Got Vision?

Do you have a vision for a better future?  What kind of picture would you paint?   Imagine, instead of succombing to apathy or remaining “as is,” you dream of what could be, devise a clear plan, and simply implement it.  Sounds good right?  But, how exactly would that work?

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According to Andy Stanley, in his book Visioneering, there are simply four vital components to a vision:

  1. The problem.  The goal is to be clear about the problem first and foremost.  Too often we settle for fuzzy thinking when it comes to defining our current reality.  Writing down the problem allows you to see what you are thinking.  So…what is your current problem?  Why is it a problem?  BTW: Is your thinking the problem?
  2. The solution.  Next, determine the solution.  How can the problem be fixed?  Typically there are multiple solutions to any problem.  Writing down several solutions to the problem brings encouragement to your situation.  Embrace possibility thinking.  Once you have several possible solutions written down, prioritize them to determine the best solution.
  3. The reason something must be done.  Now it’s time to determine why “status quo” cannot continue.  Again, there must be clarity in why the solution is worth pursuing.   If you really want to see change in your organization, you will need a compelling reason for change.  Most people want improvement without making change.  This is where your “reasoning” makes all the difference.  Is it really worth your time & money?  Your people will only “buy-in” if you do!
  4. The reason something must be done now.   Mike Roach once said, “strategy without execution is hallucination!” A vision states that, “something must be done now; not two years from now!”  How common is it for our current budgets or schedules to dictate our ability to take action?   A great vision will tell your resources where to go; not the other way around.  Lincoln Brewster sings the song: “Today is the Day.”  Isn’t it worth singing your tune (vision) today?

So…got vision?   Granted, there will be obstacles and resistance.  In fact, the bigger the vision the greater the tension.  However, you can gain great traction right now by using this four step guideline.

Clarify and implement your better future.  

Take the next few minutes to answer the four questions: What’s the problem?  What’s the solution?  Why must something be done?  Why must something be done now?  Let’s go!

 

Are You Wise?

Did you know that wealth is a distinction of the wise?   Granted, there are different flavors of wealth: relational, physical, financial, emotional, etc.  Yet, according to the Bible, wise people yield some form of wealth.

Chess

Fools, on the other hand, can only expect to yield foolishness.  Why?  Because their efforts (daily actions) are foolish.  They spend all they have.  They do not store up treasures.  They do not have stores of choice foods and oils.  They do not save and invest.  Yes, their actions speak unfortunate volumes.

Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.  – Proverbs 14:24

When it comes to daily interactions, foolish people continue to act foolish.  They con, deceive, demean, connive, fight, slander, gossip, and the list goes on.  On top of this, they spend everything and live on credit.  Do you want to do business with people in this group?

However, there is another group of people.  No, the wise are not perfect but they do not continue in foolish activity.  Even if they dabble in foolishness, they tend to get out quickly.  Why?  Because the wise understand that relationship building is wealth building.  They work on being honest, helpful, upright, caring, encouraging, generous, and smart.

The efforts of the wise yields wealth.  Therefore, they get to wear a crown.  Their daily actions lead to profit.  They build their lists.  They continue to add value and offer great products.  They are diligent in their efforts.  Doing business with them is wise.

So, if you want to see better yields, first take a look in the mirror.  Ask God to give you a moral compass that points others towards Him.  Ask God to help your daily actions yield honesty, integrity, generosity, and a caring attitude.  Essentially, request to become wise.

 

Next Steps

  1. If you are wise, how so?
  2. What are your daily actions giving you?
  3. As you look in the mirror, what’s one area of character that needs improvement?

Push The “Faith” Button

Can you imagine what life would look like over the next 30 days if you only pushed the faith button?  With every encounter, opportunity, or challenge, you step forward in faith.  You just flat out decide not to push the fear button.

Red Button

Too many of us are not even aware that we allow fear to dominate our daily decision making.   It only takes one or two fear based decisions each day to throw off our compass.  Next thing we know, we are sailing off course, not hitting goals, and scratching our head wondering how it all happened.

 

What if it getting things done were as simple as pressing a button?  For instance, think of a task right now that you have been avoiding.  Whatever it is, imagine yourself releasing the big red fear button.  Great, now lean forward and press the big green faith button.  Face your task or goal!  Smile at it and go to work on it!   In fact, you are no longer afraid of it because you just pushed the “faith” button!

