Who Moved My Cheese – Making Change Work For You

draft_lens5303372module44423312photo_1246865297swiss_cheese1Change is something that we go through often. I just had a child graduate from College. Her life has changed and will change. I have a son graduating from High School in a month. If he only knew the change that he will have to live! All 4 of our kids were just born yesterday (it seems like) and changed our lives completely. In our organizations there is constant change as well.

If you have never seen the 15 minute blurb on “Who moved my cheese” it is very interesting. It comes from a book by Spenser Johnson. The movie can be seen HERE.  The audio book can be found HERE. To purchase the book, CLICK HERE.

The principles have to do with the fact that we are in constant change. We need to be able to adapt and change to our circumstances around us. God has created a world where things constantly change, evolve, transition and grow. That is part of the beauty of this life.

Most of us would rather find a comfort zone, get used to it, not have to move and never change. However, God has set us up in an environment where change is constant and will help us grow.

This morning I read a quote from George Bernard Shaw in the book, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man” (page 19).

The world, our organizations and our families need leaders who are not only ready and willing to confront change, but ready and willing to change the world. The progress the world needs can be found as we persistently adapt things around us to ourselves. Yes, we have to adapt in transition and change, but we can also be proactive to make change work for us.

Instead of worrying about change and how this will affect you think about how you can make change be beneficial to you and your life.

Richard Koch in The 80/20 Principle, pg. 20, quotes Joseph Ford, “God plays dice with the universe. But they´re loaded dice. And the main objective is to find out by what rules they were loaded and how we can use them for our own ends.” As a Christian leader I would add – to find out what rules they are loaded with and how we can use them for the Kingdom of God.

Our main objective is to navigate through change, and see the rules that God has put into place to see how we can use them to benefit His kingdom, our lives and the world.

In a little over a month our family is packing up everything we own, storing it for at least a year, and moving to another country. We will then have to buy things, figure out what to do about transportation, visiting family, and set up shop for one year in the new country. Talk about change – this is going to be a crazy summer. One of my kids is getting married, one of my kids just finished her first year of college, and one of our kids will be home schooled. This plus the graduations, weddings I am performing, speaking engagements, major moves and travel that we will experience.

As I look forward to this change I am nervous yet excited. Nervous because it´s going to be a crazy summer. Excited because we can proactively make this change have a greater impact for God, the world and ourselves.

What change do you have in your life this summer?

How can you make it produce fruit in you, others and the world?

 

 

 

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Three Things I Realized About Change

time-to-change-concept-clock-closeup-white-background-red-black-words-35976319

I realized recently that there is something constant about change. That change happens constantly.

Let me explain. Exactly five years ago, I was in a situation that I had to make critical life decisions, very similar to where I am right now. I remember wishing for that magical dagger I can use to bring me back to certain points in my life especially during those times that I had to make a difficult decision – most especially when I made a wrong decision. Let’s just say this was my almost comical, yet fantasy-filled wishful response after watching “The Prince of Persia”, the movie me and my wife watched just before the start of the new school year five years ago. The truth is, as I was then, I am still really wishing for that dagger, simply because, after five years, nothing has changed. Due to many changes in our lives, we have to make difficult decisions right now.

In 2010, big or small, whether we wanted it or not, many changes affected us in so many ways. Like my father’s passing away unexpectedly; team members returning to their own country for good; my sister’s plan to get married and live in the US for good which will mean that my mom will live on her own; Lois, my eldest becoming a teen-ager and a high school neophyte; our rented apartment contract expiring in a couple of months.

Questions hounded me all day long and even when it is time to rest at night. Should we transfer to a new house? Where will my daughter get his secondary education? Can we still handle the ministry that we have lesser workers than before? Who should I put in-charge of our major ministries?

Honestly, I am just afraid – afraid to make a bad decision. The “what ifs” clog my mind.

What if the owner did not renew contract with us and we couldn’t find a new house to rent, where will we live? What if the person I tapped as the new ministry leader was not really capable? What if the new project we just started was not part of God’s direction for our team?

I just want to do it perfectly.

