A Key to Success

norway-travelnews-amundsenI’d like to share a story with you about two explorers:

Explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott competed to be the first to lead their teamon an expedition to the South Pole in October 1911. The 1400 mile trip was challenging, and temperatures often reached 20 degrees below zero even during the summer. The terrain was uncertain and unforgiving. The modern communication we rely upon was non-existent. If things went badly, rescue was very unlikely. Amundsen led his explorers to safety and victory, but Scott’s expedition led to defeat. The difference in the leaders’ expeditions was wisdom.

Amundsen spent years rigorously preparing for the journey. He learned how to handle polar conditions, and he lived with Eskimos to learn how they survived, what they wore, and how they moved. He studied every possible scenario. Amundsen designed the entire journey to reduce the likelihood of chance events. He carried enough extra supplies to be able to miss every single supply depot and still go another 100 miles, but Scott risked running low on supplies. Amundsen stored three tons of supplies for five men; Scott had only one ton for 17 men. Amundsen brought four thermometers, but Scott brought only one. Amundsen used sled dogs, based on the wisdom of the Eskimos. Scott used unproven motor sledges and ponies. The sleds failed, and the ponies died. Amundsen was famous for his “20 Mile March” wisdom, having a set distance the team had to travel daily no matter the circumstances. Scott let the weather determine when his team moved. Amundsen trained his body and mind with rigorous discipline, but Scott’s preparation was limited. He made plans based on his own intuition and opinions, not on direct research of the environment he was entering.

On December 15, 1911, Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole. They planted the flag and went right back to work. They reached home base on January 25th, the exact day he planned. Eight months later, a British reconnaissance party found the frozen bodies of Scott and his last two teammates in a snow covered tent just eleven miles short of his supply station. The entire team had perished. Scott’s lack of wisdom led to defeat.

There was a pretty big difference between the two explorers right.  Amundsen was much better prepared for the journey than Scott.  Why was he more prepared?

  1. He spent years preparing himself and his team – Always remember that to take on something important, something big we have to prepare for it. We have to practice and work on our skills.  So whatever we want to do in life start preparing now.  We are always preparing for something, when we stop growing and preparing we often miss opportunities or make critical mistakes and failures.
  2. He also learned as much as he could about the South Pole – This is a reminder for all of us to always keep learning and growing. The most successful people in life are the ones that are life-long learners.  So just because you are out of school doesn’t mean you stop learning.  Keep reading books, keep studying things you are interested in.  Keep stretching yourself.  There is always something new to learn.
  3. He planned for chance events – He knew that there were lots of things out of his control, like the weather. He had to be flexible when things went wrong.  No matter how much you plan there are always things that can go wrong.  Life has lots of ups and downs, so we need to prepare for those things by making wise decisions and having some backup plans.  Amundson packed extra supplies and took more than he needed in case things did not go as planned.  In life things often do not go as planned, so prepare to be flexible.
  4. He talked to people that knew more than he did, the Eskimos – We can also learn a lot from other people that have gone before us that are older or more experienced than us. Ask questions and learn from people that have been doing the things we want to do.  Where I work at a church we go to other churches that are bigger than us, more experienced than us and ask them questions and try to learn what is working for them.
  5. He had a system and was disciplined – he planned to go 20 miles every day no matter what. He learned what worked then he stuck with it and followed the plan.  Self-discipline is important because we often have to do things we don’t enjoy.  To accomplish good things in life we need to work hard, stay focused and stick with it.
  6. Amundson used wisdom to succeed – Wisdom is accurately applying knowledge and clear judgement to life situations

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom.  King Solomon – wrote most of the book of Proverbs.  That’s a great place to start in seeking wisdom.  If you haven’t read Proverbs start today.  Make is a practice to read through the 31 chapters of Proverbs a couple of times a year.

 

Good Enough

Never-Good-Enough2

One of the questions that runs through our minds is; am I good enough? Am I good enough feeds our need to perform, please and pretend.  Am I good enough pushes us to prove ourselves and show people that we matter. This can be very dangerous to our emotional and mental health.  It also damages our spiritual lives.

We all grow up with dysfunction.  There are certain values that you grew up observing and statements that were made to you that have affected your life. If you only got attention or approval if you did something good or achieved something then you will continue to think your only worthy if you perform and are productive.

When we experience conditional love it feeds this question of am I good enough?

The truth is in God’s eyes we are good enough.  There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.  His love for us in truly unconditional. We are good enough. When we can step away from this question and say yes I am good enough our focus can be on the right things.  We know we can improve, but that does not make us more worthy or valuable as human beings.  Our worth is not found in our achievements, its found in our character.

Being good enough is the wrong question because it causes us to question our value and worth. We all have stories that are undesirable, painful and shameful or embarrassing. When we can walk into those stories and accept them as part of us, we can experience the power of our worthiness.  Those stories don’t define us but we can use them for good.  That’s what God does every day, brings good out of the bad.  When we can love ourselves despite those stories and see our worth as a human being then we can love others and encourage others along the way.

God says that we are good enough just as we are, dysfunction and all. He loves us unconditionally and desires for us to grow and connect with Him every day.  So stop asking yourself if your good enough, God created you and planned for you to be a part of this world at this particular time in history.  You are enough simply because you are you.

Summer Time

summer reading

 

Summer is a great time of the year.  For many families it’s when you take vacation and spend a bit more time together.  It’s easier to have social functions with friends, cooking outs, camp fires, camping, outdoor sports and more.  I’m on a softball team and love to get away and have fun with some other people.

I remember summer as a kid, not having to go to school and spending long days out exploring my grandpa’s farm.  I spent hours looking for arrow heads and flint after the fields where plowed and was even known to go skinny dipping in the creek from time to time.

