5 Ways To Start Your Year At The Office

Post by Tommy Bowman

It’s a new year and if you’re like me you’re back at the office after a nice, long break. And perhaps you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Well, don’t be. Try these steps this week as you get back to work:

1. Map it out

Before you start working, be sure to map out your week. Prioritize what must get done first. Know what you must accomplish and know what can wait. This is true of all weeks but this week especially, block out your calendar for maximum productivity and hold to it. It’s probably not the week to be flexible. Save that for next week.

2. Stay “out of office”

Hopefully you had your Out Of Office on over your break. Well, leave it on. Just for one more day. Perhaps change it to “I’m playing catch-up…I’ll be sure to respond first thing tomorrow morning.” Spend day one responding to the pile in your inbox and then get back to your responsive routine tomorrow.

3. Shut your door

There are a ton of questions to ask and even more to answer when you return to work. You could spend your entire first day in conversation and not on work. Map out a time during step one to get your necessary check-ins scheduled. Keep them tight and then get in your office and shut the door.

4. Ease into it

I might be too late for this one. If so, use this one next time. I find it helpful to get into the office a day before your first day back. Erase your whiteboards, clear your desk, get any needed supplies. This is also a great time to do step one.

5. Work after hours

This is a secret tip of mine. In the process of easing back into it, try going home early, getting a workout in, eating a meal with your family, and going back in for an hour or two in the evening. You’d be surprised by how focused you can be in the evening. Especially with an empty office.

Give these a try this week as you get back to work in 2014. Please share a comment and add a helpful tip of your own!

Tommy is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams.

Are You Complacent in Your Clarity?

Re-post from Jenni Catron

Every year I grow to understand myself a bit better.  My strengths become clearer.  My passions are more easily defined.  I know better what I like and dislike.

This is mostly good.  I have greater clarity on my purpose and calling and am less compelled to chase the dreams of others.  Most of the time.

But I’m also realizing that the better I understand myself the more opinionated and less flexible I’ve become.

Phrases like “That’s the way I’m wired” or “I need to play to my strengths” are quick to roll off my tongue.

And while I firmly believe we need to chase diligently after an understanding of our unique gifts and passions (our Clout if you will), I can’t help but fear that my seemingly clearer picture of myself is inhibiting me from pushing myself to grow.

Do I chase knowledge with the same fervor as I did a decade ago?

Will I put myself in new and uncomfortable circumstances to stretch my thinking and my comfort zone?

Am I trying new things, engaging different conversations, meeting new people?

While purpose and clarity are incredibly important, watch for the drift in your life to become complacent in your clarity.

As you begin dreaming and planning for 2014, I encourage you to consider these questions.

How can I chase knowledge in a new way?

What new environments do I need to explore?

What new things can I try?

What different conversations should I have?

Who do I need to meet?

New knowledge and experiences will continue to add layers to the clarity of who you are and who you are becoming.  Don’t let your clarity lull you to complacency.  Keep growing.  Keep learning!

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

Do The Right Things vs. The Nice Things

Post by Mark Miller

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you can easily discern a pattern over last few posts. I’m thinking about next year. It happens every year during the fourth quarter – I want to figure out how to have more impact in the upcoming year. I believe every leader should struggle with the same issue.

Mi 2 Doors

My assistant shares my passion for continuous improvement. Recently, Teneya shared an idea that challenged me in a profound way – she has a habit of doing that.

While talking about how both of us could make a bigger impact in 2014, she said, “We’re going to have to decide to do the right things vs. the nice things.”

I’m still processing the implications of this idea. However, I know she’s right. How often do we find ourselves trading the right thing for the nice thing? For me, I’m afraid it happens far too often.

What does this look like in your world? Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things and which ones are the right things. I’m betting you’ll know the difference.

Nice Thing or Right Thing?

Set a new strategic direction or stay the course to avoid challenging anyone?

Attend a portion of an all-day meeting or stay all day so as not to offend the host of the meeting?

Challenge a team member who fails to prepare for a meeting or avoid the issue?

Decline a speaking engagement or accept every request regardless of the audience?

Dismiss an employee who can’t grow with the business or keep the person on the payroll indefinitely?

Eliminate a program to reallocate needed resources or sacrifice new ideas so outdated ones can be funded?

Have a difficult performance conversation or continue to give inflated performance ratings?

Say “no” to non-strategic work or say “yes” to non-strategic work?

Confront problems and issues or avoid discussing problems at all costs?

Give stretch assignments to people and expect them to struggle or avoid giving stretch assignments because they may create some discomfort?

Cut your losses when a product or program has failed or continue to let a project flounder to avoid confronting the project leader?

Pursue truth through conflict or avoid conflict because it makes some people uncomfortable?

As I’ve begun to talk about this issue with people, the immediate question is, “How can you tell the difference between the Right Thing and the Nice Thing?” That’s a fair question. Clearly, it’s not always as obvious as the examples above. I’ll share some additional thoughts on how we might discern the difference next week. But here’s my experience – my challenge is not knowing the difference. My challenge is finding the courage to act on what I know.

Business leader (Chick-fil-A corporate staff), author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. Called to encourage and equip leaders around the world. Check out his blog greatleadersserve.org

Fiercely Curious

Post by Tommy Bowman

Is more work coming out of you than inspiration is going in? Todd Henry, in his book Die Empty, calls this Creative Inversion.

