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Thursday, December 30, 2010


Relationship Action Plan

This year, I've decided to give up on New Year's Resolutions.  

Simple "good intentions" of losing weight, eating right, reading my Bible, and generating new ventures are just not enough.  

I want to honor God with results... achieved through honest effort... to bring glory to Him.

So, I've adopted the "Relationship Action Plan" approach to 2011 Goal Achieving.

Here's how it works:

1.  Take the time to identify your life's mission statement.

For me, this step took months.  I reflected my spiritual gifts, passions, life experiences, and skill sets... then searched for the overlap of all these.  

The single statement that summarizes my mission statement is this:  "To bring Glory to God through Innovation and Start-up energy."  I'm a 1st & 2nd gear individual who gets bored after a "new thing" is up an launched.  

That's how God made me!  And it is my responsibility to bring him Glory in all areas of life, with that!

2.  Apply your mission statement to each area of the life wheel.

Consider all areas of this wheel just as valuable and important as any other.  Take this seriously, even in the areas you may have neglected or overlooked in years past.  Consider in your heart what it means to have your life mission come to fruition as a parent, an employee, a ministry leader, an "exerciser"... you get the point.

3.  Set an "A" and "B" goal in each life area for up to 3 years out.

Get realistically ambitious here.  

"Those who aim at nothing hit it every time with extraordinary results." -Zig Ziglar

4.  Identify key people who can help.

These are the connections, the networking, the individuals that you may need to invite into this life area goal to help catalyze change.  Consider this:  if your goal is to "eat healthy" you may wish to connect with "Uncle Bob, the nutritionist" for advice.  get it?

5.  Identify key action points 

These are events, activities, or any other item that must take place to help you accomplish this goal.

6.  Accountability

Find someone who can honestly check in with you and offer the accountability and check-up you need to spur you on to success.  My accountability partner and I have pre-booked quarterly "Accountability Breakfasts" where I've asked him to ask ME about my progress in each area.

Take the time, this New Year, to really LIVE your year ON-PURPOSE. 

This tool may be of help:  DOWNLOAD HERE

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Traveling the path


Traveling the path

I've made many travel mistakes in my few years on earth. If you were to ask my wife, she would tell you that I am one to follow the GPS to a fault. In fact, on some business trips I find myself in foreign cities with winding roads I've never even heard of before... trying to travel such paths without a guide is not only foolish, its DANGEROUS!

In a comical way, this video illustrates our need (perhaps as Men) for guidance. The problem is, some people find their guidance from self-serving motives, rather than God-surrendered faith.

We can walk any path we choose in life, so long as we BELIEVE in our hearts that it is right for us. But, the truth is that our hearts cannot always be trusted!


EXAMPLE: I walked into Costco a few days ago, and stumbled across the latest 3D HDTV setup on display. I instantly envisioned that television in my living room, mounted proudly on my wall. In my mind's eye, I saw my son watching "Finding Nemo" in 3D, laughing with entertained delight. I pictured my wife and I enjoying "our shows" at a whole new level... which would obviously improve our marriage!

Over the course of about 42 awe struck seconds, I began feeding the lustful desires in my heart to turning this "want" into a "need!"

But then it struck me.

THE LESSON: God's desire for us is not to be happy, but rather to be holy.

The truth is, my wife and I don't have "quality conversations" nearly at the frequency we should to grow our marriage... and this television purchase would only add one more "thing" to our crowded schedules.

The truth is, we desire to raise our son in a home that reflects Jesus, constantly. I have yet to find in Scripture a place where Jesus just sits down and chills out watching "the game."...

The truth is, the evil spirit of depression, isolation, and resentment flirts at our doorstep every day. I believe Satan would "entertain us to death" if he had the chance... (Check out John 10:10 and 1 Peter 5:8 )

Thank goodness Jesus said this first:

John 8:32 (New International Version, ©2010)

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

So true.

I declined to allow my heart to travel the emotional autobahn it found itself on, any longer. I attacked this feeling with the self disciplined spirit of God's truth.


The decisions we make in our life determine the direction our life is headed in.

A wise sage once said, "Direction, not intention, determines destination."

It's what you do, not what you intend to do.

It's action, not just desire.

And the only way we can modify our ACTION is by changing our BELIEF.

And the only way to change BELIEF is by reconciling it to TRUTH.

And the only way to gain TRUTH is by absorbing and living God's WORD...

So I will travel this path... this path called LIFE... and allow God's TRUTH to transform my ACTIONS through changing my BELIEFS...

