Friday, April 18, 2008

Time Management Tip

OK... I'm a geek, but this is how I roll...

After being gone from vacation, it took me a few days to get my feet under me again and I felt overwhelmed by the volume of emails, tasks, and unknowns in my to-do list. After spinning for a few days, I decided to map out some time chunks of the most important items in that day.

I have a lot questions asked of me throughout the day, meetings, quick emails that need responses that currently are simply part of my job. However, my "task work" would start piling up and when I'm not getting enough sleep, I feel buried and very little gets done. I took a stab at my typical day, I guessed I had four hours a day for the most important tasks I had to get done and listed them in 15 min chunks:


Update Vision/Technology Plan for ARI 30 min

Project Meeting and Update to ABC Inc 15 min

Get initial notes together for Fri Conf call 30 min

Follow up on billing issues with DEF Inc. 15 min

Update and send Sr Manager Update 30 min

Work on 12-month Communication plan 45 min

Review Proposal for Billy Bob Hot Dogs 15 min

Update Vision/Tech plan for Badabing 30 min

Update Help Desk next steps and goals 30 min

Throughout the day I crossed these off as the emails and conversations would take place as time clipped away... Over the last four days, I averaged just over 3 hours of real task time per day actually completed, my email total went down 40%, and I feel more on top on my duties than ever over the past few months... Measuring what I actually do helps me plan for what I actually want to get done...

What works for you?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Leading from the Middle"

In my company, we have two partners/owners, three Senior Division Managers, a Sales Manager, four admin, three sales people, a customer service manager, 36 consultants, and me... an Operations/Project Manager. I'm somewhere muddled with the Senior Managers/Sales Manager in a "loose" management team (working on that) and find myself working to lead down, lead across, and lead up everyday...

Yesterday I invited everyone to a local restaurant to celebrate my one year anniversary at the new job... To have a party? No. Because I love hanging out with big groups of people and socializing? No. My goal was simply to get to know my team, let them know in any way that I could that they matter, they contribute, to get to know more about them, their families, and to have some "real" conversations.... it was a great night.

I got home. The life was sucked out of me. I was grumpy to my wife. I just wanted to go to bed. I am not energized by people.

It made me think about leading from the middle... what if we decided one day to "flip the switch" and simply turn off our leadership responsibility? After all.... it's hard. What would that look like?
  • I could close my office door most of the time
  • I wouldn't have to be around people or talk to them near as much
  • I wouldn't look for opportunities to take on more responsibility
  • I could look for someone else to blame
  • I wouldn't have to work to find ways to encourage people
  • I wouldn't have to coach people in their roles and how to communicate with their team
  • I could simply focus on me, making sure I keep my job, do as little as possible, and let someone else worry about the things broke in the company... after all, it's not in my job description!

Who would notice? What impact would that have on the organization?

If you flipped the switch on your leadership where you're at.... would it be missed?

Leading from the middle often goes unrecognized. It's not easy. It's the harder path.

However, when we choose to lead and engage:

  • We build trust, overlap, and relationships with those around us
  • We will have more opportunities to have "real" conversations
  • Something will be "different" about us that people will be drawn to.. (it's not normal)
  • We are honoring God by modeling Christ in the workplace
  • We make it about others and not ourselves

And if we look over our shoulders....there just may be some people taking notice... I want to lead well. How about you? Are you in the middle?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Viral Priorities- April 13th, 2008 GCC

Notes from Granger Community Church this weekend, you can watch it here beginning tomorrow the 14th...

Favorite Quote: "If you have a dream or mission that can be done without friends, your church, and without God- your dream is too small.... it's paltry."- Mark Beeson

The Challenge:
  • Text, Hosea 4:1-10 v.9 "You can't tell the people from the priests, the priests from the people..." Currently in the church of America, statistically there is little difference in the how Christians look vs. those who aren't... divorce rates are similar, money management, promiscuity... Where have our priorities gone? Have we lost vision of what is means to "give our lives to Christ" and settled for having our faith be part of a list of a bunch of other things we also are? Who would seek "deprivation" (No pastor, no church, no friends, no Bible) in their walk/mission with Christ?

Questions to Ask Ourselves... how important is:

  • VISION: A picture of what could be and should be... Prov. 29:18 Where there is no vision the people will perish... If I'm different, what does that look like to others?

  • KNOWLEDGE: Clarity on mission strategy and parameters... What are steps I need to take to be a person that loves others and communicates hope? What do I need to learn?

  • COMMUNITY: Do I have true friends in my life to help me in my focus, valleys, and direction? Ecc. 4:9-12 Two are better than one... a cord of three strands is not quickly broken...

  • TEAMMATES: Dependable people who depend on me. Am I dependable? When I serve in a ministry or organization, am I giving leftovers? Is it the first thing that comes off the calendar if I'm tired? Am I a great volunteer? Who is depending on me? If the answer is no one... I need some teammates... I need to engage...
  • REMINDERS: Tell me again, what are we doing? Much of being part of a church is simply to remind us of stuff we already know... It's the exception to hear something brand new, paridigm shifting, or transformational... most are reminders that help us keep a vision of who we are are where we want to go...

