ss can be good leaders. Steady personality types have a unique ability to solve conflicts when a defining moment is presented and bring harmony and mitigate conflict. However, they often miss defining moments because of their relaxed approach. If you are of this personality type, be sure to truly live in the moment and be more aware on purpose. Remember, if you snooze, you lose a defining moment.

Competent (C) personalities are somewhat scripted or programmed and can be like a computer, Mr. Spock, or Data on Star Trek. Remember the football story earlier in this article? That was me and I am a strong C. On the positive side, Cs can be strong leaders where structure and strategy is needed. Once motivated Cs are persistent and will get the job done. However, because Cs are often “stuck” in their script, they often miss defining moments. Defining moments don’t ever fit the script and are usually outside the box. If you are of this personality type, learn to be aware, don’t hold on to your script as tight, and be ready and flexible to seize a defining moment.


The Bible is filled with defining moments and we can see what occurred when people acted in with character and leadership and we can see the consequences when they did not seize the opportunity. Here are a few examples:

  • Adam missed the defining moment in Genesis 3 to provide leadership to prevent Eve from taking of the forbidden fruit. Instead he did the opposite of leadership and watched as his soul-mate ate of the forbidden fruit to see if she would die. Defining moments have positive and negative consequences.
  • + Hezekiah was informed of his imminent death and he seized the defining moment by praying to the Lord who could change the outcome. Hezekiah was given fifteen more years.  (2 Kings 20:1)
  • +/- David presents a mixed report regarding defining moments. In regard to his actions toward King Saul, David rarely missed a defining moment that took him higher in his leadership and influence. On the other hand there is Bathsheba. This event appears to define David’s moral character at the core. That’s also what defining moments do.
  • + The Apostle Peter seemed excel at times at seeing and acting on defining moments. For instance, he was the only one of the disciples to get out of the boat to walk on water.

Explore the Bible and identify defining moments. Doing so will help you recognize and react properly to “seize the day!”


  1. Write several defining moments that changed your life because you saw it and acted on it properly.
  2. Write several defining moments that you probably missed and the consequences.
  3. How does your personality type affect your ability to recognize and act on defining moments?
  4. In the comments section, share some of your defining moment stories.

SD Blessings,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching


In the last twenty years a new profession of coaching burst upon the scene. From the local workout gym to the main street workplace; from the boardwalk to the boardroom, professional coaching has made inroads in many facets of life.

In 1999 Frederic M. Hudson said this in The Handbook of Coaching:

“Adult coaching is a new career area. Whether it will become a stand-alone profession has yet to be decided.”

Profile of a Coach

According to the International Coaching Federation, the average coach is between 46 to 55-years old, has coached for 5-10 years, and 53 percent of them have earned an advanced degree, either a masters or doctorate.

While professional and executive coaches tend to carve out a niche for themselves, most of them tout the benefits of coaching to individuals as well as to businesses.

Benefits of Coaching

An example of the benefits of coaching from Donna Karlin’s 2010 A Better Perspective:

Main benefits of coaching to recipient:

Generates improvements in individuals’ performance/targets/goals: 84%

Increased openness to personal learning and development: 60%

Helps identify solutions to specific work-related issue: 58%

Greater ownership and responsibility: 52%

Developing self-awareness: 42%

Improves specific skills or behavior: 38%

Greater clarity in roles and objectives: 37%

Corrects behavior/performance difficulties: 33%

Main benefits of coaching to the organization

Allows fuller use of individual’s talents/potential: 79%

Demonstrates commitment to individuals and their development: 69%

Higher organizational performance/productivity: 69%

Increased creativity/learning/knowledge: 63%

Intrinsically motivates people: 57%

Facilitates the adoption of a new culture/Management style: 39%

Improves relationships between people/departments: 35%

Bonus Edition

I would add four more benefits of coaching for the organization to Donna Karlin’s list:

  1. Reduces workplace conflict
  2. Improves employee retention
  3. Lowers costs and increases profits
  4. Increases the company’s professional standing

The Promise of Coaching

While the use of coaching is increasing among businesses in an effort to addressworkplace stress, many leaders remain in the dark, seemingly content with a bygone command and control structure that fails to motivate workers today.

