1 Thing You Never Knew About The 12 Disciples

1 Thing You Never Knew About The 12 Disciples

If you’ve ever struggled with doubt, insecurity or the feeling of inadequacy as a leader, this one is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered why the disciples of Jesus seemed like such a hot mess sometimes, this one is for you.

If you’ve lost sight of who you are and what you’re capable of as a person and leader, then this one is for you.

I’ve been reading this book bit by bit at night (as I’m sitting in the hall keeping a straying eye on my toddlers infinitely trying to finagle their way out of bedtime) on the topic of Discipleship.

First 5 chapters in and it’s not what I expected at all.

For starters, the author Robby Gallaty doesn’t go into the 5 or 7 step plan or program for discipleship. Instead he spends the first several chapters laying the ground work through topics like 1st century Judaism, church history/church fathers and this idea of Keshers-which are New Testament allusions to Old Testament references.

All of it very fascinating-making for a much more general educational experience too, by the way, which is a win for me (a pastor who is not “Seminary trained” whatever that means!)

But none so fascinating as this one chapter titled “Disciples are Made, Not Born” where Gallaty is having the broader discussion around just how normal these 12 men really were.

He lays out a profile of the disciples concerning 3 main categories: how they were blue-collar workers, how they possessed no formal religious training and how they were young men.

It’s this last profile item that has made an absolute proselyte out of me for this book.

Gallaty goes on to lay out a highly convincing 7-fold argument for why the disciples may have very well been… TEENAGERS.

Consider the following few as a sample:

When you look at the title Jesus often used for them; the original greek words Mikronos and Teknion they mean “little ones” or “little children”…

You think about their formal Jewish training which would have ended at 15 (these 12, Jesus’ 12 were not selected to progress onto the next elite stage)…

You take this reality and combine it with the normative age for getting married at the time-18 (it was frowned upon in this time and place to be a bachelor after 18; none but Peter was thought to be married), and you begin to see the power of the argument.

These facts along with 2 other major defenses: their tenure of ministry long after Jesus’ death along with their seemingly constant and petty quibbling-ridden immaturity… this really starts to make sense.

So my first thing is this…

Why have I never heard this before?!

I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years, I’ve gone to Christian College, I’ve worked in vocational ministry for over half a decade, read several books, listened to hundreds of sermons and not once did I hear someone allude to the disciples being teenagers.

I can only surmise that this is because the same scorn for youth and young people that exists today was alive and well  in the time and place of Jesus.

You see I think we, in the marketplace as well as church organizations, need to strongly reconsider the worth, value and investment ascribed to young volunteers and young staff.

And the key word is investment… worthy investment. We need to trade our scorn for open-minded and intentional investment.

Here’s a good question to consider in giving young people more opportunities:

Why are you still recruiting and hiring to skills and competencies?

The chapter title reminds me of something Craig Groeschel says in his leadership podcast:

Leaders are not found, they’re developed.¬†

The point is this: we need to start looking for the intangibles when it comes to our team members… character, attitude, heart, mindset and emotional intelligence.

With these as the baseline all else can be trained and equipped.

After all, if you’re a boss, hiring manager, CEO or lead pastor and you’ve ever been frustrated with the expense (material and immaterial) of letting someone go after they failed to meet the needs of the organization then you understand that 9/10 of those departures were based off of organizational culture and DNA fit.

In other words they were based off of the above baselines. Which, without these, excellence and proficiency in skills, tasks and competencies don’t matter because there’s never enough chemistry and unity to forge through to that level of productivity anyway!

Look back and consider Jesus’ selection of these young men; he believed they had the right stuff, the stuff that could be built on.

One final question when considering the 12 disciples as teenagers:

Who do you think it is that is charged with changing the world?

There was 1 and then there was 12 and then there was 70 (Luke 10) and then there was 120 (Acts 1) and then there was 3000 (Acts 2-Pentecost) and then there was 6 million (end of 3rd Century) and then there was nearly a billion (today).

A movement that began with 12 young men… quite possibly teenagers.

Was Jesus, in fact, trying to tell us something… was he trying to send us a message by selecting these ordinary, common-even juvenile-mere teenagers?

These boys were just on their official summer job. School was out, except school was out for good and they did not get the acceptance letter for higher learning.

