Sometimes, we can recognize when it's time to make a change before anyone else does, especially when we realize that what once used to energized us no longer brings us energy. That realization happened to Shawn Lovejoy, founder and CEO of CourageToLead.com. Shifting from real estate to church, and then from church to coaching and consulting, Shawn has taken multiple leaps in his journey towards finding the path he is destined to be in. Providing comfort to those on the same course, Shawn describes how the guilt that we feel when our hearts shift is used by God to help us overcome the fear to be able to shift into our destiny. Learn more as Shawn shares the many wisdom he learned along the way.
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How To Make The Shift Into Your Destiny! with Shawn Lovejoy
I got back from California and attended a mastermind. My mind is blown. God is doing many incredible things in my spirit. While I was out there, one person I connected with that I am overjoyed that I was able to chat with on my time out there was my good friend and powerhouse leader, Shawn Lovejoy. We connected crazy enough on Instagram. You have no idea the other epic human beings on the other side of Instagram and LinkedIn. It is cool how God brings people together for such a time as this. I want to give you a little bit of background on this guy. He is the Founder and CEO of CourageToLead.com. They facilitate leadership growth and organizational health for leaders through executive coaching and organizational consulting for ministry and marketplace.
He's been an extremely successful real estate developer, a church planter, a megachurch pastor and he leads an extremely fast-growing coaching and consulting organization. Talk about rocking out the pivot and making it. He is the author of three different books and his last one came out in April 2019. The name of it is called Measuring Success: Your Path To Significance, Satisfaction & Leading Yourself to the Next Level. This guy has been married for 25 years. He has three amazing human beings that he has raised and he is from Birmingham, Alabama. I bring you, Shawn Lovejoy.
It's an honor to be with you. I’m cheering for you and I’m excited about our friendship and partnership.
I wanted to share your story with my audience because I often feel in life, we keep going down the same path. We don't sometimes think about why we're doing what we're doing or we want to take that leap but we don't know how to do it. We get paralysis in the leap. What you've done so effectively and you've done it successfully is you jumped from one thing to the next when that last thing wasn't serving you or you know that God is prompting you to something else. I would love for you to share your backstory, where you've come from, where you're going and how you got to where you were from to where you are now.
One of the reasons we relate to each other is we’re both spiritual entrepreneurs. We’re people of faith. There’s something driving us. There's a why behind our what and it's way bigger than making money. Money won't cure misery. There's a passion that drives what we do. I also think your identity is not attached to your role or title. It allows you to jump. Some people jump from thing to thing too rapidly. For example, I was a pastor for almost twenty years. I do have some staying power when it comes to a career path. Henry Cloud, a Christian psychologist, in his book, Necessary Endings said, “A healthy self-aware person recognizes it is time to make a change before anyone else does.” I’ve always had the knack to realize it's time to move before everyone else recognizes it is time. Everyone's an interim leader. You either leave when everyone wants you to leave or no one wants you to leave. Some of us stay too long because our identity gets wrapped up in our role or in our title. I talk about that in the book. Being secure in your own skin, who you're made to be and wired to be and recognizing you can change roles and titles and that's not who you are. It doesn't affect who you are and your identity.
That is a huge component of why people don't make the shift because they are like, “This is who I am. This is what I do.” The other piece of it is that people are scared of the unknown. They don't know what it looks like on the other side of that. What would you say for that entrepreneur that has had an extremely successful business for quite a few years, but they know in their gut there's that next season for them? There's that next piece in their career path, but they don't even know what that would look like. What would their first step be?
It's one of the reasons I believe in coaching so much. I’ve never had an original thought. Everything I know I’ve learned from someone. Think about that. That's true for everyone. I had coaches all the way through the process. When I made my transition from real estate into the ministry world, I had some good counsel around me. They helped me process all of that. Am I making a mistake? Is this God talking to me or is this something I ate? Is it heartburn? When I began to sense a transition from vocational ministry back into the marketplace, I had great coaches. I was sitting in Buckhead, Atlanta with one of my coaches. He made this statement to me that I pray haunts your audience. He said, “Shawn, change is hard because we tend to overestimate the value of what we have and we underestimate what we might gain by giving that up.”
