Deep in the countryside of Tuscany, there is an olive grower who makes exceptional olive oil. When asked why it was so good, he simply said:
“There are two reasons – When I pick and what I pick. Nothing else matters.”
He begins his harvest in September, when common sense suggests that your trees should be left alone. In September, the olives are green and hard. Most people pick in late November or December.
“Ten to twelve weeks later, the olives are swollen and full of juice. The more juice you get, the more oil you can bottle, the more money you make. But for me, that olive is bloated – pulpy and full of water. As a result, the oil is thin. You have volume, but no intensity. For me, intensity is everything. For me, less is more. My oil is very, very intense.”
Reading this story from Heat, by Bill Buford, I am reminded of John Maxwell’s Law of Priorities:
Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.
In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul advises us to:
- Analyze our lifestyles (5:15)
- Utilize the present (5:16)
- Prioritize what is important (5:17)
Every leader, every day, gets the same amount of time.
Not every leader gets the same results.
Priority = intensity
The ability to control the temperature of food involves a set of kitchen skills and food knowledge that, more than anything else, defines the excellence of the cook. An expertise in temperature control won’t turn poor ingredients into good ones, but it will determine much of what follows once the ingredients are in your house.
The Elements of Cooking, by Michael Ruhlman
In other words, it’s all about heat.
Bill Hybels, writing in axiom, has exactly this process in mind when he writes:
Anytime you see God-honoring values being lived out genuinely and consistently, it’s fair to assume that a leader decided to identify a handful of values and turn up the burner under them.
When you heat up a value, you help people change states.
- Want to jolt people out of business as usual? Heat up innovation.
- Want to untangle confusion? Heat up clarity.
- Want to eradicate miserliness? Heat up generosity.
New “states” elicit new attitudes, new aptitudes, and new actions. It’s not rocket science – it’s just plain chemistry. Which is a lot about heat.
Leaders must determine what values they believe should be manifested in their organizations. And then put them over the flame of a burner by teaching on those values, underscoring them with Scripture, enforcing them, and making heroes out of the people who are living them out.
Over time, sufficiently hot values will utterly define your culture.
It’s time to bring the heat.