Prepare to WIN in 2017

At the end of every year, I take some time to look back at the previous year and look forward to the next. It is an exercise that is not uncommon, and I use the time to evaluate and make a plan in several areas of my life. So, in the couple weeks after Christmas and to start the new year, I spent a significant amount of time reflecting and planning. When working with coaching clients, I find that many people are attracted to the thought of doing this, but lack a framework that allows them to safely evaluate. Hence, for many, such an exercise becomes one of comparison, shame and making a commitment to try harder. What I wanted to do in this first blog of the year is give you a simple framework that you can add to or subtract from as is appropriate for the context of your life. It is a great tool to examine yourself spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, professionally, as a parent, or in numerous other areas. The acronym is simple: W. I. N. Click here to get 33 clarifying questions to help you make a discipleship plan. W is a prompt to look at what you did well in the area you are examining. Too often our tendency is to start an examination with where we fell short. My own tendency is to want to press on before celebrating what has been done. Here are a few sample questions: What did I do well in the area being examined? How have I celebrated these milestones? How will what I did well impact...

Developing Presence

Driving on a Florida two-lane road recently, I got behind someone behaving erratically. The car was swerving from one side of the lane to the other. Not maintaining the speed limit, a line of traffic had build up behind this car. Every once in awhile there would be a tap of the brakes for no perceptible reason. At long last when I got to pass this car, the problem became apparent. The driver was on the phone, working the screen with sliding and tapping of the thumb. The driver was distracted and not fully present for the main task. When I got ahead, after I got over my sense of righteousness because my phone was on the seat next to me (comparison does that, right?), I realized, this is exactly how we treat God. All of us are distracted by the busyness and the noise of the world around us, so God rarely gets our full attention. Not developing awareness of the presence of God causes us to miss the main what is going on around us. With focus elsewhere, we are not attentive to the needs of others. With the inability to slow down, we miss opportunities to reflect the love of Jesus to others. With a drive to meet our own needs, we have an inability to be thankful. But worst of all, we miss out on knowing God and being known by Him. It takes intention to slow down our thoughts and be present before God. It takes discipline to be still and hear His small whisper. It takes desire to want to live in His truth rather than captive...

Make Yourself Available

  The ability to ask open-ended questions and listen with presence is a skill. Good questions have power, not just to garner information, but to change perspective and build influence. Everyone has relationships in which influence must be built and maintained: spouses, children, leaders, teams, students, etc. Questions are a necessary component to growth in all of these areas. All too often, attempts to build influence become prescription. Telling another person what they need or should do without giving them a chance to evaluate or explain. Another mistake is to continually tell people what you need from them. This sends the implicit message that the other person, whether it is spouse, child, employee, or volunteer, is there to serve you. Now you have stolen joy from the relationship and created obligation. Both of these are attempts to build influence that are centered in self and the need to maintain control. Recently, a client was having trouble finding a way to effectively maintain connection with a leader without seemingly like they were meddling. In this situation, the person being led reacted very negatively to feeling like they were being managed. One solution to this problem was to ask a simple question: What do you need from me? With these words you can demonstrate compassion and a desire to serve the other by putting their needs alongside your own. Asking this question communicates your availability without bruising the other’s ego. They may be more likely to ask for help if they know that it is not a sign of weakness to need help. Additionally, this question places ownership for the circumstance or task on the other person’s shoulders, where it...

Healthy Things Grow

In a recent conversation with a leader, I used the expression “healthy things grow”to talk about hoped for results in an area of coaching. It is a good principle. Healthy kids grow. Healthy plants grow. If there is health, there is growth. Yet, we encounter some problems with this principle. All things do not grow the same way. All churches do not grow in the same way. All ministries do not grow in the same way. All relationships do not grow the same way. All disciples do not grow the same way. In church leadership, the tendency is to equate growth with numeric growth. More people means there is health. That is a lie, and a trap. A church can grow by telling people what they want to hear. There are plenty of those out there. Pointing to numeric growth as a sign of healthy things, the tendency is to become driven to experience growth. But healthy things are not the only things that grow. Cancer grows. Weeds grow. Beer bellies grow. It is also a way to dismiss other avenues of growth. Are people developing perseverance? Experiencing Christ more fully in their daily lives? Demonstrating compassion to others? Becoming light where they are? Are they transforming workplaces, sports teams, schools, and communities by their presence. The Gospel is not an individual church growth strategy, it is a Kingdom growth strategy. And the Kingdom can easily be growing around a healthy church whose numbers are constant. What possible ways are there to grow in your ministry context? Focusing our efforts on the numeric growth is a way to build our own sense...

Four Leadership Essentials

As a leader, it is important to have a lens to view your leadership through. This way, your decisions and actions can be filtered and evaluated as useful or not, in alignment with your values or not, and appropriate for your context or not. There are a multitude of models out there, some more complex than others. For me, simplicity allows me flexibility and adaptability, things that I value. For your consideration, here are my four E’s of leadership. My leadership should… Encourage Sometimes the people we lead need to me reminded why we value them in the position they occupy. Encouragement can be simple reminders of the skills they bring to the team. It can also take the form of celebrating wins, both small and large. As leaders, we need to remember that our encouragement adds energy to the roles and activities of those under us. It is also important to remember that the lives of those we lead are bigger than the role they play in our organizations. Questions for your leadership – How do you celebrate wins and progress? How often do you do this? How often to you check in on your people’s lives outside the organization? How safe do your people feel to answer your questions honestly? Empower Empowering others to lead or perform their tasks means giving them the space to operate. Recognizing that others will not do things the way that you would. Giving others space to fail (not out of incompetence), evaluate, and refocus. Empowering is felt as trust by those you lead. The nemesis of an empowering leader is an anxious...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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