Photo Friday- Old Friends

I officially retired my gym sneakers today.  The soles are coming off the bottom so they are done.  They have been in my gym bag for at least ten years.  They have been reliable and comfortable which is about all you can ask for from a pair of shoes.  I have beat them up pretty good through the years.  They survived countless abuse on the treadmill, the elliptical machine, stepper and other exercise duties.

Kathy has tried to throw them away numerous times.  I have resisted because the shoes are like old friends.  They don’t have the best support or cushioning, yet they are soft, pull on easy and dependable. 

I have to admit that I have a bunch of clothes that are like this.  They don’t look great, but they are worn in, soft to the touch, and always there when I need them.  Kathy has actually ripped shirts off of me when she is over my friendship with a particular shirt that I am fond of.

Do you have friends like this?  Not clothes, but folks who have these characteristics?  

Friends that you have known for a very long time.

Friends that are easy.

Friends where you pick right up where you left off.

Friends that are soft and comfortable.

Friends that don’t care what you look like.

Friends that are always dependable.

Maybe you should let them know how much you appreciate them?  We lose track of time and sooner of later they may come apart like my shoes.  

My shoes provided me with a very long relationship, and it may be crazy, but I will miss them.  I bought a new pair and they have far better cushioning but they are stiff and not nearly as comfortable  Over time I will break them in and I am sure they will be fine.  But I will miss my old friends.  I am grateful for the many years we had together!  

The Always Right

Photo by Dominika Kwiatkowska on Pexels.com

There is a very damaging phenomena that has overwhelmed our culture and threatens every type of relationship. I’m not sure what the roots are here but the results are clear. What is this phenomena? We have become a society obsessed with being right.

Somewhere along the way we have reached the conclusion that being right is THE most important thing. Social media and the internet have fueled a nasty discourse where you can trash someone and get supported and rewarded with more followers. A healthy dialogue, where you can argue your side, should be a positive thing. But we have digressed to nasty name calling and truly outrageous comments. Reminds me of the childish level of “Your momma wears army boots!”.

In addition to the onslaught on social media the “always right” crowd has invaded business and personal relationships also. Does being right give you the license for character assassination? Can someone make a mistake or do something less than perfect and still be respected for who they are? Is the goal of this life to make sure everyone knows how intelligent or righteous or pure you are? Jesus called these folks “white washed tombs”.

The other side of this is that the need to be right all the time is a pure people repellent. Nobody likes a “know-it-all” or someone that is constantly correcting them or pointing out there faults. Relationships and marriages are nuked every day by folks continually dwelling on faults, relational mistakes and personality quirks to the point of a breakup.

I’m sure in the cases of the internet and social media, the electronic separation provides the “courage” to make stupid and outrageous statements. But I think the basis for this obsession with being right has been around since the beginning of man. Yet the source of this new increased obsession with being right may be a flawed value system, our competitive nature, and on a deeper level- our own selfish pride. Let’s look at each of these.

Value System
Often the “always right” crowd believe that they are either smarter than you or they are simply better than you. Again I think the internet and social media have a role here in providing nearly unlimited information about a subject. The problem is that you can easily find another argument to discredit your beliefs. Beyond the intellectual side, the always right crowd may feel that they are simply better than the other party. They may feel that they care more, give more, feel more, have less faults, think purely, and live an impeccable life. They may have developed a value system that is based on their superiority and their internally applied pursuit of perfection. Even if they are truly better, it does not give them the right to trash others or look down on others views, opinions, faults or shortcomings. Gossip fuels the value system of the always right. Talking someone down lifts up the person who is involved in gossip. The Bible says you need to remove the plank from your own eye before judging the splinter in others. Being right has become their value system and their identity.

Competitive Nature
We are born with a competitive nature. At the earliest age kids will fight for toys and treats. We tend to celebrate competitiveness in our society and some folks personalities are prone to seek out competition and aggression. Having a strong competitive nature exhibits itself in many ways that may not be immediately recognized. The self-induced need to be the best and perform to excess can be a sign of this nature. By seeking to make yourself first you are naturally putting others down. To admit to being wrong goes against the need to put yourself first. I have personally witnessed competitive folks squirm when they are cornered and have to accept that they were wrong.