The top three causes of workplace stress are healthcare costsworkplace safety, and absenteeism.

Increasingly, companies are providing life-coaching for employees in an effort to retain them and lower costs. (Business News Daily)


The promise of coaching is enormous but many business leadersmanagers, andbosses remain skeptical or unconvinced of the benefits of coaching in theirworkplace. Based on these benefits, what business leader would not employ professional and executive coaches?

Here are some possible reasons:

  • Leaders fear of loss of control
  • Leaders are educated and experienced in a command and control system
  • Leaders fear of personal accountability
  • Leaders are unaware of the discipline of coaching and its benefits

Before the profession of coaching can live up to its promises and benefits, many more business leaders, CEO’s, and managers must be educated. Some leaders view the coaching profession favorably after they personally benefit from being coached.


Here are two examples of employee outcomes:

Opting for Coaching

Joe has worked for a medical office for seven years. He is seen by leaders in the large private medical practice as a fair employee. He does good work when he is at work, but Joe has a lot of absences. Over time some of his fellow employees discovered the Joe was stressed by excessive debt of his own making. He had finally reached a point where he suffered from stress induced depression which began to show in the quality of his work. The leadership discussed what might be done and someone suggested hiring a life coach to help reframe Joe’s priorities and help him get back on track. Additionally it was suggested that the company help him get clinical help for his depression. While some managers balked at the suggestions saying that the company had never done this before, the CEO decided to take a chance on Joe. Turn the clock forward a year and Joe is now considered to be one of the best employees. His positive attitude is contagious, his productivity is markedly higher, and the company saved thousands of dollars despite the costs of hiring a coach for him and helping in his depression treatment. Now, that company has retained the services of a life-coach who has helped several other employees avoid termination, increase their productivity, and saved the company money.

Opting against Coaching

Cindy has worked for a small wellness and fitness company for five years, but recently the company manager and CEO discussed terminating her. She had performed her duties well for several years and seemed to be in line for a promotion to manage another store. Recently Cindy began arriving late and leaving early and the quality of her work decreased. Upon confronting her in the office, she revealed that she was going through a divorce, her baby had been sick, and she had experienced difficulty getting appropriate child care. While Cindy begged for another chance to get her life in order, she was terminated. Consequently, the company spent the equivalent of 150% of Cindy’s salary to terminate her and then hire and train her replacement. (The Real Cost of Retraining Employees)

Coaching is Compassionate

Do an internet search of “how to terminate an employee” and you will get over 15 million results.

Now do a search of “providing coaching instead of termination” or “coaching instead of termination” and you will get from 2 to 5 million results with only a few of them relating to the real subject of your search terms. Is this an indicator of the “lost promise of coaching?”

The sad fact is that unrealized potential is no potential at all, but developed potential realizes reward for all involved.

Coaching is not only cost effective but it is also a compassionate way to respond to the ups and downs experienced by everyone. It is an investment in the most important aspect of business—human capital.

  1. What are some additional benefits of coaching to the individual being coached? 
  2. What are some additional benefits of coaching to the company?
This article was originally written by Dr. Tom Cocklereece and posted on Linked2Leadership blogazine.

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is an author, pastor, coach, and leadership specialist
Email LinkedIn Twitter Web Blog Book


A friend of mine is a successful businessman and entrepreneur who also serves as a board member of a non-profit community organization. On the board, Rob (not his real name) often offers insightful comments and good advice that matches his good business sense. Yet when asked to serve as a board officer, Rob quotes the notorious General William Tecumseh Sherman when asked if he would seek presidential office,

“If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve.”

To Serve or Not To Serve

Many would-be leaders have the same attitude as Sherman.

  • It is extreme irony that Rob will not serve at a higher level as a leader since he is already leading in a number of roles.
  • Rob will not seek a higher level of leadership because he is fearful of failure.
  • He has not found the leader within…he has not discovered the quintessential leader that he could be.

Can you relate to Rob? I know I can. Even the best of leaders falter at times…me included. On a weekend vacation I was recently doing a detailed reading of John Maxwell’s leadership book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect in which he lists “Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator”: being unprepared, uncommitted, uninteresting, or uncomfortable.

