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!
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!
I have been deeply involved in recruiting in helping to build a construction renovation company. Anyone that is looking for help knows how difficult the current market is for finding talented help. There is simply not enough qualified and experienced candidates for the positions that are open.
In past years, finding new help was rather easy. There always seemed to be sufficient candidates in the labor market seeking employment opportunities. Often these positions would be filled by word of mouth referrals or employment ads and we would interview, select the best candidate and then simply get them plugged in. Today, the labor market is stretched extremely thin. Rather than finding a great candidate, we are often stuck with settling for what is available.
The bad news is that,looking forward, I believe this tight labor market will not change.
So what is the best solution to this problem? Companies need talented folks, often with specialized skills. If you are able to find experienced candidates, they will likely bust your compensation structure. Or they may come with serious baggage. Or they may be someone elses problem that they jettisoned. What do you do?
I believe that we are moving into an era where training and mentoring will be the most important focus of a successful company. We must have the programs and a company culture in place to train, prepare and raise up talent from within our organizations. We cannot rely on simply seeking new help from the traditional labor market. Most companies have some training protocol for new hires and existing employees. I believe most of these programs will fall far short in this new normal. Most organizations will need to shift the entire company culture to place valuable time and resources on training and mentoring to grow, or just even sustain, their businesses. Here are a few areas of focus:
Written Policies and Procedures
In order to teach you need a textbook or a place to store information. Additionally, all team members need to be conducting themselves in a organized and cohesive manner to ensure best results. I used to coach basketball and the players would often get out of the offense and start to freelance. When this happened, I would call time out and get them to huddle up and tell them this: If you continue to get out of the offense I cannot help you win the game. You will be on your own. You may win or you may not. If you don’t follow the plays I have no way of really analyzing what we need to do to win. I can’t help you. It will be a free for all and I will become nothing but a spectator. Same is true without written policies and procedures. In order to train and mentor you need the approved and best practices documented. Verbal teaching is great but they will only remember part of the instruction. They will forget. Documenting all policies and procedures is a beast. At a previous employer, I coordinated, wrote and edited a 600 page policies and procedures manual that included all processes of the company. In order to complete the task, we divided it up by each departments and I edited the content for clarity and continuity and we used the same format for each procedural element. This is a big job, yet it is absolutely necessary to provide structure for training.
A Complete Shift Of Culture To Training
Training must be constant and be present up and down in the chain of command. The excuse that you don’t have time to train needs to be abolished completely. Everyone is a trainer. All team members must stop and take the time to teach, explain, model and mentor. This can only be accomplished by reinforcing and believing in the true value and importance of training starting at the top of the organization and then emanating down through all levels of the organization. Every person must teach and help to lift others up. Abolish the typical HR training responsibility and spread the responsibility across the entire company.
Model Successful Behaviors
Bring your assistants and new recruits to higher level and sensitive meetings and strategy sessions so they can see how you handle different situations. I didn’t realize the power of this until later in my career. My team members would let me know later that they learned a particular technique by watching the way I handled some tough situations. It may not be the most efficient way by having extra bodies and it may change the dynamics of the room a bit but these situational opportunities are infinitely valuable. A quick debrief after will also assist in cementing these learned strategies in their memories.
Formal Training Programs
Many companies have training programs that are generic and really lack the proper amount of focus to their particular operations and issues that need to be addressed. Training should focus on real company issues that are real, reoccurring and causing damage to the company. Focus on the areas that will bring the greatest results. Training should not be developed by the training department or HR. They can help coordinate, but the best training is designed by each department to handle specific issues. This will provide actual, positive and scalable results. Developing training is not easy. Just putting on a video and having a little multiple choice test is not enough. Training must be precisely targeted. Training should stretch you. It should be difficult. It should make you a little uncomfortable. Role playing exercises are extremely effective. Develop scenarios of problems with characters and have them act out ways to respond to the problems. Leadership training is also extremely valuable. The most successful businesses are led by accomplished leaders and most folks leadership skills need serious help.
Create A Cohesive Team Environment
The best training companies have strong company cultures where everyone is working together with clear goals and expectations. A previous employer called me a cheerleader for the company as I understood the importance of this characteristic. If you have a cohesive unit, they will naturally help and teach each other. If the goals and expectations are clear, there is no question what the next step in required skills for your career path or any hesitancy in exercising these new skills. Leaders need to build strong bonds and reward behaviors that help to strengthen the group. There is no force greater than a team that cares for each other and works together for a common goal.
These are a few of the major items that will help to foster an environment of continual training. As a life long learner, I have experienced the power in mastering new skills. I have personally witnessed the power of learning new skills and the associated resulting career advancement. Additionally, I have been rewarded with gratitude from former team mates who learned specific and valuable skills as I took the time to teach throughout my career. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste. You have a captive audience in employing your team. Take every opportunity to teach and stretch your team so they will grow and mature into tomorrows leaders. You really have no choice. Training is no longer an option. The plug and play days are gone. Move on to the new normal of raising up your leaders from within your organization. Train or die!