They’re taking back up that trade that paid their way last summer and except this time it’s for life.

Who would even have the gall to imagine something greater, something bigger, something more profound?

We know now looking back at history that ¬†it was not “if” it was “when” for this group of leaders.

And so if a rag-tag bunch of teenagers could be grown up and trained in the way that they ought to walk in order that they might partner with the actual author of history to affect the trajectory of the human story… maybe, just maybe it’s possible that we could play a hand too…

Men, women, boys and girls, mom’s, dad’s, students, workers, blue-collar, white-collar, black, white, brown and yellow… all have a name and a place… all have a call that’s grander than the task at hand… all have the ability to multiply the way like those who went before them.

Extraction: The Art of Actualizing What’s in Your Head

Extraction: The Art of Actualizing What’s in Your Head

Have you ever had something in your head that you needed to get out? Some vision, idea, program, talk, training, “how-to” guide… some thing you needed to move from abstract constellation of thought into a clearly outlined, usable thing?

When I was transitioning from my last church job my supervisor-a man whose analytical genius is always bent toward better execution-suggested that I write down a general who, what, when, where, why for my successor. 

When we would check in for our weekly 1:1s, a greater and greater percentage of our time was devoted to passing the baton (of information and how-tos) well.

During our time together he would drive me deeper and deeper into cataloging the most important standard operating procedures held under the 2 or 3 major hats that I wore. 

I will never forget what he said one day toward that end. He said very simply, “we need to get what’s in your head out.”

As basic as that might sound it triggered something in me…

For starters it made me think: what are the hundreds of little things I do each day that no one knows about, that’s not in writing somewhere, that no one told me to do, but it effectively gets my job done.¬†

And while, at the end of my transition time, I did not produce a list with every one of those hundred items, I was able to produce the broader strokes of my past deliverables. 

The second thing my supervisor’s comment triggered was a an affirmation of this blog actually.¬†

The whole point behind this writing discipline was two-fold: 

1, as an external tool to inspire, influence and ignite something in others and;

2, as an internal tool of recapping all that I had learned in the past year-a sort of personal development journal for the sake of never forgetting all the amazing takeaways.  

Herein lies the first principle of what I will call Standard Mental Operating Procedure Extraction or SMOPE for short:

(1) SMOPE requires a pause in our daily mental activity so that we may become more conscious of what’s behind our daily decisions and actions.¬†

The answer to my rhetorical question above (have you ever had something in your head that you wanted to get out?) is: of course you have. Everyone has…

I just think that most people sell themselves short on this level of thought life and ideation.

Most people will go about their work and leadership never having given a second thought to why it is they do a certain thing the way they do!

And that is a fundamental component of principle #1: it’s not pausing to think about what you just decided or did, it’s pausing to reflect how or why you did it that way.¬†

I should back up and give some definition 

SMOPE is the standard operating procedure of your mind. You do it, almost unconsciously, every single day… you plan, you act, you execute.

And there is most certainly a very particular mental model or procedure you use that you could go your whole life never thinking about distilling or bottling that very good thing in order for your very good “way” to ever go beyond yourself.

This brings me to point number two…

(2) SMOPE is all about extending your legacy beyond yourself. 

Whether it’s in the example I listed above about a simple job transition or¬†it’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company working through a major succession, the difference between good and great is extension beyond yourself.¬†

Why is this so critical-the ability to pass your excellent mental methods of success and growth? Here’s an example from both the church and marketplace context.¬†

Take the multi-level marketing example. Say what you will about them, the bottom line is this: you have a product or service that, assuming authentic quality, you can spread like wildfire through multiple tiers of people leading others and multiplying their methods. 

In other words they train and equip those below them to achieve similar results.

Now whether it’s multi-level marketing or just any scalable business where you include the large-scale training of people, there was someone along the way who distilled and bottled what was in their head.

The companies and organizations who have the best ability to do this will also continue a proven legacy that goes beyond any founder or CEO.

The church belief and process of discipleship is no different. This example is one of the most deeply held beliefs of our organization.

Jesus did it; Jesus commanded it and it is essentially the one central model, method, vehicle-whatever you want to call it-way to spread the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection and grow the church.¬†

Now, even though there may be no two churches alike in what they will call their discipleship process or system, the point remains the same: Jesus took what was in his head, heart, spirit he spoke about it, he lived it and he invited 12 other men along to see, do and multiply. 

