Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Thanksgiving Project

I received an email from a buddy of mine this morning. He started a blog called The Thanksgiving Project and invited some of his friends and family to post their thoughts about thanksgiving over the next couple days. Below is what I posted this morning:


Thanks for getting this idea up Kneil. This morning I was working through all the references in the New Testament that have the word Thank or Thanks in them when I got your email. I was sharing with my lovely bride (who I thank God for) this morning over blueberry walnut waffles (which by the way I also thank God for) and oatmeal (also...) how for the first time I noticed that in scripture nobody ever really thanked anybody else for anything. What they did do was Thank God for someone, or something and then let that person know. Look at the beginning of almost every single letter that Paul wrote. He doesn't tell the Philippians thanks for being such a great group of people. Nope, he let's them know that he is thanking God for them and what they are doing, or displaying or how they are growing...

Thank you cards were obsolete in Jesus's day. What wasn't obsolete though was letting somebody know that you were thanking God for them. I sometimes feel guilty when I don't send a thank you card immediately or remember to say thanks to someone. It's somehow rooted in this pride thing, or this sense of duty. I'm not supposed to give you thanks. Really. I'm supposed to give God thanks for you, and let you know it. That way it's never about what you did, it's about what God did, in you or through you and what He is doing. What I am being challenged to do is remember to let people know that specifically I am thankful to God, and then how.

I thank God for Kneil, and his leadership and sensitivity to start this blog.

I thank God for my wife, she has been an incredible inspiration for me this year as we've faced so much change and transition.

I thank God for the rays of sun that light up the table as I sit here and write and pray.

God is good. I am thankful for that.

How are you thankful to God?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Contrarian Thinking

Several years ago I attended the Willowcreek Leadership Summit. I remember it being one of the most impacting events I've ever been to. Great worship, great speakers and phenomenal impact. Tim Sanders, Marcus Buckingham and Jack Welch were all presenters.

Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church did an interview with the then President of USC Steven Sample. Steven had just authored a book called The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership. I've picked the book up over the past several years and picked on a chapter or two at a time. It's not one of those books that is dependent on the whole to "get." Each chapter alone presents some great thoughts.

Due to a situation I've been a part of lately I've picked it back up and thought I'd share some thoughts from the chapter called Thinking Gray, and Free.

Conventional wisdom considers it a valuable skill to be able to make judgments as quickly as possible and there are certainly instances where this is true. Think on this for a second. don't we generally subscribe to the assumption that a good leader has the ability to survey a situation quickly, assess and decisively make a determination as to the best course of action? The interesting thing is that Steven counters this with a look back at the battlefield tactics of some of the most notable military leaders of history. Napoleon, Washington all knew how to suspend judgment on important matters until the last possible moment. In fact, this chapter lays out that one of the most powerful leadership traits is the ability to learn to "think gray" while staying true to ones core principles. Rather than immediately categorizing a thought, situation, person, etc. as good or bad, true or false, black or white, friend or foe, a "truly effective leader...can see the shades of gray inherent in a situation in order to make wise decisions as to how to proceed."

Here's the definition of thinking gray: the ability to suspend the formation of an opinion on an important matter until you've heard all the relevant facts and arguments, or until the circumstances force you to form an opinion without recourse to all the facts - to which the author reminds us, happens much less frequently than one might imagine.

There are 3 dangers that he believes will keep us from effective leadership if we only have binary thinking.

1. When a leader forms opinions before it is absolutely necessary to do so, they close their mind to facts and arguments that may subsequently come to his/her attention.

2. Flip-flopping. We've all seen leaders do this. Flip-flop on a decision based on data rec'd from day to day, inevitably causing all sorts of mental and emotional fall out for those they are leading.

3. A well developed sense of thinking gray is the best defense a leader can have against a culture that strongly encourages a believe to act when we sense that our position is strongly believed in by others.

On this last point, there are numerous studies and experiments that show just how far human beings will go the wrong direction or go along with the crowd because they believe that it's what everyone else believes to be true. (Gees, just think about all the stuff we read about the financial collapse currently happening.) Err....financial situation we find ourselves in. Case in point. It's not that we should ignore the reality of what is happening but it would seem that the majority of the public are very quick to jump to conclusion with absolutely no informed opinion whatsoever. And in the absence of knowledge, a fool can do a lot of damage. (ooh, I just made that up.) Nice!


So to sum up this rather long blog. The goal is that Thinking Gray should be used with the "weightiest" of issues. Practice this with the small decisions and get yourself in the habit of suspending judgment until all the facts are in.

Practice: Be as open to embracing, enthusiastically, a new idea as you are to rejecting it. Suspend judgment. Think gray.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Too good to be true (the overnight millionaire scam)

[This is a repost from Seth Godin's blog .]

You probably don't need to read this, but I bet you know people who do. Please feel free to repost or forward:

Times are tough, and many say they are going to be tougher. That makes some people more focused, it turns others desperate.