 

Are you still reading this?  I get it…sometimes taking the leap of faith is scary!  Look at Peter in the Bible.  He stepped out of the boat and began to walk on water only to realize, “wow, this is scary,” and the sinking began.  Even if you are being asked to walk on water, try pushing the faith button and see what happens.

 

Next Steps

  1. Does your current thinking empower you?
  2. How might your life be different if you only pushed the faith button?
  3. Which of your goals needs a giant faith button?

3 BIG STEPS TO OVERCOMING FEAR

What Are You Afraid Of?

Public speaking used to scare me to death.  I dropped out of my speech class three different times in college.  Speaking in front of people back then was complete torture.  Why?  Deep down inside I did not want to be rejected.

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As a teenager, I would do my best to pretend that I was not scared.  I did my best to cover up, be the life of the party, and hold it all together.  Despite my best efforts, deep down inside, I was a wreck.  The problem:  I wanted to be courageous and confident, but felt stuck in an endless cycle of fear.

What are you afraid of?  Right now, there are people afraid to write their books, start their businesses, or launch their podcasts.  Others, are afraid to sell, promote their brand, make presentations, or simply invite their neighbors over for a bbq.  Regardless of the reason, many allow fear to control their decision-making.

The definition of Fear (noun): An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or is a threat.  For many of us, success sounds dangerous, rejection sounds painful, and failure sounds like a threat.  Fear wants to hold us back and it’s yelling, “Give up; don’t even try!”  Ouch!

It’s time to stop allowing fear to dictate our lives.  But how?

Take These 3 Steps

  1. Reveal it.  Call it out.  Get very clear about what it is you fear and write it down.  Create a list of all your fears.  This will help you see what you are up against.  Then answer 3 questions for each:  1) Why does this exist?  2) Why is this holding me back?  3) What will life look like when I no longer allow this to hold me back?
  2. Renounce it.  Declare your abandonment.  It no longer has to be your boss.  Tell it to go and take back control.  For each one listed, write down why you are leaving.  That’s right, you are done with this relationship.  Explain why this is no longer working for you.  You are kicking this toxicity to the curb.  Don’t allow it to rob you from what you believe you could and should be.
  3. Replace it.  Replace it with faith.  2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline,” (NLT).  Combine God’s word with prayer.  Then step toward the fear.  For example, let’s say you are afraid to write your speech.  Take action immediately.  Do not second guess.  Begin writing.  If you delay: “Well, I just need a little bit more time, collect more information, etc.  I just need to…”  Stop!  Do not allow the delay button to be pushed.  The “delay” button is really the “fear” button.  Do it now in faith!
These 3 steps have helped me greatly.  I continue to rely on them daily as fear tries to stomp out my faith.  For further help I recommend the book: Freedom From Fear.

Questions: What fear has been most gripping in your life?  Which of the steps do you find most helpful?  You can leave your comment below.

How’s Your Self-Talk?

I Can vs. I Can't

Negative self-talk hinders growth!


For years I believed the lie that said, “I’m no good.  I’ll amount to nothing!”  Unfortunately, the more I repeated this self-criticism the more I believed it.  Imagine believing a lie for so long that it disguises itself as truth.  You begin to say things like, “That’s just the way I am,” or  “I will always be this way.”  Does this sound familiar?
Our 6-year-old son loves the phrase “I can’t!”  When we ask him to do his homework, pick up toys, or do any chore for that matter, he emphatically declares, “I can’t!”  In reply, I like to ask him: “Who told you that?”  He never gives me a clear answer.  The fact is, he has simply made up his mind.  He is convinced that certain tasks are downright impossible.

Regardless of our age, we all face certain barriers to growth.  With each challenge that lies before us, our goal should be to grow through it.  So how does one arrive at this new “I can” mindset?  Take two simple steps.  First, believe you can make the shift.  Second, practice new phraseology.
  1. Renew Your Mind

If we are going to make this transition, we need to believe we can.  If we really believe “we can’t” we will not even attempt to try.  Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returns to it’s vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness” (NLT).   In other words, we cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.  We need to change our thinking.  Our brains need new data plans.  The negative data needs to be deleted and replaced.  So, here are a few tips to renew:

  • Be Thankful.  Take the first minute of every morning and focus on everything you are thankful for.  You can journal, make a list, spend time in prayer, etc.  The point is to trigger positive thoughts and to write them down.  We have much to be thankful for.
  • Don’t Complain.  Take up the challenge to not complain for a whole week.  Give yourself grace when you mess up because old habits run deep.  However, it’s time to become conscious of our inner dialogue.  Pay attention and stop the negativity cycle.
  • Think Positive.  Meditate on positive thoughts.  Personally, I prefer to read the Bible every morning.  I find that going to God’s Word renews my outlook for each day.  There are plenty of Scriptures to camp out in.  For example, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  If the Bible is not your thing, find some positive quotes and allow them to take root.

