tough choices

I have been reading Carly Fiorina’s book, Tough Choices. She basically tells her story and makes some great leadership observations along the way. Today I read a chapter called “Adopt and Go”. She talked a bunch about the merger between HP and Compaq and the need to come up with a new identity for the new, combined company. Since I have been a values kick, I wanted to quote her perspective on the need for values in an organization.

“Values are signposts to guide people’s behavior when the rules aren’t clear and the supervisor isn’t present. Goals and metrics are what gets done; values are how those things get done.”

“Values are aspirational; not everyone in the organization lives up to them every day. Yet there’s a difference between falling short of an aspiration…and willful violation of bedrock principles.”

That’ what I’m saying.  The further away from leadership you get, the more difficult it is to know how to operate and what really matters.  Values are a way to take the guess work out; to help people further down make decisions that line up with what the organization is about.

If you are looking for a good read, Tough Choices, by Carly Fiorina gets a thumbs up from me.

show up

I don’t love talking in large groups…OK, maybe I do like it, but I never like that feeling of not knowing exactly what to say.  Yesterday I needed to stand up in front of a group and was really not sure what to say.  I wrote myself a couple notes, I stressed about it, and even got some sweaty palms.  When it came time to open my mouth, I am not sure that anything profound came out, but words definitely came out that I hadn’t planned on.  Afterwards, I realized that I had stepped up to what I needed to be about, I had even prepared to make it the best possible (which still felt like not enough) and God had showed up to make up the difference.  After it was all over I was sitting in the services and realized that if nothing else, people get a chance to see what I think and feel instead of me being the only one who knows.

If I want the culture at Willow to be one that I am proud to be a part of I need to keep stepping up to these chances to speak into the culture, even when I don’t like the feeling of not knowing exactly what to say.  If I am obedient, God will show up.

new year’s resolution…2 months late

I have resolved this year to not sit back and let things suck.  Whether it is relationships, or process, or the product or a bad decision, I am committed to doing something.  I may not have the appropriate positional authority, but I am going to try none the less.

So far this year, it has been great to see God work as I have stepped out to tackle a potentially sticky situation.  Since I have no control over the outcome, I have enjoyed the direction God chooses to move things in.  I was looking back at an older blog and noticed that a year ago I had a similar New Year’s Resolution.  As I recall, those particular situations got unpleasant, but my character has grown a ton.  I think I am going to keep it up.


A group of people working together toward the same goal is natually doomed to failure.   We are all different and  we all have a different idea of what the same goal is.  Daily leadership and constant reminders and crystal clear vision is required to bring all of us together, moving in the same direction.  It is amazing that anything happens in groups with the criteria being so tough.  I am praying for God to bring those things to our team.  Only He can any way.  I can’t.

being creative

I had a run of great meetings yesterday. They were focused. They were full of people heading in the same direction. We were being creative and using the gifts that God had given to each of us. Looking back, yesterday was probably the best day in a long while. It seemed like we were actually going somewhere.

I will attempt to not take for granted a group of people working well together. What a gift.

bend the arc of history

I am not totally sure I am a fan of Obama, but I have to say that he not only has a great speech writer, but he can deliver the lines! In his acceptance speech, he talked about reaching up and bending the arc of history. I thought it was such a moving picture. To have control of history. To be able to affect history. To be an influence on the future.

I think that as a production person, I always assumed that someone else would make sure things were going well. That someone else would figure out how to solve the problems we were facing. I am in a season right now where I see problems and wonder if anyone is going to do anything about them. I don’t know if anyone knows what to do or maybe think they don’t have the freedom to do anything.

Obama’s speech has got me thinking. I need to be willing to create the future I see. I have to be willing to put myself on the line and make the changes I think need to happen. I need to reach up and bend that sucker. I can’t wait for someone else to grab it.

what you believe

It is amazing to me how important a mission statement and values are. I used to think they were a waste of time, which, at the time, they probably were. But without a framework, how can anybody work together to get anything done? How can we agree on what success looks like without knowing what success looks like?

We have been struggling with this lately here. Each person has their own idea of what matters and what doesn’t. Their own idea of what a homerun is. Their own idea of success.

Even though the idea of sitting down and working through what the point is, sounds awful. Do it. When it is all over, everyone will be on the same page, headed for the same goal. Success (or failure) will be obvious…or at least more obvious.

the great divide

I think all people in production and all people on stage could agree on one thing for sure.  It would be acknowledging the huge chasm that separates us.  There are million different ways that we could define this chasm, but the obvious one to me is a physical one:  the distance between the stage and the production booth.  This gap creates many misunderstandings.  We can have the most sophisticated inter-comm system, but it cannot bridge this gulf.  No matter which side of the divide you are on, it is easy to think the other side is unapproachable. 
Not to be a suck up or anything, but Bill Hybels’ book “Just Walk Across the Room” applies in this situation.  For the differences between the performing artists and the technical artists to be overcome, it is the responsibilty of each of us to get up off our comfort zone and walk across this divide. 
We have a new worship leader that none of us have a relationship with yet.  I have been encouraging all of the production team to go out of there way to get to know this guy.  We need a foundation to build our working relationship on.  We don’t need to schedule a meeting, we need to invite him to coffee.  I know time will tell, but it isn’t all up to the new person.

This time…

Now I’m serious!  This is that place that I am going to post my learnings and not get too serious about them.  For me, it takes a long time to figure out what to say, but I think I am up for it.  Nothing fancy.  Short and to the point.