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Giving My Birthday Away...


Matthew 25:35...

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,


I was a stranger and you invited me in...

...“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ "


All of my birthdays have always been about stuff. Stuff I don't want, stuff I definitely don't NEED. And to be honest, I hardly even remember what I got last year.

So this year, I'm giving my birthday up.

I'm turning 28 years old, and instead of asking for gifts, I'm asking for $28 or more from everyone I know. It's not going to me, though. All of it is going towards build freshwater wells for people in developing nations.

A billion people in the world are living without clean water - but how much are they really living? Millions contract deadly diseases from contaminated water. 45,000 people will die this week alone. The lucky ones won't, but still walk hours each day to get dirty water to give to their families.

My birthday wish this year is not for more gifts I don't need; it's to give clean and safe drinking water to some of the billion living without it. I want to make my birthday matter this year.

Please join me.

please note: Because of charity: water's unique model, 100% OF ALL DONATIONS go directly to direct water projects costs, and each donation is "proved" and tracked to the village it helped when projects are complete.

Friday, December 17, 2010

3 Steps to Becomming FULLY ALIVE


Fully Alive

Recently, I stumbled upon a website that calculates the number of seconds you have been alive, based on your birth date and time.  I also found a website that predicts your death age based on lifestyle habits and condition of your health.

Where we run into trouble is when we spend too many days analyzing the past or anxiously fearing our future.  Both are irrelevant to the "full life" Jesus promised us in John 10:10!


John 10:10 (New International Version, ©2010)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Ever since Jesus came, the worldview on life changed for the follower of Christ.  Jesus rose to claim victory over death.  He did so, to give us a bridge to walk between our anxieties over to true hope, love, and freedom.

From that point forward, the question the believer should be asking is "are we fully alive" in the time God gave us?

This has nothing to do with how long or short our lives are... but it has everything to do with WHAT we do with the time God gives us!

Philippians 1:21 (New International Version, ©2010)

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 

 Paul said it well.  To live... to truly LIVE means to model our lives after Christ!  When we do meet our maker some day, we will gain eternal life and have a blast!

So are you FULLY ALIVE?

Consider these three words as you seek God's answer to that question:

1.  Live.

Seriously, live. Go Hard!
Live as if God has complete sovereignty over your circumstances, 
your opportunities, your success... everything. 

Seek God's voice for how He's uniquely wired you.  
What has He called you to?  What has He made you for?  

Assess your spiritual gifts, your passions, your skills, your life experiences... 
 In the overlap of these is where you will find out what it means to truly LIVE.

2.  Give.

Model you life after a man from Gospel.  
He was born in a humble manger, grew up working hard, 
and gave all of His 33 years on this planet away.... 
...ultimately... as a living sacrifice for us.

Nobody can rob you of the opportunity to invest your days well.
An investment of your time, your gifts, 
your resources, your smile, your encouragement...

... all may have an eternal ROI beyond Earthly comprehension.

3.  Love.

Seems so simple... yet all to easily overlooked.
Love God.
Love God's kids.
Love the ones God gave you to love.

Have you experienced the joy of tithing the first minutes of your day to devotions or scripture time yet?  Are you willing to love people that hurt you, anger you, or are different than you?  How well are you loving those closest to you... the ones God specifically ordained to be influence by your love?

Husbands, you are the only husband your wife will ever have.  Ever.  
Fathers, you are the only father your kids will ever have.  Ever.

Live.  Give.  and Love.  

Prayerfully seek God's voice in your life, and listen to His words of encouragement.  Remember, God only corrects those He loves.  He offers freedom.  He offers significance.  He offers life!

Then, and only then, may we truly realize what it means to become FULLY ALIVE.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Delegate, EFFECTIVELY!


How to Delegate, EFFECTIVELY!

Delegation is one of those areas in leadership that is essential... especially if a leader has interest in leveraging their efforts with a team.  (and why else would you lead if you didn't expect to empower others along your journey, anyway?!)

Little do most leaders realize, the words they use have such powerful weight when it comes to the topic of delegation and empowerment.  Using the wrong words can destroy the foundation of empowerment you are looking to build!

Here are a few common phrases leaders should be aware of (and careful to not misuse) in order to develop a culture of empowerment and optimize the effectiveness of delegation through teams:


With phrasing like this, the delegation is negated.  
The assignment remains with YOU.  
There is no progress until YOU do something...

