How Character Can Be Built?

CharacterA few months ago I had a conversation with a man who stated, “Character can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.” As I dug deeper with a few questions, I found that his belief was based on the idea that you learn character as a child and it is set by adulthood. There was some truth in his perspective. The way we were taught and role models we followed as a child has a strong influence on our adult value system. However, this perspective does not take into consideration each person’s ability to grow in understanding and alter our values throughout adulthood.

On the surface it seems character is something that can’t be taught. This is often a result of an emotional response when someone has acted in a way that is hurtful or immoral in some way. We think to ourselves, that this person certainly couldn’t have an ounce of good character, if they act this way.

As the worlds #1 character-based leadership development company my colleagues and I work with company leaders, non-profit organizations, schools, sports teams, and universities in more than 20 countries to support their efforts in building cultures, teams, leaders, employees, and … Read More >

Now Blogging at

Strata LogoAfter more than two years blogging on motivation and leadership on this website, it’s time for a change. Don’t worry, it’s a good change!

From this point forward I’ll be blogging at

As a member of the Strata Leadership team I will continue to offer speaking, training, consulting, and coaching services.  And YES, I will continue to write about motivation and leadership.

Strata Leadership is a young, fast growing leadership development training and consulting company focused on helping business leaders and their companies create cultures of character and competence that creates consistency and results. I’m proud to be working with a great team that believes deeply in the value of strengthening character to build world-class organizations.

If I can be of help to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me here.


If you are looking for a free resource you heard me talk about in a recent training program, speech, or in my book 28 Days to a Motivated Team. Please see the list of free resources on the right side of this page.



Leadership vs. Management

ID-100187419Leadership is not management.

Many use the the words manager and leader synonymously, but a leader is not necessarily a manager and a manager is not always a leader.

So what’s the difference?

Warren Bennis makes several differentiations in his book “On Becoming a Leader.”

– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

– The manager maintains; the leader develops.

– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

– The manager imitates; the leader originates.

– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

It’s clear that management is a role that is defined around a set of tasks and outcomes that must be managed. Likely … Read More >

Announcing – The Rising Leader Podcast

The Rising Leader Podcast ImageIf you use podcasts as a way to grow and develop yourself as a professional, a person, or a leader you are among a growing group of people who have found a goldmine of practical and convenient information.

Podcasts have been a part of my daily commute for more than two years and has provided me a great way to turn the grind of my commute into an investment in professional growth.

More and more people are finding podcasts to be extremely helpful while fitting into a very busy schedule. Unlike reading a book or watching a video, you can listen to a podcast while driving, exercising, or doing chores around the house. Apps like iTunes, Stitcher, and others have made the process of getting new episodes downloaded to your smartphone easy and automatic.  Oh, and it’s free!

I’ve often thought about starting a podcast to provide helpful information and proven ideas for leadership and performance. After more than a year of consideration, I’ve finally taken the plunge with a podcast called The Rising Leader.

The Rising Leader Podcast is now available to anyone who has internet access. You can listen to the episodes on your smart phone or … Read More >

How You Can Increase Your Motivation Quality

ID-10038561Camping is not my favorite activity. I’m just not a big fan of cold mornings, ants, wild animals and hard sleeping surfaces.

But, there is one thing my boys love, and that’s camping.

A couple of times a year I get the opportunity to go camping with my sons’ scout group. A couple of years ago when we first started attending these two-day adventures, I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled.

My attitude wasn’t right and I knew it. I was poorly motivated to go, yet my boys were pumped.

I went. I always did. But my motivation was one of compliance rather than of free will.

I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation where you lacked motivation for an activity and wished you had a better attitude.

When we analyze motivation, you can see that we have different levels of motivation quality based on the activity. Some motivation can come from fear of losing something. Other behaviors are motivated by compliance. The best quality motivation, however, is from a sense of value and meaningfulness.

The good news is that we can increase our motivation quality. We can raise our level with a bit of work.

Nobody likes to … Read More >

Be a Gainer, Not a Loser

Gain Photo

Many people are thinking about losing weight this time of year. It’s by far the most popular new year’s resolutions.

My good friend Tim Nations recently blogged about his mindset shift related to his goal of losing weight every year.  His new plan, in 2014, is to focus on gaining, rather than losing. No, not gaining weight, gaining health. You can read his post here.

I love this mindset!

We often think about what we want to lose (especially when it comes to body weight) and forget about focusing on what we want to gain. This is the case, not just for our weight, but in all aspects of our lives including our leadership and career.

We tend to focus on our weaknesses or flaws and how we can improve them. We forget about our strengths and our potential to take these strengths to the next level. The research of Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman, in their book The Extraordinary Leader, shows that growing a strength is more effective in growing our leadership than building a weakness.

This is contrary to traditional thinking, but is a liberating perspective. Their is greater power in gaining strength rather than losing … Read More >

Motivate Employees Like Prisoners

PrisonerMotivating employees can be tough. Especially employees who are not in a job role they want.

You think that is hard? Now, imagine if your job is to motivate prisoners to be law-abiding and  productive members of the community.

In the U.S. the prison population is four times higher than it was 30 years ago. It’s a sad statistic. This story is worsened by the statistics that show that  50% of incarcerated people will return to prison after being released.

In almost every state, the prison system fails to rehabilitate people at a rate we would expect.

