Category Archives: vision
Recently, I have had the opportunity to speak frequently on the topic of “Dream Again.” In these talks I remind people that no dream is too big or too small. I also tell people that, “you are never too young or too old to pursue your dreams.” I have sighted such people as Joan of Arc, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg on the “too young” side of the spectrum and Harlan (Colonel) Sanders, Mary Kay and Julia Child on the “too old” side of the spectrum.
A couple weeks ago this concept was brought to life in a very real way. I was a guest speaker a great church, that is about two hours from my home church. After speaking on “Dream Again” many people approached me after each service to tell me about their dreams (either unfulfilled or fulfilled). One particular gentlemen really stood out to me. This gentleman was in his 60′s and spoke with a profuse stutter. It took him at least three times as long to tell his story as a non-stuttering person would have. His story was this… He had always wanted to sing in the choir because when he sings he doesn’t stutter. He had, had this dream his whole life. he had hung on to it and not let anyone take it from him. Well last year he was invited to join the church choir, and recently he had the privilege of singing a solo.
As he told his story his face told the story of profound joy. The joy of a passion realized, and a dream fulfilled. What dreams are laying dormant in you? What dreams are you still chasing? I encourage you to keep going; keep chasing that thing that God has placed in your heart. I encourage you to DREAM AGAIN!
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“For of All Sad Words of Tongue and Pen, the Saddest are These, It Might Have Been…..” – John Greenleaf Whittier
Vision is Powerful! This excerpt from my new book, Handshake, highlights the life of Bill Gate and his incredible Vision. He is a man with a highly focused,with a constant vision and an adaptable strategy… What are your thoughts about vision?
Bill Gates and the Choice of Vision
Over the past several years computers have taken the world by storm. Business people, parents, students and children are using them. We use them to store information, write letters, keep track of finances, design graphics and send information. They started out filling entire rooms, but now some can literally fit in the palm of your hand. And when you think of computers you most likely think of one individual, Bill Gates…
…With a reported fortune of $54 billion, Gates retained the top spot in 2001 Forbes magazine survey of the 400 wealthiest Americans. In 1994, he married Melinda French, a Microsoft employee, and they now reside in a 40,000 square foot home on Lake Washington. Taking after his mother, Gates claims that he will give away the majority of his fortune through charitable contributions. His largest contribution came in August of 1999 when he donated $6 billion to his charitable foundation, the largest donation ever made by a living individual. Recently, it was reported that if Bill Gates wanted to spend his fortune in the next 40 years, he would have to spend $2.74 million every day. (I sure wish I could help him!)
Bill Gates is a man with vision and the entire world has benefited. “It is the idea (vision) that unites people in the common effort, not the charisma of the leader,” writes Robert Greenleaf in The Leadership Crisis. These words could not be truer for Bill Gates. He is not a charismatic leader but his vision is big and people follow it.
In this chapter you will learn how to create a plan for your vision
Step 1 – Dream without reservation
Step 2 – Put your dreams/vision in writing
Step 3 – Make a plan for your dream/vision
Step 4 – Be committed to do whatever it takes
Your will also learn the step-by step instructions for creating your own personal vision.
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“There is something magical about vision.” – Anthony Robbins
There is a quote by Daniel H Burnham that states, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.” There is such amazing truth in that statement. The next chapter of Handshake highlights a woman who did just that. She made and continues to make big plans, and she stirs the souls of men and women around the world. In this except, we will take a look at the life of Oprah Winfrey and her choice to think big.
Oprah Winfrey and the Choice of Thinking Big
Oprah’s path that led from her grandmother’s farm in Kosciusko, Mississippi to becoming the first African-American woman billionaire is a story of unwavering focus and the ability to think beyond her circumstances. Oprah Winfrey serves as our hero in this chapter as someone who learned to think big. When education may have not happened without the hard work of earning a scholarship, she thought big. When others may have been limited by a painful past, she chose to think big. Seeing the needs of children and families, she established programs that would make a difference because she decided to think big.
