Video: Richard Nelson “…That the World May Know…”
Photo By: Sam Greenhalgh
Article by Jim Seybert
You and I live in a culture that places high value on the competent use of tools. An individual’s overall abilities in a particular area are often indicated by the number of special tools he or she knows how to use.
The typical golf bag carries between 9 and 14 clubs. As a player’s skill improves, he or she will add clubs for specific situations.
Experienced carpenters use more than one variety of saw, because they know which type of blade will give them the best result with each piece of wood.
Master chefs use one knife for chopping onions, another type for slicing meat and another still for boning a fish.
I have one paint brush hanging on a nail in my garage. The professional who comes to paint my dining room has a bucketful of them in many shapes and sizes – and he knows how to put each one to its best use. Knowing which paint brush to grab is a bit of knowledge acquired over time and through experience.
Tools are most effective when we use them for their intended purpose.
A significant indicator of expertise is the intentional application of the proper tool for each job. When Annika Sorenstam reaches for a 3 iron, she isn’t guessing. She knows. Emeril Lagasse knows exactly what spice a dish needs. I own one monkey wrench (I occasionally use it as a hammer). The professional who comes out to fix my leaking sink has a truck full of wrenches.
My point is this – you and I put a lot of effort into achieving mastery over the specific tools of our respective trades, but we often ignore–or take for granted–the potential benefits of our most valuable tool: our own unique talents, appetites and desires.
Over the last ten years, the most common response I’ve heard when quizzing people about their personal strengths is something like, “Yeah, we did the StrengthsFinder test a few years ago. It was pretty accurate, but I don’t remember what they were and we never did much with it.”
People miss out on the benefit of understanding and practicing their individual Strengths because they’ve been conditioned to equate self-awareness with selfishness. They’ve been taught to put the needs of others before their own. “Be a team player,” they’re told.
Here’s the truth: The greatest contribution anyone can make to the team they’re on is to understand their own strengths, practice those strengths to the point of excellence and then put those “tools” to good use achieving the team’s objectives.
Think of your StrengthsFinder themes as chapter headings in an instruction manual with your name on the cover, or as clubs in a golf bag. Each of the five themes represent a broad range of activities that satisfy your desires and make you feel strong.
To get the most out of your unique strengths, pay attention to how you feel during the activities you are called to perform. The way you feel will drive your performance. It’s not about “feeling good.” It’s about discovering the unique tools you have in your toolbox and practicing them to the point of mastery. [Note - go back and read about The Four Levels of Performance].
Practice will nearly always lead to improvement – in any endeavor. But you get the greatest return on invested effort in the activities where you have some innate ability, some talent. Think of these talents as tools, and practice using them – every chance you get. And don’t worry about burning out. If the activity really is a strength, you’ll keep on discovering new and better ways to wield the club, or swipe the brush.
Each of the 34 themes represents a range of nuance. Two people with “competitor” as a theme will have different appetites for competition. One may be fed by the act of competing against another person, or perhaps against their own previous performance. They’ll be disappointed if they don’t win, but the contest itself will nourish them. The same theme in another individual might cause them to first analyze a situation, and then decide to not even compete if there’s no chance of winning. Each of us are created with an infinitely exclusive combination of appetites, and only you know how you feel when you’re playing to your strengths.
So it’s back to feelings, again. The key is to pay close attention to how you feel and use your observations to make adjustments in the way you use each tool. For example: I get tremendous energy from speaking to large groups of people–the bigger the better. From years of personal observation, I know that I will give a better presentation in the morning than in the afternoon. I am also keenly aware that my performance suffers if I’ve had to chat with a lot of people before going on stage. So, when I am asked to speak somewhere I request an early morning slot and do what I can to avoid the “meet & greet” until after my presentation.
This is not about me wanting to feel good, it’s all about wanting to give my audience the best they can possibly get. The focus on feelings provides a feedback mechanism that ultimately results in an improved product.
You can do this. You can master the clubs, wrenches, knives and paint brushes in your tool box. Dust off your copy of Now Discover Your Strengths or StrengthsFinder 2.0. Both of these books have good explanations of the concept and of each strength theme. There’s a unique (single use) code in each book that gives you access to the StrengthsFinder assessment. The tests and results are virtually the same in either version. I happen to prefer Now Discover because the book itself has more off-line content, while much of the content from 2.0 is online.
Start paying close attention to activities that energize you, nourish you, make you feel strong. Run those activities against your StrengthsFinder themes and begin to ask critical questions about variables. Over time, you will develop the same instincts for grabbing the perfect tool for each situation.
Next week – Much of the Strengths emphasis is on building effective teams, but what if you work alone? Can solo-professionals afford to focus their Strengths? The answer is, yes. It’s the only way they can survive.
