Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to my friends at Grace Community Church in Lathrop on the topic of 2020 Vision. It was an expansion of what I posted last week. The video has been posted here. I hope this will be helpful to someone.
Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to my friends at Grace Community Church in Lathrop on the topic of 2020 Vision. It was an expansion of what I posted last week. The video has been posted here. I hope this will be helpful to someone.
Happy New Year! I have a dear friend who lives in the Atlanta area. Each New Year’s Eve I text him at 9:00 PM my time (I live on the west coast). It’s always the same text message, “How does the future look?” This year his answer was a little different. It always says, “The future looks bright!” this year he said, “The future is so bright I’m seeing 2020!” We’re having a lot of fun with 2020 already, aren’t we? Did you catch the Barbara Walters 20/20 montage on New Year’s Eve? “This is 20/20” and “Welcome to 20/20” over an over again. It was pretty clever.
The New Year is a good time to talk about vision. When we talk about Mission, we’re usually talking about what we do. Vision is about why? Vision is about our personal or team or corporate purpose. It’s been said that when you know your “Why,” your “What” becomes more powerful. There is an ancient Proverb that says, “When there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.” It’s saying that absent clear purpose, direction and boundaries, people (individuals, teams, even companies) do whatever they want and that leads to chaos.
I touched on this in a post a couple months ago. But, I want to unpack it a little here. How do you know your purpose, your why? I really like this exercise I learned from John Maxwell’s book Intentional Living. He suggests you can discover your “why” by asking the following questions:
Almost everyone cries about things like the loss of a loved one (human or pet) or a broken relationship. So, the question is not what do you cry about? It’s, what do you cry about? What are the things that uniquely move you to tears? I’m a sap crier, not a sad crier. Don’t get me wrong, I cry about the normal things. But I tend to cry more about things that are moving. My family calls me a sap. So, I had to reverse engineer this to discover that I cry about Ignorance (when people don’t know that things could be better or how to make them better). I also cry about Estrangement (when relationships that should be wonderful are broken). Finally, I cry about Devaluation (I’m not talking about currency here. I’m talking about when people are written off as of having or bringing no value)
Again, the emphasis is on you. What are the specific things that light you up to the point of wanting to sing? I get jazzed about discovery, when I see or help people learn the things that will transform their lives. I also want to sing when there is reconciliation, when those relationships that should be wonderful become wonderful again. Finally, I love it when those who’ve been written off are proven to be worthy. Call it redemption or transformation. I don’t care what we call it, I love it.
This is not the big house, boat, or fancy car conversation. This is about what one thing, if you could change it, would make all the difference for you? I dream about spending the rest of my life launching leaders to live their legend (more about that in another post).
What are you great at? It may be natural talent or developed skill, but you’re good at it. Your sweet spot is where your passion (what you cry and sing about), your dream(s) (what you dream about) and your talent and skills intersect. This is where you find your why, your purpose. this is your 2020 vision of who you want to become.
This is the point where you ask “what?” What are you going to do about all this? Dreams are free, everyone has them. The difference between dreamers who just dream and those whose dreams come true is action. Now that you know your why, your what will be more clear and it will certainly have more impact.
What are two things (small or large) you could do in the next week to move you in the direction of your vision? Do those. Happy New Year!
We got a new puppy the day after Thanksgiving and our lives haven’t been the same since! It’s like having a brand new baby only without the diapers. And this newborn is able to run around. Sleepless nights, constant monitoring to be sure she isn’t into something that can hurt her, teaching her to go potty outside, cleaning up accidents are all things we weren’t doing Thanksgiving Day. Now it is part of our daily routine. Speaking of which, all our routines have changed. My morning routine is disrupted. My wife now has to adjust her day because of the puppy. We all make sure we spend time playing with her. We make sure when she eats, we are nearby to pet her occasionally so she gets used to that and doesn’t become protective of her food.
