Leaders are Readers – Books I’ve Read Since January 1, 2022

There are no ‘experts’, there are only expert learners. It doesn’t matter whether you are 10 years old or 100 years old, there is always something new to learn.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

One of the best ways to become a better leader is to read voraciously and widely.

Why? Because leaders are readers. Not only does reading widely help you learn new skills and qualities of leadership, reading and learning keep you HUMBLE. When you think you’ve somehow ‘arrived’ in your respective domain of vocation or station in life… think again! That’s hubris. “Hubris born of success” is first mark of decline in an organization or team (see Jim Collins’ ‘How the Mighty Fall‘).

There are no ‘experts’, there are only expert learners. It doesn’t matter whether you are 10 years old or 100 years old, there is always something new to learn. Learning keeps your brain active. Healthy curiosity and learning are life giving.

On January 1, 2022 when I set a goal to read 13 books in one year. In the spirit of learning, below is the list of books I’ve read so far. Please note, perhaps you, like me have learning challenges (dyslexia, ADHD, etc)? That’s okay! I read very slowly. Sometimes I must re-read entire books. In a future post, I’ll share some tricks I use in my reading journey.

1. Our Bodies Tell God’s Story: Discovering the Divine Plan for Love, Sex, and Gender – Christopher West

2. Carpe Diem Redeemed: Seizing the Day, Discerning the Times – Os Guinness

3. The Kingdom Unleashed: How Jesus’ 1st-Century Kingdom Values Are Transforming Thousands of Cultures and Awakening His Church – Jerry Trousdale & Dr. Glenn Sunshine

4. Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity – Alisa Childers

5. Art and the Bible – Francis Schaeffer

6. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling – Andy Crouch

7. The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions–And What to Do About It – Henry L. Thompson

8. The Lord of the Rings (Part 2) Tale of the Two Towers – JRR Tolkien

9. QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life – John G. Miller (note: I read this once per year)

10. Hinge Moments: Making the Most of Life’s Transitions – Michael Lindsey

11. The Dust of Death: The Sixties Counterculture and How It Changed America Forever – Os Guinness

Currently reading: Dominion – How the Christian Revolution Remade the World – Tom Holland

In addition, I read my Bible almost every day. I use a devotional reading plan and I read a Proverb daily (there are 31 Proverbs). I also read Psalms and Ecclesiastes often. I have an ESV Reader’s Bible that contains no verses, no references, and no chapters – enabling me to read huge sections of scripture without feeling like I’m chasing rabbit trails. It is a joy!

What books are you reading?

Goal Setting – a proven system

Goal Setting – a proven system

I’m often asked how I go about setting goals.

So, I decided to share my goal setting system. You may not be a goal-setter.  On the other hand, you could be goal guru.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you find value here.

First, I have not always been a goal-setter. I was aimless for many years until someone (Dave Ramsey) taught me how to set goals. More importantly, I was taught ‘why’ I needed to set goals.

Second, I am not claiming that my process is the only way to set goals. Nor is it completely original. I am drawing from great leaders from whom I’ve learned over the years.

Thirdly, I’m not going to get into the ‘why’ of goal setting here. This article is for the individual who knows ‘why’ goal setting is important but needs a fresh look or wants to go a little deeper. I ask the men I mentor and leaders I work with to set goals using this method (or a variation). If we are setting goals using similar methods – we are speaking the same language.

FYI – I set my annual personal goals in March (as not to get mired by the ‘New Years Resolutions’ of others.)

I. Goal Setting Basics

Your goals must:

  • Be SPECIFIC
  • Be MEASURABLE (achievable)
  • Be YOUR OWN (don’t let someone else set your personal goals)
  • Have a TIME LIMIT
  • Be in WRITING (keep where you can see them every day)

Example: “I want to complete the XYZ half-marathon (13.1 miles) on October 1, 2018.”

 

II. Undergird your goals (the ‘whats’)

For each goal ask the following questions (write down the answers)

1. What are the benefits of reaching this goal?
2. What are the obstacles?
3. What help is needed?
4. What is my plan of action?
5. What is my time-budget?

Using the example: “I want to complete the XYZ half-marathon (13.1 miles) on October 1, 2018.”

