Leadership Insights from the Tech World

I saw this article over at the Nerd Business website that is a collection of 22 quotes from the leaders of high tech businesses. Reading through the quotes I found a few that really stood out to me and got me thinking about leadership and how that works in a church context. Below are a few of the quotes and my comments on what I thought about what each leader said. One of the overarching things that stood out to me was the fact that each of these leaders did not settle for the ordinary and each realized their role in leading their organization to success.

The Importance of Character
“As a leader, you’re not allowed to go out and have beers on Friday night and break character.”
Scott McNealy
Co-founder, Sun Microsystems

Character is one of the things a leader has that no one can take away from him/her. It is character that should be at the center of all our decisions and it is character that causes us to put the good of others ahead of the things we feel we have a right to do on our time off. It is this awareness of what we represent and who we represent and how we respond to it that shows our integrity and character. In ministry I am never off duty nor should I be. If I claim to be one person in public but then choose to act a different way when I am “off the clock,” which person am I really? Am I playing a part? Or does my life have a value and integrity that stands the test of consistency? The world doesn’t need people to who could break a character they are trying to be, we need people who have character that no one can break.

Growth and Change
“Your advantage at a startup is that you can demand employees who crush it and who are above-average, and compensate them with stock options. Average people should work at average (by which I mean big) companies. Big companies actually run better with average folks, because those people don’t rock the boat.”

Jason Calacanis
Founder, Weblogs

How we empower people will directly impact the results we get. It is true that most big companies and churches have a hard time moving on a dime and allowing employees to make the changes necessary for things to really happen. I have been at two large churches and a large company before that and I have have seen how difficult it is to move the titanic to get anything to change. Yet change can still happen in large organizations and you can still get above average people to work in those organizations as long as you allow those people the opportunity to make changes, take risks, take care of them, give them what they need and get out of their way. Sure not every idea is a good one but if you don’t provide the environment to find out, then you will try nothing new and by definition that means you are falling further behind and become less and less relevant.

Decision Making
“The company that consistently makes and implements decisions rapidly gains a tremendous, often decisive, competitive advantage.”
Steve Blank
Founder, Epiphany

One of the most frustrating things any employee can experience is the meeting after the meeting syndrome. This is where no real decisions are made in the meeting you were just in so there needs to be a meeting after the meeting to determine what might or might not happen. The delay in decision making is one of the primary killers of innovation in any organization. That indecision can usually be linked to fear of trying new things or too many structures in the organization to go through to get anything done. The sitting around and waiting that usually follows from such delays usually has the effect of losing good people who want to make a difference but can’t stand to deal with a lack of decision making. Meanwhile other places who make fast decisions are usually quick on the draw and get things done. In the church world this is, as my Pastor Rick Warren says, “riding waves” that come your way and being quick enough to catch the waves early instead of when they have already reached the beach. Riding those waves usually leads to moments that could never be recaptured and because they come with no warning require a great deal of faith.

Well these are a few of my thoughts on some of the quotes. You can read the rest in the article.


How Do I Date My Spouse?

Dating is something of a lost art form in our society today especially as it relates to married couples. It seem like all the creative ideas, the things you see in movies, were gone the moment you said “I do.” We guys used all our good ideas to actually get our wives to say yes and set the bar so high for ourselves that we could never measure up on our best day. Our wives used to think we were the best thing since sliced bread and let us know about it both verbally and non-verbally in how they responded to us. There is something about getting into the regular rhythms of life that cause us to abandon one of the most enjoyable and fun parts of our relationship with one another. While we may never go back to the days of husbands who think they are poets and wives who actually think the poetry is any good, we certainly can revive the excitement of dating one another and making that time as important as any other appointment or activity in our lives.

Research shows that time together is one of the leading indicators of whether a marriage is going to survive or not so making time for one another is not a luxury you add from excess time you happen to find, it is a necessity if you want to have a healthy relationship. So what do you do on a date? What do you do together once you make the time? 