I was reminded then of God’s call for Abraham in Genesis 12 (he was still known as Abram that time). Abraham was called to leave his country and go to a land that God will show him. How difficult that change and decision must be for Abraham. It wasn’t easy to leave his hometown and go to a new place he has no knowledge of yet because God will only show him where as he goes. But the Bible didn’t mention of any dagger in Abraham’s possession. Actually he had one (the one he wanted to use when God asked Abraham to offer Isaac to Him), but he never got to use it because he had something way better than any daggers. That is his faith in His God.

During the course of his life, filled with many changes and challenges, Abraham made many mistakes. What made him succeed is that kept on moving forward, not letting the setbacks and challenges hinder him from reaching his goals.

I realized that I don’t have to go back to the past to change my mistakes.

I just have to keep moving forward. Yes, I will make mistakes (and I need to learn from them), but God assures me that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV). He will also show me His direction as I seek Him and follow Him in faith, just like when Abraham obeyed Him and left his country – He showed Abraham where to go as he went.

I realized that since change is constant, I will never be able to do it perfectly.

I will make mistakes along the way. Many times I will fall flat on my face just like what I have experienced many times in the past. The good news is God will always be there. He promised to be with us until the end of the age. He will never leave us nor forsake us. God corrects and rebukes us, but He also encourages and strengthens us so we can continue with the journey He has called us to undertake.

Changes and decisions will always be a part of our lives, but with God leading the way what else do we need. What are we afraid of? Truly, the Apostle Paul was perfectly right when he said, “If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 37 NIV)

For More On Change: CLICK HERE

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Change: A Thrill Ride or Deep Waters?

Take a moment and look at the following picture:

right-turn-road-sign-lake

Now, what do you think would happen if someone didn’t heed to the warning of slowing down around the turn? Yep, you got it… they could end up in “deep water”!

Have you ever ended up in deep water because you didn’t slow down when you were making an organizational change or shift? A humbling lesson I’ve been learning as a leader is that some (or perhaps most) of the people are not nearly as excited as we are when we are leading the organization toward some type of change. Because we are so excited about the change, we tend to move quickly on it. Like the kid who can’t wait for Christmas to come, we rush in “with guns blazing”. And we’re shocked when others we lead don’t share the same excitement and energy.

The problem is that we forget that a lot of people don’t like change! The other problem is that people haven’t been thinking about the change 24/7 like we have. They haven’t had the time to really process it.

I’ve spent the last year in a new ministry and have been blessed by the growth that has occurred over the course of the year. But it’s had its share of “bumpy roads” along the way. I’m a “change junkie” and find myself energized by change.  Change is good for an organization BUT… it needs to be a good change in a good way. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about transitioning organizations (and people) toward healthy change:

#1)  Make sure you have your “DUCKS IN A ROW”

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”. If we attempt to bring changes and haven’t really thought it through, people may give some grace… the first time. If we lose credibility, we will lose the “mojo” for future change initiatives. Anticipate the questions people will have, and have the answers before they are asked.

#2)  Make sure you have RELATIONAL “BUY IN”

Have you built the necessary relational equity to move forward? As the old saying goes “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Trust is a huge component if people are going to step out of their comfort zone and embrace change. Also, anticipate those who will resist and connect with them privately before you take it public.

#3)  Make sure they see the VISION behind the change

Helping people see the bigger picture will make the sacrifice and discomfort that change can bring worth embracing. It can be done in various ways. Be creative. Don’t just tell them. Share some stories from other people. Use metaphors and visuals that keeps the vision for change a motivating factor for them as the initial excitement wears off.

#4)  Make sure it’s the RIGHT SEASON for change

Good ideas may come at a bad time. The motto is true, “timing is everything”. Also, too many changes too quickly together may not be wise. We need to learn to pace ourselves and give people a chance to “come up for air” and breathe a bit.

Change is good. Every organization will experience change if it is to grow and thrive. Every leader needs to be an agent of change. BUT, let’s make sure we are slowing down around those turns. It can be a thrill ride or it can end up in deep waters. Which will it be for you?