William Arthur Ward claims, “Nothing limits achievements like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.” We are limited by our thinking. In the case of Oprah Winfrey, she was faced with multiple issues that could have limited her thinking. She once said, “Nobody had any clue that my life could be anything but working in some factory or a cotton field in Mississippi.” Others may have thought that about her, but she refused to accept that way of thinking.
That’s what thinking big will do for you; it will shape your future into an image of success. It will bring you to a place that you were meant to be.
In this chapter you will learn the rewards of Thinking Big. The benefits include…
1) Makes dreams possible
2) Opens opportunities
3) Gathers the great
4) Forces teamwork
5) Gives you influence
6) Turns circumstances into stepping stones
7) Unleashes potential
8) Promotes growth
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Your team is a lot more creative than you give them credit for. As a matter of fact, you are probably a lot more creative than you give “yourself” credit for. Most of the time we do not realize our creative potential because we never take the time to truly be creative. We rarely set aside a few hours with our staff, key leaders or team and simply “create.” Stand in an empty room with a white board and say “what could we do that we are not doing now?”
One of the greatest joys I have is when I get to create with my staff. When we begin to brainstorm and let ideas flow. The process is thrilling as I watch my team begin to create, think differently and come up with ideas that have never been exercised in our organization. A free flowing environment is a joy to be in and to lead. One of the greatest things you can do is to begin hosting monthly creative meetings, where you and your team are allowed to create in a non-threatening strategy session. But if you are going to have these kinds of meetings you will need to have the following “rules of engagement” in order. These rules are adapted by Craig Wilson from his talk on “Recapturing your creative spirit.”
1) No blocking
When your team is having a creative strategy session there can be “no blocking.” This simply means that you cannot continually put up roadblocks for the other person’s idea. For instance if someone says “Lets do this or that.” You don’t say “Where will we get the money or we don’t have the personnel.” That is critical thinking and that is a step you take later. Let people flow with ideas and don’t block them with reasons “why” it won’t work.
2) Yes and…
When someone is flowing with ideas help the idea to grow by saying “yes and…” In other words if you were working on putting together a banquet and someone had an idea, instead of blocking their idea say “yes and…we could also do this.” When you use the principle of “yes and…”it helps to initiate creative momentum.
3) More ideas
Take your ideas and have your team write them down on small post-its and put them all over the walls. This will allow people to see the ideas that are flowing. But once you have begun working on ideas, don’t stop; come up with even more ideas. Often people get into a box and they begin to think only in beige. The people on your team need to think in color. As I said earlier, “your team is a lot more creative then you think.”
4) Wild ideas
These are the kind of ideas that are almost embarrassing to speak out loud. But they may be the ideas that your team needs to hear. Encourage the people in the meeting that everyone has to be open about every wild idea. You need the kind of ideas that others have thought before but were too afraid to voice. Help your team to see the value of these crazy and wild ideas.
5) Critical thinking
This is where you begin to take all the ideas that have been voiced by the team and begin to work them out into a plan of action. The thing you will notice is that you don’t need to say “this idea won’t work,” or “that was a dumb idea.” You won’t need to say this, because the team will just naturally begin to discuss the ideas that resonate in each of their hearts. The process of elimination will happen without you having to push for it.
Why don’t you schedule a time with your team right now. Set aside a couple of hours and work on a project together or some goals for the future. Have a big white board to write on and a pad of post-its for everyone. Let them begin to write ideas out, place them on the wall and let the creative session get big and wild. You will have a blast and your team will begin to realize their creative potential. The end result will be that the floor of beige will open up in your organization and loud, vibrant colors of creativity will come bursting through.
Until next time,
QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. Effective leaders are able to shake up their thinking as though their brains are kaleidoscopes, permitting an array of different patterns out of the same bits of reality.” - Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Can you imagine deciding that you want to build a home on a piece of property that you have purchased? So you begin to search out a builder who you can hire to build you the dream home of your life. You find that individual and you hire him on the spot. A few days later, you are driving by your land and you see your builder beginning the process of building. He hasn’t shown you any blueprints or architectural design. You have not made any decisions on what the house will look like, how many rooms, how big the kitchen will be, what the entrance of the home will look like, not one decision has been made, he just starts building.
