Simple

Simple

I was at a writing conference designed to help write better copy for internet and radio advertising.  We went through several writing prompts to help hone our ability to state what needed to be said clearly and simply (not my strong suit).  My plan to honor the objective of the abbreviating exercise, was to use less, but bigger and more elaborate words… clearly missing the point.  I wasn’t the only one.  Finally, in a fit of frustration, the instructor punctuated his exasperation with, “Just say the damn thing!”.

Jars

Jars

I remember when “Jars of Clay” arrived on the Christian music scene in the mid 90’s.  Having been a musician in my younger, wilder days, I had a real love of quality music and musicianship and was struggling with what popular Christian music was offering at the time.  It was contrived, uninspired, and frankly hard to take too seriously.  So, I found it a little surreal sitting in a living room with about 40 other folks, about 5 feet from the four members of Jars last night.

June Top 5

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Why Managers Should Stop Focusing On Their Best Employees
It's tempting to spend your energy on your A-players, but it's more worth your time to build up the rest of your team.

The Difference Between an Ordinary Life and an Extraordinary One
I used to think ordinary lives were the low-key, under-the-radar, stay-at-home kind of lives and the extraordinary ones were the ones filled with travel and people and crazy adventure.  I’m learning to see that the dividing line I thought I saw between those lives isn’t really there.

How To Get Things Done: 4 Levels of Productivity
Real productivity is not doing more, more efficiently. But it begins there. We need to develop personal disciplines of working efficiently. But efficiency only takes us so far. I’ve noticed that those who get things done practice 4 levels of personal productivity.

4 Ways To Bring The Best Out Of Your Employees
A great leader knows their business's most valuable asset is its people. Here's how to drive the growth of your company's human capital.

A Survival Guide For Managing Difficult People
They're sarcastic, cynical, and negative, but you don't want to fire them. Hope and help for managing people who drive you nuts.

May Top 5 Reads

A Study In Building A Purpose-Driven Business
How You Can Balance Your Desire To Do Good With The Necessity To Run A Successful Business.

Don't Hire People Unless The Batteries Are Included
5 Signs a Potential Employee Will Drain Your Team of Precious Energy, Creativity, and Joy

How To Ask Questions For Innovation
Innovation is driven by questions not answers. Questions send people on a journey. But not all questions and journeys are equal. Many questions rehash old territory, only confirming something can’t be done. While other questions expose assumptions, unlock creativity, and focus on how it can be done. Here’s how to ask questions for innovation.

How To Breakthrough Conflict With Questions
We all have conflicts – ranging from little disagreements all the way up to major fallouts. How you respond to conflict, what you say or don’t say, can either escalate or reduce the conflict. To breakthrough conflict I’ve found nothing better than engaging the person by asking honest questions.

Should I Fire Someone Who Works Hard But Isn't Meeting Expectations?
Firing someone is never easy, it's even harder when they are trying their best, but their best just isn't good enough.
 

Legacy

Legacy

But we know that He came not to “make new things,” but to “make all things new.”  That in Him, “all things are possible.”  If we choose, commit, and fight for things to change, in His strength, mercy, and grace, they can.  The entire Christian narrative rests on the fact when things were broken and not as they should be, God carved a miraculous path back that allows for restoration to all as it should have been.  Restoration… healed, whole, and free is our true legacy.

April Top 10

How To Build Conversations That Create Innovative Ideas
The best way to inspire innovative thinking isn't to force a brainstorming session, it's to create an ongoing conversation. Here's how.

When Difficulty Feels Discouraging, Remember This
In an age where we are taught through commercialism there should be no struggles in life that the purchasing of a product won’t relieve, the Bible is incompatible. But the age of commercialism has let us down.

How To Make Friday The Most Productive Day Of The Week
Handled right, Fridays are a chance to invest in activities that pay dividends the rest of the week.

The Secrets To Building A Team Of Decision Makers
Make better decision-makers out of your team by giving them the freedom to be themselves.

4 Strategies To Master The Art Of Delegation
It's one of the toughest things for a founder to do: master the art of letting go.

Micromanagement is Underrated
My challenge, and that of every other leader who occasionally participates in abdication management, is to be more consistent in the way I manage, and not let it be determined by my level of interest, energy or curiosity.

Re-imagining Your Business Growth Mindset
What would the world look like if you spent all of your time, effort and money on delighting the customers you have?

The Hidden Costs Of Interruptions At Work
What all those "Got a minute?" interruptions cost in loss of job satisfaction and productivity may surprise you.

How To Develop Young Leaders: The Little-Much Principle
Leader development is about going in before going out. The Little-Much Principle will help you develop young (and old) leaders.

How To Get People To Disagree With Your Ideas
If your team isn't challenging your ideas, you might have a "yes-person" problem. Here's why it's valuable to get people to question you.

