Power Points: The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant

The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

This is the second Will Durant book I’ve interacted with. The first was “The Lessons of History.” I read that book… and LOVED it!

This particular book I absorbed while driving via Audible.

I much prefer a book in the hand to a book in the ear. There is something special about physically interacting with a book… touching it… writing in it… and feeling its weight that moves my soul.  Anyone else feel this way? However, in an attempt to maximize time and learning, I use Audible, and regularly find great joy there too!  I realize I sound like a total geek as I write this. 😉 

Audible books are difficult to review because I listen when I’m driving or exercising, therefore it is difficult to take notes… and my notes are what I use to do my “Power Points.” However, Audible books still offer value. This one in particular made me consider names and events which were either new to me or of which I had not heard. Several times throughout this book I stopped to do a “google” search to learn more about the person or the event discussed by Durant.

I highly recommend this book. It is an easy and quick read. You may not agree with the people he includes in this list. You may not agree with the people he leaves off the list. That’s fine! It will force you to wrestle with “WHY” you agree/disagree… and that will be good for your brain.

If you are interested, here is a link to an INCREDIBLE review of this book.

 

Staying strong for long (time). #gottakeeptherhyme

To some, this post might seem like chest-thumping. It is not.

I love to exercise. Today is 593 days in a row that I have done something for my body ranging from yoga and calisthenics to heavy lifting. Some workouts have been so hard I thought I was going to die. Others have been executed right before I climbed into bed. The point is that almost 600 days ago, I made a decision to exercise EVERY DAY.

Since coming into the Army in January, my style of exercise has changed a lot. I’ve never been much of a runner. Matter of fact – I HATE running. Buuuttt… running is the Army’s love language, so I’m running a lot these days! The problem with so much running and calisthenics is that it does not build muscle mass; lifting weights does that… and I’ve not been doing nearly as much of that as I used to do. The result is that I have lost weight and my body is changing. Sherri so kindly told me the other night, “You’re getting skinny.” #ugghh

A few years ago I promised one of my daughters that we would compete in a physique show together (I’ve done three shows… my fourth will be with one, or more, of my daughters). To be competitive in a show, you must have muscle mass! SOOOO… I’m changing how I train. For the last few weeks I’ve been working a new plan. I’m posting it for my memory, and in hopes that it might be helpful to a few of you as well!

Some important notes:

  • I am working out twice a day at least 4 days a week (often 5).
  • I have increased calories significantly so that my body will have the resources to heal itself and grow muscle.
  • I drink a minimum of one gallon of water every day. Most days is more than that.
  • I do yoga every morning (10-15 minutes). I have found the 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene incredibly helpful! I also stretch and/or do mobility most nights before getting into bed (10-15 minutes). Kelly Starrett and Brutal Iron Gym have largely guided my thinking on this.
  • Part of my job description is being physically fit. I am tested on my physical abilities, so if I am not fit I will be disqualified from my job. #ilovethearmy In other words, I am PAID and EXPECTED to be in good shape.
  • Every day I have committed to “lifting weights” for at least twenty minutes (in addition to the morning workouts with my Soldiers.). An easy way to accomplish that is Jim Wendlers strength building program, 5/3/1. I’ve used this plan four times in the past years and it works! The “twenty minute” commitment is how I often talk myself into lifting weights after I get home. I’m usually tired and don’t want to… so I tell myself “twenty minutes” and it works. The beauty of 5/3/1 is that it can be a short workout or a long one depending on how you feel and how much time you have.
  • Working out in my garage gym lets me hang with my kids! I usually have 1-3 of my Princess Warriors moving weights with me! We jam to good music, laugh, lift weights, and get better together!!!

THE PLAN:

MONDAY

  • AM – 4 mile run and calisthenics with my Soldiers.
  • PM – 5/3/1 Overhead Press in my garage gym and some accessory work… how much depends on how I feel and how much time I have.

TUESDAY

  • AM – Arms/calves/core and 20ish minutes on the rowing machine at the gym.
  • PM – 5/3/1 Deadlifts in my garage gym and some accessory work… how much depends on how I feel and how much time I have.

WEDNESDAY

  • AM – Rucking or Combat Focused PT with my Soldiers.
  • PM – I may or may not hit the weights in my garage gym depending on how I feel.