Well I don’t pretend to have all the answers for every couple out there because we are all different. For some jumping out of an airplane together is fun. For other, more normal people, dinner is just fine. Whatever it is that you enjoy as a couple here are a few things to consider:

Pick a Regular Time and Block it Off Your Calendar
This whole dating thing cannot be something you get around to when you have time. Just like any other important appointment you would never miss for fear of getting fired or missing a huge opportunity, your date life needs to be a high priority. For Cheryl and I our date time is during the day on my day off while the kids are in school. It works best for us and is a time we look forward to. Figure out what works best for you and make it a recurring event.

Talk Together About What You Want to Do
Instead of putting the pressure on one person who has to determine all the details and might or might not get it right, talk together about what you want to do. If you like the idea of coming up with new things and really want to have one person take the lead, trade off each date time on who will plan the day. Whatever you do make sure you have time to talk and connect together. A date where you only face forward and never interact with one another is  not a date. That is happening to have someone near you while you do something else. Make your date a time to connect. For Cheryl and I, we go to Starbucks in the morning and spend time talking together and usually go to lunch together. We leave the time in between flexible so we can decide what we want to do week to week. 

Check in with One Another and Reconnect
In your date time together talk about life and use it as a time to catch up with one another. This is not a time to bring up all the things your spouse is doing to make your life miserable. That is not a date but an interrogation! This is a time to enjoy your time together and focus on the other person instead of what the other person can do for you. A few things you could ask each other would be:

-How has your week been?
-What are some of the challenges you are facing right now?
-What has God been saying to you lately in your time with Him?
-What things are you excited about? 
-What plans do we need to make together as a couple?

These types of questions allow you to explore one another and enjoy talking together. Remember not to use questions to manipulate your spouse or lecture them. This is a time to enjoy one another’s company.

Do Some Kind of Activity Together
Explore some things you like to do together. It may be as simple as going out to eat all the way to bike riding together. Whatever it is pick something you both enjoy and find a hobby you can do together.

Kindle your Physical Relationship
I know just putting this one out there some of you just let out a cheer and some of you want to stop reading. I put this out there not to say that every date has to end with sex. In fact that would be the wrong reason to have a date if the whole thing is just a set up for sex unless you both agree that is where you are going. I put this out there because the physical part of many couple’s relationships is something that can be left unattended. Over time sex becomes less and less an expression of the relationship and more and more a looming expectation or an experience laden with fears of disappointment. Like anything else, sex is something that we need to be intentional about if it is to be an enjoyable part of our relationship. With so many misunderstandings and hurt feelings that can surround our physical relationships, talking about it and making time for it are vital. Sometimes just scheduling when you will have sex can take the pressure of guessing when the right time would be away and can create a great opportunity to connect. In a future article I will talk about how to talk about sex but for now, consider how you will tend your physical relationship together whether that is during your date time or not.

Hopefully this gives you a place to start in thinking about your dating relationship. Guys remember your wives like to be pursued and what you did to get her to say yes to marrying you probably would still work today. Ladies remember your husbands liked it when you showed that you appreciated them and what they did had an impact on you and doing the same today for your husband will have a profound effect on how he pursues you. Now get out there and start dating each other and remember why you fell in love with each other in the first place!

Setting Up Pathfinder to Work with Hyperspaces

One of the programs I love to use on my mac is Pathfinder. Pathfinder is a Finder replacement that has a ton of features, many that Apple’s Finder should take note of and add. Things like:

Dual Pane File Browsing
Drop Stack
Tabs & Bookmarks
File List Sorting and Filtering
Command Line Tools
Quick Look Support
Application Launcher

There are other ways to customize the look and feel of Pathfinder as well. There is:

Dual Pane View
Pathfinder Dual Pane
Cover flow View
Pathfinder Coverflow
A Mix of Both Dual Pane and Coverflow
Pathfinder Split View
Pathfinder as Finder Replacement
Built into Pathfinder is the ability to replace most of Finder’s functions with Pathfinder. So when you open a folder it will bring up a Pathfinder window. Finder will still be running in the background because of the way it is built into the operating system but for everyday use Pathfinder will be the primary window that will be launched. To set this up, you go to the Pathfinder drop down menu and select “Show Pathfinder Desktop.”