Pride
Last but not least. Our pride pushes us to build a case that we are right in every circumstance. If someone says or does something that we believe is wrong, we will often respond or react due to our own pride and what others would think about the situation. We are worried more about what others will think about US than about the OTHER person or the situation that you are in. We will actually trash others in the pursuit of being right in order to support how others view us. We are worried that we will look weak or supportive of a bad situation. We are worried that we may lose respect from our family or our circle of friends. We worry more about OUR image than the OTHER person’s image who we have determined is wrong. Being right doesn’t give you a free pass to destroy others EVEN IF YOU ARE RIGHT.

This is a complicated issue but it appears that the need to be right is growing. This need to be right can blind your behavior and result in doing things that are stupid and cruel clouded in a crazy righteous haze. We have forgotten about trusting the Lord to take care of things. We have forgotten about grace. We have forgotten to consider the relationship on the other side. We have forgotten about respect. We have forgotten to love first. All in the insatiable need to protect our image, win an argument, or exert power over someone else.

What you should do is question yourself. Are your motives to be right to help the other person to see a different perspective or are you simply correcting them? Are your motives to help them, not exert your power over them? Do I have their best interest in mind? Is this issue worth the discussion or should I just let it go? Am I presenting this in a positive and loving way? Failing to check yourself may allow emotion to overtake the situation and lead to serious regrets. And ultimately, placing the ultimate value on being right may make you 100% right but 100% alone.

So what do you think? Have we become so self-righteous that we can’t control ourselves with our comments? Is this something you have viewed personally? Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me hear your story!

All In!

Are you a better employee if you put in super long hours and spend most of your waking moments at the office?  Is this the best measure of your worth and your engagement?

petri-r-1403845-unsplash

Photo by Petri R on Unsplash

One of my mentors early in my career was always the first in the office in the morning and the last to leave each night.  Worked EVERY Saturday and some Sundays.  This put incredible stress on me to try to work what would appear to be reasonable hours in comparison to this guy who was a freak and also my boss.  I lived about 45 minutes to an hour from the office depending on traffic which added additional stress to the equation. He was only 15 minutes to his house.  I was not adverse to putting in the hours (clarify salary position) but I always felt that it was never enough.  I came from an hourly tradesman position working outside and I worked nearly every Saturday in order to make up for rain days or short days.  I needed to get a full paycheck.  I had a family and bills.  I was conditioned to work the hours and “pay my dues” as folks like to call it.

Shortly after leaving the company I found out that my mentor was getting a divorce.  I’m sure there was a story to this with lots of moving parts but I know that his work hours were a big contributor to this outcome.  He was an absent husband and father.  He poured his entire life into his work and spent nearly all of his waking hours in the office.

After this event he abruptly changed his work hours.  Too late for his marriage, however, he began to work more normal hours and abandoned the “all in” appearance that had defined his past work history.

So what does “all in”  look like to you?

Are you judged in a large part by the hours that you put in?

Do you think hours are a true measure of your performance or engagement?

Can you be “all in” and still work normal work hours?

I’ve witnessed a variety of viewpoints on this subject.  Some folks use work hours to measure value, commitment and engagement to an organization.   It’s an easy measurement.  Either you are sitting at your desk or your not.  I had a report years ago who never showed up on Saturday and my boss was convinced that they were not engaged and lacked future value based on the lack of Saturday attendance.  I approached this employee and suggested that they begin to come in on Saturdays and make sure that they were seen by the boss in order to get “attendance credit”.  Almost immediately there was a change in attitude by the boss.  He felt that there was a big change when it was simply window dressing.

Then I have seen employees who lay down the law early and makes sure that everyone knows what comes first in their lives- family, kids, church, charity work, hobbies, etc.  It seems like they can get a pass if they make it clear early on and stand firm.  They can be successful in the organization and still leave at 5:01 every day.  In a very strange way it doesn’t seem fair- does it?

