• Books I have read in 2010: 1

    Good to Great

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First Who…Then What

Debb and I met today to discuss the next chapter in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great.  I really enjoyed reading the “First Who…Then What” chapter and actually found that I needed to be a little persuaded by Collins as he presented this idea. 

The idea behind this chapter is that if you have the “right people on the bus” you can more easily establish the vision of your organization and because you have the right type of people they will be fine with whatever direction you head.  My first reaction was that the right vision would attract the right people, but my thinking is slightly flawed in that if your organization has to change directions or adjust then those right people might become the wrong people. 

My thought process was also impacted by the fact that here at Dare 2 Share, for the last 12-18 months, we have put alot of energy into our mission and vision.  The recently, due to unfortunate circumstances related to a difficult economy, we had to lay 5 people off.  A very difficult experience this past year.  Since we were recently coming off of the lay-off which came after such a long process of establishing vision my experience was inverted compared to Jim Collins’ advice.

Collins also discussed how to be rigorous in determining getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) as well as making sure that the people on the bus are in the right seats.  He offers up the following 3 Practical Disciplines:

  1. When in doubt, don’t hire.  Keep looking
  2. When you know you need to make a people change, act.
  3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.

APPLICATION: In processing this chapter and these final 3 Practical Disciplines I immediately began to think of what this would look like for the Sales Team at Dare 2 Share.

  • We have a very rigorous hiring process in place at Dare 2 Share, especially for the Sales Team.  This reinforces for me that it is much more important to hire the right people to begin with and to put a continued emphasis on character, work ethic, values, and basic intelligence than educational background or experience.
  • I struggle with the second principle in that I have been able to identify people that have been the wrong people on the bus, but being in a ministry lends itself to more grace and a strong desire to give people the benefit of the doubt.  The principle is easy to understand but difficult to put into practice, but acting sooner than later in this instance should prevail.
  • The third and final principle is one that I am most excited about as I am going to have the opportunity to implement it in the next few months.  With the recent lay-offs we are understaffed.  We also have some changes in our conference schedule for next year.  Those two factors will contribute to needing to reassign some of my staff to different assignments.  This principle will now be the first filter I put my ideas through in making those assignments.  I will be sure to post my conclusions as those decisions are made in the next 8-12 weeks.

Level 5 Leadership

I read Good to Great by Jim Collins a week or so ago and I am really enjoying diving in and wrestling through the principles.  It may be the most challenging leadership and business book I have read so far as there is a lot of meat and data to chew on.  I am meeting weekly with my boss and mentor, Debbie, to discuss these principles.

Level 5 Leadership can be summed up as leadership that balances both humility and ambition.  Level 5 Leaders have the resolve to make extremely radical decisions and stand behind them no matter what others might say.  Ultimately those decisions lead to great success for the organization first, the leader second (although the leader would deflect this success to those around him/her and at best classify there good fortune as luck).  Collins actually provides a graph that provides the Level 5 Hierarchy (pg 20):

LEVEL 5 – LEVEL 5 EXECUTIVE: Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
LEVEL 4 – EFFECTIVE LEADER: Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards.
LEVEL 3 – COMPETENT MANAGER: Organizes people and resources toward the effective and effecient pursuit of predetermined objectives.
LEVEL 2 – CONTRIBUTING TEAM MEMBER: Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.
LEVEL 1 – HIGHLY CAPABLE INDIVIDUAL: Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits.

If I had to provide a fair assesment of where I am at currently I would have to put myself at Level 3, with occasional flashes of what it could look like if I were able to attain Level 4 and/or 5.  Level 5 is certainly the bar I have set for myself.  Without it I will be unable to accomplish my personal goals in life. 

I am reminded of and motivated by Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Level 5 Leadership is the standard that Collins and his team measured corporate leaders against and I have to agree with their assessment.  I am eager to process through the remaining principles in Good to Great as I believe the application of those principles will contribute to becoming a Level 5 Leader.

APPLICATION: As I continue to push myself to grow in this area, here is a list of questions that I challenge myself with as I sift through the remainder of this book.  I try to revisit this list every few days to keep my eye on the prize that I am pursuing.

  • Where am I at within the “Level 5 Hierarchy”?”
  • What will it take to achieve Level 5?
  • Do I have what it takes to get to Level 5?
  • On any given day, what is the gutsiest move I could make at Dare 2 Share that would position us for success?
  • When it comes to credit do I look through the window or into a mirror?
  • When it comes to blame do I look through the window or into a mirror?

Up your game

A few months ago I was sharing with one of my mentors, Greg Stier, this new revelation I have had in life to pursue being the best Christian businessman in the world.  After he thought a few moments about my statement he asked me what exactly I meant by that.  I went on to explain that my desire was to become as well rounded as possible in all things related to business so that I would be equipped to successfully merge business and ministry for maximum Kingdom impact.  I have no “formal” education when it comes to business, like a degree.  I haven’t even ever taken a business class.  But my desire is to learn and grow and become the best there is in business. 

