Crumbs From Catalyst 2011: #3

Dave Ramsey has parlayed his no-nonsense demeanor, his openness and honesty regarding his life mistakes, his business savvy and a rock-solid approach to money management into a media dynasty. He is a best-selling author (Total Money Makeover , EntreLeadership), a radio host and has been a cable TV fixture on Fox. His Financial Peace University, offered primarily as a ministry outreach through churches, has transformed the lives of thousands of people. His enterprise/ministry/business, whatever you would like to call it, has been voted one of the best places to work multiple times.

Dave is very overt in his faith and has been a regular at Catalyst and other conferences in recent years. I love him because he does not mince words.  He says the things that need to be said. His session focused on his hiring practices and dovetailed quite nicely with what Jim Collins had shared.

He shared some important points:

1. In order to be present, you’ve got to understand that people matter.

  • The #1 correlation between your success and failure is your relational IQ.
  • When you’re having an interaction with someone, listen for their story.

2. An incredible team and a culture of excellence matters.

  • If we’re not careful, we’ll be surrounded by people who need more help that they can give.
  • You can’t win the Kentucky Derby if you’ve got a donkey.
  • When you put someone in the wrong seat on a bus, the whole organization suffers.
  • Spend time on the staffing/interview process.
  • Don’t intentionally bring ‘crazy’ into the building.

3. Slow and steady matters.

  • Don’t let your ministry, workplace, and life go faster than your resources.
  • When you’re growing faster than you’ve got money, you’re about to have problems.

4. Financial principles matter.

  • Stay out of debt
  • Save.
  • Have a plan.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Learn to be generous.

5. A higher calling matters.

  • Do your work as unto the Lord.
  • Opportunity will be attracted to excellence. Bloom where you’re planted and opportunities will find you. Don’t spend all your time seeking other opportunities.

Care about the “why” not just the “what.”

The “why” is the most important part. Readdress your higher calling each and every day.

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Crumbs from Catalyst 2011: #2

One of the interesting aspects of the Catalyst conferences, setting them apart from some of the other conferences that we church folk commonly attend, is the fact that they invite leaders from the business sector and other disciplines outside of the church to come and share. This year, one of the speakers was Jim Collins. Collins is a former Stanford faculty member who has done years and years of empirical research in the business realm. He is also a best-selling author. One of his most notable books is Good To Great.

Recently, Collins released his latest book entitled Great By Choice. His session revolved around the research he did for this book. I was so impressed by the session, I bought the book myself. I will share the crusty crumbs and then offer my comments:

Good is the enemy of great.

  • The central idea from his Good To Great book. The idea is that successful businesses/churches/organizations don’t settle for good. They strive for great. Those that settle for good enough sacrifice greatness.

Why do some thrive in the face of uncertainty and others do not?

  • The theme of Great By Choice.

Life is people. Change the what question into a who question. You need to get the right people on the bus, in the right seats, headed in the right direction.

  • Successful people and organizations realize that life is not about certain practices, philosophies or products. Life is people. Great people make great organizations. Many times success or failure is not a what issue, it’s a who issue. Discovering the right people and making sure they are in the right positions is very important.

Leadership is not about personalities it is about humility.

  • Collins’ research reveals that the great, successful leaders have a keen awareness of their own humanity and that of those with whom they work. They approach things with humility.

Hubris leads to downfall.

  • Hubris = Excessive pride or self-confidence
  • Correlating to the aforementioned need for humility, the landscape is littered with leaders who were too prideful, too full of themselves to make the decisions necessary for success.

Fanatic discipline. 20 mile marchers succeed.

  • Okay, you will have to trust me on this one. One of the examples in Collins’ book is the story of two adventurers and their race to the South Pole. I don’t want to ruin the story, but one made it, winning the race. The other not only lost the race, but he and all his party died in the process. The winning team was very disciplined in planning and in process. He chose to advance 20 miles per day, good conditions or bad. Stay focused.

Empirical creativity. Practical approaches. What actually works. Be willing to live with the Eskimos.

  • Related to the adventure story. The winning adventurer didn’t place his faith in technology or cutting edge equipment. Instead, he chose to spend time with the Eskimos, learning the timeless practices necessary to survive the harsh climate.

Fire bullets then fire cannon balls.

  • That’s what you do in an uncertain environment. Test.  Imagine you fire all your cannon balls and miss a moving target. Instead, fire the bullets – listen for the “ping” – look where you hit. Then, break out the cannon balls.

Productive paranoia. Channel your anxiety into productivity. The only mistakes that you learn from are the ones you survive.

  • Be prepared for what you can’t predict. Always ask, what if? But don’t just get scared by it – channel the anxiety into action.

The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.

  • Hard to disagree with that, huh?

Change practices, not values.

