So You Want To Change The World?

I believe most of us are wired with a goal of doing something really big with our lives. Write a book. Get our name on a building. Develop something new. Make a mark on the world.  Do something really big.

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Big goals are great. They stretch us. They make us see over the horizon. As I have grown older and gained more wisdom, I have learned that big is relative. Kathy and I have traveled the world on mission trips trying to help organizations make the big impact. And what we have found is that change is really about the one person that you encounter. One moment. A single soul. A single life at a time.

 

This has been our recent revelation. We don’t tend to look big anymore. The truth is you cannot place a price on a soul. A life. A legacy. It’s priceless. The value is infinite. A single soul can shake eternity.

The photo above is a group of life changers. No miracle drugs, new innovations or amazing technology solutions. No senators or mayors or CEOs. This is a group of teachers who had a profound impact on my life. I won’t pick them out or use names, but there are three of my elementary/middle school teachers in this picture.

First, my science teacher. He was well liked by me and my friends and he laid the groundwork for my leadership style. You do not need to be a tyrant to lead people. You can lead with your heart. Its ok to let your feelings show. You can truly care and its a good thing! While learning from this teacher, we were able to develop a friendship that was a positive influence on my life. This teacher even took me and two of my friends on a weekend ski trip. This was on his time. Not a school thing. Just a weekend of fun. Impact? Yes- a life changer!

Second, my geography teacher. She would give us maps to color and require that we memorize the capitals of obscure countries. At the time I thought it was a giant waste of time. But later I learned that this memorization exercise was a precurser to what was required in college and beyond. She also showed me a picture of a great big world beyond my corner of the world. She introduced me to different cultures and political structures. I have become a lifelong student of geography and this was only possible from the effort of this lady. She changed my vision of the world. Opened up my eyes and expanded my horizon.  Big impact!

Third, my english teacher. She would spend countless hours diagramming sentences, correcting poor grammar and building my writing foundation, that has been a strength for me throughout my life. (ahem- please don’t grade this!) She taught me about rules and precision. She taught me that being perfect was really hard. A small mistake counts. And if you can communicate effectively, your life will be better. I am a direct product of her work. I have often been tasked by my employers to write because it comes easy to me and I understand the power of one word. I learned this from my english teacher. She put me on a road toward excellence in communication. And for this, I am eternally grateful.

These three teachers changed my life. They had a direct impact on my skills, abilities and my attitude about learning. They were instrumental in my personal value and pursuit of life-long learning.

So you want to change the world? I say do it one person at a time. No giant programs. Just one-on-one. Soul to soul.

Change the world?  Be a teacher and be a life changer!

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I No Like

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I have a friend who says this. He doesn’t have have the greatest command of our language but I completely get what he is trying to say. I no like.

The saying goes surround yourself with the best and the brightest. There is a reason for this. If you want to have a great organization, you have to surrender things. Give it up. You have to admit that you are not the greatest at everything.

If you have done well you are obviously talented. You are probably exceptionally good at some things. But you are not good at everything. You have to leave room for others. Admit the fact that you can’t be best at everything.

Surround yourself with the best and brightest.

The rub comes here. You may not even like them. They are likely different than you. They may even intimidate you. They may make you uncomfortable.

It’s OK. You don’t have to like them.

Leaders will often surround themselves with people that they like. People that are like them. It’s natural.  People that make then feel good. What is the result?

One-sided decision. One-sided management. One-sided solutions. And a leader that is sitting there scratching their head. What went wrong? Why are we struggling?

The fact is that diversity is power. You can’t win without it. You need people that are not like you. You need to challenge yourself to understand them. We are wildly different- and it’s for a very good reason.

If you want to feel good, then surround yourself with people like you. People that agree with you. People that are wired like you. People that make you comfortable. People that you naturally understand. But realize this.

It’s really all about you– right? What makes you feel good. What make sense to you. What you are comfortable with.

Don’t do it! Stretch yourself. Listen and learn. Uncomfortable is the way you learn. We should never stop learning. Never stop. Never.

So what do you think?  Do you agree with me?  Or am I full of it!  Let me know what you think!

