Archives For Career

others-pixabayLet’s be honest. We all need someone in our lives who believes in us. Actually it could make all the difference.

John Lynch is a former NFL football player. But let’s start at the beginning of his story.  Lynch went to Stanford University to play football as a quarterback. However, he never made it onto the field for the first two years.

After his sophomore year the coach suggested that he move to free safety, a position on the defense. But still he rarely played. He got on the field only about thirty percent of the time.

Since he was also gifted at baseball, Lynch decided to go pro and signed a contract with a professional baseball team, the Florida Marlins.

This happened at the same time Stanford got a new football coach, Bill Walsh.

Coach Walsh got wind of his decision to leave and called him into the office. Walsh had just spent hours reviewing the team’s game films and was convinced that Lynch was the best defensive player Stanford had.  That day Walsh persuaded Lynch to stick with football.

As they say, “the rest is history.” Lynch went on to play in the NFL and become a star player for many years. Of course, that doesn’t mean his path to stardom was easy.

In his second year in the pros he did not even know if he would make the team.

Once again, a new coach arrived in town and saw his potential.

John Lynch repeatedly discovered the power of others.  His rise to fame may never have happened without the influence of others, particularly those 2 coaches.

In the Bible it’s rather amazing that one day Jesus looked at a fisherman named Peter and saw incredible potential. And then He invited Peter to join His team. He became one of the 12 disciples, wrote 1 & 2 Peter, and became one of the pillars of the early church.

Later the apostle Paul met a young man, Timothy, and invited him along to participate in the ministry.  Timothy became Paul’s ministry assistant and the pastor of the church at Ephesus.

Sometimes we simply need the right people around us.  People who see potential in us and believe in us.

You can’t always control who is in your life, but you can pray that God would send the right people into your life.

So that you too can experience the power of others!

 

dunking a basketball

Anyone who has ever played basketball has dreamed of dunking the ball.

But for people like me, who tend to suffer from height challenges along with reduced jumping abilities, it’s out of reach. The basket, that is. But I can jump high enough to touch the bottom of the net. Granted, that’s over a foot away from the rim. And you can’t just touch the rim, you must be able to elevate above the rim.  That’s beyond me.

So I was pretty impressed when I ran across a video of a guy who is only 5’2” dunking the basketball. That is unheard of. It’s rather incredible, really. Most people at that height would assume it was impossible.  Maybe not even try.  Obviously this guy went above and beyond expectations.  It would be so easy to be like everyone else.  To assume it couldn’t be done.  But he didn’t sell himself short, and now he amazes everyone who sees him at his game.

Let’s move outside the arena of basketball. In fact, let’s go back to a guy named Moses.

I bet you have heard of him. Did you know that he almost sold himself short? Thankfully God stepped in and made him go for it.

It all started when God showed up one day and asked Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. Most would have jumped at the opportunity. Not Moses.

He balked. Big time!

Moses’ first response was to fall back on what others thought about him.  At least his perception of it.

First, he was a “nobody.” Because of that he didn’t think anyone would listen to him or follow his leadership. He had no credentials.

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” Exodus 4:1 (ESV)

And there was more to his insecurity issues.  Apparently he didn’t have the gift of public speaking. And since leaders have to speak on occasion, he was convinced he was the wrong guy. So he “said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Exodus 4:10 (ESV) 

And then he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Exodus 4:13 (ESV)

Now stop and think about it for a moment. You have heard of Moses because he eventually relented and did what he thought he could not do.

He did what he was not qualified to do.

He did what he thought someone else could have done better.

Thankfully Moses trusted God to use him. But what if God had allowed Moses to sell himself short? Many today consider Moses to be the greatest leader in the Old Testament.

I often wonder what Moses thought about when he went to bed at night.

Did he ever think, “I almost sold myself short.”

Perhaps a good question to ask is “Where am I selling myself short.” Maybe it’s time to go out and try to dunk that basketball.

CheckmateAs another football season is about to begin, training camps are opening up.

However, there is one star Running Back who will not be in camp.

In 2014 Ray Rice was caught on video punching his wife–fiancee at the time–in an elevator. As the video went viral, the Baltimore Ravens were essentially forced to cut him from the team. Also, because of the despicable act the NFL also banned him for a period of time. Now that the ban is over, teams are not that likely to reinstate him.

All because of one foolish act.

One. Foolish. Act.

For Ray Rice it cost him millions of dollars. Let that sink in. Millions. That is costly.

