I would venture to say that the majority of successful people are those who pursued their dreams despite having less than ideal circumstances and far from a guarantee that their ventures would prevail. However, the majority of people will not pursue their dreams to the fullest unless the circumstances line up in a way that can guarantee success.  Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way and that is why the most dreams look more like wishes.

You have to start somewhere and you must know everyone starts small with very little physical evidence that there will be success. I heard it describe that the very act of starting a business or being your own boss is an act of the utmost courage! However in the midst of that courage we can walk towards a higher purpose that is bigger than ourselves.

Tim Urban once referred to everyone as blank canvases, but unfortunately most people are just painting white on white.  They are working, but no one really notices. It is easy to hit cruise control in life and work through our days, weeks, and years with very little impact. Very few people live beyond themselves to add a splash of color in this world.

Now dreams don’t have to be these lavish things that must be world renowned, but they do need to be relationally rich.  They do need to be able to impact those in our sphere of influence.  Some people’s sphere is larger than others, but we all have the ability to impact lives for the better.  I can promise you that life will never make sense until you live for something bigger than yourself and until you start pouring your life into some one else.

I felt today very quickly that I simply wanted to share with you and maybe give you the permission to START! Just start! Start that business plan, build that website, start writing that book, start that blog, enroll in school, start serving, start that LifeGroup, start hustling on the side… Yes it is scary…Yes you have a ton to learn… Yes it will harder than you can ever imagine… Yes you will have to work your tail off… But YES it will be worth it.  Tune out the fears that are screaming “what if you fail” or “what if it sets you back” and know that setbacks are just give you a running start towards something greater! JUST START!

I wanted to leave you with an excerpt from J. Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership

Procrastination, the thief of time, is one of the devil’s most potent weapons for defrauding us of eternal heritage. The habit of “putting off” is fatal to spiritual leadership. Its power resides in our natural reluctance to come to grips with important decisions. Making decisions, and acting on them, always requires moral energy. But the passing of time never makes action easier, quite the opposite. Most decisions are more difficult a day later, and you may also lose an advantage by such delay.

I wrote this blog yesterday at around 6AM and Gary posted this yesterday afternoon so I thought it was fitting!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

The Most Overlooked But Important Aspect of Organizations.

Most leaders focus their entire efforts on the visual product. Whether that be the services they provide, the items their organization is selling, or as Pastors the worship experience i.e. the preaching and music. Focusing on those things are not inherently bad unless you are ignoring the unseen factor which is culture. Culture is not seen, but felt and experienced. Culture can’t be copied from someone else, but has to be developed from who you are as an organization. Culture is the unified DNA of your leaders that creates an environment that your people feel or experience.

A good way to check the pulse of how effective your culture may be is by listening to people’s feedback on how they felt as they experienced your organization. Not what they liked, but how what they liked made them feel! It is one thing to hear “that was a good message” compared to “I felt like you were speaking directly to me and I left with so much hope”. Its one thing to hear “your people are nice” or “I have never felt so welcomed, loved, and at home by the way I was greeted”. Do you see the difference? It is how they feel that communicates most effectively what they experienced and what they experience is your culture.

Every organization has a culture whether they realize it or not, but most do not have an effective culture. I have heard it said by many leaders that “A bad culture eats a good vision for breakfast”. So focusing on your culture is imperative for your organization and developing team values is one of the most effective ways in identifying the culture you desire for your organization.

1. Write out what you want to stand for!

Team values are a list of traits that make up your leaders and what you stand for as an organization. What do you want to be known for when people talk about you to others? What do you want people to experience in your organization? What are qualities you want your leaders to have?

2. Don’t create more than ten.

If you have too many values your people won’t remember any of them. List out the values that you identified earlier and start to list out the absolute most important down to the least important. Also identify if any values could be combined because of similarities.

3. Make the value rememberable.

Don’t make the value to long and complicated, but keep it short to make it easier to remember. You can add a short description afterwards to really define it, but the initial value should be something we can remember. For an example you can find our Team Values at Bloom Church here.

4. Repeat often.

Vision leaks and so does your values. We get so busy doing our projects that our tunnel vision can cloud our memory. It is important to constantly go over your values just like you would go over your vision. I heard Craig Groeschel once say something of the sorts that when your team starts making fun of what you say because you have said it so much that it has finally stuck. Speak your values so much that your team starts finishing your sentences.

5. Celebrate often.

What is celebrated is repeated. Celebrate when your people are rising up to the occasion and creating a culture that impacts your people. Celebrate with words, with cards, and with gifts. Also it is great to celebrate these people publicly in front of the whole team because it does two things. First the person feels extremely special as they become recognized in front of their peers, but also it reminds the other team members that you notice those values being lived out. So it is a positive way to remind the team to rise up to the occasion.

Values create culture, culture creates an environment, and an environment creates an experience. This is should be at the top of your list to develop and implement immediately because it will radically shift the interactions that you have with your people. Remember culture doesn’t cost anything but time and effort!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

3 Questions to discover your Vision

MP3 Version at the bottom

I get asked by many pastors and leaders a lot the “HOW” question.  How are you growing? How do you get more people to attend your church? How do you grow your client base? How do you grow your organization?

With Leaders we are obsessed with the “HOW” because we want that next level, we want that growth, we want that expansion, but that CANNOT be our first question we ask!

The first question that has to be answered is the “WHY”.  Why do you do what you do? What is going to separate you from every other organization? What is your vision? What does this look like?

You cannot just have a blanket statement or a generic answer like “Well I am called to pastor a Church”. Ok that is great, but what does that Church look like? Having a generic answer without being able to answer the why is like someone saying they want to be a writer.  Thats great but what are you going to write about?  Are you going to write biographies, teaching materials, or romance novels?  Are you going to write books or blog posts?

You have to get more specific with your calling.  There is so much uniqueness with people and you have the ability to impact those people that will connect with your heart, but first you have to ask the “WHY” question because that’s your Vision.

3 Questions that help you discover your Vision

1. What am I just naturally good at?

Ask yourself what are you or what is your organization just naturally good at? Now this question is not answered by what you think you should be good at?  See many times we find ourselves playing the clone game where we look at other organizations and try to be carbon copies.  It doesn’t work that way.

So ask yourself what are we gifted at? Where are we excellent or heading that way?

2. What am I passionate about?

You have to enjoy what you are doing or you’re wasting what is already precious time in a very short life.  Do NOT pursue something because it is a good idea, but pursue something because you’re passionate about it!  Good ideas will never fulfill you and they will never give you the resolve to be successful.  John Maxwell said perfectly “Passion provides the fuel in a person’s life to keep them going!”.  If you are not passionate about something you will burn out and quit!

3. What will work?

Now I know you may think that is the million dollar answer, but you should know the demographic or market well enough that you can see where the needs are not currently being met.  If you don’t have that understanding you have not put in the due diligence to succeed because success takes a TON OF WORK. Understand the people you are trying to reach and see where their needs are not being met and thats how you reach a group of people who are not currently getting their needs mets.

When these three answers come together it is like magic.  That is the vision!

Like the Bible says “Without vision the people will perish” or as other translations say “run wild”.  If you do not answer the “WHY” your organization will run away from you and you will be left picking up the pieces.

You MUST answer the “WHY” before the “HOW”!