Working on a Dream




Monday, July 30, 2012

Passive Agreement.

The Art of Passive Agreement:
When you go to a meeting, smile & nod your head while a decision is being made that you don't agree with. Then you go back to your office and do as little as possible to support that idea.

-Welcome to the world of sabotage.
---Welcome to why nothing gets done in your organization.

Yesterday morning, I challenged the congregation to move past the destructive pattern of passive agreement.  I brought to light the fact that there are many in the church that have lost their passion and have become too comfortable. 

And do you want to know something?

I can tell you with certainty a group that is not passive. 

---THE WORLD. That's who.

The world is the polar opposite when it comes to reaching out.
Have you noticed how focused they are?
They have a strategy to reach:
Young Adults

WHY ?  Because they know that if they get you young, they got you for life.
Yet, we in the church, the people that have been fed so much, have become lax in our faith.

-Today I end with a challenge. 
Read the Great Commandments & the Great Commission.
When you do, you will be listening to the Heart-Beat of Jesus. 

You will find that it's not about a set of rules, rather they are values that reflect the very heart of God.
Values, that should grasp our hearts.
Values, that should define the way we live our lives.

The Art of Passive Agreement should never be practiced in a church.
It goes against the grain of everything our Lord taught & practiced.

Substantial Faith

Take a look at this picture.

-It really says a lot-

In my mind, it speaks to how people view faith.

Many people want to have a faith that is visible for everyone to see.
This person thinks that doing things = faith.
Things like: going to church and sitting in a pew somehow automatically deepens their walk with God.

-It does not-

Opposite of the person that desires a visible faith is the person that seeks the One [Jesus] that enables faith. 

-Are you seeking the afterproduct or the real thing?

There is a big difference between the person that seeks the benefits of faith
and the person that yearns for the author of it.

Look at the picture again...

Which Rabbit & Carrot best resembles you?

Now read the following:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Joe Paterno: What If???

Think for a moment of Joe Paterno's status among our nation if he would have spoken out and called Sandusky on the carpet when he had the original chance to do so.

Not only would he have been regarded as one of the all-time greatest coaches in any sport...he would've been elevated to an almost saintly status, revered as one of our nation's greatest leaders & his bronze statue just might have been taken down and replaced in pure 24 karat Gold.

Paterno would have literally stood among the ranks of Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, and any other person that chose to do the right thing in the face of adversity.
-It's a Legacy tarnished beyond belief.

What a Lesson for all of us:
It's not how you start but how you finish & always bear in mind that we have a higher moral standard to adhere to.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where'd my Life GO?

Chik Fil A: serving up a spicy debate!

I am sure that many of you have heard about Chick-fil-A's stance on the issue of Gay Marriage.  It has certainly dished up a spicy debate in the news and I thought it might be an interesting topic to write about on Working on a Dream

---Below is an excerpt from a recent interview with the fast food chains owner:

Asked about the company’s support of the traditional family, Cathy said in the Biblical Recorder story, “Well, guilty as charged.” ”We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

What do you think:
-Do you agree with Cathy's position?
-What are your thoughts on how he bases his decision?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For the Haters.

Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.

--Fancy title given to the modern day haters.

-I say shine anyway!

You are God's workmanship
Created by Him & for Him
To accomplish something great on this earth!
-Ephesians 2:10

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Leadership Framework, Part 2

Today is the second part of Dov Seidman's Leadership Framework offered in his book, How.   If you happened to miss part one, go back to the post before this one to catch up up on the first 7 principles.


8.  Wield Charismatic Authority:
Seidman is not calling for any wild tactics here (thank goodness), he is simply highlighting the fact that all authority comes in one of two forms:
a.  Formal (Police, teachers, parents, Etc.).
b.  Charismatic (Not related to a position, but influence).
One is given. One cannot be taken away.  One is connected to rules, the other to values.
Just because you are not in a designated leadership position does not mean you cannot lead. Knowledge is power, but applied knowledge is powerful!  Find your strength(s) & apply them whether you are the CEO or the Secretary. 