You may be tempted at some point to try to make a million dollars. To do it without a lot of effort or skill or risk. Using a system, some shortcut perhaps, or mortgaging something you already own.
There are countless infomercials and programs and systems that promise to help you do this. There are financial instruments and investments and documents you can sign that promise similar relief from financial stress.

Resist.

There are four ways to make a million dollars. Luck. Patient effort. Skill. Risk.
(Five if you count inheritance, and six if you count starting with two million dollars).

Conspicuously missing from this list are effortless 1-2-3 systems that involve buying an expensive book or series of tapes. Also missing are complicated tax shelters or other 'proven' systems. The harder someone tries to sell you this solution, the more certain you should be that it is a scam. If no skill or effort is required, then why doesn't the promoter just hire a bunch of people at minimum wage and keep the profits?

There are literally a million ways to make a good living online, ten million ways to start and thrive with your own business offline. But all of these require effort, and none of them are likely to make you a million dollars.

Short version of my opinion: If someone offers to sell you the secret system, don't buy it. If you need to invest in a system before you use it, walk away. If you are promised big returns with no risk and little effort, you know the person is lying to you. Every time.


[This post reminds me of another one that I commented on by Seth a few months ago. Here. ]

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Frantic Family?

Great new book by Patrick Lencioni.

The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family addresses the chaos that reigns in many of our homes and how we can tame it using some of the same strategies designed to create healthy companies.

I just got off an interview with Patrick and Daniel Harkavy with Building Champions and I wanted to share some of the stuff that Patrick talked about.

In assessing his life he realized that to be authentic, he needed to make sure that he gave as much thought, attention and intentionality into building and maintaining his family as he did all his endeavors. That's challenging because most of us are so intentional with other areas of our lives but leave our family and our parenting to chance because we think we can. Ultimately, I guess, we really can. We can go on auto-pilot with our marriages and our parenting if we want to. I certainly hope that's not the choice we make, but it is an option.

The better option, I believe is to bring intentionality and meaning to how I lead my family.

I thought this was also a very powerful statement. "Long term, sustainable success for most business leaders means that they have to have a great foundation at home." I work with leaders and pastors every day. It's amazing to me how much thought and passion these men and women put into their ministries and their businesses but when asked about their family or their marriage, they don't have a strong plan if one at all. The one interesting thing I heard Patrick say is that he believes this has been the "little black secret" of the business community. He's had an incredible outpouring of questions and interest in this topic specifically and what's encouraging about that is that it seems that a large number of people, leaders and pastors alike, want to see change in this area.

So here are the The Three Big Questions. (This isn't an excuse to skip buying the book! Click
here and by it.)

  • What makes us unique as a family? How are we different and not generic?
    This begins with core values/convictions. What are your strategic anchors? What is our life situation like? What are the variables that play into this?

  • What’s your families #1 goal (rallying cry) right now? As I look at the next 6 months, what is the #1 single biggest priority in our lives right now? I want to look back in 6 months and be able to say, “We spent our time doing not only the right thing, but the best thing!”

  • How are you going to use the answers from the above 2 questions to affect your life? What do we need to do today to keep it alive? (the book has a lot of suggestions on this point.)

I don't usually post like this but it's a topic I'm passionate about. For those of you that know me, I spend an incredible amount of time and energy on my own fitness and health and I was convicted as to how much time and energy I spent being intentional in my marriage. Just having a date night once a week isn't enough for me. Writing down and having our vision and values hanging on the wall in the kitchen isn't enough for me. I want to raise the bar in my own life and family.

Visit The Table Group


Read a different description of the Book

Buy the book

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hitting the Wall

My wife and I watched a great movie this weekend. Run Fat Boy Run. It's about a guy that leaves his pregnant wife at the altar for a whole lot of jacked up reasons, numero uno cause he's a poser, but mainly he's scared that he's not enough of a man for her. We pick the story up 5 years later where he is working to get her back and through the course of the story realizes that he needs to change, to commit to what he says he's going to do and be and it's all played out around this idea of him running his first marathon (in 3 weeks, having never run before!!)

I digress...

Towards the end there's this scene where the main character "hits the wall" in his first marathon. Now, I've never hit the wall in a run, but I've definitely hit it in life.

Paul writes, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ."



There's the wall.

This is one of those ancient texts that just isn't easy for us to swallow. I say I believe those words and yet when push comes to shove, I don't really act like it. Rubbish? Do I really consider everything in my life as second to Christ? And not just second but far enough down the priority list to be counted as LOSS, liability, crap? That's what's so hard. I believe the verse, but don't always connect that belief to my actions. What I've got to remember is that I don't have to figure it all out and I don't have to do it all on my own. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (there's another one of those verses...) And so I trust and push against the wall with all my might - knowing that in reality, it's not my strength that will cause the wall to crumble but His.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Mentoring Project

Little shout out for one of my fav authors, Donald Miller. If you haven't read Blue Like Jazz or Searching for God Knows What - you are missing out! Donald has recently started a new non-profit and below is a video commercial.



