Seven Steps to Change Your Culture

A church without values is like a river without banks-just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best.

Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. Think of values not as what we do but rather as what characterizes everything we do.

Is it time to shape a culture change?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing?

In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle goes inside some of the world’s most successful organizations—including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs—and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. Drawing on examples that range from Internet retailer Zappos to the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to a daring gang of jewel thieves, Coyle offers specific strategies that trigger learning, spark collaboration, build trust, and drive positive change. Coyle unearths helpful stories of failure that illustrates what not to do, troubleshoots common pitfalls, and shares advice about reforming a toxic culture. Combining leading-edge science, on-the-ground insights from world-class leaders, and practical ideas for action, The Culture Code offers a roadmap for creating an environment where innovation flourishes, problems get solved, and expectations are exceeded.

Culture is not something you are—it’s something you do. The Culture Code puts the power in your hands. No matter the size of your group or your goal, this book can teach you the principles of cultural chemistry that transform individuals into teams that can accomplish amazing things together.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Whenever successful groups communicate anything about their purpose or their values, it starts with their surroundings. What’s more, the same focus exists within their language. You hear the same catchphrases and mottoes delivered in the same rhythms.

Building purpose is not as simple as carving a mission statement in granite or encouraging everyone to recite from a hymnal of catchphrases. It’s a never-ending process of trying, failing, reflecting, and above all, learning.

High-purpose environments don’t descend on groups from on high; they are dug out of the ground, over and over, as a group navigates its problems together and evolves to meet the challenges of a fast-changing world.

High-purpose environments are filled with small, vivid signals designed to create a link between the present moment and a future ideal. They provide the two simple locations that every navigation process requires: Here is where we are and Here is where we want to go.

Here are a few ideas to help you achieve that.

Name and Rank Your Priorities – In order to move toward a target, you must first have a target. Listing your priorities, which means wrestling with the choices that define your identity, is the first step.

Be Ten Times as Clear About Your Priorities as You Think You Should Be – Leaders are inherently biased to presume that everyone in the group sees things as they do, when in fact they don’t. That is why it’s necessary to drastically overcommunicate priorities.

Figure Out Where Your Group Aims for Proficiency and Where It Aims for Creativity – Skills of proficiency are about doing a task the same way, every single time. Creative skills, on the other hand, are about empowering a group to do the hard work of building something that has never existed before. Most groups consist of a combination of these types; the key is to identify these areas and tailor leadership accordingly.

Embrace the Use of Catchphrases – When you look at successful groups, a lot of their internal language features catchphrases that often sound obvious, rah-rah, or corny. Their clarity, grating to the outsider’s ear, is precisely what helps them function.

Measure What Really Matters – A world cluttered with noise, distractions, and endless alternative purposes is a challenge to building a clear sense of purpose. One solution is to create simple universal measures that place focus on what matters.

Use Artifacts – Successful cultures have environments richly embedded with artifacts that embody their purpose and identity.

Focus on Bar-Setting Behaviors – Successful groups translate abstract ideas like values and mission into concrete terms by spotlighting a single task and using it to define their identity and set the bar for their expectations.

Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code

A NEXT STEP

Write each one of the seven above steps on a separate chart tablet. Set aside time at a future team meeting to discuss and brainstorm the steps as follows.

First, for each one, spend no more than seven minutes for each, asking your team to give examples of each step currently being followed in a positive way.

Next, repeat the exercise, asking your team to give examples where the step is being done poorly or is missing altogether.

Finally, on the second set, choose the top two on each step, and for each, answer this question: “Here is where we want to go?”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 89-2, released April 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

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Boring Meetings? Advance Output Using an Agenda

Meetings are a powerful tool for organizations. Secretly, though, you enjoy those Dilbert comics that feature the pain and frustration of poorly run meetings. It seems as if Scott Adams, the brilliant author of Dilbert, was a part of your last meeting!

Let’s face it; meetings can be a real drag. We all hate doing them, but we also feel they are a necessary evil to ensure people work well together. For such a straightforward concept – essentially a group of people gathered to discuss an idea – we really do make a mess out of it sometimes.