How crazy would that be? To start building a home without having any plans. No one in their right mind would ever do this. Why would you attempt such an important task without any direction, plan or process? We wouldn’t allow this in the building of our home, but we allow it in the building of our organization. Many leaders are guilty of leading their organizations without any true blueprint or any clear plan or process.
A while back, we discussed the two major questions every organization must ask themselves:
a) What is the purpose of this organization?
b) What is the process?
Two very simple questions, yet uniquely profound. What is the purpose of the organization you lead and what is the process. If your company is a contractor, insurance agency or something in the mortgage industry, what is the purpose and what is the process? Maybe your organization is a church, then the question is the same, what is the purpose and what is the process. Is it clear? Is it precise? Is it easily understood by those who hear it? Does your leadership know it?
I was recently consulting a church that was creating a purpose statement and they said “They existed to improve life.” They wanted the purpose of the church to be about improving. They wanted those who came to their church to experience improvement in every area of their life including: financial, spiritual, relational and emotional. It was a clear and precise purpose that could easily be shared with someone.
Then they added to that purpose by creating a process. They said we want three things to happen. For people to “Connect, Grow and Serve.” They wanted people to “Connect with God” during their worship services, to “Grow” by getting involved in what they called small groups and they wanted people to “Serve” in a volunteer role at their church. They felt that this was a simple process that would accomplish their purpose. If people would Connect, Grow and Serve then their life would improve. Simple purpose and a simple process.
Can you do that? Can you say in just a few words the purpose of your organization and the process by which you accomplish the purpose? Work on that this week with your key leaders. Discover your purpose and your process. The clarity that will come from this could potentially change your organization forever.
Until next time,
QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“To be simple is to be great.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Fox Network has a T.V. game show titled “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” The game is hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy and the game works like this. Adult contestants have to answer a series of questions that are found in the text books of elementary age students ranging from 1st- 5th grade. The more questions they can answer the more money they can win. There is also a small panel of actual 5th graders that the adult contestant can call upon (only 3 times during the game) for help. The humor of the show is that the 5th graders have the correct answer more often than the adults. A matter of fact, the 5th graders rarely miss a question. When the contestant doesn’t reach the million dollar prize, he or she must look into the camera and say “I am not smarter than a 5th grader.”
While watching the show recently I began to think about the title in the context of leadership. How often do we make mistakes that are not much smarter than 5th graders? As I talk to leaders everywhere, I am amazed by some of their stories of foolish decisions and actions made in the corporate world. These foolish mistakes have been made by all of us, including me. I have listed some things you can do to help you avoid the most common leadership blunders.
1) Focus on more than yourself
Often leaders make the mistake (consciously or sub-consciously) of focusing on their personal gain and what is best for them. A true leader is not only concerned about their well being but also shows great concern about the individuals and organization they lead. William Rando, who runs the Office of Teaching Fellow Preparation and Development,” at Yale University said that you must always ask, “What are my students going to do today?” He was simply expressing his intelligent opinion that if you are going to lead you must be concerned about the life of those you are responsible to lead.
2) Praise publicly and reprimand privately
Sometimes a weak leader will attempt to flex his or her authority muscle by reprimanding publicly rather then privately. Don’t make this mistake. You don’t want to degrade the people on your team. Make it a practice to praise them publicly. Be generous about your praise. It doesn’t cost you anything and the pay back is great. Also, when reprimanding, do it privately. There is no need to make a spectacle of the person in whom you are dealing with.
