Get More From of a Phone Call

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Have you ever done Amway? Or something similar?

Years ago, when my wife and I were fresh out of college with a baby in diapers, we found ourselves in a group of people selling Amway (or the North American branch). The experience was what you would expect. We had no problems with any of it, but after a while decided it wasn’t for us.

I will never forget, however, one of the meetings. It was in a hotel conference room, and we were listening to a guy give a speech to encourage and recruit. One of the things he said was profoundly simple, yet incredibly powerful.

When you call someone to have what could be a significant conversation (let’s say 2 minutes or more), first ask if they have time.

Asking such a question may seem counter-intuitive, but here’s my experience employing that simple concept over the past almost 10 years: it works. It communicates I want to respect how someone else uses their time. It gives the other person a chance to say “Let me call you back in 5 minutes after I finish my current task” or “I’m busy at the moment, but you can call me back in 30 minutes.”

But most importantly, it allows the other person to be fully engaged with our conversation.

Over the years, I have found the times where I take for granted someone is free to talk and skip past the question, are usually the times  when I get cut off in mid sentence and they ask to call me back in a little while.

So, for the rest of this week, when you make a phone call, I want you to start by asking the other person: do you have time to talk? See what happens. Be okay if they’re busy at the moment, the engagement you’ll get back when you finally talk will make a difference.

And at the very least, you will communicate a respect for the other person’s time, and we all win when we show respect.

Have Some Fun

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Today’s thought is extra short, but also timely: have fun.

With March Madness kicking off today, I’m looking forward to some basketball. I just spent a few minutes with my youngest, letting her pick games. What exactly does a 6 year old think when picking basketball games? I don’t know, but we will see how she did.

Part of being a healthy leader is finding things you enjoy and embracing them. So, today, have some fun! Get outside. Watch Basketball. Play a card game with your family. Grill. Build. Demolish.

Whatever it means for you, have some fun today.

Then There and Now

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My youngest daughter took her first church trip with me this week. We decided she was old enough to handle the schedule, so we brought her along.

I am certain as I have time to reflect on the trip in the days ahead I will take some time to cherish the memories, but for now the memories are happening.

Today’s thought is a short one: enjoy the moment. Never get too wrapped up in what is coming or what has gone, but find time to embrace what is now.

For me, today, that means making memories with a sleepy, tired, eager 6 year old. And I cannot wait.

Context is Key

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I had to make a pretty major change to our summer calendar this week. It was something I never really considered until I had to give it some serious thought, and we pulled the trigger.

As I thought about the leadership principle that drove the decision, I realized the decision itself is not something that applies to most leaders, and really probably doesn’t apply to most churches. But, there’s a larger principle that luckily provides a thought for the day: Context is key.

What works in Bronte may not work in the next town over. We have a unique culture. We are different from other communities, but other communities are unique and different as well.

Part of your role as a leader is to understand the context and culture where you are leading. What things are sacred cows in your community? What things are highly valued? What quirks exist?

Think of it like this: if you and I were to sit down for coffee and talk about your leadership journey, what would you feel like needs an explanation? What aspect of your surrounding might seem strange to me?

So, take some time today and evaluate the context where you are leading. If you serve a church, what barrier are you bumping up against that is a result of context and culture? If you lead outside the church, what obstacle are you facing today because of the unique context around you?

I am not saying that we have to accept the context around us as being unchangeable, but sometimes accepting reality is the first step to making a change.

Communicating Expectations Well

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One of the things I have most enjoyed about blogging over the past year has been the lessons I have learned and processed through my writing. Almost a year ago, I broke an unwritten rule I have about not writing about an idea or topic that recently took place when I wrote about communicating expectations.

The truth is, that post came directly out of a lesson I learned while on our annual Spring Break trip. You can click the link above to read the full post, but the short version was I got frustrated because my adult leaders were not following the schedule I had worked up, but I had never given them a copy of the schedule. So, in reality, I was frustrated with myself, not with the incredible team of volunteers who serve in the youth ministry.

As I am spending this week getting ready for the same trip, I am keeping in the forefront of my mind: communicate expectations well.

I believe this is a foundational leadership principle for my personal journey. If those who serve with me do not know what I expect, how can I realistically hold them to those expectations?

Plus, I can be a rather intense person, so learning to write down and communicate those expectations helps me manage them to a more realistic level. In other words, my unspoken expectations are often unrealistic expectations.

So, I have two questions for you today.

  1. Do you struggle with communicating expectations? If I was to ask the people you lead what you expected of them, would their answer line up with your answer?
  2. On a grander scale, what leadership lesson have you learned in the last year and what changes are you making as a result?

Just a side note to finish today: this is why I am so passionate about teaching the 3 questions to student leaders. I can teach a simple concept, and we are then on the same page moving forward!