Learning the ONE Thing Needed to Avoid Procrastination

If asked, most of you would admit to procrastination.  I am not making it up, either.  The Barna Group did the study for us.  Based on their research, 60% of Americans claim a temptation to procrastinate.

If you are a student, then you wait until the night before, or worst yet, the morning of test day to study.  If you are a credit card holder, then you wait until the last day of the 10 day grace period to look at the statement.  If you are in the workforce, you wait until April 15 to file your taxes.  If you are a parent, you wait until the last minute to pickup your child from school.  If you are a pastor, you wait until Saturday Night to write Sunday morning’s sermon.  If you are…then you…

Reality is:  procrastination rarely prepares you to reach big goals.

I spent three days this week at a training for church planting.  Over and over again, we were urged to dream big dreams for the Church.  “Don’t dream of planting a church you can do in your own ability.  Dream of a church greater than your capacity to create, a church that requires God’s power to pull off,” they said.

Once they felt we were convinced to dream big, then they offered tools necessary to equip us for the challenge.  One of the most helpful, invaluable tools:  a Timeline.

A Timeline is a chart with task list and deadlines to keep you on track with the myriad details that must be completed all the way through your project.  Every Timeline is inspired by a vision.  A vision is a future reality you can imagine and begin working toward.  Every vision needs a strategy.  A strategy is a plan or process designed to help you visualize the necessary steps for reaching your goal.  Which brings you back to the Timeline, because every strategy is executed through a series of tasks.  A Timeline lists the tasks and sets a deadline for accomplishing each one.

Too many great visions have gone unrealized, and too many strategies have collected dust because of procrastination.  The ONE thing needed to avoid procrastination is a Timeline.  

Seems so simple, doesn’t it?  Yet, it is the one thing most of us lack.



Learning I was 16 When Dumber & Dumber Originally Released

I am not one who remembers exact dates and times.  I recall watching Dumb and Dumber from the front row in high school.  That’s about it.  Couldn’t tell you what year or how old I was.

The release of Dumb and Dumber To taught me a lesson in history.  It probably wouldn’t except that it opens this weekend, which happens to be my birthday.  It opened November 13, and my big day is the 15th.  Catching my attention, I wondered, “How old was I the first time I watched the original?”

It was an easy answer to find.  The original released in 1994.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of Harry and Lloyd’s adventure to find Mary Samsonite.  I was 16 years old.

Not sure if I feel smarter or dumber since then.  One thing I know for sure, I am grateful for all the great memories, amazing friends, beautiful family (Brooklyn, Kirra, and Mya), and opportunities to love and be loved.  Looking forward to the next 20.

Learning 7 Reasons Talking in Person is Better than Messaging

textCommunication can be complicated.

You are not sure if you understand what he is trying to say.  You are not sure if she is interpreting correctly what you are trying to say.  You’re not sure if the message received is positive or negative.  You aren’t even sure if the message was received.

It happens at home, at work, at school with friends, family, and coworkers.  Something needs to be communicated, but it is failing at some point.  Now, you’re confused and upset.  Or, you’ve made someone else upset.

Yes, there are times to communicate with messaging (ie, texting, email, IM, social media).  But, the majority of situations of miscommunication could be have been avoided by talking directly to the person.  Here are seven reasons why:

  1. Facial expression, body language, tone of voice, and inflection gives contexts to words.
  2. Questions can be asked and answers given immediately.
  3. Seeing a person’s reaction helps you know how to clarify appropriately.
  4. Emotions are nearly impossible to interpret via messaging.
  5. Talking doesn’t hold your emotions hostage because you don’t have to wait for a reply.  With talking, there’s no waiting game.
  6. It’s more natural to show compassion to a person than a device.
  7. Talking makes it difficult to ignore.

There’s no denying that messaging can make communication more efficient, if used correctly.  There are many times when messaging is a great idea.  But, it will never be able to replace the power of talking face to face.  When communication starts faltering, it is better to talk it out in person.

What form of communication do you rely on most?

Learning 5 Leadership Ideas from Pixar Worth Considering

  1. Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.
  2. Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas.
  3. You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.
  4. You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.
  5. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil.  They aren’t evil at all.  They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no orignality).

Ideas taken from Creativity, Inc.:  Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Learning Goals for 2014

2014Today is exactly one week into the year 2014!  I’ve had 7 days to consider what my goals will be for the next 358.  If I don’t get them down, now, I never will.


2014 Learning Goals

  • Learn to use our camera.  Sounds simple, I know.  How hard could it be to look through a lens and push a button?  My goal is to do more than know how to snap a quick pic.  I want to move past being a dummy with an impressive camera.  Lofty Goal:  Take pictures every day, capturing one exceptional shot a month.
  • Learn to make stop motion videos.  I stumbled across a website called Skillshare recently.  It’s an online resource for learning how to do just about anything, including stop motion videos.  Lofty Goal:  Produce three really great stop motion pictures and teach my 1st Grader daughter to make one.
  • Learn to improve my preaching.  It’s time to breakthrough to the next level of effective communication.  I don’t  want to be stuck in a rut or compromise my potential for communicating with greater influence.  Lofty Goal:  Watch and critique each week’s sermon and work with a speaking coach.
  • Learn to be more positive.  Most of us grow up acquiring certain tendencies.  Mine is pessimism and negativity.  I want to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for my family, friends, colleagues, and myself.  Lofty Goal:  Replace criticism with encouragement, replace doubt with confidence, and replace calculation with whimsy.
  • Learn to make good food.  It’s so easy to make the same, simple meals each week.  I don’t want to be a home with boring, forgettable food.  I want my family to love our food and cherish the memory of eating it together at our house.  Lofty Goal:  Make one new meal (one we’ve never tried before) each week in 2014.