Using Pathfinder with Hyperspaces
Now using both Pathfinder and Hyperspaces together causes some issues with which program gets priority on the desktop. To make these two programs work together do the following:

1. show the pathfinder desktop (path finder>Show Path Finder Desktop) 2. Bring the desktop forward (click on it and make sure it is the front most item). 3. Open the view option palette (view>Show view option or command J): you should see "show desktop options" at the top. 4. Click on the "set colors.." button, select Desktop in the drop down menu, and make sure that "show desktop background" is NOT checked. 5. Now you'll need to deactivate the Apple Finder's Desktop. In Path Finder, open (Pathfinder>Preferences) and switch to "General". Uncheck "hide Finder's Desktop" and relaunch the finder when asked (here I made sure "hide Finder's Desktop" was checked).

The Trap of Boredom and Complacency

Today I read Deuteronomy 5-7. This book is Moses’ final farewell message to the people of Israel before they enter the promised land. In this passage he reminds them of the ten commandments God gave them and tells them to obey everything God commanded them to do. He also gives instructions for how they should conduct themselves once they enter the promised land, everything from completely destroying all the people and their idols to remembering all the things the Lord has done for them and to serve him only. Knowing how the rest of the story goes it is hard to understand sometimes when reading a passage which goes by quickly yet covers many years to understand why the people would forget and do their own thing. How could they forget all that God had done for them especially when they could hear his voice and see his presence with them?

Even as I think about these things it reminds me how true this is for me and other followers of Christ today. We have this encounter with Christ that sets us on fire. We feel different and start devouring the scriptures and sharing our faith all over the place. Then we start to settle into what it means to be a follower of Christ as a marathon instead of a sprint. We mature a bit and develop habits that help us to stay focused on him and we begin to integrate everything in our lives around our faith. Then we have to work harder to stay connected. The world pulls at us and the reality of life creeps in and begins to distract us and steal our joy. Eventually we get to a place where it is a struggle to stay consistent in our walk with God. Just as the Israelites forgot God and when their own way, we do the same thing today and we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

I think the main enemies we face related to our walk are complacency and boredom. We become complacent with how our life is going and tend to live for excitement which generally ends up being something new or a new event in our lives. Outside of that, we take everything for granted and start coasting through life. As things become more and more predictable and we settle for less, we become bored and find our time with God to be dry and more of a chore than a life giving time with an eternal God. So we give up and look for other things to bring us the joy that can only come from a relationship with God. Rather than pursue the source of true joy we manufacture joy in the things of the world. I have seen this over and over again in my own life and the lives others. When they get going in their time with God and stay consistent in pursuing him, their attitude changes and their whole sense of purpose and connection causes them to feel more fulfilled. But over time they get complacent with it and start to cut corners and tell themselves they are too busy on this day to have their quiet time and one day becomes two, three, until eventually the quit all together. In the middle of their quitting they start to get bored with God and with their lives and either get angry and cranky or they seek joy in other things or events. It is a predictable cycle that if we choose to fight through it, we can find life and fulfillment on the other side.

Lord, help me not get complacent or bored with my life and my pursuit of you. Please help me to always stay focused on what is important and always be sensitive to your quiet voice in my life. Give me a sense of purpose and meaning and help me to use this life you have given me to it’s ultimate fullness. Amen.

Setting Up Multiple Desktops

I love using my Mac but I had the same problems most people do and that is having multiple windows open all the time and trying to find the one I want to view at the time. Sure I could use Expose but that just causes one window to come to the top and still doesn’t address the clutter. I could use spaces and spread my stuff all over the place but I found that without any organization I would just expand my clutter of windows to multiple spaces of clutter. To address how I handle the desktop and my open windows I set up a system using two tools that have made my life easier: Hyperspaces and Dock Spaces.


Hyperspaces is a tool created by Tony Arnold of The Cocoabots that works with Apple’s Spaces but enhances it and allow you to do a few things you can’t do with spaces alone. First, it allows my to put a desktop label on my spaces. This has allowed me to designate certain spaces for certain things. For example I have 9 spaces I use: GTD, Writing, Communications, Photos, Internet, Audio, Website Design, Utilities, Video. Each of these spaces has a different desktop wall paper so they are easy to tell apart by background in addition to the label created on the desktop. What I like about Hyperspaces is it also creates a menubar item that tells me what space I am on and clicking it shows me all 9 spaces with their backgrounds so I can click on the space I want to go to. It is a really slick way to divide up and designate space.

