Preparing, But First

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The closer we get to the new year, the more excited I get about picking up some natural momentum. But first things first.

If I want to prepare myself for a great 2020, I first have to pause and evaluate 2019. Last December I wrote a post (you can read it here) that, at the time, I had no idea how beneficial it would be for me.

In it, I outline a way to evaluate the previous year and prepare for the next. I wrote the post, then created a companion worksheet to go with it. I took some time to actually work through the worksheet, and it opened my eyes to some changes I wanted to make, and it really did set me up for an incredible 2019.

I’m not trying to skip Christmas, as I think it’s an incredible season and time of year, but the underlying message of Christmas is the new beginning. It was a new beginning for Joseph and Mary. It was a new beginning for the Shepherds. It was a new beginning for Israel. And each year, Christmas reminds us of the new beginning and new life we have in Christ.

But what are you doing to prepare yourself for 2020? Do you remember your biggest takeaway from 2018? What was a goal you achieved? What was something you accomplished? What if you had a way to make sure in 12 months from today you have a way to answer the same question about 2019?

Next week I am going to spend some time evaluating my 2019–a year of changes, seen and unforeseen. And, if you’re subscribed to get the 3QL blogs in your inbox, I’m going to be sending you the end of year worksheet. So be sure to subscribe, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

The Horizon of Possibility Revisited

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Over the Thanksgiving break I was reminded of something: many of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in my life have been in the Texas Panhandle. Growing up just off the Rolling Plains, I spent many evenings on a tractor watching the sunset. To this day, few things speak to me like the colors that pop on the horizon as the sun goes down.

Over the past week, I’ve been reminded of one of my favorite concepts–the horizon of possibility (I’ve written about it here and here). The horizon of possibility boils down to simply being able to look at a situation (or person), and see what could be.

My family has had a rough past four weeks (I may write about that next week or so), and over time I allowed myself to get a little discouraged about some things. I value routine, so when my routine is upset, I feel it.

Thankfully, there’s always a horizon in front of us. Regardless of where we are coming from, there is always more ahead. The sunsets every where I have lived. I may not always see it or notice, but it is a constant.

There is always potential in front of us. Let me challenge you today to find the positive possibilities in what lies ahead. Focus on the good that could be, and work to make it happen.

Are you looking for a way to evaluate your 2019 and prepare for 2020? I will be sending out a simple evaluation tool next week to email subscribers designed to help you win, so be sure to subscribe and get 3QL in your inbox so you don’t miss it!

Mastering the Ask, pt 2

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Yesterday I posed a question: Is it better to recruit anyone for a specific position, or a specific person for any position. You can read it here if you missed it. If you didn’t comment, go ahead give me your thoughts.

The more I think about this balance, the more I think it creeps into the realm of “Human Resources”, but still leadership. But, for the time, here are my thoughts in terms of the three people I ask to join the team.

  1. A person who is willing to meet a specific need. I may not have much of a relationship with this person, but either they showed an interest or I saw something in passing and thought they would be someone who might want to join the team. Making decisions off of glimpses can be dangerous, but I’ve learned over time that I can usually get a good sense of someone initially, and then as I get to know them, I can put the pieces together (like not letting someone’s character surprise me). Also, in this category, are people who have said “I’d love to help do ________”. With these people, the task determines the answer. If it’s something they want to do, they say yes.
  2. A person who is willing to help with whatever. These are the Swiss Army knives of team members. Their heart is more about setting up the ministry/organization to win than meeting a single need. They are willing to do whatever is asked. The challenge here is avoiding burnout and helping them find a good balance. I had an adult at my former church who modeled this incredibly. If I needed someone to go on a trip with me, he would go. Someone to teach a lesson? He would do it. Help me plan an event? He was there. Lead a small group? He hit it out of the park. He was invested in the ministry and wanted it to grow. With these people, the question determines the answer. In other words, if I ask, they say yes. Again, being aware and looking to find balance for them is key.
  3. A person I want on the team. There are some people that I think, to use the language of Jim Collins, I just want on the bus. They may not be motivated by the task or the ask, but at the end of the day, because of my relationship with them, I know that I’m a sharper leader because of them. With these people I’m willing to say, let’s create a spot for you to serve where we are fulfilling your gifts. Their skill set may be different from mine (perfect!), or it may compliment mine. Either way, they make the room better. The downside: the invitation is even more critical. Because they’re not being asked to accomplish a clear task, and they may not be invested in the overall success like the second group, casting a clear picture is a little more difficult. At the end of the day, however, being honest (and sensitive to where they are personally) makes all the difference. And a little bit of salesmanship.

Let me be clear about something: I don’t have all the answers. In six months I may re-read this post and delete it. But, at the moment, this is how I strike the balance between asking anyone to accomplish a specific task or asking a specific person to accomplish any task.

So, one more time: what are your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Am I missing something? I’d love to hear from you!

Mastering the Ask

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I’ve said for years that I have an uncanny ability to see both sides of an argument. Most of the time, I can argue either side, and often, because of that, I have a difficult time landing on one or the other.

Today, I want to hear from you.

As a leader, part of our job is to bring people on board. But in order to bring people on board, we have to learn to cast vision and master the “ask” (the ability to ask someone to join your team). Some people are incredible at this, while the rest of us seem to merely tread water.

When you’re trying to recruit someone to join your team, do you give them a specific position or need you’re looking to meet and let them weed themselves out if they don’t match, or do you cast a broad net with the idea that you can tailor a position to them?

I have some thoughts, but I’ll share those tomorrow. For now, comment! You can comment on the blog itself, or on whatever social platform you access this from, but I’m genuinely curious to hear your responses!

Also, if you haven’t already, click here to subscribe and get 3QL posts in your inbox the day they post!

Enthusiastic Willingness

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I find myself in a consistent battle. I try not to rock the boat most of the time, so I scrutinize my actions very regularly. I don’t like to make big movements because I prefer to go unnoticed when possible. Now, this isn’t always possible, and I’m completely willing and able to step up when the need arises.

One major downside to my approach is I tend to hold my emotions in, especially excitement.

So, recently, I heard a statement that got me thinking about myself and about leadership implications. In a conversation about a group of people stepping up to meet a need, someone said “Most of them seem to be enthusiastic, and if not enthusiastic, at least willing.”

Immediately, I had two thoughts. First, I am almost always willing. If someone asks me to do something, I actually have a difficult time saying no, so I usually say yes. I’m willing to do what I can. I fancy myself a jack of all trades, so if I’m able to help, I try to make a point to do so.

Second, I paused for a moment to consider if I’m ever enthusiastic about things that I do. Again, this is a shortcoming of mine. I tend to try to keep a steady level, so I’m not a great “hype” guy. Now, I will admit there are things I do that get me excited, and I prepare as if I’m excited.

But do I ever show enthusiasm? Not manufactured enthusiasm, but real and genuine enthusiasm?

Let’s take this one step further. Would you rather follow a leader who is willing, or who is enthusiastic? The answer is easy, right? Enthusiasm brings energy. Enthusiasm brings excitement. Enthusiasm makes a difference.

What about you? How are you at showing enthusiasm? Not a showy enthusiasm, but do you let your genuine excitement motivate those around you to make a difference?

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