StrengthsFinder® is a registered trademark of The Gallup Organization. Jim Seybert is not a certified StrengthsFinder trainer. His comments related to StrengthsFinder do not represent material developed by The Gallup Organization, but are the result of experience gathered over ten years of private practice consultancy and through his association with StrengthsFinder co-creator Marcus Buckingham by whom he has been named a Certified SimplyStrengths Trainer.
Written By Kent Humphrys
Leadership is the one thing that we talk about constantly, but yet know so little about. Most of us spend time attending seminars and reading the latest books on leadership, but few of us take the time to examine the life of the greatest leader that has ever lived – Jesus Christ. Jesus knew that leadership is all about relationships. It is not something that can be learned in a classroom, but instead is best understood through modeling. Mentoring is a lost art in our marketplace – one of the places where it is most needed! Because of the lack of mentorship CEOs seek out and receive, they may last less than two years in a given high pressure position. Also, many of those whom we consider successful in business or their professional arena have given up their marriage, family, and values in order to achieve “success”. In most cases, this could have been prevented with proper mentorship. I want to examine the foundation for all leadership and share with you what I consider to be the three indispensable qualities for any leader. So, let us get started on our journey to understanding who a leader is and how he or she builds bridges of trust with their followers.
The year was 1990, and I was facing one of the biggest leadership challenges of my life. My brothers and I had been running a family distribution business since 1972. After several years of failure, we finally turned the business around and were growing at a rate of 50% cumulative annually for seven years in a row. Through acquisitions, we continued to grow in a declining industry. By 1989, we thought that we had peaked. Then, we lost our largest customer – that was 30% of our business! Around that time, one brother left to go into real estate. Seven months later, the second brother left to go into sports broadcasting. I was left with the business and bought back their remaining stock over the next three to four years. We had had a tremendous run of success and had done so with great relationships between the three of us. Yet, we three brothers had really been the sole leadership team, splitting the profits and the responsibilities. The immediate financial burden caused by their departure proved to be minor compared to what further revealed itself as a leadership issue, as I struggled to lead 300 employees in 30 states.
I had to make the adjustment from going from a leadership team dominated by three equity owners to one led by me, but consisting of six senior leaders. I had been close to my brothers and my Dad whom had office space with us. We would go to lunch two or three times a week and discuss major issues. In just seven months that team was gone. I was all alone. I tended to withdraw and spend a lot of time in my office with the door closed. During that time my wife, who had not been involved in the business, became my trusted counselor. I tried to find a couple of employees which I could trust and shared the issues that I was facing. They were all great people with years in the firm, but the leadership situation had completely changed. It was at that time that I learned a major lesson in leadership. I did not realize that lesson until seven years later when I had been asked to speak to a young executive conference. At that time, I questioned my leadership team and asked them to share with me the three or four qualities that they looked for in a leader. Two of those qualities were no surprise, but the third one was a shock to me. I will share it with you in a moment, but first let us talk about relationships which are the foundation for any leader.
Relationships are the key to building a company culture. The leader sets the tone for the company’s culture. That culture is the basis for the long term success of any company. Whether you are the business owner, the CEO, an executive, or just an employee, you as an individual can build relationships regardless of the culture. The key to building relationships is the heart – one of the most popular topics in the Bible and one that Jesus repeatedly talked about. People want to know that you love them and have their best interests at heart. That love can only flow through us as the Holy Spirit helps us to put our own selfish interests behind those of the people around us. The long-term success of your organization will not be primarily determined by anyone’s talent and ability, but instead by the relationships within it. Jesus said-“I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it — the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” John 15:12-14 (NLT).
How do we learn to do this? Jesus is the best model for relationships; He uses the example of others, stories from the Bible, and His life. These relationships are the basis for sharing a common vision, valuing people and their gifts, team building, and holding people accountable.
My leadership team reminded me that a good leader possesses three characteristics, all of which are learned. They are integrity, accessibility, and servant leadership.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Proverbs 11:3 (NIV). Joseph exemplified integrity time and again as he allowed the Holy Spirit to guide him in the foreign culture of Egypt. From his imprisonment to his rule, this leadership characteristic helped define him.
Accessibility was the most surprising characteristic relayed to me by my leadership team. It is the one quality that we rarely – if ever – talk about under the umbrella of leadership. I had to learn to be accessible to my team; to be available when they needed me. The rest of the time I tried to stay out of their way and let them lead in their respective area of responsibility. Paul reminds us, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12. Jesus is our example as He is readily available to us at the Father’s right hand, and King David was constantly accessible to his men.
The Psalmist reminds us, “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 77:20 (NIV). God the Father is the example of servant leadership as is Daniel in the nation of Babylon. As we spend time with the Father, then we get to know Him. As we do that, then we will become much better leaders. A good leader provides leadership that is clear and timely. This kind of leadership is enabling, encouraging, supportive, and confidence-building. Because this kind of leader is focused on serving others, he or she sees co-workers as real people and not just assets.
