More than a decade ago, God called me to found A21. When Nick and I first starting meeting with officials and working through obstacles, I felt so unqualified and unprepared. I had no idea how to run such an organization. I had no training in how to rescue slaves. I didn’t know the right people. I didn’t have all the resources I needed. I had no idea where God was leading us. I was the mother of two children under age four, already working a full-time job. I was not looking to do something else. It was truly such an unexpected call at such an unexpected time.
Despite how I felt, I was willing to walk by faith and not by sight, to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, reaching out to others like leaders should. I knew there were biblical precedents for God unexpectedly calling people like me to lead, people who considered themselves unqualified, insecure and incapable. That’s how God receives all the glory!
Isn’t that what he had in mind when he called Moses? Highly unqualified, he was on the back side of the desert, tending sheep, when God unexpectedly asked him to go back to his homeland of Egypt to rescue three million Hebrew slaves and lead them to freedom. What an unexpected call at such an unexpected time—just like me.
I was passing through a small regional airport when God unexpectedly drew my attention to posters of missing women and children. He was asking me to help find tens of millions of slaves scattered around the world and to rescue them. How could I not, at the very least, experience the same emotions as Moses, to raise the same three objections he did— ones familiar to us all—especially when God calls us to lead unexpected assignments we never considered before.
1) Who Am I?
Moses felt insecure, and so did I—and I pointed this out to God just as emphatically as Moses did. But God told Moses that who he was didn’t matter as much as who was with him, so what mattered was who was with me and who had called me. I chose to trust in that truth every time I met with an official or an expert who had so much more knowledge than I did.
2) Who Are You, God?
Moses didn’t yet know God as intimately as he would come to know him in the years ahead. So it is with all of us when we begin to fulfill our purpose. Every new and unexpected initiative God has called me to start has deepened my relationship with him—whether it was driving around the back side of Australia leading youth, forming Equip & Empower Ministries, establishing A21, initiating Propel, writing books or launching a TV program. I continue to learn that it is never about who I am not, but rather, it is always about who He is in me.
3) I Am Not Eloquent of Speech.
How could I speak to experts in law enforcement, government, community groups or the media about slavery? I had experience speaking publicly, but I had never spoken to people about human trafficking. I did not know the right terms to use, nor did I have the right education to qualify me for this type of work. I felt like Moses going before Pharaoh, telling him to let the slaves go, when God assured me just as he assured Moses: I made you, and I will help you. I will teach you what to say.
My guess is that you can relate to every one of Moses’ fears and questions, especially during the times when God has called you to unexpected assignments, promotions or initiatives. How tempting it is to let our fears lead us away from our purpose and our destiny, to focus on what we are not, rather than who God is.
I’m not good enough.
I’m not talented enough.
I’m not educated enough.
I’m not resourced enough.
What if I fail?
By the grace of God, I kept moving forward, knowing that any success Nick and I would have in helping to abolish slavery everywhere and forever would have nothing to do with us or our limitations, but everything to do with God’s great power at work in us—and every one of our team members.
What about you? What has God unexpectedly placed in your heart to do? What has he unexpectedly called you to do that you have yet to start? What team has he called you to recruit, train and lead? Sometimes it seems far more logical to give up than to keep having faith that something will happen. The idea, dream, promise or plan God has placed in your heart may not be logical. You may not have the resources. You may not know much about the mission. You may not even know where to begin.
Trust me, there will always be opportunities to falter, slow down or give up. But there is an assignment carved out for you—one that is most likely very unexpected—and God wants you to fulfill it. Years from now, I’m sure the results will most likely be very unexpected as well. And by unexpected, I mean wildly better than you ever hoped or imagined—just like A21.
A21 is a nonprofit organization fueled by the radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. They are the abolitionists of the 21st century. They work with people around the world to free slaves and disrupt the demand.
The threads of history are woven together by the incredible stories of women and men who created remarkable change in our world and inspired us to believe the impossible could be possible.
When we hear these stories, we often feel something stir within our chests, and we begin to wonder, “How can I create real change in the world?”
As I have wrestled through that question, there is one story I have returned to over and over as a roadmap to living a life of impact.
William Wilberforce lived in the early 1800s and was an English politician, philanthropist, theologian, and a leader of the movement to end the slave trade in England. He was also a man who loved God so deeply and knew Him so intimately, he was driven to devote his life to fulfilling the divine calling placed on his life.