9.  Inspire:
People are motivated either intrinsically or extrinsically.  
-EXtrinsic motivation comes from the outside.  Things like money, cars, titles, Etc. are all forms of extrinsic motivation. 
-INtrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is a motivation that starts from within.  It is the hobby you start 1 pm on Saturday and end 1 am on Sunday and didn't even notice the time.  If you want to make waves, you must inspire others to find their intrinsic pulse.  Then, the old adage, "when you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life" will come true. 

10.  Be Principled:
Peter Drucker, leadership Guru, once stated, "Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable."    Being principled is better than just relying on a set of rules.  Following a process will leave you and your team energy-less.  A process is simply a set of rules that will lead you from one place to another.  It does not create energy, it just leaves you with whatever outcomes the process leads you to.  It is a lifeless journey, and it removes any personal responsibility from the person or group.

11.  Be Rigorous about the Truth of the Present:
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this mantra, "But we have always done it that way around here..."  Blah Blah Blah, throw-up
Looking to the future will take risk(s).  And please do not misunderstand that last sentence.  I know that some people are unnecessary risk takers and I am not an advocate of that type of strategy at all.  Nonetheless, leadership / vision requires a constant look to the future and this will no doubt include change. 
Jesus, the greatest leader this Earth has ever knew, compounds this principle in Luke 14. "When any of you wants to build a house, you sit down and first see how much it will cost. You want to see if you have enough money to finish it..if you do not have enough money, you will not be able to finish it after you have made the foundation.  Then all the people who see it will laugh at you."

12.  Be Reflective:
Take a long look into the mirror.
--Self-Reflection is vital as a leader.  I really liked the TV show Monk about an OCD Detective that always found the bad buy because he noticed unusual things along the way.  After he would catch the villain, people would often praise him because of his gift of noticing the little details and quirks that others would pass over.  Monk would always reply with, "It's a blessing AND a curse."  As a leader, you must be intentional about surrounding yourself with people that will tell you the truth about yourself. This is often very painful, however, it is totally necessary if you want to achieve greatness.

13.  Go to the Point of NO Return:
Leadership can (and often times) be a very lonely place.  Remember the first quality in the Leaership Framework?  It was Vision.  Well, enlisting others is not the easiest thing to do.   Many times you will be the only person believing in you.  So bear in mind the old quote, "Shoot for the Moon, if  you miss, at least you'll hit a Star."

14.  Be Passionate & Optimistic:
Passion is the difference between paying 50 cents for a cup of coffee and $2.10 at Starbucks.  You will need passion to fuel you through the dark days.  When people see  that you believe, they will too.  Colin Powell has been credited as saying, "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." 

15.  Pursue Significance:
My life's purpose is as follows:

I am determined to live out my God-given talents & gifts, that I have been entrusted with from above, so that I may bless others and return glory back to the Gift giver. 

You will find no higher calling than when your life's endeavours match your Creator's.  God created you and I to submit to Him and His purposes in this life.  Use everything you got to reflect His glory while you are here on Earth.  In my estimation, one can follow all 14 of Seidman's values and still come up short (Adolf Hitler did...). 
-Living for a higher cause is the single vital ingredient that will give your life real significance.  Bearing this in mind, when your life's purpose merges with the heartbeat of God, you will not be just surviving ... you will be thriving

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength & mind.
Love your Neighbor as  yourself.
Go into all the world, baptizing and teaching people to observe all my ways.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Leadership Framework

Dov Seidman gives one of the best succinct paradigms of leadership that I have ever been exposed to.  In his interesting book, How, he provides a leadership framework in which there are twelve steps.  Below, I will list one by one, and then give my commentary on each. 
But before I do, I want to kick things off with a quote from the book.  "Leadership is not a set of rules or edicts you must memorize or comply with...leadership thrives in core values and then gives you ways of approaching each decision or action to bring those values to bear on others." 

1.  Vision:
Before you inspire others, you must first be inspired.  Pathos is the fire that burns within your guts, and everybody can tell if you got it.  Your vision keeps you up at night and it grips you harder than a pitcher throwing a fastball.  The author of Proverbs knows a little about vision, "Without vision the people will perish."  A true leader is intrinsically motivated, this means that the vision/mission grasps them, not a position or job description. 