The churches and faith-based organizations that create a plan for discipleship (and actually work their plan!) will also experience a proven legacy that extends across the generations. 

There’s another thing you should know about SMOPE.

(3) SMOPE is the ability to move from unknown, unformalized, unstandardized (however, not random) thought life to a clearly outlined and action-oriented system of organization.

This is the crux of the issue. It’s one thing to pause and intentionally think about the why and how behind your decisions and actions. It’s another thing entirely to distill and bottle that product into a clear and scalable tool.

This third principle and step is really where you will live. While it is truly an ongoing discipline to begin holding every thought captive (and training your people to do the same!), the main gear and life-cycle of this process is slowly and intentionally taking the mental operating procedure and putting it into tangible malleable material. 


Closing Thoughts:

As 1 of the top 5 fastest growing restaurant chains in America, Chic-fil-A just opened it’s 2000th restaurant… that is not a typo. That is not an extra 0. TWO THOUSANDTH location.¬†

I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me (and I know there are chains with more locations in the world), but I sat amazed when I read this in a Business Insider article weeks ago! And I’m still talking about it so there!¬†

I mean how many reference points can you have for thinking about a scaled, legacy-oriented thing like that. 

And it’s not like someone said one day, ‘well this whole selling chicken thing is going well, how about we open another store and go on ahead and let the managers of that place just do whatever they see fit in their own eyes’

NOOOOO they said, ‘here’s what makes us great now go and do the same… cause we took the time to distill and bottle that sucker!’

Consider a more personal example: maybe you’re a high level leader or maybe you know a high level leader (that’s all of you!) we have a tremendous opportunity to make sure that the following conundrums recieve an excellent response…

What was that marketing method he or she used in a down market?

How was it that he/she filed that year during tax season?

What did he/she always do with that one difficult customer?

How did he/she deal with litigation in this one case?

That high level leader and, who knows, maybe the executive team who worked with that leader for years-they know the how and why behind their standard operating procedures but shoot, does anybody else outside their own brain space?!

Action:

Regardless of your position in the organization, take a step today and catalog, record, WRITE DOWN the why or how behind a few things (just 1 thing even!) that you do well within your scope of responsibilities… you have no idea; it could just be the thing that gets distilled and bottled to over 24,000 locations in 74 countries (Starbucks)…

 

The Missing Ingredient (Leading Change)

The Missing Ingredient (Leading Change)

I’m a new part of a church organization that is in the midst of finding itself. It is what a mentor called an identity discovery phase.

Another way of describing this unique place and process is leading change. Though I have not read John Kotter’s preeminent 1995 book by the same name, I have read the executive summaries and I have participated in models that mirror his principles and prescriptions.

The ethos, and indeed mandate, of leading change is critical for all leaders and organizations (who are striving for any degree of health or impact in the world, that is.)

A strong leader once told me that great organizations should experience change every 8 months (just to keep up with culture, technology, economy, etc etc) and that made sense to me.

The problem, of course, is that many of us don’t like change and then for the rest of us who are open to change it’s a painfully slow and difficult process.


Let’s handle those 2 obstacles right off the bat:

1. For those who are change averse: you maintain an extreme sense of irony.

At a certain point you must admit that very world around you is constantly changing; and not just a macro level either.

So you can go on “not liking” change all day long and even keep screaming it from a mountain top if you like, but with that attitude and posture you will always being sitting in immediate juxtaposition with the natural world around you.

2. For those who believe it’s just too hard or too late to change: you have chosen the poorest excuse.

If people succumbed to “it’s too hard” mentality we would not have a single lick of innovation from the last century (let alone since the beginning of time). What if Lincoln would have said, ‘reconciliation is too hard’… if Ford had said, ‘building a “car” is just too complex’… if MLK had said, ‘this thing will never change.’ I think you get my point.

To cease tackling a thing because it is too hard is to cease doing the very central thing we are called to do: live well.


The fact of the matter is: all organizations and systems (even the family system!) are in need of change.

How do I know?

Because all organizations experience stuckness.

In their good intentioned pursuit to diversify, spread out the eggs, reach into new markets, industries or niches organizations get stuck for so many reasons-most of which we are not here to discuss today.

