June 24, 2008

George Carlin

Just had to take a moment to remember George Carlin. He is probably not the person you might expect to make an appearance on this blog. When I was a teenager, I had his entire Playing with Your Head album memorized word-for-word. Not the most appropriate comedy album for a teenager, but I that's what I did nonetheless. So, here's to remembering a social critic and great comedian.

June 16, 2008

Heroes Pt. 2

*Que the Foo Fighters* "There goes my hero..."

Okay, now we can move on

Awhile back I was challenged by an article asking people to identify their heroes. I couldn't, off the top of my head, articulate who my heroes were. I knew I had some, but couldn't think of any right off the top of my head. To add to the pressure, the article stated that people who couldn't identify their heroes suffered in leadership.

So, not wanting my leadership to suffer, I gave it some time and thought, and here, in no particular order, are some people I consider my heroes:

1. Jesus Christ. This seems like a "Sunday school answer," but He is my hero. Despite my many flawed attempts, the one after whom I desire to pattern my life. He followed after God with all of His heart. He loved people despite their flaws and wanted them to be better...to be healed in all aspects of their personhood. He sacrificially gave His life for me.

2. Lance Armstrong. Driven, competitive, champion, leader, and overcomer...all adequate descriptions of Lance Armstrong. He was the leader of a team that sacrificed their own chance at victory in order for him to win seven consecutive Tour de France. He revolutionized the sport (and the race) by utilizing his team and his strengths like no one else.

I remember watching him in one race of the Tour de France (on television, unfortunately). He struggled during the first three-fourths of the race; fighting harder than the previous days. He grimaced, and pushed his legs to exhaustion. Despite the struggle, he kept up with the best cyclists in the world. After climbing several very large mountains, he visited with his team car, and things seemed to get better. In a post-race interview, Lance revealed that his rear brake was locked down for most of the race! Lance maintained his pace with the best riders in the world, riding up huge mountainous climbs, with his rear brake clamped shut!!!

I can't make it up one of those mountains with a motorcycle pulling me.

3. Maj. Dick Winters. If you watch the HBO series Band of Brothers, you will remember Dick Winters as a major influence in the victories and development of Easy Company. He was a great leader with a simple, effective plan. He was meticulous about his preparation; reading training manuals and battle plans throughout his endeavors. He was physically fit and knew his limitations. His men looked up to him, respected him, and knew he was a competent, skilled leader who cared for them. He led with a humility not often seen. Check out his leadership principles here.

4. William Wallace. Yes, I know...Braveheart. The Braveheart version is a fictionalized characterization of William Wallace, but I like those sorts of movies. I admire the conviction, the passion, and the commitment to a cause that is bigger than one person. His men were willing to fight and die with him. They were as committed to him as they were to the cause.

5. Benjamin Franklin. Inventor, writer, politician, abolitionists. The list could go on and on. I really began admiring him after reading Isaacson's biography.

So those are a few of the people I admire...who are some people

June 13, 2008

Coolest Shed Ever!

Last year when we were looking to buy a house we found a house that had a large shed that we thought I could convert into an office. That is when I discovered that the Internet truly has EVERYTHING imaginable on it.

I found the coolest shed conversion ever! Check it out here.

Oh, we didn't get the house, but we got one that was better for us.

Leadership Principles of Maj. Richard Winters

If you watch the HBO series Band of Brothers, you will remember Richard Winters as a major influence in the victories and development of Easy Company. He was a great leader with a simple, effective plan. He was meticulous about his preparation; reading training manuals and battle plans throughout his endeavors. He was physically fit and knew his limitations. His men looked up to him, respected him, and knew he was a competent, skilled leader who cared for them. He led with a humility not often seen.

In his memoirs, Maj. Winters offers 10 guidelines for leadership:

1. Strive to be a leader of flawless character, technical competence and moral courage.

Flawless character—start with honesty. Character provides a leader with a moral compass that focuses his efforts on the values we cherish: courage, honesty, selflessness, and respect for our fellow man. Character also allows you to make decisions quickly and correctly.

Technical competency—Those entrusted to lead must study their profession to become totally proficient in tactics and technology. Read and be prepared. You should study to develop your own personality; your own personal perspective on command.

Moral courage—means doing what you know to be right even when commanded to do different.

2. Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.
Never ask your team to do something you wouldn’t do yourself…You cannot make sound decisions unless you are at the point of attack. Leaders should always position themselves where the critical decisions must be made. Precisely where that location should be is a judgment call, but in my experience leader should be as far forward as possible. Successful leaders must be highly visible, if for no other reason than to share the hardships of their men.

3. Stay in top physical shape—physical stamina is the root of mental toughness. Physical exhaustion leads to mental fatigue.

4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.

5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination and your creativity. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your team in order to assign the right men to the proper jobs. There is no need to tell someone how to do his job if you have properly trained your team.

6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind. Careful preparation and anticipation of potential problems eliminates many of the obstacles that one encounters on the battlefield. Good preparation is always vital to the success of any operation, but leader must remain flexible on the action commences.

7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head. Leaders should assume responsibility when the operation fails; when it succeeds, credit the men and women in your team. They do the lion’s share of the work. Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.

8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best. Take a moment of self-reflection before rushing into an important decision. Many leaders don’t take the time to consider carefully their decisions or the implications of their actions. The opportunity for self-analysis allows you to find your own self-consciousness, which in turn tells you if you are getting off track. Nobody will have to tell you that the course of action that you are contemplating is incorrect or ineffective. If you take advantage of opportunities for personal reflection, and if you honestly examine yourself, you will be a more effective leader.

9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.

10. Hang Tough!—Never, ever give up. If you are a leader, a fellow who other fellows look to, you have got to keep going.

You might also like these Looks at Leadership: Jim Tressel and Lebron James

June 11, 2008

14 Years Ago Today

Lori and I have been married 14 years today!

She has put up with me, and still loves me. Having now been in a relationship this long, I understand what it means to love her more today than when we first met. Things have never been better.

She could have done better, but I certainly couldn't have.

June 4, 2008

A Big Grand Opening

I just finished reading Seth Godin's article Not So Grand. He says, "Grand openings are severely overrated. So are product launches and galas of all sorts...Most overnight successes take a decade (okay, four years online)."

I wonder what would happen for church plants to take this mentality seriously. No grand opening weekend. Just taking the following advice from Seth...

"Far better to spend the time and money building actual relationships than going for the big 'grand' hit. The best time to promote something is after it has raving fans, after you've discovered that it works, after it has a groundswell of support. And more important, the best way to promote something is consistently and persistently and for a long time."

What would happen if we promoted long term, consistent, persistent influence in the community?

There is a lot of stuff about church plant grand openings, critical mass, etc. They all have a point. I just wonder how Seth Godin's view could be integrated and used. Maybe it doesn't have to be either/or. Maybe it can be both/and. We do a grand opening, but focus the majority of effort on creating a quality, consistent,long term endeavor.

I think too often we go for the big hit rather than the lifelong result. Salvation is, after all, more than just a one time decision, right? It is a regular, trusting, faithful relationship with God.