Simplicity or complexity

I was thinking the other day how we have a tendency to complicate things when there is no need to do so.  Often when we are just starting out we just do things because that’s what needs to be done as we begin to grow we add “procedures” to help us function especially as we add new staff or expand our business.  We try to keep things under control so we add systems and layers of administration to help control the function of our business.  Then those systems get entrenched and somewhere down the line we no longer know why we do what we do or what the purpose of the original decree was.
It’s that way with our faith when we try to systematize God, we create a checklist for our faith to check off the right buttons. But God doesn’t intend it that way, for him its a simple do or do not.  Love God with all of your heart, mind and soul and strength, …the second is like it love your neighbor as your self Mk 12:30-31.  That’s it… by doing these two things we fulfill all the law and the prophets.
In the old testament God even says the same thing: “He has shown you oh man what does the lord require of thee.  To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” Mic 6:8.
Not a big old huge list, not a long list of stuff to accomplish, just walk with him.  Don’t get me wrong we need systems to keep our businesses running and moving in the right direction.  Items have to be ordered; product has to be shipped; employees need to be paid and customers need to be billed and monies collected.  And those things require some kind of order and structure in order to function.  But when it comes to the interaction between you and your employees, you and your customers, and you and your God simplicity matters.  They (the people) are the real reason you are there not just to sell them another machine or to sign their paycheck, but to care, love, and influence.
Have you allowed the “busyness” of your business get in the way of you truly loving your neighbor as your self.  Do you know what their concerns are, what do they care about?  What are their dreams?  Do you celebrate their successes, rejoice in their happiness or sorrow in their sorrows?  God wants you to.  He wants you to care, he wants to care through you.  Just like St Augustine said “they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
So lets get back to simple, let’s get back to loving our employees, lets let God Love though us and maybe in our midst we will see him lifted up by those who previously didn’t know him.
Now go and make disciples.

Service vs the up sell

My wife and I were talking about dentists the other day which seems to be a frequent topic of discussion.  Whether its mine vs hers or mine compared to the kids or the one my sister in law goes to or the one we left.  Its always a similar conversation; shes not happy with their choices and I think mine is great, actually I know mine is great.

I’ve had the same dentist for as long as I can remember literally!  Well lets just say all of my adult life.  His office was recommended by a friend when I needed a root canal.  Prior to that I hadn’t been to the dentist much.  I went as a kid but it was a child’s dentist the office even had a full running HO train tack going from office to office.  But when I needed one as an adult he was no longer available so I went to this one.  At the time my dentist was a partner in the practice but has since taken over as my original dentist has retired.

So now enter the future I have dental insurance but I always seem to have a co-pay my wife on the other hand never seems to have much of a co-pay if at all.  So obviously mine costs more than the rest, but my response is always the same I like my dentist and they do good work.  As a matter of preventative maintenance my dentist is always checking my fillings to see if they need to be replaced and he normally says they look good for now maybe next time, my response is “well you do good work”.

But.. my wife’s experience is different she feels as though every time she goes to the dentist they are trying to sell her something else or find something else to “bill” for.  On the latest trip they even wondered if my son would need “laughing gas” to help with a chipped tooth (which is totally minor and had no pain by the way).  She said no of course but the sentiment is there always having to be on her guard when she goes to the dentist which produces stress and anxiety.

My trips are always fairly peaceful and stress free (and so are hers when she goes to my dentist).  So what the difference?  I would say value.  I believe my dentist values his patients and has the best health of our teeth in mind.  The others are more interested in making a buck or trying sell us all they can while we are in their office.  To one we’re patients to the others we’re customers and the difference is obvious because its real.

So what’s the lesson here?  As christian business men or women or goal should be to serve those we derive an income from, whether its selling an item or providing a service we should seek to serve not sell.  Jesus himself said he came to serve not to be served.  Our customers are not just numbers they are people in need of a savior and worthy to be served not sold or up sold.

When we follow Jesus’ example and put people first the blessings come but when we serve the dollar first the people know it and will take their business else where and with it any blessing we might have derived.  So who are you serving?