Six Ways The Church is Missing the Boat

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I hate when I miss an opportunity to do something great. Something that will result in real change. Many times these opportunities will just present themselves and then be gone in an instant. I feel like the Christian church is at a time when She can be a real force for good. The Church has a huge amount of resources and some of the greatest people that the world has ever known. Yet the impact is watered down. I think we are missing the boat. There are many reasons but here are a few:

Division Between Denominations: The continued lack of a cohesive force between all denominations has neutered the impact of the Church worldwide. Do you really think that when you reach heaven that the Father will tell you “well done faithful servant” because your theology/doctrine/way of doing church was correct? We spend way too much time and effort trying to be “right” and miss the boat on what the focus should be. Serving others. Feeding the poor. Helping others. Sharing your faith. Mentoring the next generation. Being a united force for good. Right? Do churches cross over? Rarely. It’s like the Tower of Babel. Churches want to talk- but have a very difficult time listening.

Super Christians: Every church has them. The super spiritual. The ones that have memorized the Bible or can sling the bible darts on command. They do two hours of quiet time each day. Searching out the next great awakening or the latest prophet. This dedication sounds good, but the result is that these distinctions lead to cliques and division in the local church. Are they really better?  The rest of the congregation just doesn’t “get it”. They are lesser Christians. They are just not dedicated enough. They can’t be a leader or have real influence. They are not as close to the Father as the rest of the extra spiritual group. Doesn’t this sound like a Pharisee? Does to me.

Inwardly Focused Churches: Many churches are great at the Sunday morning experience. They have great worship teams, children’s ministry, coffee bar, etc. I get it. The Sunday morning thing takes a lot of resources and the average Christian family expects a pretty high level of service. But aren’t we called to reach others? Aren’t we called to get out of the church? Why do we spend so much of our resources on the Sunday morning experience? We are missing a great opportunity for good instead we are spending huge resources on facilities, staff, utilities, etc. just to do Sunday morning.

Inwardly Focused Christians: Many Christians are very dedicated to intimacy with the Father but they do not get out and serve. If Jesus on earth is the perfect model, Jesus did spend time in prayer and time with the Father, but he spent much more time ministering to the poor and needy. Experiencing God is part of the journey, but the highs can be like a drug. You want more and more and this want is completely focussed on yourself and not on others. We are called to disciple and serve others. You are here, not heaven. You need to get out and serve!

Fractured Community: The most powerful force in joining people together is serving together. When you minister together to help others, you form a strong and powerful bond. The act of serving provides a great opportunity to share your experiences, gifts and passions. This is a very natural way of sharing your story with others. Serving as a church can bring bonding across age groups, genders, cultures and economic differences. Without a way of providing a cohesive bond that crosses these barriers, the church will look like a bunch of distinct groups. New folks will struggle meeting others. The young will not learn from the old. Discipleship will not occur. A sick church.

The 80/20 Rule: Last but not least, the Church is not mobilizing the congregation. The old adage says 20% of the people do 80% of the work in the church. Can you imagine the power of 100% participation? It’s time to mobilize everyone is the church. This means finding the passions and gifts of every member and getting them marching forward in the work of the Kingdom. Everyone is equipped for a special purpose to advance the Kingdom. This might not be your vision.  We need to encourage others to walk into that purpose. Instead we are trying to coax them into whatever the vision is of the church as outlined by the leadership. What about their special calling? Aren’t they uniquely designed for a special purpose from the Father? If you don’t recognize this then where are they? Following your vision????

We have a long way to go. We have been entrusted with the most powerful force on the planet. When will we step into the role we were made for? When can we stop the power games? If we truly believe that He will take care of us, then the rest is our pride our insecurity? Right?  Can we own up to that? What will you do? You tell me! Please! Please!  Please! I want to know what you think!

Photo Friday: Overwelmed

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Here is a picture of a gentleman who is convinced that one trip is much better than four! Do you feel a little like this guy? Carrying the weight of the world on your back?

Trying to be supermom, superdad, superfriend, superemployee…

The fact is: This never really works! There are consequences. You will suffer from problems like health issues. You will sacrifice other things like time with your loved ones. And many other things that are very important.

So why do we do it? Why do we take on so much stuff ourselves? Why can’t we give it up?

Generally its plain and simple pride and control. We can’t let someone else take care of things. Can’t give it up. Your convinced that you are the only one that can do it right. Can’t take our hands off the wheel and let go. You feel like disaster will happen if you don’t steer things in the right direction.

The fact is: It’s your problem.  Don’t blame it on everyone else. You are the only one that can fix this.