So what’s the point here?  I don’t believe you should rate your employees performance or engagement based on work hours.  Base your judgement on the production of quality work product- period.  If they are able to produce in standard work hours then be content and happy for them.  They will have a better life and work balance will make them a better employee in the long run.  Putting pressure on them to work longer hours and take on an unrealistic amount of work will eventually lead to burn out.  And probably an empty seat.  My instruction to employees who work a ridiculous amount of hours is:  GO HOME!  See your family.  Have fun.  Unwind and relax.

You are not a slave- you have a life.  The work will be there when you return.

What do you think?  Have you seen someone burn out due to crazy hours?  Do you think time at your desk is an accurate measure of worth?  Click on “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!  

 

Do it Afraid

Fear is a funny thing. It has a way of freezing us up. Our natural instincts kick in and the result is that we will stop our movement and progress.

IMG_3016

We will overthink the situation.
We will seek the comfortable route or outcome.
We will avoid the fear and go around it.

I am not saying that fear is a bad thing. We have been conditioned to avoid fear for safety purposes. I am sure you remember some of the advice from your Mom.

Don’t play in he road…
The burner is still hot…
Make sure that I know where you are at all times…
Don’t go with strangers…

All of these are good advice. We should not proceed recklessly.  But one of her primary purposes as a parent was to simply keep you safe. While safety is important, I’m not sure that our primary focus on safety and what is secure and predictable is always healthy in the long run.

I have learned through the years that significant growth comes from pushing through the fear by doing it afraid. This is from a guy who is more cautious by nature so this “pushing through” is not easy for me. My tendencies are to visualize and analyze the things that could go wrong.  I have learned that there is a point where you just need to go and conquer the “what ifs”.

Kathy and I have served all over the world and in the inner city and have become accustomed to serving in environments that are viewed by others as unsafe. We are cautious and careful when we are in these environments.  We remain aware of our surroundings and do not proceed in areas alone.  Yet we have learned to push down the feelings of fear that will strangle the ability to move forward and serve. Our faith certainly contributes to our boldness and we have reached a conclusion that we have to go past and conquer the fear.

Your fear area may be public speaking.  It may be leading others.  It may be preforming a task that you don’t think you can accomplish.

Next time you are fearful to move forward, take a deep breath and push through it. Once you have stepped out it will be easier the next time. Fear has a way of fencing us in. There is life beyond the barrier and your world will get bigger and more rewarding. Go ahead.  Move forward.  Do it afraid!

So have you experienced the thrill of overcoming a fear?  Please click on “leave a comment” and let me hear your story!

What Easter Means To Me.

So what is Easter?  The start of spring?   Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.  Baskets filled with candy?  What a strange group of things bloomed out of a holiday of faith.  I guess Christmas is not much better.  Santa Clause and Christmas trees?  All of these have a history and although they are probably harmless, they tend to water down and distort the true basis for the holidays.

 

So what does Easter mean to me?  A few facets of my faith and feelings about Easter without the churchy talk:

Easter gives me purpose

If it was not for my faith, I would live, gather and die like everyone else and that would be it.  My goals would be focused on the relatively short period that we inhabit the Earth and would concentrate on accumulating, enjoyments and self-focus.  However, I know there is more.  The Bible says that we are wired for eternity.  We know there has to be more.  While this life can be great at times, there is also a lot of pain that goes along with it.  We live in a world without real order.  Without things being fair or honest.  A jumbled up mess.  I am looking forward to order and justice.  A place where everything is right.  Easter reminds me that there is a place that is right and this is but a stop along the way.

Easter helps me belong

I belong to the largest family that has ever existed.  A family of people who think alike.  A family with a vision of what true life is all about.  That takes care of one another.  That helps you when you are down.  A family that puts others ahead of themselves.

Easter means all things are new

Easter is like the morning.  A new day has begun.  Yesterday was tough.  I screwed up.  I made some stupid mistakes.  But then the sun comes up.  And it is a new day.  A new start.  The old is gone and the new is here.  Easter washes away the dirt of the past and makes all things new.  Like a shiny penny.  The way it should be.