 

Worship breaks through

I attended a Mayor’s Prayer luncheon the other day.  I’ve attended this same luncheon before on numerous occasions.  But this year was different, the line up was the similar to years past but this year they added a worship leader.  In previous years they would play a song accompanying a video, it may have been a “worship song’ but it wasn’t worship.  I’ve always considered this event to be ecumenical because it was after all a “Mayor’s” Prayer luncheon.  But this year the chaplain was bolder than she had been in the past.  That boldness included this addition of the worship leader.

That small addition makes a lot of difference on both sides of the spiritual/cultural war.  As the worship leader was introduced he began to sing a song I was familiar with from church.  It was obvious that some of the other participants who were there were also familiar with the song.  But there were others in the room that I suspect were not familiar with the song.  My mind went immediately to them.  I found myself worrying that they might be offended by the music.  Some of them were public officials, were they allowed to be there, this is very clearly not “ecumenical” could it be shut down? The message definitely wasn’t “politically correct” but then neither was Jesus. Those were some of my thoughts, but the other thing that entered my mind wasn’t a thought but a feeling, a sense of shame or guilt that we were singing in public and that we weren’t supposed to do that!  It’s okay to PRAY in public (kinda) but when we start worshiping that’s a whole other ball game.
Then I realized something happens when God’s people worship, it moves an event from a ecumenical prayer meeting to entering into the presence of God (God inhabits the praises of his people).  God makes the difference, when we pray that’s us reaching out to God and petitioning Him for whatever is on our prayer list.  When we worship, God draws near to us and actually inhabits our praises and sometimes the area where we are gathered.
So where God is, there is going to be division Jesus said you are either for me or against me”.  For those who know him there is power and joy, for those who don’t there is going to be possibly shame and there will be a sense of not belonging.  That’s what I was thinking about when I was considering those people I know who I don’t expect know Christ.
But I also think that the “fear” I was feeling was culturally generated.  We live in a culture now and it seems like it has been on the fore front lately that we need to be “respectful” of others feelings and do our best not to offend (every little thing seems to offend these days).  I found my self worrying about being on the offending side even though I wasn’t the one doing the offending.  “Shaming” is getting such media attention these days that the sentiment seemed to have even invaded a prayer meeting put on in honor of the National Day of Prayer.
As I was pondering this experience here are a few things I learned from this worship/shame encounter as it relates to the public side of practicing my faith
  • Always side with Jesus (that’s what they don’t want)
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear. (that’s what they want me to do)
  • Be bold (they don’t want me to fight back they want to shout me down.)

I believe if I can do these three things I will be the stronger for it and have a more consistent walk in the process.

Planting seeds

I enjoy planting seeds.

Every spring I get out some pots, mix up some dirt and plant some seeds.  Then I hope.  I water, I watch and I wait.

About a month ago I planted some grape and pomegranate seeds, as well as two different bulb type plants I found with my garden stuff.  I’m happy to say they have all sprouted and are growing accordingly (I think).  This past weekend I planted more.  I planted lettuce, strawberries, flowers, lavender and some trees.  The tree seeds I bought in order to grow them as bonzai plants.  I ordered the seeds on line and eagerly waited for the seeds to arrive so I could plant them.  When they arrived I found out that they come with instructions and some can’t even be planted for 120 days!  Most of the plants I planted will sprout this season, some though may not grow until next year!

For me gardening is a hobby, but I’m realizing that planting and sprouting has direct correlation to how I handle my role as a leader at work.  My seeds will only grow if they are planted.  Some of the seeds I had were over 15 years old (I doubt they’ll sprout), but they never grew in the package they needed to be planted.  Seeds needs certain things in order to grow such as; water, dirt, and sun light.  Some seeds take more time and special care and others like the trees next door will grow any where – literally.

What I plant matters and when (from what I’ve found out).

So how does this apply to our work place.

  1. Only what we plant will grow
  2. It will produce only what it is intended to produce.
  3. Some ideas take longer than others.
  4. Some times things grow that we don’t intend

Galatians says we will reap what we sow.  The question is what are we sowing.  Each one of us is planting seeds (ideas, concepts, a certain way of doing things).  If we as christians are planting seeds (or modeling a character) of hope, faith and love and doing our best then that’s what we can expect from our employees.

But if we don’t plant those seeds they won’t grow.  Our staff or fellow employees are not going learn by osmosis, they have to be taught and see those traits being lived out.  We have to spend time with them encouraging them and guiding them.  Seeds need water.