Ok, now that we are renewing our mind.  We need to change our phraseology.

  1. Ask: How Can I?

Either possibilities abound or they don’t; our thinking makes it so.  This week, whenever you hit a roadblock in your thinking, planning, work, or whatever; hit the pause button.  Tap your brain and ask, “How can I?”  Whenever negative self-talk rears it’s ugliness, we need to enforce this new phrase immediately.  This moves us from merely wanting to achieve goals to actually working on goals.  Like all positive habits, this will take some time to form.

In addition to these suggestions, I like the question Tony Teagarden asks: “Would you talk like that to a 5-year-old?”

Next Steps

  • Where is negative self-talk showing up in your life?
  • What do you complain about?
  • How can you refrain from complaining this week?  Track your progress.

Thank You Plastic!

See The Possibilities

It’s amazing how plastic can entertain – especially the plastic “legos.”

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My kids had a blast @LegolandChicago on a very (crazy busy) President’s day!

My wife and I enjoyed watching them build & race their lego cars.  They marveled at all the giant and life-like characters built out of colorful plastic pieces.  Of course, we certainly did not leave empty-handed.  Nope!  Thanks to the gift shop, located conveniently at the exit, we were able to purchase more plastic!  Woohoo!  Although my wife and I are still recovering, in all seriousness, it was a great day.

This recent excursion got me thinking…I suppose we really are “plastic” people.  We use plastic everyday and just take it for granted – water bottles, keurigs, computers, cell phones, sunglasses, cassette tapes, etc.   If we are not careful, we can begin to take life for granted too.   Unfortunately, we are all prone to getting into ruts.  We certainly don’t set out with the motto: “everyday is just another day.”  But ruts do happen.  So what to do?

Well, if you look close enough behind the plastic, you get to see a key Lego value:

Play is essential because when children play, they learn! 

Remember, legos are simple plastic pieces.  Yet, when pieced together, they create endless possibilities.  Kids don’t just see the plastic, they see the endless possibilities!

Do we as adults need to learn from our kids?   What if we took an upcoming business meeting and threw some plastic on the table?  Imagine your leadership team having fun – creating, dreaming, building, and playing together?  Sounds goofy?  Yep!  Try it anyway?  Yes!  We need the reminder that “when we play, we learn!”

So…”Thank you plastic!”  It’s time to have some fun as we learn a thing or two.

Next Step

  1. Is your leadership in a rut?  If so, why?  How can you tell?
  2. When can you take your team offsite for some fun?
  3. How can your leadership team implement the motto: “when we play, we learn?”
  4. Specifically, what will you do this week to play, learn, & see the possibilities?

God Is Able

Feeling The Heat?

Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

fire texture faming hot burn furnace place burning stock photo
Nebuchadnezzar was about to cast these three prophets into the furnace because they did not worship the idol he chose!  So he mocked God by saying, “What god is able to deliver you out of my hand?”

 Their response, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Wow!  What amazing faith and obedience!  It’s as if they knew Luke 16:13, “You cannot serve both God and money.”  Having two masters will not work.

Our security is either in Christ alone or it is in something else.

Everyday we are put into a position to reveal our faith or lack thereof.  BTW: The way we handle money says a lot about us.  When the heat gets cranked up…do we truly believe God will provide for all of our needs?

Next Step

  1. Where in your life has the heat been cranked up?
  2. How can you see your current challenges as opportunities to grow your faith? (see James 1:2-3)
  3. Do you believe God is able?  If so, how will that look today?

How To L.E.A.D.

Love, Encourage, Assist, Develop

To L.E.A.D. people is to care about their lives, find ways to build them up, come alongside them, and look to help them grow.L.E.A.D.