People are going to think I’m crazy, but I made my decision right then and there to let go of another good thing I could have stayed at the rest of my life for the value of something potentially even greater. Too many leaders, too many boards, too many churches, too many organizations, too many leaders might make what I call fear-based decision. We're afraid of what we might give up. What we don't realize is we're giving up a lot by hanging on too tightly to what we have. I let go of a great thing for the potential of a greater thing. It's been greater. I thank God I didn't let fear paralyze me. I think faith and courage are not allowing our emotions to paralyze us. Do I feel fear? Do I feel afraid? Yes, I do. Do I get discouraged? Yes, but I don't allow my emotions to paralyze me. That's the essence of courage. The essence of faith is moving forward in the face of sometimes paralyzing fear if we're honest as entrepreneurs.
I want to know what was that first red flag for you or that time where you're like, “I am not feeling like I am where I need to be,” when you made the pivot from real estate over to the church and then from the church over to coaching and consulting?
God uses our emotions and our energy. Sometimes we begin to realize that what once energized us no longer brings us energy. What once energizes us begins to drain us and our emotions change. Our desires change over time. I began to sense that with me. God uses this and God shifts our desires and shapes our desires. David said in the Psalms, “God grants us the desires of our hearts sometimes.” Sometimes your heart desires shift and God uses that emotion. Sometimes we feel guilty when our heart shifts, but we're body, soul, mind, emotion and all of that. God speaks to us through all of that. I began to realize some of the things that energized me previously no longer energize me. They began to drain me. Burnout in our careers is often not because of physical exertion, it's emotional exertion because we find ourselves operating outside of our gift mix and our sweet spot. We're outside of our lane. When we operate outside of our lane for long enough, it will exhaust us.
It was a little while back when the question was at the front of the field into coaching and a mastermind. The gal at the front of the group asked, “Where are you leaking energy?” Where are those boundaries you need to put in place?” Maybe you need to make a huge shift if you're feeling exhausted all the time. You need to follow because you only have so much energy in your life. Where a lot of your energy comes from is when you're in your zone of genius, when you are where God wants you to be and you need to examine that.
In terms of our organizational consulting, we work with a lot of ministry leaders, megachurch pastors, CEOs, fast-growing organizations many times. I get concerned about those guys because they're hanging on to all these new responsibilities. They're piling up new responsibilities as the organization grows while holding onto some of the things they felt they were committed to doing from the beginning that got them to where they are. The old adage in the book is true. What got you to here won't get you to there. They’re beginning to do a lot of things they did to get started, but they're no longer providing the return on investment they once did. Frankly, they're draining but they feel this compunction about hanging onto it.
I’m working with a CEO of a $50 million a year company. They've grown from $15 million to $50 million a year. Up until 2019, he was still opening all of his mail. He would go on vacation, come back and there would be piles of mail. He felt still obligated like in the early days to keep his eye on all the money that was going in and out. He did that by personally opening the mail, a CEO of a $50 million a year organization. One of the things I helped him do was to stop looking at his mail. It was draining him. It was sucking the life out of him, but he still felt this compunction to do those he had done from the beginning. You've got to let go. You’ve got to give up to go up.
What would you recommend? How do you decipher what is serving you, what isn't serving you? I’ve always been told you need to automate. You need to delegate or eliminate. What's your rule of thumb for that?
I’m a big fan of what we call our fab five. There are probably five things that provide the greatest return on investment for your time. Personally and professionally, there's a fab five. They provide the greatest return on investment for your time. Time is a greater commodity than money because we recognize the commodity of money, but we waste inordinate amounts of time. “What are the five things I need to be doing that provide the greatest return on investment?” Coupled with that, “What do I need to stop doing?” Every leader ought to maintain. You talked about elimination, “What do I need to stop doing?” There are probably three to five things I need to stop doing to be more effective because I can't add five without taking away three to five.