Change

Change

Once we accept and believe the fundamental tenets of Christianity, it is almost wholly about “becoming” and no longer just “believing” or “knowing.”  The crucial and essential journey we must make is the fourteen inches between head and heart.  It's a journey I have made willingly, other times reluctantly, but have sometimes fought it with every fiber of my being (as if my very life depended on it).  Our minds are the front lines in the battlefield for our hearts.  If our enemy can keep us in the intellectual, we will never be able to fully know or offer the love of God.

With or For?

With or For?

In a podcast last week, I heard several men evaluate the growth in their lives over the previous decade.  I haven’t been able to shake the conversation.  In addition to applying that same evaluation process over my last ten years, there were some ideas that I have been wrestling with, in particular.  One of the men contrasted the difference between doing things “for” God versus doing things “with” God.  That one simple concept has had me excavating many things in my life.

Common

Common

As Andy Dufrene from “Shawshank Redemption” asks, “You better get busy living or get busy dying.”  I have always chosen “life” but the offer is so much more than I realized or enjoyed through most of my Christian life.  We are called to an uncommon life by an extraordinarily uncommon King.  The weight of God’s glory in me and the intended glory for all those I love and lead, hangs in the balance.

Becoming

Becoming

Something grand is intended for each of us and it is ours for the taking.  It is a great treasure not merely to be realized later, but to claim and enjoy the riches of now!  There is freedom to move aggressively toward intended glory with the Spirit’s constant guidance and direction.  That certainly seems like a mantle that every person would choose over the fear and doubt they currently shoulder.

March Top 10

How You Can Get Your Best Employees To Stay
For most people moving up means moving on, so how can you get someone who is getting outside offers to stick around?

Why You Should Never Cancel Your One-On-One Meetings
Those personally tailored meetings take up a lot of time. But if you cut them, your work life will likely get more chaotic.

Stop Obsessing Over Employee Loyalty And Focus On This Instead
Leadership boils down to arranging circumstances for people so that they may flourish, and, in turn, the organization may flourish.

How To Follow Your True Calling, Not Someone Else’s
You bring something needed to the world. Be who you were created to be, not what you or others wish you were. The more skillfully and graciously you live out your calling, the more others will hear your song and recognize its beauty too.

5 Simple Things Super Productive People Do on Monday
Monday can be hard, but a little discipline can make it the best day of the week. Here is how successful people start things off.

How To Work With Anyone's Productivity Style
People have one of four different productivity styles. Never have a work conflict again by getting to know how to communicate with each one.

5 Fake-Productive Things You're Doing That Are A Waste Of Time
You're not as busy as you think you are. Chances are you're wasting your time with these behaviors. Here's how to reclaim your day.

The Difference Between A Pitch And A Brand Story
A brand story is not told it is lived. Your brand story is communicated in the values your company stands for, how your staff greet customers, that hurried email you sent, in your website design and product packaging. Anything that the customer touches or that touches the customer is your brand story.

What We Value And Reward Defines Us
Our beliefs and behaviours define our cultures. What we value becomes more valued. What is reinforced drives everything we do, how we show up and who becomes our customer. Above all else this is what shapes our story and no marketing whitewash can stop that being reflected to the outside world.

How To Get People Into Action With One Simple Question
One of the toughest things in leadership is getting people into action. I discovered one simple, yet profound, question that motivates people to get into action.

Defensive

Defensive

I am a recovering legalist.  My legalism taught me to operate with a lot of false humility… to offer just enough of a thin veil of transparency and the appearance of being humble.  I thought it would keep everyone far enough away where they couldn’t see the true person inside.  It didn’t work for very long.  The reality is that law-based faith is really born of deep insecurity.  The law is simply the veil we apply to keep others from the truth about who we really are.

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Two

One of my favorite books is “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller.  It is likely that if you got very far into a conversation with me, a story about that book would emerge.  The book is founded on Donald’s realization that he was living a life that no one would pay to attend if it were made into a movie.  Essentially, he was not writing an interesting enough story with his life for anyone to really care or pay attention.  The book gently awakens the idea and then “sucker punches” you with an incontrovertible truth: Living a better story with your life is completely within your control and it is precisely what you were placed on this earth to realize.  Living a more interesting story is a choice.

February Top 10 Reads

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How To Spot Future Leaders
If you're looking for the next generation of leaders, seek out these seven types.

How One Simple Change Can Make You A Better Listener
It sounds easy, but it's surprisingly hard for most of us: To become a better listener, stop focusing on what you'll say next.

4 Ways Businesses Can Do More With Less Resources
Thinking inside the box and not resisting constraints could actually be the key to an innovative company.