This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve had new puppies before. We knew what we were in for, and did it anyway. At first they are such a novelty and so cute, it’s all ooohs and aaahs and fun. Soon it becomes work. There are times when you reminisce about when you had more freedom. This is when many people give up. Suzi was reading to me the other day about a place that rescues Golden Retrievers. I said, “Golden Retrievers! Why would they need rescuing?” They seem like such wonderful pets that I was amazed. She read on that often when people get puppies (of any breed or mix), they enjoy the newness and fun of the puppy, but don’t do the hard work of bonding and training and give up on them because it’s too much.
We’ve learned that when you do the hard work up front, you get a wonderful return on your investment. Your cute little puppy/nuisance becomes a lifelong loving companion/member of the family.
We’ve also learned the same is true of children. We adopted five children and each of them (one set of twins) were an unbelievable amount of work (don’t get me wrong, there’s always fun mixed in with the work) on the front end. We (mostly my amazing mother/wife, Suzi) devoted most of our time and energy in the early years bonding with and training our children. Now, the youngest two are 19, we don’t think about the time and energy that went into their development. We’ve been too busy enjoying them.
The same is true at work. New employees are similar to babies and puppies in a sense. Although they are much easier in many ways, doing the hard work of connecting them to the company/team and training them well on the front end will set them up for success and pay huge dividends down the road.
Have a Happy New Year!
This is the Monday before Christmas, 2019. What are you thinking about? If you’re like me, you’re thinking about a lot of things. One of the things on my mind is this post. What should I write about? I decided to see what I wrote about last year at this time, so I went back and discovered last year’s pre-Christmas post came out on Christmas eve. I didn’t write anything about the holiday. I wrote about “Barriers to Good Listening.” It was part of a series on “Listening: The Super-Power You Didn’t Know you Have.” You can find the posts listed on my “Posts By Category” page at engagerdynamics.com.
Listening seems like an appropriate topic for our thinking at this time of year. We “listen” to our family and friends, for example, when they tell us what they want for Christmas. Our son Justin’s Christmas list is a much anticipated piece of holiday literature each year. It’s a humorous proclamation of his “demands” with corresponding “consequences” should they not be met. If you knew Justin, you’d get how funny such an approach is.
My point is that we demonstrate how we’ve listened by the actions we take about those Christmas wishes. I call it Listening with Your Hands and Feet. What I’m thinking about now is, What does Christmas want from you? Strange question? Maybe. We hear a lot about “The Magic of Christmas” and “Christmas Miracles.” I believe the things we put into those categories are the result of someone’s answer to my question. This season asks something from us. As a person of faith, I think of it as “The Reason for the Season–Jesus” who is doing the asking. Whether you’re a person of faith or not, this season asks us to change our attitudes and actions.
As we wrap up the possibly frenetic activities leading into Wednesday, Christmas Day, let me challenge you to listen to the season. What does it want from you? I encourage you further to listen with your hands and feet.
There was a problem with the audio on Sunday so they won’t be posting the video of the talk. With my apologies, here’s the gist of what I spoke about.
Have you ever received a gift that left you speechless? It was so extravagant, or so unexpected, or so personal, or so … that you didn’t have words.
Suzi and I were childless for the first six years of our marriage and had more than one miscarriage. God gave us a family through the miracle of adoption. That’s how we felt each time we looked into the face of one of our adopted children for the first time.
That’s also how I felt that night on December 7, 1979 under the lightly falling snow on the corner of Dearborn and Chestnut Streets in Chicago when I asked Suzi to marry me and she said, “Yes”.
Paul had that reaction in 2CO 9:15. He is writing about financial assistance to those in need. That leads him to talk about how God supplies and he ends with the exclamation “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift”. The gift he’s talking about is called in another translation “unspeakable.” It’s unutterable, it’s inexpressible, it’s incomprehensible, it’s extraordinary because it’s paradoxical. Let me show you what I mean. Here are four Paradoxes of God’s Indescribable Gift …
You could say It has been delivered to every front porch (or version thereof) on the planet – in fact it’s said to be knocking at the door, but many people don’t receive it, Why?