I think one of the most important reasons people and organizations get stuck is this:

a loss of focus.

On the why, the win, the action and execution.

You can imagine the snowball effect above, but lets take a closer look at the importance of each…

1. The why: the mission; the vision; the values…

If you don’t have them, if you don’t hold tightly to them, if you don’t have them at the top of your performance dashboard then what’s it really all for anyway-it’s anyone’s guess and it’s up for grabs and when its up for grabs people will create their own why.

2. The win: how we know what success looks like…

First of all have you defined it? Second of all, have you defined it BEFORE you execute (run the event, program, marketing campaign). Most people and organizations operate in the opposite order, ‘lets just do it and see what happens.’

3. The what: this constitutes the bulk of your working hours…

What kind of action are you taking? Is it the right action at the right time? And is it focused action? If you’ve set a target (the why and the win) then you should be able to filter every working hour through those first two things. When we fail to do this, we are now facing a stewardship (management) issue (i.e. How will we be judged by the way we invested every waking hour of our lives?)

4. The execution: the final delivery.

If you are a manager or leader of people and you can’t account for why your staff, team, people aren’t producing better results than¬†you need to seriously evaluate the above three. Odds are: all this lack of focus in the why, the win and the what are leading to a high level of stuckness at the execution level.


Committing to Change…

We have only to first admit that we are stuck.

Therein lies the first principle from Kotter’s work: change will be most successful when the greater percentage of your leaders carry a mutual sense of urgency around change.

It was not an intentional plan of mine, I have to admins, coming into my new organization but I found myself saying the same thing over and over again to key staff and volunteers.

In my envisioning to people about this new season at the church, with just as many competing ideas, programs, initiatives as the marketplace, I found myself encouraging our team that it may be time to say a healthy “no” to the options and ideas out there.

…to forgo doing several things very half-heartedly and inefficiently and, in the end, poorly. And instead to focus on one thing, and here’s the mantra:

We are committing to do a very few things, very well…

As to what those things are-that’s our plan and our issues. You probably just need to work your plan. But make sure people understand the why, the win and the what. Whether its your family or your startup, hold fast to these things and you will not only bring about focus, you will have a great shot at bringing about change.

4 Leadership Learnings From United Airlines

4 Leadership Learnings From United Airlines

This past week another major leadership and organizational failing was put on display for the world to see through a 2 minute viral video (these days captured from multiple angles).

It was painfully sad to watch; hard to believe that something like this could happen in a developed, civilized, modernized, progressive, etc etc etc type of society.

But alas it did happen and with pretty immediate and broad-sweeping repercussion.

Stock values plummeted in the millions, thousands of people nationwide speaking of boycotting, celebrities make their typical noise-the whole thing very bad for business.

I want to address the learnings from this international faux pas by connecting with how United lost their way in 4 key areas.

1. They forgot that the customer is the hero.

That is to say ALL customers should be treated like they are the hero of the story.

I mean you could say they fell pretty far, pretty fast from “hero” and forgot altogether they were dealing with people… human beings, PAYING HUMAN BEINGS!

LEARNING:

If you want to get new customers, create loyal customers and generate repeat customers, your best bet is to create a narrative with the customer at the epicenter.

2. They forgot to train their people around ownership and autonomy.

The best startups these days focus on hiring and training people who can adopt company values, execute on company vision and all at the same time think for themselves the best way to serve the customer.

I was listening to a podcast this morning where one of the most legendary hotel executives of all time was saying that he would empower his staff (cooks, cleaners and managers) With $2k in discretionary allowance for serving the guest as they saw fit!

LEARNING:

The best companies do this; they devolve powers. And they can get away with that kind of trust because they have taken the time to create value, vision and buy in.

There are countless illustrations for this from Zappos and Amazon to even hospitals and mom and pop shops who have learned the beauty of training employees to make the best independent decision for the customer (patient, parishioner, etc) sometimes regardless of the employee handbook.

It’s clear from reading any one of the myriad headlines from this week, but this company (its senior leadership and thus its employees) had their heads so buried in handbooks and even unspoken standard operating procedures that they forgot what really matters!