The third question is, “Am I living life in rhythm? Am I able to do what I need to do professionally and live in a healthy rhythm?” I don't believe in balance. I’ve never met a balanced person. I don't think you're balanced, Stefanie. That's the bad news. I don't think it's possible. I don't think it's biblical. I don't think we're set to live that way. It’s that idea we've got to give equal energy and attention to everything at the same time. It's an unrealistic expectation we've placed on our self. I’m an advocate of living life in rhythm. It's this ebb and flow between intensity and rest. I say this in my book, Measuring Success. Success is fully where your feet are. If you're supposed to be working, have your emotional energy fully invested in your work and don't feel guilty because you're not at home.
Someone's paying us to do this job or we’re the CEO and we're responsible for seeing this company and ministry prosper. I can't waste time. I need to be working. When I’m at home, I need to be home. I need to be fully present. There was a time in my life when all that got out of sorts for me early on in my ministry career. My wife called me on the carpet for even allowing the ministry to turn me into a workaholic. I was always working. I was always on and I was always gone. I didn't know how to turn it off. I realized I’ve got to learn how to be intense, but then have a daily finish line. Have a weekly finish line. Go on vacation. Have a date night. Have a family night. Not feel guilty when I’m doing that, that I should be working. That's life in rhythm and we've got to be able to live that way in our lives and enjoy the journey.
I talk about this in my book with Momma P. She is all about enjoying the journey and she's always been intentional in life. She would love what you're talking about. That is extremely important. That also gives you the freedom that when you're working you are all into working. You don't have to feel guilty on the flip side of that on play mode. You work hard and play hard.
Some people need to work on the intensity aspect. You don't need to be talking to everyone at home when you're at work. You're working even if you work from home. I raised my children this way. If I’m working from home and the door to the study is closed, dad's working, don't bother me. My wife doesn't call me all the time when I’m working, but when I go home, one of the things my wife said to me in 2001 when she called me on the carpet for my workaholism, “You walk in the door at the end of the day and you're still on your cell phone. Myself and the kids run to the door to greet you and you're still working. All you do is shift locations.” I repented that. For the last twenty years, I made a commitment to my wife and my kids. I’ll never walk in the door at the end of the day still on my cell phone. I want to be fully present when I walk in the door. Sometimes I have to circle the neighborhood a couple of times or idle the car in the garage these days. When I’m home, I want to be present with my family.
Psychologists tell us that if both work outside the home or one works outside the home, it doesn't matter. The first seven minutes at the end of the day when those two family members come together dictates the culture, the environment and the tone for the rest of the evening. If I walk in the door urgent, frustrated, agitated, it sets a tone for our entire household that entire evening. I’ve got to be accountable for that. When I go home, I squeeze the steering wheel and say, “God, I’m going in.” I have no idea what I’m about to encounter, but I want to be fully present. I want to be fully engaged and they need me. I need to be home. I need to separate my role as CEO and coach. I need to be a man, father, husband, all of that. That allows us not to be so driven all the time. There's a danger in our driven-ness as entrepreneurs if we're honest.
Even for myself, I’m a Type A personality. I’m a get-it-done type of lady boss. I’m an alpha female. I definitely have that masculine energy. Trying to dial that back when you are hanging out with the family or you're hanging out with friends is one of my biggest takeaways of letting the store hours be the store hours and then let the off hours be the off hours. I feel you can sharpen the saw if you keep hitting on all cylinders all the time. You're not taking any time off. You're not even going to be good when you're working anymore.
It replenishes your emotional and creative energy. I don't think you're as good when you're on because you've always been on. You can't redline the gauges all the time. If you rest, you come back. I’m convinced you can get more done and a higher quality of work done in a shorter period of time having rested. There's a lot of scientific study around that.
I want to talk about when you felt prompted to go from ministry full-time as a megachurch pastor to the coaching and consulting. What did that look like? Were there some people that were like, “What are you doing, Shawn? Why do you think about this?” Were there people that were trying to hold you back? Were there people that were cheering you on? What did that shift look like?