Some seeds are going to take longer to take root, we have to be in it for the long haul.  Change takes time, we have to be committed to our staffs character over the long term, what may start with us may find it’s fruition somewhere else but we have to give them the care and attention while they is in our care.  Some concepts they will get now others they will get later.

We have to pay attention.  Sometimes bad ideas enter our workforce we have to be willing to root them out when we encounter them.  If something is counter to our company culture that we are trying to create then we need to assure that it doesn’t grow.  The trees next door are prolific seed bearers and they sprout quickly in any place they find an inch of dirt.  But I have found out that if I don’t pull them out when they are in their first season, by the next season they have dug down deep and are very difficult to remove.

Farmers (and hobby gardeners) are hopeful, patience, and intentional.  If you are going to plant seeds of faith at your place of work you will have to be the same.  So let me plant these two seeds in your mind:  What are you planting?  And are you planting intentionally?  Your answer to those two questions will determine the kind of fruit you will be reaping in due season.

What are your “Antics” getting you?

Go to the Ant you sluggard, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.  Pr 6:6-8

I was sitting on my porch the other day just enjoying some Iced tea and relaxing a bit watching the humming birds come and go, when I noticed something.  Ants!  Crawling on the out side of the humming bird feeder!  I thought now how did they get up there and worse yet how did they find it?

Ants have a canny way of finding things that we leave out whether sweet, sour or neither (they seem to like protein as well).  And once found, they put all their energy into “harvesting” the source before someone takes it away or it’s all gone.  Once depleted (or removed) they move on looking for the next source of sustenance for their colony.  In fact they probably have scouts out looking elsewhere before the current source is gone.  I think that’s what I saw – scouts.  I only saw a few ants crawling up and down, the feeder was empty and it hadn’t been refilled in awhile.

But once I did refill the bird feeder the supply chain started again.  Ants by the droves showed up to gather the juice and sugar crystals as well and return it to their home. Where once back in the colony will be put to use to nourish the others who are doing the stuff required to maintain the functioning of the home base.  I think we can learn a couple things from those little ants:

  1. Keep your eyes open – The world is constantly changing and there is always some new need to be met or product to be created.  Don’t stagnate, just because what you are making and selling today is doing well doesn’t mean it will be next year.  Keep looking around see and hear what people are doing what’s selling or not, what’s popular what’s not.  If you keep an eye open to what’s happening or what skills are needed you will be in a good position to strike and reap the harvest.
  2. Do YOUR part – Do what you know how to do – each ant in a colony has a specific role.  Worker ants are not scouts, scouts don’t feed the queen, warrior ants fight workers don’t.  Don’t try something you’re not good at or lack skills to succeed.  If you can learn those skills and want to then by all means go ahead but doing something half way or too many things at once will keep you from success.  Narrow it down and be happy to operate within your skill set and passions.
  3. Be persistent – Those ants had to work to get up there to that bird feeder, then crawl down the support wire, continue down the glass to the water (or dried sugar) and then return to who knows where.  I have no idea where their colony is located but they found the food and when the water came back they brought in reinforcements.  You may not strike it with your first idea or your second or your fifth but that sixth idea or 10th just might be the one you’ve been waiting for.  Don’t stop until you find water or pay dirt.

Those points are applicable, whether job hunting or developing your own small business.  Solomon had it right when he admonishes us to consider the Ant and as you do, remember to keep your eyes open because the next opportunity could be right around the corner.

Until next week.

Tim

 

Are you a one percenter?

I was discussing with my wife last night about one of the players on my basketball team.  I stated that if he were just “that much” better or put in “that much” more effort he would be a beast of a player, meaning a good player and definitely on the starting line up.  “That much” was demonstrated by my fingers being about 3/8 of an inch apart.  You know the expression, you use it when you say I was “that close”, “almost”, or “just a little bit”.  We use it when we are expressing a small amount of something either good or bad, either we would have made it or we missed it.

My wife then quipped back imagine if we were to put that much more effort into our christian walk.  I then responded with “exactly”.  I saw an info-graphic recently listing out the amount of money Christians earn throughout the world listed by region.  My thought was, what if the church gave just 1% more of what they earned throughout the world imagine the good we could do?

