Monthly Archives: September 2013


There’s a lot of buzz out there about hashtags. You might even say hashtags are a trending topic. Some of you may have no idea what a “hashtag” is. It is a bit of a difficult concept to explain, but basically a hashtag is a way of labeling your social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). For example, let’s imagine you are attending a conference and you want to connect with others who are at the conference. You could “tag” your posts with a hashtag (using the # symbol) that lets other users find it. Still confused? Click here).  In recent days, the hashtag has lost much of its usefulness, and has become a convenient and distracting and often annoying way to add a punchline to your posts.

I recently read an article on the history of the hashtag (#don’tjudgeme). One thing that struck me as fascinating was that the original creators of the hashtag had good intentions. On paper, hashtags serve a fairly useful purpose. Over time, when control is given to the masses, hashtags degenerate to the “lowest common denominator” usage, and lose much (if not all) of their appeal.

As leaders, this can be a lesson for us. In leadership, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be culture shapers of our organizations. Whether we choose to utilize strong handed leadership, and control as much of our organizational culture as we can, or whether we choose “laissez-fire” style of leadership and allow others to have a hand in culture shaping, we face consequences. The story of the hashtag illustrates that when culture shaping is left to chance, the results are almost never desirable. As leaders, we need to be intentional (regardless of our strategy) about making choices that steer the culture in healthy and productive ways.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


Vision + Passion = Success

One of Michelangelo’s best works, and perhaps one of the world’s most famous statues, is the statue of David that stands in Florence, Italy. Notably, it almost never came into being.

The piece was originally commissioned as a series of sculptures of Old Testament characters to decorate a cathedral in Florence. Another artist was chosen and given a huge chunk of marble to work with. He began to work, carving out some legs, and then was removed from the project. The piece of marble was given to anther artist, who never began work on it. It sat untouched for 25 years.

Finally, a 26 year old up and coming artist was given the unwieldy piece of marble. Within one month, he began carving.

When you think about it, that took a lot of guts. Here was a huge, incredibly costly piece of marble, and Michelangelo started carving on it right away. He apparently wasn’t worried about making a mistake that would have ruined his career before it even started.

What made the difference? Why was Michelangelo able to be successful with this odd piece of marble when no one else had? Two things: He had vision, and he had the passion to see it come to reality. Michelangelo has famously said this about the way he approached sculpting:

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

As an artist, he begins with a clear vision. More than that, though, he had passion to see it become a reality. His vision was compelling enough that he threw himself into it. In the month between the time he was chosen and the time he started working, he made numerous sketches and small wax sculptures in preparation for the real thing. That demonstrates that he was not just an “inspired genius” but that he was passionate about his preparation as well as his execution.

Having a strong vision is important. But equally important is having the passion to see your vision come to reality. Knowing what you need to do to get from vision to reality is key.

What are you working on? What preparation steps do you need to throw yourself into?

What needs to happen now for your vision of the future to become a reality?

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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


Bright Spots

I recently re-read a book by the Heath brothers, Dan and Chip. If you haven’t read anything by them, you should. It’s high quality, easy reading.

In their book Switch, they talk about how to make changes. I’ve been rethinking one of the key ideas from that book, what they call Bright Spots.

The basic idea is this: When people are interested in making changes to their organization or to a certain process or to their life, they tend to focus on what is not working. Everyone’s natural inclination is to look at the problem areas and try to change those.

Instead, the Heath brothers argue, focus on bright spots. Find out where things are working well, and then seek to understand why they are working well.

Andy Stanley argues something similar. He says that if something you are doing is successful, you need to take time to evaluate it so you understand why. If we don’t understand why we have momentum, he says, we’ll quickly lose it.

For many of us, this is a paradigm shift. It is easy to see problems and rush to address them. It takes more discipline (and better leadership) to be able to look at bright spots and find ways to replicate them.

Where are your bright spots?

What is something you are doing well? Why is it working?

How can you multiply the success you have into other areas that are less successful?

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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


When Are Leaders At Their Best?

The question above is posed by Bill Hybels in his book Courageous Leadership. If you haven’t ever read it, you should.

Hybels answers the question in a way that might surprise you. His answer is:

Leaders are at their best when they are developing other leaders.

He raises the point that “only leaders can develop other leaders…Teachers can’t do it. Administrators can’t do it. Mercy-gifted folks can’t do it. Only leaders can multiply the leadership impact by raising up additional leaders.”

So if you’ve been gifted as a leader, you have not only your God-given gifts, but you have someone in your past who spotted your potential and gave you opportunities or encouragement towards developing your gifting.

As leaders, each of us needs to be pursuing others who are future leaders. Hybels describes three steps:

  1. Identifying emerging leaders
  2. Investing in the development of emerging leaders
  3. Entrusting responsibility to emerging leaders (read what John Maxwell says about this step here)

It is the same steps Jesus modeled with the disciples, as he identified, trained, and finally deployed them to change the world.

So, the question now is: Are you at your best? 

Who in your sphere of influence needs to be invested in?

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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


People vs. Productivity

We have spoken a great deal on this forum about productivity. Certainly, it is a critical quality for success. Leadership, however, often demands that priorities are shifted.

I’ve (re)learned this lesson a few times lately. At the end of the day, people trump productivity. There will always be moments when you have the choice between serving people and serving tasks. And the choice should be automatic.

In the Gospels, Jesus always takes time for people. There’s a book whose very title captures this idea. Playing off the fact that Jesus walked everywhere he went, the book is called The Three Mile An Hour God.

If God sees fit to “interrupt” our schedules with people, who are we to cast them aside in order to serve the god of productivity?

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Uncategorized