vision

Why I LOVE Re-Looking New iOS Features

Be honest with me; there’s something to which you often return. You find yourself indulging in something and imagining how great it’s going to be. For me recently, it’s been the new features page of iOS 11 that’s set to launch this fall. This is a fantastic upgrade; it’s going to do a ton for my iPad. I’ll get to do more in-depth multi-tasking (which productivity gurus tell me isn’t true anyway). The files and dock functions are going to allow me to have a more unified approach to my workflow. It makes me want to leave my Macbook Pro at home more and more often. They’re even getting closer to convincing me to buy the most expensive pencil I’ve ever owned.

All of this is good. But when I found myself typing “apple.com/ios” rather than “asana.com” to begin my actual work for the day, I had to ask myself if I have a problem.

I do indeed have a problem (other than laziness and procrastination). This problem is called “desire.” And as Lewis notes, it’s a hat tipped to a bigger something we are all acutely aware of even if merely in our subconscious: There’s more. Lewis penned this phrase:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Excuse me for being crude or overly simplistic, but this urge to scroll endlessly through announcements about keyboards and multi-tasking might be indicative of something bigger. Perhaps, it’s alluding to our other-worldly, cosmic desires. I submit that our desires tell us something about who we are and even more about who we are to become.

The key here is vision. I’ve wasted more hours than I’d like to admit on software updates. But people and products of vision point me to one key moment: we were meant for more.

The next time you’re tempted to, or look at something that draws you, ask yourself why. Consider that maybe, perhaps, your desire is actually looking for something more than pixels. You’re destined for an update from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Should You Kill Your Most Important Meeting? (We Just Did)

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On June 12th, we started a renewal process at The Aroma. A group comprised of some of the leaders of the coffee shop, church and Envision are coming together for weekly times of prayer and discussion revolving around our intimacy with God, vision, values, teamwork, workflow, and learning and growth moving forward. Much of what I share throughout the coming weeks will be insights gained from this 90 day process.

Every organization has meetings and not everyone is always excited about them. But meetings should be purposeful and effective. ReWork has some great insights on why meetings stink and how to make them better.

For the past year, we’ve tried a new meeting called 30/90. It’s once-a-month chance to get leaders from all three parts of Aroma into the same room to celebrate what God has done the last 30 days and look forward to what God’s going to do the next 90 days. But many people are particularly un-excited about this one. In fact, a group of leaders from the coffee shop, church and Envision spent time talking about the purpose of the 30/90 meeting and whether we are actually fulfilling that purpose or not.

We talked about our personal views, community views and overall aroma views on the usefulness of the meeting and found that 62.5% of us voting believe that it is not useful for us personally, our community elements, or Aroma as a whole. We believe it’s because we aren’t communicating the information or how it relates to each group well. Because of that, people don’t care enough about the information, which means they aren’t actually engaging with it or praying about it during the rest of the month. Additionally, almost 50 hours of labor are spent preparing for and attending the meeting. That’s hugely wasteful!

Instead, we are going to 1) communicate the vision of Aroma, 2) share specific wins and losses, 3) make metrics more available, and 4) create spaces and times for us to pray together.

How about you? What’s something wasteful that’s missed it’s purpose? Can you repurpose it? If not, maybe you should kill it.

10 Onward Resolutions

Cloud was, perhaps subconsciously, looking a place to belong. His time belonging at Aroma started around a table while we practiced English together. It continued at the communion table as Cloud learned to trust in Jesus. He belongs everyday as we work together to minister to the larger community at Aroma through small groups. One day it’s going to culminate at the wedding feast of the lamb in heaven.

I’ve been intrigued by the process one goes through to find a place to belong. More specifically, I’ve been reflecting on thoughts from the book “Onward,” by Howard Shultz.  The CEO’s thoughts on Starbuck’s battles from beginning to 2010 are insightful for organizations seeking to live from passion for a particular stance they take. We can and must create places where people belong. Shultz refers to this as offering people a “third space.”

