Want to be more productive?
Here's a little trick to make sure we are ready to go, not on the sidelines...exhausted.
It all depends on what we choose to engage, activate, and launch every day.
Which way we flip the switch matters.
The direction that keeps us on point with who we are and why we exist is what we are looking for. That's a lights-on situation.
The one that tries to impress others, will exhaust us...because very simply put...it's tiring trying to be someone we are not. That's a lights-out, bad choice.
So think of a light switch today.
Every decision we make is like flipping a switch.
It'll brighten the room every time we choose ourselves.
It'll darken the room every time we try to be someone other than us.
Choose the activities and make the decisions that engage, activate, and launch the very best part of who you are today! The world needs it, and you deserve it!
Plus...it's no fun wandering around in the dark, bumping into stuff.
Have a GREAT day...and an AMAZING weekend!
You've been asked to do something incredibly important,
but fear it won't work out in the end?
You've been incredibly inconvenienced,
because this moment wasn't something you had planned for?
You've been confronted with an easy way out,
knowing full well it won't end well?
There will come a time in your life when you will come face to face with something of great importance. But that won't be the challenge. That is found in the fact that it will be inconvenient, unknown, and have a built in escape hatch if you want out.
You'll come face to face with a life altering decision.
And here is the rub…
It will likely not have as much to do with you as you think.
It will very likely have to do with your ability to effect positive change in the lives of others.
Are you ready for that?
Have you decided ahead of time how you will respond to that moment?
We will all face a "WHAT HAPPENS WHEN?" moment in our lives.
Maybe more than one.
So the next time you are feeling the weight of great importance and inconvenience,
think twice before you take the easy way out.
It's very likely a legacy moment for you.
It's very likely a game changer for those around you.
Don't say no to the challenge, because you don't know what will happen.
Perhaps it's time to double down,
and beat "logic"…
I remember the day well. It was in May of 2000. I drove her to a beautiful creek where I would "pop the question". I didn't want to give away where we were going. I wanted to surprise her. I blindfolded her for the ride, which almost turned out to be a disaster. Turns out that can evoke motion sickness. Luckily the drive wasn't too long.
When we arrived I asked her to take my arm and I began to lead her through a wooded and windy path to our destination. As we got closer you could hear music (I had planted it there ahead of time). It was Jim Brickman. That tends to get the romantic mood all taken care of.
At this point I proceeded to get on my knee in the middle of a creek rushing past our feet on a warm spring evening. I shared that from this moment forward I couldn't go forward without her. But I knew that the only way to guarantee that was to intentionally ask her to join me permanently on this journey we call life.
Thankfully she said yes, and a little over 14 years later life is good. Actually, better than I ever could have imagined. Three great kids, one incredible wife, and a life together as a family that I wouldn't trade for the world.
So why am I sharing this story with you?
Something hit me today.
The only way my story worked was because I was intentional
about asking one simple question.
Will you marry me?
It's a commitment thing. It's a once you do this, there is no going back. It's a you better be serious, because this is for keeps. It's all good…but it's also all-in!
Even though I wanted to be engaged to Cara, it wasn't going to happen accidentally.
I had to ask.
And the more I thought about that concept I see it applying
to many people in many other areas of life.
We want to be in better shape, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want to be better informed about an idea, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want to be in a healthy relationship, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want a better job, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want to pursue something that will change our life, but we can't do it accidentally.
And because we can't do any of these things accidentally,
we need to be real about them.
The only way we can deal with them is to
make the decision to intentionally act on them.
We have to "pop the question" to ourselves.
We have to move from just liking being married to the idea,
to being engaged to the process first.
When Cara said "yes", it started a process.
We began to make plans for our wedding.
We were moving forward, together, on a whole other level.
And it's the same for whatever it is in your life that you want to move forward with.
You'll need to make the commitment to be "engaged" today.
You'll need to understand engagement is a process.
And at the end of the day,
every decision you make will honor this commitment you've made.
And over time, at some point, you'll cement your commitment with an "I do".
We have a little saying, Cara and I, that comes out when I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am to be married to my best friend. Something will happen. It can be as simple as walking by her and seeing her face. It can be the result of something funny our kids do. Whatever triggers it, here is what happens…
I look at Cara and say this…
"Thanks for saying YES!"