Say no sometime.  Off-load some stuff.  Learn to delegate.  Let others take over.  Let things run by themselves. It will be ok. The world will keep spinning. Your life will be better. You’ll see!

The Power Of Your Story

 

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Yesterday, we visited a women drug and alcohol rehab center in Alajualita to minister to the women at the center. Kathy had been there many times, but this was my first visit. During our time at the center, our group shared some of our own personal stories of addiction, rejection and shame. As we shared through an interpreter, you could visibly see the connections being made between their situation and our struggles and our stories. This instantly broke down the walls between our cultures, our distances, our languages.

I’ve seen this before. Being transparent has a way of connecting people together. Having the courage to share a painful story or your personal struggle confirms that you are not alone in your struggles. There are others that are just like you. You are not weird. You are not broken. You are not alone.

If you don’t tell your story, how will they know?

One of the persons in our group shared a miraculous story of deliverance from a very serious drug addiction. They came to the end of the rope. They were tired of the cycle of failure. They gave up the struggle, asked the Lord for help, and finally surrendered. Completely. None of this “one foot in and one foot out”. Quit trying to do it one their own.  They realized that it was impossible without His help. And like the gracious father that He is, in an instant, it was gone. No more hunger for drugs. No more depression. No more shame.

They were glued to every word. I sensed that the ladies were most afraid of failing again. You could see the fear in their eyes. They had all tried to stop before. One woman shared that she was a “rehab expert”. She had been in rehab twenty times. They all wanted it to end.  They desperately wanted this instant transformation and change.

Radical transformation is what they are seeking. A new beginning. Freedom from the slavery of drug and alcohol abuse. Freedom can be instantaneous or it can be a process. We want it quick, in an instant, but the Lord may have other plans. The key is to surrender. Completely. Give up the fight and give it to Him. You cannot do it on your own, with your own will. It’s the Jesus story. We couldn’t live the perfect life so he sent His son to the rescue. To give us a way out. He is the good, good Father!

The good news is that in the end He always wins. He wants the very best for you. And, if its not in an instant, you will get stronger each day. You can do this. Wash away the old and fill yourself up with the New. The Lord is gentleman. He won’t do anything without your permission. Move towards Him. Surrender. He’s waiting for you!

So what do you think?  Have you experienced the power of your story?  Have you seen the walls come down?  Why do we try to hide?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

Photo Friday: Walking in the Clouds

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This is a picture I took about 8 years ago in Costa Rica while on a mission trip.  I shot this picture while walking on a mountain above the central valley above San Jose on a magical and verdant ridge that connected two mountain tops.

Have you ever walked in the clouds?

Most folks will not get the chance to do it.  Not because they can’t- but because they won’t. They will not step out of their comfort zone to see the world.  They will continue to tell themselves the lie that they can’t do it.  We get so caught up in our little corner of life and miss that we live in a great big world.

Are you ready to step out?

Kathy and I have seen some crazy stuff while seeing the world.  We travel and explore every chance we get.  We made a point to show the world to our kids as they grew up and I am convinced that it helped to open their eyes to the world.  The great big world.  No matter where you are or what your financial situation is you can see the world.

You need to take the time and resources and make it happen.  Now.  Not later.

It’s time for you to walk in the clouds!

So what do you think?  Have you ever walked in the clouds?  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me your story!

 

 

Make Them Great!

I was having dinner with a site supervisor a while back and he shared his frustration with motivating one of his team members on site. He was convinced that this person was just lazy and could not visualize what was needed on the construction site. He voiced his frustration with this persons inability to think about the next step. This supervisor ia a self-motivated and driven individual. He works very hard and has always been that way. He would work weekends and well past regular work hours.

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I shared an experience that I had with a person that I managed years ago. This person actually shared with me that I need to hold him more accountable. He added that I need to actually call him out sometimes. He shared that I need to ride him a bit in order to get the best out of him. I was really shocked by this. My report was actually asking me to be harder on him!

This was so foreign to me. See, I am more like the site supervisor. I work really hard and I am self motivated. I don’t need anyone else to turn up the heat. I keep the heat on high always. When someone leans on me, I find it offensive not motivating.

So what’s the moral of the story here? Everyone is different. What works on you won’t always work on others.

You can’t manage others the same why you like to be managed!

