Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

Wasting Your Time Through Indecisiveness

May 13, 2016

Failure to make timely decisions kills motivation, productivity, effectiveness.

Life can get caught in mesh of not knowing what to do next. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computers, took it to an almost insane level. Ever get up in the morning and wonder what to wear? You can waste considerable time. Jobs visited Japan and saw how company employees wore uniforms. He picked black pullover shirt and jeans. Never had to make that daily decision.

Of course he lived in California. As for me here in west Ohio, I’m looking at the weather forecast and mentally going through my closet and dresser trying to decide what to wear. What a  waste of time.

But it gets worse. You’re in a business. You have to decide on the next product, or whether to add a product. You lead a committee at a church or volunteer agency. You need to decide how to deal with someone or what the next project will be.

You’ve committed to “Getting Things Done” and made a fabulous list of all the next actions to move your projects forward. Which one to do?

Each little decision moves your day forward.

Train yourself to look in the mirror. Realistically. Catch yourself when you’ve lost momentum or motivation because you are sitting on a decision. You’ve studied it. And studied it. And worried about it. Your energy spirals downward. You can’t focus.

Decide. Now. Yes. No. Modify it.

Decide now and move on. You’ll feel better.

Living With Theological Tension

November 12, 2015

“What happens when two groups of people hold opposite views on a subject, yet each can point to Scripture to back them up?”

That question came up Tuesday morning in a small group study session I sometimes attend.

It’s a good question.

One guy in the group is very hard-core. He’ll flip to 1 Corinthians in a flash to show how we should judge people within our church and not be afraid to kick them out.

He has a point. Allowing people in the congregation–which should be like a family–to flagrantly mock the beliefs of the group is akin to a cancer that can grow rapidly. Treatment–remove the cancer.

However, others (like me) point also to Galatians 6. When you confront that situation, do not do so with a spirit of vengeance, almost glee. Do so with a spirit of love. Bearing others burdens.

Jesus had a name for the former. He called them Pharisees. John (the apostle) called them children of the darkness. But we can take that analogy too far. Sometimes they are mere rule followers.

But they do have a point. And so do the others.

Think of other issues. Right now a hot topic is treatment of or acceptance of homosexual people. One side takes a verse from Paul. The other takes a broader look at more Scriptures. How do you handle that?

There is no other way that is beneficial and in keeping with Jesus’ commands to love one another than to live in theological tension. It is not all bad that one side cannot “win” the argument. Sometimes we are asking the wrong question. Then we draw the wrong lines. Our human nature seeks resolution. It’s like ending a song on the Dominant Seventh. That note is tension. We crave to hear the Tonic note. Sometimes it doesn’t come. Sometimes we need to live in that tension long enough to

As I told another guy about the Creation controversy (which I again think we’re arguing the wrong question), “If your faith depends upon God creating the world in six 24-hour days, then far be it from me to try to tear it down. I don’t agree. But in the end, it doesn’t matter.” He and I agree on the resurrection of Jesus and coming into a right relationship with God by accepting His grace through faith. Other issues are merely straw horses meant to divide us. Instead we should just be witnesses to our receiving grace through Jesus. Just keep it simple–we both agreed.

I can live in tension. I sort of like it. Life lived in tension leads to a creative life. If we have resolved all the tensions, then we are in danger of becoming fat, dumb, and lazy as the old country saying puts it.

Friday Leadership Post On Creating a Culture

October 30, 2015

“We need to have a program that we import from a consultant in order to change the organization’s culture,” said a staff member of an organization to me when questioned about why do a program.

This week at the Safety Leadership Conference in Greenville, SC, the subject of a company’s culture for safety came up far more often than any technology discussion.

Culture is important.

Uh, what is it?

Well, it’s the way people in the organization do things. It’s how they act and interact. It’s the questions they ask. The things they focus upon. It’s what they discuss in the coffee room. Or–lack of all that.

Programs almost never work. I think that they never work.

