Monday, December 19, 2011

Plan Ahead

In 1997, at Oxford University, they needed to replace the huge wooden beams in the ceiling of one of the old dining halls.  The gigantic oak beams had begun to show signs of rotting, so the replacement was a matter of necessity, not just beautification.  University officials, however, were concerned that they wouldn't be able to find lumber large enough and strong enough for the project.  Then the forester of the university explained that there was no problem.  When the dining hall was built five centuries ago, the forward-thinking university administrators of that day had planted a grove of oak trees specifically for the purpose of replacing those beams when the time came. - Now that’s good planning. 

The acrostic PLAN AHEAD provides a formula for good planning. 

Predetermine your destination.
            Good planning requires that you predetermine where you want to be    
in the future. 

Lay out your goals.
            Lay out your goals after determining your destination.  Goals are not the final destination. They are the stepping stones to reaching your destination.

Adjust your priorities.
            The moment you determine your destination and lay out your goals, you’ll need to adjust your priorities.  If your priorities do not help you reach your desired destination, you will never arrive there. 

Notify Key Personnel
            Bring key people around you.  These would be key influencers in your area.  Those who support you and can help you.

Allow time for acceptance
            Allow time for questions.  Allow time for people to ask the needed questions. 

Head into Action.
            Now you can get moving in the direction to reach your desired destination. 

Expect Problems.
            Planning does not eliminate problems.  Motion causes friction.  Planning can help you attack problems effectively but it will not eliminate problems. 

Always point to your successes.
            There are always those who will point out all your failures.  To counter this, point to the success in your life. 

Daily review your plan.

Remember: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making The Effort

The Atlanta Falcons traded up 21 spots to take wide receiver Julio Jones from the University of Alabama.   Why would the Falcons organization make such a daring and controversial move? The Falcons had seen that Julio had consistently made the effort to do what it takes to win. They felt that  Jones could make the Falcons’ offense much more explosive. 

The one who is considered the wisest man to have ever lived said, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).  In other words, if you make the effort, you will reap the reward. 

I don’t doubt that most of us can recall a time when we failed to receive a desired reward because were not willing to put forth the effort.  You probably can remember a time when you could have succeeded in some area if you had only made the effort.  Maybe it was to get in shape physically or lose weight.  Maybe it was to make an “A” in that class, or become an expert at fishing (I live on the gulf coast).  Maybe it was to build a stronger marriage, or move up to that desired position in the company, or even start your own company.  Whatever the case, making the effort is all it would have taken for you to succeed. 

One commonality among all truly successful people is that they achieved their success by their own hard work.  If you want to get to the top in any area of life, making the effort is essential. 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell talks about The Law of Sacrifice, which says, a leader must give up to go up.  In considering where you want to be or what you want to achieve, ask yourself, “Am I willing to pay the price?”  In other words, are you willing to sacrifice time, energy, money to achieve your dream or reach your goal? 

What is it that you want to achieve? A better marriage?  To be a better parent, friend, or team member?  To become a better leader?  To get in better physical condition?  To become more knowledgeable or skilled in a particular field?  How bad do you want it?  Are you willing to make the effort?   

My hope is that this article will help to generate within you a passion to put forth the effort by working smarter, pushing harder, and lasting longer so that you can reach your goals.  Don't wait until tomorrow to start making the effort.  Start today.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus - Part 6

Relaxation: Take Time To Recharge.
(This post is revised from a previous post by Rick Warren.  While written for pastors, the principle applies to all leaders.)

Leadership is draining.  It’s hard work.  We all need time to just relax.  Jesus encouraged his very busy disciples to take some time for relaxation.  Mark 6:31 says, “Crowds of people were coming and going so that they did not even have time to eat. He [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], ‘Come away by yourselves, and we’ll go to a lonely place to get some rest.’”

Jesus realized th e disciples had been busy serving, and they were tired.  They needed a break.  So he told them to get away and rest.  Rest is so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments.  The fourth commandment says this: every seventh day you take a day off.  Pastor, this applies to you as well.  You need a day away from the church.

Years ago I learned a key to lasting in leadership: divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually.

Divert daily means doing something fun every day. Get a hobby. Do something that relaxes you.

Withdraw weekly means you take a day off every week for relaxation and restoration.

Abandon annually means you get away and forget everything for some time each year.

Your leadership is a key ingredient to helping your organization become all that it can be.  In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 11:14, “Without wise leadership a nation is in trouble.”  That’s true of every single area of life.  Without wise leadership, your organization is in trouble.  If you do not take time to re-energize and refresh, you’ll be making key leadership decisions when you are exhausted.  This is an ingredient for disaster.  Good leaders know that their best decisions are made when they are mentally, physically, and emotionally refreshed and strong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus - Part 5


Leaders must focus on what’s important.  You have probably heard it said many times,  “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  This may be an old cliche but it speaks volumes to the leader.  Another way of saying this is; “First thing first.”  Life is filled with things that will distract you from what’s most  important.  Sometimes we can be distracted by good things as well.  In other words,  it’s not so much doing the wrong things that mess up our lives as it is doing too many good things. Sometimes the good things are  not necessarily the best things.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says that good leaders understand The Law of Priorities which says, “Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.”  Maxwell went on to say that leaders never advance to a point where they no longer need to prioritize.  Nevertheless, many leaders never practice the discipline of prioritizing.  He list three reasons for this:

1. When we are busy we believe we are accomplishing something.
2. Prioritizing requires leaders to continually think ahead.
3. Prioritizing causes us to do things that are uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

Jesus was a master of keeping His focus on the main thing.  He refused to be distracted. Luke 9:51 says, “When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  He headed toward Jerusalem to die on the cross for us.  He did it with an iron will.  He would not let anything distract him from what was important.

Your life has incredible potential.  But that potential won’t be realized until you decide what’s really important and then prioritize your time, talent, money, and energy so that you keep what’s really important the main thing.

What are your top five priorities?  What do you need to do today to make sure that you keep focused on those priorities?