If you'd like to find out more about mentoring or his non-profit, here is a link to a his blog, Donald Miller, and more specifically a link to a post that talks about the ministry.
Here is a direct link to the Mentoring Project!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day Away With God

On the 11th, I took a day (err....ended up being about 3-4 hours in the afternoon) to get away and spend some time alone with the Lord. For me, alone with the Lord, doesn't necessarily mean alone alone; sometimes it does, but this time, I holed up at a table upstairs in Sisters Coffee Co. and just prayed and meditated on the Word. Below are some notes from my time.

The drive, even just the drive to Sisters was so refreshing. I needed to spend some time talking to God and the car is the best place for me. That’s why I like road trips so much.

I was pretty moved by the scenery, the beauty, the sounds the smells, everything. It was a great day. I went to Sisters Coffee Co. and sat upstairs at a table with my journal and Walking with God by Eldredge.

While I did not get any solid audible word, I do believe I got confirmation that we are here to stay and that moving back to Albuquerque is not part of the plan.

“Go deep, plant roots, love your wife, love the people I am bringing into your life.”

That’s what I heard God say.

I prayed a lot for God to settle me. Settle my mind and my spirit. Relax and live with intentionality – which by the way was pretty much the theme of the entire week at the Building Champions Experience.

Micah 6:8
Act justly
Love mercy
Walk humbly

God tells me what He requires. He does it a lot – with small words and short sentences so I can get it. If I just work at getting better at those 3 things I’d take enormous strides in spiritual and emotional health this year. And…they are easy, conscise and not hard to measure.

Psalm 108:13
With God I will gain the victory. When I am facing difficulty – I can pray not only for strength but for victory as well.


I try to make things much more difficult than they need to be. That could be it's own blog post I'm sure. A couple years ago I had a statement that led my life "Relax, it's easier." That is a hard place for a driven guy to live. But for a driven guy, it's a great way to live.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Building Champions Experience Day 1

Let me begin by saying that the highlight of my day, outside of some great time in prayer and my beautiful wife is that Dennis Worden brought me a copy of the new book by Seth Godin, Tribes, which I am currently devouring!. I however, needed a break and thought I would share some of my key thoughts from today's sessions, led by the Building Champions team, Daniel Harkavy and Steve Scanlon.
The Building Champions Experience is a 4 day event located in the heart of beautiful central Oregon, where 140+ business people from around the country, all clients of BC, are being immersed in an experience. An experience that has a centrality of focus around the Core4. If you aren't sure about what that is, check out http://www.buildingchampions.org/ or http://www.ministrycoaching.org/ The purpose of the next three days is for our sister company to Daniel shared about a trip he'd been on three weeks before today to New York and some of the key learnings that he took away. Here's what I got.

  • in the next 10 years, the change we will see and experience will be more dramatic than anything we've ever experienced in all of history
  • change requires adjustment in thinking and believing.
  • make tough decision now
  • don't wait-focus on financial fundamentals
  • get your business to a place of health
  • keep your talent - at all costs
  • ask intelligent questions
  • See and believe the vision; be able to deliver a courageous, compelling and clear vision to a very scared people.
  • act fast and be transparent
  • Quote "All great leaders and companies have survived at least one near death experience"
  • Lean forward

My takeaways from Daniels session were this.

1. My #1 advisor (coach) needs to be, should be and is my wife Anna.

2. In times of difficulty and confusion (i.e. NOW) I need more than ever to exhibit bifocal vision. Def. is the ability to keep one ey on the vision (looking forward to the future) and one ey on the reality of today.

3. Disciplined. Raise my level of being disciplined.

Case in point. I had a friend this week who questioned, kinda, my ideal week. He looked at it, and smuggly said something to the effect of, "Wow, you really have it all laid out here, when do you find time for other stuff." I didn't really address it at that point. But that's the whole POINT. My ideal week, matched to my life plan IS my life. It encompasses the most important callings and priorites that God has put into my heart and my life. That being said, I realize I need to be even more disciplined.

The next session was led by Steve Scanlon. Here was my #1 takeaway.

If I really want accountability...if I really want accountability...really really really want it...then I will get rid of all subtle ambiguity in my life. I will unashamedly, courageously step into disciplined, intentional behaviors that are defined and stamped in such a way as to ERRADICATE, the opportunity for ambiguity. Period.

And secondly, I was reminded of how important STORY is. It's a core part of connecting with the heart. If I am going to succeed in leading anything or anyone, I have to be able to share the story and I have to be able to share it from my heart.


I really enjoyed today. My mind is thinking and spinning and I want to get back to my book so I'll leave with this quote. I penned my first "quote" today.

