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That’s usually how I think about my life. I have a nice long task list. Each day I take it out (on my phone through an app called “Asana”) and think about the priorities I have. I push forward and try to finish a few things each day.
Then, there’s people. I do a lot of 1 on 1’s. And I’m in a lot of meetings. I enjoy most of the meetings I’m in, even the ones with difficult conversations, because I know that people are more important than tasks.
But most of all is the vision. I once heard a respected leader say, “No task is more important than a person. And no person is more important than the vision.” The outworking of the quote is this: you shouldn’t get your undies in a bundle if a task is screwed up. You should take steps to prevent it from happening again. You should offer support and accountability. You should hold people to the responsibilities they’ve agreed to. At the same time, if someone is consistently under-performing in an area, you have to have the courage to realize that they’re like of achievement might be costing the realization of the vision. There comes a time when leadership has to be responsible to reorganize the people so that the vision can be realized.
I like to consider myself a visionary type of person, so it’s encouraging to know that the amount of time I spend obsessing over the vision of our work and the culture we’re living out through isn’t going to waste. That being said, I recently realized that I have another step to take personally. As I’ve reviewed the last few months, I’ve realized that one person who has consistently under-performed in the coffee shop and church is me. I’m not angry. I’m not depressed. But I am more committed to the vision than I am to the title of lead pastor and coffee shop owner. It’s more important for me to see the vision of helping people smell, become and spread the Aroma being realized.
As such, I’ve decided to get to the reorganizing. Over the next few months, I’ll be transitioning my role in leadership, making space for excellence to rise up and move forward in the vision and mission of Aroma.
So, what are you going to do about it? Where is your focus? Is your head in the tasks? Can you pull back to focus on people? Are you capable of carrying a vision that transcends even a person. Are you willing to fire even yourself if it comes to that?
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I learn new words all the time. I’m living in a country that speaks arguably #1 of the 10 hardest languages in the world to learn. I often ask people to speak like they’re five when I interpret for them, because I assume I’ll at least know the majority of the words they’re using.
So today I’m throwing a new one out there: “vulnerhopability.”
You might want to ask, “Why?” Because I want to solve a pendulum-swinging problem that has plagued generations.
A few decades ago, everyone needed to be strong and present an err of perfection and ability to complete whatever task was at hand. These people believed it. They figured out that they could solve a lot of problems with hard work and determination. They had a grasp on technological and scientific advancements. The world seemed like a great place. These people knew there were problems, but wanted to focus on the good that was coming to the ignorance of the reality they were facing. They called this “hope.”
And then we started dropping atom bombs on each other and realized that maybe everything wasn’t going to be perfect. We started to take a jaded look at the world and believed the lie that we were the result of a billion-kadrillion (maybe I’ll blog on this word next) years of evolution. Without anything to look forward to, we lost our sense of significance and went deep into a darkness that caused us to lose any sense of forward motion. We got desperate and depressed. We didn’t want to be fake and pretend nothing was wrong. We called this “being vulnerable.”
Swinging to either one of these generational problems results in an ugly world. If we’re all ignorantly wishing that the world would be nice, we’re in for a rough surprise. Conversely, if all want to do is lay around an apply another layer of black lipstick, I’m afraid our addictions are only going to get worse.
The answer? “Vulnerhopeability.” We need to be vulnerable. We have made mistakes. The world isn’t perfect. There’s a real problem we’re facing. But we also need to be hopeful. We’re not cosmic accidents. We’ve been created for a destiny, which can and will shape our direction and our doings. Life can get better. But it won’t without our commitment to simultaneously remaining vulnerable and hopeful.
What problem are you facing? Be honest.
How can the situation change? Be hopeful.
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Are you a mover and a shaker? You might be limiting yourself by this one habit. Are you about tasks or responsibilities? I love, love, love my task list. I also get really excited about giving others tasks and watching the tasks get finished. I have a sense of accomplishment. This busyness feels good, but limits greatly the capacity of my organization.
The problem is that tasks require a low level of ownership and overall knowledge of the vision. I can tell you to clean the toilet and I’m sure you’ll get it clean. But, then you’ll spend your time waiting to clean it until I tell you it’s time. However, if I shift my thinking from “tasks” to “responsibilities,” I can help you take ownership over the cleanliness of our bathroom. You’ll be happier because you get to choose your own schedule for when it gets done. You’ll also get the pride of knowing that squeaky clean seat is yours. But, at first, you might fail, which means I need to be prepared to give you space to fail. Your failure is your learning experience and opportunity to grow. In the end, you’ll be a better person, the job will get done better, and I’ll have less anxiety around whether or not all my little tasks are being handled correctly and on time.
Instead, one format for developing people is the leadership square (first noted in Breen’s work on Discipling Culture). Following this training practice, there are four steps:
- I do, you watch.
- I do, you help.
- You do, I help.
- You do, I watch.
In this four-step process, I provide ample opportunity for you to grow in a safe environment, but I gradually turn up the heat so that you can experience what it feels like to actually take responsibility for outcomes. Go ahead and shake things up by releasing some responsibility and giving someone space to come through!
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I recently finished reading a book called One Thing, by Keller and Papasan. Essentially, the authors assert that answering well one question can change the entire focus and scope of our personal lives and careers. The one question is: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” A better summary can be found here. This book has gotten me thinking about my ONE Thing.
I have a favorite song from Bethel entitled, “You are my One Thing.”
I went on a run and listened to a sermon that talked about the importance of prayer.
I remember David’s request in Psalm 27:4. He wanted “one thing.”
It seems every thing has been pointing to one thing. Answering this question is life-changing. But there are few who are willing to do this and I’m not sure I’m one of them. I’m asking God for the courage to ask and answer these questions; to do something about them.