LOVE your people

This may sound too soft and perhaps even a waste of time.  However, all relationships are based on trust.  To build trust with anyone requires a certain level of care and honesty.  Both care and honesty stem from love.  For example, friendships are based on this very principle: “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”

 Can cold leaders create warm organizations?

  • When an organization decides to treat people without love – harsh, cold, indifferent, or “your just a number” – expect your people to act the same.  Your culture will mirror you.  It starts with you!  When people no longer feel “the love” from you, they will go to someone else.
  • So, who needs your love right now?  Who needs to know that you actually do care?  The first step could simply be to schedule some time to check-in. Ask relational questions:  How are you?  How are you really?  How’s your family?  If you have been too distant for too long, simply apologize for that, and let him / her know you intend to get better.

ENCOURAGE your people

Look for what your people are “doing right!”  Take the time to visit your leaders and share with them what they are “doing right!”  Tell them how much you appreciate them.  Schedule training times to address the things that need improvement.  Begin these training times by highlighting what they are “doing right” and then take some time to share intended outcomes / improvements.
  • When you spend more time looking for what they are “doing right” you will notice an uptick in their demeanor.  Instead of scattering like roaches when you arrive on the scene – your people will begin to welcome your visits.  A word of caution: your people can tell if you are sincere.  Don’t try pretense or any snake oil tactics.

ASSIST your people

Do you really want your people to feel encouraged?  Beyond the words, take the initiative and implement action.  Come along side your leaders and help them carry out one of their responsibilities.  If your leaders already know that you care about them, they will be more open to your assistance.
  • So how do you begin down this path?  Ask to do a “ride along”!  Sales mangers are privy to this term.  It just means that you spend an hour or two working on a task together – making calls, meeting clients, etc.  It’s amazing how much more productive your people will become when you show up to provide them a helping hand.  Your willingness to serve your leaders will raise their willingness to do the same.

DEVELOP your people

Do you want to empower your people to get better?  Do you want to see them thrive?  Invest in your people!  Scheduling time to sit down with your people to discuss their desires, challenges, and dreams will lead to greater dividends!  Ask your people to create personal growth plans – focusing on areas for improvement such as attitude, productivity, & specific skills: sales calls, presenting, networking, etc.
  • So what is hindering their growth?  What resources do they need?  Now, go ahead and provide the resources!  Make it a point to check-in on their progress at regular intervals to encourage their progress.  BTW: How would you feel if your boss sincerely invested in your growth?  Why not L.E.A.D. the way?

Next Step

  • Can you imagine doing these 4 simple actions with your leaders this year?
  • What difference would it make to bring L.E.A.D. to your team?
  • What if your team learned to do the same?

 

WORRY FREE LIFE?

A Biblical Remedy

How many of us have been robbed of peace and joy because of worry?

Worry is like a rocking chair – it keeps you moving but gets you nowhere.  It takes you round and round – bringing you back to where you were.

According to the medical research done by the Mayo Clinic, it is estimated that more than 80% of their total caseload is directly related to worry.

In other words, over 80% of the physical diseases diagnosed come from worry.

Worry is tied to heart trouble, blood pressure problems, ulcers, migraine headaches, and a host of stomach disorders.

Some of you are thinking “thank you” now I am worried!

While medicine can remove the symptoms, it cannot remove the cause.  Worry is an “inside job.”

  • Worry is a divided mind (pulled in different directions).  What happens when you try to go in two directions at the same time?
  • Worry neutralizes us – creating frustration because we settle for neutral when we really know we should be moving forward.
So what are we to do?  According to the Bible…we need some PPT!

“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by Prayer and Petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God” – Philippians 4:6worried

We must learn how to pray instead of worry.

Prayer: Whenever we find ourselves worrying, our first action ought to be to get alone with God and worship Him.

Prayer begins with trusting God and believing He is big enough to solve our problems.  Stop, drop, & pray!

Petition: After we come to him in worship we should sincerely share our needs and problems.

1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all our anxieties on Him.”  Too often we give God our worries – when we get through praying – we reach over and take them back – then spend the rest of our day worrying.

We are to bring our problems to the Lord with confidence.

Thanksgiving: Remember how gracious God is.  Whether we are in prosperity or in affliction we are to give thanks.

When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one of the 10 returned to give thanks.  Too often we are eager to ask but slow to appreciate.