For More On Change, CLICK HERE

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Excitement in Change

images-1Russ talked about “The Fear of Change” the other day.

There is also an excitement in change, because those updates will allow me to do something I couldn’t do before.

I like Russ’ quote from Lao Tzu, a philosopher and poet of ancient China (about 600 years before Christ) who was said to be a contemporary of Confucius and the founder of Taoism. Tzu said, Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  

There are advantages to embracing change, not resisting it, facing it head on and learning to work with it.

The excitement of New Challenges.  Life is a series of changes, physically, emotionally and spiritually. That is a fact.  We all change and the situations around us change. Just think back to where you were a year ago.  You have changed because that is the natural course of things.  The Apostle Paul said, “The old is passed away, behold, all things become new”.  Even as you grow older and change, you enter and pass through different seasons, each one with its own excitement.  Focus on that and look expectantly for the next change. Anticipate and accept change.  Let it be something ‘new’ to you.

The excitement of Obvious Growth.  As changes come, as you pass from one situation to another, realize that growth and learning are taking place.  You are not the same as you were before.  You know more and are smarter. If fact, you can do more. Embrace the challenge of learning new things, of adjusting to new situations, of facing new problems.  That means you are alive.  It will make you a better person, a better influence, with broader experience.

The excitement of Understanding Reality.  To live is to change.  We get taller, then we get shorter.  We have hair and then we lose hair. We become leaders, then we become helpers. We parent children, then we parent adults. We are doers, then we are watchers. Each stage has its advantages and disadvantages.  Each stage has its sweet memories and its regrets. And, each stage gives you an opportunity to say, ‘been there, done that!’

The excitement of Progress.  Nothing is worse than the same old thing. We like variety in our food, in our clothing and in our lives. If things don’t change we get bored, or we get distracted by something that looks like more fun. Change allows newness in our everyday living. Expect it, look for it and welcome it.  It means you are alive.

Here’s my secret:  I have discovered that there is seldom anything you can do to stop change.  It will catch you if you run, it will roll over you is you resist.  So, spend what energy you have figuring out how to live with it.  Maybe you can delay it a bit or compromise in some way, but change always wins.  

So, let change be your friend, not your enemy.  Figure out ways to work with it and allow it to help you be a better person, a better leader.

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The Fear of Change

The iPhone 4I don’t know about you, but when I see the notification on my phone or computer that says “New Update Available” I panic a little bit.

It seems that these updates are coming more often now, and just about the time I get used to the way things are, there’s an update that causes things to change.

Sometimes I put it off and ignore it.

Sometimes I embrace it and do it immediately.

Sometimes I ask someone else about it to see how it went for them.

I respond differently every time.

In fact, we all respond to change in different ways, because it affects us all differently.

Some of us ignore it and hope that it will go away.

Some of us embrace it and are actually excited about what the change will bring.

Some of us want to get consensus to see if others will be happy with the change, than we step into it.

Here’s the truth about change:  It’s Coming. It’s ALWAYS Coming. I hate to tell you this, but you can’t ignore it and you can’t avoid it. It’s coming.

This is what happens when you allow fear to keep you from embracing the change:

FEAR will Paralyze you.

You’ll be stopped in your tracks, you won’t be able to breath. The fear of change, of something new, might upset you, it might cause you to freak out.

FEAR will Isolate you.

Some people have learned to adjust with the continual change that is coming. If you can’t learn to adjust, you will be left behind, you will be isolated.

FEAR will Embarrass you.

You will be asked about something that is constantly changing, and you need to be able to be informed and able to communicate how you have addressed this particular area of change.

FEAR will Discourage you.

We don’t like to be stuck. When we see things changing around us, it’s easy to get discouraged, to lose hope, to feel overwhelmed.

Here’s a little secret:  While I am sometimes very quick to embrace change, there are other times that I resist it. There are times that I don’t want anything to do with it, in fact, there are times that I fight it.  Sometimes change just comes too quickly. Sometimes the change makes things worse. Sometimes the change is really inconvenient. Sometimes I just don’t want to change!

How are you doing with the fear of change?