While statistics vary widely on the amount of time spent in meetings, successful organizations know their teams spend so much time in meetings that turning meeting time into sustained results is a priority. Actions that make meetings successful require direction by the meeting leader before, during, and after the meeting.

Whether you are organizing meetings or simply attending them, you owe it to yourself to become more effective at this skill – especially if you are the team leader!

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold

We all know that meetings suck, right?

You hear it all the time. It’s the one thing that almost everyone in business can agree on.

Except it’s not actually true. Meetings don’t suck; we suck at running meetings. When done right, meetings not only work, they make people and companies better.

In Meetings Suck, world-renowned business expert and growth guru Cameron Herold teaches you how to use focused, time effective meetings to help you and your company soar.

This book shows you immediately actionable, step-by-step systems that ensure that you and everyone in your organization improves your meetings, right away.

In the process, you’ll turn meetings that suck into meetings that work.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

A simple meeting agenda, distributed in advance, is perhaps the most important tool in ensuring a successful productive meeting, even when the meeting is between only you and one other person.

If you can’t personally create a meeting agenda for the meetings you convene, at least delegate that responsibility to one of the participants. That way, you’ll get all of the benefits of having an agenda without having to do the work!

The difference between meetings with and without agendas can mean chaos, ruffled feathers and very few accomplishments. An agenda communicates to attendees that the meeting will be conducted in an orderly fashion and that productivity is the goal.

Organizations hold meetings to get things done, share information, develop plans, document progress, provide clarity and make decisions. An agenda can ensure that the meeting stays on track and that special projects and routine operations proceed as intended. An agenda can help a group of employees function as an effective team.

Without question, every meeting must have a clear agenda distributed to attendees in advance. If you skip creating an agenda, then your meetings can quickly go off track, get hijacked by a random topic, or include people who shouldn’t be attending.

By taking the time to plan, prepare, and distribute an agenda before the meeting, you will reap considerable benefits.

Benefit 1: Introverts are engaged

When it comes to your more introverted team members, more often than not they won’t speak up unless you ask them a question directly or they’re passionate and engaged in the subject. Giving them an agenda in advance allows them the time they need to think through answers, frame their thoughts, or whatever else they need to do to raise their ideas.

Benefit 2: Time is maximized

Creating an agenda in advance gives you the distinct advantage of maximizing your time. Including time allocated for each item helps you realize whether you have too much or too little, and gives you the flexibility to adjust and split topics before the meeting begins, instead of trying to navigate this on the fly.

Benefit 3: Only essential employees participate

Creating your agenda in advance forces you to think critically about who you’re inviting. It’s highly likely that only select individuals need to discuss certain items on the agenda.

Benefit 4: People learn to opt out

An agenda distributed in advance helps people feel like there’s a good reason for them to attend. But it also gives people the chance to opt out if they don’t feel they can provide or extract value.

Benefit 5: Your team comes prepared

When you include the meeting style (information sharing, creative discussion, or consensus decision) in the agenda, then you tell your team what to expect and how best to prepare.

When your agenda includes all items being considered, a purpose, and possible outcomes, then people will know exactly why they have been asked to attend the meeting and what they will be expected to accomplish during it.

Cameron Herold, Meetings Suck

A NEXT STEP

If you already prepare an agenda for meetings you lead, congratulations!

However, if you do not prepare an agenda or know yours could be better, consider the following ideas to help you develop an agenda for your meetings.

  • Create the agenda at least three days in advance, to allow everyone time to review it and prepare for the meeting.
  • Seek input from team members.
  • Create a list of any pre-meeting work required by participants.
  • Start with simple details: time and place and attendee list.
  • State the meeting objective or goal.
  • Create a list of meeting topics or questions to be answered.
  • Add a realistic time allotment for discussion of each topic.
  • If appropriate, list discussion leader for each topic
  • Choose only topics that affect the entire team participating.
  • Other pertinent information as required.
  • Plan to end each meeting with continuous improvement by asking 1) What did we do well? and 2) What do we need to different for the next meeting?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 90-1, released April 2018


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How to Overcome an Overloaded Life by Choosing Wisely

We’re all busy in the same sorts of ways. Our lives are consumed with the crushing weight of family, work, and church activities. Our lives are bombarded with requests, demands, and desires. Individual situations may be quantitatively less busy than others, and some more so, but as a society we are living a shared experience of an overwhelmed life.