Summer for me has become a time of building.  I try to approach each summer as a time to sharpen myself as a follower of Christ, a husband, a leader and a friend.  It’s a time to work on relationships, read good books, plan for the rest of the year and relax and have a little fun.

I try to read a lot, because that is one of the ways I learn and keep my mind sharp.  Each summer I try to put together a reading list that I try to knock out over the months of June, July and August.  Here is my list for this year:

  1. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield – book about creativity and self-discipline
  2. Sticky Church by Larry Osborn – This book is all about how to help people stay at church and get connected and growing.
  3. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath – I am reading this one with my staff, it’s a good self awareness book
  4. On My Worst Day: Cheesecake, Evil, Sandy Koufax, and Jesus by John Lynch – Spiritual growth type book, I heard him speak live and immediately bought the book.
  5. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – This book is all about how we thing and why
  6. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – Fun read about odd stories and why we do some of the things we do and some of the extraordinary things that happen in our world
  7. The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials For Becoming A Change Maker by Brad Lomenick – leadership development for me.
  8. Great By Choice – Uncertainty, Chaos, And Luck – Why some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins – Another leadership development book from one of my favorite authors.  I’ve had the book two years and finally am going to read it.
  9. The Bible – I’m reading through the New Testament as well – Spiritual Growth and Connecting with God.
  10. TBD – I usually find a book or someone recommends a book that I just have to read.

Have a great summer but remember to include some reading.  Even if you are not a reader, try to read one book this summer.  Reading helps you to focus, use your brain and relieve stress.  Reading also feeds you spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.  If you want to change, grow or just get better as a person, then start reading.  If your into sports you read all the article about your favorite teams, so you can do this – Give it a try this summer.

Love in Action

liove is action

 

I’ve been thinking and studying this idea of love.  I have to say that I need to work on this area of my life.  I think most people would say they can do a better job of loving others.  But for most of us we don’t know what that looks like.  I work at a church so what I look to in order to learn and grow is God’s Word.  I was reading this today and it really struck me and challenged me.  I hope it does the same for you.  This is found in Romans 12:9-21 in the New Century Version of the Bible:

9 Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.

14 Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.

17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,”[a] says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” Proverbs 25:21–22

21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.

Just that first sentence, your love must be real is enough for me today.  You can’t fake love.

Love is all about doing and taking action.  It’s about how we think about ourselves, others and God.  The best way we can worship God is by loving others well.

 

Problem Solving Do’s & Don’ts

Problem solving is a key skill to develop if you want to be a good leader.  Solving problems will get you noticed and give you influence.  Of course solving problems can be both positive and negative.

In the book of Genesis the story of Abraham and Sarah gives us a good example of trying to solve a problem on your own.  Sarah could not have children and was getting older.  God had promised them they would have many offspring and a nation would grow from them.  Sarah was impatient, and who can blame her as she waited for over a decade and no child.  Sarah decided to solve the problem on her own and convinced her husband to sleep with her servant Hagar in order to have a child.  It worked and Hagar got pregnant and had a son.  However this caused a lot of conflict in the household between Sarah and Hagar and Sarah ended up kicking Hagar and her son out.

This story illustrates what happens when you try to work independently of God.  Here are some mistakes that Sarah and many others make in solving problems:

    • Believing that God is inattentive, absent or even against you.
    • Allowing your circumstance to determine your understanding of God’s character
    • Having a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset
    • Becoming self-seeking or self-focused which leads to manipulation to get your way
    • Feeling inadequate and insecure, fears that cause you to react in unhealthy ways
    • Resent the success of others and angrily turn on them
    • Blame others for the situation or problem
    • Conclude that you need to control the situation or fix the situation instead of waiting on God

So what are some characteristics of a good problem solver?

  1. They anticipate problems – When you can see a problem coming and prevent it before it happens that is great leadership
  2. They accept the truth – You face reality and are honest with yourself and others
  3. They see the bigger picture – You must understand where you are trying to go and what the vision is before solving problems.  This is about perspective
  4. They handle one thing at a time – This is all about focus and not getting distracted from dealing with the issue at hand
  5. They don’t give up when they are down – Things will not always go according to plans and that is when persistence and patience come into play.

So when you face a problem, how do you react?  Do you ignore it and hope it goes away?  Do you feel paralyzed or powerless?  Solving problems well comes from evaluated experience, learning from failures and overcoming mistakes.  It also comes from wise counsel with other people and staying connected with God who gives wisdom when we ask.  Here are a few things you can do to improve your problem-solving skills:

  • Look for trouble – Don’t avoid problems, but pursue them.  This takes both persistence and patience and a willingness to face messy things and speak the truth in love.  It means talking openly about the issues no one else wants to face.  This takes courage and confidence, but must be done with humility.
  • Develop a method – Systems are the best way to solve problems.  Take time to discover the real issues.  Usually the things we notice are just surface issues or emotions.  You need to dig in order to find the root issues.  Find out what other people have done in similar situations.  Study the options that come out of your research and then prioritize solutions and try one.
  • Surround yourself with problem solvers – This means finding people that are good at areas you are weak.  Diverse thinking usually leads to more creative solutions.  Seeking wise counsel is always a good idea when trying to solve problems.  You should have people in your life that you can go to when you need help solving certain types of problems.  For example when you are having problems in your marriage you need to find someone that can mentor you in that area.  When you are having problem financially you find someone that can give you wise counsel in that area.

Take the initiative to solve problems.  Ask God to give you wisdom, patience, discernment and the right people to help you solve the problems you face.