Friday, October 9, 2009

You do some of my best writing!

That's exactly what I felt as I read yesterday's comments. In addition, I got great input via email from my old friend Michael. To top it all off, my wife Cathy sent me an email exchange in which she was apologizing for her interference with a volunteer she had recruited and trained. All good stuff!

Therefore, I will make this very simple. You tell me what you believe about the people you work with and I will tell you your potential for success or failure. Many years ago, the president of a major hotel chain said something like this: "99% of workers want to succeed. If they don't, it says more about their leaders than it does about them."

Trade Tool 1: Attitude

Trade Tool 2: Organization

Trade Tool 3: People-skills

Get 'em in your tool belt. Keep them sharp. Use them constantly. Your leadership effectiveness will grow and grow!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trade Tools 3

As a boy, I watched my dad briefly pursue an interest in art. He purchased and used some instruction material on learning to draw. Anyone who attempts to read my signature would quickly understand that I should never be interested in drawing, but I admit that I was fascinated by looking at sketches which showed how seemingly disparate lines can gradually form a recognizable picture. In addition to my dad's little-used training material, I also occasionally watched painters apply colors to canvas. Amazingly, they too, would turn what looked like nonsensical brush strokes into beautiful landscapes.

I thought of those lines and brush strokes as I recalled the past few days of my "real" life -- the one in which I am a pastor. As I have taken brief respites to write a few words here at Dwell and Cultivate, I hope that, somehow, they will connect together and make some sense about Trade Tools.

In Part 1, I addressed what some call "Attitude Skills." Your effectiveness in life has little to do which what happens to you and everything to do with your response to what happens to you.

The second Trade Tool helps determine just how far you go with your good attitude. "Organization Skills" are necessary to gain the maximum benefit as you plan and execute your labor.

Both of these can leave you severely handicapped, though, unless you have a third Trade Tool on your toolbelt: "People Skills." To put it simply, virtually every job on earth rises and falls on our ability to relate to other people.

I plan to write about this tomorrow, but why don't you help me out? What great lessons are you learning about how to work effectively with the people around you?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sage Thanksgiving

I figure, at my age, anything I say must be sage.


I wrote this yesterday on my birthday. It was a great day, made more so by the kind greetings I received from so many friends.

Thank you! I will be back tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Folly of Comparison

I returned home from a two-day offsite meeting with our staff last week. Upon arrival, I found Cathy organizing something in our bedroom. To make a long story short, she was switching our stuff around from one side of our bedstead shelves to the other. We experimented with changing the side we each sleep on and decided to make it "permanent." That meant that her "stuff" was on my side of the bed and vice versa. She didn't ask for my help -- she just did it.

A little later, I discovered that she had beautifully organized the shelves on my new side. She even switched drawers around to place them correctly.

I'm organized, too. My socks are in a sock drawer. That's because nothing else can be stuffed in there. But I'll never be organized like Cathy.

So I quit trying. Actually, I shouldn't be organized like her. If we were both like that, we'd drive each other crazy! She has a systematic approach to life that I have learned and benefited from. Consequently, I'm more organized that I could have imagined when I was younger.

Do you have anyone like that in your life?

Monday, October 5, 2009

How To Know If You're Too Organized

Ranelle commented yesterday that she, at times, might be "over-organized." I was on a church staff as a young guy that was actually like that. We had so many committees that it took a "Committee on Committees" to keep them all straight. In a church of a couple hundred people, that's overkill. In fact, the pastor -- who had been there for a long time before I arrived -- confided that they had once just disbanded a whole bunch of committees and never noticed a difference!

So, how can you know if you are more organized than necessary?

1. If you can't climb out of bed without consulting your list of what to do next.

2. If you spend so much time making lists that you don't have time to do what is on them.

3. If your can't kiss your spouse goodbye if it's not on your calendar.

4. If your preschooler can't show you a picture he or she drew without an appointment.

5. If your friends give up trying to see you because you're always "too busy."

You get the idea. Now, do something about it...

...add it to a list!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trade Tools 2

I recently sat through a long meeting with some people about some pretty important stuff at church. After the meeting, Meg (our Office Manager) confided, "It really bothered me that the key man in the meeting agreed to a large number of changes and didn't take a single note for follow-up."

"The subject we were discussing is pretty complicated to you and me," I replied. "He works with it every day and knows it like the back of his hand. Perhaps he (like me) is a verbal learner and simply took it all in. In that case, his notes might mean little to him if he had taken them."

I went on to describe LJ, one of my accountability partners. LJ is a professional who sits down with many people every day and helps them make life-critical decisions. When he sits down, he has a yellow pad and pen in front of him, taking meticulous notes of the entire conversation. He's great at it because that's the way his mind works.

You and I can't get very far leading or positively influencing others without a good attitude (Trade Tool 1). We will lose much of our effectiveness without Trade Tool 2: Organization Skills. We have to organize life to make the most of our opportunities.

How do you organize your life? Are you over-organized or under-organized?