Here are some “belonging resolutions” I’d love to apply to my personal life, business and ministry moving forward. Each of these resolutions are quotes from the book rewritten in a way I want to personally adopt.

  • Resolved to think and communicate as clearly as the Transformation Agenda (a take from Agile Marketing) did for Starbucks in their highs and lows. Resolved to communicate effectively through self-examination in the pursuit of excellence, and a willingness not to embrace the status quo. Resolved to let this be a cornerstone of my leadership philosophy. Resolved to let communication be narrow, clear and repetitive in order to set expectations and win people’s trust. Resolved to tell a great story by making sensory, emotional connections. People belong when communication is open and honest. We can learn to speak the truth in love.
  • Resolved to believe. “The Beatles believed. And if you believe, you can change anything.” Resolved to let knowledge breed passion. People belong when they have something bigger than themselves worth believing in.
  • Resolved to create an engaging, respectful and trusting workplace culture through a combination of intent, process, and heart that is to be constantly fine-tuned. Resolved to empower team members to give legendary service keeping our culture alive, growing and thriving. Resolved to protect and preserve my core friends and family. Resolved to work together with others, instilling confidence. Resolved to utilize boards of directors to make sure companies are managed well. People belong when they see their leader not just “being a maverick,” but rather working together with other, more experienced leaders while maintaining a stance of intentional vulnerability. People belong when a high-invitation, high challenge culture welcomes them to be safe yet accountable to their best.
  • Resolved to get my hands dirty. People belong when everyone gets involved. There’s a certain camaraderie that comes from being in something together, even if it means both of us are tired. Resolved to “climb the mountain.” Resolved to consider the fact that climbing a mountain is not for everyone, but takes fortitude for the journey, skill to make tough, quick decisions and faith the brand and leadership. Resolved to stay the course, maintaining values and our company’s core. People don’t have a problem with hard work. They have a problem with not understanding how it fits into something bigger God is doing or not understanding how it aligns with their personal passions. People belong when they know the vision.
  • Resolved to strike a balance between heritage and innovation. Resolved to maintain confidence about where I’m headed and to bring people along. People belong when they see the vision even if the exact path might lack clarity. Resolved to instill in the organization excitement about and courage for developing new products. Resolved to try to live up to high expectations by pushing people further than they think they can go, yet not further than I believe they are capable of going.  People belong when they know where they came from but are also willing to embrace change.
  • Resolved to be an icon. Icons make use of the times, assert cultural authority, don’t confuse history with heritage, project and protect their values, disrupt themselves before others disrupt them, sacrifice near-term popularity for long-term influence. People belong when they see something bigger than themselves.
  • Resolved to play to win; not to play not to lose. Resolved to care all the time the way I care some of the time. Resolved to be a person of passion regardless of its affects. Resolved to effectively balance entrepreneurial vision with patience of execution, paying the same degree of attention to the back end of the business that I am hardwired to pay to the front end. Resolved to use everything, even marketing, to shape culture for positive change. People belong when we dream big and go for the goal with precisioned discipline.
  • Resolved to be a fiscally responsible organizational leader; for example, cutting labor costs, not by cutting jobs but by holistically reshaping how and when work gets done within the organization. People belong when they know you want something for them instead of from them.
  • Resolved to ask tough questions. For example, How could we re-create and improve the store experience, which is our heritage and the foundation of the brand’s identity? How might we expand on our value proposition, which has always been about emotional and human connection? How should we strengthen our voice to tell a better story? How could we extend our authority beyond the four walls of a shop or venue? People belong when they get better. They get better through facing the facts but maintaining hope in the future.
  • Resolved to grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get my hands dirty. Listen with empathy and over-communicate with transparency. Tell our story, refusing to let others define us. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to our values, they are our foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how we execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what I see, hear, and do. Believe. People belong when we bring our best to the table and dine with them.

I hope ultimately that my life, family, business, and ministry can be one where people “belong,” not because it’s lackadaisical, but because we all strive together to be and do our best.