"All journeys, worth traveling on, will involve pain and disappointment." Maybe in my idealistic little world, I've forgotten that, I'm not sure. But I believe it with all my heart.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Irrationally Committed

I've been following a blog by this guy Seth Godin. He's written several great books on marketing but his blog has seemingly less to do with marketing and more to do with life. It ranges from the practical insights to philosophical discussion. The goal here is not to do a book report for you on his blog but get you to check out one particular post titled Irrationally Committed. It's short. Promise.

I just found this idea of being irrationally committed (to an idea or a movement) resonated with me. In Merriam Webster the word irrational is defined as A(1): not endowed with reason or understanding (2): lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence B: not governed by or according to reason. Think about what we all do day in day out in the ranks of coaching and influencing people.

Are we irrationally committed to our clients?
Are we irrationally committed to our own coaching practice?
Are we irrationally committed to our walk with the Lord?

I would submit that if we're not, we probably aren't taking the kind of strides forward that we could and possibly should be. I think I'm going to have to be irrationally commited to these things if I'm going to not only stand, but lean INTO the face of adversity and struggle. "The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernand Shaw.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is Effort a Myth

I've finally decided to take some advice. :) I've been reading Seth Godin's blogs every day for about a month. I want to do whatever I can to get his thoughts out to a wider audience. Although he writes primarily about marketing, his thoughts center on some of the most central parts of the human experience. I.E., read this latest blog from today. Is Effort a Myth

Do we really believe that this is true? That effort = success. For most of my life I've gotten by. I skated through school, I'm fairly athletic, I can do pretty good at just about anything and somehow have bought into the lie that I can have the kind of success that I desire just because somehow I'm entitled to it.

WOW - did you catch that. Entitlement - now there's a big bad word. This sense of entitlement runs really really deep. There's a stream here in Oregon called the Metolius. Those of us from the south aren't used to seeing this kind of thing, but if you visit it, it's a "river" that runs all year round and stays at about the same temp and same flow all the time. What's interesting, to me at least, is that it where it comes out of the earth at (the Head of the Metolius) it's a river. It's crazy, this river just appears out of seemingly nowhere. Here's where I'm going with this, somehow, in the geologic processes under the ground, way deep, there is this undercurrent building, and it builds and builds until it finds it's way out and then bam, you have a river.

I think that's how this entitlement thing works. You don't see it, you don't feel it, you don't even know it's there, although, I do believe God, through the Holy Spirit points it out if we are listening, and then we are amazed when it all of a sudden shows up in our behaviors, our lives, our words, our actions...

We're entitled to nothing. We're called to serve. We were bought with a price. I am not my own. I want these kinds of things to become more and more real to me.

Do I believe that effort = success? Yes. I do believe that we get out what we put in. That we can't expect life to just give us a blank check. Maybe we get to see people on TV that somehow "skate" but like Seth says, if you cut off all the fringe folks like that, the rest of us, all of the normal people :) don't get to skate.

I guess I'm not sure exactly what I'm saying here except that I feel very passionate about this. Oh that my effort would have meaning for something great and that the River Entitlement would turn into the River of Life. That would be cool huh?

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Thing of Beauty

Ahh, a thing of beauty. After spending yet another long morning on my road bike, a Triple Crank Cannondale with MTN bike pedals on it...I'm becoming more aware of the benefit of NOT having a 25 pound bike, when you can say have an 18 pound bike. This bike is beautiful. Not that I'm coveting, I'm not, just presenting before you a vivid description of a beautiful bike.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Grammar control

I'm married to an english teacher, which is wonderful. She writes lots of lovely poetry and is more creative than anyone I know. She also corrects my spelling, which I think is pretty good. So, I'm sorry to anyone that was misled by my spelling alot instead of a lot. Apparently there is supposed to be a space between the "a" and the "lot" which just seems stupid to me, but that's the way it is. Ain't that right? :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Feel the Need

I've felt the need to write on my blog but it hasn't outweighed the desire I have to say something of importance. So here goes.

It's amazing to me how quickly life can get busy and out of control. We are really good at keeping the RPM's just above the redline. Enough to be unhealthy but not enough for anybody to notice. Why is that? Are we really all that insecure? I don't buy that's it's just that we're all driven because that's just an excuse really, or at least I think it is.

I found out in my training this year that one of the foundational mistakes that athletes make is that they train too hard too often. For example if you use your Heart Rate (HR) to set training zones, which by the way is a pretty easy, cheap way to do it, than you set up 5 zones. You should train most of the time in zones 2 and 3 which is below your lactate threshold and no matter what try to keep your heart out of the no fly zone which is between zone 3 and 4 and pretty much just is some weird concoction of aerobic and anaerobic..effectively not really training either well. Zones 4/5 are for intervals and really hard Max Heart Rate workouts where you know it's going to hurt but it's where the growth happens. You just barrell forward through the pain and do it. I love these workouts. But done effectively they hurt! Alot.