3. They forgot what it means to hustle, innovate and determine what success looks like.

I’d be willing to guess that one reason that this company, (its CEO and thus its employees) arrived at this place, this major public screw up, is because they became fat and happy.

As you can read from this article and so many others like it, the airline along with 2 other major ones handles nearly 85% of the total market share… that right there will leave you pretty out of touch with reality.

It’s what made the idea of a so-called “boycott” so ironical because it was very clear that, at least if you want to fly in most major cities, you won’t have a choice.

LEARNING:

Can you imagine what kind of debilitating affect this has on the lifeblood of an organization?!

It’s like Craig Groeschel¬†always says: the biggest threat to future success is current success.

They got lazy, lackadaisical and then they just got flat-out rude.

4. They forgot how to communicate like they were actually in the people business!

This is how, from a PR standpoint, the CEO can mess up 3 more times before finally getting it right.

He was so out of touch with having to defend and protect (let alone polish!) the brand that he made it worse before making it better. It took almost the entire week for him to arrive at, “I’m sorry, we were wrong, here’s your money back.”

LEARNING:

This last one affects everything from marriages to multi-national conglomerates because it’s fundamentally about ownership and repentance. The fastest way to mend a broken bridge is to call it was it is: BROKEN!

But #4 and #3 are intimately connected because when you’ve so lost touch with your vision and your customer it’s a very natural slide into forgetting even how to apologize for a gross and basic wrong.

Which therein lies the undergirding principle of every item on this numbered list: a total and complete loss of vision for what serves people best.


What’s a recent leadership learning of yours? It’s easy to point fingers at big targets like United (on blast via viral video), but it’s another thing to practice personal introspection for your last 3 screw ups and determine your course of action for proactively getting better… so I’ll ask: where are your growth opportunities?

Leaving Well…

Leaving Well…

So I know this post was supposed to be about leaving well, but it turns out I had to write about something much more important: what I’m leaving with

You should consider both things, don’t get me wrong, but I think anyone can leave well. It takes a leader (as a learner) to know the blessing and benefit of what they leave with.

I’ll explain… 

At the end of the month I have a job transition and the truth is that long before this transition was eminent I knew full well that I would carry with me countless (and newly acquired) skills. However, more than that, I would take with me a deeper sense of character and relationships into the next thing. I want to share about two of those things below but first…

After nearly 3 years at the Crossing Church (a Non-denominational, Evangelical church where I worked since August, 2014), I will be leaving at the end of April to take up a new position at the church I first came from that summer nearly 3 years ago (Watermark OC Church).

It is a decision that has been weighed and measured and is still very bittersweet as we have built many relationships over those years. Relationships with staff, relationships with families and relationships with some of the most amazing volunteers and leaders in the whole world.

There are two more relationships that, while they have ended in an hourly work sense, have made an incredibly enduring impact on my life, my leadership, my view of the world, even my view God.

The first relationship is with the mission and vision of this church organization.

Which, ever since 1988-when it would have been far more radical even that it is today-has remained the same potent mix of belief in the command to reach those outside the church and actually living that command within every church program, ministry, message and person.

I have often described the mission and vision of this place as intoxicating or addictive. It’s the type of purpose or motivation that will make you want to forsake every other thing in your life to pursue. It’s that way not just because it sounds good on paper, but because the church actually lives it out.

For the past 3 years I sat in a room with fellow staff members and celebrated all that God has done and all that we witnessed-small moments of people making a subtle turn in their lives along with truly unbelievable stories of complete life transformation.

And I’ve alluded to this reality before but the proof is in the pudding as far as the types of “all people” who are welcome at this place… for starters, nonbelievers. 

From there every other type of “atypical” person you wouldn’t expect to see at church. Homeless, drunk, addicted or in recovery, gay, straight, black, white, Latino and Asian-we’ve baptized them all, we’ve sat next to them all and we’ve suggested that they all deserve the grace of God in their lives.

But it’s one thing to say and it’s another thing to do, we all know that axiom to be true, but this church-because of the mission and vision that has driven it these nearly 30 years-is the real deal.

The second relationship that has forever marked me is this church’s founding and senior leader-Tim.

It’s difficult to synthesize and communicate the ways in which Tim’s leadership has impacted me as a person, pastor, leader because I’ve watched him as closely as I could over these past 3 years and there’s so much you can learn from a person like Tim-himself an insatiable life-long learner.