The Power Of The Minimum Viable Experience
When we think about delivering the optimum customer experience we strive to create a scenario that meets the customer’s wants, often forgetting that what the customer wants is more than a cab that takes her from A to B, a computer that works, or a human being that picks up the phone right away. There are so many opportunities to create intangible value and subtle expectations that we can fulfil by being more empathetic and without spending a cent.

The Shocking Mistake I Made About Time and Money
If you want breakthrough, to really multiply your impact, not to just double but go 10x or 100x, then you’ve got to change your mindset regarding time and money. The problem is we commonly view time as flexible and money as fixed, when it is actually the opposite! A time-rich, money-poor mentality holds us back, and keeps us from fully living out our calling. 

To Advance in Career and Life, Act Like a Beginner
To break free from the shackles of the past and to take your game to the next level, approach your challenges like they're new to you.

How To Use Criticism To Build Stronger Working Relationships
It's not enough to simply tell someone they need to improve. Here's how to give feedback that builds people up.

You’re Never Going to Be Fully Ready
No one has every last thing they need. But the people who change their lives, the people who make beautiful things, the people who make a difference in our world—they are the people who paddle, who are willing to do it badly, who give up perfect in favor of good.

Great Parents Do This Well
I’ve noticed something about the parents of teens and twenty-somethings who are high functioning and healthy. I’m talking about young adults who you sit and talk to and wonder how they got so wise, self-controlled and winsome. I’ve noticed they all have parents who have a distinct, unique, and rare quality about them.  It’s not a quality you’d expect, but I promise it’s the common denominator. And here it is: Healthy and high-functioning people often have parents who do not hide their flaws, especially from their own children.

The jerk Factor
Now, when I spell jerk with a small letter “j”, I’m referring to someone who is willing to say or do something that pushes a peer or subordinate far out of their comfort zones in order to make them or the team better.  This often comes in the form of a pointed comment during a meeting, or a dose of tough love delivered one-on-one.  For a few minutes, hours or even days, jerks may be unappreciated, even resented by the people who are on the receiving end of their input, until those people come to the realization that what the jerk said or did was exactly what was needed. 

Treasures

Treasures

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field,”  Matthew.  I heard a man quote this recently when he was talking about leaving behind all the vestiges of a successful home building career to follow Jesus.  As rare and powerful as that testament was, it really got me thinking about why it is such an infrequently referenced passage and why that life is so rarely lived.  Maybe it is because the depth and breadth of that treasure is not completely understood.

Frontiers

Frontiers

The spiritual life is always frontier.  Are we willing to stop, discern, and filter the decisions we face in the ways that can help us find better frontiers?  The throne is completely approachable and a loving Father stands at the ready.  Most of us have been blessed by clouds of witnesses around us.  It is not like we don’t have all the tools we need to make better decisions and find better frontiers.  Sadly, if I sort through some of the wreckage of my life, I find a lot more decisions made with the filters of fear and control.

January Top 10 Reads

The Formula To Better Problem Solving
The "Five Whys" process will help you get to the root of any problem, and make everyone feel understood and included.

The Importance Of Creating A Culture Of Why
Asking "why" can help bring greater innovation and avoid disaster, but first we need to reframe the way we think about it.

The Battle For Your Customer’s Mind
The answer to increasing sales isn’t to work harder to convince people of your advantages, it’s to help them to understand who they could become in the presence of your product.

Sorry: Easy To Say, Not So Easy To Do
Businesses have teams of people who can respond to complaints and fewer who are held accountable for fixing things. Sorry in isolation does not constitute an apology. Every apology has two parts. The admission that something went wrong, followed by the action taken that will mean it doesn’t happen again.

20 Tips for Getting More Done Every Day
One resolution on every entrepreneur's list, year after year, is to be more productive. So why is it so hard to actually get more done?

How a Mission-Oriented Company Can Also Turn a Profit
If you want to effect change in the world--without going bankrupt in the process--here are a few rules to follow.

4 Strategies To Change Your Habits That Actually Work
Gretchen Rubin dug through the research on habit change to find what it really takes to make a fresh start.

3 Things Your Business Should Stop Doing in 2015
Does your business run the same now as it did five years ago or even at the start of 2014? Stop and innovate the way you do your work, or be left behind.

6 Ways Businesses Need to Think Like Nonprofits
For 25 years, I’ve worked with nonprofit organizations. I’ve applied a lot of business principles to nonprofits. These days, I realize that nonprofits have a lot to teach businesses too. Here are 6 ways businesses can learn from nonprofits about purpose, marketing the intangible, and employee engagement.

10 Brand Storytelling Lessons In 2 Minutes
It’s so much easier to adopt default thinking and lead by telling people what we do—which is why most businesses do it. But you are not most businesses.  Your customers are waiting for you to give them something to believe in and to take them where they want to go.