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I’ve Been Slacking

13 Oct 2010 1 comment

At least with respect to posting here. Shame on me. I guess life just isn’t terribly interesting when it’s lived away from home. I’ve been reading a lot, which has been nice, but I haven’t been writing down meaningful quotes, not because I haven’t read any, but because I’ve been too “into” the stories to stop. This is particularly true of Dune, which I cannot believe I’ve never read before. It’s truly awesome. I was able to jot down the following statement, though, which I found insightful.

The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.

I’m both frightened and excited by what the future holds for my children, especially with regards to technology. Anyone who doesn’t feel the same just isn’t thinking enough.

Speaking of thinking, if you’re a person who cares about being successful, I would highly recommend the blog Little Things Matter. So much of what I’ve tried to say about leadership, communication, email habits, etc. can be found here (in a much more concise and well-expressed form). This particular tidbit really caught my eye:

I have never met anyone who took pride in their work, but not their car.

True or false? I’m interested in hearing your opinion. As of yet I have been unable to think of any counterexamples.

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Categories: Books, Quotations

Answers

07 Oct 2010 2 comments

Thanks to everyone who sent me replies. The winner was my favorite Nazarene, Brannon Hancock. Here are the correct answers:

  1. D (Elevate) – I can’t believe no one got this right.
  2. B (60 minutes) – 4 songs, prayer, sermon, closing song. Nice.
  3. B (75 minutes) – And it was this long only because it had a 5 minute coffee break in the middle of it.
  4. A (100 folks) – It was an 8am service, what can you expect?
  5. B (500 folks) – All crammed into a high school auditorium.
  6. D (67%) – Yeah, I barely knew any of the music I sang. And if you exclude one of the services, the percentage goes up to 90% unknown. Interpreting what that means I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.
  7. D (105dB) – And it was mixed incredibly well. I loved it (just wish I knew the songs!) Incidentally, I’ve had complaints at EBC for sound levels a full 10 dB less than that (i.e. about half the perceived volume).
  8. D (All 3) – Makes me thankful for the folks at EBC who work hard to not make mistakes in this critical piece of Sunday morning ministry.
  9. D (All 3) – No surprise there.
  10. C (2 of 3) – Perhaps I need to show them my tiny rubber band trick.
  11. C (twice) – Really liked the method of serving done at Flood.
  12. D (All 3) – Natch. This is California.

In completely unrelated news, I’m now on my 5th book of the trip. Here’s what I’ve read:

  • Jayber Crow – Wendell Berry (9/10)
  • Sin Boldly – Cathleen Falsani (8/10)
  • Through A Screen Darkly – Jeffrey Overstreet (7/10)
  • The Air I Breathe – Louis Giglio (4/10)
  • Dune – Frank Herbert (in process)

Good times. But I trade them all for a kiss from my wife and a hug from my girls. Thank God for Skype!

Categories: Books, General

Double Feature

24 Sep 2010 Leave a comment

I remember just a brief bit of dream from last night’s slumber. I was watching the Indianapolis Colts play football (can’t remember who they were playing, opposing jerseys were white, so it might have been the Patriots). Peyton faced fourth and one, and they were going for it. He dropped back to pass, way further back than normal quarterbacks do, and fired a pass just as he was absolutely clobbered. The pass flew right into the hands of a defender, who intercepted it, but then stood there and did nothing until being tackled.

If I were an NFL star, I'd want to be just like Peyton

The pass was replayed several times during the dream, always from different angles, including a pretty cool one where I was watching through the eyes of the guy who intercepted the ball. Finally they showed a replay of the hit of Peyton, but strangely, when he got back up, he was wearing number 14 instead of his usual 18 (which, even in the dream state, I immediately recognized as being wrong). I couldn’t figure out if maybe it hadn’t actually been Peyton on the field, or if he’d switched numbers, or what.

On a completely unrelated note, I’ll wrap things up with a quotation from The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team that I found myself surprised to agree with.

Consensus is horrible. If everyone really agrees on something and consensus comes about quickly and naturally, well that’s terrific. But that isn’t how it usually works, and so consensus becomes an attempt to please everyone, which usually turns into displeasing everyone equally.

