Category Archives: 15 Minute Thoughts

Transitioning from survival to thriving

Over the past several years, my wife and I have been fighting. Not with each other, but against the grind of trying to survive the world. We made some stupid decisions when we first got married (bought a house we couldn’t afford, racked up a ton of debt, stayed employed at a job that I should have left). We are in year 11 of our marriage and are finally starting to see some real progress.

 

That’s an advantage of getting married at 23, you can screw everything up for the first decade and still be in your early 30s. Of course, had we waited, maybe we wouldn’t have been so young and dumb.

 

Over the past few months though we’ve really seen some good things happen and our focus is now able to start shifting from fighting for survival to fighting tactically. And as I look around at people that are in similar situations, I realize that there are lots of us that don’t understand that switch is needed.

 

Have you worked so long in “panic mode” that when things are relaxed you feel like you’ve missed something that needed to be done? I have. When bills are paid and there’s money left over in the savings account I feel extremely uneasy. After becoming accustomed to money always being tight, as we’ve started to do a little better, surplus money feels like I’ve made an error.

 

Do you sometimes self-sabotage things because if there isn’t a crisis you don’t know how to stay on track? I keep using money as an example because it’s so familiar to me. Have you ever been financially on track and then go buy something frivolous that messes everything up? Afterwards you think, “Why did I do that?” but then you take a sort of sadistic pleasure in bearing down, tightening up, and out working your mistake? I have. As a matter of fact it happened this week. I decided I wanted a Playstation 4. And instead of waiting, like an adult, until I had saved the money, I just bought it. Childish urges ruin me sometimes.
But as we continue to do well, I can understand that I haven’t worked on the skills that are necessary to make decisions when decisions aren’t cut and dry. Several years ago we would have been making a choice between food and electricity or a Playstation. That makes decision making easy.

 

The lesson here is to keep looking for skills that you haven’t developed as you move into a new mode of life. Because you will not be equipped for new phases when you get there. We are all learning on the fly.

Thoughts on Fear, Bravery, and a Vision

Fifteen Minute Thoughts…

I did a search recently on BibleGateway.com to find out how many times “Fear not” appears in the Bible. For the Authorized King James Version it was over 80 times. It would be easy for me to make the assumption that if I were a better Christian I would have less fear. But I don’t believe that’s true. I think that for me to go on the adventure that God wants me to go on there will be fear.

“Fear not” scripture is designed to encourage bravery. And as I’ve heard Jon Acuff say, “Bravery is only fun if you’re watching someone else do it. Bravery feels like sleepless nights and wanting to throw up”.

I’ve been wrestling with this concept as I look at my future.

I’ve also been wrestling with a vision that I recently had:

Imagine standing in the darkness on one side of a river. In the middle of the river is an island with enough food, water, clothing, and a temporary shelter that will last only one day. The river floods the island each night, therefore staying on the island is not an option. Each morning, you prepare to cross the river, obtain the supplies needed to live, and come back over to your side. The next day, the island has replenished itself.

If you were hungry, tired, and in need the first time you stumbled to the bank of this river and looked out, you may find that the supplies are a blessing. The first time you start to cross the river, you realize it’s very difficult. The current is strong, and you notice that the water is polluted. You almost drown but you make it to the island, get your supplies, and return to your side of the bank.

Over the next several months you continue to do this, and each time examine the river. You start to notice the negative effects it has on you. But you need the supplies in order to live. Each day you make it, then you return. Over. And Over. And OVER.

When is enough? When do you start looking for a better way? When do you realize that blessings of the Lord have no sorrow attached? When do you become brave? When do you “Fear Not”?

It’s time to put a plan together. Time to start working on things. It’s time to be brave enough to try something different. Fear Not…

Conference calls and meetings are not the same thing

conference15 Minute Thoughts – A new series of thoughts that I write about within a 15 minute time limit

Some thoughts about conference calls vs meetings

I do not like conference calls. I am not a big fan of attempting to have conversations on the telephone at all, but to do it in a large group can be maddening. But what really disappoints me are leaders who believe conference calls are the same as meetings.

No. They are not.

If you tell someone that you are going to have a meeting, that person will assume a face to face, person to person, in the same room meeting. That is the expectation you have set by telling him/her we are going to have a meeting. If you suddenly call, you have went against your word. You have taken a little bit of the trust out of our relationship

Are conference calls appropriate in certain circumstances? Absolutely. If my team is scattered around the country and we need to meet about a project, or we want to have a weekly call to discuss things, that makes sense. We also have the expectation that this is a call.

But understand that when you are having a conference call, that most people are not fully engaged. We are either looking out the window, on iPads, computer screens, or doing other work. How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m sorry, I got distracted, say that again?”

If you have something important happening with your team, make every effort to do it in person. If not, at least be upfront that you will be having a conference call. But do not set up the expectation for one thing and deliver another.

Give your team the tools they need

15 Minute Thoughts – A new series of thoughts that I write about within a 15 minute time limit

Imagine for a moment that I asked you to change the oil in my car. Then I provided you with a fire extinguisher, a bran muffin, a monkey, and a wrench. No, not a monkey wrench. A small monkey AND a wrench. Then, I expected you to do the job and do it well.

Crazy, right?

But I have seen this happen time and time again. Leaders will handcuff their team with substandard equipment but expect high quality results. Do you have a team member whose computer takes forever to load? Do they only have one monitor, instead of the now standard two? Is your system’s database impossible to maintain or to gain information and insight from?

tools

Be intentional about upgrading and providing your team with the tools they need. A small investment can boost results. Also, ask your team if they have what that need. Then, ask if they have what they want. An updated version of software may be one thing to make them happy. And by listening and providing, you’ve built trust and loyalty with that person.

And that’s more valuable than any software program.

Don’t live your life as a cautionary tale to others

15 Minute Thoughts – A new series of thoughts that I write about within a 15 minute time limit

mistakes

Are you living your life as a cautionary tale to others?

Sometimes I think we forget about how great our potential is. The amounts of resources, both free and paid, available to us are greater than any point in human history. And yet, I see people who struggle from trying something new. “I should have went to that college,” “I should have done this”, “I shoudn’t have done that”.

Don’t think your life is over because of a mistake or a misstep that you made years ago. Don’t think your greatest contribution is that others get to “learn from your mistakes”.

Step out. Live again. Go for it.