Change begins depending upon what questions the leader asks. When the leader begins asking about safety at every chance (as in the case of the conference this week), then people are naturally going to begin thinking about safety. Not with the first question. But over time, everyone begins to realize what’s important.

In a non-profit (but also often in a business), one of the questions asked is “Can you help with this?” The leader defines a need, finds a person who appears to have the qualities needed to fill that need, and asks.

Organizations ponder how to get more volunteers. Well, have you defined the need such that people would know what they’re in for? Maybe you have to advertise for candidates, but often the best candidates will be referred through networking. You ask, who do you know, then ask the candidate can you help.

I remember at my first job in manufacturing, the president called at 3:35 pm every working day and asked the production manager, “How many did you get out?” So, sometimes the products went “out of the door” not completed so that the manager could report a better number. Even though the company prided itself on building a quality product, the question was never about quality. Always about numbers. Guess what was important.

As a leader, what questions do you ask?

There Is Wisdom and then There Is Being Wise

October 19, 2015

Read the Proverbs every year. This spiritual  discipline keeps the wisdom of how to live well deep in your mind.

The book was written and compiled by Salomon, the most successful Israeli king.

The story goes that he became king due to his mother succeeding in palace intrigue in the court of King David. He moved quickly to consolidate power and kill off his adversaries. Sometime later, he had a vision of a conversation with God in a dream and asked for wisdom as his gift.

God was happy with that request and granted it. And King Solomon’s reputation for wisdom was a great as was his wealth.

God promised that if he would walk in His ways, his sons would continue to sit on the throne and the nation would be blessed.

I find it interesting that nowhere in 1 Kings does it state that God selected Solomon. David selected him upon the request of Bathsheba (remember their story?).

So, the king possessed great wisdom. He used wisdom to rule.

However, his rule also sowed the seeds of his eventual destruction.

God’s wisdom from the earliest entry of the Hebrews into the promised land was “Do not marry wives from the tribes living in the land.” Great wisdom. Women bring their culture and gods into the marriage. Solomon married 700 princesses from tribes all over the region. He allowed them to maintain worship of their own gods. Eventually Solomon himself worshiped those Gods. Imagine that! The builder of the Temple as a residence for God.

Speaking of the Temple, Solomon worked and taxed his people heavily so that he could build the Temple and then a huge palace for his residence (imagine having enough rooms for 700 wives and 300 concubines). The people were not happy as we find out in the story of the next (and last) king of a united Israel.

Let us take a lesson. There is amassing a great knowledge of wisdom sayings.

Then, there is being a wise person.

Don’t be like Solomon. Don’t just know “wisdom”. Practice being wise.

Unburdened Meetings–Friday Leadership Tips

October 16, 2015

I hate meetings.

OK, sometimes you just have to have them. At least, that is what “they” say.

There are those regular meetings that you have because it’s Tuesday morning or Thursday evening.

Those are often the worst. You meet at the regular time–except for George and Linda who are always late. The agenda is the same. Someone talks. Others surreptitiously check email. Or Facebook. (In the old days, we daydreamed or passed notes.)

It doesn’t matter if you are at a church, a non-governmental organization, or a business. You’ve suffered through them.

Yet, there are times when a meeting is necessary.

Looking into the book of Acts, we see where Paul needed a meeting of the church leaders. He needed a decision. He also needed a blessing. The best way to achieve the goal was to gather all the players at one place at one time. Lay out the proposal and make the  argument. Listen to the discussion. Make a few changes. Then go and do.

So, that famous meeting was good. Decisions were made, and Paul was empowered to go out to the world beyond Judea to spread the gospel. The world was changed.

  1. When you need to bring a number of people together because a decision must be made where they are affected and you need buy in, then call a meeting.
  2. When you need to build community among people who seldom see each other during their work days (maybe you have remote workers), then have an occasional meeting where you can share what you are working on and allow time outside the official meeting for conversation.
  3. When it’s Tuesday and you’re supposed to have a meeting but there is nothing going on, then don’t call the meeting. Let everyone go to work.
  4. When it’s Tuesday and you’re the leader and you have to hold that regular staff meeting, then craft an agenda that focuses on a topic that is important for moving the organization forward. Focus on the agenda, expect participation, end with summary of decisions and actions. End promptly.