Think of a recent change you’ve embraced or ignored:  How did you feel through that process? How did it work out? What could you have done differently?

Don’t let the fear of change keep you from identifying and addressing the change. Figure out what your comfort level is, and don’t get stuck!

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu

*For more on CHANGE

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Doing Change Right

imagesAs I look back on the various relationships that I have had with different leaders, I can count the effective ‘agents of change’ on one hand.
Most leaders are so involved in ‘putting out fires’ or ‘maintaining what they have’, that they really don’t have time to initiate and orchestrate change correctly.


Let me give you the four biggest mistakes these preoccupied leaders make when they try to bring about change just because they don’t take the time to plan it out carefully.
1.      They appear to have to be right.  They don’t have time to discuss this thing.  They have to move now and they have to do it their way to be sure it is done right.  That usually means they speak first and loudest, dominating the conversation.  It means they end up making most the decisions. They dare not lose control. Their time management suffers.
2.      They appear totally inflexible. They might as well shout ‘Don’t confuse me with facts!’. They love those who agree with them and shun those who find problems with their ideas. They have tunnel vision and can only see their solution. They have very poor listening skills.
3.      They lose their sense of humor. Constructive criticism becomes the enemy. Those who do not appear to be totally in agreement are often viewed as disloyal to them. Little setbacks become major issues because they don’t have time to do things right.
4.      Their organizational skills suffer.  Because it is often their idea, they feel like they have to ‘carry the ball’. Some times their honesty is questioned.  Accountability at all levels becomes an issue. Sometimes they become far too impulsive to an easy route.

Change requires effective leadership and team work.  When it is done right, it is a beautiful thing.

 

Posted in Leadership Community, Organizational Development, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , ,

3 Kinds of Leaders

ODThis week, I was challenged in my thinking by Bob Shank (The Masters Program) as he taught about 3 different roles leaders play in the life of an organization. (To get the full perspective, join The Masters Program!)

Every organization needs one or a blend of these leaders at some point in the course of growth:

#1) An ORIGINATOR

This is the innovative thinker, the dreamer, the visionary. This is the leader that likes to begin new initiatives and launch new vision.

#2) An ORGANIZER

This is a strategist. This doesn’t mean they aren’t visionaries, but they do best by bringing vision into reality. Without an organizer, many great movements die.

#3) An OPERATOR

This person is a management expert. They are consistent, and they create the daily functions that help the organization to live, grow and thrive.

There’s also a blend of these. A Leader can be an “Originator/Organizer” or and “Organizer/Operator” or any combination to different degrees.

When we look at this, we begin to understand why some “movements” make it and some don’t. Some leaders are natural originators, but they have no idea how to make things last. Others are great operators, but they aren’t builders.

In many organizations, the assumption is that just because someone has a vision or a great idea, they know how to turn it into an organization that lasts.

For any organization to last, there needs to be a blend of leadership strengths and gifts. Once in a while there’s a leader that can do all of these things, but that is rare. This is why it’s so important to choose the right people to lead, develop and grow an organization.

I was recently working with a leader, and his vision was to help kids in his country. He was a great leader, and before he knew it, he had 60 staff members, a large national organization, and he was spending all of his time solving problems and managing his staff. He didn’t even get to connect with kids in crisis anymore. He was wondering how this happened and what he could do about it. We talked about his need to find an “organizer/operator” to come alongside him and help his vision grow and continue. He was even willing to step aside and let someone else lead. He didn’t want to manage, nor was he good at it. He was a great visionary though!

Think about your role. What kind of leader are you? What are your gifts and strengths? What have you experienced?

Here are some thoughts:

• Figure Out Where You Work Best

Look at your history; Where do you work best? Where do you feel that you make the best contribution? I’m not asking what you’d “like” to do, I’m asking historically, when have you been in the best place?

• Who Helps You The Most

Look at these three roles: Originator, Organizer, Operator.  What do you need to come alongside of you and your leadership? An example: You may be a great “systems person”, but you need someone looking ahead at what’s coming next. You know that you work better if you partner with an originator.

