Problem-Oriented vs. Solution-Oriented

Let’s be honest problems will arise in your organization and you have two choices to make.  Will you become a problem-oriented leader or a solution-oriented leader.  Most people fall into the the first category which is problem-oriented.  They are good at identifying a problem or they know that their organization is struggling, but that is as far as it goes.  They panic, they ignore, they complain, they blame, but they don’t not change.  However, there are those who are solution-oriented that not only see the problems, but react in a manner that figures out the solution.  They take responsibility for their organization, they understand that a decision has to be made, and they rally the team to help move the ball forward.

So lets look very quickly at 5 steps to become a solution-oriented leader when problems arise:

1. Stop & Breathe

Listen very quickly EVERY organization has problems that pop up.  I know you may be sitting here and saying, “you don’t know what I have to deal with” and you are right I don’t. However, I can promise you that I have felt that overwhelming feeling before and I know many other leaders that have felt that way also.  Problems come up and sometimes they are huge and sometimes they feel more like annoyances, but they are problems none the less and problems are just a part of running an organization.  You are not alone and you are not a failure because you have to deal with the issues at hand.  However, I do have some bad news for you… The problems only get bigger as your organization grows, but the sooner you develop this mentality the more resilient you become to those problems.  Stop and breathe!

2. Pray

This sounds cliche to some, but the reality is God is practical just as much as He is spiritual.  Check out James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” He gives wisdom and He gives peace, but you have to stop and ask. There is something that happens in the heart and mind of a leader that walks around knowing that God always has your best intentions at heart and that He guides those that listens.  You have a peace and joy in the midst of the greatest storms that the world just cannot understand!

3. Hunger for Growth

You have to develop in your spirit that good enough is NEVER good enough.  I celebrate wins, but I am always anticipating greater wins.  I never have a heart that wants to settle and I’m always looking for opportunities to grow and learn.  Build in your mindset the understanding that progress builds happiness and that stagnation kills purpose.

4. Get the Facts

Do not put your head in the sand and ignore the facts.  Most leaders don’t like to look at the numbers or hear the truth because they feel that the facts reveal that they are failures.  So they develop an out of sight and out of mind mentality.  The reality is the only thing that will define you as a failure is not whether you have a problem, but what you do with those problems.  You cannot solve a problem that you don’t have a clear picture of what the problem really is.  Gather facts and face the reality of the situation and I promise you and your organization will be better for it in the future.

5. Take Steps 

As leaders we have this tendency to think that we need a HUGE answer to solve our problems.  If I got “x” amount of dollars in, hired this person, or landed that account all my problems would be fixed. That is a big fat lie because you didn’t actually change anything you just put a bandaid over the problem and sooner or later that bandaid will fall off and reveal the problem all over again.  You have to take this thing one step at a time.  If you remember anything remember this that small changes over time leads to a big change in your organization. Think of it like this that if you fixed or changed one thing a week you would be 52 steps closer to a solution than if you just sat around hoping for a miracle.  Not only that but you are developing a culture that will prevent that certain problem from arising again in the future or preventing it from rising to the magnitude that you know it as today!

We all face problems, we all have to grow, and we all have to learn so remember that you are not in this thing alone.  Stop, pray, desire change, get the facts, and start taking steps toward your solution!  The future looks bright you just have to start walking towards it!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it,  leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

A Vital Ingredient for an Effective Leader

To be an effective leader you have to have resolve…grit… fortitude or you will give up when it counts the most! As leaders of organizations that are leading the way we will face obstacles that few face. We will face challenges that are far greater than we could have imagined and if we do not have that resolve, that deep inner desire to take action and find the solution to keep our team moving forward, we will crumble to the circumstance.

James said… “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

That we should actually find joy in these crazy circumstances that we face not because it is fun going through stressful moments, but because it is refining ourselves as leaders and our organizations.  That is why he continues with this statement…

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4

That as we develop resolve or steadfastness we become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. That these situations pull out the best in us and we start walking in the fullness of our potential.  When the balls in our hands and there is a few seconds left on the clock we act.  The more we act the more natural those situations become, though still not easy, and the more confident our organization becomes.  If you fear challenges to the point of inaction then you are greatly limiting your potential.

