UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Story Changes People From The Inside Out

Story Changes People From The Inside Out

“Worldview” is a collection of assumptions people hold about the world they live in and their place in it. More specifically, our worldview can be defined as a set of subconscious mental images that guides what we believe to be real, what we perceive to be important, and how we behave toward others. So how does a person’s worldview form? And how can one’s worldview change? Images A communications professor once told me that our most firmly held convictions are in the form of mental images. These images that reside in our minds are developed and remembered based on past experiences. For example, try this experiment. Ask someone:  “What comes to your mind when I say the word ‘wedding’?”  If your conversations are like mine, responses you get will be quite varied, but they often include “bride,” “white dress,” “vows,” “rings,” “flowers,” and “dancing.”  Some will recount portions of their

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Leaders Who See in 3D

Leaders Who See in 3D

Years ago a friend gave me a picture book that promised to enable the viewer to “see what is invisible.” It was my first experience with stereograms, those incredible 3D images that look like a collection of jumbled shapes and colors, until you adjust your focus. At first it was frustrating. I really had to train my eyes to see in another way, to look beyond the two-dimensional surface. But once I did, all of a sudden the hidden image “appears” in 3D right before my eyes. Leadership Focus Adjusting our focus to see into a stereogram is an appropriate metaphor for leadership. Demands from ministry stakeholders are placed upon leaders to succeed. Therefore, it is easier to see the people we lead as useful only insofar as they contribute to the organization’s success. This pressure motivates us to view associates subconsciously as mere cogs in the organization’s machinery. But

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Stories Save Lives

Stories Save Lives

“Designated Driver Jay Winsten is an associate dean at The Harvard School of Public Health. He was the driving force behind the Harvard Alcohol Project, which introduced and popularized the social concept of the “designated driver” in the United States. In the late 1980s, Winsten, learned about the “designated driver” norm that was prevalent in Scandinavian countries. At the time the norm did not exist in the United States; nobody knew what a designated driver was. But within three years after Winsten launched the “Designated Driver” campaign, 90% of Americans were familiar with the term. Thirty-seven percent of those polled said they had acted as a designated driver, and 54% of frequent drinkers indicated that they had been driven home by a designated driver. How did Winsten do that? What was the secret for his phenomenal success? 

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Lead With Meaning That Matters

Lead With Meaning That Matters

Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman was asked to oversee a group of engineers who were tasked to perform a seemingly endless series of tedious calculations. The math wasn’t especially difficult for these engineers, but the work proceeded very slowly, and was full of errors. Feynman realized the problem wasn’t the math, but that the engineers were disengaged. He finally convinced his superiors to let the engineers in on the secret – they were performing calculations that would enable them to complete the race to build the atomic bomb before the Germans did. Their work would win the war. From that point forward, the engineers worked 10 times faster than before, with few mistakes and with fierce commitment. Does your leadership provide people with meaning that matters?  The question might sound more like this: What is the overarching purpose that sustains our collective commitment to excellence in the tedious, less glamorous tasks

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Seeing The Future Through the Fire

Seeing The Future Through the Fire

Carpus and Papylus In the second century after Christ, Carpus and Papylus were brought before a governor in Rome and charged with the “crime” of being Christian. The governor of the district had discovered that Carpus and Papylus did not celebrate the pagan festivals. The governor ordered the two men to be arrested and commanded them to accept the Roman pagan religion. The men replied that they would never worship false gods. Carpus, who was a leader in the church, said, I am a Christian. I honor Christ, the Son of God, who has come in the latter times to save us and has delivered us from the madness of the devil. I will not sacrifice to these devils.” Not even torture could persuade him to change his mind. He simply kept repeating, I am a Christian and because of my faith and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

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A Church Led By Scholars

A Church Led By Scholars

A group of church leaders are dynamically impacting a hostile tribe of eight million people in northeast India. They are putting their lives on the line every day as they proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel. And most of them cannot read. Sound familiar? Two thousand years ago, the first apostles were former fishermen, tax collectors, and at least one Zealot. We don’t know the occupation of all the others, but certainly Jesus did not entrust the future of the church exclusively to scholars. Blue-collar workers led powerful faith communities. So why is the church today led primarily by scholars? The main reason is the printing press. The government once controlled the church, but that ended when the printing press was invented and people could read the Bible for themselves. Since scholars were the only people who could read, they got the job of church leadership by default. Church leadership went

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Six Stories Every Leader Should Tell