  • Paul tells us to take “everything to God in prayer.”  Talking to God about everything that concerns us is the first step toward victory over worry.
  • Prayer does not always change the situation but it does change us – it’s an inside job!

This does not mean the absence of trials on the outside, but it does mean a quiet confidence within (regardless of circumstances, people, or stuff).

Next Step

  1. Where do you find yourself anxious?  What do you worry about?
  2. Have you tried this prayer approach?  If so, what has been your experience?
  3. Read Philipians 4:7 to see the intended results for this approach to worry!

Are You A Generous Leader?

Giver or Taker?

Generous

Selfish leaders focus on themselves and unfortunately their selfishness is felt by everyone.  Their focus is on “taking!” Instead of looking to serve their people, these leaders promote themselves and their own agendas. They do not provide proper tools and training for their people.  Ultimately, they attempt to control people.

On the other hand, generous leaders focus on “giving!”  These leaders look to serve their people and promote the overall mission of the organization.  They encourage their people by providing  tools and training to help them grow. Ultimately, they attempt to empower people.

Although this is a simplistic approach, I believe generous leaders are essential to carrying out the mission in any organization (especially in the church).  With that said, generous leaders practice 3 disciplines imperfectly well: Encouraging, Equipping, & Empowering!

Encourage: Give Hope

  1. Focus On Them!  How are they?  Their Family?  Don’t just walk past them.  Take an interest in your people.  Enter their world.  Practice the golden rule and “treat people how you want to be treated.”  This certainly requires a generous attitude.  If we show up with a selfish attitude we will push people away.  The goal should be to give your people your attention.  This let’s them know you really do care about them!  Remember, everyone is going through some sort of challenge.  Your willingness to focus on them can potentially lift their hope a percentage point or two.
  2. Give Affirmation!  Give positive feedback!  “Here is what you are doing well!!  Or, “here is what I appreciate about you!”  Be as specific as you can.  Let your people know what they are good at!  Too often our people only hear crickets!  Do you want to see team members soar?  Look for the one thing they are doing well and praise it.  For instance, if they are doing a good job answering the phone – tell them “I really like how you answer the phone!  Your enthusiasm really shines through.  People love interacting with you.  We need more people answering phone calls like you!”
  3. Say “Please” & “Thank You”!   You can get way more accomplished with “please” and “thank you”!  For example, sincerely saying “Thank you for your help” sounds much better than any amount of sarcasm.  Sarcasm can be fun…but too often it can leave the other person guessing (was that serious or was that sarcasm)?  “Could you please” is better than “I need you to move your desk into storage room B!”  It may sound too simple but these two little words can greatly encourage your people.  It certainly can soften the blow on harsh deadlines!

Equip: Give Tools

  1. Enhance Their Strengths.   As you think of your team, what strength does each team member bring to the table?  Imagine for a moment that you are sitting down with a team member.  How could you help him / her grow this year?  What training could you provide?  How about some resources?  For example, let’s say your team member is strong in selling!  You could provide resources such as sales coaching, audible sales books, and a sales conference or webinar.  BTW…schedule time to check-in along the way to get their feedback.  Ask: Did the training help?  How so?  If not, why not?  Make room in your schedule and in your budget to invest in your people.
  2. Provide Coaching.  Imagine helping your people transform into vibrant growing leaders!  You can guide and prompt your people to vibrancy!  Grab a book on coaching and schedule regular coaching conversations.  A great book to start is: Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel S. Harkavy.  He outlines the implementation process and gives you some great tools to begin coaching!

Empower: Give Authority

  • Let Them Fail.  Micromanaging others is a reflection of insecurity or a lack of trust in your people.  If you cannot stand the thought of your people learning through failure you most likely have some control issues.  Take a step back and ask: If I am secure in myself, how can I best transfer that to others?  Generous leaders are secure enough to hand over the keys and let their people drive.  What does this mean?  Give your people space and a safe place to: try, fail, learn (repeat)!   That’s it…just like Disney’s Frozen, “Let It Go!”

Next Steps

  1. Are you a “giver” or a “taker”?
  2. On a scale of 1-10 (1 = Low, etc.), how well do you encourage your co-workers, employees, or volunteers?  How can you begin to improve?
  3. What are some tools / training you can begin to provide your people?
  4. How well do you empower your leaders?  What will it look like to give your people the space and a safe place to try, fail, learn (repeat)?

Does this resonate with you?  Write your comments below 🙂