A Higher View

Work “on” the system, not “in” the system.

The role of leader requires a certain way of thinking about everyday tasks. You may need to shift. Consider how you can step back from the to-do list and oversee the progress of your organization as a system to be managed. We struggle with so many things to do that it is easy to throw our hands in the air and give up. However, with a little strategic thought we can streamline.

You have a work flow. How organized it is depends on you. I want you to imagine yourself at your desk. If it is anything like mine we could say it’s “un-neatly organized.” Now that you are picturing it, imagine all the related tasks that are on it’s surface. The thirty-fifth paper in pile number two is related to the twenty-fourth paper in pile five. It has gotten this way due to neglect. Day to day, you take the top paper, work on it, put it somewhere else, or you throw it in the trash. You are in the system…

Quote1 working one task at a time you will fail to work strategically    Quote2

Now, imagine that you had perfect clarity. You are now standing over your desk (not sitting at it) and because you can see the big picture you can see how each paper corresponds to other papers and you begin to group them with all other relevant papers. You begin to see “mobilizations” instead of a to-do list. You realize that if you put the tenth paper in pile two together with the third paper in pile four and the fifth in pile five, you can take care of all of them with one action. You are now working ON the system…

As long as you are working one task at a time you will fail to work strategically, or give ownership of anything to anyone. It is faster to do the task than to teach (or allow) someone else to do it. However, if the related and relevant items are grouped, and a mobilization is build around it, you can give ownership of something much bigger than a task, and relieve yourself of the minutiae of having to perform every task yourself. As a collective whole, those tasks can become a strategic mobilization which results in the training of your direct reports and greater efficiency for the organization.

As a leader, your people need you to show them where they are headed and how they will get there. Inspire them with the big picture. Reward them for every step towards that end. Celebrate when each victory is achieved and inspire confidence in their abilities. You know that they are going to make mistakes. You also know that – initially – the tasks will get completed to a lesser level of excellence than it would had you completed the task on your own. However, to follow your same patterns will lead you into a trap. You do not have the option to work in the system and direct it from above. If you desire change in your organization, but refuse to let go of the lesser things, then step aside and let another lead. Remember, a leader rejoices more over a mistake made with effort than with inactivity perfectly executed.

PRACTICUM: Take a moment to think about repetative things that you do, the no-brainers. Now think about how often you do them. Add up the time on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Take one of those tasks, and hand them off to someone this week. Expect less than perfection and be willing to wait for the standard to rise.
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Self Leadership

Leadership starts with self.

I woke this morning to two things. First, a notification on my phone of motion on my home security system. It turned out to be a moth buzzing the cameras. Second, news coming out of Milwaukee that riots are taking place because of the escalated national violence and sensitivities that mark the day.

It strikes me that the polarization we are undergoing as a nation is nearing the point of no return. It seems everyone is looking in the wrong place for leadership. Leadership stars with self.

When leadership is looked for through dependence it is never healthy. When we entrust others to define and implement our futures we subjugate ourselves. We must each define the future that we want to see for ourselves and it does not start with blowing up the system, but becoming part of the system.

I am privileged to work with many different associations to help them define their future paths and roles among their members. One thing remains constant, the newer members of the organization see the old guard and define the gap. The elder members see the gap as well, and their approaches to change rarely find common ground. The older members must seek to include the younger and benefit from their input and participation. The younger members must seek to engage and allow their voices to be heard. What typically happens is that the older exclude the younger, and the younger want to blow up the system. This leads to a passive aggressive—or sometimes aggressive—struggle for change. This season of “Storming’” can be detrimental to the organization if not handled well. Each individual in such a situation needs to refrain from being part of a group voice and seek their role as diplomat in that situation. The harmony in an organization is more important than individual need or agenda. But most people are sheep. They seek another’s leadership to get behind. I contend we all need to be leaders starting as leaders of one… self.

Back to our current reality…

While the nation struggles, I wonder how things would change if everyone would take a leadership role in their own life and not subjugate themselves to a group.

