One of my core values is to enjoy the simple things of life. One such fairly recent thing is the world of fountain pens. Friday’s will be devoted to all things fountain pen related. Many ask me questions, and so I’ll dump such answers here. … Continue reading Fountain Pen Friday
You can’t steer a still ship
If you want to steer a ship, get it moving. Water passing over the rudder is what makes it maneuver. This is a quote that I want my boys to grasp, and it is one many need to. The concept is you need to get moving, you can always change course later. Pick. Dream. Pursue. And, let God work in you as He gets you to the destination.
Military. Job. College.
My dad gave me those three options when I started 7th grade. They were a huge motivation to do well in school. The last part of the statement went: “But either way, you’re out of the house.” Dad spoke the message clearly. Man up. I picked a direction quickly and pursued it. A key element imparted to me was variety. Broad experiences help clarifies when one pursues a direction. Direction may change from experience. It is hard to change course when you’re not moving.
“Kids don’t dream today…”
The statement surprised me in a conversing with a well seasoned pastor. It made sense. In my high school, many worried over what they were to do. Graduation became somber as much as celebration. I cannot fathom people not dreaming, of not having direction. Partly because I’m wired that way. Partly because time doesn’t stop for limbo. Dreaming is not a passive exercise.
Eat. Pray. Love (Lament).
I can see where the elements of this book & movie resonate with America. Americans do not know how to simply enjoy life. The pace of life also pours into spiritual confusion. Then, with the non stop spiritually confused state, one loses their love life. Love needs a focus other than one’s self. Kelly and I discussed this at length. As we understand it thus far, Eastern Philosophies focus on balance has two key themes: emptying (meditation) and waiting (letting things show themselves). In contrast, Christian thought is filling (God is the God who fills things) and pursuing (Pursuing God is part of waiting on Him) and answers come. This pursuit includes a sabbath principle whereby God want us to simply rest to remember.
Values over Vision; Journey over Destination
Americans love big things. We love vision. We love destinations. In this quest, our blinders go up to values and journey. How often in our literature, art, dramas, and talks do we realize this anew? In “Built to Last” Jim Collins realizes that great companies focus intently on their values more than anything. They focus on being more than doing; the key to their successed. Our thought process is best summed up by Han Solo’s statement: “I prefer a straight fight to all this sneakin’ around.” Dave Ramsey’s one piece of advice he’d give to young leaders: “Let problems work themselves out.” Our pragmatic, driven, competitive side should remember that life seldom takes the direct route.
Visions in the Bible are like cars with really bad turbo lag. Some, like Abraham or Joseph, only get a mere whisper of the vision being fulfilled and it is left to others to do it. The pattern goes like this: God gives a vision…………………………………………and then it happens. Often the trouble comes when one tries to force its accomplishment vs pursuing God in the midst of the wait. The lack of peace in the Middle East is a clear example of this. Focus on being vs doing allows you to pursue without rushing. The Bible focuses more on becoming verse doing. The fulfillment and accomplishment of our vision or destination is already secured by God.
The bottom line:
You can’t steer a still ship. Pick a direction and then let God guide your journey. Your vision may be clarified later, it may not be. You might start with one, and you might not. But, know this: time does not stand still. While anchored in indecision, you will lose lessons of what God wants you to become. If you are too set on your destination, you may run aground getting there, and lose what God wants you to become. Pick a direction and learn to navigate. Work with the currents, the weather, the sun and stars. Clarity and discovery comes to those who pursue over those who wait. Pick. Dream. Pursue. And, let God work in you as He gets you to the destination.
Why not Wednesday: A not so perfect start
A professor of mine wrote a quote on the whiteboard that shattered all thinking in the room:
“It something is truly worth doing, its worth doing poorly.”
Even now I bet you are thinking “yeah, but…” The classroom filled with those kinds of statements. The prof, as is normal for teachers, sat back and smiled at the ensuing discussion. We are, after all, trained to think: If you can’t do with excellence, don’t do it at all.” We are, after all, taught that doing something poorly might result in not being able to try it again.
Some, after the prof’s enduring silence, took the statement to mean: “You have to start at some point.” The ‘yeah, but…’ statements kept flowing, though. These transitioned into the statement being an excuse for pool quality. We were left at a loss because the statement was still on the board.
A poor start
Remember the early days of Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai? They were known for poor quality. They rose to the top. Recently, Hyundai is starting to edge out Toyota and Honda. They started poorly, but all three came around. Here is the meaning:
They key words are “truly” and “doing.” Some things are not truly worth doing- like crime. Some things are truly worth doing- like saving a life. Doing gets things done. An idea or potential is just that, an idea or potential. They mean nothing until you act, that’s doing. Helping meet transportation needs has true worth. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai started to act. They made cars, and the did it poorly at first.
So what, do it!
What ministry adventure would you like to do? Is it truly worthwhile to take that step? Then do it! Because you start poor does not mean you have to stay poor. You can grow, you can learn, you can overcome- if it is truly worth doing. I am not saying this will be easy- it may be very painful.
This week as we’re looking at how ‘Not Perfect is a Holy Thing,’ the theme is how God used people who had epic failures. Practically speaking, it is better to act now, even though you may not be ready or may even make significant mistakes. Why? Because if something is truly worth doing, its worth doing poorly. Pursing God is worth doing, and though you may not have it all figured out or even know what you’re doing, what may start as poor can turn into something incredible down the road.