During the time of William Wilberforce, England had torn over 11 million slaves from their homeland, packed them onto small ships, abused them, beat them, treated them as cargo, and then sold them as slaves in order to make a profit.
But this all ended because an unlikely group of individuals were used by God in a remarkable way.
Although many people have heard the name of William Wilberforce, he wasn’t the only one leading this fight. As we journey deeper into this story, we discover the radical tribe of world-changers who linked arms to abolish the slave trade together. They were called, “The Clapham Sect.”
There was in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a network of friends and families in England, with William Wilberforce as its centre of gravity, powerfully bound together by shared moral and spiritual values, by religious mission and social activism, by love for each other, and by marriage. Their greatest and most celebrated achievement was the abolition of the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire and beyond.1
Wilberforce is the name we most often read about in our history books and watch on the movie screen. He never attempted to abolish slavery on his own. Rather, he intentionally gathered a tribe of passionate activists known as the Clapham Sect, who would partner together to create real change.
The Clapham Sect was a group of social reformers in the Church of England. Because of their unity, their commitment to each other, their compelling vision and their faithful collaboration, the world was never the same.
Collaboration is one of the most important elements of creating positive impact in our world.
As leaders in our world today, collaboration may be more important than ever. If we desire to see change in our culture, we must make an intentional commitment to collaboration.
Let’s examine the workings of the Clapham Sect to identify three ways we can foster collaboration in our organizations.
1) Work to Establish Unity
Wilberforce… wanted to found a society, with the highest backing possible, to improve the morality of British life, through the courts, local government, censorship, legislation, prison reform, by every means possible. There was huge support for the society, across quite a broad spectrum. It was not just an evangelical movement. By making this his first major campaign, Wilberforce won the support of a powerful coalition.2
How often do we miss out on the chance to use our leadership to create positive impact because we are unwilling to reach across lines of division? If we want to foster collaboration on our teams to maximize our positive impact in the world, we must intentionally work to establish unity.
2) Be Willing to Sacrifice
It was costly for them. They gave it, in different ways and to different degrees, their lives, their money, their careers, their time and their health. Few people can make a more persuasive claim to have been doing the work of God in the world.3
Collaboration is birthed out of sacrifice. We must sacrifice time, energy, pride and our own personal agendas. Great leaders must make sacrifices to collaborate with others if they desire to see change take place in our world.
3) Craft a Compelling Vision
The abolitionists made a tactical decision to confine themselves to the abolition of the slave trade, and until that was accomplished to avoid even talking about the abolition of slavery itself.4
People don’t buy into a complicated vision. They buy into a clear and compelling mission. If we want to see greater collaboration in our organizations, our churches and our world, we must craft a compelling vision that will motivate others to partner with us.
The Clapham Sect had a big vision to abolish the slave trade, inviting people of all backgrounds to join them in the pursuit of this compelling goal.
The heroes of our history rarely accomplished their great feats alone. Rather, they collaborated with individuals who made it possible to accomplish what often seemed impossible. They chose unity, sacrifice and vision, and this led them to truly change the culture and the world.
Which of the three elements of collaboration do you need to focus on in this season of your leadership?
Hannah Gronowski is founder and director of GenerationDistinct.com, an organization that exists to inspire and equip the next generation to discover their passions and fight for justice, in order to make God’s name great in this world. She has a passion to empower the next generation to become leaders and difference makers in a way that sparks a global movement. Hannah is an author, blogger and speaker who lives in the Chicagoland area.
Steve Lawson says that when it comes to public speaking, we all need a “Mount Rushmore” of communicators. In my 27 years of teaching, I’ve found this to be an essential concept in my own personal growth for two main reasons:
1) There’s an old proverb that says, “In a multitude of counselors, there’s wisdom”
Learning from an eclectic tribe of mentors, even within the same field, has proven incredibly helpful for me. Whether it’s leadership, parenting or public speaking, listening to and leaning into varied voices has born great fruit in my own growth and development.
2) When it comes to communicating, there are basically 4 kinds of speakers: explainers, illustrators, applicators and ‘all of the above’
The best kind, of course, is the last kind—‘all of the above.’ What you want to avoid at all costs is an imbalance toward any of the first three in that list. This is hard because we are all naturally weighted toward either explaining, illustrating or applying.
Explainers will give great content, but they will bore you to death. The presentation typically goes something like this: “It means, it means, it means… Thanks for having me!” The audience is left thinking, “What just happened here?”
Illustrators will keep you on the edge of your seat with their stunning stories and analogies, but they will give you minimal content.