1. Benefits: I will be healthier, stronger and gain a sense of accomplishment
2. Obstacles: Procrastination and busy schedule (work and family)
3. Help needed: Accountability and encouragement – perhaps a training coach or partner
4. Plan of Action: Training plan – weekly running and conditioning schedule, diet changes, journal results
5. Time Budget: Weekly time set aside for training leading up to the half-marathon

III. Balance your personal goals

I recommend setting goals in 7 areas of life (Zig Ziglar’s ‘wheel’). This will keep you from becoming lopsided. Unbalanced goals will cause problems in other areas of life. Think of driving a car with a flat tire.

Set goals in these seven areas:

1. Personal (relational)
2. Spiritual
3. Family
4. Financial
5. Career
6. Intellectual
7. Physical

IV. Share your Goals

My biggest obstacle in reaching my goals is me. I must admit I need help (and I consider myself a self-starter). However, life gets busy and I know I’m a magician at creating busyness that pushes goals aside. Its a form of procrastination. Therefore, I share my goals with folks who will hold me accountable. I give them permission to press into me and ask me how I’m doing. They are my cheerleaders as well.  I need someone to speak into my life and tell me to get moving or be there if I need help. (Great book on this is ‘Power of the Other’ by Dr. Henry Cloud)

I can’t say it enough, share your goals!

V. Going deeper with goals

Personal Mission Statement: If you want to live a life that matters and makes a difference in the world, create a personal mission statement. It is your ‘why’. It tells the world who you are and what you are about. Here is my mission statement.

Prayer: As a Christ-follower, I am intentional about prayer. I need wisdom, vision and strength to set and achieve goals. In addition, I want my goals to be in line with God’s will and purpose for my life. Pray in each of the seven areas of your life and ask God to provide direction.

Bible Verses: It is vital to me to have a bible verse as the foundation of my goals. I usually have one for the entire year. This verse undergirds all of my goals and acts as a theme for the year. When times get tough, I can fall back on God’s Word for strength. This reminds me whose ultimately in charge.

Reflection and Reporting: At the end of the year, I reflect and report on my goals. I share this with the team and invite feedback.

VI. When you FAIL – and you will FAIL

Every week I try to experience three things:

1. Accomplish something difficult
2. Learn something new
3. FAIL at something

Failure is a good thing. I do not hit all of my goals every year. If I did, my goals are not challenging enough. We need failure. We learn more from failure than success. When I look back over goals I’ve failed to achieve, I learn where I failed and why. I learn and also see PROGRESS! We may have failed to reach our goals but we make progress.

 

Encouragement for you

In conclusion, below are some quotes I keep in mind when it comes to goals:

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar

On being SPECIFIC: “Aim small, miss small” – Chris Kyle (US Navy SEAL Sniper)

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (or perish)…” – Proverbs 29:18

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

I hope this is helpful.

Now, get after it!


Read previous post: Three Strikes and you’re NOT out – a comeback from failure
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Priorities – How I get things done

Priorities – How I get things done

As I have made the move from business to ministry in the last 10 months, I’ve found I battle three things. As Local Outreach Pastor (community outreach) at a growing church with 8000 visitors on any given Sunday, two campuses, thirty local ministries partners, hundreds of volunteers, large budgets, various events and personal ministry, things can get a little crazy. In fact, they can feel a bit chaotic and overwhelming. How do I (personally) get things done and stay on top of hundreds of moving parts?  How do I identify the most important priorities?

Well, I have a bunch of God‘s grace and an awesome team. I also have a tool that I’ve adapted from what I’ve learned from others and years of experience.

Are you looking for a better way of staying on top of things?

Know your enemy – Look in the mirror!
There are three things I battle. The first is procrastination. I am gifted at putting important tasks off by replacing them with non-important tasks or tasks I should not be doing. The second is being a slave to the urgent. Emergencies and urgent tasks happen in daily life. When they do, we have to stop what we are doing and engage in the urgent. Many times when I have procrastinated to do an important task, the task migrates into the urgent. The third is deception. This happens when I make an activity of low importance into high importance when that is not the case.

A few years ago, Dave Ramsey provided a helpful tool for establishing priorities. It contains quadrants of activity or tasks.