I don’t always hold meetings, but when I do, I demand focus.

Do You Want To Get Lucky

August 27, 2015

An old joke from the Newhart Show set in Vermont. The handyman, Tom Poston, finds a stray dog and takes him in. He names the dog Lucky, because he is, well, lucky to have a home.

Enter Stephanie, the cute young woman. Says Poston in his dry voice and deadpan face, “Stephanie, if you’re ever feeling lonely, you can come to my room and get Lucky.” <badda boom>

I have a fried who has moved from writing about technology and business to writing about life. He’s questioning his Catholic precedents right now. Happens to all of us at some time, I guess.

His latest writing was on getting lucky.

Are some people just lucky?

Are they lucky because they have a positive mental attitude?

Are they not lucky but practice “active consciousness” bringing good things into their lives (he read a book).

Two answers

I go with two answers.

First is the obviously practical. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

If you get the opportunity to speak on a subject or finally play an instrument in the orchestra, then you had better have been practicing for years so that you can succeed.

Second is not so obviously practical–but in effect it is.

You still need preparations–the disciplines of study, practice, prayer, service.

However, you also need to pray with intention. Not just wishful thinking. Not just vague prayers to God.

No. It is the hard work of prayer. It is engaging your mind and strength and soul in prayer. You have intention. You pray on purpose, with purpose.

You pray, “God please bring a person into my life who….” Maybe it’s someone to whom you can share the gospel message. Someone who offers a chance at a service or ministry you’ve been searching for. Someone who needs a mentor or friend.

Or you pray, “Lord, I feel you nudging me toward a mission, a ministry. Open my eyes and show me the ministry you have in mind for me.” I did that over the  space of a year or more. Then I got a phone call.

Lucky? Or good? Or, ready when God calls?

Leaders Are Known By The Questions They Ask

May 8, 2015

If someone asks me a question, I’ll answer it. 
That’s not bad, except that sometimes I then neglect to ask a question in return. People think you are a fascinating conversationalist if you ask questions. Not so much if you just spout off with what you know.
Even more, leaders are known by the questions they ask. Or if they don’t ask, just tell.
It is said that leaders are readers. They are also askers.
You show your interest by asking questions. In a work or other leadership situation, people will know what is important to you by the questions you ask.
My early work in manufacturing was with a company that made products. Every day the president of the company would call the production manager and ask, “How many did you get?” 
Guess what. Sometimes products were pushed out before they were completely ready. But, the production manager could say that x products were out. What wasn’t said was the products had to be finished outside of the normal production area.
But, the president was answered.
Even as a “kid” I thought that the president wasn’t asking the right question.
I’ve heard that Bill Hybels has said that great leaders pause before a decision and ask of themselves, “What would a great leader do?”
That is a great question. You could also substitute dad, mom, grandparent, coach, teacher, brother, sister, pastor….
I like the idea of pausing. Too often, I don’t. 
But the question has great value. The old phrase (and wristband) WWJD—what would Jesus do—comes to mind.
It’s good to pause and think. Then act. And act like a great leader.

We Limit Ourselves

May 6, 2015

A TV series that ran in the late 1960s followed the travails of a baffled man who found himself in a village. It was a happy place. Everyone was smiling. Everything was clean and neat. It did not seem sinister, at least on the surface. Perhaps a little like that city Disney built outside Orlando where every thing must be the same. Nice and neat and clean. And everyone is happy all the time.

The man felt trapped even though very well cared for. There was no way out.

The man was in constant pursuit of Number Two. This person would be the gateway to discovering Number One—the true overseer of the captivity.

Gene Appel, pastor at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA, pointed out something that resonated at a deep level. “Your past mistakes limit your future options.”