Maxwell’s words hit me head on as I recounted my lack of leadership in one of my roles.

The greatest mistake of leadership is not a failure to succeed but a failure to lead.

In fact, the greatest failures of leadership are not a lack of experience, a lack of training, a lack of education, or lack of resources but usually a failure of one to engage.

Avoiding Leadership Failure

Four ways to avoid a failure to lead are:

  1. Engage as a leader.
  2. Engage at the right time.
  3. Engage with enough energy to see the project through.
  4. Engage other leaders around you to help and eventually take over the project.


The only way to lead is to lead! It sounds ridiculous, but it is true. Many people who are in THE prime place to lead never engage. Perhaps you understand the issues better than anyone else, you have the authority to lead, and people are looking at you and anticipating action, but you are waiting.

Perhaps you are waiting for someone else to step up to the plate. Maybe you are hoping the problem will just go away.

Other excuses may include:

  • I don’t have the experience.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t have the education.
  • I don’t think others respect me.
  • I don’t want to keep someone else from their opportunity to lead.
  • I’m not leadership material.

Based on the listed excuses, you will never be ready to lead. Moses used virtually every one of these excuses in Exodus 3 and 4 when talking with the Creator and God did not let him off the hook but kept handing the job to him. Moses had to engage. It was during the process and time of leadership that Moses became Moses instead of a nameless adopted son of a pharaoh in Egypt.

Only through the action of leading will the leader in you emerge.


In baseball, the difference between swinging the bat too early, too late, and on time can be either a foul ball or a home run. It’s that way with leadership too.

As a leader you must engage at the right time.

Crisis situations require instant leadership. Other situations may allow decision and strategy time, but a large part of successful leadership is timing. Great leaders have an intuitive understanding of timing which creates the highest possible involvement of others who are empowered to assist…also called buy-in.

By engaging at the right time, they increase the number of others working on the same problem. If you are waiting for the problem to resolve itself or go away…it will probably only get worse.


Introverted leaders (S & C on the DISC profile) are often tempted to disengage too early before the full success is achieved. The reason for this is that their reserve for directing energy toward others is less.

On the other hand, extroverted leaders (D & I on the DISC profile) have a tendency to either delegate the leadership role too early or declare victory prematurely. Great leaders see the big picture of the project so they pace their energy or know how to replenish it along the way in order to complete the task. I believe the greatest leaders lead out of energy overflow instead of reserves.

The overflow principle is a Psalm 23 concept by which one does not manufacture her own energy but is continuously using overflow from God’s inexhaustible energy resources. Overflow may be defined as finding one’s fulfillment, satisfaction, worth, and esteem in Christ which results in greater energy overflow.

Show me an exhausted leader and I will show you a leader who is leading out of his own exhaustible reserves that will eventually run dry.

The greatest leaders learn to tap in to the Psalm 23 overflow to the point of directing and investing energy overflow into others on purpose to add value to them. Read Psalm 23 again while considering the Overflow Principle:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil;My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Psalms 23:1-6 (NKJV) (emphasis mine)

Note verses 3 and 5 where the Lord “restores my soul” and “my cup runs over.” These illustrate the Overflow Principle of Leadership.


Engage other leaders around you to help and eventually take over the project. A great leader intuitively scans for people in the organization who possess the abilities and willingness to assist and eventually take over a project. “Willingness” is often the only quality that separates a new leader from everyone else.

Mentoring and coaching are often the only disciplines that separate average leaders from great leaders. Great leaders mentor and coach emerging leaders. In fact this may be a distinguishing difference between managers and leaders. The difference between leaders and managers is coaching & mentoring emerging leaders.

Leaders add value to new leaders while managers often feel threatened.

Engage Now!

Don’t miss your opportunity to be the leader you were meant to be. Find the leader within! Here is a quote from Kate Chopin’s book The Awakening:

“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”

It is time for you to cast aside that fictitious apparition of yourself as one who fears to lead and allow the leader within you to emerge. Do it now!


  1. What are your attitudes toward other leaders? If you distrust other leaders then you will not want to become a leader until you learn to trust.
  2. What excuses are keeping you from engaging as a leader? There are few legitimate “reasons.”
  3. How are you using the “Overflow Principle of Leadership” or not?
  4. List the leadership qualities you and others see in you that have potential.