• Identify Your Strengths and Make a Shift

If you’re feeling trapped, overwhelmed, burned-out or you just don’t know what to do next, there’s a high probability that you’re working in the wrong role. Make a change. You will not last if you’re not working in your giftedness. The organization won’t last if they don’t have the right combination of strengths. For a while things will be fine, but it won’t last.

Marcus Buckingham tells us in “Now, Discover Your Strengths” that there’s no way we can all work in our giftedness ALL of the time. But he does encourage us to find ways to work MORE in our giftedness.

Some of you need to make some changes.

Some of you need to recruit some people who will help you do your best.

What are you doing to do?

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

What Mickey Mouse Taught Me About Leadership

imgresA few weeks ago my wife and I were in Orlando for a conference and since it was 0 degrees where we live and time away from our six kids is always a good thing, we decided to take a mini-vacation. And since it was Orlando, we went to Disney World. (Actually, they throw you in jail if you don’t visit Disney while in Orlando).

We ended up going to Hollywood Studios. So I’ll go ahead and turn in my “man card” now and admit… I am afraid of roller coasters! But my wife loves Disney and you got to keep the “Mrs.” happy. So my strategy was to go to every show possible so there wouldn’t be time to go on the dreaded Tower of Terror. I was so desperate; I even took her to the Beauty and the Beast musical show (I figured it had to be better than dying on the elevator that drops 200 feet to the ground).

Little did I know that my stall tactic would lead me to a presentation that profoundly challenged me as a leader. The presentation was Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, a museum that celebrated the life of the creator of Mickey Mouse and Disney World, Mr. Walter Disney. The show included a taped presentation of Walter Disney before his death in 1966.

Here are three leadership principles that emerged from Walter Disney’s presentation:

#1 FAILURE can be GOOD
We remember him for his successes but he had a number of failures as a cartoonist early on. He said in the presentation that failure early on could help build character for long-term leadership success. Let me put it another way… Failure doesn’t have to DEFINE us, it can be used to REFINE us. The world would never had known Mickey Mouse if Disney had given up after a few failures!

#2 Take BREAKS or You’ll BURN OUT
Disney admitted he had suffered a nervous breakdown in 1931 for working at an unsustainable pace. He took a good part of the year off and came back refreshed and rejuvenated. My guess is that his break saved his career. What a great reminder for us. If God took the seventh day off to “rest”, we should as well. Too busy? No, too busy NOT to!

#3 Never stop DREAMING
What impressed me most about Walter Disney was that he never rested on his past success, he kept dreaming ’til the end. In fact, he never actually saw Disney World completed but it was his dream that inspired it’s completion a few years after his death. His dreams outlived his life. May it be so with us as well, leaders. Keep dreaming. Keep moving forward (even if you have a few failures along the way). And take some breaks along the way.

And by the way, I did survive the Tower of Terror. And yes, I may have screamed like a 6 year old. And no, I will never go on it again!

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , ,

Time To Move!

imgresThis past week, we moved.  Yes, we packed up everything in our house and moved into a different house just a mile away. We squeezed the move into a busy month and a busy week, and we worked hard to get everything ready. It’s amazing what a couple of people can do when they put their mind to it. Our goal was to have everything moved by 1:00pm on Saturday, and we hit the goal…just barely, but we did it. We had some great help from family and friends, and now we will continue to unpack and organize as we enjoy this home.

I remember a feeling on Friday morning, in the middle of the move. My wife got up early and was packing boxes. I was in bed, sore from hauling boxes the day before, and I wanted to just lay there for a little while longer. The conversation I had with myself was a back-and-forth discussion about why it would be better to turn over and go back to sleep instead of getting out of bed and get moving, even though it was only 6:00am. Eventually I crawled out of bed, groaning, and kicked into gear to catch up with my wife’s pace.

We kept the pace and achieved the goal.

I don’t know about you, but do you struggle with motivation? Sometimes it’s just so easy to turn over in bed and NOT go to the gym; It’s easy to NOT start and finish that project around the house that has been waiting for you; It’s easy to NOT focus at work and get the things done that need to be completed.