"Let ME think about it..."
"I'LL let you know..."
"Leave it here, I'LL..."
"I'LL check with..."
"I'LL draft up..."


With phrasing like this, progress is slowed down significantly.  
Decisions are delayed, people are confused, and ownership is eroded.  
The delegation is only partially completed...

"Send me a memo..."
"Why don't you check with..."
"Draft up a proposal..."
"See me later about..."
"Let em know if I can help..."
"We'll have to do something..."


With phrasing like this, it's clear that the accountability has been shifted to the team member.  
The delegation is complete, clear, and understood.  Progress is MUCH more likely to happen...

"I know YOU can do it..."
"I'm counting on YOU..."
"That's why I gave it to YOU..."
"What are YOU going to do now?"
"What's YOUR new plan of action?"
"YOU will get it done..."

Certainly, teamwork and partnership is essential in corporate advancement, but take permission to delegate project tasks to the skill sets (people) God has placed on your team!

One final note:  if you a self proclaimed (or perhaps self-deceived) MICRO-MANAGER... read this post again!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rear View Mirror


Rear view mirror...

Year end has recently become a time of reflection for me.  I try to not box my world up into a tiny little "me" sized bundle, but rather look back at the previous 12 months and consider what God was doing in that time.  

I look at the brothers and sisters in Christ closest to me, the ones God has given me to love well... what fruit stems from THEIR tree today?  

I look at the condition of my marriage.  Acknowledging that riffs and spats are somewhat normal for the healthy marriage, I inspect the overall temperature of our walk together as followers of Christ.

My relationship with God.  How QUALITY of connection am I seeking?  Could I look myself in the mirror and honestly say that my walk with God is more intimate than it has ever been? 

I take a look in the rear view mirror... not in order to plot my course, but rather, to recognize the gift of God's guidance by seeing where I've come from.  

This year:

1.  God stirred my heart...
2.  He challenged my paradigms...
3.  He provided mentorship (a tour guide) for my new journey...
4.  He provided stimulating books and thoughts...
5.  He provided a supporting wife, who's on board with complete surrender...
6.  He provided opportunity to use my rusty gifts, and bring Him glory...
7.  He provided new connections, networks, and friends...
8.  He provided innovative resources, that may serve as tools for my future calling...
9.  He provided miscellaneous events, engagements, and opportunities in environments no mere "me" could qualify to be in...
10.  He provided hope, vision, and dreams...
11.  He provides freedom, in Him, through Christ.

An amazing ride, for sure.  It has been a incredible year.  And I am so thankful for God's provision.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How my wife and I cut 30% out of our budget, and survived! + Free Download


How my wife and I cut 30% out of our budget, and survived!

+ Our Budget Form free download

In a previous post, I discussed the key importance of partnership in fiscal matters within a marriage.  It's common to find marriages where one spouse micro manages all the bills, budgets, and money... leading to some VERY VERY heated fights when it comes time for a reality check.  

So, while I have assumed the leadership mantle of CFO in our household, my wife and I take a team approach to teaching our money how to behave!  (parenting is such sweet sorrow!!!) 

Special thanks to Pike for asking a critical question on this post:  "what did you cut?"

Here it goes...

Starting shortly after WE (and I do emphasize WE) discovered that we were over budget, we combed back through the budget a second, third, and fourth time.  Each time, shaving away dollar after dollar to reduce our spending projections (and allowances) as much as we could.

Undoubtedly, we got down as far as we were comfortable... and soon realized we were STILL over spending!  So, we started taking lump sum items out.  We have several income streams, some of which are irregular but reliable (commission quarterly).  By separating the "knock down expenses" to a separate sheet, we essentially pre-spent the irregular income before we received it.

I love my wife dearly.  She's made a LOT of financial compromise in partnering with me recently.  We've gone from using credit cards for everything we could (travel points), to debit card on a budget (no travel points),... to ......  CASH ENVELOPES!

Oy, how painful this final transition was!  Having the "plastic" near by was a security blanket while grocery shopping or at restaurants.  Like a "metered" drug overdose, even on a budget we'd consistently overspend in the grocery store and in the restaurants when using our debit card... 

So there was no other option but to convert those two categories to cash envelopes.  In doing so, we've given our adolescent budget a "spanking" and are parenting our money to behave.

My wife was the biggest skeptic of the cash envelope migration... and is now our biggest advocate!  You should see all the coupons and discount deals my wife "magically" finds... it's weird...   (Maybe it helps we chose to incentivize her to manage the Grocery cash envelope well by allowing her to keep any money left over as her own "whatever" cash... She LOVES it!)