Six Stories Every Leader Should Tell

Several years ago, my wife Tina and I visited Broadway to see the musical Wicked. This show is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and her early history in the land of Oz. Born with an unnatural shade of green, Elphaba is misunderstood and ostracized. When she goes off to school, she ends up rooming with the popular Galinda, later to become The Good Witch. Galinda inspires Elphaba to travel to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. Elphaba’s only desire is to work with the Wizard, the Great and Powerful Oz. Of course, the Wizard is not so great and powerful. He is in fact a fraud who turns out to be the most insidious sort of evil there is. The matinee show we attended was packed; the story and the music were superb. To date,

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Leaders Who Self-Sabotage

Most leaders say they want to finish well. Yet the majority don’t.  Money, sex, pride, power, family problems, and stagnation are big barriers facing leaders who want to finish well. But what causes leaders to fall prey to these pitfalls?  Why do successful, talented, and bright leaders so often sabotage their professional and personal lives through immoral and destructive behavior? Self-Centered Leaders In most cases, a fall from grace is neither sudden nor without warning. On the contrary, the path of leaders to bad behavior is often a predictable process. The first step toward a downward spiral is growing self-centeredness. Leaders become increasingly confident about their accomplishments until they start to believe that they have all the answers. As a result, they make most decisions in isolation, discounting the contributions and abilities of others. When self-centered leaders become convinced that they alone can steer the ship, they stop managing their

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Time Calms Kings

Time Calms Kings

Time’s glory is to calm contending kings To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light To stamp the seal of time in aged things To wake the morn and sentinel the night To wrong the wronger till he render righ To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours And smear with dust their glittering golden towers. -Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece   Today finds me sitting by the Atlantic’s seashore in The Gambia, West Africa. Children are kicking up sand as they play soccer on the beach. They seem oblivious to this week’s FIFA scandal that has cast suspicion over just about every major decision in the soccer world over the past twenty-five years. Eighteen officials are charged with offences including racketeering, fraud, and money laundering. Their cozy lifestyles of kickbacks and obscene per diems are finally on global display. Time has its insistent way of bringing truth to light. Remember

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Leadership In The “Worthiness Era”

Worthiness Era A middle-aged woman complained on Facebook about the lousy service she received at a local hot dog counter. She wrote, “The hot dogs were delicious, but the waiter was down-right rude.” She continued, “I’ll be looking for hot dogs someplace else.” Her post got lots of supportive responses.  In the “Worthiness Era,” good products must be matched by good behavior. We’ve heard enough news of Fortune 500 companies that shirk taxes while padding profits.  Firms that make a widget, rake in revenue, but foul the planet.  CEOs  abuse their privilege, then bail out with a multi-million dollar parachute. Is this just more evidence that bad guys finish first?  Maybe. But a different story is unfolding. Despite the discouraging headlines, noted economist Laurie Bassi asserts that we have entered the “Worthiness Era.”1 And in it, the good guys are poised to win. This new season results from a convergence

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Spotting Leadership Potential

Spotting Leadership Potential

The real leaders in many organizations are not obvious by their positions. Often they are hidden, but identifying them for development and future leadership is critical to the organization’s success. Based on observation in diverse organizational sectors that span the globe, here are four indicators to spot leadership potential. Identifying people for leadership roles who possess these latent abilities – even if they are still in raw form – is crucial since these characteristics are more difficult to cultivate within adults. Virtue – this term may seem like a throwback to the Victorian era, but virtue cannot be overlooked when looking for effective leaders. Essentially, virtue is the ability to align internal motives with external leadership behaviors. Virtue is the courage to adhere consistently to a strong internal ethical code in the public sphere, even in difficult and shifting circumstances.  This characteristic is an absolute bottom-line requirement. The hidden leader

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The Toxic Leader’s Seductive Promises

The Toxic Leader’s Seductive Promises

Following Toxic Leaders Most of us claim to be repulsed by toxic leaders, those who engage in destructive behaviors that result in serious and enduring harm to their followers. But the troubling reality is that people often follow them, and remain under their spell even when we clearly know their corruption and cruelty. Exploiting Followers What are the forces that entice followers, again and again, to accept and often favor these piranhas? In The Allure of Toxic Leaders, Jean Lipman-Blume1 identifies three empty promises they use to seduce people to follow them: The promise to keep us safe. Dependency on parents and caretakers during childhood often instills a deep-seated ambivalence in us toward authority. We learn both to desire and despise it. Nevertheless, most of us as adults tend to transfer our ambivalence to other authority figures – bosses, ministers, therapists, politicians – in exchange for the promise of security. Consequently the

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