Easter gives me focus

The opportunity to get my mind off of myself.  To really see others and their needs first.  To love others more than myself.  Easter gives me an orientation where I am no longer the center of my universe.  I can focus on others and I can stop thinking about my situation, wants and needs.

Easter is peace

I can relax in the realization that I do not need to worry.  I do not need to try to do it all.  I do not need all of the answers.  I can trust.  I can let things go.  I do not have to guide and control.  I can relax.  It will be fine.  I will be fine.  This is the basis of faith.

I will admit that I am still a work in progress.  I still struggle sometimes, but I know when I look back I see progress.  When I look forward, I see a path.  The Easter message is one of hope.  It is a message of love.  And purpose, belonging, renewal, vision and peace.

I hope you can see this and truly grasp the power of the Easter message.  

And to you and yours- Happy Easter!

Don’t forget to hit “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!  

Give it Away!

One of the principles that I have learned as I have gained experience and wisdom is that the answer is often hidden or the opposite of logic. This realization has led me to second guess my observations and solutions and this has been very enlightening as I examine the issue from several angles and often get conflicting solutions.

AFRICA 2009 - WESTERN PROVINCE 174

Africa 2009- Sunset on the Zambezi River

As I have coached and built-up leaders through the years, I have used this second guessing as a test on how I look at leadership and management styles and their effectiveness. For the most part I have concluded that, barring abusive behavior, as long as they are effective then their style is usually acceptable. People are somewhere between very tough to impossible to change. You work with what you got.

The outlier to this theory is how we give power to our leaders. I believe there are some pretty rigid rules in how you build a powerful leader. Much of this is common sense, yet few really follow the rules here.

The source of the power that exists in the leaders of your team comes from you! If you see a person as a weak leader, its is often a result of not being given the power and authority to do their job. You have to give it away. This narrative of weak leadership may actually be the voice in your head giving you the authority to meddle in their affairs and undermine their authority.

There are many damaging actions that thwart authority and lead to a weakened leader. Here a a few of the biggies:

Chain of Command: When you do not respect the chain of command you are undermining the authority of your leaders. If you continually direct people downstream of others you are sending a message that their leaders instructions are not important. Although you are the “big boss” and you can do whatever you want, this disregard for the authority of those you have placed in charge is damaging. Very damaging. Don’t do it.

Micromanagement: Getting in the weeds on issues and overanalyzing is damaging to authority. Accept that mistakes will happen. This is the only path to growth. Stay out of the weeds.

New Ideas: Don’t shoot down new ideas because they are not yours or they involve risk. Be receptive to new ways of doing things. This is empowering your leaders to think. To be relevant. To make a difference.

Hiding your Leaders: Celebrate and promote your leaders in the business world. Some folks will be fearful that by promoting there leaders they may loose them to another company. I say that hiding them will lead to the same result. Promote your leaders. It will strengthen your organization.

Limiting Decisions: By limiting the authority of making decisions you are also limiting their power. Give them the authority but make sure they know they own it. They will have to clean up the mess if it goes bad. This is also a path to growth.

Too many times we deduce that weak leadership is the result of a character flaw or the limited abilities of the leader we manage. The truth is that their power comes from you!

You can either build them up or tear them down. It’s your choice. If you want a strong organization you need to give your power away. Let it flow downward. Will there be problems if you let go? Yes- always. However, you will have a group of strong leaders below you and this will be a huge advantage in cleaning up the mess.

Wind them up and let them go. You’ll be happy with the results!

Lowest Common Denominator

Manage for your winners- don’t resort to designing your management systems for your bottom tier!

If you were awake in sixth grade math you probably remember the concept of the lowest common denominator in order to work with fractions. The concept was to evaluate and manipulate the numbers to obtain the lowest common number in order to make the denominator the same in order to solve the problem.

photo-1416339158484-9637228cc908

This general concept is also used in management by instituting a series of rules to control issues that are occurring with employees. This set of rules are typically directed to only a few violator employees who are not performing or typically ride the edge of acceptability.