At which point she will look at me with a smile and say…
"Thanks for asking".
You have to ask.
You can't get accidentally engaged.
Not to your spouse.
And not to your calling.
And one last thing. I talked a lot about great things that you may want to pursue. This works the same for things you may need to separate yourself from. If you are struggling with something, you can't accidentally give it weight in your life. You either choose to become engaged to it and the negative influence it has in your life, or you separate from it.
Just like you can't get accidentally engaged to great things in your life,
it works the same for negative things.
I hope this encourages you today.
Find the wrong things, and separate yourself from them.
Find the right things…
and get engaged.
Put The Hay Away!
You've heard the phrase "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack" many times.
The phrase itself is basically admitting defeat. It's too hard. You'll never find it.
But what if it's as simple as reversing our train of thought?
Stop looking for the needle, and put away the hay.
Seriously…you aren't going to find the needle by tossing the hay around randomly until it appears. But if you commit to systematically "putting away the hay" a little bit at a time?
The only thing left will be the very thing you wanted all along.
I don't know what your "needle" is.
And I don't know what the "hay" is that is keeping you from finding it.
I do know that if you
do what you can, with what you have, where you are…
You'll find the needle faster than you think.
That is how you get "IT" done.
Eventually your team is going to face difficult moments.
And as crazy as this may sound, it could even be an indicator you are about to accomplish something incredible as a result.
There is a fine line between that being the case, and chaos being the result instead.
Here is another way to look at it...
When something gets hard, our nature is to do these 5 things.
1. Look for the excuse
Give up because you didn't have a vision guiding you.
Giving up for the vision so that hard moments energize you.
2. We make the excuse
Give up because it's just too hard to do.
Giving up our personal preference to honor what we do.
3. Act like it’s no big deal
Give up because our approach didn't work.
Giving up our resources to double down on building stronger relationships.
4. Make it all about ourselves
Give up because of pride.
Giving up so humility could take root.
5. Lash out at others
Give up and walk away because we think we know better.
Giving up our wants to create an environment that takes care of others needs.
Have you seen the difference yet?
When we GIVE UP it's all about excuses, whining, comfort, stuff, and pride.
When we change our posture to GIVING UP it's all about decisions, sacrifice, relationships, humility and service.
The next time your team faces a challenge,
look at these 5 things, and ask yourself one question…
Are we about to GIVE UP,
or are we willing to start GIVING UP?
It's the difference between quitting and conquering,
stopping and doubling-down,
throwing in the towel and going all-in.
"You've got to create healthy boundaries."
You must do this so that things that appear attractive don't become habits that are destructive.
Let's go swimming for a minute. At first, it's a lot of fun. One stroke at a time. The view is great, the water refreshing. Then something starts to happen. Our arms tire, our breathing becomes more labored. And in a moment, what we are sure will be there to help us catch our breath is not any longer. We go to put our feet down on solid ground to stand, and we can't feel it.
We've gotten out so deep in the water,
we are in over our head.
Work. Home. Relationships. Ministry. It can happen in all of these places. Our best of intentions can get us in situations we should never have had to encounter.
So how do we avoid this part of chaos?
Just like the buoy line in the picture above tells us we need to turn around, we need limits in place in our work, families, relationships and churches. Candidly…there are just some places that some people are not equipped to go.
As a leader it's your job to identify them, articulate them clearly, and set your people up for success within your organization.
As a follower it's your job not to rock the boat and pitch a fit when you don't understand. Many times you won't be able to "see the difference". In other words, you won't know if the water is 4 feet or 44 feet deep. So you will keep swimming. You'll insist "you are fine". And at some point, it may end in a tragic situation.
Listening to and honoring the leadership over you may be the very thing that will protect you.
Separating what looks the same isn't easy, and not everyone is called to do it. But those that are need to be listened to.
(Insert why it's so important that parents stop trying to be their kid's "best friends" all the time here. Just lead well!)
That's how you can make sure that something that looks attractive doesn't become a habit that is destructive.