You may struggle being hard or you may struggle leaving someone alone. But you MUST learn to pattern your management style to the individual. This WILL be uncomfortable. This WILL be tough to do. But trust me- you have no choice if you want to get the very best out of your people. This is not for you- it’s for them. They need your help to grow and prosper.

This is your real job and your true calling. Life is not just about you. Take the time and learn what motivates them. Step up and make them great!

So what do you think?  Have you been mismanaged in the past?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me your story!

Angry, Cool, Weird and Stupid

Ah, here we go again- another election cycle!  I used to really enjoy politics.  Political science was a favorite of mine in school.  I love the unique characteristics of politics and the history that goes along with it.  But I can tell you politics is not something I care for anymore.  I really dislike the new face of politics.  The discourse is broken.  There is no civility.  It makes no sense to me.  Here are a few observations in this election season and the leadership lesson that goes along with it:

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Angry:  Voters are angry and the politicians are completely puzzled. Why are they so angry?  What could possibly be wrong?  Maybe years of gridlock, ideology and rampant spending?  Voters want anyone but the establishment.  And this is really evident on both sides.

Leaders:  The problem with angry is that you can make some really bad decisions when you are angry.   Leaders need to guard their tempers and stay composed.  If your team is angry, you need to address it head on.  Don’t put your head in the sand and let it fester!

 

Cool:  There is a new phenomenon emerging- the cool factor!  This is the breeding ground for the PC (politically correct) group.  We have become obsessed with the coolness principle.  What is cool anyways?  Are we still in high school?  I just don’t get the attraction.  Grow up please!

Leaders:  Cool at its roots is being self-centered.  I do what is cool so I look good.  Cool people make me feel better.  If I get invited to hang out with the cool group then I am cool too.  Be approachable- not cool!

 

Weird:  Both sides are convinced that the other side is weird.  They are freaks.  Guns, global warming, faith, same sex marriage, abortion, environment- anyone that doesn’t think they way you do is just weird.  They are broken.

Leaders:  Everyone is different so get over it.  Diversity is a strength.  You will never feed innovation if everyone thinks the same.

 

Stupid:  Both sides are convinced the other side is just stupid.  If they were just smarter they would see that I am correct.  They are just ignorant.  I am smart and have this all figured out.  Really?  Do you actually think you are just superior and everyone else is not up to your intellect?

Leaders:   Look at all sides of an issue.  Don’t get tunnel vision.  Don’t typecast others as stupid just because of your title.  A line person has first hand knowledge.  You can’t completely understand things until you are in it.  Don’t assume you have it all figured out.  Question yourself.

 

We have become intolerant of any viewpoint except our own.  Can you see the crazy arrogance in this?  We will never solve the problems in this country without an open mind and you will never be an effective leader being close minded.  Consider other options.  Look at the other side of the issue.  You may see a better solution.  And keeping an open mind will make you a better leader!

 

So what do you think?  Do you have any insights on the elections that you would like to share?  Do you think we have become increasingly intolerant?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!          

The F Word

When I was in high school I remember sitting frozen by the phone thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

Would I be rejected?  

Would she laugh at me?  

Would she make me feel foolish?  

Would everyone hear about it and think I was crazy?

Was I overstepping my boundaries?

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Sometimes I just couldn’t pick up the phone.  I tried to overpower the thoughts that I had, but sometimes they just won.  I wasn’t good enough.  What was I thinking?  She is way out of reach for me.

I was strangled by the F word.  FEAR.

Now as I look back at it- what is the worst thing that could happen?  She says no.  There may be some laughter and maybe I was overstepping.  Yet, I will never know because I didn’t try.  The F word.

Fear is powerful.  Yes, I am a man and I have been afraid and ducked out plenty of times in my life.

When I should have moved forward.

When I should have taken the chance.

When I could have stepped out and made a difference.

What does the F word do?  Let me give you a few of the finalities of fear.

You Freeze:  Fear stops you from making a decision.  You stop.  And while you are stopping, the rest of the world is moving.  You loose your advantage.  You are now looking from behind.

You Miss The Boat:  Opportunities are an instant.  A moment in time.  When you decide to wait or you decide it’s too risky, the opportunity is gone.  Things change.  You can’t go back to that spot.  It’s gone, quite possibly forever.

You Determine The Outcome:  If you fail to act you know what will happen.  Nothing.  You have decided it.  Maybe that’s what you want.  Maybe the risk is too high.  But one thing for sure,  It’s done.  If you choose to risk the outcome might be good.  Choosing not to risk decides the answer.

