UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

Blog

The Leader’s Desire, Design, and Destiny

Desperate Desire Everybody’s got a hungry heart. – Bruce Springsteen What is the longing within leaders to reach audacious goals, to “make a dent in the universe,” to leave a legacy? We are designed with this longing, and only freedom will lead us to our destiny. Plato described the human predicament as a desperate interior yearning that arises from the depths of our humanity for all that is true, good and beautiful. Reflecting on Plato’s perspective, Dominican father and playwright Peter John Cameron wrote, There is no escape from the burning desire within us for the true, the good, the beautiful. Each of us lives with the inextinguishable expectation that life is supposed to make sense and satisfy us deeply. Even the most jaded atheist feels cheated if he doesn’t experience meaning, purpose, peace – in a word – happiness in this life. But just where does this universal expectation

Read more

Are Good Leaders Born or Made?

Leadership Succession – off the hook? Nineteen years ago “Marcell” was living in Thailand when he started an international ministry to rescue young girls and boys caught in human trafficking. For nearly two decades he has travelled the globe with tireless passion. He has built a respected ministry with a combination of hard work and charisma. As the ministry has grown, his staff has come to expect his presence and personal involvement in nearly every new initiative. But Marcell is getting older, and is visibly worn with the grind. He worries about the future of the ministry. But when asked about his plans for leadership succession, he comments, “That’s God’s job, not mine. Just as God anointed me, so He will raise up another to take my place.” Leaders like Marcell believe that God alone is responsible to develop leaders and that, they think, lets them “off the hook.” They

Read more

Has literacy blinded us to brilliance that “refuses to be spelled out”?

Western culture celebrates the production of knowledge, and literacy exponentially multiplies the possibilities for the refinement and application of this knowledge, thus enabling new discoveries. But has this literacy-bound process caused us to be blind to systems of knowledge that are not written down? Do we ignore brilliance in those around us because their expertise is not reproduced in literate forms? Or worse, do we treat those around us with disdain when the artistry of their work should produce admiration and respect? What about the plumber whose soldering for your bathroom shower looks like a work of art? Or the auto mechanic whose lifetime of experience enables him to diagnose and repair a condition that has confounded computer diagnosis and testing? Or the backhoe operator who can operate a machine with such grace and precision that they can “feel” that buried iron pipe through heavy equipment as clearly as we

Read more

Get Them Talking Again

Smart Phones Smartphones inhabit an essential place in our daily lives. We call them “smart” because they allow us to do everything except talk to each other. That’s a problem. We use smartphones to write emails, play games, text memos, order pizza, and get directions. Right now I’m listening to Rascal Flatts through earphones jammed in both ears to drown out the noise of jet engines (and chatty fellow travelers). These technological marvels have nearly eliminated the reason for a phone: to talk to another human being. Healthy Human Relationships Author and psychoanalyst Sharon Turkle chronicles how the smartphone has dramatically shifted the core element of society: human relationships.1 Turkle encapsulates the problem as one of losing both the desire and even the ability to talk to each other. People are avoiding conversations in favor of texting or email. While these forms of communication can be more convenient, there is

Read more

Pray, Then Send or Go: Reflections on Matthew 9:37-38 and the Lord of the Harvest

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38 In this passage of Scripture, Jesus gives us three ways to reach the lost: praying, sending, and going. The one command is “pray earnestly.” It’s one word in the original; it has the connotation of pleading for something. We all have the responsibility to plead for the lost, praying specifically that the Lord would send out workers to reap a harvest of lost souls. They are there ready to be “reaped.” This type of pleading prayer is set in the context of Jesus going from village to village seeing the people that were like “sheep without a shepherd” (v. 36). Christ had compassion for the lost and he was asking for his disciples to have that same

Read more

The Word

The Word

That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is not a word. Rather, it is an emoji officially called “Face with Tears of Joy.” This image was selected as the ‘word’ that best reflected the mood and preoccupation of 2015. The world’s word police point to a swelling global phenomenon. An emoji is a digital image used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication. The word emoji has been found in English since 1997. According to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus, its usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year. These pictographs are no longer the exclusive domain of texting adolescents – instead, they have had notable use from politicians and celebrities and brands alongside everyone else. Emojis have been globally embraced as a nuanced form of expression, one that can cross language barriers. Emojis and Storycentric Communication