3) Be clear about the process and purpose of your organization
On a recent trip to Disneyland with my family, I was once again, impressed with this incredible company. The cleanliness is outstanding, the atmosphere is wonderful but above all I am impressed with the clarity of purpose and of process. The purpose of Disney is for families to come and enjoy a clean, safe environment, but the processes are obviously clear as well. The entire organization from parking, to trams, to the entering and exiting of the lines is all a process designed to support the purpose. What a lesson for all of us who hold the position of a leader. Make your purpose and process clear so that the entire organization can follow. You want everyone to repeat that purpose and process in a matter of seconds and to keep the leaders and the organization focused on them. Failing to do this is a mistake that many leaders make. They make the assumption that because it may be clear in their head that it is clear and simple to everyone else. Try this out right now. Take a small napkin and pretend that you are explaining your purpose and process of the organization to someone who has never seen it. Can it fit on a napkin? Can you articulate it in a matter of seconds? If your answer is, “No” to any of these questions then you probably need to re-think your purpose and process through. It must be clear and simple.
Until next time,
QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing.”
I want you to imagine for a moment that you have hired a consultant to work with your team. This consultant has complete access to each member and no question is off limits. The consultant comes in early one morning and begins at one office, working his way through each office, stopping to ask each member of your team some very specific questions.
What do you think is the purpose of your organization?
What is the mission?
Why do you exist?
What is the “Strategic Process” that helps you carry out your purpose?
How do you think the answers would come back? Would it be clear, precise and would there be continuity between each member’s responses? If you are like most organizations the honest answer would be no. If that is the case for you then you must ask yourself, how can I expect my organization to gain momentum, focus and clarity if the members don’t possess it themselves?
I was reading a book recently that emphasized the power of “Simple Vision.” This book talked about how organizations grow quicker with a “Simple Vision” then with an elaborate vision. The simpler it is the more powerful it is. They referenced companies like Google. They shared that Google’s home page is simple with just a few words, while other search engines such as Yahoo has hundreds of characters on its home page. Google is said to be used by the largest majority of people using a search engine. People want the simple process.
Can you imagine the power of your organization having the ability to state in just a few words the purpose and process of the company? Most of us would say we have a purpose, but it is multiple words that no one has bought into and there is no simple process that goes along with it.
Here are two questions to ask yourself and your team:
a) Why do we exist?
Do not look to other companies or organizations for a preset purpose statement. Create it from your own heart. In just a few words (possibly 10 or less) what is the purpose of your organization?
b) What is our process?
How do we establish our purpose? If you were a fast food chain, you might have a purpose that says “delivering quality food with customer care.” That is a simple purpose to why you exist. Now your process may be to “Make it fresh, make it quick and make it with a smile,” or “Buy great products, make it when it’s ordered and treat the customer well.” This is just a simple process that you do over and over to assure success.
Ask your team members these simple questions. Wrestle with them for a while and let them become a catalyst that springboards you to an organization that is clear, precise and simple.
Until next time,
QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else; hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”
- Lucille Ball
Excerpt from: In Search of Higher Ground
What is Higher Ground? It is anything good and positive that you desire for your life. It may mean financial freedom, early retirement or the ownership of personal property. It could mean the beginning of a business, that up to this point, has only been a dream. Higher Ground may be the corporate ladder that is waiting for you to climb, the book that is waiting to be written, the idea that is waiting to become reality. It could mean a better way of life, a healthier marriage or successful parenting. It may be freedom from an addiction or an overcoming of a past hurt that continues to damage the future. Simply put, Higher Ground is the place where you live out your dreams. Higher Ground is different for everyone…its path is different, the obstacles vary, and the surroundings rarely look the same. Although it varies in size, shape and color, what it takes to get to Higher Ground is most often the same. Dreams, goals, taking risks, letting go of fear and insecurity, good character and mental attitude, the right motives, and accountability, are all things you must place in your backpack as you journey up the mountain to this place called Higher Ground.