Where does it all stop? When will things slow down? How can we recapture time lost?

Technology has delivered time-saving devices that actually consume more time. Progress moves our lives faster and faster, yet we seem incapable of enjoying little if any benefit. We desire and often achieve more. We have bought into a full-life timeshare to only find ourselves bankrupt in emptiness.

Are you asking this question?

I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice – the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish – becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice – from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs – has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

We are living at the peak of human possibility, overflowing in material abundance. As a society we have achieved what our ancestors could, at most only dream about, but it has come at a great price. We get what we say we want, only to discover that what we want doesn’t satisfy us to the degree we expect. We are surrounded by timesaving devices but we never seem to have enough time.

The success of our lives today turns out to be bittersweet, and everywhere we look it appears that significant contributing factor is the overabundance of choice.

The fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean that more choice is better.

There are steps we can take to mitigate – even eliminate – many sources of distress, but they aren’t easy. They require practice, discipline, and perhaps a new way of thinking. On the other hand, each of these steps will bring its own rewards.

  1. Choose when to choose – To manage the problem of excessive choice, we must decide which choices in our lives really matter and focus our time and energy there, letting many other opportunities pass us by.

  2. Be a chooser, not a picker – Choosers are people who are able to reflect on what makes a decision important, or on whether none of the options should be chosen, or whether a new option should be created. Good decisions take time and attention, and the only way we can find the needed time and attention is by choosing our spots.

  3. Satisfice more and maximize less – Learning to accept “good enough” will simplify decision making and increase satisfaction. By settling for good enough even when the “best” could be just around the corner, satisficers will usually feel better about the decisions they make.

  4. Think about the opportunity costs of opportunity costs – When we decide to opt out of deciding in some area of life, we don’t have to think about what the opportunity costs.

  5. Make your decisions nonreversible – What we don’t realize is that the very option of being allowed to change our minds seems to increase the chances that we will change our minds. When a decision is final, we engage in a variety of psychological processes that enhance our feelings about the choice we made relative to the alternatives.

  6. Practice an “attitude of gratitude” – We can vastly improve our subjective experience by consciously striving to be grateful more often for what is good about a choice or an experience, and to be disappointed less by what is bad about it.

  7. Regret less – The sting of regret (either actual or potential) colors many decisions, and sometimes influences us to avoid making decisions at all. It pays to remember just how complex life is and to realize how rare it is that any single decision, in and of itself, has the life-transforming power we sometimes think.

  8. Anticipate adaption – When life is good, adaptation puts on a “hedonic treadmill,” robbing us of the full measure of satisfaction we expect from each positive experience. We must develop realistic expectations about how experiences change with time.

  9. Control expectations – What may be the easiest route to increasing satisfaction with the results of decisions is to remove excessively high expectations about them.

  10. Curtail social comparison – Though social comparison can provide useful information, it often reduces our satisfaction. So by comparing ourselves to others less, we will be satisfied more.

  11. Learn to love constraints – We should learn to view limits on the possibilities we face as liberating, not constraining. Choice within constraints and freedom within limits enable us to imagine a host of marvelous possibilities.

Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice

A NEXT STEP

There are costs to having an overload of choice, not the least of these is reduced time. Our culture is infatuated with freedom, self-determination, and variety, and we are reluctant to give up any of our options. But clinging to all the choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, anxiety, and stress.

Make a choice to take control of your decision-making. Set aside 30 minutes three days each week for the next month. During each of those 30-minute periods, review and reflect on one of the 11 actions listed above by doing the following:

Write the phrase on a chart tablet. Read it out loud, and then write down thoughts and actions that come to mind. Take no more than five minutes for this exercise.

Then, go back over the list and circle up to five items that most interest you. Spend several minutes on each one, adding additional thoughts to those as needed on the chart tablet.

After reviewing those, choose a single thought or action that you will immediately begin to implement in this area. On a new chart tablet sheet, list the 11 areas above again, and write this action beside the appropriate phrase.