The problem is that most people, driven, with the need to "get ahead" and train hard, all motivated by good stuff, train in Zone 4. Not hard enough to really hurt but harder than they need to. The issue is that the body doesn't get to rest and therefore there is NO foundation being built for sustainability. And...get this. When you train in Zone 4 most of the time, when you really need to do a hard interval workout or push to expand and grow your physiology, you CAN'T. Your heart literally will not do it because it's too tired. It's pretty amazing, but when you track this stuff and watch it, the body is very very good at regulating what it will and will not let you do to it.

See where I'm going with this.

As a normal functioning human in this busy world, I need to remember that going above Zone 3 is not going to do me much good in building a foundation for a sustainable future. My schedule, my level of busyness should stay in Zones 2 and 3 almost all the time, allowing for a bit of overload but nothing more. I should be BELOW the red line and actually watch that I stay out of the "NO-FLY" Zone. This will allow me once or twice a week to live in a Zone 4/5 world. With the knowledge that I have to not only give my mind and body time to recover but my spirit, my relationships...everything. (Is this making sense?) It's okay to have 1 or 2 days of pretty locked up busyness in life but that should in no way be the norm. We've got to create carefree timelessness to build community, relationships and have time to just ponder and grow.

So, as Anna and I look to the fall and all the segments (workouts) of life we need to schedule and make time for we are going to keep a keen eye to making sure that we don't overload so that when we need to bust out a Max Effort we can go all out. We have the deposit physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and spiritually to make it happen.

I guess that would be my challenge to you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Cowbell

This never gets old. For a great 5 minutes...follow the link here to the original "More Cowbell" skit from SNL back in the day.

enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhSkRHXTKlw

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pain - Women are Tough

I had an epidurel today. It hurt. Alot. Women are very tough. I had all these wonderful nurses asking me how I was doing, making sure i was comfortable, I had soft pillows to go under my tummy and then the doctor stabbed me with a needle the size of...insert imagination here...


Women - they are in the middle of pregnancy trying to push a large football out of their body and the doctor pretty much just sticks a needle in their back while yelling at them to keep pushing. Women are tough.


I have a herniated disc in my back and so this shot in addition to taking some time of running are what are supposed to help it heal. I guess they are pretty common. Anyways, just needed to share that the experience was pretty painful and that I realized that I still don't like needles.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Deepest Fear

On Friday night at Coach Camp, we had Steve Scanlon do a talk on Vision up at the top of the Pine Marten chair lift at Mt. Bachelor. It was awesome. One of my takeaways was to wrestle through the concept of diminishment. He shared this quote by Marianne Williamson. It's most often noted as a quote by Nelson Mandela because he used it in his 1994 inauguration speech.

Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Centering

I'm having a hard time centering today, focusing. I have nothing to do and can't figure out where to put any energy I might have. I can't workout, back still hurts. I'm not tired so a nap won't work. I read and looked over my scripture verses already. I cleaned the office. I showered, I went to church and served on the setup team.

I did alot today but I am utterly bored. I could go and get a movie, I could sit here and blog some more. I could go to the office and declutter my space so that it looks better.

Oh, I also washed the Jeep and reorganzied the book shelf.

I just had a really good snack. 1/2 cup of Dannon Light & Fit Strawberry Yogurt. 1/2 cup of Fat Free Cottage Cheese. 1 cup of whole fresh blueberries and 1 cup of Honey Nut Cherrios. Man, it was really good.

I want to redo my life plan and vision but mostly because I feel like for some reason that will help me. it won't really. I need to stick to the one I've got and just make sure it's continually refined and refreshed. I want to put together a training schedule for my upcoming events but I can't do that either since I don't know when the dr is going to clear me for exercise again. I see him tomorrow.

I think I'll use the time to call my friends and family, go get a movie, do some tasks for work and just relax.

Honestly...I think I miss community. I can't think of anyone that Anna and I can call at a moments notice and just go over and watch a game or hang out and drink a beer with. I can't wait for my buddy Kris to move to Newberg.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Coach Training Camp 08: 4H...err. 5H Model.

E3=D2

Education + Exploration + Experience = Delivering Dynamic Change



We're nestled at the Inn of the 7th Mountain just outside of Bend with all of our coaches and their wives this week learning and growing together! It's been incredible. I will post more later but I already engaged with my good friend GaryO on some third person teaching on Relational Health.



I seem to be running into "signs" and "billboards" reminding me that I need to build my relational health. One way to do this is to remember the 4H system of engagement.

Whenever you meet someone try to get through these 4H's in the first conversation as a means to engage them, to activate your own listening and to find common ground.
  • H - History; ask them about their history
  • H - Hobbies; ask them what they like to do, what are their passions
  • H - Home; find out about their home life, kids, spouse
  • H - Hopes; what do they dream to do or become; and I would add
  • H - Help; how can you serve them, is there something you can do to encourage or add value to them as an action?

So as I wrote that I guess I changed it to 5H's.