THURSDAY

  • AM – Back and core and 20ish minutes on the stairclimber at the gym. (taking a tip from Matt Wenning – he trains back twice as much as chest. Remember, no one ever carried the weight of the world on their chest! #strongheartstrongback)
  • PM – 5/3/1 Bench Press in my garage gym and some accessory work… how much depends on how I feel and how much time I have.

FRIDAY

  • AM – Sprints and calisthenics with my Soldiers.
  • PM – 5/3/1 Squats in my garage gym and some accessory work… how much depends on how I feel and how much time I have.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY

  • These are recovery days. I’ll do yoga, play with the kids, walk with Mrs. Peterson, and MAYBE do some light weight training… depending on how I feel.

Each of these days are preceded by prayer, fueled by heavy metal music, driven by love for life, and guided by wisdom.

Proverbs 20:29 says that “the pride of a young man is his strength, and the pride of an old man is his wisdom.”

For me, wisdom is knowing when to take a BREAK so that I don’t BREAK!

I love working hard and want to do it for a long time… so I keep working hard; I keep listening to my body; I make sure my body is getting the water, calories, and rest it needs; and I make sure my spirit is getting the nourishment it needs through prayer, laughter, study, and community.

I DO THESE THINGS SO I CAN KEEP DOING THESE THINGS.

At forty-four, these things are working for me. I love my God, my life, my family, and the Soldiers with whom I get to serve.
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I’ll let you know in a couple of months how this plan is working. Until then… #strongheartstrongback

POWER POINTS: Leading at the Edge : Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition by Dennis T. Perkins

Leading at the Edge : Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition

Ernest Shackleton’s adventure is one of the most noteworthy adventures of all time. This story of boldness, imagination, and rugged determination is PACKED TO THE BRIM with leadership lessons! Dennis Perkins does a fine job of distilling the best lessons from this extraordinary story! 

***Disclaimer: Part Two of this book is “Case Studies”. I did not read this entire section… because I don’t particularly care about these case studies. You might though… so read away!

POWER POINTS

STRATEGY #1 – Vision and Quick Victories: Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short term objectives.

  • Leaders are always looking for “ideas in a form they can remember.” Stories are one of the best ways to teach memorable leadership maxims.

 

  • Shackleton’s family motto: “Fortitudine Vincimus” (By endurance we conquer).

 

  • While pursuing the long-term goal, be sure to focus on the critical short-term tasks that create momentum and ensure survival.

 

  • Overcome uncertainty with ritual and structure! “When leaders move into unexplored terrain, ambiguity and uncertainty are inevitable. Establishing critical organizational structures – a ‘matter-of-fact groove’ – can give people the sense of order they need to be productive.” Maintaining a “Business as usual” structure is critical in times of chaos. 

 

  • In times of chaos, look for opportunities and tasks that will distract the negative energies of the team and occupy them with the “ordinary cares of life.”

 

  • “There is nothing quite like responsibility – especially a role in which others depend on you – to focus your attention. As a leader, you must continually scan for people who exhibit nervousness and anxiety. When you find them, figure out a way to capture that free-floating energy. 

 

  • “Anxiety is energy without a goal.”

STRATEGY #2 – Symbolism and Personal Example: Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors.

  • “Leaders need to be aware that their personal presences is a unique source of energy and power.”

STRATEGY #3 – Optimism and Reality: Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.

  • Shackleton “appreciated how deeply one man, or a small group of men, could affect the psychology of the others.”

 

  • Shackleton “spent time nourishing the spirit of optimism within himself.” His attitude was “You’ve damn well got to be optimistic.”

 

  • When caught in the middle of a blizzard on his first expedition to the South Pole, Shackleton spent time reading Darwin’s “Origin of the Species.” (I LOVE this! He found time/space to read! He took this kind of weighty literature with him on this trip!)

 

  • When stranded in the middle of the frozen Antarctic sea, Shackleton “led the men in a lively discussion about the prospect of an expedition to Alaska! […] It provided a future focus and promise that there would be another adventure.”