Without a doubt, the incarcerated population is the most difficult group of people to motivate. There are many issues to contend with that seem insurmountable when you think about the difficult upbringing of many prisoners and the gang affiliation many have.

Psychologists have tried many ways to effectively rehabilitate prisoners with some success utilizing counseling, education and life skills training. But, it’s been a hit and miss strategy.

One program, however, has been the most successful. So successful, in fact, that people are amazed at the how well it is working to help prisoners of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

The program is … Read More >

Top 5 Books on Motivation

ID-100172572I am often asked about what books I’d recommend to leaders on the topic of motivation. Since we’re closing in on the holidays and many may be thinking about giving a book as a gift, now seems like a good time to provide my recommendations.

I believe each of the authors mentioned below have produced solid, science-based, yet practical books anyone can trust and use.

Myths of Intrinsic Motivation by Steven Reiss and Michael Formica. A great book that will make you think differently about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. This book also shed’s light on the research Daniel Pink doesn’t mention in his book “Drive”. It is the research that does not support the philosophy that reward undermines intrinsic motivation.

Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition) by Robert Cialdini. This is THE book on persuasion. You’ll learn the science and the art of motivating people through your words and behaviors. This is a must read for any leader.

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer, Sharon Williams. An excellent book detailing how people can gain greater enjoyment and motivation at work by focusing on daily progress towards an … Read More >

The 5 Most Common Presentation Mistakes

PresentationLet’s be honest. We all hate sitting through boring presentations and speeches. You know, the ones where the speaker doesn’t seem to know his or her topic well and chooses to read the PowerPoint slides. Or worse, they read their presentation to you from a piece of paper. This is one of the 5 most common presentation mistakes people make that hinder the audience from hearing, learning, and acting on the information given.

In my professional role I observe and coach many presenters, speakers, and trainers. I’ve coached students, new managers, corporate leaders, and even a few college professor. I’ve found that nobody is immune to making presentation mistakes that hinder their message, but there are 5 common mistakes I see over and over again. These common mistakes are a mark of an inexperienced presenter.

The good news is that the mistakes are easy to avoid when you know how they affect your presentation. Avoiding these mistakes can upgrade your presentation and speaking ability. It will also help you become more motivational and perceived by others as a more professional presenter.

Here are the 5 Most Common Presentation Mistakes

1. Reading the presentation. There may be nothing worse that a … Read More >

5 Motivation Killers Leaders Must Avoid

Demotived EmployeesWhen the opportunity presents itself, I like to ask people what motivates them and what hinders their motivation. I’ve asked this question to a wide variety of people from teenagers to business owners and CEOs. Young and old. Rich and poor. And people from all around the world.

I’ve even asked this question to a Super Bowl winning head football coach a few months ago.

The answers I’ve received for what motivates is very broad. Most of the answers were intrinsic in nature, but they were varied. In contrast, the answers I’ve received related to the question of what hinders motivation have been surprisingly consistent.

Here are the top 5 motivation killers and a statement that represents the sentiments I hear.

  1. Leadership Lacks Integrity -  “My leader(s) doesn’t walk their talk.”
  2. Lack of Trust – “I don’t know my leader(s) well enough to trust them.”
  3. Overwhelm – “I feel overworked or overstressed”
  4. Poor Communication – “I don’t understand our direction and how I contribute.”
  5. Feeling Devalued – “I’m not respected for what I do or who I am.”

Each of these “Motivation Killers” can serve as a bright red warning light for leaders. Posing each as a question can be … Read More >

How to Write Motivational Emails

Emails that Motivate - DrJasonJones.comWe tend to think of motivational communication as something we do verbally, but motivation can be fostered through written means as well. When you think about all of the emails we write, most of us have many more opportunities to motivate people with our written words than our spoken words. With practice, anyone can write motivational emails.

Have you ever struggled with writing an email because you wanted it to motivate or move the receiver to take a specific action? Perhaps you were communicating a change, a new process, an important piece of information to be remembered, or an action you wanted people to take.

I want to share with you my process for creating motivational email communications. In fact, I just did this a couple of weeks ago with my blog subscribers. Here’s what happened.

I am currently collecting data for a new research project. I wanted as many of my blog followers to participate in the survey. If you’ve done any type of online surveying before, you know how difficult it is to get people to spend their time taking a survey. I dread surveys even though my conscience reminds me that I need to do it for … Read More >

3 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated

Motivating the UnmotivatedLet’s face it, there are people who just don’t seem to care about giving their best at work. This is one of the biggest frustrations of managers. It’s easy for us to believe these people lack a work ethic or have a significant character flaw. This kind of thinking often leads to a negative relationship between employee and manager and leads to long-term employee disengagement.

Managers can reverse this cycle and help employees improve their level of motivation with intentional action. This is the ultimate challenge for managers, but those who can successfully help each employee connect work goals with value goals can establish an engaged and highly motivated team.

Here are 3 ways to make this happen.

1. Coach the Connection – Get serious about your role as a coach to help the person make the connection between work goals and their desires. You can find some great ideas on coaching here. Good coaches balance driving results with caring for people. Lead with questions and work with each employee to help them establish work goals. They should be able to see the connection between their goals, your goals, and the organization’s goals.

The person’s work goals are not … Read More >

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