For most of us, it’s difficult to slow down the work flow that is coming out of us. We work hard and we enjoy working hard. On top of that, stopping to be inspired can feel like you aren’t getting anything done.

What if the quantity of your work slightly decreased so that the quality of your work greatly increased? 

For this to be true of us we must become fiercely curious. Here’s how:

1. Keep a list of questions.

  • These should be big “What if?” questions.
  • I keep a list of questions to the left of my desk. I write them down on a Post-It note and slap them onto a board categorized from High Priority to Back Burner.
  • Most of the important projects that I accomplish start with these questions.

2. Dedicate time to pursue these questions.

  • Blocking time to ask important questions needs to be a priority enough to be in your calendar.

3. Prototype Relentlessly

  • Simply put, this means to try it out.
  • Begin to answer your questions through experimental action.
  • This where the answers to your questions pick up momentum.

4. Find your “bliss station”

  • This is your uninterrupted space where creativity happens.
  • We all can have these. We need to seek them out and keep them sacred.
  • Mine is in my car. When I remove myself from my work I can look forward to the questions I should be asking.

What would it look like if you did a little bit less of staying on task?

What would it look like if you did a little bit more of daydreaming?

Tommy is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams.

Follow the GLS – Journey to Estonia

Post by Rena Kosiek

WCA has given me the opportunity to attend a GLS. So today, I’ve packed my bags and I am heading to Estonia. Join me in this journey to learn more about the GLS and what God is doing around the world.

I will be posting updates on our blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Use #followthegls if you have any questions along the way. I am really looking forward to sharing this journey with you and seeing what God will do!

Rena lives near Chicago and works as the Online Marketing and Communications Manager for Willow Creek Association. She is a seeker of experience, creatively inspired, and a perspective guru. Follow her on Twitter: @RenaKosiek

 

The Honor of Inclusion

Re-post by Jenni Catron

“Pick me.”

“Tell me your secret.”

“Share your story.”

My childhood memories are filled with longings for inclusion.

Don’t leave me on the sidelines.  Let me be in your circle.

Those longings intensified with those I loved or respected.  If you were a kindred spirit, the longing to be a part of your world only deepened.  If you were someone I respected, to be included made me feel esteemed.

One of our greatest human longings is the desire to belong.

As leaders, we have the opportunity to give others the gift of inclusion.  When we invite them into our world to learn to grow or to simply be a part, we give them the gift of belonging.  We esteem them as honored.  We counteract the doubts and insecurities that plague them in the quiet.  We give them hope.  We affirm their significance.

It’s a simple gift to give and yet we so easily withhold.

I challenge you to confront whatever keeps you from giving the gift of inclusion.  Is it busyness?  Is it fear?  Is it insecurity?  Is it a scarcity mentality?

Whatever it is that holds you back, confront it and honor someone today with the gift of inclusion.

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

Lead Yourself Well to Lead Others Better

Re-post by Jenni Catron

Something deep inside each of us longs to count. We want to matter to the world. We long to make a difference. We get bored, tired, even depressed by routine and monotony. We’re desperate for significance. We’re searching for acknowledgment. We want to be known.

But to be known begins with knowing ourselves.

God has equipped you and designed you to live out your unique calling and gifting as a leader. Your heart yearns for influence because it is a part of how He created you. It’s God-designed, but it can also be humanly-distorted if we neglect the most important part of leadership – self-leadership.

Self-leadership is defined as “the process” of influencing oneself to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.

Leadership begins with yourself. You must lead yourself well to lead others better.

“There is a person with whom you spend more time than any other, a person who has more influence over you, and more ability to interfere with or to support your growth than anyone else. This ever-present companion is your own self. “ Dr. Pamela Butler, Clinical Psychologist

I believe that self-leadership is the foundation for leadership and unfortunately it’s not the flashy part. It’s the tough part. It doesn’t get attention or affirmation. No one is singing your praises for leading yourself well. In fact, here are a few tough truths that we need to understand about self-leadership:

  • No one cares more about your personal development than you do.
  • You can’t wait for someone else to lead you.
  • No one owes you leadership.
  • No one is responsible for your leadership development.

I share these things to challenge you, because if you understand the hard work of self-leadership, and pour yourself into it without expectations of others or an entitled attitude, you will develop the character and core of a remarkable leader.

Parker Palmer reminds us that, “Good leadership comes from people who have penetrated their own inner darkness and arrived at the place where we are at one with one another. People who can lead the rest of us to place of ‘hidden wholeness’ because they have been there and know the way.”

Your God-given influence – your leadership – is a gift to you and others. We need you to thrive so that you can help others thrive. This journey of self-leadership, although painful at times, is part of what equips you to be the leader God has called you to be.

So just how do we do this?

Here are, what I believe, are the core elements of developing self-leadership. These are just listed to get you thinking. You’ll need to unpack them and determine what steps you will need to take to grow in each of these areas.

1. Character

  • Who you are when no one is looking
  • Attention to your spiritual and emotional health
  • Expecting more from you than others do
  • Relentless pursuit of the character qualities you want to be true of you

2. Discipline

  • Be the one to get it done
  • Set goals for yourself in all areas: personal, professional, family, and fun
  • Take initiative
  • “Leaders are readers”; Read ferociously
  • Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it
  • Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you

3. Self-awareness

  • Know your strengths & weaknesses
  • Seek counsel
  • Identify mentors
  • Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation

Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership.

How are you doing in the area of self-leadership? What one thing could you start working on today to improve?

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.