Motivation: “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

Here are a five tips to help you to keep moving today:

#1) Keep Your Eye on the Goal

Know what it is you want to do, you need to do. Create goals to help you know when you have reached it.

Example: I want to lost 5 pounds so I’m going to manage my diet and exercise until I lose 5 pounds.

#2) Get Some Help

Invite others to help you. They can either help you complete what you want to get done, or they can provide some accountability by checking in with you. Knowing that someone else is watching and cares is great motivation!

Example: I’m going to finish writing 5 chapters of my book and I have asked a friend to ask me about it at the end of the month.

#3) Manage Your Time & Resources

Distractions will keep you from doing what you want to do. Watch out for them. Limit them. Run from them. Stay focused!

Example: I need to get 7 hours of sleep so I can be my best at work, but I stayed up late watching a great movie. Bad choice as it affected my work, which was a priority!

#4) Know Your Limitations

Sometimes the things we are trying to accomplish are unrealistic, and we are constantly discouraged because we don’t get everything done that we want to. Be realistic. Create SMART GOALS.

Example: I want to lose 75 pounds this week, so I’m going to manage my diet and exercise until I lose 75 pounds this week.  Unrealistic!

#5) Celebrate & Rest

When you hit your goal and complete something you are working towards, stop and celebrate! Enjoy the moment, don’t just dive into something new. Take some time to rest, even if it’s a short break or a walk around the block. This will prepare you for the next goal.

Example: We finished our move, we made the deadline. We took the next day off of packing and moving and had some fun.

 If it’s Time to Move, Get Moving!

 

“Do it NOW. Sometimes ‘LATER’ becomes ‘NEVER'”

“Don’t stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done.”

“Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up” Winston Churchill

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King

For More on Getting Things Done

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FAT People Make The Best Volunteers

volunteer_handsWith the start of the new year many of us are trying to shed the fat. But when it comes to finding volunteers for our organizations, FAT is the new skinny. Find FAT people! Say it with me: “Find FAT people! Find FAT people!”

Ok, as you probably figured out, there’s a catch to this. Many years ago when I began in leadership, I learned an acronym that has stuck with me. It’s the three qualities you want to look for in someone you mentor or want to have serve with you. Here it is:

aithful

A vailable

eachable

It’s as true today as it was when I first heard this acronym. The people I want to “breathe into” and have serving alongside of me are people who are FAITHFUL to the vision and task, AVAILABLE to give the time the vision demands, and have a TEACHABLE spirit. A person can have all the talent in the world but if they do not possess these three qualities they will do more harm than good. You will have to spend time “cleaning up their messes”. They will jeopardize the team culture you are trying to develop. And ultimately, they will hinder your pursuit of the God-sized vision you’ve been given for your organization.
Here’s a practical suggestion. Go through your team and rate each of them in these three areas. As you coach your team, take the highest score for each person and find a way to affirm them over the next couple weeks. For example, “Bill, I just wanted to let you know how much I respect and appreciate how AVAILABLE you always are to help with whatever task is brought to you, big or small. It means so much to this organization.”

Ok, now the harder part. For those who have a low score, have a loving but firm conversation on how important it is for them to grow in that particular area. Remember your role as a coach. Brainstorm ways you can help them in developing that area over this coming year. And now the really hard part. If you have someone who continues to score low on TEACHABLE and is not teachable on learning to become teachable… it may be time to part ways. Never an easy conversation. As hard as that conversation may be, it won’t compare to the frustration of not effectively moving forward with your vision because you have some “wrong people on the bus”.

Ok, one more practical suggestion: Take the time to rate yourself as well. Ouch, right? If we expect our team to continue to grow and develop, we must lead by example. Take baby steps. Just focus on the lowest score for yourself. Spend the next couple months and focus on growing in that area. And this is important… be teachable enough to ask someone to come alongside of you and help you grow. Find a trainer who will help you get FAT!

John Maxwell, in his book “Equipping 101”, says “An organization’s growth potential is directly related to it’s personnel potential”. Want to grow your organization? Help develop a FAT personnel.

Say it with me one more time: “Find FAT people!”

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