Dock Spaces

Dock Spaces Icon
Dock Spaces is a program that allows you to customize docks for individual spaces. This allows me to have a custom dock for each space I created with Hyperspaces. What is cool about this is I am able to put all the programs I would normally use in each of my spaces on the dock and have the dock change each time I move to a different space. So I have a dock for GTD, one for Writing, one for Photos, etc. That automatically come up when I enter that space.

How it Works

When I turn on my Macbook Pro to do some work I go to each space to bring up the programs I want to use. So I will open my mail app in the Communications space, a Safari window in the Internet space, iTunes in the Audio space, etc. Then when I want to see my email I just click on the mail icon in the dock and it whisks me away to the Communications space and brings up the corresponding dock with all of my communications apps in the dock. Or, when I decide I need to look something up on the internet, I click on the Safari icon in my dock and it takes me to the internet space. This allows me to have full use of all of my spaces without having to juggle too many windows in one space. It also works seamlessly with another favorite app of mine Pathfinder. I can have the Pathfinder desktop activated and still have these multiple spaces and docks working.


How to Set It Up

To set all of this up, get a copy of Hyperspaces and install it. Then:

  • Click the preferences pane.
  • Click on the Spaces Icon.
  • Decide how many spaces you want and add the columns and rows by clicking the plus button on the right.
  • Label your space in the space name field.
  • Click on the Label icon and if you want the name of the space on your desktop, check the box next to the On the Desktop line.
  • On the Desktop diagram at the bottom, click where on the desktop you want the label to appear.
  • Next, click the image button then click the magnifying glass to upload any image you want for that desktop. I usually choose “Fill Screen” for my scaling option.
  • Repeat this for each space you want to set up.

To set up a dock for each space, get a copy of DockSpaces and install it. Then:

1. Click the Docks button and click the plus button for a new dock.
  • Label the dock to be the same name as the space you want it to go to (this will simplify knowing which dock goes with what space).
  • Add or remove any applications you want on that dock for that space.
  • Repeat for each space you have.
  • Click the Setup button and indicate how many rows and columns you have for your spaces. This will cause Dock Spaces to associate your docks with each space.

Now try clicking through your spaces and watch how the docks change for each space. It really works great and has made using my Macbook Pro an awesome experience. Enjoy!


The Importance of Remembering Your Commitment

Reposted from the Married Life Blog (5/14/2010):
Many couples go through a marriage ceremony but quickly forget the significance and the vows they made that day. Our vows were not a simple contract set up between husband and wife that says if you do this I will do this. This kind of view on our wedding vows leads to many couples calling “breach of contract” when one spouse doesn’t do what the other thought he or she should have. Rather, our vows are a covenant that we make before God to do what WE promised. Reminding ourselves of this is an important part of keeping our marriages on track. This is something we talk a lot about in our
Married Life Essentials Event on Partnership.

Surfing the net, I came across an article in
People Magazine about a tradition that Seal and Heidi Klum have put in place to remind one another of their wedding vows. Every year they have a vow renewal ceremony with their family and friends:

"It's so special to us, something we love and something our children have gotten accustomed to," Klum says. "It's like, 'Hey, Mom and Dad love each other and they get married every year!' "

Added Seal:
"Each year, Heidi and I get remarried. It's a great party, but for about an hour, we go off on our own down to a private beach. We sit there with the kids and read vows to each other as the sun sets. It's a very special moment to us."

What a great way to recommit to one another and do so in front of the kids so they see what a good marriage is all about and what it takes to commit to one another. I don’t know anything else about their relationship or their lifestyle but in this area of their lives, they seem to have a great tradition. How about you? Have you ever considered renewing your vows to one another? Do you even remember you vows?