1. Important and Urgent: This is a crisis or emergency like your child is in the hospital.  This is also task where your immediate action is required or something will break.

2. Not Urgent but Important: This something that is important but not currently urgent like taking care of your body. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could potentially have a health crisis. This is where planning and cultivating relationships reside. This will also include personal growth and health-related activities. Spend your time in this area!

3. Urgent and Not Important: This is someone else’s crisis or activities that we mistake for having high importance and urgency. Responding to email as they hit your inbox lands here. This is something that seems really important but it can wait or be delegated. If there is a crisis, I will get a phone call (sometimes a text but I recommend a call). This is a danger zone as it interrupts important work.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important: There are activities like surfing Facebook or watching senseless videos on Youtube. Dave Ramsey includes gossip here as well.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Ps 90:12

Download a PDF of my Weekly Urgency Chart.

Enjoy the journey!

Doing the Right Thing the Wrong Way

Doing the Right Thing the Wrong Way

We take up our cause because we believe it is right and good. We know that it is good and we are passionate about reaching the good result. Somewhere along the path toward our goal of achieving what is right and good, we can fall into the trap of the wrong way.

Winning at all costs is not winning.For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26)  If I have not love in my heart as I pursue what is right, I fail. If I love the object of the rightness of my cause and have no love for those on the path, I have created an idol. When my pursuit of what is right destroys fellowship and unity causing division, I have not love in my heart. I have gone the wrong way.

The heart will produce fruit that will manifest in reality. By the fruit, the wise can discern the motivation of the heart. We can attempt to manufacture ‘good fruit’ but eventually the facade will crumble and we will be found on the wrong way.

In the pursuit of doing the right thing, our way must be the way of love. It is a matter of the heart. The heart is the seat of the will. Our motivations are born in the heart.

The right way
A heart that is authentically regenerated and transformed will produce spiritual fruit in one’s life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23).

The wrong way
A heart that is not transformed remains under the authority of darkness and rebellion is completely incapable of producing spiritual fruit in one’s life. The bible calls this state of the heart ‘the flesh.’ “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these…. those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21b)

Doing the right thing the wrong way
There are examples in the Bible of people doing the right thing the wrong way. Cain’s sacrifice was not pleasing to the Lord because of his motivation. Abraham and Sarah’s decision to use Hagar to provide an heir. Jacob and Rebekah’s deception of Isaac to attain Esau’s inheritance. Somewhere along the path toward their goal of achieving what is right and good, they fell into the trap of the wrong way.

How do we know we are doing the right thing the RIGHT way?

  • Pray it through: Why am I really pursuing this ‘good thing’? Is it to earn points with God or man? What is truly motivating me? What is driving me toward this cause or goal?
  • Check your fruit: Keep a journal on your journey and look for fruit.
  • Test it with Scripture: Read God’s word and allow it to minister to you. Don’t treat it like a cafeteria where you pick and choose what supports your goal/mission.
  • Be Accountable: ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ (Pr. 27:17) Share what you are doing with a brother or sister who will test you and hold you accountable. They must be able to ask the tough questions. Don’t trust yourself because you can deceive yourself. Get a trusted friend to help.

The way of love ties it all together.
“Grace and truth need each other. Grace ceases to be grace if it lacks truth. And truth loses its power if it lacks grace. Grace without truth sanctions and perpetuates unwanted actions…. Truth without grace is harsh, usually self-centered, and un-Christlike. Grace without truth is deceptively permissive, often lazy and equally un-Christlike… Should I show grace or should I tell the truth?’ Both. Love unites grace and truth.” – Bill Robinson

What will reality look like when you complete your mission?

Ranger Mission

Do you ever think about what your life would be like if you could (fill in the blank)?
Or, what would the world be like if we could; cure cancer, end hunger, etc.?

Maybe you have a personal mission statement? I strongly recommend that you create one.  We live in a culture that lacks purpose.  You must be different.

Vision is born into the mind through imagination where it is held.
Mission is where a vision is transferred from the mind to reality.
Mission begins to affect reality when we make a statement followed by action(s). (more…)

Harnessing the power of ADHD

Harnessing the power of ADHD

In the early 1980s, in 2nd grade, I was diagnosed with a learning disability called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Now its called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). School work was a problem for me. I loved learning but struggled academically, except in art and music. Throughout my years in school, the refrain from my instructors, tutors, coaches and professors was always the same, “Lance would make a great student (or athlete), if he just applied himself.” The not-so-nice adults labeled me lazy, uncaring, or indifferent.

