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October-November 2023

Forging Ahead


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The column "Leadership Whiteboard" provides a short visual leadership coaching moment. It introduces and explains a new sketch in each issue, provides leadership coaching for further development, and shares a leadership quote and recommended book.



Mail It In? No!


A dear pastor friend and I were talking recently, and he shared his admiration for leaders who could “mail it in” but don’t. What does this idiom mean? The origin dates to a time when people mailed something when they didn’t care enough to deliver it in person. The idiom evolved as people started “phoning it in.”

To mail it in evolved to mean a lackluster performance with little passion or effort—doing just enough to get by. A modern comparison would be texting someone rather than having a hard conversation in person. People notice when you mail it in or phone it in.



Few people succeed by starting a career with a perfunctory approach to performance. At first, they give it their best effort. Yet, as my pastor friend noted, we have all seen successful people reach a stage in their lives or careers where they start to coast and hope no one will notice. Please do not confuse this with a season of rest or recovery. When I say someone has mailed it in, I am referring to patterns of performance (or lack thereof).

How can you recognize this in your own behavior? After all, healthy self-awareness is a sign of a great leader. Let me pose some open-ended and general questions to help you self-diagnose.

  • Are you justifying how much you deserve to slow down while earning the same paycheck for doing less?

  • Do you find yourself shrugging off the need for diligent preparation?

  • Do you ignore routine administrative or detailed duties?

  • Inversely, do you regularly avoid conversations among your team, community, or direct-reports?

  • Do you detest change and always see it as something to be avoided?

You can stop yourself from becoming someone who mails it in. Read regularly: God’s Word, articles, books, and heftier works that challenge your thinking. Spend less time wanting to be heard and more time listening. Look for areas where personal and spiritual growth are needed; none of us have arrived. Reduce procrastination by blocking out time well before a deadline. Work on adaptability. Schedule rest and reflection time for self-evaluation. Ask others for feedback (and not just the ones who will tell you what you want to hear). Find a mentor to stretch you and ask hard questions.

Let’s never be accused of “mailing it in” or “phoning it in.” We must avoid even the appearance of laziness. The Apostle Paul easily could have rested on his laurels, but he planted more churches, wrote half the New Testament, and never stopped working until the moment he sacrificed his life for the gospel. His life modeled “pressing toward the mark.”

About the Columnist: Ron Hunter Jr. has a Ph.D. in leadership and is CEO of Randall House Publications. You may contact him at



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