 

  • Question: “How candid should a leader be in sharing their uncensored doubts and inner feelings when faced with adversity?” Answer: “There are times in which leaders need to maintain their composure, despite the natural inclination to express feelings of discouragement, fear, or even despair. This is not to say that they should shield others from reality or withhold basic information about the situation. Rather, it is to say that there are times at ‘The Edge’ in which the perceived attitude of the leader is a powerful force that can create energy and optimism or fear and pessimism. […] I believe the role of the leader demands that personal fears are best controlled or dampened until negative information is digested. Then a discussion of concerns can be coupled with potential solutions and a positive message of hope for the future.

 

  • Effective leadership demands that the leader embrace the harsh reality while maintaining optimism. This is what Jim Collins explains in the “Stockdale Paradox”.

STRATEGY #4 – Stamina: Take care of yourself: maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.

  • “There is an inherent tension between taking care of one’s self – of preserving one’s own well-being – and accomplishing the mission at any cost.”

 

  • There may be times when you choose to make personal sacrifice to further or accomplish the mission – but be careful. “As the leader, you are the foundation of your expedition. If you fail to maintain your own stamina, then you will be unable to summon the energy need to reach The Edge. Furthermore, taking care of yourself is essential because others in your team will take their cues from your behavior. If you want others to have the reserves of energy they will need to do their jobs, you will need to reinforce that message by personal example.

 

  • “‘One hand for the sailor and one hand for the ship.’ In other words, do what you need to do to accomplish your work – but make sure that you keep one hand free to keep yourself from being washed overboard.”

 

  • “Fischer was strong, but he was not invincible.” Commentary on Scott Fischer, a famous mountain climber who died on Mt. Everest because he exceeded his personal reserves. What is true of Fischer is true of you. You may be strong… but you are NOT invincible.

 

  • Leading at The Edge will put leaders in situations where they must make risky decisions. Sometimes they will make the wrong one. Sometimes people will be hurt, money will be lost, equipment destroyed, etc. Leaders must learn from their mistakes, make necessary adjustments, and move forward refusing to be crippled by guilt.

STRATEGY #5 – The Team Message: Reinforce the team message constantly: “We are one – we live or die together.”

  • “Sustained success turns on cohesive effort.”

 

  • “Keep everyone informed, involved, and thinking about solutions.”

 

  • “Team cohesiveness is never advanced by overlooking individuals who fail to pull their weight.” Address, quickly, underperformers.

STRATEGY #6 – Core Team Values: Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.

  • “Hierarchy itself is not the problem. People understand the need  for legitimate authority and for differences in salaries, roles, and titles. What fragments a group is the perception of an ‘elite’ upper class’ – a sense of superiority conferred on a chosen few. Thus, the critical leadership challenge is to create an environment in which each person experiences a basic sense of respect regardless of his or her role in the organization.”

 

  • Examples of actions that will dismantle a culture of “elitism” are: thoughtful resource allocation, information distribution, a fair approach to project/task assignment, leadership involvement (i.e. leadership in the trenches), accessibility to leadership and opportunity for personal/professional development.

STRATEGY #7 – Conflict: Master conflict – deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents, and avoid needless power struggles.

  • Conflict is unavoidable, particularly in high speed organizations. The challenge for leaders is NOT how to eliminate conflict, but how to manage it so that it is productive.

 

  • “Ironically, the emphasis on teamwork in today’s corporate culture can serve to drive conflicts underground.”

 

  • Three reasons to deal with conflict, anger, and negative feelings in small doses:
    • “Conflict not expressed means that problems are not being confronted.”
    • “Conflict not expressed directly surfaces in other, non-productive ways.
    • “Conflict not expressed and resolved can escalate out of control, with disastrous consequences.”

 

  • Conflict and caring are NOT mutually exclusive.

 

  • What is your process for surfacing potential anger points and “lurking problems”?

 

  • Avoid “family secrets” in the work place! Discuss the things that everyone knows! Dismantle anxiety through discussion!

 

  • “Shackleton clearly recognized that hurt feelings needed immediate attention to prevent anger or resentment from building.”