I also shared with him my goal isn’t to do it this for my own fame or glory but to benefit Dare 2 Share Ministries and the Kingdom of God.  After understanding where I was coming from and what my desires were he shared several thoughts with me and had a great conversation for a good 30-45 minutes about the topic.

Of all the things he said, there is one statment that has stuck with me the most and it actually sums up the entire conversation we had, “Up your game!”  It’s that simple…and complex.  Up your game in everything that you do was his message to me which I totally appreciate.  It’s not just focusing on one thing here or refining my skills and knowledge in a particular area of study within the business world.  It’s a full on commitment to up my game in everything I do…attitude, dress, how I carry myself, as well as my business knowledge in sales, marketing, numbers, reading books, etc.

From that conversation and a few other follow-up conversations with many of my mentors I have come to sum up this goal in life as follows: “to successfully merge ministry and business to exponentially advance the Kingdom of God!”

A heart for Jesus & a mind for business,

My Utmost for His Highest – Jan 6

My Utmost for His Highest is a daily devotional that I have had since graduating high school but I have never read it from start to finish.  Considering my ambition to read a book a week in 2010 I figured this would be a great time to tackle this classic work by Oswald Chambers.  The devotion I read yesterday entitled, “Worship,” struck me enough that I thought about it for the rest of the day.

Genesis 12:8 “After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord.”

Chambers defines worship as, “giving God the best that He has given you.”  This idea makes sense to me and is something I have heard before.  But what he goes on to say next is what really got my attention.  In the above verse Abraham set up his home in a place that positioned him between both Bethel and Ai.  Chambers explains that Bethel symbolizes a connection with God while Ai symbolizes the world.  Abraham positioned himself between both of these influences in his life.  The idea is that if you position yourself completely connected with God you become out of touch with the world. 

While it may not sound bad to be isolated with God the fact is that you find yourself removed from having influence over anyone in the world.  Adversely, if you were completely connected with the world you would lose your rooting in the Lord and would become overcome by its influence.  The point of where Abraham placed himself for worship was that he could serve as a vessel or channel from God to the world.  The quote that sums this idea up the best reads, “Quiet days with God may be a snare.  We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.”

I think the reason this devotional resonated so deeply with me is that I identified being placed between the two influences: God and the world.  It’s the core purpose of this blog and my pursuit in life to successfully merge ministry and business.  I found this an encouragement that I am on the right path, headed in the right direction, confident of the right motivations.  May this blog and my efforts to unite these two worlds be my act of worship.

A heart for Jesus and a mind for business,

Faith is not always “charge!”

We had an all staff meeting today at Dare 2 Share and Greg shared an idea with us that caused me to pause.  He said, “Faith is not always ‘charge!’”  The idea behind this statement is that often times in our faith journey to move forward and grow doesn’t mean that we will always be charging ahead.  It could be the exact opposite – we need to take a few steps back in order to move forward.  I don’t disagree with this statement at all.  There are several verses in the Bible that express this same idea:

Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
       do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
       when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
       I will be exalted among the nations,
       I will be exalted in the earth.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Mark 6:31 “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

All of this to say I understand that “faith is not always ‘charge!’”  What caused me to pause and ponder this today was the journey that I am currently on – pursuing the calling to successfully merge ministry and business to exponentially advance the Kingdom of God!  Does this same idea apply to the business world? Can you make the same statement about a business or an organization?  Is it a rational idea to say, “business is not always ‘charge!’”?  I would love your thoughts on what seems to a paradox and tension between the two worlds that I live in: ministry and business.

A heart for Jesus and a mind for business,

And we’re off!

I am literally 48 hours into 2010 and I am growing more and more excited about this year and what I’m hoping to accomplish.  The books I am reading and the one that I already finished have given me a glimpse into an exciting year of learning and growing as I process new ideas ranging from spirituality to business and anything else I can get my hands on.

The one book I have already finished is Jim Collins’ Good to Great (so I started the book in 2009 but I will be working through the book over the next several weeks).  I am looking forward to posting 6 blogs dealing with the 6 key principles he shares in the book.  Additionally, my boss Debbie and I are dedicating an hour a week over the next few months talk through the content of the book.  I plan on pushing the limits of the number of books I read by the same author with Collins as I already have Good to Great and the Social Sectors and I am going to pick up Built to Last.

I will have to be much more methodical in my approach to the two other books I have started reading in 2010.  My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers will take me the entire year to read as it is a daily devotion.  While it won’t take me the entire year to read The Call by Os Guiness the spiritual content is heavy and it will take time to process and journal.

The next book I plan on purchasing within this week is The Daily Drucker by Peter Drucker.  It is also a daily devotional so the sooner I can get my hands on it the better.  I don’t want to fall too far behind and have to read 2 a days for too long to get caught up.

So we’re off!  I am excited to dive deeper into the books I’ve started, begin the exciting journey through the books that are on my radar, and anxious to see what books God will reveal to me that I’m not even aware are in existence.

A heart for Jesus and mind for business,

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