At the end of a month, you will have worked through the list of 11 items above, and developed a single action item to help you improve in that area. Reflect back on what you have done, and how it has improved your decision-making.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #87-3, released February 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

6 Principles That Shape the Culture of Your Organization

A church without values is like a river without banks-just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best.

Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. Think of values not as what we do but rather as what characterizes everything we do.

Is it time to shape a culture change?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Built on Values, by Ann Rhoades

Most leaders know that a winning, engaged culture is the key to attracting top talent—and customers. Yet, it remains elusive how exactly to create this ideal workplace —one where everyone from the front lines to the board room knows the company’s values and feels comfortable and empowered to act on them.

Based on Ann Rhoades’ years of experience with JetBlue, Southwest, and other companies known for their trailblazing corporate cultures, Built on Values reveals exactly how leaders can create winning environments that allow their employees and their companies to thrive. Companies that create or improve values-based cultures can become higher performers, both in customer and employee satisfaction and financial return, as proven by Rhoades’ work with JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Disney, Loma Linda University Hospitals, Doubletree Hotels, Juniper Networks, and P.F. Chang’s China Bistros.

Built on Values provides a clear blueprint for how to accomplish culture change, showing:

  • How to exceed the expectations of employees and customers
  • How to develop a Values Blueprint tailored to your organization’s goals and put it into action
  • Why it’s essential to hire, fire, and reward people based on values alone, and
  • How to establish a discipline for sustaining a values-centric culture

Built on Values helps companies get on the pathway to greatness by showing the exact steps for either curing an ailing company culture or creating a new one from scratch.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Many leaders know what a great culture looks like. They are just unsure as to how to implement one.

Culture develops, regardless of whether or not it is defined. And if the values you’ve formally written down don’t match the existing culture, those values will be ignored.

You can create a model for culture change that will energize your teams every day, and their energy will carry throughout your church’s ministries.

A high-performing culture doesn’t just happen. It can’t be forced into being through willpower. But it can become an inevitability if you create the right environment to foster it.

Six fundamental principles inform every successful values-based culture.

Principle 1 – You can’t force culture. You can only create environment.

A culture is the culmination of the leadership, values, language, people, processes, rules, and other conditions, good or bad, present within an organization.

Principle 2 – You are on the outside what you are on the inside – no debate.

Many leaders do not understand that you cannot create a great organization if you treat your team members badly.

Principle 3 – Success is doing the right things the right way.

By defining your values and the behaviors based on them, you simplify the task of day-to-day decision-making.

Principle 4 – People do exactly what they are incented to do.

Reward the behaviors you want, taking into account how they lead to an outcome.

Principle 5 – Input = Output.

Organizations will only get out of something what they are willing to put into it.

Principle 6 – The environment you want can be built on shared, strategic values and financial responsibility.

Conscious action, beginning with determining a set of shared values, can set up the necessary condition for encouraging a culture that will make an organization great.

Ann Rhodes, Built on Values

A NEXT STEP

List each of the six principles above on a separate chart tablet sheet. Gather your leadership team together for a two-hour discussion, spending 15 minutes on each, brainstorming your team’s thoughts and comments about how each of the six principles are – or are not – in place in your organization.

After you have completed all six, spend the last 30 minutes reflecting on how you can use these principles to improve the values and culture at your church.

Remember, values are the motivational flame of the church. They are the shared convictions that guide your actions and reveal your strengths. Values answer, “Why do we do what we do at our church?” They are springboards for daily action and filters for decision-making. Values represent the conscience of the organization. They distinguish your philosophy of ministry and shape your culture and ethos.

If your values fail to inspire the staff, there is no way that they will shape the culture you are seeking. If your values are boring and predictable, maybe it is time for an update. Click here to schedule a conversation with an Auxano Navigator around values development.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 89-1, released March 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How to Overcome an Overloaded Life by Establishing Rhythm

We’re all busy in the same sorts of ways. Our lives are consumed with the crushing weight of family, work, and church activities. Our lives are bombarded with requests, demands, and desires. Individual situations may be quantitatively less busy than others, and some more so, but as a society we are living a shared experience of an overwhelmed life.