The first thing though is just how entirely flat-out obsessed (possessed?) he is about playing a part in seeking and saving those who are lost.

I’ll give it to you mathematically first, but it is a universally known fact (on staff) that Tim’s given 24-hour day looks a little different than yours or mine.

For starters he invests only 5 hours in sleep.
He wakes up at 3:30am he invests 2-3 more hours working out… everyday, literally everyday.
From then on, he invests in the people and work of the Church.

I know that, for Tim, its an all out assault on seeing the mission and vision realized (i.e. to see people say yes to Jesus in every way and phase of their lives).

He takes morning meetings with newcomers and new believers as early as 6am, back to back to back 2-hour staff meetings throughout the day and he goes and goes and goes because he believes with the core of his being that living every ONE day-investing those hours in the things and people that matter most-is the highest call of any person on earth.

I’m not trying to make him out to be some sort of mini-messiah or Jesus Jr. I’m just trying to show you that the depths of this man’s care for the lost and his grit to introduce them to Jesus have now formed a piece of my own DNA and I’m forever changed because of him.

And I have a feeling I’m not the only one, by the way. Because the other thing I’ll say about Tim is that it’s all about tenure-which I wrote about a couple weeks ago, but his commitment and resolve (and I do mean RESOLVE, because being a pastor ‘aint the easiest job around… well it is, if you don’t mind knives in your back and forces of darkness on your shoulders) for the better part of 3 decades to stay the course is, to me, one of the most remarkable legacies I’ve ever heard of (and it’s filled with the new lives of people).


And while I could site loads of big conceptual things from this relationship that have marked me, I will descend to what may seem like the smallest and seemingly most insignificant example. I want to end by talking about pieces of trash…

Yep, pieces of trash. One of the things that Tim always instilled in us staff was an owner mentality. And employees who think like owners-they don’t wait for janitors or gardeners to pick little remnants up here and there, they don’t assume its someone else’s job; they pick it up, because they have an owner mentality.

I share this example for 2 reasons: 1, to illustrate the high levels of character that Tim is spreading through his example and 2, to explain what leaving well really looks like…

Because you may be familiar with the data on employees who over-stay the “two weeks notice” industry standard… it typically doesn’t work for most people… they become well… useless.

And even as my impending transition ensues and that little voice inside my head says, ‘that piece of trash doesn’t matter, you won’t be here next month anyway…’ I know what I must do in the face of what is truthfully a character challenge.

The high call of character is to answer that voice by doing the right thing. ‚Ä™The high call of character is to answer that “morally flexible” voice in your head by doing the very thing you doubt matters enough. ‚Ĩ

So I know this hasn’t been the typical, take these 5 pointers/self-help blog post but I guess I would say if you are preparing to transition in your workplace begin thinking about what you’re going to take with you and I’m not talking about staplers or quality pens or severance.

I’m talking about the personal, emotional and spiritual leadership skills, takeaways, competencies and yes especially relationships-good, bad or otherwise-that you will take with you to the next stage, place and people that will serve and guide you there.

I’ve told people repeatedly over the last month that this transition is bittersweet. Bitter because of the transition from the people I love. Sweet because I have the utmost in hopeful expectation of what I get to leave with and take to the next chapter of ministry that God has ahead of me at Watermark. 

Thanks to all sincerely for taking the time and thanks for your support!

7 Reasons Why This Could Be The Healthiest Thing You Do in 2017

7 Reasons Why This Could Be The Healthiest Thing You Do in 2017

This new year I tweeted the following…

Yes, I was trying to be funny, but I was also DEAD SERIOUS.

The principle (in case you didn’t catch it) is that we are CONSTANTLY giving into our kid’s wishes (begging, pleading, whining and threats rather) just to make them stop!

In the car this equates to handing them a snack while strapped in their seats and when all their little crumbs and morsels reach critical mass, we have no choice but to head to the industrial strength vacuum place to settle it!

But that is not the worst thing about giving into their demands.

You see the thing I’ve learned¬†about parenting so far is that it appears to be a constant battle of training… training and conditioning. And every time and every way you respond to your child when they are attempting to illicit a certain response trains them… trains them for good or for bad.