I think one of my biggest challenges as I blog is that I live what I am writing. Even last night, I was on a shuttle talking with the driver of the van and we were discussing life but I left that conversation without going through this process and the most powerful part are the bottom 2. If I can get to someone's hopes and find a way to serve them, I am creating a jump point for talking about the Lord and sharing with them my hope - Christ. I commit that I will make these things a part of my own life toolbox so that I will live what I am writing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Control

My lovely wife just gave me a wonderful reminder of the word above.

I had a great and fantastic devotion this morning. I spent the past 20 minutes writing out a beautiful and challenging blog and then somehow deleted it, instead of posting it.

So as I sat here at my computer angry, she came in and said, "look, something you don't have control over..."

So there you have it. My greatest lesson today. You who read this will not get to experience what I thought were really good words but instead can laugh as you sit back and see God working in my life.

Have a wonderful day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

All In

If you play any poker nowadays you've certainly heard the expression "All In." It's a gutsy move but one that is necessary by players to replenish their chips, take down other players and generally wreak havoc on other players' psyche.

I was thinking about that expression today when I was reading 1 Peter. Been stale in my walk the past couple weeks, wrestling through faith and hope and trust. I began to realize that I'm holding all my chips back. I'm in the game but not really playing. I only play out a hand when I'm sure I've got the cards and therefore I never really go or do anything. Metaphorically this works so hang with me on this...

"Set your hope fully..."

This is what sticks with me today. I need to fully enter the game, play with all my might, not hold anything back. Put my whole weight into it, jump in with both feet.

This past week Anna and I went on a 40 mile backpack trip down the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. It was incredible. About 35 miles in there is a creek called Tate Creek. If you stop and hike about 1/4 mile up the creek you come to a 25 foot natural rock slide into a deep pool of water. You can sit down in the slide and the water pushes you down and off the edge into the pool. Anna couldn't go up because she had some blisters so I ran up to take it all in. As I stood at the top of the fall I decided this might not be the smartest thing to do. I was 5-10 miles from help, my wife's feet were in bad shape and she wouldn't even be able to hear me if i got hurt. I am having some minor problems in a joint in my back and then of course there is the broken tailbone from 5-6 years ago. All this starts going through my head and I decide I'd better not do this...that is until i accidenatly dropped the camera down the slide into the pool below.

It took me all of 10 seconds to decide to jump. It was awesome! I found the camera by the way. The point of all this is that for me to jump, I had to have something that took me out of thinking about all the why not's into the action forward.

Today - that is my focus. Forward momentum along this path of jumping when I'd rather look, pushing all my chips in more frequently and keeping my eyes on the Lord. After all, nobody knew better what happens to you when you don't set your hope fully on the Lord.

I gotta get out of the boat.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Camp Day 1 on the Rogue

TAWG

Getting back into the swing of things after a vacation is always hard. At least for me. I come back refreshed but almost always thinking about wanting to do something slightly different. This trip was incredible and I don't have the time to blog all my experiences or things learned right now. Today's post is simply to share what I am experiencing with my God as I spend some alone time with him this morning.



God wants me to trust him, even when I don't want to. It's obedience and discipline. That's what I'm learning. Still. He wants me to trust him out of a love relationship, not just becuase I feel like it or am compelled because of rules and regulations. I may not want to, that's different, that's the point of growth, but the relationship, I obey, I trust because he is my God, my loving Father and I know it!

This has to be one of the hardest things ever. It affects how I listen to him as well. If I trust him, then I find I want to listen, if I don't then what's the point? What I'm up against here is that my faith has been shaken over the past several months and I'm beginning to falter. I have the same ups and downs as any believer would probably say they do. It's just right now, I am in the down swing, I don't like it, don't want to be in it and am struggling to get out of it. My head knows that I can trust Christ for everything, and in everything - my LIFE is his for cryin out loud, my heart however, the emotional side, the feeling side, is not so sure.

Proverbs 3:4-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Here's my commitment today. I will apply this verse to everything. Every situation, every thought, every questionI have about life or work or faith, I will bring this verse to bear upon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fitness


I'm frustrated today. Not that this is of mind bending importance but I'm having crazy hip pain, it's constant, I can't make it stop and i've been overly irritable and moody.


Gotta let my roots go deep and not be so shifty. Fact is, God has as much control over this small issue of mine as he does everything else - TOTAL control. Why is trusting him so hard? I mean, it's easy to trust Him for salvation but when it comes to the little things, it's harder. I want to have control, I want to fix it.


