Results for category "Betterment"

10 Articles

Waypoints for May 30

waypoints_on_the_journey

waypoint noun ˈwā-ˌpȯint – a reference used for purposes of navigation.

Items that inspire, encourage, or challenge me along with a bit of commentary or context. Read More →

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Are you Helping or Hurting?

ripples

I begin this piece with a confession of the sin of pride, “My frustrations with most any process or person stem simply from their refusal to do it my way.”

I love working with teams and I’m blessed to work with good-hearted and skilled people in both the arenas of work and church, yet even in such company I can narrow my focus to just a portion of a process or a single person’s response and allow it negatively affect my entire attitude. Thru confirmation bias and my ability to extrapolate this single instance into a microcostic proof of why this matter at hand is dreadful I then begin to act selfishly and in turn spout poison into the process and the people.

Many times it isn’t even a conscious act because words grown out of pride are natural to the human condition. Left unchecked the negative attitude spreads and we find ourselves racing toward a toxic environment.

So how can we begin to identify and modify these attitudes?

I find it helpful to return to 3 basic re-orienting questions:

  • Am I working with good people? (if the answer is no you have a larger problem at hand)
  • Am I working toward good goals?
  • Am I trying to help?

Consider Paul’s words to the Ephesians

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29

Perhaps we should more often pause, breath, count to 10 and ask ourselves if the words we are about to say are corrupting or building words.

Helping vs Hurting. Simple but not easy.

Blame is easy. Seeing the worst in the situation or a person is a trivial task. We master actions originating from perceived hurt or frustration by age 2.

Rather, let us seek to build up, to teach, to encourage, and to humbly listen.

The end result might look a lot more like Philippians 2

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil 2:3-4

or in other words like Jesus.

{image credit: gezelle}

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Simply Lead – Takeaways from Chick-fil-a Leadercast Part 1

ChickFilALeadercast

It’s a daunting task to attempt to share the highlights from a seminar so packed with wisdom and actionable content but there is gold in those hills and I must try to pass it along.

Today I had the great pleasure to attend the Chick-fil-A Leadercast (CFAleadercast) conference because the wonderful people at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention hosted the seminar as a simulcast site. It’s my 2nd year to attend the CFAleadercast and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The next CFAleadercast is May 9, 2014, put it on your calendar and find a host site near you. You will be so glad you did.

(This will be part 1. Breaking it up into sections will help me actually publish without being overwhelmed. I hope you’ll find the info useful.)

Simply Lead

This year’s conference focused on the Simplicity of leadership, from vision to behaviors. It’s a topic that really resonates with me as I easily drown in a world of clutter and unfocused thrashing. As one speaker noted

Every leader needs an escape hatch. A retreat to the core values that helps you center yourself and in turn your organization around what matters.

Center then forward. Exactly! So where is that escape hatch?

You have know the simple answers to the following questions

Know Simply

  1. What are we doing? (Vision)
    1. What is your mission? What is the life-blood of your organization? What does your business do?
    2. If you don’t have a simple answer you haven’t worked on it long enough.
  2. Why are we doing it? (Vision)
    1. What is your motivation? Ask “If we disappeared tomorrow” what would be different or lost? Revisit why you were founded, someone had an impetus to drive them to build the company you work for. Find that impetus, center there.
  3. How do we get there? (Execution)
    1. What are the standards that define our actions? Do we own them? (Rules are external and top down, Standards are internal and owned from bottom up).
  4. Where do I fit in? (what is your crucial contribution or core responsibility)
    1. Write a 1 sentence job description.
    2. Andy phrased it as, When you are in an emergency, crisis, overwhelmed, confused, break glass and read it. (I’m paraphrasing)

Andy Stanley brought out questions 1,2, & 4. I added 3 to incorporate Coach K’s standards and behaviors talk and Welch’s talk.

I’ll share more about creating space and the great lessons from Maxwell and Condoleeza Rice in days to come Below you’ll find my full set of notes and great nuggets shared via the #CFAleadercast twitter stream.

Notes from Chick-fil-a Leadercast 2013

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Unplug

Perhaps its a confirmation bias but I seem to see more people than ever speaking to the need of our “Always On” connected society to be intentional about slowing down and occasionally unplugging. From the “slow web” movement to the spiritual disciplines of seeking silence there is a universal theme that sometimes we need to just disconnect. In that spirit may I suggest you consider participating in the National Day of Unplugging as a great way to start.

The goal is simple:

Unplug for 24 hrs, Sunset Fri Mar 1 to sunset Sat Mar 2.

Take the pledge and consider challenging one friend to join you.

I unplug to "Be Here Now"

I unplug to “Be Here Now”

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Visual Quotes

I’m fond of quotes.

Especially quotes that challenge and inspire me. I keep them on my desktop and I have an Evernote notebook dedicated to them. I use them as reminders and even starting points for meditation. So when it was time to remove my Christmas themed Facebook banner I decided to take a few of my favorite quotes and turn them into images suitable for display.

virtue_strength_fb_banner

prayer_reveals_fb_banner

Anchored_Faith_fb_banner

I’d appreciate hearing what you think. I did not watermark the images because if you like them I want you to use and share them freely. Link back here if you like.