(And by the way, that spells VKCTR for those who love acronyms)

  • Technology now gives the mesage of Christ "viral" potential, a video on You Tube can be seen by hundreds of thousands in a matter of a few days...

  • "If this isn't a church and/or pastor where you can find your mission and press in to what God has for you, you should leave and find one where you can."

Personal Takaways and Mind Drifts:

  • I want people to see Christ in me through my actions, not my words.

  • I love vision, yet sometimes the needs in our world are so overwhelming it becomes paralyzing for me. Where do I begin? Is what I do even making a difference or is it like shooting a forest fire with a squirt gun? That's why I need teammates, friends, and my church... to help me keep on keeping on....

  • Focus is important... I see a lot of people with big visions and big ideas... they create a little stir... and then they're on to three other visions... I can get spread too thin and try to wrap my time around too much.... Focus is important. I need to be dependable and work or volunteer with excellence to make a real impact and be on mission.

  • They showed "The Truth" video for the second time at GCC, it reminds me that great art has the opportunity to be viral. The product and excellence matters. Seen over 700,000 times on You Tube..

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Everyone Needs an Editor"

Daily I'm reminded we all need editors...
  • We are better communicators when we let someone else review what we write (emails included)
  • We are better speakers when someone is allowed to give input on points that didn't make sense, the overuse of hand motions, or the fact the light is glowing off our bald head...
  • We are better teammates when we ask for input, feedback, and ideas for improvement when relating to others, our management style, or how we ran a meeting...

  • We live more on purpose when we allow others to see how we actually spend our time, energy, and money vs. the vision we have for our lives and what we "say" our priorities are....
  • We can better see "blind spots" in our faith if we allow others to speak into our lives and engage in some sort of accountability....

We all need editors. The problem is I like me. I'm enamored with me. I think my ideas are darn good. I don't like being wrong. Why? I'm right. My problem is me... I need to get over me. So, I grit my teeth, I try to listen, I try to listen to others and helpful critiques because it's good for me and sometimes I have to keep telling myself that.

If I live and do with only me to see, my life and results will be half of what they could be....

So in that vain, this surprised me... this was a new one... this picture was taken from one of my editors (my wife Kem) while I was working from home at our kitchen table... I was not mad or stressed... I'm sure I was lost in my email and pushing projects and agendas.... so this is my "normal" look..... Would you want to approach this guy if he was working in his office? Does he look like he's loving what he does? Does he look fun? What a grump.

So consider me edited... I'm going to try and smile more. I don't want to scare people.

BIG TAKAWAY: Get your own paparazzi... seeing random photos of yourself may be good for personal editing...

So how about it? Got Edit?

Monday, April 7, 2008

What Hope Looks Like

When people talk about "hope" in Christ... when challenges in life come, when tragedy strikes.... This is what it looks like....

This 10 minute testimony is better than any 10-minute devotional I can imagine today.... It will be well worth your time...

Anna and Tony Warner have their fingerprints all over Granger Community Church and as we can see, have only continued to take inspiring steps toward Christ after they moved...

My issues seem really small today. Anna and Tony.... you are in our prayers and thank you for your faithfulness..... wow.

"A Few Good Men"- New Spring April 6, 2008

Had a chance to sit through a service for the first time at New Spring in Anderson, SC with Tony Morgan... Their current series was "The Man Series: Sex, Money, & Power"- It's great to see their thriving ministry, a big vision, and a team that knows how to have fun!

From the weekend, they had a guest speaker "Will", a former Clemson football player and current sports broadcaster in their area- Here are my takaways:
  • He spoke from II Samuel 6, God still looked at David as a man after His own heart despite all his screw-ups.... murder, adultery, blatently disobeying God.... it should give us all hope for the grace we have in God.

  • What is happening to real "Men" in our society? All around it seems Dad's are abandoning kids, husbands are leaving or unfaithful to wives, and male leadership within the church seems to run very "thin"- I want to lock arms with other men in my circles to step-up... who's in?

  • Pride and Fear are two of the biggest entanglers for men. I want to run the show. I want my ideas to be chosen. I think I can do things better. I think I'm better. I think I deserve respect. I can fear taking big steps of faith and try to find a "logical" reason why I shouldn't do something. Overanalyzing can mask as fear. Making a joke out of something can mask as fear. I can relate...

  • When I screw up... I need to accept responsibility...I need to apologize, seek forgiveness, get out of God's way for His plan in my life, and passionately try to do the next right thing.

  • Respect is "earned", not "owed"... I need to work harder to earn people's respect...

  • They played a cool, original song on what he learned from his Dad and what he wants to pass on.... It challenged me in my relationship with Easton and my role in his life...

I don't know about you, but I see "broken" people all over the place in my family, friends, neighbors, and church... I want to be God's man to be part of the solution... Let's keep falling forward together.....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Unchristian"- How People Perceive Christians

"Unchristian" by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons

First, notice the nice copy and paste of this book that includes the "Buy the Book"- in this case, it's worthy to leave on... BUY THE BOOK.

