Thursday, July 19, 2012

3 Lessons I Learned from Running

Photo by AP

Years ago I ran the White Rock Marathon in Dallas. I did it primarily to prove to myself that I could. Over the years I have continued to run off and on. Mostly off. 
About a year ago I decided to start back. We had just moved to Parkville, MO and joined the local YMCA. For Fern and me, being members of the YMCA is almost like being members of our local church. 
When I started running again, the first weeks I could hardly make a mile without stopping. Overweight and out of shape is not a place I wanted to be. 
So I ran my mile, skipped a day and did another. Then, I pressed it to three; then to five. Knowing that if I repeat something 21 times in a row it would become a habit, I ran my five miles three times a week for seven straight weeks. Next, I kicked it to six for a few weeks. Now I am at eight miles a run. I will probably lock this in for (Lord willing) 21 straight days. I want it to become a habit. 
Now, what does this have to do with life? Here are three lessons:
1. Running is a metaphor for living the Christian life. It takes making a decision to engage, and to press on. It is a discipline which requires training. We keep at it consistently and deliberately. 

2. The long distance is built on the ability to run short distances. Milk precedes meet. Endurance comes through the training. No one accomplishes the distance without first starting with the short and building up. 

3. You choose what you will do or not do. My Uncle Ralph (missionary with The China International Mission) was fond of quoting the old Chinese proverb, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So start!
As a rule of thumb, we are in as good physical condition as we want to be. And we are as close to God as we want to be. It’s up to us. What do you want?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Leadership: 4 Steps to Building Loyalty

Way too many people equate a position with leadership, and lead by the “I say so” method. Sadly, those kinds of leaders don’t get very far without leaving a trail of broken relationships behind them.

The best leadership is by influence. When followers know that you care, that you are competent, and you are consistent, the “loyalty” effect comes in to play.
So, what can you do to insure loyalty? Here are four steps. 
1) Make sure everyone has a voice. A working principle that always works is understanding that “all of us are smarter than any one of us.”

2) Understand that everyone has a different gift mix, a different set of strengths. Work to help everyone play to their strengths. How many times have organizations had good people in the wrong jobs? 

3) Learn to clarify issues. If you are the leader, make sure you know how to ask the right questions.

4) Be sure you know what business you are in. At the turn of the 20th century, some companies saw themselves in the horse and buggy business; others saw themselves in the transportation industry. Only the latter survived. 

A clear picture of what you want to accomplish and who can best make it happen coupled with an honest concern for the people you lead will help you become the best leader you can be. 
For those of you in leadership, do people follow you out of fear or out of loyalty?