That will, believe it or not, have an impact on the type of human they become one day… no pressure…

By us giving into their demands while driving around in the car we were cementing something in their minds and hence their development: ‘every time we¬†scream loud enough, they¬†WILL give in and throw us¬†a snack.’

It’s the same in any other area of our lives… if a co-worker, significant other, family member “screams” loud enough, eventually we’ll say “yes” when it would have been far healthier for everyone involved if we¬†had said, “no.”

Your healthy “no” could be pressing in on any one of these areas, for me and my wife-our leadership-we¬†understand the value of “no” in our parenting and the gift that will ultimately¬†be to our kids.

In case you were wondering, here is¬†just 1¬†major¬†value of a healthy “no” to our kids in this illustration: delayed gratification…¬†which instills¬†patience, self-control and determines a person’s ability to achieve greater success in life.

Most importantly of all, however, it gives them perspective; a more realistic view of the future world they will inhabit,¬†that they will not just be handed what they want, when they want it.¬†We are not an earthly slot machine, God is not a celestial slot machine and the people they surround themselves with one day won’t be either!


Here’s the problem as it extends to our work:

Most of us run around¬†overbooked, overstretched, overextended and overstressed and we keep saying “yes” to things, so we keep losing…¬†and we aren’t the only ones either. I would argue¬†that the¬†organization loses big time too.

I don’t know what the moment will be, for you, to finally calculate the opportunity cost of your yes/no answers, but there was a critical time for me when the leadership team at my work gathered for a two-day offsite nearly 6 months ago.

You see as a staff one of the things we realized is that we did not have enough trust to finally be honest with each other and call it like it is (hence pushing each other and the organization forward).

So our boss led us through an exercise where we went around listing people’s strengths and weaknesses and took turns reading them out loud¬†to each other. There were about a dozen people in the room so lots of things were shared, but when it came around to me here are some of the common things I was hearing:¬†“takes on too much…” “fails to execute…” “distracted and unfocused…”

Hhhmmm, dang… I got¬†the memo…

Much of this, in my reflection, had to do with the inability¬†to say a healthy “no.” Which is fundamentally about prioritizing my month, week, day around¬†the absolute most vital values of my job and the organization I serve.

Let me give you 3 reasons and 5 tips:

1. Say “no” because it will restore health in areas you didn’t even realize were backwards

You see, for me, I had to wait for years before hearing those comments from my bold and loving teammates that I had a problem and it was affecting my work product AND my legacy-and THAT was not okay. Don’t wait to hear from someone else that you’re not disciplined in your work. Do the tough work of reflection and get healthy in your work flow again.

2. Say “no” because it leads to focused action and better quality in your work

One of my single greatest learnings this past year was the term my supervisor would drill all day long: “impact over effort… impact over effort… impact over effort.” His point was simple: ‘Ben, I don’t care if you work from home or if you work 4 hours today… if it gets the results, meets the targets, goals are green and we are seeing the outcomes then GREAT!” But you can’t see those types of outcomes if your work is unfocused and tossed by the wind.

3. Say “no” because the¬†strength of a well-placed “no” is equal to a 100 wishy-washy “yes’s”¬†

Just think of my story above, that is what led to my reputation as the guy who “over-promises and under-delivers”… no one wants to be that guy. So stop letting your “yes” be watered down to the point of meaningless¬†because you didn’t¬†have a firm grip on your priorities and values.

Tips:

  1. Ask for more time when someone puts you on the spot and you need to make a decision.
  2. Every single employee on planet earth must have these 3 things in order to be successful in this life (in this order): vision (the why), goals (the what) and strategies (the how). These will HUGELY impact your ability to say yes/no and, ultimately, your outcomes.
  3. Schedule your values. When you’re done with #2 simply drop those values into your calendar on a monthly, weekly, daily and hourly basis.
  4. Tell someone, anyone, EVERYONE what you’re up to! That way you educate those around you, affecting what they would even approach you about in the first place! (And build in some accountability along the way.)
  5. Put in feedback loops and constantly reevaluate. Because anything worth doing is worth evaluating.

What is one thing you know you need to stop doing/say “no” to today? What are your top 3 values in your current job and how many hours are you devoting to those 3 things each week?

Give Your Boss a Heads Up 

Give Your Boss a Heads Up 

Have you ever worked on a project only to have the CEO or supervisor come in and rip it up…?