The fitness part of this comes in with the fact that I'm becoming obsessed with it. I enjoy being fit. I love working out and being active but it's hard to balance and it kind of takes over my head. I found out today that my max heart rate is lower than what I've assumed it was for the past 10 years and although it wasn't a scientific test, it still pissed me off. The flip side of that is of course that now I can be better about what zones I'm training in and how I'm doing with my fitness levels so that I can increase my LT (lactate threshold) and build more endurance. I think I'm just tired too. I want to take a break.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DreamIT - Rick Cole

Okay, this whole thing just keeps getting better. Rick Cole, arguably not the "draw" just gave a Holy-Spirit powered talk that was EN FUEGO! (that means on fire...I think)

It seems to be the crowning thoughts on what has been a day of quite a bit of introspection. I feel like I say the wrong things at the wrong time, not feeling a great deal of confidence about my work and wondering if I fit. And yet, God affirms that He has me exactly where He wants me to be and that I am weak - and that HE is strong. There is nothing that is impossible where he is concerned. I have what it takes because of God.

Lot's I could put down here but not really wanting to right now. I'm just enjoying listening to a really powerpacked worship time. I'm not feeling like I want to be in there right now but I'm thankful to be here.

DreamIT - Erwin McManus

WOW!
I have got to get some of this guys perspective. He speaks in my language. He dialogued about the three spaces that we have in life as believers are church leaders. Our first space is the space where we engage with people who like me because they are like me. This is what most churches do. Create a space on Sunday's separate from the world (by the way not what the church was supposed to be in my opinion) where people who all generally agree interact together. The danger is that I create a world where I only interact with people like me. In our first space we can all say and do certain things because we don't filter thought through truth because we all agree anyhow. It becomes our own subculture or language. The dream would be that the 1st space would be a place where unsaved people would bring their unsaved friends. if it's not - then get rid of it and start over.


The second space is the Marketplace, day by day, with those who happen to be there. The place where we all live but we are not always present... There is tremendous opportunity to build bridges relationally in the 2nd space but far too often we get pulled from the 2nd space into the 1st space and loose all relevancy to the world far from God. In the 2nd space I have to earn the right to be heard. That is my primary responsibility. Then the question becomes...Am I present? Am I responsible with the one person that God brings into my life?

For me, this is the mainstream world. Getting myself out of my church world and looking for and engaging in the "marketplace" through anything. Personal training, Triathlon, reading, speaking, whatever. I need to intentionally look for opportunites to be in the 2nd space.

(By the way - all of this comes from Acts 17 where Paul is in Athens. The 1st space is when he heads to the Jew's after being distressed by all the idols. Why did he go there? Because it was the natural thing to do. The second space is where he is out and about teaching, walking around, steeping himself into the culture around him. The third space is in the worlds "then they took him..."

The third space is where you are invited to go, you must be looking for the fingerprint of God and then leading people to that fingerprint, to God all the time.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
My first space is my churchy culture where I'm constantly around people who will not challenge me and let me live in mediocrity. My influence and relevancy is lost because everyone believes as I do and in most ways causes my spirit to atrophy.
My second space is where I need to spend more time and to engage more. This is where I engage with people, one or many and join with them, love on them, relate to them and serve them. Live out the gospel as Christ did.
My third space is what I aspire to. This is where God opens doors of influence to be used by him and through his power to impact and influence people towards him.

Great stuff. I would like to read more of what Erwin has to say.

Monday, June 23, 2008

DreamIT - Bill Hybels

Great session tonight. Worship was great. Delirious isn't until Wednesday evening but it was still awesome. :) I was reminded of how much I missed going to the Leadership Summit's at Willowcreek. We used to go every year when I was on staff at Harvest. I mentioned it to Greg and he thought it might be a good team event. Don't disagree but it might be a great personal trip for Anna and I.

Anyhow...Bill spoke on vision - he's really good at that. Key points:
  • Vision must be owned.

Vision in his definition is a picture of the future that releases passion in people. Vision can be clear, it can be compelling, it can be great and God honoring BUT if it's not owned it will not have the impact it could. Bill looked at the story in John 10 and the two types of shepherds. The owner and the hirling and what happens when the wolves come. When strife and struggle come the hirling runs like hell, the owner stays and cares for the sheep. The teaching kind of came out of this because ultimately at some point every person in leadership finds themselves at a crossroad, a fork in the road to either stay the path and engage and do the work and dig deeper and stay in the owner mindset or take the easy road and become a hirling. Churches, ministries, businesses are full of leaders that have taken the easy road. I've always heard of it as the "employee" mindset but as I reflect on this I am fully aware of how much I fell into this as I began to loose my heart and passion for ministry at SoulRio.

Is it possible to have a vision, in today's world, that is worth dying for?

When followers see a leader who is willing to die for his/her vision they begin to take ownership. Acts 21 (Paul and the prophet as he travels to Jerusalem.)

Then Bill went to some specifics about vision

  1. Vision Formation: there are two ways to do this, either the solo Mt. Sinai approach or the Team approach where you bring the team together and ask "What does God want this _____ to look like 3-4 years from now?
  2. Vision Refinement: is the process of shopping the vision to different departments or groups of people to get their thoughts and input. Ultimately you will see some percentage of shift from the 1st step but what is even more important is the ownership that is being developed.
  3. Vision Declaration: big learning here was that words matter.