Where does it all stop? When will things slow down? How can we recapture time lost?

Technology has delivered time-saving devices that actually consume more time. Progress moves our lives faster and faster, yet we seem incapable of enjoying little if any benefit. We desire and often achieve more. We have bought into a full-life timeshare to only find ourselves bankrupt in emptiness.

Are you asking this question?

I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Your Life in Rhythm by Bruce B. Miller

Your Life in Rhythm offers a realistic solution to our crazy, overly busy, stressed lives. Miller exposes the myth of living a “balanced” life, and offers “rhythmic living” as a new paradigm for relieving guilt and stress, while accomplishing more of what matters most in life.

Rhythmic living details six practical strategies for living a more fulfilling life. Instead of managing time, Miller suggests that we flow with life, living in tune with the natural rhythms of nature. By applying the rhythm strategies, we can reduce stress, frustration, and guilt while increasing fulfillment and inner peace. The point is not to balance all of our responsibilities at one time, but to focus attention on what matters most at different times.

Although this sounds easy enough, the six strategies he outlines are crucial to helping the reader to achieve this goal. Miller helps us to understand the stages and seasons of life we all experience over a lifetime. This new understanding, when applied, will solve time-management problems and help readers to let go of misplaced priorities and relieve their overbooked lifestyle. The rhythm solution, in short, brings freedom.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you find yourself working longer and longer hours at the office or running a taxi service to deliver your kids to all their activities? Are you juggling multiple responsibilities at home, work, and church? Does it always seem as if you have at least one too many things pulling you in different directions?

If any (or all!) of the above is true, no doubt you’ve been told or read somewhere that you need to get your life in balance.

The problem is the concept of “balance” is part of the problem!

It’s time to shift your paradigm of a well-lived life from balance to rhythm. Life is not static, linear, or uniform. It moves, oscillates, vibrates, and pulsates. A rhythm model honors time and movement; it celebrates variety and diversity; it highlights uniqueness and recognizes common patterns. Rhythm honors excellence and the sacrifice required for achievements while also providing time for renewal.

The very concept of balance that is designed to free us from the frenzy of modern life has actually subjected us to idealistic notions of a perfectly proportioned life. Balance is what one does to chemical equations and columns of numbers, not to life.

I am using the concepts of chronos and kairos to label the two basic kinds of rhythm: cycles and seasons. We live rhythmically by following the sky’s patterns, which form our chronos rhythms (cycles), and by riding the sea waves of our kairos rhythms (seasons).

We all live in the same world, structured by five fundamental chronos cycles: solar, seasonal, lunar, sabbatical, and rotational; in other words, the year, quarter, month, week, and day. We also live in kairos seasons: unique times such as the birth of a child, the college years, rehabilitation after an injury, retirement, or moving to a new city. We ride the waves of life as they come. Chronos cycles describe the temporal context of our environment on planet Earth, whereas kairos seasons describe the patterns in the flow of our human lives.

Kairos seasons are not tied to clock time. They are flows rather than cycles, the movement of a story rather than the meter of a tune. Kairos is an opportune time, the right time to say or do something.

The chronos cycles describe cyclical, recurring rhythms built into the fabric of the created order, environmental rhythms established by astronomical phenomena and embedded in our biology. In contrast, kairos seasons are linear, noncyclical, human rhythms.

Kairos Rhythm Strategies

  1. Release expectations – Be at peace with the stage God has you in right now. Release your expectations of other times, and stop envying others who are older or younger.
  2. Seize opportunities – We do not get to relive most stages of our lives. We get one shot. When we live our lives in rhythm, we make the most of every season and stage of life.
  3. Anticipate what’s next – If you really don’t like the stage of life you’re in right now, use the power of anticipation to give yourself hope.

Chronos Rhythm Strategies

  1. Pace yourself – We will find more peaceful, enjoyable, and fulfilled lives if we can identify appropriate frequencies for our regular activities.
  2. Build rituals – By building rituals in an annual cycle, you are achieving your mission in harmony with the way our world actually works.
  3. Oscillate work and rest – Think in advance how you will stay healthy through the year by oscillating between intensity and renewal.