The characteristics in reverse are much more obvious in poor leaders. The opposite of integrity is instability and is modeled by Saul and discussed in the first chapter of James. The opposite of accessibility is withdrawal and is shown by Elijah as he ran for his life in 1 Kings 19. The opposite of servant leadership is pride as modeled by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3. We as leaders can learn much from bad examples. God brings challenges and difficulties into our life normally through family members and workplace relationships in order to build His character and the fruits of the Spirit into our lives. If we resist the lesson that He is trying to bring into our life through one trial, then God will patiently bring another situation into our life until we learn our lesson.
I do not have time to identify for you the three characteristics that you should look for in your leadership team. You can find the entire PowerPoint presentation on our website at www.lifestyleimpact.com. Just remember that we as leaders build long-term relationships of trust in the workplace through integrity, accessibility, and servant leadership. We do this as we are real, spend time with our co-workers, and serve them, allowing them to be all that God intended.
Reprinted by permission from fcci.org
Photo By: 姒儿喵喵
Written by Kent Humphreys
Daniel is my favorite Bible character. He was taken from his home country at about 14 years of age and went on to be one of the most influential leaders in Babylon over the next seventy years. A few weeks ago in Hong Kong I was able to spend time with a modern day Daniel who does business in the countries of Central Asia. Daniel’s father was a pastor in India back in the 1960’s, and before Daniel was born his father believed that Daniel would be a pastor in Russia. During his teenage years Daniel struggled in his faith and wandered away from his Christian heritage. About the age of 18 years he returned to walking with God. Then Daniel began to learn the Russian language in the university. But, as he got ready to graduate from college, the chaos occurred and the walls of the Soviet Union came down. In 1993 Daniel showed up in Central Asia and went to work for a large software firm as a marketing agent. He had no business training but adapted well and made many friends. For the next two or three years Daniel worked very hard and traveled twenty five days a month throughout the region of Central Asia.
Daniel was promoted three times because of his marketing and sales success. Finally in 1996, he was offered a move to Africa to head up a new office in Uganda. Daniel turned down the great financial offer because he felt called to Central Asia. For a year he worked for a financial services firm and tried to help a local church make up a fake platform for business. He spent a year on a church staff thinking that it was how he was going to serve God. Some ladies in his church began to pray and had a vision that Daniel would go into business and bring wealth to the nations. A pastor from Singapore met Daniel and told Daniel that God had called him to be a minister to the marketplace. Daniel had saved $60,000 from his earnings and started a trading business. His firm packaged and branded tea from India and grew a very successful business in just a few years. But, in 1999 the currency was devalued 50% and his savings were gone. While his inventory was devalued, he still owed his vendors over $500,000 and did not want to go bankrupt and hurt his trusted vendors. So, just as he got married, he was suddenly in deep debt for the next two years. His office was robbed, his key employee stole from him, and the KGB raided his facility. He could not even work for four months. Finally, the church in Singapore called him to come to Singapore. On a Sunday in Singapore, 12,000 members of the church gathered to lay hands on Daniel and pray for his business back in central Asia.
In 2000, Daniel started a new business in the Oil and Gas industry. He met with a firm in London and began to try to sell the 100,000 items in their CD catalog. For days Daniel called on perspective clients back in Central Asia. Finally, one night at 7:30pm he met a guy on the street who suggested that he visit an office in a basement of a certain office building. There Daniel met the key executive of a firm which would spend $4 billion on an oil and gas project over the next few years. After he saw Daniel’s CD, he asked Daniel if he really knew anything about all of these products. Daniel sadly admitted his ignorance. The man promised Daniel that if he would be a faithful supplier, that the executive would send key suppliers to Daniel to sell through Daniel as a distributor to his firm. He gave Daniel an initial order for $2,000. He had a huge project and needed distributors that he could trust. For some reason he felt Daniel could be one of those faithful distributors. This late night divine appointment changed the future of Daniel’s life and business.
Daniel’s business started with that small order and began to grow. It has doubled most years over this decade. Daniel’s oil and gas product distribution firm now has offices in fourteen nations across Central Asia employing 400 employees. In a Muslim nation where Christians are often discriminated against, Daniel has such an important business in the community and such a good reputation for service and integrity, that they can not make threats to him. He is respected by the top governmental and business leaders. Daniel’s business has started two schools and two children’s homes. By the way, the key executive that befriended Daniel back in 2000 had a heart attack a couple of years ago. Through the episode Daniel was able to lead his friend to Christ.