2.  Communicate & Enlist:
A great leader knows that he/she cannot accomplish their vision on a solo mission.  Let's face it, if you plan on accomplishing anything of significance in this life then you will need to rely on others.  As the wise author of Ecclesiastes once said, "Two are better than one, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken."  I always make it a point to identify the key stakeholders in every endeavor I take on because it is important that my vision becomes their vision.

3. Seize Authority & Take Responsibility:
-You must step forward.
-You got to raise your hand. 
Whatever the case, as a leader you must take a stand for what you believe in.  Having guts is not an option if you desire to lead.  Playing the ultra-spiritual card of, "It's not about me" will not work.  Paul calls every follower of Jesus "Co-Laborers" in I Corinthians 3:9.  As you find yourself on this side of eternity, you have to realize that you are the hands and feet of Jesus. 
Stop your puny excuses and man up...the world is waiting for someone just like you to lead.

4.  Plan & Implement:
Here is one for you, "Plan your work; Work your Plan." 
Find ways to get things done.  Look for obstacles, and find ways to remove them.  This IS an act of leadership.  Even when things are going smooth, continually look for ways to rethink and renew.  Your competition (and the world) never stops thinking about this, why should you?  Drawing again from Proverbs, "The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing."

5.  Build Succession & Continuity:
Simply put, you have to find principles that will outlast you.  A great leader looks to the future and finds ways to implement values that will continue on without them.  In the classic book, Built to Last, Jim Collins calls this concept, "Clock Building."  Meaning, leaders build clock's that will keep telling the time whether they are around to tell it or not.  Said another way, you have to ensure that the vision continues on without you.  Whether you move on to another job or pass on to eternity, your vision/mission must not be tied to you.  If it is, then as you go, so will your organization.

6.  In Spite of:
This is where things get rough.  Everything in life that is worthwhile will catch resistance. 
Every invention, every new idea, every time someone comes up with a new way of doing something
-- people spew out negativity.  Press on, do it in spite of the haters...
A mentor of mine told me years ago to, "Never count the one's."  Meaning, do not focus on the few poison people, instead lift your eyes on the positive people and stay connected to God's plan for your life.

7.  Confront Complexity & Ambiguity:
Connected to #6, you must anticipate and confront conflict.  Taking the Ostrich approach is never, ever the right thing to do.  Leaders stare in the face of conflict and opposing interest.  Again, Jim Collins has something to offer here as he teaches that the first rule of leadership is to, "confront reality."  As for ambiguity, you cannot communicate enough.  I look at it like this; for every message one presents, there is a gap.  A gap for people/person to interpret what is meant. If left unfilled, that gap will naturally be filled by whatever the other person/people perceives.  This is natural and a very human thing to do, this is why you should have a check list making sure you are hitting every avenue of communication available to you.  Close the Gap when it comes to communication. 

Like what you are reading thus far?
Then stop back for part 2!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Powerful Video: Johnny the Bagger

Think you can't make a difference?
Think you can't add significance to the mundane?
Think again..

-If this story touched you like it did me, pass it on by sharing it. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Growing Pains: 4 Lessons of Leading.

Many of you have come to me with questions inquiring about leadership practices.

-What should I read?
-What should I start incorporating into my life?
-What should I stop doing / saying in order to gain more influence?
-How do I navigate an ever changing world?

Honestly, the understanding and practice of leadership is a daunting endeavor, so for the sake of simplicity, I will give you 4 practical areas to focus on. 

If you aspire to lead, you need to (1) focus on Self-Awareness.
I call this "Mirror Gazing." This is the first step because in order to lead others you must lead yourself.  Leaders first have to "be" before they can "do."  This stage is painful, because this is where you will expose the blind spots in your life that hinder your potential.  Some suggested tools to help you grow in this area are: Eleventalents Website, Emotional Intelligence & The Johari Window.  There is simply no substitute for self-awareness, so start taking a long look at yourself get make sure you have some very thick skin.  