  • True dat, homie! I am living this right now. This is the opposite of the too oft used, “But we have always done it that way!”

Jim Collins’ Ten Point To Do List
1- Run the good to great diagnostic on your organization. A free tool.
2- Answer the question of how many seats are on your bus and how can they be filled with the right people.
3- Who will you allow to mentor you? Personal board of directors.
4- Get your hedgehogs right before it’s too late. Passion, DNA for it, making a contribution to others.

  • What are you passionate about? What can you be the best at? What can actually make you a living? And the answer must meet all three criteria.
  • Collins calls this the “Hedgehog” concept, doing one thing and doing it well. In his book Good to Great, he uses the parable of the clever, devious fox and the simple hedgehog. The fox keeps coming up with new ideas to eat the hedgehog, but the hedgehog handily defeats him by doing his one trick: rolling into a thorny ball.

5- Set your 20 mile march.
6- Try 6 new things before year’s end. Fire bullets. Then cannon balls.
7- Turn off gadgets for at least 2 days every two weeks.

  • Unplug. Get away from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Focus your mind.

8- True disciplined action is not in what we do, but what we are willing not to do.
9- Double your reach to people half your age, by changing your practices not values.
10- Set your BHAGS (big hairy audacious goals) that make you useful.

Forget survival and success, be useful.

Allow discipline to amplify creativity without quenching it.

Be rigorous without being ruthless. Get people to the right seats.

What do you think? Share your comments.

Crumbs from Catalyst 2011: #1

I sure am a sorry excuse for a blogger.

Since assuming the position of campus pastor of the Glenwood Campus of Indian Springs Baptist, I have spent the last 4 months in a constant state of hustle. We have been renovating our facilities on a grand scale, recruiting volunteers, filling positions, all while continuing to visit, preach and teach. I am constantly trading one hat for another: contractor, janitor, pastor, husband, father, radio personality, etc. No excuses though. I am having a ball riding this wave on which God has placed me.

I miss blogging. I will do better.

In an effort to get back into the swing of things, I would like to share some of the nuggets I was able to take away from my very first Catalyst Conference in Atlanta last week. If you are a leader in your church or business or any organization for that matter, I would recommend that you make it to a Catalyst event if you can ever work it out. I describe it as a thirsty man having an opportunity to be refreshed by a cool drink of water… only thing is, the dispenser is a fire hydrant. I will be processing information for weeks. However, I am convinced that the responsible thing to do for folks who desire to disciple others (a command for all Christ-followers) is to share good information when we become aware of it.

So today I would like to share a few crumbs from the very first session with Andy Stanley. The theme of the whole conference was “Be Present.” Each speaker spun the theme a different way depending upon their own context and what they brought to the table. Andy’s, of course, related to his role as pastor of Northpoint Community Church one of the largest, fastest growing churches in the Atlanta area in recent years. I will share the thought and then make my comments:
The more successful you are the less accessible you will become.

  • Although I can’t claim vast amounts of success for myself (nor would I ever), as I have transitioned into a new role, I can certainly see where Andy’s coming from. As your church/ministry/business grows, your time and accessibility will naturally be challenging to balance. It is impossible to think you can be totally available to every person and every need that arises. That leaves one of two choices. Many choose to become a recluse. They insulate themselves with layers ministerial staff / department heads / administrative assistants, depending on the context, and say, “If I can’t do it for everyone, then it’s not fair that I do it for anyone.”

Fairness ended in the garden of Eden. Don’t be fair, be engaged.

  • Don’t hide behind excuses. There are ways to be engaged. Do what you can for who you can. Be present for people when presence is at all possible.

You can’t shut it all out, but you can’t take it all on. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

  • While it is impossible and dangerous to attempt to meet EVERY need, you cannot shut it all out. Make room for at least one person or situation at a time in which you can invest yourself– your time, your energy, your presence. Andy gave an example of a long-term “project” he took on with a lady who struggled with many facets of life. It was painful. It was stressful. It made him want to scream sometimes. But after many years that person became a resource for others in similar circumstances. The investment by Andy and his staff/family in one “project person” paid dividends in the long run with MANY OTHER PEOPLE.

Go deep, rather than wide. Go long-term rather than short-term. Go time, not just money.

  • Many times, when we choose to engage, we tend toward the lowest, easiest levels of engagement. You may as well go big or go home! Why waste time not doing a thing the right way? Even though it is easier to throw money at things rather than time, the real progress is made when the investment is genuine.

When you do for one what you wish you could do for everyone, you often end up doing far more than just one.

  • True discipleship means that those we disciple multiply themselves. So the time we take with people often results in multitudes of others who become part of the harvest of fruit. After all, we are to bear much fruit.

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

More crumbs to come. Stay tuned.