The same goes for any endeavor we are involved with though.  What if we gave just 1% more effort or did something 5% better than last time.  Dan Miller often states that if you can do something 10% better, faster or cheaper than the next guy you’ll knock it out of the park and be able to make money off of it.

I remember awhile back at the Y, the big focus was on the 40 developmental assets, which are a list of success indicators.  The more you have in your life the better.  Rather than focusing on all forty we made it our goal to focus on just adding one or two to the lives of those in our programs, which would then put somebody up into the next level of success.

So what about you?  What one or two things can you do that would improve who you are or what you do?  They say if you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit, once something becomes a habit, it becomes a part of who you are and then begins to happen more or less by reflex.  So if you add something small to your life to improve it in a month you can add something different to improve it again and so on.  If you do that over the span of a year you’ll end up improving yourself by 12% over the year.  That’s a noticeable improvement, the kind that will make a difference in you, what you do, and the people around you.  And who doesn’t want to be better than they were last year.

Until next week,

Tim

Be consisitent

I was thinking the other day, “what makes me successful or why do people think I do things well.”  It’s not that I’m necessarily exceptional it’s not even that I do all things great.  I’m just consistent at what I do.  I’m there every week, I show up when I say I will I do what I said I would do or what I have committed to… that’s all.  It may seem like a small thing but it’s not.

I remember starting out a new program when I first started at the Y.  It was a Jr High club we had never had one before so we were breaking new ground.  We had gone out to the Jr. High and handed out fliers hung out at lunch time and even spoke to a few classes, we had high hopes for this program.  The night of first meeting we had two kids show up.  There was more staff than there were participants.  At the end of the meeting one of the kids asked so are you going to cancel it?  Our answer was “we’ll be here next week whether there is one of you or ten, we’re going to make this work”  The next week there were 4 the next week more it eventually grew to over 60 kids in the program.  Had we given up that first week or even in the following weeks when the number dropped below what they were the week before we would never had seen the success that we did.  I attribute the success of that early program to consistency, we were there every week and we ran the program we said we were going to run.

What about you?  Are you consistent?  What is it that you started but have lost interest in?  Maybe you started strong but you got bored and you’re not pursuing that idea as consistently as you were before.  Don’t give up. Be consistent.  Did you miss a week pick up where you left off and start again.  Determine today to do the next small thing that needs to be done, push on towards success.  Sometimes its just the small things that matter that make the difference.  Are you trying to learn a new skill, construct something, create a new product?  Well don’t stop now, being consistent will help you develop habits of success.  Following though and seeing something through to completion is a good trait.  When you see something that you made work, see it sold, or see someone else use it, it brings new hope and excitement that can only come from finishing what you started.  But that takes consistency, pressing through the failures on to the successes.  For me consistency was good when I first started out and it’s good for me now and it will be good for you too.

Until next week.

Tim

What are you missing?

Ever feel like you are in a rut.  Like your creativity has run dry?  Maybe you need to do something different to stir your creativity.  Your problem is you just don’t have the time to add something else to your calendar?  Well maybe you just need to add something.  Something that is going to help you look at your problem from a different angle from a different perspective.

I find that I think best or am at my most creative when I encounter the unexpected, and if I’m stuck in a rut then I don’t often encounter the unexpected.  Case in point, this past Saturday we were invited to my nephews recital.  We’ve been to many recitals of his and normally the students are playing the same songs just at different levels.  They are studying the Suzuki method of piano which focuses mostly on repetition, so most of their recitals are very similar in nature and sound.

So as we were trying to figure who was going to go, our oldest two decided to stay home (they had work to catch up on)  but one of their arguments was “it’s always the same songs”.  Now granted they were right, but this was in a new location, so I even thought it was just more of the same but bigger.  Well I was in for a surprise.  The recital was being held at the nearby college in one of their music halls!  Fair enough, but upon arrival I found out that it wasn’t a normal recital at all but a state wide “honors recital” that he had to try out for and be judged in order to participate.

That was just the beginning, not only was it being held in a college music hall, (with a pipe organ) they weren’t even playing the same songs I was used to.  This threw my mind for a loop but it was a creative one.  Had they been playing the regular recital fair of music my mind would have gone into evaluation mode.  Determining who was on or off beat, who was playing in the right rhythm, who messed up when, etc.  But because they were playing different songs my mind had a chance to relax and think about other stuff.  I actually came up with some good ideas for our summer camp that I sent to myself in an e-mail so I wouldn’t forget.  All in all it was a nice afternoon, I was entertained by some wonderfully played and sung music and I got some new ideas to boot.