Or you’re midway through the execution stage and your boss comes in and says undo these parts and do these parts altogether differently…?

It’s now happened repeatedly for me and I’ve resolved myself to never let it happen again. The first time it happened was when I was getting a second boss and the original one gave me a tip that, little did I know, would serve me for years to come.¬†

You see what my original boss knew was that what the¬†incoming chief¬†would need is constant, even casual, reports, anecdotes and news about how my area of ownership was going. Basic stuff really… how many people were being reached, how am I spending my time and what progress is being made.¬†

I didn’t do it so well. And so the microscope came out and the micromanaging came out and all of the pressure and anxiety that comes along with them.¬†

Another time more recently came when I was midway on a massive special events project that had the benefit of being seen by many while still largely under construction. As soon as the senior lead saw the progress, the notes and corrections started pouring in. 

It didn’t matter if it was incomplete or that we had so much more to do in order to put things into focus, the fact was: I dropped the ball in proactively painting a wonderful vision about what the final picture would look like and now I was hearing about.

All of this could have been prevented had I mastered the art of one incredibly vital skill: leading up with constant vision. 

What if I told you that a great majority of this could have been avoided, IF, I had only done 3 things really well:

  1. lead up
  2. lead up with vision
  3. lead up with vision consistently

An alternate title for this post was: “Speak the Vision or The Vision Will Be Handed To You.” The issue of¬†having your boss(es) tear¬†into your work can so often be avoided if they fully understand your process, timetables, actions steps and vision!

BUT, if you’re anything like me, you keep most of that stuff in your head-battling the day-to-day whirlwind, multitasking like a champion and forgetting to send a note to the big boss man/lady.

And here’s an early tip for you: CEOs and supervisors-driven by results and bottom lines-are very likely to fill in the blanks (unanswered questions) with their imagination should you allow those blanks to sit for too long! In others: as leaders we must consistently create and manage the vision or we’ll end up managing them and theirs.

So, if you’d like to see your influence expand¬†and your impact land within your organization take to heart the following reminders:

Lead Up

I’ve noted this before as one of my premiere leadership lessons of 2016, but it bears repeating. We cannot buy the following lie: our position in the organization doesn’t matter, because we’re not the boss!

If you want to be considered for more responsibility and upward movement within your workplace, you must constantly be proactive in communicating to those who lead you. And not just communicating status updates, but wins, testimonials and progress too!

And allow me to dispel one oft cited excuse for NOT doing this, “well my boss doesn’t want to hear all that… better if I’m just left alone!”

If this is you, I would just challenge you to think about 2 things: 1, even if the boss is not requesting this sort of information, it may benefit him, you and your future roles at the organization because of the previously unforeseen value of such habits and; 2, at the very least, consider the benefit to the organization as the standards of excellence are raised all around you!

Lead Up With Vision

I mentioned it above but there are at least 3 things that should be included in this “vision”: 1, process-literally even your thought process and the beautiful picture in your mind; 2, timetables-goals and visions must be time bound and measurable (all S.M.A.R.T. goals are-duh); 3, action items-it’s basic: what you are doing now, what you plan to do next and what is the desired outcome (again, vision: start with vision, end with vision… it’s CRITICAL!)

…the final vision, the vision up to that point, it doesn’t matter so long as you continue to paint and hold up¬†the picture for all stakeholders to see.¬†

Lead Up With Vision Consistently

The key to all of this is timing. Everyone knows the following truth to be a reality: when¬†we are not¬†PROACTIVE¬†we’ll reap the drama that comes with¬†being REACTIVE. So when it comes to leading up with consistent vision, it must be early and often.¬†

I know as well as anybody how hard it is to think of, what may seem like, ‘petty little status reports’ to the boss when we are in the thick of it… honestly, who has the time?!

But allow me to paint a final picture:

A) would you rather be the leader who is continuously rewarded with: the responsibility of vision and point person project management because you have a proven track record of being entrusted OR;

B) would you rather be continuously micromanaged and set back at the every whim of your higher-ups…?

The choice is yours, but I hope you’ll join me in this everyday challenge to lead up consistently well by communicating vision and wins as often as you can.¬†

I’m curious, tell me about a recent run in with your boss and what you learned from it…?