Weird Little Kids
In elementary school, I remember having to leave lunch with my friends to go to the nurse’s office to take my medication. I’d wait in line with a handful of other ‘weird’ little kids for a little yellow pill. By the time I would get back to the classroom, lunch was over. To make things worse, while my class was at recess, I was sent a tutor. From inside her tiny shoebox office with no windows, I could hear my classmates on the playground just outside the door. (This is just wrong in so many ways). After school, I was usually shuttled to more tutors.

I remember someone mentioning I may have a mild case of dyslexia as well. Knowing my struggles with reading and writing, I have a sneaking suspicion that I still struggle with it. I am a very slow reader and I write even slower.

Ms. Wizard’s plan to fix me
Here’s one that will bake your noodle. I have always been left-handed. My 2nd grade teacher (I’ll call her Ms. Wizard) had a plan to ‘fix’ me. So, Ms. Wizard forced me to write with my right hand. She would say things like, “Lance is really struggling to keep up with writing assignments.” I’m sorry Ms. Wizard, you are an idiot. What did you expect? You are making me write with the wrong hand!  Luckily, I survived 2nd grade with my left hand intact. (I have forgiven her ignorance-based ‘help’). Thank you for letting me vent… I feel better.

The Power of ADHD

What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. The power of ADHD can be harnessed. Over the years, I knew I loved to learn but rarely accomplished tasks on time or reached my goals. My biggest struggle has not been starting a task. I love starting new things, I have ADHD, duh. I struggle with completing tasks, particularly projects that require long periods of focused attention and detail.

This is what I’ve learned and if you have ADHD you must know. We have a special ability or super-power (for helping children understand). The intense focus within our limited attention span is extremely powerful. The key is learning to harness these bursts of super-human focus.

BTW, If you have ADHD and are still reading this, congrats because I’ve already taken two breaks.

How can you harness the power of ADHD?

  • Recognize and admit that you are different (that is a good thing)
  • Understand that outliers like you and me learn differently
  • You have a gift. I have come to absolutely believe that ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia are gifts NOT disabilities
  • Your approach to problem solving will be unique and effective
  • Don’t listen to fools (experts) tell you that you need ‘fixing’
  • Set bite-sized goals (measurable, time limit, specific, personalized and in writing)
  • Keep a to-do list with the most important task on top (knock it out first)
  • Buy a stop-watch with a timer

15 minute intervals can save you 15 hours per week

I work in 15 minute recurring intervals. When I begin a task, I set my watch timer for 15 minutes and get going. My watch beeps at the end of 15 minutes. If I’m not working on the same task I began 15 minutes ago, I get back on track. This keeps me from drifting into something else like debating people on Facebook, chasing squirrels, etc.

After two intervals (30 minutes), I try to get up and do something completely unrelated to the task. I may stretch, read, get some water, go outside to get some air or play with my children. My little break may take 5 to 10 minutes. But, never more than 15 minutes because my timer goes off telling my that it’s time to get back to the task.

I’ve learned that my attention span is about 15 minutes but my focus is extremely intense during that time. I just need some walls to bounce off of to keep things moving forward.

Experiment and have fun
All I can say is that this works for me. It may not work for you. But, its worth trying, right? Anything is better than that sinking feeling that you wasted time, failed at accomplishing something important or let someone down. Either way, trying this for a few days will teach you something about yourself and the value of time.

One size doesn’t fill all
If your child had been diagnosed with a ‘learning disability’ it simply means they do not learn the same as others in our massive institutionalized, one-size-fits-all education system. Outliers are the world-changers.  Average people striving to be average in a below-average system never change anything.  The greatest artists, scientists and entrepreneurs in history probably had ADD/ADHD or something else.  When you learn differently, you see the world differently!  Your solutions to problems will be different.  Please see it as a gift.  Harness it and encourage others to do the same.

God blessed me with ADHD. He allowed me to wrestle with it until I accepted it and learned to harness it.

Wait, there goes a squirrel…….!