My #1 take away was: The greatest determiner of whether or not people will own the vision is the level they perceive the senior leader owns it.

In my heart, I realized how much I needed to ask God to forgive me for taking the hirling approach to so many years of ministry, especially at the end. And ask for wisdom that I would not go there again. In subtle ways I can so easily go there because I don't want for things to be difficult. The agreement begins with, "I don't make enough money, barely minimum wage, to care about...(fill in the blank) which goes boldly in the face of Colossians 3:17 which says "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

So to sum up - that's what I am committed to do.

Conferences

I'm in the airport in Redmond, OR headed to Sacramento to spend 3 days at the DreamIt conference at Capital Christian Center. The line up of speakers is pretty incredible.
Rick Cole, Erwin McManus, Ed Young Jr., Matthew Kelly and Bill Hybels. Not to mention that Delirious is one of the bands performing throughout. it will be a great time and I'd like to hope that I'll be writing much on this blog about the applications of the teaching and speaking that I hear.

Couple that with a post from a great newsletter that I am going to post up in a minute or two from Patrick Lencioni. I hate walking away from these types of events with too much. I want to get the right stuff in me so to speak. It's almost like "overeating" or putting too much gas in the tank. Humanly, I am beginning to understand and know my capacity for taking in but what I want to test is can I immediately empty some of that knowledge into a blog or into others by engaging with 3rd person teaching? I guess we'll see.

On a real specific level, the goal of this event is to sign up leaders to be coached by our company. That would be a good thing because it's slow right now!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pictures from Metolius River





These are pictures from our trip last weekend. Didn't get a whole lot from this weekends trip.

Walking with God



I spent some time in the mountains today. We drove from our home in Bend about 30 miles to an area called Metolius. This river just appears out of nowhere from a spring that originates deep in the cascades. We visited last weekend and went for a swim...the water was freezing.


Anyhow, we went back up this weekend with some friends and just enjoyed sitting around the fire swapping stories and talking. This morning between conversations ranging from politics to religion to the fact that our dog hadn't used the bathroom for 2 days, i found some time to get some reading in.


Two things I'll throw out. First, the posture of my heart needs constant correction. On page 89, Eldredge writes " I want two things in my lif that are mutally opposed--I want to live a nice little life, and I want to play an important role in God's kingdom. And it's in those times that I am trying to live a nice little life that I make decision and choices that cause me in small and subtle ways to live out side of Jesus." That thought has arrested me today. Because I can totally relate. I am so often busy creating my nice little life that I lose complete touch with Jesus. Which brings me to the second thing.


I don't pray enough. I want the posture of my heart to be one that needs and desires to get God's input on everything. After all, He is GOD. Why don't I take the time to just ask him what he wants, what he'd like for me to do, where he'd like for me to spend my time in a given day...all these things show the posture of my heart. I like that expression. Because for me, I know exactly what the posture of my heart is from moment to moment and I know when it is open to God's shepherding and the Spirit's leading in my life and when I'm shut off and am not even thinking about listening.


I'm going to work on this through this next week.



Friday, June 20, 2008

Friends

Ah, well, my friend Roye has apparently mentioned this blog to some friends so in case anyone visits and is intrigued...please know I have been on a journey the past 3 days of inundating myself with learning all about blogging, rss feeds, feedreaders, etc and am loving it. BUT, I'm just starting so please come back and visit when I've figured out what I'm doing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dialed

I'd like to think I've hit the sweet spot...but it's quite elusive. Just when you think things are going smooth, there's a bump or a pot hole or quite frankly a bird just happens to crap on you.


That happened to me the other day.


I've avoided blogging because I don't really feel like I have anything to say. I don't feel eloquent with my words or phrases and have this fear of being rejected, however, today I just don't care. My grammar might suck as might my punctuation and spelling. I just want to write.


I'm frustrated. I want to shout and ask God where he is in all this. Why hasn't the house in Albuquerque sold? Why hasn't the Jeep sold? What's with my wife not being able to find a job yet? Why did I go from making $120K a year to making $20K a year? Willingly? These are all questions that seem so frivolous. I know in my head that life is not supposed to all be easy and smooth and there may be many days and weeks and seasons where life is very unknown. The reality however, is that is hard. Living life without known boundaries and known outcomes scares me because I have no control. I want control so I can be safe. And that has got to be the main issue.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SALES and MARKETING

Man, I'm struggling to find a place in the world of sales. I spend an enormous amount of time making calls to prospects that may or may not have any interest in what I have to sell. I am reading High Trust Selling by Todd Duncan and agree wholeheartedly with everything he is talking about. How do i implement it, however into coaching world? We most definately need to find ways to connect with our current client base and till the soil, and reap the benefits of a solid referral base. We are 8 years in and just doing client referral calls for the first time!

And today has been a great day to be reminded of how quickly technology is changing and how hard it is to keep up! Important to do however.