So where does this resolve come from? Well James goes on to explain…

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

Resolve comes from Godly wisdom.  That we serve a God that moves in the practical just as much as He moves in the spiritual yet many of us never seek Godly wisdom.  The Holy Spirit connects with our spirit and gives us wisdom, counsel, knowledge, and understanding if we just ask.  Great leaders are leaders that lead through prayer and understand that God speaks and guides His people.  However, it doesn’t just end in prayer there must be a response of action that follows the guidance.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8

Godly wisdom is only complete when we trust the guidance, will, and promises of God.  If we waiver like the waves in the sea back and forth then we will not receive anything from God.  Resolve is not double-minded in that it does not bounce from trusting God to trusting this rational world.  That this audacious resolve trusts fully the nature, the will, and the promises of God.  That God always has our best intentions at heart and when He tells us to take steps of faith we will respond with obedience. Even when the answer is bigger than ourselves we trust a God that is bigger than our circumstances.

The lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.” Deuteronomy 28:8

Have the confidence that God is guaranteeing success in your life when you are trusting the wisdom He gives you and responding to His promises.  Your storehouses will be filled and blessings will come with every new opportunity. So build the resolve to fight through the temporary to experience your destiny.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

JUST START

I would venture to say that the majority of successful people are those who pursued their dreams despite having less than ideal circumstances and far from a guarantee that their ventures would prevail. However, the majority of people will not pursue their dreams to the fullest unless the circumstances line up in a way that can guarantee success.  Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way and that is why the most dreams look more like wishes.

You have to start somewhere and you must know everyone starts small with very little physical evidence that there will be success. I heard it describe that the very act of starting a business or being your own boss is an act of the utmost courage! However in the midst of that courage we can walk towards a higher purpose that is bigger than ourselves.

Tim Urban once referred to everyone as blank canvases, but unfortunately most people are just painting white on white.  They are working, but no one really notices. It is easy to hit cruise control in life and work through our days, weeks, and years with very little impact. Very few people live beyond themselves to add a splash of color in this world.

Now dreams don’t have to be these lavish things that must be world renowned, but they do need to be relationally rich.  They do need to be able to impact those in our sphere of influence.  Some people’s sphere is larger than others, but we all have the ability to impact lives for the better.  I can promise you that life will never make sense until you live for something bigger than yourself and until you start pouring your life into some one else.

I felt today very quickly that I simply wanted to share with you and maybe give you the permission to START! Just start! Start that business plan, build that website, start writing that book, start that blog, enroll in school, start serving, start that LifeGroup, start hustling on the side… Yes it is scary…Yes you have a ton to learn… Yes it will harder than you can ever imagine… Yes you will have to work your tail off… But YES it will be worth it.  Tune out the fears that are screaming “what if you fail” or “what if it sets you back” and know that setbacks are just give you a running start towards something greater! JUST START!

I wanted to leave you with an excerpt from J. Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership

Procrastination, the thief of time, is one of the devil’s most potent weapons for defrauding us of eternal heritage. The habit of “putting off” is fatal to spiritual leadership. Its power resides in our natural reluctance to come to grips with important decisions. Making decisions, and acting on them, always requires moral energy. But the passing of time never makes action easier, quite the opposite. Most decisions are more difficult a day later, and you may also lose an advantage by such delay.

I wrote this blog yesterday at around 6AM and Gary posted this yesterday afternoon so I thought it was fitting!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

The Most Overlooked But Important Aspect of Organizations.

Most leaders focus their entire efforts on the visual product. Whether that be the services they provide, the items their organization is selling, or as Pastors the worship experience i.e. the preaching and music. Focusing on those things are not inherently bad unless you are ignoring the unseen factor which is culture. Culture is not seen, but felt and experienced. Culture can’t be copied from someone else, but has to be developed from who you are as an organization. Culture is the unified DNA of your leaders that creates an environment that your people feel or experience.

A good way to check the pulse of how effective your culture may be is by listening to people’s feedback on how they felt as they experienced your organization. Not what they liked, but how what they liked made them feel! It is one thing to hear “that was a good message” compared to “I felt like you were speaking directly to me and I left with so much hope”. Its one thing to hear “your people are nice” or “I have never felt so welcomed, loved, and at home by the way I was greeted”. Do you see the difference? It is how they feel that communicates most effectively what they experienced and what they experience is your culture.

Every organization has a culture whether they realize it or not, but most do not have an effective culture. I have heard it said by many leaders that “A bad culture eats a good vision for breakfast”. So focusing on your culture is imperative for your organization and developing team values is one of the most effective ways in identifying the culture you desire for your organization.

1. Write out what you want to stand for!

Team values are a list of traits that make up your leaders and what you stand for as an organization. What do you want to be known for when people talk about you to others? What do you want people to experience in your organization? What are qualities you want your leaders to have?

2. Don’t create more than ten.

If you have too many values your people won’t remember any of them. List out the values that you identified earlier and start to list out the absolute most important down to the least important. Also identify if any values could be combined because of similarities.