The bottom line:
So, start now, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Greatness or excellence is not the absence of failure or mistakes.
Book Review: Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras
If you are involved in building and managing an organization, the single most important point to take away from this book is the critical importance of creating tangible mechanisms aligned to preserve the core and stimulate progress. This is the essence of clock building. ~ P. 89
A pastor friend highly recommended I read ‘Built to Last.’ I would echo that sentiment. The quotation above really encapsulates the book. To put it in other words, the book is more concerned about who you are as apposed to what you do. The visionary companies described in their book were more about who they were- their core ideology- then the products produced. Their great products were a result of their core ideology in action.
Building the core
The purpose and values of an organization is what is most essential and non-changing. It is the preservation of this core ideology that drives leadership development, products, adaptations, consistency and culture of visionary companies. These companies have transitioned through multiple CEO’s, economies, products, and culture shifts. Core ideology is the center of visionary companies, not profit nor product. The company itself is the greatest achievement. Preserving the core allows freedom to and opportunity to explore what the company can do.
The greatest shock in reading the book was the un-central role vision played. Many of the leaders were not charismatic visionary leaders, though some were. In reading through the book everything went back to who the company was at its core. Growth of these companies normally occurred in one of two ways, BHAG’s or trying a lot things and keeping what sticks. The paperback version, which I read, had a chapter about vision, but this chapter still pointed back to the core ideology. Surprising fact from this book: can you build a dynamic organization without a vision? Yes. Without a core ideology? No. The book does not negate vision, but vision is certainly not the driving force, as the book almost arguing against it being the driving force.
The greatest ministry value from this book is to focus more on who you are and want to be rather than what you do. Values are discovered, rather than imposed, and a culture is developed rather then chosen. Attention should be given to the theology of what a church should be more than its actions. What a ministry does will have a greater impact if it is from its ideological center. As with any book, discernment should be used. The church is an organism not an organization.
A big key to the success of these companies was the preservation of its core ideology, particularly through multiple CEO’s. This is an element many churches struggle with. I have heard of too many stories of ministries declining after a successful tenure of a key leader. The draws attention to a much broader discussion.
The book read ok and the stories were excellent. It did feel very choppy to me. The book is a report on a study and it felt like a report on a study. Things they pointed out were very well done, but the book could have been considerably shorter and communicated the same thing. While a worthwhile read, it was not the most enjoyable to read.
Focus on living out and preserving the ideological core of the organization you’re in.
Focus on developing the culture and leadership of the organization you’re in.
Three lessons from Apple…
“Everyone in silicon valley was trying to be someone else…”
~Welcome to Macintosh
It is no secret that I’m a Mac. I watched Welcome to Macintosh, written and directed by filmmakers Robert Baca and Josh Rizzo, while my wife baked incredible delights. Expecting to enjoy the back ground story behind my beloved computer company, three big lessons stood out to me: 1) Be who you are, 2) Only take on projects you are passionate about and 3) Be dedicated to your strategy. These lessons are reflected both positively and negatively in Apple.
1) Be who you are!
A theme throughout the documentary was people trying to be who they were not. In Apple’s dark times, this was rampant. People in Apple were trying to be Steve Jobs, or some other key person. (It was also mentioned that its a Silicon Valley wide issue.) This theme really came out when discussing the future of Apple without Steve Jobs. The worst thing that could happen would be for someone to come in and try and be the next Steve.
Ministry touch point
One thing is clear: God designed you to be you, and ministry happens best when you are true to how God designed you! Focus on how God designed you. There may be similarities with others. There may be great ideas from others you can incorporate. But, the final question must always be asked and answered effectively: Who did God design YOU to be?
2) Only take on projects you are passionate about
A key quote from the movie: “When Apple really got behind a product, it did well, when they didn’t, it did really poor.” The story of the iPod demonstrated this point. Apple did not invent the mp3 player. Apple revolutionized it. Good design aesthetics and simplicity stand as pillars in Apple culture. The people of Apple also love music. The iPod revolutionized the mp3 market and music industry based on the merging of those two passions. Apple’s culture of innovation and passion drive the company, more so than the profit aspect. Its art verses business. It’s being verses doing.
Ministry touch point
If God is our delight, our desires will become/match up with His. If a project lacks passion, a key question to ask is: Is this what God wants us to do? (Sometimes the answer is yes, as obedience to His Word is another key aspect.) Passion is not everything, but it is what often will gets the job done. No something is not a negative. The power of no is a stronger yes. God gives us all 24/7 to accomplish His will. Our no’s are just as important as our yes. Go for the passionate yes, and be ready to say no a lot.
3) Be dedicated to your strategy
Innovation, simplicity, good design drive Apple. It is not a mistake that Apple developed 3 game changers: the personal computer, the iPod, and the iPhone. Apple rarely invented a concept, but they revolutionized it and made it usable. Apple’s success came about when they held to their core strategy or values. Again, its about being not doing.
Ministry touch point
How you get a job done is as important as what you do. Its a variation on the “Its the journey not the destination” principle. Understanding and articulating your values and strategy is essential to accomplishing effective ministry in the long run. Being creative is not always about new, but making something usable and best. Apple innovated, and their strategy centers on that. Innovation and creativity should be a result of who you are, and not the other way around. Its about being missional not program driven.