So what are you missing out on?  My daughter missed out (grant it she did have work to do) but she missed a great little recital it even included a song from Les Miserables her favorite play!  But more importantly she missed out on opening her mind to a more creative opportunity.  I’m not saying you need to do everything that comes across your path because sometimes NO is a legitimate response.  Just be selective and look a little deeper into what is happening then choose wisely, you never know your next great idea could come in the middle of a concert hall on a prestigious college campus while listening to a six year old sing “Castle in the Clouds”.

Until next week

Tim

 

What’s the next piece?

If you are like me I have a tendency to plan every thing out in advance, then back my way into something.  Before I can do this I need that, or I can’t do that because I need ____ first.  Sometimes God doesn’t tell us what the next step is we just have to move forward with what we know and trust him to bring us what we need when we need it.

Creativity can be the same way, but I always want to see the finished product first I want to know what I’m doing.  But sometimes I just need to start writing or painting or doodling, to get the juices flowing.  So what’s holding you up, do you have writers block, painters block, don’t know what to make next?  Here’s a few tips on what I do.

  1.   Listen to something you don’t normally listen to.  A different type of music, a different speaker, and different radio channel.
  2.   Try something different, eat a different meal, drive a different way to work or school, read a different book.
  3.   Whatever you are making try it in a different color write with a different pen, paint with blue instead of red, yellow instead of green.
  4.   Walk away.  Put it down and go do something else and then come back and look at it with fresh eyes.
  5.   Explore, check out what others are doing, see what’s working for others.  Don’t plagiarize but use them as a spring board for your own creativity.

That’s just a few tips to help you get moving the next step will come, that next idea, next product or next great thing.  Just explore and trust it will be there when you need it.

Until next week

Tim

Experimented Lately?

experiment1

When was the last time you experimented with something?  Or tried something new that you haven’t done before?  I tend to be experimental by nature at least when it comes to cooking.  I’ll mix this with that to see what it tastes like, or try this recipe just because sometimes it turns out good like the chili I made recently wasn’t too bad, but sometimes it doesn’t taste or turn out quite like I expected like the pomegranate bars I made one time thinking that pomegranates are similar to citrus fruit so should be a problem right?  Not sure how something that is red turns out green when it’s baked, but ether way they didn’t taste bad but they looked horrible and non-appetizing for sure.

Well about two years ago I tried making an item for my brother in law that we thought would be a good selling item.  The design process was simple enough, I contacted someone who does 3-D printing threw the concept at him and we e-mailed back and forth until we thought we had a solution.  So instead of direct printing the item we decided to go with a silicon mold which I could use to make molded parts that would float (it was a pool item) sounds easy enough.  Then the fun began, I ordered some Styrofoam solution the type where you add type A to type B and pour it into the mold before it starts to expand.  Again sounds easy enough.

Well the mixture didn’t want to cooperate or I didn’t fully understand the concept, there were a lot of variables I didn’t consider, like temperature, humidity, the size of the mold, how well the solutions were mixed together etc.  But it was fun, I kept trying I even ordered a different solution that didn’t expand as much, e-mailed the designer back and forth kept asking questions, to no avail.  After many attempts I finally gave up, then one day while cleaning my garage I was collecting all of the miscellaneous failed parts (I put them in a box for future reference) and putting them away, I also picked up a piece of PVC pipe.

As I held the pipe in my hand I thought why couldn’t I cut this open and use this?  It’s almost the exact diameter needed, I could cut it in to smaller parts it would be easy and cheaper and way more efficient than pouring individual molds.  Well it worked, much to my surprise I can’t believe the solution was so simple…and right before my eyes!  We never sold the product (not yet) there wasn’t as big of a need for it as originally supposed.  But I learned a lot in the process and had fun experimenting.

So what about you?  When was the last time you exercised your creativity, explored new things, experimented with a new material or product or tool.  Whether it turns out right or you end up with a bunch of failed floaty things like me sometimes it’s the process not the product that matters.

Until next week.

Tim

« Older Entries