Are you waiting for a political party to solve your issues? A movement? A business? A house of faith? Another person? None of those people care for you like you do. They don’t wake up in the morning and think “I need to make sure Rick is well provided for today and feels a deep sense of security!” No, that’s Rick’s job. The world is cruel and doesn’t give a lick about Rick.

Until we are happy with who we are, and refuse to be dependent on a system or another, we will not be free to pursue self fulfillment. Take stock, who do you depend on for your sense of purpose and wellbeing? If it is other than God and family you are not free and you cannot blame that on anyone but yourself. Lead yourself.

Here’s my final thought. What I am watching in Milwaukee today represents the moth in my home. I know that for the rest of the day that moth is going to fly around and activate my alarm system. So today, my alarm system is worthless. I will need to fight the tendency to ignore it because by ignoring it I am vulnerable. But, I will unfortunately ignore the moth.
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Self Leadership

(Reposted from August 14, 2016)

I woke this morning to two things. First, a notification on my phone of motion on my home security system. It turned out to be a moth buzzing the cameras. Second, news coming out of Milwaukee that riots are taking place because of the escalated national violence and sensitivities that mark the day.

It strikes me that the polarization we are undergoing as a nation is nearing the point of no return. It seems everyone is looking in the wrong place for leadership. Leadership starts with self.

When leadership is looked for through dependence it is never healthy. When we entrust others to define and implement our futures we subjugate ourselves. We must each define the future that we want to see for ourselves and it does not start with blowing up the system, but becoming part of the system.

I am privileged to work with many different associations to help them define their future paths and roles among their members. One thing remains constant, the newer members of the organization see the old guard and define the gap. The elder members see the gap as well, and their approaches to change rarely find common ground. The older members must seek to include the younger and benefit from their input and participation. The younger members must seek to engage and allow their voices to be heard. What typically happens is that the older exclude the younger, and the younger want to blow up the system. This leads to a passive-aggressive—or sometimes aggressive—struggle for change. This season of “Storming’” can be detrimental to the organization if not handled well. Each individual in such a situation needs to refrain from being part of a group voice and seek their role as a diplomat in that situation. The harmony in an organization is more important than individual need or agenda. But most people are sheep. They seek another’s leadership to get behind. I contend we all need to be leaders starting as leaders of one… self.

Back to our current reality…

While the nation struggles, I wonder how things would change if everyone would take a leadership role in their own life and not subjugate themselves to a group.

Are you waiting for a political party to solve your issues? A movement? A business? A house of faith? Another person? None of those people care for you like you do. They don’t wake up in the morning and think “I need to make sure Rick is well provided for today and feels a deep sense of security!” No, that’s Rick’s job. The world is cruel and doesn’t give a lick about Rick.

Until we are happy with ourselves and refuse to be dependent on a system or another, we will not be free to pursue self-fulfillment. Take stock, who do you depend on for your sense of purpose and wellbeing? If it is other than God and family you are not free and you cannot blame that on anyone but yourself. Lead yourself.

Here’s my final thought. What I am watching in Milwaukee today represents the moth in my home. I know that for the rest of the day that moth is going to fly around and activate my alarm system. So today, my alarm system is worthless. I will need to fight the tendency to ignore it because by ignoring it I am vulnerable. But I will, unfortunately, ignore the moth.

It’s Good to be Home

I was asked to write an encouragement piece for Star News, a law enforcement publication. This article was run shortly after the death of a Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy and became an important piece. The only article from which I received direct feedback from the Deputies.

Take it from a road warrior; it is good to come home. Don’t misunderstand, there will always be excitement in the journey, but even the journey gets old. Each of us in the human species has needed a vacation from our vacation. As I write, I am in a hotel longing to see my wife and kids. Even Dorothy said; “There’s no place like home” as she tapped her ruby slippers together and grabbed Toto for the journey.

Why is it so good to be home?

Home is familiar. It is safe. Home is a place of security where the unknown gives way to the familiar and love is felt. There are many reason this is so: from the security of the family to the relationship with the neighbors, the support of friends and colleagues, and the unseen protectors who guard our security.