Daniel was named the “business person of the year” in 2006 for Kazakhstan and in 2007 began pasturing a church part time. He spends one day a week in the church besides Sunday and the rest of the time in the business. Understand that these nations are among the most unreached for Christ. Less than one percent of the population is considered evangelical. Daniel is an example of God’s grace. His story is how one man with the anointing of God on his life, the prayers of a supporting church, the provision of Divine appointments, combined with the hard work and courage to overcome continual difficulties works together to bring glory to Jesus Christ in the midst of atheistic nations. In some of the most “closed countries” to the Gospel in the world, Daniel regularly meets and does business with government and business leaders in the oil industry. He is a modern day Daniel in the secular nations of Central Asia. Check out Daniel’s company Gateway Ventures at www.gvcal.com. Daniel is a business leader doing Business as Mission for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reprinted by permission from fcci.org
Photo By: Stephan Geyer
I ponder what it must take to face such a disability and refuse to settle for anything less than victory. Surely there is far more at work than the physical training required to ingrain the discipline and muscle memory needed for peak performance.
This is the seventh of a 12-part series that began a couple of months back with emphasizing the value of a strategic, integrative “life plan” that synergizes the buckets of Health, Family and Vocation. Last time I wrote about change leadership, and in this posting I want to discuss how the most effective leaders embrace the oft-misunderstood notion of discipline.
Discipline is not severity. It is not lack of humor or compassion, or hardening one’s heart or mind or refusing to budge.
Rather, my favorite definition of discipline is simply doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
In their book The Power of Full Engagement, performance coaches Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz discuss how the primary markers of physical capacity are strength, endurance, flexibility and resilience. These same qualities, however, apply to emotional, mental and spiritual capacity as well, the authors contend. We often remain caught in the trap of living “highly linear lives, spending far more energy than we recover, with the result that we break down, burn out, atrophy, lose our passion, get sick and even die prematurely.” In order to be “fully engaged” in all activities, Loehr and Schwartz write, we must learn to “live our lives as a series of sprints: fully engaging for periods of time, and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenges confront us.”
The coaches’ insights shed additional light upon Paul’s assertion in 1 Cor. 9:24-25, that those runners who win the prize “go into strict training.” Paul athletic analogy can be unpacked to reveal the importance of the whole person—mind, body and spirit—being fully available to the Christ within, by practicing this lifelong interplay of holistic engagement and disengagement.
Thankfully, Jesus himself modeled this dynamic discipline for us.
The Gospels give numerous accounts of his compassionate, seemingly limitless service to individuals, groups and crowds. We could easily glean the misperception that he was always busy working, and that a “successful Christian”—or a successful anyone—is always working as well. But Luke 5:16 reminds us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Jesus was the most disciplined leader who ever lived. Our Lord knew how to disengage when necessary, so that he might have the endurance and prayer muscle memory to fully engage the race to Calvary and refuse to settle for anything less than victory on the cross. His resurrected life within us fuels every capacity of our being, empowering us to endure as well; and this life comes to fruition each time we choose to practice the ways of this most famous athlete.
Next in this series, I’ll build on this discussion of integrative, disciplined change leaders by focusing on how everything discussed so far sets a leader up to be a great coach of others.
Photo By: Didrik Johnck
When we think about a theology of work we need to consider some of the reasons why God designed work:
1. To meet human needs. He gave everyone a unique DNA to pursue a vocation that would meet a human need.
2. He wanted us to view our work as ministry. Work often involves serving others. The Greek word for service is the same word as ministry (diakonia). When we serve others, we are actually performing ministry to the Lord, even when it is a secular form of work.
3. We are to view our work as worship to God. All of life should be conducted as a form of worship. When the Olympic runner Eric Liddell described his gift of running to his sister in the classic film, Chariots of Fire, he said, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” We, too, should feel His pleasure when we work unto Him.
4. We are to use our work as a platform to share the love of God. Our work allows us to build relationships with others to demonstrate the love of God to them in a tangible way. A popular saying states:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Building relationship with others is the first step to demonstrating the love of God to others.
5. We are work to earn money to fund God’s work on the earth. For most of us, work will be the primary means of supplying our needs for food and clothing. Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us that God gives us the ability to create wealth in order to establish His covenant upon the earth.
6. We work to care for the poor. When Boaz allowed the gleanings to be left behind from his harvest, he was establishing a kingdom principle for those of us in business. He allowed the poor to come and collect what was left. They still had to work, but the owner of the field intentionally left the gleanings for the poor. Businesses should think of how this principle applies to care for the poor.
7. We work to transform culture. From the beginning, God intended that man would reflect His glory through man’s work, that it might affect all of culture. God cares about our cities and nations and wants to see every person influenced for Jesus Christ.
8. To bring glory to God. God takes us through the process of life and allows us to develop specific skills and talents for His purposes.
The marketplace is where many of us have the greatest opportunity
Compare Romans 15:31, “service” and Ephesians 4:12, “ministry.”Ruth 2:16
Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.MarketplaceLeaders.org
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