You’re a guy with a group of guys. Just hanging out. After midnight. Do I need to state that nothing good happens when there is a group of guys hanging out after midnight.

Someone has a brilliant (well so you thought) idea. The net result is that the whole group is busted. Arrested. Jailed. Tried. Even if it’s a misdemeanor, it’s on the record.

Now you want a job that requires security clearance. Oops.

Or, you’re a girl or young woman. All the other girls have guys. They all talk about the great sex they are having (or so they say). You’re guy applies a little pressure, and…now you’re pregnant. Yep, your future is now limited.

Our choices may not be that extreme, but they do limit future options—sometimes that’s good. Sometimes it’s bad.

When we are limiting ourselves, we had best do so intentionally. Stop and think about the future consequences of our choices.

Oh, and the man in the village? During the last episode he gains a meeting with Number Two. An empty chair is in the room reserved for Number One.

Number Two of course tells the man to have a seat. He’s been Number One the entire time. He has imprisoned himself!

What about you and me? Have we let our mistakes and poor choices imprison us? Time to break free.

Andy Stanley—New Rules for Love, Sex, Dating

April 13, 2015

How many people have lost career, families, respect due to sexual passions run amok? How many marriages have you seen that just never got started off right?

Andy Stanley’s latest book, “The New Rules For Love, Sex & Dating,” is targeted at single people of all ages, but the wisdom works for all of us—even those like me who are many, many years past the subject.

Stanley is one of the best communicators in the Christian church today. I listen to him every week. He talks about focusing on making better decisions in order to live a better life. In other words, he’s not like the generation that was in charge during his (and my) youth that stopped at “thou shalt not” moralism. He applies teachings from the Bible much as common sense rather than finger pointing.

This book talks of relationships, treating people well, and how to handle those powerful emotions of “love” and sex. I single out the word “love” partly because we are just past Valentine’s Day where love is celebrated as an emotion. Stanly emphasizes, much as I always do, love as something you do, not always as something you feel.

I especially appreciate his descriptions of the elements of love that Paul the Apostle discusses in 1 Cor 13. Especially he defines patience and kindness as decisions. Of course, that is true. You decide in the moment that you will be patient in the situation. You decide in the moment to act with kindness toward another.

Decisions, though, when repeated lead to habits. You develop through your repeated decisions the habit of patience or kindness. It becomes a part of who you are. You become patient and kind, and by extension, loving.

Oh, and for sex—don’t do it. Well, don’t do it outside of marriage. His most powerful teaching, as well as the hardest, is for those who have left or are leaving a sexually active relationship that is floundering. Take a year off. Do not date for a year. Take time to be the person that the person you are looking for is looking for.

[DISCLAIMER: I received this book from North Point Publishing in exchange for this review. There was no guarantee what my review would be, though.]

Where Does Lying Get You

February 11, 2015

I am in Orlando at a conference. It all started with arriving over an hour late–so in my room at midnight Sunday. Meeting early Monday. Reception until after 10. Followed by another early morning and late night. Now 7 am breakfast meeting. That’s the glamorous life of a writer traveling to a resort area on business.

Speaking of the glamorous life, I have been reading a little (very little) about this Brian Williams performance art and drama. As I get the story, he reported that he was in a helicopter in Iraq that was shot down. Now they say he was in the helicopter trailing and never went down.

Confusion? Lying? We’ll never know.

But that incident started a train of thought. Supposing he did lie. Supposing you and I have ever lied about doing something. Embellished a resume. Tried to impress a prospective employer.

In the end, what do we gain.

We read in the Bible, let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Say what you need to say. Sgt. Joe Friday, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

If we let who we are speak through what we do, what does that say about our character?

As a writer and teacher, I’m always aware of the trap I can fall into. I can make my career sound like some exotic journey into great competence or I can make it sound like a series of steps where I learn a little at every stop along the way.

I try to be careful, and I hope I succeed. Maybe more of us should remember who we wish to be and act in accordance.

Or maybe we want to be a liar????