I want to give a shout out to Law Enforcement personnel who add to that feeling of security at home. It is good to know that there are protectors, watching over our neighborhoods and cities, dispatchers who put them to action, and a long list of support personnel that work on their behalf to better equip and support them. Because of them, it is good to be home.

So here I sit in the hotel wishing for the comfort of home. However, down deep, in the deepest parts of my soul, I wish for my REAL HOME. I look forward to the ultimate peace of an eternity with the Lord. As we all have protectors in our neighborhood, ultimately, we all have the same eternal protector. He is a God who loves us and knows us by name. He wants to be involved in our lives. He cares. He is One who is our ultimate protection: the protector of protectors. Let us not forget about Him.

The Psalmist wrote: The Lord is alive! My protector is praiseworthy! The God who delivers me is exalted as king! (Psalm 18:46)

He wants to protect you… You know, out there… In life… May I suggest that you call upon Him from time to time. He has the ability to bring you home.

When it Rains, it Pours

NOTE: Written years ago, right before the passing of my grandmother.

The beauty behind storms of adversity is that they tend to reveal who you truly are. For me it means focus and a sharpening of mind and action. But it also means a hint of calculated, emotional removal from the circumstances. Down to business. Hear Father. Do as instructed. I do not know whether this is a good or bad, healthy or harmful. I will leave that to the reader. However, after a week like this one, I thank Father for the ability to focus in the downpour. Life is grand and full of tragedy at the same time and I am often reminded that without the knowledge and covering of Father’s sovereignty it would at times be too difficult to bear. May I share?

The funny thing about storms is that–many times–they come out-of-nowhere. Skies are clear and then, “Crack!” Lightning splits the sky. Saturday was such a day. The skies were clear and the weatherman had given the “Thumbs Up!” On the sidewalk before me I saw the first drop of water darken the concrete. Little did I know it would be a violent and vicious storm.

Crack!

My elderly grandmother, who had always been both physically and mentally strong, suffered a massive stroke. Grabbing the umbrella, I braved the weather and made my way to her side. Praying into her–I believe–understanding ear, I shared Father’s spiritual and physical healing abilities so that she would have hope. It gave me hope as well. He and only He could speak through the noise of the rain and clear her storm.

Crack!

The next wave of the storm came in the form of a hostile dialog with an individual with whom I had to stand my ground for what was morally right! Without getting into it, Father was being portrayed as evil in a storm of hostility and I had no choice but to stand for Him. So again, I grabbed my umbrella. You see, I love Him–He gives me breath–and I had to make a stand on the side of righteousness. It brought harder rain, but I chose to ignore the downpour and do what was right.

Crack!

The storm had now grown to the height of its intensity. A call from the Sheriff’s Department… “Chaplain, we need you right now! We’ve got a dead baby! The guys are having some trouble handling the scene. We need you here.” So I grabbed the umbrella again, and flying to the scene I ministered in the storm.

It seems that the eleven-year-old babysitter decided she would give the one-year-old baby boy a bath. She was distracted and left the room. It was raining so hard by now that the child was left floating in one of the enemy’s puddles.

The baby was without a heartbeat for more than ten minutes and when I left the chopper was preparing to transport the child to Children’s Hospital. What did I do? I placed my umbrella over the child. I laid hands on him and prayed to Father. As the child was being prepped for flight, he opened his eyes and began to have a seizure. Is he alive today? I may never know. I did my part. I covered him with my umbrella. I protected him from the rain. It was all that I could do. That was all I was meant to do.

Clear Skies…

Right now, as I write, the umbrella is closed and in my hand. I have peace. The umbrella of Father’s sovereignty gives me that peace. The storm lasted four days. The sky still has clouds in it, they have not fully rolled away. Grandma is still in the hospital with little improvement, the hostilities from my moral stance are unsettled and I still have no idea about the child. However, the umbrella is right here in my hand, and I will open it again when the first drop of water appears on the road before me.