The Daily Sacrifice

Today I read Numbers 28-30. The Lord gave all kinds of times and seasons to sacrifice to him and to celebrate certain events in the lives of the Israelites. They had daily offerings they were supposed to do both in the morning and evening. Then they had certain festivals that they had to celebrate which went on for a week or more that related to seasons or certain things that happened to them in the past. The Lord was very specific on what they were to do and not do on those days. We all need to have regular times of remembering the Lord and his work in our lives. I can see the logic in having these daily times of offering and the special celebrations. It was a part of how they did life and it was one way that they could keep the Lord in front of them and always experience and remember his presence. Given to our own devices we quickly forget his presence in our lives and start to live as if he is not near. It is so easy to get caught up in the little details of our lives that we forget the God of the universe who created all things. It is kind of ironic and sad at the same time that we who were created can so easily forget our creator. But God knowing this was the case created these times of having the people remember him.

In my life one of those times is in the morning. I enjoy spending time reading the word and letting God speak to me and then write it down so I remember it. This time of meeting with him and writing like this are my regular sacrifice to him as the Israelites would have to do. The difference is that I do it because I want to and because of my desire to pursue him with all my heart. I am sure there were Israelites who did sacrifice to pursue God but whenever something is made mandatory there is always a part of us as humans that causes us to fight it. I am so thankful and grateful for the Spirit who lives within me and the time I can have learning and growing in Him.

Lord, thank you so much for the time you give to me every moment of my life and this special time daily to connect with you. I pray that I will always have the passion and desire to connect with you. Please help me to live out the things I learn from you and please give me wisdom beyond my natural abilities. Help me apply it well to my life. Amen.

Passing On Leadership

Today I read Numbers 26-27. As the children of Israel prepare to enter the promised land, God sets up ahead of time how much land each tribe will get based on their size. He then takes Moses to the top of the mountain to show him the land he is giving to the children of Israel (Moses can’t go in because of his sin). At the twilight of his life Moses asks God for a successor that could lead the people so God tells him to pass his authority on to Joshua who will lead them and hear from God through casting lots with the priest. The passing on of the torch of leadership and lessons learned in life is an important one. It happens in every form of ministry and industry in the world. Usually the gains of someone who was highly successful are not repeated by the successor because he is following in the leaders footsteps. It is interesting that Joshua does turn out to be an incredible leader conquering the land that God had given them yet he is not allowed to talk with God as Moses had before. When it comes to legacy and transfer of leadership, we need to do a better job of this in the church at large.

Usually in church life we wait until the last minute to pass on leadership to the next guy. Rarely does a pastor have a successor in the ranks of the church that he grooms and mentors into the role. Joshua was will Moses the whole time. He saw how he handled difficult situations. He learned from Moses’ mistakes as well as his successes. He was immersed in the culture of the nation and was able to carry forward the culture that was passed on to him. This helped to produce a smoother transition and continued the success that Moses had. If only we would do that more in the church, we would not have as many highly successful churches slowly erode to mediocrity once the founder leaves. I don’t know what it is that keeps this from happening. Is it the ego of the leader? Is it the ego of the successor? Are there no guys who are willing to sit under a great leader and learn? Are there no great leaders who want to take the time to groom younger leaders?

Lord, I pray for the church and the leaders that are to come in the future. Please help there to be leaders who take the time to mentor the younger generation. I pray also that there would be more young leaders who would take the time to learn from those who have come before them. Help me to do a good job of grooming my own boys to be good leaders and not shrink away from responsibility or quit when things get hard. Please prepare both me and them to receive what you want us to do. Amen.

The Problem of a Short Term View

Today I read Numbers 11-13. The fear of not thinking you are getting everything you should in life can lead to many problems. In the passages I read today, the people of Israel had many choices before them in how they perceived their lives were going. They could have been thankful that God was personally leading them and trusted him to take care of all their needs. That sense of gratitude could have carried them to early success in the long term view of their lives and their character and integrity would have been talked about forever. Instead they chose to focus on what they didn’t have and allow short term delays to turn into resentments which led them to question God and those who were leading them. They complained about the food thinking they were missing out and even willing to go back into slavery to get it! Looking back I can’t imagine getting to that place but it might not have been food for me that would have caused me to complain. Then Miriam complains against Moses because he married a Cushite woman. So here is a humble leader who hears directly from God and she chose to rip his reputation up behind his back over either her jealousy or false sense of justice. She may have been saying “poor me. He gets to do whatever he wants and I have to follow the rules.” That type of thinking always leads to cynicism. Finally, you have the spies sent into the land God promised who would rather let their fear cause them to spread that same fear to the people instead of just reporting the facts and trusting God for the outcome. So they basically manipulated the people to respond as they had in fear to keep them from having to face those fears.