Bruce B. Miller, Your Life in Rhythm

A NEXT STEP

Author Bruce Miller has a series of exercises sprinkled throughout his book. Here is a sampling of each, following the list of strategies listed above.

Set aside time each day this week and practice the exercise. Where called for, create a chart tablet and leave it up all week long.

Release expectations – Create a chart tablet headed with the following phrase: “I will release the following expectations…” Take 10 minutes and complete the phrase with as many actions as you can.

Seize opportunities – Create a chart tablet headed with the following phrase: “I will seize these unique opportunities in this kairos season…” Take 10 minutes and complete the phrase with as many actions as you can.

Anticipate what’s next – Create a chart tablet headed with the following phrase: “I can anticipate the following personal seasons and life stages coming…” Take 10 minutes and complete the phrase with as many actions as you can.

Pace yourself – Try the following steps to help you get started on pacing yourself:

  1. Change the frequency of one activity in your life to a more appropriate pace.
  2. Take one aspect of your life and consider paces that follow the flow of natural chronos cycles.
  3. Talk about your pace with those you live with.

Build rituals – Identify a life-enhancing ritual that you can build for at least one chronos cycle.

Oscillate work and rest – Identify an oscillation between work and rest that you can introduce in at least one chronos cycle. Put it into practice, and note positive changes in your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 87-2, released February 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How to Overcome an Overloaded Life by Creating Margin

We’re all busy in the same sorts of ways. Our lives are consumed with the crushing weight of family, work, and church activities. Our lives are bombarded with requests, demands, and desires. Individual situations may be quantitatively less busy than others, and some more so, but as a society we are living a shared experience of an overwhelmed life.

Where does it all stop? When will things slow down? How can we recapture time lost?

Technology has delivered time-saving devices that actually consume more time. Progress moves our lives faster and faster, yet we seem incapable of enjoying little if any benefit. We desire and often achieve more. We have bought into a full-life timeshare to only find ourselves bankrupt in emptiness.

Are you asking this question?

I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Margin, by Richard A. Swenson

Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Today we use margin just to get by. This book is for anyone who yearns for relief from the pressure of overload. Reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from. The benefits can be good health, financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and availability for God’s purpose.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Life in much of the world today is essentially devoid of time and space. The time and space that once existed in the lives of family and friends who regularly lingered after dinner, visited with the neighbors, sat on the front porch, went for long walks, planted flowers or a garden, and always had a full night’s sleep.

People are exhausted from trying to live life in a 24/7 world. People are stressed trying to keep the good things going and the bad things at bay. People are overloaded with things that (maybe) were once good but now are burdens.

We need more time. We need more space. We need more reserves. We need more buffer.

We need margin.

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing and suffocating. 

To be healthy, we require margin in at least four areas: emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances. Conditions of modern living, however, have drained these margins rather than sustaining them.

Restoring Margin in Emotional Energy

  1. Cultivate social supports – The existence of intact, functioning, healthy, nurturing systems of social support are as good a resource for replenishing depleted energy reserves as can be found.
  2. Reconcile relationships – True reconciliation is one of the most powerful of all human interactions.
  3. Serve one another – One of the best ways to heal your own pain is to focus instead on meeting the needs of others.
  4. Rest – Be with people and serve them. But be sure to get away occasionally. Escape. Relax. Sleep in. Rest restores.

Restoring Margin in Physical Energy

  1. Take personal responsibility – Until we accept personal responsibility for our own health, the road to the future will remain paved with aches.
  2. Change your habits – Changing habit disorders often requires changing lifestyles.
  3. Decrease intake of fat, sugars, and total calories – There are healthier foods that also taste good, we can change our bad habits, and we can’t afford not to.
  4. Exercise for the body, mind, and spirit – One hundred percent of people who exercise to the point of cardiorespiratory fitness will experience an increased sense of well-being.