Most people don't recognize they are interim leaders. We're all leaving our organization. We're going to leave when everyone wants us to leave or no one wants us to leave. We need to be ahead thinking about that. I began with the end in mind. I worked hard not to build the church around my personality. I try not to devote, to teach too much. A lot of leaders are overexposed. They have to be at every meeting. They have to make every decision. They have to be the personality on the stage all the time. They don't build a leadership team. They're what I call overexposed. I worked hard not to do that so that it didn't crush when I left. I’m proud of the fact the organization didn't implode when I left.
You start thinking about, “What am I going to do next? How was I able to make such a seemingly successful career leap?” I started doing years before part-time what I sensed I might want to do full-time in the future. I had a good feeling of, “I could do this.” I was doing it part-time for fifteen years before I jumped full-time. Some guys wait. I have guys call me and said, “I’m 70 years old. I want to retire this year. Should I be thinking about succession?” They can't let go. You need to be thinking about these years in advance, not weeks or months in advance, “What am I going to leave?”
When I started Courage To Lead, I had an executive coach that said, “Build this thing so you can sell it.” I thought, “I want to do this the rest of my life. This is my retirement plan.” He's like, “If you build it as if you're going to sell it, you won't build it completely around you.” It was brilliant advice. There are a lot of guys who've exited and become consultants, but they're a largely one-man show and the company dies with them as well. It forced me to build this thing on systems rather than a personality from the get-go. When I exit this business by death, disease, retirement or I decide to sell the company, it's more marketable. If I don't attach my identity to this and build it all around my personality, it's a healthier organization, but a more marketable business in the long run.
I’ve always been that girl diving in going all-in. That's one of the things I have. I had to take a step back and say, “I’ve got to let my leaders lead. I’ve got to let them step into their zone of genius because otherwise there's going to be no duplication.” Once I let go and let them be who they are and give them a game plan, give them a strategy, putting them in the forefront and taking a step back, that's when things scaled. That is an extremely exciting concept. The way you put it, that's why you're at where you're at, Shawn. That's why the transition has been easy. Were there some people at the church that were not happy with you or was it an easy transition?
People are either going to be angry that you're staying or angry that you're leaving, you get to choose. I’d rather than be angry that I’m leaving. That speaks to the legacy you've left behind, that people are broken when you're leaving. I said to my church, “This doesn't get easier several years from now. Several years from now, this thing's probably more built around me and my personality.” A lot of leaders stay too long. The longer you stay at the epicenter of everything, the more it tends to get built around you and your personality. I’m for shorter tenures and a little bit sooner exits. It makes for healthier organizations in the long run. There were some people who believed in me and some people who predicted my demise and didn't think I could do it. I’ve got a whole chapter in the book on dealing with your critics, your naysayers, the skeptics and how to respond to that.
I had people who predicted I couldn't do it. That word gets back to. You've probably had some of that. The world's a competitive world and your competition looks for an opportunity to say something negative about you. You know the people that are for you and some who don't believe on you. I like wearing that little bit of positive chip on my shoulder. That's bulletin board, locker room material they call it in the athletic world. That puts that positive chip on your shoulder that says, “I’ll show them.” I talk about overwhelming your critics through your consistency. The best way to overwhelm your critics is not with this. It's with your track record, your character, your commitment, your consistency and your stick-to-itiveness over time. You overwhelm your critics through your consistency. That's what I’ve tried to do with even my naysayers.
There have been many times in my career where I had someone that said to me, “Until you're making this much, don't talk to me.” It created so much grit and so much drive inside my soul. I’m like, “I will not stop working until I get that to call that guy up and say, ‘Let's sit down. Let’s chat details.’” He was blown away that I got to that point as quickly as I did because that was a driver for me. I feel some of my biggest drivers and ways of how I’ve helped other lady bosses and bosses I’ve coached through the years, they have made that why that drive inside their soul that is deep. It's like, “I’m going to show them who's boss. I’m not going to give up. I’m going to give it everything I got and go to the last second. It's not over until I win.”