Today, we aren't perfect, but we are living well below our means.  We are that couple that brings a cash envelope AND a coupon envelope to the grocery store.  We shop at several grocery stores in town, including a bakery thrift store, Aldi's discount grocer, Costco and Meijer (all depending on what sales and coupons we have available.)

Also remember this:  Money is just money.  It can't buy happiness.  If nothing else, this entire experience serves as a great reminder that love, communication, mutual submission, and self discipline are far more important than owning flashy things and driving nice cars.  We've come to realize that our money isn't even really ours to decide where it goes, anyway!  It's God's money... He's just given it to us to manage for Him while we are here...

How we trimmed 30% out of our budget:

1.  Join together to prayerfully develop initial budget
2.  Recognize overage, go back and trim budget
3.  Separated the "Knock Down Expenses" in order of priority
4.  Converted the Grocery and Restaurant budgets to cash envelopes
5.  Incentivized the wife to manage the cash envelopes well = new found "whatever" money
for her.  (creates a "win win"--> "Happy Wife, Happy Life... {{insert nervous laughter}}")

6.  Remember, the budget is our strategy for managing God's money (not ours!)

Here's the budget form we've found & adapted for our personal budget.  Click HERE for my download-able Google Docs Budget form (Microsoft Excel)

Matthew 25:14-30 (New International Version, ©2010)

The Parable of the Bags of Gold
    14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability....  Click HERE for the full story...

Innovative by Design


Innovative by Design

No matter where you turn these days, the word "innovation" seems to connect itself to so many advertorial mediums.  Just pick up your remote control and start flipping through commercials, and you are likely to hear:

"This new innovative technology..."

"... in such an innovative way"

"Our team of innovative innovators innovated the most innovating innovation of the 21st century..."

In the midst of this linguistic abuse, I'll admit that the root definition of the term "innovation" has been lost in my mind.  

Until now.

You see it all starts with... Imagination!

Imagination:  Thoughts in our mind.  Daydream.  Think WAY outside the box.  Remember when you were a kid, and two chairs and an old bed sheet became "Fort Frontier" as well as your imaginative "command base" for the rest of the summer.  Think, relentlessly. 


Creativity:  The ability to USE your imagination.  Creativity is not raw thinking (contrary to modern day belief)... but rather it is the ability to leverage an active imagination and pull out ideas to show the world!


Innovation!:  Ah, here we are.  The word we've all been waiting for!  Innovation is the act or process of creating ideas.  Act.  Process.  There is form AND function to innovation.  It is a new way of thinking that has a system attached.  Innovation leverages the power of Left (logic) and Right (creative) brain thinking, together!


Invention:  What good is an idea without somewhere to put it?  Invention is the step in the mix where imagined, creative innovations are connected to a discovered need.  The act of discovery can be the most exciting time for engineers and scientists, because here is where traction begins!

and finally...

Design:  To develop something for a purpose... typically monetization.  This present day jargon term in the business world connects idea creation to revenue generation.

I like to think of it like five separate glasses.  Once the first is filled, then it overflows to the next, and so on...  imagination leads to creativity which leads to innovation which leads to invention which leads to developing a repeatable methodology for walking this trail in the future (design.)

With this new understanding of where "innovation" fits into the puzzle of idea generation and business strategy, perhaps we can now understand the importance of "think time" and "PLAY."

It is essential that we do not approach every business decision with our "six sigma" "kaizen" linear thinking, only.  

It is essential that we do not approach every business decision with a pallet of water colors and a Moleskine filled with chicken scratch drawings, only.  

But if we can tap into the power of collaborative potential between both sides of our souls (the creative and the logical) and harness that energy intentionally for business growth (design)... then maybe... just maybe... we will find our place in the history books as 2011's true "innovators."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Change how you Follow!


Change how you Follow

If you feel frustrated or uninspired by your leader, you're in good company. Many people are unhappy with the leadership styles of those above them. Rather than trying to oust or change your leader, it may be time to look inward

Accept what you can't change — your leader's style. Focus on what you can control — how you follow. If you have a manager who likes to have his hand in everything, don't resist the micro-managing. Instead, invite him to get involved. He's likely to include himself anyway, and bringing him in increases the likelihood he will support your work. 

If your leader is more hands off and fails to motivate you, find inspiration from the work itself or from others in the organization. Then, reflect back to your leader what you find most inspiring. You may be able to show him what you need by getting it elsewhere first.