What are you learning goals for 2014?

Essential Words for Leadership Growth

“No, don’t do that.” 

“No, don’t do that.”

No, don’t do that, either.”

These words are not music to my ears.  I’m guessing, they don’t fall softly on your ears.  They pack a punch.  They hit you like a slap in the face.   With each repetition comes feelings such as shame, embarrassment, ineptitude, and frustration.

I came up with a list of reasons why I (we) don’t like to hear them:

  • I must admit I’m doing something wrong.
  • I have an education, I know what I’m doing.
  • I don’t like to admit someone knows more or better than I.
  • I’m a do-it-myself kind of person, I don’t need any help.

As averse as I’ve been to these words most of my life (and still to this day), “No, don’t do that,”  I’m learning to grow comfortable with them.  I’m learning I need to hear them.  And, I’m learning this from a friend who knows how to use them.

My friend offers more help around my house than I deserve.  He’s helping me tear down trees, redo landscaping, demolish a bathroom, and now renovate the same bathroom.  In the process, he’s taken it upon himself to teach me everything he knows.  ME.  Someone who knows nothing about being a handy-man.

With every project, my friend walks me through the same process.  First, he’ll ask,  “how do you think we should do this.”  Then, he’ll show me how it really should be done.  Finally, he’ll let me take a crack at it.

At each level of the process, I’ll hear my friend say to me, “No, don’t do that.”  He doesn’t say it to belittle me, or berate me, or embarrass me.  He says these words to teach me and to help me grow.  His purpose is to improve my knowledge, skills, and ability.

Without using these words, I would probably still be stuck cleaning up the mess from our first project.  If not that, then I might be stuck paying somebody else to clean-up the mess from our first project and paying a different person to do the next.  Instead, I’m growing and learning how to complete new projects all the time.

As leaders, we need to hear these words.  Without them, we may be stuck cleaning up messes while more qualified leaders come in to do the job for us.  One can only grow as far as the limits of what one knows.  To know more, all of us need to hear the words, “No, don’t do that.  Try this.” 

Are you ready to hear these words?  Do you have anyone in your life to speak them to you?


Top 15 Quotes from SEU Leadership Forum

The ForumFour days agao, I attended Southeastern University’s 2013 National Leadership Forum.  If you’re not familiar, The Forum is a two-day event featuring several of the nation’s top leaders and entrepreneurs.  The list this year included: Day 1:  Mark Sanborn, Nancy Ortberg, John Ortberg, Pat Wiilliams, John Maxwell, Day 2:   AmyK Hutchens, Jon Gordon, Dave Martin, Phil Cooke, and Sarah Palin.

Brooklyn and I split the deal.  Not enough time or tickets for both of us to attend, so she took Day 1 and took Day 2.  It’s okay, though.  In college, we learned to share our notes.

Since most of you didn’t attend, I thought I would share with you the best quotes of the day.  Here’s my top 15:

AmyK Hutchens

“Leaders get:  (1)  words you say, and (2)  actions you take.”

“Leadership happens one conversation at a time, and you are responsible for the quality of that conversation.”

“Just because you’re sure, doesn’t mean you’re right.”

“When people report to you, your number one job is setting them up for success.”

“3 Questions for customers:  What are you resisting?  What are you judging?  What are you attached to?

Dave Martin

“What you continually hear, you’ll eventually believe.”

“Little victories always lead to big successes.”

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

“When you’re doing what you love, what you love will reward you.”

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive.”

Phil Cooke

“Ideas come in times of boredom.”

“Write ideas down.”

“In a cluttered marketplace, it’s the simple things that show through.”

“I’ve never met a person who’s not creative.”

“Influence is enormously powerful, but not always visible.”


Do any of the quotes stand out to you?  Are there any you would add or disagree with?




Plan time to plan

watchIn May of 1997, I thought I woke up early for the last time in my life to get ready for school.  I was right, for 16 years.  And then our oldest daughter, Kirra, started kindergarten.  My nightmare came true.  I’m waking up early, again, to get ready for school.  It’s only the beginning, because I’m looking ahead to 14 more years of the same.  Ahhhhhhh!

If you can’t tell already, I’m not a morning person.  I wish I was.  Life would be so much easier, or so I think, if I could wake up easy.  For me, it just feels wrong to wake up before the sun comes up.  I set the alarm, only to sleep 10, 15, 25 minutes past the initial wake-up call.  Every minute counts, at least it feels so in the moment.

Reliving my school days all over again has forced me to rethink my time.  I have less of it.  Like yours, my day still has 24 hours.  But, long periods of concentrated, focused time has shrunk for me.  Here’s why:  I split responsibility between staying at home with my daughters and working a job.

I’m not complaining, I love what I do.  Reality is, though, I have short blasts of time to do work stuff and do family stuff.  As soon as I find a good flow at home or at work, it’s time to transition to a different part of my day.  Some days I wish for a solid, uninterrupted day to work on things.  It could be at work, or it could be at home.  I wouldn’t care, just let it be.  But this is my life, and I’ve learned to embrace it.  In embracing it, I’m learning the necessity of planning ahead.

I’m learning to plan time to plan.

Literally, I’m learning to schedule a time to plan my day, my week, my month, my year.  If I don’t plan time to plan, it won’t get done.  Life turns into chaos quickly.  I miss things, overlook things, and fail to accomplish things.  I need this time.  My wife needs me to have this time.  My kids need me to have this time.  And my job needs me to have this time.

I don’t want to miss an opportunity with my family, with my friends, or with those I’m called to serve.  I’m sure I will miss some, even though I plan not to.  I’m confident I’ll miss more if I neglect to plan at all.

I’m learning.  It’s new for me, but I’m learning.  I hope some of you will learn with me.

What helps you plan better?