What are your favorite inspirational or challenging quotes?

Please share in the comments. I hope to do more of these.

Download them all

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A Matter of Focus and Faith

A few years ago I instituted a “digital fast” for one week the beginning of January and the first week of June. I wish I could tell you that over the past 2 years I’ve become a master at this practice but the truth is I still struggle with the practice. I easily find myself dreading it as it arrives but as the hours grow short to the time of fasting I begin to reach a peace in considering it’s purpose.

It hasn’t changed much since when I first wrote about the fast in 2010,

I’m seeking balance, perspective, discipline, introspection, and quietness. I have issues with that whole “be still and know that I’m God” idea and that is my focus for this week.

You might say I’m a slow learner.

As a approach this time of tuning out I’m mindful of a few areas that need some attention,

A Matter of Focus

I need more airplane mode time

Airplane mode is an action and mindset taken from the setting on your iPhone that disables all connectivity. It’s the practice of putting your smartphone into airplane mode and focusing on just being present. As my friend @sarabethjones would say,

“Real people, right here”

I do pretty well about being in airplane mode in the evenings at the family dinner table but its a practice that is easy to let slip. I need to be more conscious about putting the thing down and stepping away.

Savor the “downtime”

A vast majority of my downtime is consumed with my iPhone. Twitter, Facebook, news, etc… Instead its time to pick up something that will matter much more in 6 months. A writing journal, a book, a Bible, or just pause and be quiet.

The truth is: I have a habit of running away from quiet.

It’s probably the impetus for this season of fasting in my life. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts instead of considering how to frame them into 140 characters. The moments I capture on Instragram are instead enjoyed by pausing and individual appreciation.

This fast always reveals how easily I reach and swipe this precious tether to the world. It’s also the reason I do it 2x a year because I so easily forget the lesson.

As I approach 2013, and turning 35 this June its time to seize the day on some areas that have been too long neglected.

  1. Sleep – The sad fact is so many things in my life hinge on having enough sleep that I can arise early and seize the day. Medicine and CPAP masks have helped tremendously and now its time to put more value on a regular and adequate sleep pattern.
  2. Health – I’m weak and fat and I’m beginning to feel it. I weighed myself and holy smokes that was a scary number. Not to mention I’m not getting any younger. First some small steps but its time I start looking at lifelong practices that give me more strength and vitality to enjoy life.
  3. Mind – The list of books I have to read is way to long. I’d like to read 24 this year but to set attainable goals we’ll start with 3 books by Mar 1.

So why do I share all of this?

  1. I share about my digital fast because I’ll be disconnected for 8 days and I want people to know why. (No screen time that isn’t req’d for work, so call or txt me if you need me.)
  2. Simply put our rate of technology adoption is often faster than we can learn to use it well. I hope it may encourage you to evaluate how and when you connect and converse and see if the practice of unplugging might help you.

and you don’t have to take my word on it…

“I used to believe that time was the most important thing I have, but I’ve come to believe differently. The single most valuable resource I have is uninterrupted thought.” – Adam Brault

A Matter of Faith

And since this is as much a matter of faith as it is focus I’d be remiss by not mentioning the spiritual principle of solitude. Richard Foster wrote the following in “Celebration of Discipline” (one of the most magnificent and challenging books I’ve ever read, I highly recommend it).

“Our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds. We keep up a constant stream of words even if they are inane.”

There is great precedent in the life of Jesus for the discipline of solitude (40 days in the desert, many nights spent alone praying, etc…).  Solitude is not about isolation but a focus a listening. Inner quiet is needed for realignment. Foster calls it “reorienting our lives like a compass needle.” I wander off track easily and use noise as way to ignore that which I should be listening to… namely the voice of Truth. Truth about myself, truth about this world, and truth about what it means to follow Jesus and seek to glorify God.

My spiritual focus this week is Matt 5-6 as it will be for much of 2013.

 “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him” Matt 5:1

May those last 5 words be true of me this week and every week following. God Bless.

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The Gift of Attention

If you are a male there is a good chance you are sub-par gift giver.

Assuming you survived the holiday gift giving season perhaps you’d like some insights that might help you really surprise your partner this coming year with thoughtful gifts.

Let’s set some ground rules: This isn’t about gifts. It is about attention.

A great gift means you care enough to be thoughtful and that you are paying attention. Those are priceless to the fair ladies who put up with us. Now for the secret: you don’t have to become an intuitive savant, you just need a couple of tools.

She’s might already have a list… find it.

Stop right now and think: Does she has a Pinterest account? Yes? Jackpot. Find it, browse it, and use it to give you product suggestions and ideas.

Encourage her to build an Amazon Wishlist

It’s free and can be used to clip any item from anywhere on the internet. Not only will this simplify finding the gifts it will help you purchase them easily.