And to some degree we have all paid a price for a particular act. Usually they are small things, like sleeping through our alarm one morning or eating too much during the holidays or even getting a speeding ticket.

But what about the more serious “foolish acts”?

Things that impact your entire life and derail you from the path you had planned to take.   Some things can even destroy your dreams.

I’ve witnessed the fallout of a happy marriage when a one-night stand destroyed it all.  Or what about the single Tweet that cost a young college-grad her job before it even started.  Or the person who didn’t get a promotion because of something posted on Facebook.

Many will have to watch their hopes and dreams crumble because of one foolish act. Sad.  Ray Rice is one of them.

Did you know the Bible tells about a person who could only look at his dream from a distance?  It was Moses.

In Deuteronomy 34:4 it says, “And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”

Why?  Because of one foolish act during Moses’ time leading Israel to the Promised Land. Water was scarce and the people were complaining. If you are a parent and have ever traveled a long distance with your kids, perhaps you can relate a little.

At any rate Moses was human and lost his patience. In fact, he got angry. However, despite the circumstances Moses still needed to obey the LORD.

And the LORD had told Moses to speak to the rock.

But that’s not what happened.  “Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.”  (Numbers:20:10-11 ESV).

While it may seem like a small thing to hit the rock rather than speak to the rock, it was still an act of rebellion. Plus when you look more closely it appears to the people that Moses was the provider of water. After all, he is the one who hit the rock.

Had he spoken to the rock and water came out it would have been obvious that the LORD was the provider.

Because Moses that day, in a moment of anger, acted rashly and brought attention and honor to himself, he had to suffer the consequences.  God took it seriously, and that one foolish act proved to be very costly.

So stay alert in your decisions and your actions. Be aware of oncoming temptations. Don’t be sidelined by one foolish act.

Timed excuseJames 1:5 (NLT) exhorts us, “If any of you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

Most of us probably approach the subject of wisdom from only one angle.

We simply want to know what to do next. Let’s call this particular wisdom. Perhaps you are looking to buy a new car and you want to make the right choice. Or it could be a career decision or any number of current decisions.

However, let’s expand our thinking of wisdom. For some good illustrations of the various kinds of wisdom read through 2 Samuel 14 and the beginning of 2 Samuel 15.

For starters there is popular wisdom. In many ways this is not wisdom at all, but if we have bought into the surrounding culture’s mentality, we think we are wise. I’m not sure you want to pray for this type of wisdom.

Many have unknowingly bought into the flavor of the day. But anyone can go along with the crowd. Absalom was all style and no substance, which incidentally makes many politicians, celebrities, and sport’s stars our modern-day heroes.  But Absalom proved to be deceptive, and he hurt a lot of people.

With that in mind let’s dig a little deeper.  Perhaps a good place to start is to read and reflect on the two chapters mentioned above. Here’s the bottom line: We can be wise and unwise at the same time. Full of wisdom and devoid of wisdom at the same time. Seems paradoxical, but a very real reality.

There are four main characters in those chapters, and they all possess wisdom. Not all wisdom is used wisely or for positive reasons. Some actually use their wisdom in order to manipulate others. Sad, but true.

That in itself calls for wisdom.

We’ll come back in the next post to discuss the types of wisdom you need to pray for. Until then read and reflect upon the two chapters mentioned above.

get things doneIn my last post I mentioned eight things that get in the way of our productivity. We are constantly bombarded by them, at least I am.

So what’s the solution?

Let me list eight antidotes to the eight hindrances.

As a review I will list the hindrance followed by the antidote.