Often the root of a failure to act can be traced to pride.  I never loose.  I always come out on top.  What would everyone think if I actually failed?

Yet failure is actually healthy.  It doesn’t feel good when you are in it, but I have learned some of my greatest life lessons through failure. So what do you really learn in failure?

You learn that the sun will rise the next day.  You find out that the people that really love you are still there.   You find out that the F word is mostly in your head.  You find out that faith is the thing that allows you to risk.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in your family.  Faith in a Father who loves you no matter what!  Fear is a product of the enemy.  An old scheme he uses to take away your power.  A way to neutralize you in the spiritual battle that is going on around us.

So what are you going to do?  Are you going to crumble and let the F word decide for you and make your final decision OR will you fight through it and go for it!  Do something risky.  Do something big.  Shake off the F word, have faith and trust in yourself!

So what do you think?  Have you had times when you were overcome with fear?  Have you failed to act because of fear?  What do you do the beat the F word?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

Money Wart

I grew up in the construction business- literally. My father had a subcontracting business and fact that he was in the construction business affected many things growing up. He would be fixated on the weather. The weather determined the schedule and a large portion of his life. Also as business was good and bad it influenced the family purchases and the grip on the family purse strings.

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My father taught me a great deal about business and how to take care of the customer. He had a great reputation and worked for some of the most respected builders in the business. He also taught me about the importance of doing a great job and letting your work product speak for itself.

I remember him telling me- “Don’t worry about the money. Do a great job and the money will take care of itself.”

This really made an impression on me and it has been one of my guiding principles. Make the customer happy. If it costs you some money, don’t sweat the costs. Do the right thing and the money will follow because of your actions, your commitment, your heart. Don’t worry, it will happen naturally. Don’t be a money wart!

This is really simple business logic. However, do your actions really support the principle that money is not your primary concern in your business? Do you get hung up just continually counting your money like a Monopoly game just obsessed on the financials? Is the mark your trying to hit always a financial target? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Where do you spend your time? Do you spend your days pouring over cost projections. profit and loss statements, cash flow projections, etc? Yes, we are in business to make money and you must be good stewards of the resources you are blessed with but at what percentage of your time? Are you completely consumed with the numbers? You are just counting your money.

What is your focus? Do you spend significant company time and resources on improving your product? Are you an innovator and continually looking for ways to improve your product? Or are you satisfied with producing the same acceptable product because being an innovator costs money. You are just counting your money.

Is it costs or revenues? Do you focus on the cost side or the revenue side? If you are continually trying to squeeze costs you may be a money wart. Working the revenue side is about expanding your business and your influence in the industry. Increased revenues have a way of taking care of financial issues. More revenue helps with overhead and fixed costs. Expanding revenue will reduce the need to squeeze and reduce the pressure on the company and it’s clients. If you are a squeezer, you are just counting your money.

What do you spend on product improvement? If you are not improving your product you will eventually be out of business. What are you doing as a business to get better? Are your improvements always focused on reducing costs. Are you recognized as a market innovator? Focusing on your product and being a leader requires resources. I was recently in Rochester, NY, the home of Kodak. What happened to Kodak? They were convinced that digital photography would never be better than traditional paper photographs. Look what happens when you fail to be an innovator. They were just counting their money.

Are your employees well compensated? My father also told me, “Don’t look in your employees pockets. If they are making good money then you will too!” Again, simple logic, but the employee pockets can be an easy target. You can always find cheaper help and squeeze payroll. But, what is the cost? If your employees are not making a superior wage, then how can you expect superior work. If you are known to pay better, the best of the best will end up coming to you to find work. Trying to save on payroll is just counting your money.

So, like the saying goes, where you put your time is your treasure. Are you continually focused on money? This is a sign of plain and simple greed. Life is not a race to make the most money. You were put on the earth to serve others by producing a product or providing a service to address a need. The goal must be the product or service first. What if your mission statement read “Make as much money as possible by controlling costs and providing a mediocre product.” Look hard at this and determine what is truly first in your business! Obviously, costs and money are important. Just don’t get them in front of everything else. Don’t be a money wart. Produce a great product first and the money will follow. It always does!

So what do you think?  Do we get hung up on the money too much or am I full of you know what?  Click on “leave a comment” or click “like” if you agree!