Been there, done that. How about you?

Categories: Books, Dreams, Quotations

The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team (Part 3)

22 Sep 2010 Leave a comment

No cool dreams last night, unfortunately, so back to the quotations.

Every team needs constant work, because without it, even the best ones deviate toward dysfunction.

That’s sort of like a second law of thermodynamics for human relationships, and it’s just as immutably true.

Two years of behavioral reinforcement around politics is a tough thing to break, and one lecture, no matter how compelling, is not going to do it.

I’ve been in situations where someone (i.e. me) thought a single email / phone call / meeting would fix a systemic problem. It just isn’t that easy; real work is involved (see earlier quote).

A decision is better than no decision.

I’d much rather someone have the courage to choose a path that turns out to be wrong than to be stuck in limbo at the fork indefinitely. Few decisions in life are so terribly permanent that a wrong choice dooms you forever, so just do it, I say.

Categories: Books, Quotations

The Almighty Calendar

20 Sep 2010 Leave a comment

Being a planner, and being married to a planner, means that sermons like yesterday’s hit pretty close to home. The discussion reminded me of one of my favorite quotations (from President Eisenhower), which I’ve tucked away in my mind to help me resolve the tension:

Planning is essential. Plans are worthless.

There’s real wisdom in that statement. The way I see things it’s not so much about plans themselves but about the attitude with which those plans are made and kept. The calendar should not be an end unto itself, but rather the means to a greater end. And if it can make success more likely, why not embrace it? I sincerely believe that a calendar wielded well makes a person more effective for the kingdom.

Great organizations understand that truth. The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team explains one example of where this is true:

One of the best tools for ensuring commitment is the use of clear deadlines for when decisions will be made, and honoring those dates with discipline and rigidity. The worst enemy of a team that is susceptible to lack of commitment is ambiguity.

Lots more that I’m sure could be said on this topic. I’d be interested in hearing further thoughts if any of my few readers has them.

Categories: Books, Quotations, Thoughts

The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team (Part 2)

17 Sep 2010 Leave a comment

Just one quotation today. But it contains much wisdom for any organization or team that’s looking to build real connections between its members.

A little structure goes a long way toward helping people take action that they might not otherwise be inclined to do. This is especially true when it comes to giving people feedback on their behavior or performance. Relying on them to do so on their own, with no clear expectations or structure, is inviting the potential for the avoidance of accountability.

There’s always a fine line between too little structure and too much structure, but I’m pretty sure that no structure isn’t the answer. That’s true in so many places: work, church, even marriage could fall into that category.

Categories: Books, Quotations

The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team (Part 1)

16 Sep 2010 Leave a comment

Patrick Lencioni’s book is a fictional case study about corporate leadership and its pitfalls. I discovered this book because of my job; what caught my eye was the following statement, which was printed in some recent training material:

If we don’t trust one another, then we cannot be the kind of team that ultimately achieves results.

That hit a little too close to home. So much of effective leadership in any organization is trust, both given and received. It’s a funny thing: on one hand, I need to be as generous with my trust as possible, and on the other, I need to do everything in my power to earn and deserve trust that’s extended to me. Both the “truster” and the “trustee” hold responsibility.

Imagine a basketball coach in the locker room at half-time. He calls the team’s center into his office to talk with him one-on-one about the first half, and then he does the same with the point guard, the shooting guard, the small forward, and the power forward, without any of them knowing what everyone else was talking about. That’s not a team. It’s a collection of individuals.

Did you just hear a sizzle? That was a light bulb going off above my head. A Zen moment, if you will.

It does seem like we don’t really have the same goals in mind . . . we’re all lobbying for more resources for our departments, or trying to avoid getting involved in anything outside our own areas.

I find myself falling into the above pattern all the time. It’s tough to overcome, especially when resources are limited. I suppose it’s due to a lack of vision, or at least a lack of buy in to said vision.

I would rather overstate the problem than understate it, but only for the good of the team.

That’s really good advice. I saw it in action last night, and came away encouraged. A bit overwhelmed at the same time, if such a thing is possible, but still encouraged.

Categories: Books, Quotations