Read more

Leadership For a New Year

Courageous Leadership Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln” highlighted a four-month period at the end of the Civil War in 1865 that is instructive for leaders facing a new year’s opportunities and challenges. The United States’ sixteenth president had declared that he hated the “zeal” for slavery’s expansion. “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself,” Lincoln said, and “I hate it because it . . . enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity.”1 Lincoln correctly calculated the task before him, and described the Emancipation Proclamation as “the central act of his administration.” His courageous leadership to end slavery was a pivotal event in American history. Political Risk However, during the struggle he took an enormous political risk when the outcome was far from certain. Allen Guelzo, Director of the Civil War Era Studies

Read more

Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

Leadership Metrics Leaders craft the cultures of their organizations – consciously or not – by what they consistently measure.  If leaders want something to become important – or remain important – in the minds and hearts of organizational stakeholders, they must figure out a way to measure it.  On the other hand, if leaders do not highlight a particular value or provide a means to measure it, that stated value will not likely be an actual value in the organization – especially in times of stress and pressure.   Measurable Metrics A newly-appointed Christian college president decided to initiate a campus-wide focus on the spiritual development of students, faculty, and staff.  As he launched the initiative, he faced unforeseen obstacles. Whereas the stated (written) values of the institution emphasized the importance of spiritual formation; however, academics consistently took precedence over spiritual formation in budget and scheduling decisions. In their attempt

Read more

Leading to Avoid Infectious Behavior

Leading to Avoid Infectious Behavior

Grumpiness and Stupidity are Remarkably Contagious Old-timers will remember that the Osmonds topped the pop charts in 1971 when they sang, One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.” But when it comes to leading others to work together, this mantra just isn’t so. On the contrary, grumpiness and stupidity are remarkably contagious. Stanford professor of management Robert Sutton cited recent research that tracked employees’ moods.1 This study found that the impact of negative interactions with bosses and coworkers on employees’ feelings were five times stronger than positive interactions. Rotten apples drag down and infect everyone else. Effective Leaders Intervene The upshot is that leaders can make a difference, and need to intervene quickly to deal with rotten apples before they spoil the whole bunch. Here are four smart tips to expel the infection: Show them the love. Many leaders spend endless hours attending meetings, managing conflict, and shuffling papers,

Read more

How to use Technology in Leadership

How to use Technology in Leadership

The Leader’s Use of Technology Technology can be used for great evil or for great good. Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates. Goebbels shared Hitler’s virulent anti-Semitism, and avidly supported the extermination of Jews. Perhaps Goebbels was best known for his stirring propaganda speeches that were broadcast via radio throughout Europe.  He once stated, “It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio.”  His influence through the use of available technology led millions to tolerate mass genocide. But the technology Goebbels intended for evil would be used by another leader for great good. Three years after Hitler’s Reich crumbled and Goebbels committed suicide in the spring of 1945, Paul Freed was appointed to work with Youth for Christ in Spain.

Read more

Stories Have A Bad Reputation

Stories Have A Bad Reputation

Using Stories to Communicate A recent group conversation was about about the use of stories to communicate truth. One person in the group said, “No way. We cannot entrust truth to be communicated through a story. We must convey facts and principles and concepts.” This statement comes from common myths and misunderstandings that prevent many people from viewing story as a viable means of communicating truth. When you mention the word “story,” many people think of nursery tales or the kiddy corner of a bookstore. Stories are perceived as “just for fun” and are often relegated to children’s bedtime or elementary school. Stories also suffer from a bad reputation. In politics, business, and church, it is often assumed that people use stories if they have a weak case or in order to put a spin on something. Stories are seen as a device to stretch logic, and are not effective

Read more

Keep “Healthy” Before “Growth”

Keep “Healthy” Before “Growth”

Healthy Growth “Healthy growth” is an arresting notion. If “growth” is preceded by “healthy,” then people, communities, and organizations flourish. I was raised in Cary, in eastern North Carolina. When my family moved to Cary in 1959, there were about 3000 people and one stoplight. Ashworth’s Drugs was our pharmacy and the main lunch counter for blue and white-collar workers alike. I rode my bike and chased chickens at Kildare Farm. Most people knew “Ricky,” so Dad usually got wind of my shenanigans before sundown. Although I have been all over the world, I again live off of Kildare Farm Road, now a multi-lane thoroughfare that runs through the heart of Cary. Where the farm was, a shopping center is now. Condominiums have sprung up where tobacco once grew. A mall now sits on our former baseball field. My cozy “town” is now the seventh largest “city” in North Carolina,

Read more