 

  • “In difficult leadership situations, we are often tempted to ignore or isolate individuals whose personalities rub us the wrong way or who have a knack for stirring up trouble. While this is an understandable reaction, it is the wrong one. It only creates space for further problems, and rejecting dissidents is ultimately detrimental to the organization. A more productive response – however counterintuitive it may seem – requires doing just the opposite:
    • Identify those individuals or groups that may be undermining your leadership.
    • Be proactive and keep troublemakers close by.
    • Find ways to minimize the negative impact of their behaviors.
    • Make sure these people are engaged, in some way, in the decision-making process.
    • Be willing to set limits, and make it clear that this works both ways. Inappropriate, rude, or bullying behavior cannot be tolerated.
    • Avoid the temptation to denigrate malcontents and keep your personal opinions about people to yourself – and your closest advisers.

 

  • Sometimes “walking away” from a dissident is the best option. (Knowing when to “Proverbs 26:4-5” is a point of distinction for wise and effective leaders).

 

  • Avoid creating situations in which people feel trapped. Feeling “trapped” causes people to escalate the conflict because they see no way out. Always give your opponent a Golden Bridge.”

STRATEGY #8 – Lighten Up: Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.

  • “Under extreme pressure, the ability to lighten up, celebrate, and laugh can make all the difference. It can make a spiral of depression and stimulate creativity. It can enable people to step back and get psychological distance on their problems. It can cut through fear and tension. Finally, it can enable a team to refocus, reenergize, and surmount daunting obstacles.”

 

  • “Celebration and humor are neither superfluous nor luxuries. They are imperatives.”

 

  • “If you can’t fix it, feature it.” (Figure out how to make your liability an asset. NOTE: humor will help you in this venture)

 

  • “Effective leaders find ways of building celebration into the culture of their organization.”

 

  • Be on the lookout for “vital mental medicine” in your organization. For Shackleton, it was a twelve pound Zither Banjo that he rescued from the sinking Endurance. He knew that “on an ice-floe any little diversion is more welcome than people living in civilized conditions can perhaps imagine” (Frank Worley’s diary).

 

  • “Humor is one of the most effective leadership tools.”

STRATEGY #9 – Risk: Be willing to take the Big Risk.

  • Shackleton “was brave, the bravest man I have seen, but he was never foolhardy. When necessary he would undertake the most dangerous things, and do so fearlessly; but always would he approach them in a thoughtful manner and perform them in the safest way.” Frank Worley

 

  • Never take an unnecessary chance, but when a risk is justified do not hesitate. 

 

  • “A man sits as many risks as he runs.” Henry David Thoreau

 

  • There are times when doing nothing, or not deciding, is more dangerous than doing something, or making a bold decision.

 

  • In some situations, “the decision that appears to be the safe choice is often the one that carries with it the greatest risk.”

 

  • “You can’t steal second with one foot on first.” David Pottruck

STRATEGY #10 – Tenacious Creativity: Never give up – there’s always another move.

  • “The expedition’s ability to reach safety was due to more than simple persistence. The success of Shackleton’s crew also depended on the ability to stand in the face of death and think creatively about potential solutions.”

 

  • Expect things to go wrong with greater frequency and magnitude when living “on the edge.” Once you are prepared for this, everything becomes a normal part of your rhythm. 

 

  • “The unshakable belief that there is always another move will give you the energy to search for solutions, and creativity will give you the ability to find them.”

 

POWER POINTS: The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time by Verne Harnish and the editors of Fortune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this book, Harnish, and the editors of Fortune Magazine review gutsy, paradigm changing decisions by business leaders. While you may not agree with their collection and order of priority, it is indisputable that these decisions were game-changers for not just industries in particular, but business in general.

***The foreword by Jim Collins is worth the price of the book!

POWER POINTS

From the foreword by Jim Collins:

  • We think of most decisions as matters of “what”. In fact, the most successful leaders see their best decisions not as “what” but “who.” “They were people decisions.”

 

  • The future… the world… is uncertain. “What is the key thing you can do to prepare for that uncertainty? You can have the right people with you.”

 

  • “Once you have great people in place, you still have to make decisions. Great decisions begin with really great people and a simple statement: I don’t know.”

 

  • The leaders who made great decisions are “really very comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know’ until they knew.”

 

  • “To create an environment where ideas flow freely, you have to recognize that your position can be a hindrance to getting the best information. And so can your personality.”

