UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Tell Stories – Build Trust

Tell Stories – Build Trust

Uncommon Bond: What is your story? I was part of an extraordinary work team during the 90s. The members were smart and talented to be sure. But what really made this team special was an uncommon bond of trust that we built by telling stories. Most members of the team were recent college grads, and were at the front end of their careers. Their generation is different from mine; they insisted that the first step in creating bonds of trust is to build rapport based on shared experiences and mutual understanding. They believed that it’s difficult to work with someone you don’t trust, and it’s even harder to trust someone you don’t know. Despite the demands of our fast-paced and hectic work, they looked for opportunities for us to hear one another’s stories. They prioritized storytelling in weekly meetings, over lunch, and during staff getaways. At first I just observed,

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Popping the Lid: Human potential catalyzed by encouragement

Popping the Lid: Human potential catalyzed by encouragement

Fleas can jump up to 200 times their size. Put them in a jar with a lid on it, and they are soon jumping only as high as they can without hitting the lid. One Sunday I was the guest speaker at a small church. I went to the pastor’s home for the noon meal after the service. As we sat at the table, I could tell that this lunch was different; the pastor’s wife had set out the special napkins and silverware. The three children were on their best behavior. The older son caught my attention. He was a tall, lanky kid with cerebral palsy. After getting acquainted, I said to him, “Alan, what subjects do you like in high school?” With a smile, he answered, “Algebra. I love Algebra.” I continued, “What do you want to do after you graduate from high school?” With some hesitation, he responded,

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Hollywood Tells Better Stories

Hollywood Tells Better Stories

  Photo Credit: Tom Rydquist Ministry leaders from several African nations recently told me that story plays a vital role both in shaping and in preserving their cultures. Like all communities, most of their shared core beliefs are passed from generation to generation through true stories, myths, and songs. These narratives embody the essence of what they view as important to their children and grandchildren. Even as they welcome education that brings socio-economic advancement, these leaders are concerned that they avoid the mistake of teaching their succeeding generations with a literate, conceptual approach that disconnects them from their own story. These leaders have analyzed their western neighbors well. To illustrate, story has contributed dramatically to western culture’s evolving views of acceptable sexual behavior within the span of a generation. Our collective perception of sex outside the bonds of traditional marriage has morphed from predominantly negative to overwhelmingly positive. Hollywood’s producers,

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Hearing Impaired vs Listening Impaired

Hearing Impaired vs Listening Impaired

Image from another great article on listening- http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/gospel-listening/ My wife and daughter are hearing-impaired. They inherited a deficiency of the central nervous system that affects their hearing. Most people do not notice their impairment because they listen so well. With the assistance of hearing aids and lip-reading, both are expert listeners. Another member of our family is listening-impaired. The doc says there is nothing wrong with my hearing. But listening has been an impairment I’ve been working to overcome all of my adult life. Part of the problem is that I’m a professional speaker. I was trained to lead by talking. I’ve taken many courses and read countless books on public speaking. For years, I didn’t know that listening – not speaking – is the key to effective leadership. And even on my best days, listening is hard work – especially to people I know best. Listening to a stranger

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Back to the Present

Back to the Present

David Burnham, renowned behavior science researcher and partner of the Burnham Rosen Group, states that the charismatic, visionary leader is being superceded by the leader who: (1) brings a focus on creating accountability within others, (2) cedes decision making to others, (3) encourages experimentation and flexibility, and (4) concentrates on building a shared sense of purpose and shared values. The formula for leadership success today is taking its script from the ancient past.  The 21st century is finally catching up to Jesus’ paradigm for leading. The Formula for Leadership Success Burnham’s findings are based on a five-year research study of 140 leaders in thirteen companies, eight industries, and five countries.  According to Burnham, the key to these newly successful leaders is their thought patterns. These leaders think about authority differently. For example, returning authority to others is a recurrent theme while the leaders of the past thought about stratagems to

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The “Matt Foley” Flaw and Genuine Motivation