  1. Perfectionism – Ship it. That is if I am writing something I have to eventually hit the save button for the last time. In a sense we are never fully ready, but in reality we simply can’t keep trying for perfection. So whether you are painting, writing, or studying for a test you will need to tell yourself, “I’m done.” Go take the test, finish the painting, or ship the product.
  2. Pain – Saturate your mind with Old Testament stories and other Scripture. In fact, in the Psalms you can find every human emotion. In the various stories you will be encouraged as you see God show up, knowing that He can do something similar for you.
  3. Procrastination – Start eating the elephant. Yes, it’s true. You can eat an elephant one bite at a time, although I cannot prove it. But you do have to start. Right now if you have been putting something off, take a break and go start. Only if you work at it for five minutes. Do it for a week. You may be surprised.
  4. Play – Schedule it at a different time, not during your work time. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun at work.
  5. Pressure – Scratch something off your list. For me that often means put the book back on the shelf. To add that to my to do list is unrealistic. If I don’t force myself to take stuff off my desk, it just adds to the pressure, which in turn slows me down.
  6. Pace – Savor the point at life you are currently at. You may be in a fast pace or a slow pace. Small kids will change your pace more than teenagers. Savor where you are right now. As I mentioned I follow a particular pace when developing a message. The temptation is not enjoy it as much as I should.
  7. Process – Sit down and do it. Before I wrote this post there were other things that distracted me. Once again, I tend to follow the same routine every morning. I put the dogs outside for a few minutes and grab a cup of coffee.Then I start out by doing some light reading, then I read the Bible, and then I spend time in prayer. After that I do the other things on my schedule.
  8. Pandemonium – Scale back. Easier said than done. But if we are honest we have brought much of it on ourselves. Today as I write this Carol and I are taking Heather and Savannah to Dulles Airport for their overseas trip. Then we drive to Richmond to watch a play so Carol can see some of her students. Then we come home around midnight. The point is some things you can’t take off your list, but there are some things.

Eight things that get in the way. The good news is there will always be unproductive days. I say good news because that is life. Why feel bad? You simply cannot allow that to destroy you. However, you can have better days. But you must be proactive.

What’s the biggest thing in the way of your own productivity?

Why not tackle that one first.

You’ll feel much better. After all, who wants to end the day feeling unproductive?

get things doneWho hasn’t struggled with productivity? All of us want to be more productive.

Perhaps one of the best places to start is to identify what’s holding you back.

In my own life I have identified eight things that get in the way. Just being able to identify them has proved helpful.

  1. Perfectionism. This shows up when I sit down to type out a message or a blog post. I have to force myself to hit the publish key for the blog to go live. Yes, I could rewrite it, but then I could rewrite it again and it would never go out.
  2. Pain. While physical pain can definitely cramp your productivity, I am thinking more along the lines of emotional pain. It is so widespread and all of us encounter it. And it will slow you down. It has your attention, not the project you are working on.
  3. Procrastination. I wish I could tell you that I never put anything off. But I can’t. Sometimes I just don’t want to jump in and get started. Precious moments are wasted.
  4. Play. To be honest this is not an issue for me, but I have seen it in others. There is nothing wrong with having some play time, but once again, there is a time and a place to play.
  5. Pressure. Deadlines, projects, outside pressures, and even things coming up can distract you and cut into your productivity.
  6. Pace. It’s not unusual for me to use thirty resources when putting together a message. If I don’t properly pace myself, or if I get sidetracked into another resource, then I’ll have to hurry at some point which means that I may not be able to consult a very helpful resource. All because my pace was wrong.
  7. Process. When it comes to writing many times I have to force myself to just sit and write or type. If I try and edit at the same time then I lose some valuable thoughts and it slows me down. The process is something that I face every day.
  8. Pandemonium. Chaos and Clutter. Guilty on both counts. Both include multiple things. It may be numerous things on my to do list, too many obligations, too many conflicting opportunities, and too many things on my work desk.

Just looking at these eight things may help you realize how easy it is to be less productive. These things seem to be ubiquitous. You are always fighting them.

So what’s the plan to overcome these hindrances? That’s coming in the next post.

IMG_1037The NBA season is winding down and things are getting tense.  The Miami Heat tend to have more pressure than some of the other teams. They supposedly put together a dream team a couple of years ago in hopes of winning a championship.

Fortunately they have been able to win back to back championships the last two years. Prior to those championships, their star player, Lebron James, appeared to struggle at key times, i.e. the end of the game. He has been labeled as a bad closer.  Before he was criticized for not coming up big at the end of games with a clutch, game winning shot or play. Fair or not that was the word in the media.

Now I can’t say for sure, but is it the pressure?  We all play differently under pressure. Michael Jordan loved the pressure and always wanted the ball at the end of a close game.  He typically delivered.

But let’s look at the pressure in our own lives.  Perhaps it’s a job interview.  Some great employees are terrible at interview time.  Why? Does the pressure of getting the job hurt their chances?

What about your child who just had a stellar year on the soccer field. Put them in the tryouts for the next level and they have a bad showing. Is it the pressure to perform?

Is it the constant scrutiny? More than likely it is due to increased performance expectations? As a parent it’s a trap that we can easily fall into. Over the years I have watched parents become visibly upset when their child struck out in baseball, missed a shot in basketball, or missed a kick in soccer. As if our kids needed more pressure.