 

  • Decision-making is not about consensus. It depends on conflict, and that’s the key. […] The debate is real. It is real, violent, debate in search of understanding. Then in the end the leader makes the call. It’s conflict and debate leading to an executive decision. No major decision we’ve studied was ever taken at a point of unanimous agreement. There was always some disagreement in the air.”

 

  • Great decisions are made when you intersect the external reality (what is true about the world) and your internal drive (what do we value? What do we really want? What is driving us?)

 

  • “If you look at some of the greatest decisions in business history, the executives had the discipline to manage for the quarter-century, not the quarter.”

And now the book…

The greatest decisions (these are the chapter titles, but they identify the decision… it’s worth doing a little research on each of these.)

  1. Apple brings back Steve Jobs 
  2. How free shipping saved Zappos
  3. Why Samsung lets its stars goof off
  4. At Johnson and Johnson, the shareholders come last
  5. Why daydreaming pays off big at 3M
  6. How Intel got consumers to love chips
  7. Jack’s GE cathedral
  8. Bill Gates decides to take a week off
  9. Softsoap’s blocking decision
  10. Toyota pursues zero defects
  11. Extreme customer service at Nordstrom
  12. Tata takes the sting out of a painful situation
  13. Boeing bets big on the 707
  14. IBM’s operation bear hug
  15. Wal-Mart creates the 6 a.m. meeting
  16. Eli Whitney: is your business in trouble? pivot!
  17. The HP Way
  18. Henry Ford doubles worker’s wages
  • “It’s often the simple things that break open entire industries.”

 

  • “The decisions that make or break companies are often cobbled together on the fly.” (Zappos decision to offer free shipping and free returns)

 

  • “If you can take something standard and make it feel personalized, that’s great customer experience.” (Right now Casey Graham’s business, Gravy, is doing a GREAT job at this)

 

  • Johnson and Johnson’s reaction to crisis “Reveal all you know fast and do everything necessary to take care of your customers.”

 

  • Johnson and Johnson’s CEO James Burke acted quickly and decisively during the Tylenol crisis. Jim Collins writes, “Burke’s real defining moment occurred three years before, when he pulled 20 key executives into a room and thumped his finger on a copy of the J&J credo.” Out of that meeting came a recommitment to live the creed always. The “Tylenol Crisis” was a public demonstration of a private commitment.

 

  • 3M allows workers to spend up to 15% of their time on their own projects. They have discovered that 30% of revenue comes from products less than five years old.

 

  • “Trying to push creative people doesn’t work. They aren’t pushed. They’re driven.”

 

  • “When people expect their work to be judged by others, it is less creative than if they’re doing it solely for themselves. […] knowing that they’re being watched results in less creativity.”

 

  • “You can’t aim to be the best in the world with cinderblock cells. You had to have a beautiful symbol of excellence.” Jack Welch talking about the expensive facilities at Crotonville.

 

  • Small groups can win over large groups if/when they find and control the bottleneck in the process. (see the story of Softsoap).

 

  • “Deming believed that top management was responsible for 85% of all defects and stressed the need for appreciation of the individual worker. ‘The worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top” (Edward Deming).

 

  • Break down barriers and drive out fear so that the “top” can hear from the “bottom.”

 

  • “We are regret-minimizing machines. The pain of making a bad decision far outweighs the satisfaction of making a good decision on the same scale.” (Regret avoidance).

 

  • “We value something that we own more highly than we value the same thing if we don’t own it.” (The endowment effect) “Ordinary items become treasured possessions once we own them, and the longer we own them, the more treasured they become.”

 

  • “Operation Bear Hug” – Lou Gerstner’s 100 day strategy when he took over at IBM – listen to people… understand their needs and dreams… build your leadership platform around that understanding.

 

  • “Keep your minimum-wage employees happy, and your customers will be happy – and then your investors will be happy.”

 

  • Eli Whitney – “envisioned an entire system for transforming a craft performed by skilled artisans into a process performed by unskilled workers.” The key was to create a process whereby “each worker would do just one thing.”

 

  • “As long as I live I want to pay the highest wages in the automobile industry.” Henry Ford

The greatest business decisions have been people decisions… decisions to listen to, empower, liberate, resource, communicate with, and trust PEOPLE!!!