So what do you think? Have you also experienced this tight labor market? Do you have a success story or solution you would like to share? Please click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!
You won’t really get away with it- they are watching you!
Kathy and I have been spending Saturday mornings serving at an inner city ministry giving out surplus bread and produce to the homeless and needy. This has been our Saturday morning routine for the past seven years or so. We completely enjoy serving and have helped to build a vibrant community that has taken the ministry far past the goal of just providing food. This is a rough area. An area of high crime and drug activity. Shooting and violence are common in this neighborhood.
When we get set up, there is often a group of ladies who take cuts at the front of the line. The men will often plead with us to do something about it. These ladies are a tough bunch and have been fighting for their families for a very long time. I get it. Yet it is frustrating that they can get away with taking cuts. It causes unrest. Even when we speak up, they continue to do what they want and often ignore our requests.
After observing this activity and the reactions, I have figured out how they can get away it. If they were men, the other guys would take care of things. Right or wrong.
They would likely get punched in the face!
Respect and special treatment for women or other groups are not uncommon. And there is nothing wrong with special privileges.
Unless you take advantage of the situation.
Leadership often comes with some special privileges. You may have the opportunity to be in the front. First in line. You may be able to avoid some unpleasant tasks or duties as a result of your position. You are likely to be treated differently than the average person.
The key is how you decide to handle these privileges. If you are a servant leader, you can’t differentiate yourself from your team. The truth, in terms of servant leadership, is this: You are part of the team and you just happen to be the leader. You must stay in the trenches with your team. You have to be willing to get dirty and do the work along side your people. If you exalt yourself above your team and take advantage of your position, you have violated one of the key components of being a servant leader.
Special privileges with leadership must be used with caution. You cannot hide. They see everything you do. Your heart is exposed by your actions. Be careful. Always. They are watching you!
So what do you think? Have you seen examples of folks taking advantage of special privileges in leadership positions? Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!
Last weekend my son invited me to go off shore fishing with him and two of his friends. We left early in an effort to try to beat the heat. It’s been brutally hot this year in North Florida so getting out early really helps. While riding out as the sun was coming up and riding out past the point where you can no longer see the shore, I was struck with the size of the ocean and the relative small size of the boat. Really just a mere speck in the vastness of the ocean.
I think we sometimes give ourselves more credit that we deserve. We are all just a speck on the earth. You might think you are a bid deal, but the truth is the world’s a big place and your really not all that extraordinary. So how can we make an impact when we are just this speck on the ocean? I spent some time catching up with my son and his friends. I found out what’s going on in their lives. We laughed a lot. But sometimes it was just quiet and we enjoyed each others company without even saying a word.
The way you make the little speck big is by making your world smaller. Reach out to the ones that are closest to you. Connect on a deeper level. Offer yourself to them. You will make a bigger impact when you discover how to put others needs above yours. This is how you will actually become the big deal. In a small way and backwards to our thinking and reasoning. One connection at a time in a great big world. Just a speck in the middle of the ocean!
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!
Kathy and I had the privilege to serve in a refugee camp on the Panamanian border. The camp has several hundred Africans and some Pakistanis who are stuck in the camp due to issues with the Nicaraguan government letting them pass through their country. We spent time hearing the stories of their journey through the Amazon rainforest and being robbed by the mafia in Columbia. These were men looking for a safe place for their families. They risked it all to find a place that is safe and secure. Some told us stories of walking through the jungle with a compass simply pointing them north. They spent days walking through swamps with water up to their chests.
An incredibly dangerous journey.
They shared the struggles back home and the reasons why they left on this journey. Stories of killings and brutality. Corruption and political struggles.
As I sat and listened I realized that the conditions back home were so bad and dangerous that it was actually better for them to risk traveling through the jungle with the hope of finding home. This is not a story about money. This is about safety for their families.Searching for a place where they can live without fear. They were searching for home.
They are risking their lives to help provide a safe place for their families. There is no guarantee that they will make it. Yet, they will put it all on the line for a chance to make it to the U.S.
How about you?
The U.S. certainly has its problems, but we have justice and peace. The Pakistanis knew it. They knew that the U.S. was a good place. A place with good and caring people. A safe place with opportunity.
So as we as a country discuss “walling off” our country in I can’t forget about the faces of these people. They are risking their lives to find something better for their families. They will continue to point their compass north. They will continue to struggle to find safety. Something we take for granted. A place where they can sleep at night without worry. A place of peace and security.
The march will continue. Heading north. Searching for home.
This picture was taken on the rear patio of the old Officer’s Club at Deer Point (Now called the Bayview Restaurant) at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As I looked over the bay at the sunset and snapped this photo, I realized that thousands of servicemen and women have stood at this same exact spot looking over the bay and thinking about there loved ones who were far, far away. There are few places that you could be that are more isolating than Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
My visit to the base was a real eye opener for me. I was overcome with the realities of what it must be like to be a military family. These great Americans sacrifice a portion of themselves and share their families interests, to serve our country. I think we tend to focus on the danger of loosing their lives and miss that fact that they are really giving up their lives as they live and serve the country. They are far away from home and stuck on a base isolated from the people and the things that they love and cherish. I was reawakened to this sacrifice made by millions of men and women during the history of the United States.