Pressure. You can’t escape it.  It shows up repeatedly.  And when it does it robs you of joy and takes the fun away from the event.

So what can we do to counteract the downside of pressure?

1. Learn to relax. If you miss the basket, will it matter in ten years. For Lebron it may, but not for you.

2. Lighten up with others including your kids. If will be much more fun and enjoyable. It will definitely make the ride back home more enjoyable.

3. Love the pressure. Be excited that you are the one in the position to score. You got the second interview. You have the ball with three seconds left. Relish the moment and make the most of it.

4. Learn from any failures. No one, absolutely no one is perfect under pressure all the time. Learn from it and move forward.

Be honest, where are you allowing pressure to hurt your personal performance?

iStock_000007680150XSmallEvery week I have the opportunity to play basketball with guys much younger than I.  Because I have played sports since I was a kid, there has always been some competitiveness inside of me.

As I get older I often tell Carol that I when I can no longer keep up on the court I will hang up my basketball shoes.  Now that will be a tough day. Right now my goal is to be able to play until I’m sixty. Keep in mind most of the guys I play with are in their late twenties or thirties.

Fortunately for me I was blessed with some speed in the game.  Actually it was speed not skill that often kept me on a team.

But the reality is as I age I will slow down.  And when the day comes that I can no longer keep up, I will stop playing.

Now think how uncomfortable that is.  How often does someone in the workplace approach their boss and admit that they are not keeping up? How hard is it to approach someone and tell them they are no longer keeping up?  I still recall the days in steel erection where some guys just could not keep up, and we had to let them go.

One day you and I will leave our jobs.  One day I will have to quit playing basketball.  One day you and I will have to stop driving our cars.

Those will be tough days.  But they are coming.  And yes, it will continue to be one of life’s most difficult questions.

Am I still able to keep up?

iStockValuesRecently I had coffee with a friend who had worked with Lou Gerstner, one of my favorite CEO’s.  Back in the 1990’s IBM was about to go under. They reported the biggest corporate loss of all time, and Gerstner was brought in to restructure and rebuild the company.

While initially IBM was forced to lay people off, today they boast a workforce of 400,000 and the company is thriving.  However, in the midst of the turmoil Gerstner fired the #1 producer in the company!

Why would he do that?  Because the employee operated against the cultural value of teamwork.  On a side note I totally understand.  At New Hope Church we believe people are hurting and living with a great deal of stress.  The church should be the one place they can come and be accepted and welcomed. If you have a hard time accepting everyone, then you would be uncomfortable in a leadership role at New Hope. One of our core tenets is a welcoming atmosphere.

Back to IBM.  After they fired their #1 producer what was the fallout? There wasn’t one.  The company never missed a beat.

Think about it.  The #1 producer was not indispensable.

As Seth Godin said in his book Linchpin, “Every day, bosses, customers, and investors make hard choices about whom to support and whom to eliminate, downsize, or avoid.”

In most fields tenure is no longer a guarantee. You must show up every day living out the company values.

Perhaps now you know the answer to the question, “Are you indispensable?”

iStock_000016667486XSmallFour of my kids have had various jobs and worked for different bosses.

Some good, and some not so good. So we have had discussions as to how you treat and respond to difficult superiors.

Years ago I worked in retail for a while, and from my perspective the manager was very different. I never got close and never really had a conversation with him. To be honest, my point of view may have been skewed.  However, my immediate boss in the jewelry and silverware department was incredible.

At any rate, the day came when the manager of the store approached me about taking on a large in-house project. Basically I would be doing him a huge favor. This was before bar codes and my job was to go throughout the store and essentially give every item an identifier according to the method of my choice.

It was all to be done manually and I could have declined. However, I gladly accepted the challenge.

All of us will be asked to do things that we may not be excited about, but if our manager or superior asks us, why not jump at the chance?  I once asked a guy who worked for me to take out the trash and he balked. Let’s just say that that did not go over well with me at all. At the same time I gained a little insight into his character.

Sure I understand human thinking.  Why make the boss look good? Why help him out? That’s basically what I was doing for my former manager. But I had no problem with that.

It’s so easy to be self-centered and walk away from projects that do not interest us. But you are better than that. Furthermore the project you walk away from may be the very thing that will aid in your personal development.

This week while others are complaining about the boss, have the character to perform well, take the initiative, go the extra mile, or display a positive behaviors.

What can you do today to set the mood for the entire week at work?