POWER POINTS: The Trust Protocol by Mac Richard

In an easy-to-read format, Richard dissects trust, tells how to gain it, keep it, and use it to lead well, help others, and leave something behind when you’re gone. (click on the picture of the book to see it on Amazon).

POWER POINTS

  • The “Trust Protocol” = Aligning what you say and do so that people will trust you.

 

  • Hebrews 10:24 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” While this sounds simple, it may be the most difficult thing in the world to do. It guarantees “difficulty, hurt, heartache, disappointment, misunderstanding, restlessness, doubt, uncertainty, trauma, drama, and anger. It is most difficult where it is most crucial – with the people closest to you.

 

  • “I love you, but I will fire you.” Mac’s friend and employer said this to him when Mac was not living up to his full potential. He was coasting and his boss called it. Then his boss said this, “I can’t keep paying you just because you’re a good guy. You’ve got too much talent, and we’ve got too much to do for me to let you get by without producing something and being a contributor around here. You’ve got great potential, but from now on, potential is profanity for you. All it means is that you haven’t done anything yet.”

 

  • “Relationships are unavoidable. Relationships of integrity are invincible.”

 

  • True character is revealed through success. “When we win, do we worship God or congratulate ourselves?”

 

  • “No one moves away from godly community and healthy connectedness and becomes more like Jesus.”

 

  • “Never spend a minute of time defending your motives. Spend hours testing them against Scripture, in prayer, and with godly counsel, but don’t worry about defending them. With friends you don’t need to, and your enemies won’t believe you.”

 

  • Trust is built on two tracks: character and competence.

 

  • “Mishonesty” – not quite “dishonesty” but still deliberately misleading.

 

  • “Betrayal is part of the cost of leadership and being part of the human race.” General Tommy Franks answered Mac’s question about betrayal like this, “There’s only been one perfect leader in this world. And I am not him. And he experienced betrayal at a level I cannot imagine. If he would be betrayed, who am I to think it shouldn’t or wouldn’t happen to me?”

 

  • “The only person who can betray us is someone we’ve chosen to trust who has chosen to break that trust. […] Whenever we choose to trust, we run the risk of betrayal.” 

 

  • “If you trust, if you love, if you lead, you will be betrayed.”

 

  • How to address betrayal? Forgiveness. This does not require “re-trusting” but it does mean that we release any bitterness, contempt, disdain, and desire for revenge… “regardless of whether or not they acknowledge the wrong.”

 

  • “Don’t stay hurt too long.” We can’t control WHEN we are hurt, but we can, to a large extent, determine HOW LONG we will stay hurt.

 

  • The better your work and the more responsible your decisions, the more autonomy you will be granted. However, if your work is sloppy and your decisions are irresponsible, you will be micromanaged. 

 

  • “We have to be able to do relationships well if we’re going to do anything of value and substance over time.”

 

  • Some people argue that “transparency is the currency of trust.” That certainly is part of the Trust Protocol, but Richard argues that “most of our relationships are not built to sustain the weight of transparency. And we should not expect them to be. What we should expect is authenticity.” In other words, everyone doesn’t need to know everything, but everyone does deserve truth. The guiding principle: “authentic with everyone, transparent with a precious few.”

 

  • “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NLT). “All I can do” is all I can do… it turns out that “all I can do” is quite a lot! 

 

  • Unaddressed problems don’t go away… they get bigger and messier.

 

  • Often we avoid confrontation and difficult conversations because we imagine what the other person is going to say and how they will respond. In light of our hypothetical conversation we determine not to have the conversation… consequently things get worse. Bottom line… no matter what, we have to try.

 

  • “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” Winston Churchill

 

  • “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” Vince Lombardi. A weary person is much less likely to address conflict… and consequently breaks the Trust Protocol.

 

  • The best teachers, coaches, etc. in our lives have PUSHED US! But… we allowed them to push us because we TRUSTED them. We knew they loved us and were doing it for our good.

 

  • “If you care, you push, you challenge, you critique. If you don’t care, you let things slide. You ignore or disregard or overlook.”

 

  • Accountability is only as effective as the amount of trust we have in the person holding us accountable. If we trust them we will be honest and reveal what is true even when painful or embarrassing. If we do not trust them, we will hold back the “ugly stuff” and do just enough accountability to check the box.