The root of the problem is that these employees are either disengaged, not managed properly, or are lacking feedback on a regular basis. Management by the lowest common denominator is a passive-aggressive style of management. Rather than attack the real problem, the manager will attempt to “hem in” the problem employee by developing a set of often silly rules in order to address issues in an attempt to keep employees productive.

The issue here is that this management theory requires that these rules apply to all employees. Your best performer and your worst performers.  Your best performers will resent being held to stupid rules. So you are actually catering to the lowest common denominator instead of attacking the real problem.

Don’t default to this style of management. Concentrate on the relatively few violators and address the issues at the root. Using a rules based system to lead your team is never the best way to lead. If your team members are not engaged and need constant attention then replace them. Resorting to the lowest common denominator style of management will cause unneccessary damage.

Lead your team. Provide continuous feedback. Let them know where they stand at all times.  Give them specific tasks and deadlines. Be a leader. Don’t punish your best performers by forcing them to comply with stupid rules.

Rules are for math problems, not leadership.

So what do you think? Have you experienced this management style before?  Click on “Leave and Comment” and tell me about your experience.

Photo Friday: Majesty

 

Wake Up Sleeper!

Salt Lake

Last weekend I made a quick trip to Salt Lake City to ski with a friend from work.  The schedule was to fly in, ski two days and fly back.  A quick trip.  I have never been to Salt Lake City.  Along with that, I had not experienced the breathtaking beauty of the Wasatch Mountains.

We had a little time on Monday before our flight so we had the opportunity to visit Antelope Island which is an island located in the Great Salt Lake.  It was a cold morning and it has snowed overnight so the area was blanketed with a light covering of snow.

The views were fantastic!  Although the island had few visitors, we did notice visitors taking pictures of the amazing scenery.  The best word I could come up to describe what we saw is majesty.

Majesty is a unique word.  It describes something large.  Something powerful.  Something a bit overwhelming.

When I see something that I would call majesty, I think of the hand of the Creator.  The potter and the clay.  The architect and builder of our amazing planet.

There is a verse in the Bible that says that we have no excuse to be ignorant of the hand of the Father.  Creation screams His name.  I cannot believe that all of this beauty was created by chance or by accident.

I asked my friend if he felt that looking at the mountains each day would dull this feeling of majesty.  He quickly told me no.  He believed that the mountains and the beauty would never get old.  They would retain their power over anyone who looked their way.

So the key is to look!  Look for His hand.  Look at what He made.  Look at what He does in your life.  Look at the way He blesses you.

An accident, good luck or chance?  Can’t be.  Chance does not have this order.  Chance does not have this variety and beauty.  Chance does not produce majesty.  Chance is not this good.  Not even close!

LOOK and wake up sleeper!        

So what do you think?  Can you see His hand in creation?  Do you think this world was created by chance?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

 

 

 

 

Are You A Closet Control Freak?

Being in control is good. But at what cost?

1024px-Chess_board_with_chess_set_in_opening_position_2012_PD_05

The clinical control freak is someone who is abusive and will alter your life patterns at extreme costs. They will play with your mind, schedule and goals and do whatever it takes to fool themselves into the reality that they can keep everything under their control in order to manage their personal anxiety and other personality disorders.

But what if you are just a bit controlling? Just a closet control freak?

Oh I get it. The world is a dangerous place, right? There is danger and failures around every corner. The closet control freak can reason that they are just protecting their friends and loved ones from hurt and danger. But is it YOUR job to step up and protect everyone from life? Do they WANT your advice or your help? Do you think that is YOUR duty or is it just a mechanism to prop up your self-worth?

The control freak is like a repellant. Lets face it- nobody likes to deal with someone who has the need to control things around them. Even if they are right. We all have the desire to find out for ourselves.

This is not about judging whether they are right or wrong. The control freak would argue that they are just trying to protect others with their behavior. Trying to guide things so the outcome is good. Sounds good but not always truly sincere.