These men and women who sacrifice to serve our country are truly the greatest Americans!
So what do your think? Are you from a military family? Have you experienced the sacrifice first hand? Have you stood in this same spot before? Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think! Click on “like” if your agree with me!
I used to work for a boss who liked to do experiments. He wasn’t a scientist and the field that he was experimenting in was management. He would actually conduct experiments with people. He would do things without their knowledge and then see how they reacted to it. One of his self proclaimed tests was to load up an employee with work until they said “uncle”. Keep piling it on until they came back frustrated or beaten. The experiment was designed to see how much they could handle and determine their breaking point. All the while the unsuspecting employee was killing themselves to keep up with the workload in order to try to measure up.
Little did they know that the ultimate goal was to overload them.
The effort was designed to frustrate them.
They could never measure up because he would just add more work.
I couldn’t do it. I thought that this strategy was cruel and stupid. I thought that it was not fair for the employee. I knew that by putting that much pressure on the person they could make a big mistake. They could also get really angry or they could burn out and quit. Why would anyone do this?
Through the years, I have seen others do these experiments. Let’s see if they can figure it out. Let’s give them less resources and see if they can get through it. Let’s push and see what happens. Let’s double things up and see if they crumble. This just seems crazy to me.
I believe that honest communication is a better way. Rather than experiment, ask them what they think. Ask them how much can they handle? Ask them if they can work through the problem. Ask them if they are ready to come up with a strategy to do more with less resources? Give them more work when they want it. Give them a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish. Give them the help they need to be successful.
Experiment with things, not with people. Don’t play games with their heads. Don’t be the mad scientist. Ask them for help. Ask them what they can handle. It’s better that way.
So what do your think? Should we experiment with people? Have you experienced this before? Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me your story!
One of the keys to being a servant leader is serving others by putting their needs ahead of yours. A great example of this is being a parent. When you raise a family, you learn that the needs of your children naturally come before yours. Children do not have the ability to take care of themselves. They do not have the experience to make good decisions. They are yours- so you love and nurture them and make sure they have the things needed to stay healthy and to grow and prosper.
This is an easy one. What about another tougher example. What if the person that needs help is not your child? What if they are not your relative? What if they are an adult? What if this person lives in another country? What if they don’t speak your language?
Shouldn’t matter. You were made to serve others. Unconditionally. Without strings. Everyone. Period.
This is tough stuff for someone who is used to the exchange. I give something and then get something back. This exchange can be very subtle. Often when we lead others- we still get something back, right? Is this really giving? Serving your children benefits you by benefiting your children and your family. Serving your workmates helps you while helping them. You get something back for your hard work.
Can we give without getting back? Giving in it’s purest form should be one sided- right? Give and don’t get back. If you skip the exchange, what is the great equalizer?
Kathy and I are leading a missions team to Costa Rica May 21-June 1 to minister to the poor and support the local church. We will be staying Alajuelita which is in the central valley of Costa Rica near the capital city of San Jose. This is a poor area of Costa Rica and we will be ministering in the poorest barrios (neighborhoods)- tin shacks with dirt floors. These areas are full of families and children are everywhere. We will be helping to feed the children and will spend time with the moms and the elderly. We will also be ministering at a woman’s rehab center. Drug abuse and prostitution (legal in Costa Rica), is a big problem in Costa Rica. Many women are often forced to sell themselves just to feed their families.
Missions is very important to me. I know that we are blessed beyond measure in this country and I have a burning desire to give back and serve the poor and needy. The greatest gift that we can provide those in need is the reassurance that there is a God in heaven that loves them unconditionally. Love makes all the difference. This is often all we can hold onto when we are in the toughest situation. This truth has helped me during tough times in my life. And I have seen with my own eyes what this truth can bring to a Costs Rican who feels hopeless. This is the power of the Gospel. This is what we will share on our trip to Costs Rica.
Will you please partner with me on my trip? We are trying to raise all of the funds through donations so that your money, prayers and love will actually travel with us and make a tangible impact in Costa Rica. Without leaving your house, you can be part of the work that we are doing in Central America! Any amount would be greatly appreciated. This donation is also tax deductible- the church will send you a receipt for tax purposes. You can send a check to me or you can donate on line by credit card (secure connection through Pay Pal). Below is a link to the online donation to our church- River City Church:
Please click on “one time donation” and fill out the information. This only takes a few minutes. Do it now or you will forget! (I only say this because this is what I do!). If you donate on- line please contact me (Click on “Contact” tab on this website) and tell me that you donated. I have to alert the church about your donation or your donation will NOT be appropriated to our mission trip.
I am so excited to be going to Costa Rica to spread God’s love to the poor and needy. Please give to help us fund this trip so you can be with us as we work to make a difference in the lives of those we reach. Giving them our time and our love. Taking your love to others far away. Giving unconditionally.
God bless you and your family!
So what do you think? Do you give without the exchange? Is love the great equalizer? Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!