It is easy to read these passages now and criticize how the people responded and their short sightedness. But the reality is, I end up doing things like this all the time in a day when I have the Holy Spirit living within me while the children of Israel did not. I find that I can feel like I am not getting enough breaks to get paid more like others do. I can feel like I am being blocked while other people get to do things I always wanted to. I can get cynical about how I feel leaders in my life are handling things and if I don’t guard my heart I could talk about those things behind their backs. It is very easy to take everyday things and twist them into some kind of injustice issue that would cause me to get all fired up.

Instead I work hard to choose to be grateful for what the Lord has provided and trust that he will continue to do so. I know that if I can keep a grateful heart and outlook I will protect myself from feeling I am missing out on something or not getting what I feel I deserve. It is a difficult struggle, especially in a social setting where everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses, but I know that I need to have a long term view, trust the Lord, and let him determine the outcome.

Lord, please help me to stay focused on the things you have done for me and that long term view of what you will do in the future. Keep me from a mentality of what I don’t have or think I deserve and help me to focus on you and where you are leading me. Help me to be a good husband and father and to grow as a man of God. Amen.

Complete Obedience or Negotiated Compliance?

Today I read Numbers 8-10. Obedience is always in the details and how we obey completely not whether we obey in part. In Numbers God sets up the rules which the Israelites should follow in how they set up the tabernacle, consecrate the priests, handle the passover, and move from place to place. Each of these instructions had very specific things that could and couldn’t be done with consequences for each action that was not followed. For instance, if someone was deemed unclean for doing something like touching a dead body, they could not celebrate Passover with everyone else on the appointed time but had to wait a month to do it. To touch the ark of the covenant would mean instant death. While all of these rules had meaning beyond the rules themselves, it was also a test of obedience for the people of Israel who had to follow them.

Obedience is a word that many people do not like today. For many it is too authoritarian which in a postmodern society means someone is being marginalized and someone’s voice is not being heard. Sometimes I wonder how a postmodern thinker would have done in his/her conversation with God! As a result of our philosophy on life and errosion of authority through concepts like situational ethics, people prefer to pick and choose what they obey and what they do not. Most people see situations where obedience is necessary as opportunities to negotiate. If I can negotiate the terms I will obey you. This is kind of like what I experience with my kids. They want to obey the things that they deem easy and negotiate why they shouldn’t have to do the rest. Or if they know they are not going to win the negotiation they try to get me to give them something as motivation for doing something they should be doing in the first place. As a good parent, I can’t allow my boys to set terms or negotiate with me or they will grow up thinking they only have to do the right thing or submit to authorities if they feel like it and my life with them would be miserable. Instead, because I love them, I have to set up boundaries and rules that they must obey so they can learn appropriate boundaries and respect for authority.

Now I know some will think that something like that prevents them from being independent thinkers but it really doesn’t. It helps them to know the limits of what they can and can’t do and actually makes them more creative. Ask a child to build a sand castle on a beach and he goes wild trying to figure out how to make it happen because of all the space. Tell him to build a sand castle in a sand box and he suddenly has the appropriate boundaries to thrive. In our lives we need boundaries as adults just as our kids do. God puts boundaries in place in our lives because he loves us and knows what is best just as I as a parent put boundaries on my kids because I love them. When we obey completely without negotiation we should our love for him and our complete trust that he has our best interests at heart. When we choose to negotiate or partially obey we show that we really don’t trust God and we think we know better in some areas of life. How does your current obedience show your trust in God?

Lord, help me to trust you in everything in my life. I want to hear you and obey you because I know your way is better than anything I could dream up. Please help me to walk in step with you not negotiate, partially obey, or walk ahead of you. Amen.