Why would you say specifically? I know your heart is for a lot of these. You have a lot of male readers. I’m a male fan of your leadership, but you have a lot of lady readers because they're cheering for you and you’ve become a trophy of what they can become but they're scared to death. Especially in this formerly male-dominated world, there are a lot of ladies who struggle believing in themselves. I talk about that in the book too. We all struggle with that. Ultimately, believing in yourself if you're a person of faith does not believe in yourself as much as it believes in who God says you are, how he created you, wired you and gifted you. Our thumbprints and DNA whispers to our uniqueness. There's not another person on the planet like us.
God says, “If you could get done without me, he would have done it without me.” He decided to invite me into the arena called life and purpose. I’ve got to live that out. I don't need to be Stefanie Peters. I don't need to be anyone else. I need to be the best version of me. That's my God-given responsibility. I’ve got to go for it. I’ve got to maximize it because I have one life. I have one set of gifts. I have one purpose for this life only. I’m never going to get it back again. I’ve got to go. I’m compelled to go. Even though I doubt myself sometimes, even though I get discouraged, even though I would tend to believe and take to credit what people say about me, I can't listen to those voices. I’ve got to believe what God says about me and I’ve got to go.
That's our superpower, being who we are. God has gifted us with such unique gifts and talents. This is not a dress rehearsal. We’ve got to get after the destiny that God has created for us because I feel that unlocks the potential in many other people saying, “If Shawn did it, if Stefanie did it, why can't I do it? Why not me? Why not now?” If you're on the other side of this show and you're questioning if you have what it takes, let me say this is your sign. What Shawn said, there is no reason. You can make up all the different things in your head, all these excuses of why you don't have the skills. Why you aren’t well-connected. All these things, but one touch of the master's hand and all bets are off.
I would add to that. What aggravates me most as a coach is the victim mentality that I run across all the time, “You don't know. It's more difficult here. I’m from Minnesota. I’m from Birmingham, Alabama. I don't have a college education. I’m from here. You don't know our people. You don't know how difficult or you don't know my family background.” All of those are lame excuses. Maybe up to a point in time those were valid excuses. We're grownups now. It's time for us to choose who we want to be. We're not responsible for where we're not. We're not responsible for what we can't do and the gifts we don't have. We are 100% responsible for the gifts we do have and the resources and gifts we've been entrusted with. That's why it's game on. We're responsible for using this, the resources we have, to maximize them for our purpose.
What has been your darkest or rock bottom moment? What did you learn from it? How do you rebound?
The rock bottom moment in my career was that moment where my wife told me she didn't like me much in 2001. God used her to rescue me from my workaholism and we took back our lives, took back life and rhythm. What I’m most proud of now is that my wife likes me and she respects me. My kids love hanging out with me. They never felt like I was married to the church or married to my career. They were always first. There's no personal gratification or fulfillment that comes from that, having turned that around. It's those multiple moments along the way where things didn't happen as fast, as big as what you wanted them to. You get discouraged and you feel you should have made more progress than you've made. As an entrepreneur, those emotions will. Most leaders quit right before the harvest. Tricia, my wife, told me one time, “One of the most attractive things about you is you're too dumb to quit.”
I refused to quit because it's hard. I’ve had a bad day, I don't feel successful or the numbers don't add up, I’m not going to quit because of that. I’m only going to quit because I feel I’m not running in my lane or I’m not in the middle of my gift makes or whatever. There had been multiple moments of doubt. There still are, if we're honest. We still have moments of doubt when we question ourselves, “Can’t we do this? Am I up to the task? Can I get to the next level?” It's one of the reasons why I believe in coaching so much that we provide because it provides permission. You got this. You can do this. I went into many conversations with my coaches where I doubted myself. My tail was between my legs. They talked me off the ledge and helped me to get back my spiritual swagger. To get back in there, run again and go after it. We all need some people that believe in it. You shouldn't listen to most people. You should listen to people who love the vision and love you. You surround yourself with those people and you tackle hell with a water gun.