 

  • “Should I trust before or after I’ve seen evidence that someone is trustworthy based on their actions?” When you choose to trust, in most instances, trust will be reciprocated. However, there will be times when you get burned… betrayed…. Live with that awareness, choose to trust, and remember you are not entitled to integrity from other people.”

 

  • “How many can you do when you’re tired?” A question posed to Mac by his Crossfit coach when he was doing pushups after a fatiguing workout. Ask this question when you’re tired and your child wants to cuddle… when you’re tired and tempted… when you’re ready to bail on your dream…

 

  • Community… we want it, we need it, we seek it… but we also want to be comfortable and easy… and “therein lies the rub.” Healthy community will push us, make us uncomfortable, call us out of our comfort zone! “To truly connect relationally requires a willingness to dig in and hang on.”

 

  • “I’ve never seen anyone, any family, move away from the church and get better.”

 

  • “No team or organization will ever out-trust its leadership.”

 

  • Staying power is perhaps the most beautiful and most powerful payoff of the Trust Protocol. It’s not the power to stay. It’s the power that comes from staying. It’s the power that’s cultivated when we choose to stay – in a marriage, a job, a church, a friendship – and is only realized and experienced after the staying has occurred.

 

  • “Perseverance may be the most critical life skill we parents ever teach our kids.”

 

  • Our job as parents is to “prepare our kids for the path, and not the path for our kids.”

 

  • “Are you competent and do you care?” The two questions Soldiers are quietly asking of officers (according to General Robert Caslen)

POWER POINTS: The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner

A collection of Buechner’s lectures pointing out the whispers of God in every day life. The editor, John Sloan, writes, in the foreword:

“Many times we say life is typical, mundane, common, routine, or dull. Buechner convinces us that every moment is worth it. Our steps are the beginning of a walk into a hall of art, life, and meaning that will never disappoint.”

POWER POINTS

  • Frame the face. We are surrounded by faces… people. So many common, normal, forgettable faces. A most common, forgettable face has become one of the most memorable faces in history… Mona Lisa. What makes that normal face memorable is the frame! The frame draws our attention… makes us stop… look… pay attention… and quickly that common, forgettable face becomes etched into our mind (I’ll bet as soon as you read the words “Mona Lisa” her face popped into your mind). We cannot frame EVERY face in our life… but what would happen if we took the time to frame some faces… to really look into their eyes… to slow down and pay attention to the face in front of us… what might we see that we are currently missing? Frame the face and you might discover a masterpiece!

 

  • “Look with Rembrandt’s eye, listen with Bach’s ear, look with X-ray eyes that see beneath the surface to whatever lies beneath the surface.”

 

  • “To love somebody we must see that person’s face, and once in a while we do. Usually because something jolts us into seeing it.”

 

  • “The faces we lose track of most easily are the faces of the people who are closest to us, the people we love the most whose faces we see so often that we can’t see them anymore.”

 

  • Sometimes… many times we ask people “How are you”… and hope they don’t really tell us.

 

 

  • Fredrick Buechner (male, white, relatively wealthy) – Maya Angelou (female, black, poor)… “I have exactly the same story to tell as Fredrick Buechner.” “We are all born in the same way, we all have to somehow survive our childhoods- the bad parts of them, the confusing and painful parts of them – we all have to find a self to be, we all grow old and grow sick and finally die. This is the human story”(Buechner).

 

  • The nonverbal arts such as painting and music can help us connect to the divine.

 

  • Story – a sequence, a chronological sequence of events.  “The king died and then the queen died.” Plot – suggests a because, a cause and effect, a shape, a getting to somewhere. “When the king died, the queen died because she loved the king.” “I think that a part of what to tell one’s won story in a religious sense means is to affirm that there is a plot to one’s life. It’s not just incident following incident without any particular direction or purpose, but things are happening to take you somewhere.”

 

  • “Looking back at my life and finding that very often things that seemed at the time to have had very little significance were key points in the plot of my life.”

 

  • On dreams… “There’s a sense in which the dream is yours, your creation, yet at the same time as everybody knows, the dream speaks to you a word that seems to come from someplace other than yourself, because it’s often a revelation. […] So it’s both a word from you, but it’s also a word to you.”