You avoid deep waters that will overtake you by trusting the vision set before you.
Are there times when the boundaries need to be pushed so that your team can get to where they need to go? Absolutely. But that is never done by just diving in and rushing into the unknown. It's done out loud, in advance, with intentional preparation so that you can get where your team needs to go safely.
Leaders are leaders for a reason. If you are under one that casts vision, and leads by careful influence to get everyone someplace special…together…congrats. That's a cool place to be. And if you are a leader, don't let this go to your head. It's your responsibility to get everyone there safely. Your pride has no place in that process.
If, on the other hand, you are in a situation where orders are barked out, and you stay on the shore forever…there isn't anything wrong with having a conversation. Talk it out. Share your concerns. And then make decisions that are healthy.
But please, don't just jump in and start swimming to prove a point. The point you prove may end up being you in over your head. And that's not any place you are called to.
Turning chaos into order
starts with intentionality.
It starts with setting healthy boundaries.
Embrace them so that you can get where you are going with a purpose, on purpose…to make a difference in the world around you.
Part 3 is coming soon!
Here is what we'll tackle.
3. You've got to create systems and structure. You must do this so that you can multiply your progress in a healthy environment.
See you all soon!
Who wants to change?
What comes first?
Where do I start?
When do I just throw in the towel?
Why should I bother?
Do any of those questions sound familiar?
If so, congratulations…you are normal.
You are human. You get frustrated just like the rest of us. You have the urge to become less than 5 years old and bang your fists and feet off the ground in the world's most epic temper-tantrum.
I get it.
So let's do something about it, instead of regressing back to it.
I've identified 7 steps that will help you turn chaos into order. I am going to give you the 30,000 foot view of them today. In the coming days, I will dive deeper into each one, so that you have solid practical application on your side.
I coined a term that reminds me to keep it practical. If you have an idea that is long on theory and short on practical application, that's crap. In short? Craptical.
Let's avoid that.
Here are the 7 steps to turn chaos into order.
1. You've got to have a solid vision. You must bring things into the light so that you can determine if they belong or need to go.
2. You've got to create healthy boundaries. You must do this so that things that appear attractive don't become habits that are destructive.
3. You've got to create systems and structure. You must do this so that you can multiply your progress in a healthy environment.
4. You've got to be able to measure your progress. You must do this so that you know if where you are at this point will help you get to where you are called to go.
5. You've got to create teams. You must do this so that you primary purpose of multiplying has a solid base to grow from.
6. You've got to have the right leadership in place. You must HAVE this so that everyone in your organization knows who you are, why you exist, and how to get to your ultimate destination.
7. You've got to rest. You must do this because you need it. If God needed a day to rest, take the hint. Find a couch, a good book, a great movie…spend time with your family.
That's the 30,000 foot view.
I'll walk out more of the "how to" and why it's an absolute must that you do in the coming days.
In the meantime…
Go read yesterday's blog,
"How to fall in love with going to work…"
(Psst…it's right below this one.)
It'll get your mind on what matters most, so that this 7 step process can help you truly turn chaos into order.
One last thing…
If you haven't sensed it, this 7 step process isn't just for business. It's an organization thing. It'll change your life at work, sure. If you let it, it can change your life at home, church, where you volunteer, school, government and everywhere else as well.
(Psst…No, this is not a plug for Peter. He doesn't know I exist. It's a plug for how much I believe in you.)
Here is why I am sharing this with you today...
Four years ago I needed help.
Four years ago I was in over my head.
Four years ago I was drowning in my own pride.
Four years ago I needed to…
What did I do?
I didn't pick this book up thinking it would solve all my problems.
I didn't pick this book up trying to be Peter Arnell.
I didn't pick this book up because I had lots of free time to read.
I did pick this pick up because…
If I didn't start to learn from others, I'd stay stuck.
If I continued to believe I had all the answers, I'd stay stuck.
If I didn't change my attitude, I'd stay stuck.
And I have a bookshelf FULL of other books I read for the same reason. Some are "business" books. Some probably fall in that dreaded "self-help" category. Some are written from a Biblical perspective. And others are stories of great coaches, athletes and other high level achievers in their craft.