This has been amazing, Shawn, and I cannot wait to dive in your book. I can't wait to chat with you about all the things, what you do and promote who you are and your coaching and consulting business. I believe some of the biggest breakthroughs in your life come through coaching, come through masterminds, getting in a room with like-minded people that are where you want to be. They will help you with that path. Otherwise, you're totally shooting in the dark. You're like, “I hope this works, but I don't want to gamble my future of my career and my destiny on happenstance.” I want to have a strategic plan and also that mindset to help to back me up, to propel me forward. I’ve always had a coach. I am a coach. You are a coach. Every coach needs a coach. Every leader needs a leader. Every mentor needs a mentor. It's such a beautiful gift that you can give the world. I can't wait to read your book. I can't wait to learn more about your coaching, consulting and advocate for you because you're making such an impact in the marketplace. I appreciate you and your time, Shawn.
I’m cheering for you and it's been an honor to be with you.
Home stretch questions here. If someone met you and said, “I want to become the boss of my own life and call the shots. What's my first step?”
Get counsel. The Book of Proverbs says, “Success is found in many counselors.” I don't think we're perfect assessors of our own giftedness and our own talent. Let's be honest. Sometimes we think God's speaking to us and it's something we ate. It’s surrounding ourselves with some wise people who are further along from us, who know us, a mentor, a coach, spiritual big brother, big sister, father and mother. Say, “Here's what I’m thinking. I know you could see me from a different perspective. Here's what I’m thinking. What do you think?”
What is your definition of a boss?
Someone who's in command of their own lives, someone who's not subservient to what someone else thinks they ought to be or do and is willing to do things their way. I use the analogy of King David and King Saul. He was a shepherd before he was a king. Saul tried to get David to wear his armor and fight the battle as he had always fought it. David refused to wear someone else's armor. He was willing to do it his way. David was a boss and because he was a boss as a teenager and willing to fight battles his way, he knew how to fight them with a stinking slingshot. That made him a great king because he was not subservient to fighting the battles the way everyone else had done. You fight the battles your way.
Do you have any last words of wisdom?
Finish with your family. I retired from my career at 45. It’s what most people do when they're 75. The way it works in any career field, but especially in the church, you have to decrease so the next leader can increase. You have to disappear from the scene a lot of times for the next leader in flourishing. At the end of the day, if you finish with a team, you finish with your family. My big goal for leaders is ultimately for us to finish the race with successful relationships with those closest to us. It's going to be our family and a few tightknit close friends. I fantasize about my funeral and it helps me begin with the end in mind of the legacy I want to leave in the end. If I squash everybody on the way to the top, is that success? If I burn the midnight oil and I neglect all the people that are close to me on my way to the top, is that success? Is it being loved and respected by those closest to you? That's what I want for every leader.
There are going to be many of my readers that are going to want to connect with you. Tell them all your handles of how they can reach out. Shawn, share with them where they can go.
CourageToLead.com, all of our free coaching resources and materials are there. There are lots of free content. We'd love to talk with them about one-on-one coaching for their own leadership and/or their teams and their ministry or the marketplace. We'd love to talk to them. The information's all there. I’m @ShawnLovejoy on Twitter, @ShawnLovejoy1 on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Shawn, thank you so much for your time and energy in investing in these powerhouse bosses, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Take that one thing from this podcast that you learned and ask yourself, “How can I apply this to my life now?” I believe in you and here is to firing your fear, building your faith and becoming the boss of your own life. You've got what it takes. Let's get after it.
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About Shawn Lovejoy
Shawn Lovejoy is Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com. They facilitate Leadership Growth and Organizational Health for Leaders through Executive Coaching and Organizational Consulting for Ministry and Marketplace Leaders. Shawn has been a successful real estate developer, a church planter, megachurch pastor, and now leads a fast-growing coaching and consulting organization. Shawn is the author of three books. His latest book Measuring Success: Your Path To Significance, Satisfaction, & Leading Yourself To The Next Level releases nationally in April 2019! Shawn has been married for 25 years to his best friend Tricia and they have three children: Hannah, Madison, & Paul. They all live in Birmingham, AL.
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