 

  • “In telling my variation of the human story, I discovered cracks in the ground of my life through which I was able to glimpse the subterranean, life-giving grace of God.”

 

  • “The crying came much later, fifty years later.” (reflecting on how he dealt with his father’s suicide)

 

  • Sometimes silence is better than answers… because those answers are often forgotten as quickly as the names of the people who gave them. In the silence we often learn things about God… ourselves… life… that do leave us unchanged. Silence is often “the answer without words.”

 

  • “With all the time in the world to do what I most wanted to do, I found it impossible to do it.”

 

  • My life is a source of treasure… a discovery box of God’s grace…

 

  • “To play it safe, to stay home where the candles are lit and the meal is prepared was to have your life somehow diminished. To go out into the world, even if the world scares the hell out of you, and bores you to death, and intimidates you, and confuses you – that is the only life.”

 

  • Sometimes we are not ready to hear… we may hear the words but we have no idea what they are saying. Hearing is for those are in the season of listening.

 

  • “Our peace is threatened by the un-peace of others.”

Experimenting with “Power Points”

I love to read. On average I read two books a month. 

Over the last twenty years I have divided my reading into five categories:

  • Spiritual
  • Leadership
  • Church
  • Professional/Personal Development
  • Biographical/Autobiographical

Over the last twenty years I have accumulated hundreds of books.

Then things changed… I became an Army Chaplain. 

A few ways this changes things:

  • My space for books is smaller.
  • We will move regularly which means I will have to move hundreds of pounds of books regularly. #uggghhh
  • Many of the books which have served me so well in years past will no longer serve me well (e.g. I will not be teaching verse by verse through books of the Bible in 50 minute sermons. Rather, I will be giving 10 minute “field services” in which I share a quick thought with soldiers.

I realize that I have to “cull” my library. This makes me sad… and excited. 

Sad because:

  • These books have been my friends. They have encouraged me; confronted me; inspired me; taught me; humored me; and developed me.
  • Within many of these books are my notes… the story of my evolution. Should anyone care to do so, they would find the course of my life within the pages of these books.
  • These books, in a sense, have given me meaning. I am known as a reader… and these books are the proof. (Shallow… I know… but still it’s my story).

Excited because:

  • I am evolving! I’m letting go of something that has been part of my life for several decades and becoming something new… arguably better (time will tell).
  • I am being forced to think deeply (and painfully) about what I will read, how I will retain what I read, and what I will do with the book once I have read it.

I am a reader. I will always be a reader. I will just be a different kind of reader. 

As I reflect on how and who (i.e. authors) I will interact with in the coming years I am leaning toward this plan:

  • I will read more of fewer authors. Rather than reading everyone… I will read more of, for example, C.S. Lewis. I will be a specialist rather than a generalist. This will require me to pick carefully those people from whom I learn.
  • I will read niche genres. For instance, these last few years I have been interested in the “faith/science” discussion, so I will spend more time in this field and less time in “spirituality/theology” in general.
  • I will take and post notes. Taking a queue from Derek Sivers, I am going to post my notes on this blog and call them “Power Points.” Years ago I did this on my blog. Writing them out helped me remember my “power points” from each book, and it provided a tool to search for specific topics in the future.

And now the big question… what will I do with the book once I have read it?

  • If I take good enough notes I believe I can give it away. #uggghhh
  • Some books I will keep. Many I will give away.

One final thought…

As I considered all the reading I have done over the last couple of decades it occurs to me that I have read thousands of life changing ideas… but I remember a ridiculously small percentage of those… and have implemented even fewer!

So, I ask myself, what if I read less and implemented more?

What if I took 3-5 ideas away from each book and put them into action? Look at this math —

24 (books a year) x 3 (ideas per book) = 72 good practices every year!

OK… truthfully, I’ll not implement that many new ideas, but even 10% of that would be a huge win!!! Imagine improving your life by 10% each year! That would be a huge win!!!

So, that’s my journey… and the introduction to something I’m going to try… “Power Points.” I can’t wait to share with you.

A few questions for you:

  • How do you retain what you read?
  • What do you do with your books when you’re done reading them?
  • How much of what you read do you actually implement?

P.S. I am going to spend some time going through books I have already read and posting “Power Points” from these books… so for a while the authors and the genres will be more varied than they will be in the future.