Restoring Time Margin

  1. Expect the unexpected – To plan for the unexpected is not an invitation to sloppiness or mediocrity but instead a concession to reality.
  2. Learn to say “No” – Saying No is not just a good idea, it has now become a mathematical necessity.
  3. Get less done but do the right things – Busyness is not a synonym for kingdom work – it is only busyness.
  4. Prune the activity branches – Even though it is much harder to stop something than start it, periodically, get out the clippers and prune away.

Restoring Financial Margin

  1. Live within your harvest – Not only should you make do with what you have but accept what you have.
  2. Discipline desires and redefine needs – Clarify the distinction between needs and desires and be honest about it before God.
  3. Fast – The world does not stop nor the family fall apart when we unplug from the treadmill of consumerism for a period.
  4. Counter culture – Willingly and knowingly wrestle control from a culture wanting to tell us what we must buy and own.

Richard A. Swenson, Margin

A NEXT STEP

Review the above four areas of margin needed in your life, and choose the one that you personally most need at this time.

Block off a two-hour minimum time where you will not be disturbed. Turn off your mobile phone and ask not to be disturbed.

On a chart tablet, list the margin area you chose at the top, and then divide the chart tablet into four quadrants. In each quadrant, list one of the four actions that accompany the margin area above.

Taking at least 20 minutes for each, list actions or thoughts that come to mind in each of the four areas. List everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t seem practical at first.

When you have completed all four quadrants, review the tablet and connect any similar actions with a line. Now, force rank at least three actions in each of the quadrants.

List the top three from each quadrant on a new chart tablet entitled, “My Prescriptions for Restoring Margin.” For each, write out a brief description and date as to when you will begin taking this action.

Repeat the above steps once per week until you have covered all four areas of margin in your life. Calendar time one month from the start your work in each of the four areas to revisit your progress, making changes as needed.

Bonus: Walk your leadership team through this exercise. The greatest gift you may give your staff is the ability to create margin.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 87-1, released February 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

What’s Your Organization’s Creation Story?

Will Mancini, founder of Auxano and Younique, writes about the importance of leadership stories here. He believes that storytelling and understanding the nuances of story will help leaders in the daily ebb and flow of communication. The first, appropriately, is your organization’s creation story.

As a leader, you should know more about the creation story of your organization than anyone on the planet. What are the circumstances—passions, problems, and people—surrounding how the organization got started to begin with? 

Mastering the richness of the creation story will help in two major ways. First, it will hold insight into the unique culture of the organization and therefore future decision-making and vision. Second, your mastery of the story itself will bring tremendous credibility with people when initiating change.

With a passion of Disney history, I’m always grateful to visit Disney properties and immerse myself in the stories and culture of Walt Disney and the “kingdom” he began. During a recent multi-day visit to California, I had the opportunity to visit Disneyland several days, experiencing both the familiar and new perspectives.

Take this image, for example:

 

In talking with current Cast Members, Tour Guides, and former Imagineers, various stories were given as to the origin of Disneyland:

  1. It was Walt Disney’s fascination with trains, beginning as a boy, that led him to first create a scale model railroad in his backyard. Not satisfied, he begin to develop an ever-growing park that would include a railroad. When Disneyland opened in 1955, the first object you saw approaching the park was a train station, and a 5/8 scale railroad encircled the park.
  2. Saturday’s were “Daddy’s Day,” and Walt often took his daughters to play in nearby parks. While sitting on a bench in Griffith Park, Walt imagined what a park would look like that would allow both parents and children to be immersed in a story-rich, safe, clean park.
  3. Fascinated by miniatures, Walt began a hobby of crafting extremely detailed miniature items, building entire rooms filled with objects that were not only beautiful to look at, but fully functional. He envisioned a place to display these miniatures so that people from all over the country could enjoy them.
  4. By the late 1940’s-early 1950’s, Walt had grown tired of making animated pictures, and even his recent venture into live-action motion pictures left him dissatisfied. He imagined a place were people could actually be a part of a story, immersed in all the rich details that a “theme park” could provide.

What is the true origin of Disneyland?

I believe that all of the above contributed to the creation of Disneyland. And the common denominator of all of them?

Passion.

> What about your organization?

ACTION STEP: Write a one-page, 2-minute creation story talk. If you have any gaps in your knowledge, interview people in your organization until you know more than anyone else.