(This article by Dr. Tom Cocklereece was originally published on Linked2Leadership May 17, 2011.)

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching Site


One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

One of the under celebrated characters of the famous Peanuts cartoon is Pigpen, and for good reason. Whenever you see him there is always a dust cloud around him. It is likely that you know someone with a pigpen gremlin and it can be difficult to work with them. People with the pigpen gremlin possess two primary problems:

  1. They can be productive but even then they stir up everything in the work place leaving the mess for others to clean up.
  2. The big challenge for pigpen gremlins is that as messy as they are with materials, they stir up more dust in relationships.

The good thing is that leaders with the pigpen gremlin are intensely focused on the goal and they assume others are as well. The problem is that they hurt feelings of others along the way. If you work with someone like that and have not received a “dusting”—just wait a while.

If you suspect you possess a pigpen gremlin, what might you do to improve not only your behavior but your reputation and relationships as well? Here are several steps:

  • Cultivate self awareness.
  • Practice relational road crossing. Remember when you were taught how to cross the road as a child? The instructions probably included three words—look, listen, and feel. Applied to relationships it means to figuratively stand back and look, listen, and feel during interaction with others.
  • Be quick to apologize and fix hurt feelings.
  • Since you have a tendency to unknowingly offend people, invest in relationships on a regular basis to minimize relational bankruptcy situations.
  • Discipline yourself to do some cleaning up. Put material things where they belong a little every day.
  • Don’t use Pigpen as an excuse for bad behavior.

An executive coach can be a valuable asset to help you minimize damage to relationships and is well worth the investment.

RENOVA regards,

Do you know someone with the pigpen gremlin? What will you do to improve the relationship and even help them? Did you discover that you possess the pigpen gremlin?” What is your action plan to keep Pigpen in check?

Read the Complete Series

Introduction to Gremlins

Name Your Gremlin: Blamer

Name Your Gremlin: Denial

Name Your Gremlin: Scaredy Gremlin

Name Your Gremlin: Jekyll and Hyde

Name Your Gremlin: Pigpen Gremlin


Dr. Tom Cocklereeceis CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC

Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist

Email| LinkedIn| Twitter| Web| Blog| Book

NAME YOUR GREMLIN: Jekyll and Hyde

One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

I am sure you have worked with or for a person with a Jekyll and Hyde gremlin. As long as you are dealing with Jekyll everything is okay, but that’s the problem. The occasional and unexpected appearance of …Hyde! It’s like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get. Quite a few years ago I worked for a small company as a production manager. The owner/boss was a good man to work for…most days, but then there were the times when he suddenly changed. His explosive behavior was usually over something relatively small but the damage he caused was enormous. A day or two after the event, he would often apologize. If he happened to fire someone while Hyde was in control, he might try to rehire them. This is the classic profile of a spouse or child abuser whose reaction to something fails to qualify as a proportional response and they are sorry afterwards.

The perspective of this article is less how to work with a person with this, or these gremlins, and more about helping yourself if you discover Jekyll and Hyde in yourself. Here are some quick tips:

  • You will know you have a Jekyll and Hyde gremlin when others tell you that you are your worst enemy, you are difficult to work with, or that people never know “who” to expect when they see you.
  • Hire an executive coach. There are three reasons you need a professional coach:
  1. You need a coach to increase your awareness of signals of which to be aware so you may control Hyde.
  2. When Hyde appears, you will hurt people and your relationship with them. You need a coach to advise you on how to fix relationships.
  3. Learn what triggers the emotional reaction that stimulates the appearance of Hyde. I can’t help but feel we are talking about the Incredible Hulk.
  • Practice presence. You will find that Hyde’s appearance is usually preceded by distractions, concerns, and a lack of focus. One way to minimize Hyde is to be in the room when others are talking. Presence means that you are not emailing or texting when you should be paying attention.
  • Keep a journal where you record when Hyde appeared. The problem is that Jekyll may have difficulty remembering what Hyde said or did.
  • Don’t use Hyde as an excuse for bad behavior.