The “Matt Foley” Flaw and Genuine Motivation

Leaders are mistaken to think that people are not motivated.  Rather, people are simply longing for needs they cannot name. Twenty years ago, the late Chris Farley performed a comedy routine on Saturday Night Live. The sketch depicted a family with two delinquent teenagers. Dad hires a speaker, “Matt Foley,” to motivate his kids into better behavior. In addition to his disheveled and overweight appearance, Matt shouts insults at the teenagers, frequently loses his temper, and wallows in self-pity. Foley’s trademark line is warning the teenagers that they could end up like himself, being “35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, and living in a van down by the river!” The routine concludes when his speech has impacted the teenagers, but only because they don’t want to be like him. Farley’s hilarious shtick is a depiction of motivational talks that do anything but motivate. Many motivational efforts

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The Rookie Advantage

The Rookie Advantage

Experience can be a curse. Being new and naive can be an asset. New studies show that constant learning is more valuable than mastery. Conventional wisdom suggests that mastering a discipline would provide the knowledge worker with a competitive advantage. But the opposite is actually true; we are often at our best when we do something for the first time. We often see it on the athletic field, but it also plays out in the workplace. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman and her team of researchers studied almost 400 organizational scenarios, comparing the performance of productive veterans versus productive rookies. They defined a rookie as “someone who had never done that type of work” and a veteran as “someone who had previous experience with that type of work.” Here’s what they found: Rookies usually listen more, are more likely to ask for help, and believe they have a lot more to

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Kingdom Entrepreneurs

Kingdom Entrepreneurs

Shark Tank is one of TV’s most watched programs. The show’s popularity taps into our surging attraction for people with fresh products and plans for a morphing world. These entrepreneurs fuel the future for successful businesses, great societies, and Kingdom advancement.

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Spiritual Formation: Life Abundantly

Spiritual Formation: Life Abundantly

This post is the last entry of our blog series on Spiritual Leadership while the Freedom to Lead team is in India and Nepal this month. Spiritual Formation This past month we have been talking about the Streams of the Spiritual Life.  Our discussions have addressed both the leader’s personal spiritual development as well as his or her role in the spiritual development of others.  And to do that we need to understand where we’ve come from. First, we explored about what it means for us to live in the “in-between,” and the significance of understanding each of the streams of the spiritual life, knowing the source to be Christ. From there we moved on to the New Life.  We asked honest questions when looking at the Abiding Life. We then examined the Empowered Life. We asked ourselves what it means to live out the fullest meaning of the presence of

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The Witnessing Life: Fed to the Lions, Burned at the Stake

The Witnessing Life: Fed to the Lions, Burned at the Stake

This post is part of the Spiritual Leadership Blog Series while the Freedom to Lead team is in India and Nepal this month.  Only two more posts remain in the series.   An Example of the Witnessing Life Their names were Carpus and Papylus.  And they demonstrated the Witnessing Life. In A.D. 165, 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. He ordered the 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.  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

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The Compassionate Life: Let’s Call Evil For What It Is

What about terrorists? Yesterday we were challenged to look at The Compassionate Life a little closer.  In the attempt to write a modern day parable similar to The Good Samaritan, we look at different kinds of people that cross our paths every day.  I believe God brings certain people across our path for a reason, but sometimes we have to go TO them. As we think of these people, though, we ask ourselves the hard question: “what type of person is the hardest for me to extend compassion to?” And what does exactly does it mean to live the Compassionate Life? So, what about the terrorists? I’m not limiting ourselves to people like ISIS or extremists half a world away who strap bombs to their chests.  I’m talking about people closer to home, those who make the local news because of things like violence, rape, and murder.  Inner city gangs

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The Compassionate Life: Go and Do Likewise

The Compassionate Life: Go and Do Likewise

Jesus chose to communicate “The Compassionate Life.” When Jesus saw the crowds “he had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36)  With a broken heart he said aloud to whomever was listening, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Later, he spoke of ministering to “The Least of These” (Matthew 25), demonstrating how we are called to help those that cannot help us in return.  Jesus often spoke of his own mission to “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18).  Jesus came to save people from their sins, but he also cared about the whole person.  Evangelism and social justice go hand in hand. The Compassionate Life “stream” emphasizes that Christian spirituality is not just a set of disciplines to benefit the devout, but a trumpet call that seeks the care and transformation of persons, institutions, and

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