Use your smartphone

Throughout the year she will pause at a store and mention how she likes something or she’ll consider purchasing something only to delay it to another day. It’s easy to miss this moments so learn to use them as a trigger to focus. When that happens sneak back and snap a photo of the item and make a note of the type, style, cost, producer or other details.

Personally I have use Evernote for this task because it helps capture meta-data (when and where) about the item and also Evernote rocks in every way possible.

The final step is to set a calendar reminder 4-6wks in advance for all important events, Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary. My reminder sends me a text. I sit down that day and browse my Evernotes and Wishlist. In very little time I have the gift selected, purchased and on its way.

Remember that not every gift has to be a thing. Mix in experiences and indulgences. Track all the ideas in Evernote.

The trick here is to see the signals she will give you and to have the tools to remember them.

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A Powerful Pause

Too often I act on impulse. I speak or act without hesitation and more often than not find myself regretting my hasty reaction.

pause

I found too much of myself reflected in zenhabits’ post “The Pause Upon Which All else Relies

When we fail, it’s because we act on urges without thinking, without realizing it…What if instead we learned to pause after each urge? What if we stopped, looked at that urge, paid close attention to what it feels like inside our bodies, but didn’t act?…

If we can pause, we create space. Space to breathe, to think, to be without acting.

Leo does an excellent job of mounting an argument for being mindful of our urges and intentional about creating pauses but as a follower of Christ and inhabited by the Holy Spirit I’d like to add this encouragement.

This Pause creates space for the Holy Spirit to speak.

My urges are sinful, selfish, and prideful and when I act immediately I’m doing so with consideration for only myself. When I pause I provide an opportunity for God to breathe truth and perspective into the moment.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21

As we ingest God’s Word daily into our lives let us give God room to breathe that Word back into us and make us mindful. That is the power of God to transform my actions. That is the power of God’s Word to save me, even from my own urges.

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 29:20

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29

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Did you close out your day?

good_book_wrapWe live in a fluid culture where the intersection of work and life intermingle with out respect to place or time. As a result we often find it difficult to turn off work mode. We aren’t present with our families or we are lying awake at night thinking of projects and deadlines. To cope with this reality I think you’ll find it invigorating to set boundaries and space between these worlds and a large part of that process for me has become a routine I call “closing the day.”

Listen to me carefully. I’m a man with sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night owl tendencies and my circadian rhythms have me doing my best work at 2am. If I can close a day trust me… you can do. Your body and soul will thank you.

Here’s how

  1. Inbox Zero – Every day. Your time for this goal may vary but at the end of the day there shouldn’t be a single email in your inbox. Not one. Be diligent and learn the tricks.
    1. Organize your email into 3 folders: Action, Hold, Archive – If you can respond to an email in less than 2 minutes do so. If not it should hit one of these folders. Action if you need to do something, Hold if you are awaiting someone else to take the next action, Archive for archiving. Simple. GTD preaches Do, Delegate, Delete, Defer.
      1. Forward emails to your Evernote Account if they reference an active project and you need them at your fingertips.
      2. Defer emails into tasklists or appointments as quick as possible.
      3. Anything left over, stick in Action folder and process tomorrow before you check the new messages.
      4. Get read of the junk, use another email address for newsletters or use filters to automatically sort emails. Don’t forget to Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
  2. Everything in its place and place for everything
    1. Calendar – Live by a calendar or 3. Place events there so you know where they are assigned and don’t think about them again. If you need take some action prior to an event you might add it as a separate appointment depending on the time you need to allocate. Live by the motto, if it isn’t on a calendar it doesn’t exist. Tooltip: Use Google Calendar
    2. Tasklist – Anything that isn’t an appointment or a reserved time block goes here. Use an app that syncs to the web so you have them with you at all times. Throw it in the tasklist, put some reference info in the notes, and stick it on a day. You can prioritize and sort later – Tooltip: Try the 2Do app or Wunderlist system
    3. Notebook – Things you need to remember, reference material, project data, meeting minutes. This is your second-brain. Get a good notebook or try the incredible Evernote system. I create work and project folders and drag the info into Evernote. I don’t have to worry what I did with it I know its there when I need it. Tooltip: Get a Ecosystem Notebook, made in USA with nice perforated edges, download Evernote everywhere
  3. Close the Day
    1. At the end of each day review your calendar and tasklist.
    2. Juggle what needs to be moved
    3. Set priorities and timelines for the next day. Now you are done.

Put it up. Everything is tied up into a nice tidy bow so walk away. Seriously, know that you did all you could do today, everything is in its place and you know what you are facing tomorrow. Less to worry about and less to invade our minds. You will sleep better I promise ( or else I’ll give you the name of my sleep doctor).

One last piece of advice. Set times you are offline. I call it airplane mode. From 5-7p every evening I make a habit of putting my phone on silent and face down in another room. Nothing earth shattering will happen and if it does I’ll find out about it at 7:01pm

What is your system? Do you think “Closing your Day” will help you be more present and rested?

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