The root of the closet control freak is to avoid personal worry, anxiety and keep up their self image. See, the problem is insecurity or a lack of self-esteem. And the antidote is power.

By controlling things you can blank out the insecurity with power. You are in control. You are calling the shots.

What are some signs of the closet control freak? Here are a few:

Advice: You must give advice- cause you are the expert on everything! Giving advice seems like a good thing right? Unless its not wanted. Look back at repellant. Keep your trap shut. Unless there is imminent danger or something criminal.

Stall tactics: When something comes up that you don’t want to do -you stall. Wait it out until the other person see your “better idea”. Or just hope things change to your viewpoint. Stall anyways. Just in case, Forever. Super frustrating!

Better options: You feel like you need to give other options that suit you better. And you wait. Until. They. Choose something. That you. Like. Childish.

Dismiss: You can justify dismissing things that are not important to you, yet, may be important to others. You truly believe that you have the ultimate objective view. If you don’t value it, then its not valuable? Really?

Mechanical Control: You don’t like others to drive, fly, or steer anything. You have serious bouts of fear. You are not in control. You have trouble relaxing when someone else is at the wheel. Are we all bad drivers except for you? Is this really our problem?

Reject- Not Compromise: You will feel that you cannot sacrifice what you know must happen. Save everyone from disaster. Anything less leads to worry, anxiety or fear. Winner take all. Seriously?

Perfectionism: Things must be perfect. If someone see something that is bad or out of place- then it is a personal failure. I can’t have a dirty house or a bad golf game. Really? Nothing is perfect under the sun. This is textbook insecurity. Right?

I get the control thing. We can get accustomed to being in control. And we don’t want bad thing to happen. But what do we sacrifice? Is it worth it? Remember the repellant. Can you keep your mouth shut? Can you stop the manipulative behavior? Can you let others figure it out without your “help”? Can you just relax and let it happen?

Reality check. The world will keep spinning without you! Find your value somewhere else and realize that you matter without the efforts to control. Your hard work to change or manipulate people or the outcomes will rarely have any influence on them or the outcomes. So why do you do it? Why do you think that you have to control anything? Realize that its your “go to” response. You have likely been doing it for so long that it has become second nature. But you need to fix it because nobody else can. It’s your anchor. Face the issue and the world will change around you. Really! I promise.

So what do you think?  Do you agree with my comments or am I out of bounds on this?  Click “Like” if you agree or click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

Talker or Doer?

Are you a silver-tongued leader?

photo-1416339158484-9637228cc908

I’ve met a bunch of people in leadership through the years.  Some were gifted motivators.  They knew how to communicate a goal and guide to the finish.  They had the ability to paint the picture.  A great gift to be able to help folks see the finish line.  Yet sometimes this was all you got.  A picture and a story.

Then I have met some great leaders who are really in it.  These are the folks that might say less but are next to you in the battle.  They realize that talk won’t always get you there.  They are willing to really help out.  Get dirty.  Get into the fight.

The rub lies in that the talker is often seen as the better leader.

I really hate this.  The talker uses his mouth.  The doer uses his hands.  But classic leadership will tell you that you don’t have the time to be a doer.  You shouldn’t get bogged down in actually doing the work.  If you’re a leader -you are worth more.  Your ability to motivate and direct is more important.

Messed up thinking!

While I agree that you should not get bogged down doing tasks that should be delegated, many leaders feel that it is below them to jump in and help out.  They are the boss.  It would make them look bad if they were seen actually doing the work.

I can’t be a used car salesman leader.  I personally have a hard time trusting and believing someone who talks too much and doesn’t really want to pitch in and help out.  I realize that there is value in motivating and directing yet by only using these two tools you are forgetting the most powerful tool.

Serving your team by actually working along side of them. 

Here is a question to ponder- What do YOU create?  Do you actually produce things as a leader or is your day filled with walking and talking?  Do you produce or do you talk?

My opinion- we need more doers and less talkers!  What do your think?  Let me know by clicking on “Leave a Comment” and let me hear your opinion.  Talker or Doer?