An executive coach is a valuable asset to help you minimize damage to relationships and is well worth the investment.

Links to the Gremlin series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Blamer
  3. Denial
  4. Scaredy 
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. Pigpen

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece

NAME YOUR GREMLIN: Scaredy Gremlin

One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

Another devastating gremlin that prevents people from reaching their full potential is Scaredy. Have you ever met someone who has a reputation for quitting or they seldom finish a commitment. Most of the time, they never even get started because they contemplate the fear of failure so much that they fall into the habit of avoiding commitment. A sign of Scaredy Gremlin is persistent procrastination which is no more than claiming a value without acting on it. The individual has said yes but their actions say no. This dichotomy is reflected in the intense conflict the individual feels leading up to making the commitment. One might see this gremlin as the “Runaway Bride syndrome.” He feeds on fear and anxiety and the higher level of these makes him happy.

The remedy for Scaredy Gremlin is to make commitments…and keep them—doing the opposite of that which one’s emotions would lead in this case. As with people who do not suffer from the inability to commit, it is not a blind commitment to anything and everything. Instead, the individual should follow the following course:

  1. Admit that you struggle with commitment or the lack thereof.
  2. Partner with a trusted accountability partner who will walk with you through your journey to overcome this gremlin.
  3. Make some intentional small commitments one at a time. These might relate to things to which the individual has a strong feeling. Maybe it would be doing one-day volunteer work for a not for profit organization. Another possibility is to join a small hobby or study group knowing that an eventual speaking presentation may be expected. These experiences should be increasingly difficult and be of mutual benefit.
  4. Rely on the accountability partner whenScaredy Gremlin begins to present himself. Be prepared for the internal suggestions:
    • You don’t feel well.
    • You aren’t really helping anybody.
    • You’re never going to overcome this problem.
    • You can’t finish anything.

…and so on. The accountability partner should offer encouragement and dialogue to counter such expected internal conflict

Finish strong! Celebrate when you complete the commitment. Remember that there are some commitments that have no end, but should be celebrated on anniversaries and at major achievements.

Remember that the best weapon against the various gremlins is to name them and counter them usually with the opposite action to which they push.

GREMLINS- (Underlying Automatic Commitments)

More to follow in the series.

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece


One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

Denial is a common gremlin and usually works best in cooperation with other gremlins. You have probably heard someone jokingly say, “Denial is more than a river in Egypt.” Jokes given in that way often have a seed of truth, as they were probably pointing out your denial about an issue.

We humans have an amazing adeptness when it comes to denial. Some denial is rather harmless and comical. For instance, I know a man in his 70s and his hair gets bluer each time I see him. The explanation is that his hair is naturally white at his age so he tries to color it a distinguished gray. However, because he has severe corneal cataracts in both eyes, what looks gray to him turns out to be a smurfy blue. For years he has denied that his vision was deteriorating.

Denial is more often harmful illustrated in the following bullets:

  • The woman having an affair but thinks nobody else could possibly know.
  • A man has a family history of prostate cancer; has had chronic deep back or groin pain, but refuses to go to the doctor for a simple test.
  • The diabetic who eats three donuts and simply compensates with a little more insulin—on a regular basis.
  • The person sitting down to a double rack of ribs a month after having coronary heart surgery.
  • The woman who returns to her abusive husband only to get beat up again—for the third time.
  • The organization that refuses to change even though their community and target customer has.

The list could go on, and please feel free to add to it with your own comments.

Denial is a refusal to accept or comprehend the external reality because it is too threatening whether the reality is self-inflicted or external. It takes the forms of lying to oneself and others, ignoring, passivity, passive aggression, and even continued inappropriate behavior. (Doing the same thing over while expecting different results)

The remedy for the denial gremlin is 1) naming it, 2) brutal truth, and 3) radical accountability. The initial problem is the denial of denial, as getting the individual to the point of acceptance is indeed difficult. When there is a window of opportunity to help a person in denial—jump through it! By neutralizing the denial gremlin you will likely also eliminate some other paralyzing gremlin.

Links to the Gremlin series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Blamer
  3. Denial
  4. Scaredy 
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. Pigpen

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece

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