This is a top ten read for me and has me pretty messed up right now... I have lots of notes but here are some quick items of note:

1. I've been pretty frustrated with the image of the church and Christianity... I thought this was pretty unique of me... after reading this book- I realize I am more mainstream with my generation than I ever imagined...

2. I read most of this by a pool in Florida with "beverage" in hand... I had two different people stop and ask what the book was about and generated some great conversations... That makes me take notice... wow.... People are curious about spirituality and have opinions... It was a great opportunity to listen and ask questions... I was jazzed...

3. If you ran a company and your image/perception to "outsiders" was: Judgment, Hypocritical, Too Political, Anti-Homosexual, Sheltered, and focused too much on getting recruits.... what would that board of directors think/do? Uh...Houston, we have a problem... There it is... the research of what "outsiders"/those outside the faith think about Christianity. What is my/our responsibility with this information?

4. The book is very "data"/numbers oriented... that's probably why I loved it... I love took a few chapters to get going but after that... I just got smacked between the eyes again and again.... I'm both overwhelmed and inspired...

5. While I think I'm a pretty good dude... I was helpfully reminded again of how much I still judge people, how I still have "baggage" from the church a generation ago, and how much I need grace in my life.

6. I'm overwhelmed by how much the church seems to be missing the target... The resistance ahead from within the church is daunting... the perception for those outside of the church is monsterous... The numbers are the numbers, we can either accept it or deny it... Part of my emotion simply says...."Ugh... I just want to cash it in..."

7. However, the opportunity is amazing... I have the opportunity to be part of the generation(s) that get to right the ship... to present a new face of what it means to be a Christian... I'm inspired by the leaders and vision in this book... it's time to roll-up the sleeves...

8. "Hate the sin and love the sinner" is just one example of cliches' that I've heard for many years... the reality/perception of those outside the church is that they hear those words but don't see it in our actions.... it's more like "Hate the sin...and, well... let's just hate the sinner too..." In business and in ministry...perception matters... and this perception is or is pretty darn close to reality for us... what will we do?

9. I realize that I am careless in how I communicate about various topics. While I believe the the church and Christ is the hope of the world... I can be opinionated around the water cooler about politics, illegal immigrants, lazy people who don't take responsibility for their own actions, government, annoying neighbors, co-workers, other countries and their leaders...(only to name a few).... Am I really living out me being responsible for me and the people I encounter and impact? Am I modeling the hope and peace we have in Christ, my reliance on God rather than government, my value for others rather than myself.... sadly.... no.... I can do much better...ugh.

10. I'm struggling with an old paridigm of "Saved Souls is the ultimate measurement" to "Just love people... serve... don't have an agenda.... Model Christ.." (Big exhale).....

I have lots of notes on this... I'll be chunking them out topically for my own processing... if it's helpful for you... great.... I need to get this out of my head.... My "Wi-Fi" time ends in a few minutes with the 3-day package we bought... I look forward to all your thoughts in these upcoming days...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

I need books like this for great reminders of how to keep it simple. Have you experienced or are you experiencing any of these 3 things in your workplace?

Anonymity: Do you feel like your manager doesn't know squat about you? Your co-workers? If you feel like a number or no one cares anything beyond what you get done at work.... you might be miserable.

Irrelevant: Do you feel like you're simply digging holes and filling them up again? Is what you're doing making a difference? Who are you impacting? Do you have "Office Space" moments on a regular basis? If you don't understand who, how, and what you're doing that is making an impact, easing a load, etc... you too might be miserable.

Immeasurable: Do you know what success looks like in your position? Do you know when you're knocking the ball out of the park or is it simply "subjective" to your boss or manager? Working for extended periods of time and not knowing if you're winning or not can be extremely unsettling... Are you measured? How?

Here were a few quick takaways from this easy-to-read, quickie:

  • I want to genuinely get to know my team, not in a lame, fake way- but truly listen and do life with my team- for many of our consultants, it's as if they're self-employed... they do there work (remote many days) log their time and roll-up billing.... But what do we really know about their families, hobbies, or other interests or beliefs?

  • I guess I've missed this, but the way that people help "me", take the load off, etc.. can be expressed better than a simple "thank you". Telling my team "how" they are actually making it easier for me to do my job and impact my life actually brings some relevance to what they do. Every day I want to find ways to remind people how they're making an impact either for me directly or for our company/team...
  • Generally our consultants are easily measured in billable time and sales is measured by specific targets. However, our admin team, customer service manager, and myself aren't measured as well. This will be a good topic of discussion for our management team to brainstorm about... How do you measure success for your admin team? I'd love to hear some ideas...

As a manager, these three nuggets are easy and actionable to keep in front of us- If you're not a manager and simply find your job miserable, think of the reverse of these three items... can you engage with people on your team to get to know them? Can you find ways your position makes an impact and how you can measure yourself? If you have a poor manager, sometimes taking control of what you can control can make a difference in your own perspectives...