In John 1:12 the disciple John says that to all who do receive this gift, God gave the right to become children of God. When you adopt a child, you appear in court and the judge asks you if you are willingly receiving this child into your family with all the rights, privileges, and access of a fully legal member of the family including being heir to your estate. The answer, of course, is YES! John is saying that those who receive his gift have the full rights, privileges and access to God as a fully legal child including being heirs to the throne of heaven!
You can’t buy it – this offer is not available in stores (or online for that matter) You can’t get it at Amazon, there is no auction on e-Bay, Wal-Mart doesn’t carry it. You won’t find it at Nordstrom. Even Neiman Marcus doesn’t carry it. The price is too high. You couldn’t afford it. No one but God could afford to pay for it.
You can’t earn it. In Luke 18 a young man came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to [earn the gift]?” Jesus gave him an answer not to say, “Do this and you’ll earn it,” but to demonstrate how impossible it is to earn the gift.
You can’t bargain for it – You’ve heard of foxhole conversions, “God, if you get me out of this, I’ll start going to church (or whatever the promise might be)!” That doesn’t work. Neither does God say, ‘ll give you this gift if you do that for me. It’s not a quid pro quo transaction.
When you receive it, and you have to actively receive this gift. You have to sign for it at the door. There is no auto deposit. When you receive this gift, it changes you. This is not a gift you can just stick in your back pocket, or hang around your neck, or put up in the closet. When you take hold of this gift, it takes hold of you. It gets inside your head. It gets inside your heart and begins to change you from the inside out. In one place, the bible says just looking at this gift transforms you. The word “transform” is metamorphosis. Just like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, this gift begins to transform your character.
You could say this gift will cost you who you are today to become who you were meant to be. That will Cost you time. It will cost you energy. It will cost you money. It may cost you friends. It has cost many their lives. Read Hebrews 11 in the New Testament, or Foxe’s book of Martyrs. Many of you know the story of Jim Elliott.
When you receive this gift, it also changes your trajectory. People who do not receive it are on a trajectory away from God. But this gift
You’re supposed to re-gift this gift. The words from a song that plays at Christmas are, “Last Christmas I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.” In the song that’s a bad thing, but God says “Yes! Give it away the very next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.
None of God’s gits is intended to flow into you like a reservoir, they’re all intended to flow through you like a river to benefit others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
One of the ironies of this gift is that it grows in value as you give it away. You reap all the benefits of the gift and as you give it away, you get more of it. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.
This gift is not a thing. Some treat it like an insurance policy, or like a certificate of membership is some club.
This is God’s gift of Jesus and all he is and does and has and brings when he is received. In the Bible names are significant. They speak of character and position and resources. Jesus is called by many names in the Bible. At this time of year we think especially of “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” I love the title King; King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the front of my journal I’ve written, “I serve at the pleasure of the King.”
In 1981, Suzi and I were in our first year of marriage. It was my senior year at Moody Bible Institute. In February of that year, Suzi and I attended Moody’s Founder’s week, a week long Bible conference. During one of the sessions we attended, S.M. Lockridge spoke. His message was entitled, “Amen.” During that message he delivered this now famous description of the indescribable Jesus! It’s been memorialized as a modernized video here
During that video, pastor Lockridge asked several times, “Do you know him?” At this Christmas time I wonder, too, have you opened the door and signed for the gift God has delivered to you? There would be no better time than now.
Have you ever received a gift that left you speechless? It was so extravagant, or so unexpected, or so personal, or so … that you didn’t have words. I talked about that with some friends at a church yesterday. I’ll post the video when it goes up probably tomorrow. I’m a person of faith and this talk reflects that. So, if you’re interested, watch for the post later.