The point is simple.
If you are stuck,
you need a break from your own head.
You need to let some great words of wisdom, mentorship and advice in. The walls of your brain may need to be re-painted. It's time to take down grandma's favorite wallpaper, and let a re-design happen.
I'm not talking about taking every word someone else writes as absolute truth. I am talking about letting someone who can pick out a wall color better, challenge your's and my ability to do so.
I'm challenging you to step back from yourself long enough, to be better positioned to take the next steps you need to.
As a business owner, employee, dad, volunteer, pastor, mother, sister, or your brother's friend's second cousin twice removed…
YOU NEED TO.
What you are called to deserves to be challenged. If it's meant to be it'll stand up to it. If you are called to it, you'll learn something new along the way you can use to leverage your progress.
I'll end with this quote from SHIFT by Peter Arnell…
"…if you are embarking on a major personal change - whether your goal is to quit smoking, get more fit, or reinvent your approach to your work, life, and career - you need to hear a compliment when people tell you "You're crazy"…It means you're finding the inner focus you need to keep from wavering from the mission at hand. It means you are being you - clear, focused, concentrated and powerful."
What are you trying to change in your life today?
Part of Peter Arnell's journey is in the picture at the beginning of this bog post. Pretty awesome stuff!
Whatever it is…
You don't have to go it alone.
Grab a book. Actually, grab lots of them. Let them encourage, challenge and inspire you to SHIFT.
Go after your personal change
like it's an absolute must…
(*If this blog post is something that is helpful, please leave a comment below. A "yes", "yup"…or anything along those lines is great. If it is, I will bust open my bookshelf, and continue to share many of the books that've helped me over the past 4 years get to where I am. Who knows, maybe they'll encourage you too.)
One of the challenges in getting from where you are to where you want to be is a phrase we are all familiar with.
"Paralysis by analysis".
Simpler yet, we over-think stuff.
Don't get me wrong. Planning, goal setting, and everything else that goes with being intentional is great. But at some point, we've got to stop using "what if?" as a viable means of thinking…and replace it with acting on "what is".
Think of it like this...
"what is" = what we already have.
Be intentional about…
*building on and pouring into the relationships we already have.
*being more efficient with the time we already have.
*using the financial resources we already have.
*taking better care of the body we already have.
*using the skills and talents we already have.
Here is both the reality and the irony...
If we'll get better at doing, using and implementing what we already have, only then will we get the answer to "what if?" anyway.
If you are wrestling with "what if?" today, get out of the ring and grab a shower. It's wasted energy, effort and time.
Stare "what is" in the face, and get to know it better.
You'd be surprised how much more energy, time and resources you'll end up with to tackle the things that really matter.
Stop wondering "what if?", and start embracing "what is".
Either that, or at the very least stop complaining that you are stuck where you are. The excuses that "what if?" offer are subtle. Subtle leads to slowly becoming numb to their reality.
And numbness eventually left untreated?
Paralysis. Paralysis by analysis to be exact.
The good news?
Now you know how to avoid it.
Leverage every ounce of "what is" that you can find.
Do what you can,
with what you have,
where you are.
Before you buy a plane ticket to Italy to be a cobbler…
fix a pair of shoes,
with the resources you already have,
where you already live.
That's the ticket you are looking for.
That's the ticket that might just get you to Italy one day.
That's the ticket that will change your reality.
That's how to conquer "paralysis by analysis".
If you want your people to follow you,
give them a reason to.
How can you expect your people
to have confidence in you,
when you refuse to give clear direction how to?
It doesn't mean you will have all the answers to every question up front. What it does mean is that you are willing to admit that and be open about it. There is grace given where transparency lives. People are willing to overlook a mistake on your part if they know it was an honest attempt to build something they want to be part of.
Start making the decision to be a transparent leader, and stop making excuses.
You can be a dictator from a corner office cloaked in secrecy and wonder why your team is dysfunctional…OR…get out and talk openly with your team as a leader of authentic transparency.
It's your choice.
Transparency brings clarity, passion and progress.
Anything less is settling in to believe your own excuses and dealing with all of the frustration that will arrive because of them.
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.