3. Make the value rememberable.

Don’t make the value to long and complicated, but keep it short to make it easier to remember. You can add a short description afterwards to really define it, but the initial value should be something we can remember. For an example you can find our Team Values at Bloom Church here.

4. Repeat often.

Vision leaks and so does your values. We get so busy doing our projects that our tunnel vision can cloud our memory. It is important to constantly go over your values just like you would go over your vision. I heard Craig Groeschel once say something of the sorts that when your team starts making fun of what you say because you have said it so much that it has finally stuck. Speak your values so much that your team starts finishing your sentences.

5. Celebrate often.

What is celebrated is repeated. Celebrate when your people are rising up to the occasion and creating a culture that impacts your people. Celebrate with words, with cards, and with gifts. Also it is great to celebrate these people publicly in front of the whole team because it does two things. First the person feels extremely special as they become recognized in front of their peers, but also it reminds the other team members that you notice those values being lived out. So it is a positive way to remind the team to rise up to the occasion.

Values create culture, culture creates an environment, and an environment creates an experience. This is should be at the top of your list to develop and implement immediately because it will radically shift the interactions that you have with your people. Remember culture doesn’t cost anything but time and effort!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

YOUR GREATEST MARKETING TOOL

marketing-toolI would probably say that the #1 question most pastors or church planters ask me is “how do I get the word out about our church?” or “how do we get more people to come to our church?” and for good reasons. Marketing your organization or product is a huge priority for any business and that includes for the church because if people don’t know you exist it doesn’t matter how great your services are…They aren’t coming!

We have to spread the word about what we are doing and we should want to because we should be excited about what we are a part of.  The problem is most people go about marketing all the wrong ways and spend WAY TOO MUCH money on advertising that just simply doesn’t have the ROI for the capital it costs.

Nine years ago, the world changed when apple literally took a computer and put it in your pocket in the form of a phone.  Never in a million years did we think it would be possible this soon to have a computer with internet connection carrying around with you where ever you go.  In this moment the death of traditional advertising started to happen.  Advertising and marketing had always been very costly and with this new creation, why spend it on those means anymore?  Radio? What is that— we have Spotify, Pandora, and Podcasts.  Newspapers, ummm, we get our news online…  Billboards, who even looks up from their phones these days?  The world has changed and we must understand this shift or we will be spinning our wheels and watching our organizations continue to plateau and decline.

So where should we sit in this new world of connections and what should be our focus? The answer is easy, but the response is something that takes much more effort.  We live in an ecosystem that no longer wants to be sold, but connected and inspired and this is the beauty of social networks.  They are platforms thats soul purpose is to connect and give you, the organization, the ability say whatever you want.  Now, that can be dangerous or empowering and it is completely up to you which of those paths you take.  You have the ability to connect with people; that would be impossible before. You have that ability to add value to their life in ways that were much more difficult a decade ago. Coming from a Pastors stand point, our job is not to gather large crowds, but to see lives changed for Jesus and that means we should use any tool at our disposal to add value to people.  The great thing is when you connect with people, add value, share your story, and inspire then you also see the growth in your physical location following the growth that is taking place online.

My next posts I want to talk about “HOW” we do social media effectively, but today I just wanted to discuss “WHY” we need to have an online presence.

So some “Next Steps” for you to work on until our next posts…

  1. If you haven’t already, create accounts on the different social networks.  For most churches the two I tell everyone to focus on are Facebook and Instagram.  There are several you can choose from, but I would rather be really effective on a few platforms than “okay” on several platforms.  Also these two platforms have the widest reach for your community.  Build a business Facebook page, not a personal Facebook page for your organization.  Facebook is the largest social media site and hits the most age demographics. Next create an Instagram profile.  Instagram is great for organizations because most people are very visually driven and in doing so we digest the content more. Instagram allows all posts to be seen by its followers unlike the Facebook algorithms.  Instagram also has created features that look a feel like Snapchat in many ways and unlike Snapchat it is much easier to search for profiles which make finding your page much more accessible.
  2. Now you need to make sure your information is up to date on all your platforms.  The right profile pictures, web addresses, physical addresses, and service times.  It is a big turn off when information is not updated or incorrect.
  3. Make sure your branding stays consistent.  Your branding, your design look, needs to be the same at your physical location, on your website, and on all your social sites.  It is extremely confusing when these things do not line up because people question whether it is the same organization, and if it is, then they start wondering why there is no harmony.  I am going to dive into this more on the next posts, but don’t brand yourself online what you are not in person.  BE YOU because if you try to act like you are something online that you are not really in person then when they visit they will immediately have red flags go up and completely miss your heart.
What are your thoughts on how much our culture has changed over the last decade when it comes to Marketing and advertising?