Many years ago, I was invited to go on a long backpacking trip. Those who know me well, know that I am not much of an outdoors person. My idea of the outdoors is lying by the pool at the Marriott. To be a part of this backpacking trip, I was told I would have to attend an orientation meeting in which we would receive instruction on what to bring and how to prepare. Beyond my better judgment, I attended this meeting and received the information. The guide for the trip had divided up the list of who would bring what. Each person was assigned various tasks and duties to help make the trip a success. I purchased 21 of my assigned items, and in a few short days I found myself on a week long backpacking trip that I will never forget. We drove all night to the mountain we were to climb, until finally we arrived. With very little sleep we began to climb the mountain. For the next 8 hours all we did was climb. The guide and the few who had been on a trip like this were doing fine. Myself and the others who had never been on a backpacking adventure felt like we were dying. After hours of climbing and complaining we finally arrived at a sight where we unpacked, got cleaned up, and had an opportunity to eat. Even though it wasn’t very comfortable, we slept like babies through the night. The next morning however, the guide woke us up and told us it was time to pack up and continue the climb up the mountain! I honestly thought that we had arrived the day before, that we were not going to climb anymore. I tried to reason with the guide, I asked him what is the difference between staying here and climbing higher? The trees look the same, the ground looks the same, what could possibly be different by climbing the mountain any higher? After much pleading, complaining, whining, and anything else I could do to change his mind, we moved on. We continued to climb all day until we arrived at our final destination, just about sunset. I was so tired that after eating and getting cleaned up, I went immediately to sleep. The next morning I awoke and realized that we were at the top of the mountain.The guide was absolutely right. The trees looked different, the air was cleaner, the surroundings only something I had seen on a postcard.
I realized something that morning that I will never forget, that the view is always better at the top of the mountain. Somehow you forget all the work that it took to get you there, when you finally arrive at Higher Ground! The first characteristic to reaching Higher Ground is found in this story of my mountain top experience. You see, the difference between me and the guide, was that he had been to the top and I had not. He had a picture in his mind of what it looked like and I had never seen it. The mountain top was a place he loved, a passion he had, a dream that so captured his thoughts, that fatigue would not and could not stand in the way. You see, that’s the power of a dream. It becomes your compass, your passion, your love, your guide and your thoughts. Dreams become a sense of purpose and direction for where your life is headed. Without a dream, life becomes something to be endured, not enjoyed. Life becomes something where we get by, but not ahead. The first step towards Higher Ground is knowing your dream and being committed to it.
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.”
- Tom Bradley
In order for any church to be a healthy, thriving body, especially if your focus is church growth, you must keep “the main thing the main thing.” What is the main thing? In any church, the main “thing” is Weekend Services! Your weekend services are where your vision comes to life, team efforts are seen, and they are catalysts to life change. And in terms of evangelism a weekend service is usually a visitor’s first impression of the church. It has been said, “In the NFL there is one Super Bowl per year…in the church life there are 52 per year.” The problem is that we often treat the major thing as the minor thing. We think of the weekend services as business as usual. Therefore, there is often very little sermon prep. The planning is frequently last minute. The services often lack creativity, and are predictable. Following are some of the excuses I have been given for not having more creative and interesting services.
• I’m not very creative
• No one in our church is creative
• I don’t have a staff to work with
• Can’t afford to be creative
• Creative services inhibit the moving of the Holy Spirit
Now consider this… God made you as a creative being. God invented creativity. Jesus modeled creativity, and the Spirit empowers creativity. If this is true, what is the real reason why we don’t have creative services? Some of the reasons and/or excuses I have encountered are…
a) The planning takes too long
b) Brings us out of our comfort zone
c) Failure to see the value
d) Too much work
Now that you are beginning to embrace your creative side, here are a few general suggestions regarding how to increase your creativeness in various areas of your services.
1. Creative Worship
• Life Change video
• Reading of a life change story
• Video images
• Utilize special music with creativity
FACT: Worship can be more than 3-5 songs week after week
2. Creative Communication – the sermon
• Always ask: “What does the listener need to know and what do they need to do?”
• Less is more (try to find one driving theme)
• Use creative illustrations
• Stay fresh
• Give a good balance (spiritual depth, Bible, relevancy)
“If better is possible then good is not enough”
3. Creative Elements
• Special Song
• Interaction moments
Before you start to feel overwhelmed, keep in mind that this is not and should not be all up to you. You will need a team to help you in this process. In part 2 we will discuss how to create that team and how to work with the team effectively.
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”