Thursday, February 23, 2006

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send A New Leader Right Over

If you're in any kind of leadership position, I'd like to recommend four books that just might change your leadership for the better. These four books by Patrick Lencioni are absolutely PHENOM!! They are written as "fables" or stories, and are very easy and quick reads. But the best part is the application factor. There are so many great principles and ideas in all four of these books. I found myself not only enjoying the read, but rethinking how I "do" leadership. I found out today that he has written a fifth book, and of course I am anxious to read it as well. Don't miss out on this insightful and creative look at leadership!!

Driftwood Or Bust - The "It" Factor

Time has passed so quickly the past few weeks. Just when you think things are under control and life is slowing down, if only for a moment, IT hits. You probably know what I am talking about - the IT factor. Some might add a few consonants in front of that word, but the "it" factor is when anything and everything seems to happen on a given day. That might mean some potentially good things, but for the most part, when "it" strikes, you can expect a day of chaos, unexpected interruptions, and circumstances outside of your control.

That's what seemed to happen to me...not just a day, but an entire week of the "it" factor. Needless to say, that week is over and I am trying to awaken from a dormant cycle to regain some focus and direction. That's not always an easy thing to do - the human temptation is to coast, wander, drift, etc. I've never really fallen into that category before, and I certainly don't want to start now. You probably have known a drifter or two in your life. Here's a typical scenario: up for work (not willingly, and usually late), passionless while at work (struggling to focus, or even staying awake), comes home from work, hits the couch, turns the tv on, and finally, vegetation. This happens day after day until the weekend hits, when suddenly the drifter finds a wild passion that makes absolutely no sense, and lives life with abandon for 48 hours. But then Monday hits, and the drifting captures their heart, and a complacent and visionless life is born. What's worse is when the drifter gets married and sucks the family right into the same game. How many families do you know that eat t.v. dinners while staring at the tellie throughout the evening, only to get up and do it all again the next day?

I think we've all been tempted to be a drifter. It might possibly be grafted into our genes at some minute level. So how do you get from the town of "Driftwood" to a new city of hope and purpose? I think the Life Plan attempted to answer that question:

(1) You have to WANT something more than your own selfish desires. This is really the first step, and ultimately the most difficult.
(2) Determine WHERE you want to go. In other words, develop a mission/plan for your life. Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose. Intentional living can be a powerful tool.
(3) Identify WHO you are. What are your values? If you could identify some specific characteristics about yourself, what would those be?
(4) Clarify WHAT you want to accomplish with your life. Set realistic and short term goals for yourself. This would be a great thing to do with your family as well.

Now this might seem all nice and tidy (and of course there are four "W's" for you to easily remember!) but the key is to turn these thoughts into action. I have really struggled with this for most of my life. I have a lot of ideas, thoughts, dreams, visions, etc. rolling around in my gray matter, but ultimately if I don't "DO" then they will only sit there and rot and mold in my brain. It reminds me of Mr. H's saying, "Success comes in cans, failures come in cant's..." That's a great motto for life. Or as Jesus might say to you, "all things are possible through me."

There are so many colloquial phrases we could throw in the hat here, but I'm afraid we'd be here all day long. I'll leave those to your imagination. But for today, I'm going to travel some...not towards the dreaded city of "Driftwood," but to a world full of hope and possibilty...I "can" do it!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I have finally had the opportunity to read again. I really miss it when I don't have the chance to digest a few pages each day. I just finished "Death By Meeting" by Patrick Lencioni. If you ever find yourself leading a meeting (or sitting through countless numbers of them!) I highly recommend this creative and intuitive look at the meeting world. It is a very quick read and extremely applicable and enjoyable.

I've started reading "Through the Painted Desert" by Donald Miller. If you recall my previous post, he is the author of "Blue Like Jazz," a phenomenally written tale of life near Seattle. Funny, witty, and relevant are three great descriptors. The book I'm reading now, however, takes a different look at life. This is one of Miller's first books, and while the writing is incredibly descriptive, it takes awhile to digest it completely. Miller crafts an interesting tale of his journey from Texas to the west coast in such a way that captivates the reader from the get go.

I love his point about how life is like a book. Everyday we draft the pages of our life book. Some of us have many pages in our book, others more, others less. We cannot change the pages we have already written, but we can choose to write our story differently each day. The key thought is many more pages do you have left to write? I find myself thinking about this more and more. The concept of life and what is left to live. Our "Life Plan" study at Meadow Heights has really opened my eyes to the "plan" of my life. Or at least the lack of a plan for my life.

I used to think that planning wasn't necessary. Existentialism was my daily mantra. "Live life to the fullest each day" was my motto. Freedom was my declaration, and planning only stood in the way of that. Maybe that's why God waited 33 years to capture my attention and wake me up from the solstice of my dreams. I wasn't ready to think about planning, let alone God's plan for my life.

But now I am increasingly infatuated with what the future holds. Developing a strategic plan for the goals I have seems to be a logical and necessary step. I have also found that there is power in writing goals on paper - getting those thoughts from my brain to the page holds great value to me. Now the challenge is actually following through with those thoughts. I love how Jesus tells us to "go" and to "do." Don't get me wrong, life is not always about those two words, but for most Christians it's the toughest challenge they face. It's easy to talk about Jesus, but much more difficult to LIVE like Jesus.

So the question to ponder is this...what are you writing in your "life book" today? And what will you write tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. And probably the biggest question is how many life pages do you have left to write? Don't waste another day of mindless drifting, and certainly don't wait for your ink to run dry. Craft a life page today that you will look back to with fondness and want to read over and over again.

As an avid musician for many, many years, I love the lyrics of a recent Casting Crowns tune entitled "Lifesong." It simply states this..."Let my lifesong sing to you." What great imagery!! And if you care to discover it, I hope you'll find my lifesong worthy of listening.