Leadership Weekly

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People Do Things for Their Reasons, Not Yours

But now I said to them, "You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!" — Nehemiah 2:17

Gordon Bethune took over Continental Airlines as CEO when it was in a free fall in 1994. The airline had one of the worst on-time records in the business. Customer service almost didn't exist. Planes were dirty. Workers lost luggage.

The first problem Bethune tackled was the on-time record. He pledged non-manager workers $65 bonuses every month the airline's on-time rate put it in the top five nationwide. Baggage handlers, gate and reservation clerks, flight attendants, and secretaries were all part of the pool.

He arrived at the $65 by determining what it cost the company each month to run flights late. At $5 million per month, Bethune was willing to give half of that back to the employees ($65 times 40,000 employees) if they turned their on-time record around. He announced the program in January 1995. In February of 1999, 80% of Continental's flights landed on time.

By providing a financial windfall to the employees, all of a sudden, planes were clean. Motivation was up. So were profits. People were doing things for their reasons.

During Nehemiah's time, the city walls encircling Jerusalem, God's holy city, lay in ruins. It was a disgrace. A city's walls were for protection. Without the stone barricade and nothing to stop their enemies, the inhabitants were defenseless and vulnerable to attack.

People are experts in cost-benefit analysis. Everybody asks, "What's in it for me?" Constructed walls around Jerusalem would benefit the residents of the city. Nehemiah knew this and acted on it. He led the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the wall, not for his sake (he lived a thousand miles away) but for their sake. And, it wasn't an extra $65 a month in their paycheck; it was for the protection of their very lives and their families.

One can poke, prod, and push people, and they don't move. But give them a good reason--one of their reasons--a way in which they will benefit, and they will follow where you lead.

People do things for their reasons, not your reasons. Their reasons. read more

Is Your Life Balanced?

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. — Luke 2:52

A balanced life is characterized by order, peace, and wholeness. The various parts of life are as they should be and where they should be. Each part of the balanced life gets the right amount of time and effort at the right time. It's not giving each part of life the same amount of time that makes life balanced; it's giving each part the necessary allotment of time.

The life of Jesus is an excellent model concerning balance. Throughout his life, Jesus was under constant pressure. Friend and enemy alike pursued him. Yet, when examining his life as recorded in Scripture, one sees that he never hurried, that he never had to play catch up, and that he was never taken by surprise. He managed time well, bringing it under control, because he knew the importance of balance. Jesus' life was well rounded. He grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Does your life reflect a balance? Do you make time for intellectual growth? If you are too busy to read a book or engage in study that stimulates the mind, you are too busy. Do you make time for physical health? Many people burn out because of improper personal maintenance. Don't be another fatality on the emotional highway. Take care of your physical self. Do you make time for your relationship with God? Do you feel too busy for prayer, Bible study, meditation, or devotions? Psalms 46:10 can be translated, "Take time and know that I am God." A popular hymn gives this advice: "Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord . . . Take time to be holy, the world rushes on," but do we do it? Do you make time for primary relationships? Is adequate time provided for your spouse, family, and friends?

Only you can answer those questions honestly. And, only you can take the necessary steps to bring order, harmony, and balance back in your life. Start today. read more

How's Your Vision?

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. — Proverbs 29:18

Robert Fritz wrote, "It is not what a vision is; it's what a vision does." What does a vision do? Vision is the ability to see. Helen Keller was asked, "Is there anything worse than being blind?" "Yes," she replied, "having eyesight but no vision!"

Leaders imagine a preferred future. Vision is the stuff of the future. Vision is the vivid image of the compelling future God wants to create through you. Leaders can stand up and say this is where we are going.

Mike Vance tells of being at Walt Disney World soon after its completion when someone said, "It's too bad Walt Disney didn't live to see this." Vance replied, "He DID see it--that's why it's here."

What kind of vision do you have?

Myopic vision. Leaders with myopic vision are so terribly nearsighted that they live only for today. Their vision of the future is fuzzy. They can barely see beyond their noses.

Peripheral vision. Leaders with peripheral vision are blindsided by side issues. These visionaries are hampered in moving forward because they catch the threatening images of lurking problems in the corners of their eyes. They are fearful of shadowy difficulties and people lurking on the sidelines who will defeat their efforts. These folks are easily distracted.

Tunnel vision. Leaders with tunnel vision see only what's dead ahead of them and assume that their slender view of reality reflects the whole world. They don't see other persons or other issues.

Panoramic vision. Leaders with panoramic vision see the big picture. They see beyond today. They see what is ahead of them. They see what is to their sides. They have a basic understanding of the key ingredients of a healthy organization and know the steps that it will take to get them there.

Vision is perhaps the greatest need of leadership today. As someone said regarding the church but it pertains to any organization, "Our preachers aren't dreaming. That's why the church is such a nightmare."

How's your vision? Without it your organization will be like an unbridled horse. With it the organization will be focused, moving toward the fulfillment of the dream. read more

Intimacy Revealed

Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?" — John 14:9

Knowing God personally is the greatest satisfaction a human can have while living on earth. What a privilege to be able to talk and spend time with the one who created us! And yet there are times in our lives when we don't strive to be truly satisfied in the Lord. Leaders always have to be on guard against callousness when it comes to their personal faith in Jesus. Head knowledge, education, and work experience do not equal intimacy. Instead, intimacy involves a meaningful friendship with Jesus where deep secrets, struggles, and successes are shared. What results is an extension of his life in their thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

But what if our hearts are calloused and hardened, wrapped in protection much like an artichoke? We first must realize that we cannot, in our own power, fix the problem. Secondly, we have to be willing to discard our pride and re-surrender our lives to the Lord. Only he can peel away our layers of protection so we can be changed for his glory. He knows our hearts even when it's hiding behind the artichoke leaves.

The twelve disciples had life experiences unlike any of us will ever have. They were able to spend time daily with Jesus, walking, talking, and watching him perform countless miracles. Even with their proximity to the Lord, they still didn't understand who he was. Jesus' question to Philip in John 14:9 is one that he asks his followers today. Just replace Philip's name with yours. At the same time, Jesus says to us, "Come and know me. Really know who I am." It's a call of hope, of rest, of excitement that cannot be easily forgotten.

Not now. Not ever. Can you hear that call to intimacy with Jesus today? read more

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