(2) Give your attention to Developing your Skills.
Developing your capabilities to lead is imperative.  This is all about practical experience.  Here is a simple way to think about this area:  This is information you will put down on your resume.  A list of tangible achievements that you actually performed.  Therefore, find ways to put what you are learning into practice.  Your potential for leading will increase as you grow your capability to lead.  Take the time to read thought provoking material(s), surround yourself with successful people, find ways to observe their practices and then get creative on implementing those principles.  There is nothing like real-life experience; so find ways to apply what you are learning about yourself & the leadership lessons you have been learning in an environment that encourages growth.

The next area you will give attention to is Resource Management.
Time management, money management, maintaining a healthy body, growing spiritually & mentally.  This is where many potential leaders fail.  If you do not get a firm grasp on these areas, you are sabotaging yourself.  It is like going to the GYM and only developing your biceps and triceps ...  Do not underestimate the importance of this area, it will make or break you.  Think about it this way, you may have all the experience and knowledge in the world, but if you are not self disciplined, it will reflect in your daily life and you will lose influence with those you wish to lead.

In number two, I wrote about the importance of developing your leadership capabilities; in the final area of your growth, you have to focus on growing your leadership capacity. The idea here is developing your mind. You start out leading with a single shot, but you will need to develop into a six shooter. Your personal growth will depend directly upon your attitude. The reason is because we all get to a place of complacency.  We plateau and get comfortable.  What separates the average person from the great IS the ability to push, the ability to confront yourself; the ability to feel the pain and persevere.

Above are four areas that no leader can afford to overlook.  They are all equally important and you cannot ignore one over the other.  Truthfully, the vast majority of people I come across only focus on 1 or 2 of them and over time, lose steam.  If you would like to know more about the above, feel free to write me, I'd be more than happy to expand on anything above. 

Remember, my goal is to help you to reach yours!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This is Why your Marriage IS failing

Ahhh the days of old.
When she would drive to your house after the graveyard shift; you would see her car pull up and you would bolt outside to greet her with a handful of flowers and a a pair of new shoes. 

-Those were the days!

The days of you making mixed tapes with every song somehow sharing exactly how you felt about the person. The days of her making your favorite dinner with candles lit just as you walk in the door. The days when one of your cars would break down and it did not matter because you would walk to see one another if you had to.

Did you ever stop and wonder what had happened since you and your spouse first started dating?

Now you two are more like a couple of Goodwill Mannequins sitting next to each other on the couch, both decked out in your fabulous grey tattered sweatpant suits.

Sound familiar? Of course it does.  Keep reading as I will help make sense of this relational mishap.

Every person has an Acquisition Strategy when dating.  At this point of your life, you do not have a mate and you want one, so you put on your very best hoping to win over the girl or guy of your dreams.  Men do things like: go to the gym, buy flowers, say nice things and take long walks with their potential mate.  Girls do things like: wear makeup, dress really cute, cook, and talk about how they are OK with everything their future husband wants to one day accomplish. [If you can't find the humor, it's your fault].

The Acquisition Stage is all about attracting your future spouse. As comedian Chris Rock once said, "When you are dating, you are acting like you are when you go for a job interview."  In others words, you dress your best, speak with grace, and put your best foot forward.  This is the best version of you that you are presenting to your potential other half.

Generally speaking, you and I have no problem with this part of the game.
After you get the girl, something kinda weird happens -you get sloppy. And you get lazy.  You won her over, now you are comfortable.  You tried really hard during the acquisition stage because you were trying your best to win over your potential spouse but now that you have him, its the grey sweat suit outfit every single day.    

Let us move on to the second stage, the stage where our marriages fail.
The Retention StageThis is the phase where you continue to grow your relationship.
Here you will be intentional about two things: 
1.  That the first phase of your relationship is NOT a phase.
2. That you will have to continually work to foster a blossoming relationship with your spouse.

AND guess what that means?  Work.
See, Hollywood gets it wrong every time as they continually showcase the ability to attain the person they are attracted to, but over time split because of that funny little word I mentioned above: Work.
The point is that all those homemade cards, love letters and cute pictures must be your relationship; not a part of it that was years ago. 