In 1964 a psychologist named Robert Rosenthal conducted an experiment in some elementary school classrooms. He told the teachers that a special test he’d administered to their students had the ability to predict which students were on the verge of great intellectual growth. He randomly selected some of their students as those who had been so identified by the test and told the teachers who they were. The teachers, who thought this was all legitimate, went on to teach the students based on the expectation set by the test outcomes.
As he followed the children over the next two years, Rosenthal discovered that the teachers’ expectations of these kids really did affect the students. “If teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ, then increasingly, those kids gained more IQ,” he says.
This psychological phenomenon identified by Robert Rosenthal is also known as the Pygmalion Effect. The name, interestingly, is based on an ancient Greek myth about Pygmalion who fell in love with one of his sculptures which, then, came to life. The psychological effect follows the mechanics diagrammed below:
In essence, people tend to become what we expect of them. That’s because our expectations influence how we behave toward people. They internalize the impact of our behavior and incorporate that into their beliefs about themselves which influence how they behave which reinforces our beliefs, expectations and behavior and around we go again. Pretty interesting and important. The higher our expectations, the better people perform.
The negative corollary to the Pygmalion effect is known as the Golem Effect. It simply says that low expectations have the same impact in the wrong direction. If we expect people to perform poorly, they will tend to live up to (or should I say down to) that expectation as well.
I’ve written about setting expectations previously in this blog. This time, though, it’s not about letting people know what tasks and outcomes you expect from them. In this context, expectation is more about how successful you believe they will be at accomplishing those tasks or achieving those outcomes. It’s about your beliefs. Do you expect your team to win? Why or why not?
If you don’t expect your people to succeed, why don’t you? Do they need more training? Do they need better tools? Do you need different people? Or, do you need an adjustment to your beliefs, your expectations? This could be a challenging exercise, but, as John Maxwell says, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.” Take some time to reflect on each person on your team. What do you believe about them? What about the team as a whole? Where do those beliefs come from? Are they fair? What’s your evidence? Are they accurate? Are you producing the Pygmalion effect or the Golam effect with your people?
As a leader, you’re influencing your people by your actions. Those actions are fueled by your beliefs about them. How are your people doing? What do you expect?
Have you ever gotten it wrong? Ever blown it? When was the last time you made a decision or acted in a way that turned out to be wrong? It didn’t bring about the desired outcome or it was actually counterproductive. Every one of us has, more than once. Now, when was the last time you acknowledged it? What did you do to acknowledge it? I had to acknowledge a failure last week which involved spelling out what the failure was and apologizing for a negative effect on a co-worker. That’s not fun.
That heading is from a Dale Carnegie white paper called, “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.” Here’s an excerpt:
Everyone gets it wrong sometimes. That’s life, and making mistakes is part of it. How we handle situations in which we realize we’re wrong, though, says volumes about what kind of person we are. It takes high levels of honesty, integrity, and courage to admit when you’re wrong. Perhaps that’s why so few leaders do it. More than eight in ten respondents worldwide (81%) said that having a leader who will admit when he or she is wrong is important or very important to inspiring them to give their best efforts at work. Admitting when you are wrong demonstrates that the environment is safe for taking calculated risks, making mistakes and learning from them. And while good leaders will usually make the right calls, even the best will undoubtedly have opportunities to prove their reliability, trustworthiness and integrity by owning their mistakes.
I especially like the part about a safe environment for taking calculated risks, making mistakes and learning from them. John Maxwell says there are two kinds of people in regards to setbacks (mistakes):
Mistakes are not usually fatal. In fact, mistakes are sometimes the best way to learn. Failing forward is how we learned to walk and communicate. We took a step, fell, got back up, took another step, fell, got back up, took two steps …
Some kinds of mistakes bring a greater learning opportunity than other kinds. Some kinds of mistakes come from things we tried on purpose while others are more accidental. Mindworks.com calls these “Aha moment Mistakes”, “Sloppy Mistakes”, “Stretch Mistakes”, and “High Stakes Mistakes” according to the matrix below:
The lesson here is twofold. First, make sure your failures are not just the sloppy kind. Make sure you are failing because you are trying to find new and better ways to do things. Another quote from John Maxwell sums this up, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”
Second, again, own your mistakes. Analyze what went wrong. Talk about what went wrong with all the stakeholders. If someone was hurt in the process, be sure to apologize for those consequences. Also, and this is very important for creating an environment where your people want to learn and grow, forgive when others make mistakes. Because, we’ve all been there.