All the effort we placed in the Acquisition Stage must not cease at the Altar when you both say, "I DO."  Your marriage will be, should be, and can be your greatest accomplishment when you leave this earth.

My advice?

-Continue wooing your spouse- 
Just as a fire dies without fuel, so will your relationship -with the most important person in your life- without intentional love. 

"I am the Vine & you are the Branches...
Abide in Me & you will bear much fruit."
John 15: 5

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Edging out your Competition (a 4 step plan)

I love it when I read a book and the author lays out simple ways to accomplish something difficult.  In Scott McKain's informational book titled, "Collapse of Distinction" he lays out a systematic plan to get you a step above your competition. 

Before you go further, I believe that there is something pivotal to understand, a disclaimer of sort. Many wrongly assume that getting ahead in life is somehow bad or unbiblical.  To this I say, please get out of your Pharisaical Cocoon.  Every single day you and I try to bargain ourselves into or out of something.  We spend our lives trying to accomplish our dreams...this is in fact very Biblical

Perhaps the issue is with the title, "Edging out your Competition"   If so, then let me reframe it for you...

-Stop being such a boring person (or company)-

Is that better for you and your theology?

I'll step off my soapbox now.
Below are the 4 ways to bring differentiation and success to your life and business. 

1. Get Clear:
Like a fingerprint, each one of us is unique. Getting clear means figuring out what makes you different than all the rest of the billions of people roaming the Earth.  This can be sort of daunting because many of us have been raised to conform and fit in.  As the saying goes, "The nail sticking out gets drivin' in."  These days you have to find your uniqueness and then get crystal clear about it.  Living like a Cog is not something that will get you to stand out, so part 1 of this process is looking at what makes you different

2. Get Creative:
This is a stage where many of us get bogged down.  We have our meetings where we brainstorm the ways in which we are different, but then are too afraid to step out of the box to apply those differences.  Listen, you can be as clear as you want on paper, but unless those differences become reality, you are living on Fantasy Island.  A common misconception about being creative is that you have to do something drastic.  This is not the case. Remember, you are looking for ways that differentiate yourself (or your business) from the competition.  In McKain's book, he illustrates this nicely when he writes about a young boy with Downs Syndrome named Johnny that makes a HUGE impact on the grocery store he works for.
[Here is the link on YouTube if you want to know more about Johnny's story ]. 
Do not move on if you do not grasp the main point, you do not need to recreate your entire organization or become a different person to achieve distinction.  Just find, highlight and then get creative on how you connect those differences with your target audience. 

3. Generate Communication:
I am not talking about Bullet Points or boring adds, I am talking about communicating through the power of story.  It is no accident that the majority of the Bible is narrative and that the most powerful communicators use story to grip their audience. 
-Story's stick. 
---Find yours. ---Find your company's. 
Use step 2 to enhance your story by thinking outside the box, then create a number of different avenues to communicate it.   

4. Get Focused on the Customer Experience:
Feedback. You will need it. 
Find ways to close the loop between what your customers experienced and you will attain one of the single greatest factors in aiding your endeavors to attain success. One of the most demanding events that I put on every year is Vacation Bible School.  For five days volunteers come out to the church to give of their time.  This is after they put in a full day of work and this all happens in the sweltering heat.  Each year I try to improve our VBS by learning a bit from the previous year.  I accomplish this by making feedback forms for each of the significant players that helped with VBS.  I include specific questions, along with open spaces for them to write their own perspective on how we can improve next year.  Afterward, I gather all the forms, type up the feedback and then have a debriefing meeting. 
This process is absolutely essential to our success. 

-You were made to make a difference.
-You were made for significance.

Do you believe that about yourself?
If I was a betting person, I would put my money on the fact that at one time in your life you did. 
----Perhaps there is a little flame that still glows inside of you?
Let the fact that you are an Image Bearer,
Created by God and For God, blow fuel on that flame and watch it burn...

-You were created Unique-
Live your life that Way

Wednesday, July 4, 2012