Here’s the video of what I posted about Monday morning.
Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of new friends at Grace Community Church in Lathrop, CA. This is Thanksgiving week so I shared about Thanksgiving. It wasn’t about turkey and pilgrims, though. It was about the Attitude of Thanksgiving. Anyone who knows me at all, knows I’m a word nerd so here you go, the definition of Attitude is – “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” I called it the Attitude of Gratitude. We explored two questions about the Attitude of Gratitude, Why? and How?
There are more reasons to be grateful then there is space to write about, but I shared four in particular:
First, The attitude of gratitude is good for you. Studies have shown that consistent gratitude is good for your mental health and physical well-being. Grateful people are better looking! Think about the most ungrateful person you know. Picture their face. Now picture a consistently grateful person. Who looks better? Grateful people have more friends because gratitude is attractive of positive relationships. Grateful people get more stuff because it’s way more fun to give to a grateful person.
Second, the attitude of gratitude is aligned with reality. The more we align our thinking and living with reality (some call it truth), the better our lives will be. This reality is that everything you have is a gift. I know you’ve all worked hard and earned your way. But, think of this question, how hard did you work to start your heart in your mother’s womb? Or, think of this question, how hard did you work to make sure your parents met? With everything that had to happen, the fact that any of us is even here is a miracle. Our lives are a gift, gratitude is the appropriate response to a gift. Your mama taught you that.
Third, the attitude of gratitude is the antidote to entitlement. We are living in a culture of entitlement (word nerd alert): “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” Entitlement is like a poison that withers people and cultures. It hollows them out and makes them weak. Entitlement is the epitome of ingratitude. Developing gratitude is the antidote. For the sake of ourselves, our children and our culture, we need to become a grateful people.
Fourth, the attitude of gratitude is a mark of obedience. The apostle Paul writes in two places in the New Testament of the Bible: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be Thankful.” Colossians 3:15. And, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. God’s commands always have a practical “why.” See the first three reasons for the attitude of gratitude for examples
I approached this question from three angles.
First, how can I have gratitude when bad stuff is happening to me? This is where the rubber meets the road for most of us. We all know about bad stuff happening in our lives. “Feel the burn” is a way of looking at the physical suffering of exercise as a positive thing. It means that our endurance is increasing. The physical suffering of exercise produces endurance that proves itself on the field or court when you perform. Seeing that progress of endurance and improved performance makes you feel good about the result like, “maybe there’s hope for me after all!” The same is true with character (check out Romans 5:1-5 in the New Testament, google it).
Second, how can I develop gratitude? Simply put, train your brain. Experts say we have 50K – 80K thoughts per day. Wow! fortunately our brains filter those thoughts so that we are often aware of only a fraction of them. The filter you have is either developed by your circumstances or you can adjust it yourself by what you think about. Your life gravitates in the direction of your most dominant thoughts like a flower grows toward the sun. We become what we think most about. You have the ability to choose what to think about. As the apostle Paul said, again, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” Try keeping a daily journal of what went well today and what you are thankful for. Study that journal on a weekly basis. That will help train your brain and adjust your filter.
Finally, how can I express gratitude? Use your words. Say “please” and “thank you” often. Use your gifts. When you use the gifts you’ve been given (physical or spiritual) it honors the giver. Finally, use your body. You had to be there yesterday to get the experience, but suffice it to say we practice expressing our gratitude to God for his goodness in the same way we express our excitement over our sports teams.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!