Applicators run the danger of fudging on content in order to move you, and boy will they you leave inspired. (They’re known to overstate facts and be a touch deceitful.)
All of the Above—The most potent communicators are those who strike a perfect balance between content, stories/analogies and inspirational application. That’s the bullseye we’re aiming for.
When looking for your own personal “Mount Rushmore” of communication mentors, you not only want people who do it well, but you want to look for all four kinds of public speakers if at all possible
When I started speaking at age 17, I wasn’t smart enough to say, “Okay, I need to find an explainer right now.” But that is exactly what ended up happening, and I’m so grateful for this. I spent many years apprenticing under an explainer, learning the tools of how to mine great content.
Not long after that, I interned for another man who was a phenomenal illustrator. He used to tell me, “Learn to think illustratively.” To him, everything was an illustration, and he even gave me exercises that forced me to come up with my own illustrations.
Finally, I spent three years working for a great applicator.
Meanwhile, in the course of all my learning, I was afforded opportunities to speak. If you had heard me speak during my time with “Dr. Explainer,” you would’ve gotten, well, a lot of explaining. The same is true for the time I worked with “Dr. Illustrator” and “Dr. Applicator.”
Over time, however, my own voice started to emerge, and the balance between the three gave way to me becoming more and more of the fourth type of communicator—‘all of the above.’
While not every message I give strikes the balance perfectly, I feel like I’m on a great trajectory because of time well spent with my “Mount Rushmore” of communicators.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn here.
Bryan Loritts is the Lead Pastor of Abundant Life Church in Silicon Valley, California. He also serves as President of the Kainos Movement, an organization committed to seeing the multi-ethnic church become the new normal in our world. In addition to these positions, Bryan serves on the board of trustees for Biola University. He’s been a featured speaker at The Global Leadership Summit and a host of other events.
Is leadership something we’re born with, or is it something we learn?
Yes. Both, and.
Some people seem to be born with leadership skills. These people may be more charismatic, sometimes more extroverted, more affirming. Maybe he or she was president of their class and captain of a team in high school. Their voice holds the room’s attention, and their ideas catch on throughout an organization.
You Have to Learn Leadership
But, in my experience, natural leaders often rely on instincts. Instincts work for a while, but eventually they fail. They do not scale up to tackling new or more complex leadership challenges—to creating plans for strategic leadership or for effecting system-wide change. That takes processes, strategies and tools that don’t always come with instinct or experience.
Other people are dropped into leadership positions without natural leadership gifting. Maybe it’s the wise, compassionate woman who is asked to lead her Bible study. Maybe it’s the pastor who loves theology or biblical counseling, but who feels overwhelmed when faced with leading a congregation.
That’s the situation I was in during my second year of a church plant years ago. We’d successfully launched the church, counting 234 people in attendance for the first Sunday. But then we moved past the frenetic energy of the launch, saw our numbers settle at around a hundred and slid toward rhythms of regular church life. And I realized I did not know what to do next. I was stuck, and leadership was the lever I needed to get through.
I am not a natural leader. I am a nerd, thank you very much. While some of my good friends were leading student government in school, I was reading the encyclopedia for fun.
This love of learning became a powerful tool when I got stuck after our church’s launch. I was in the middle of a DMin program during the launch, and I focused my dissertation on leadership and influence.
Through that process, I learned tools of leadership. I learned how to apply ethical principles of persuasion to lead our church to where God wanted us to be.
You Can Learn
Let me repeat that: I learned leadership. Studying leadership principles provided the tools I needed to get unstuck and lead my church well.
That experience showed me that we can learn leadership skills. If you are placed in a position of leadership and you don’t have a natural gift for leadership, you may need to express leadership that’s not in your natural gift set.
You will need to fall back on tools and processes to do that—tools and processes that can be learned.
You do not have to be a natural-born leader to become a strong leader. You can learn how to lead, to move toward strategic goals and to change your church for God.
Furthermore, leadership is different depending on who you are. Some of the best leaders I know are introverted. I’ve seen great leaders who are men and I’ve seen great leaders who are women. I’ve seen them young and old. But, they all know, you have to find the way of leadership that works for you.
Leaders are Learners
There is an old phrase, “Leaders are learners.” I think that is true, but would add you can learn your way into leadership. Most pastors I know have had the same experience over and over. They’re not learning, but just repeating the experience of the last year or years.
So, get some books. Do some reading. Get a mentor. Leadership can be learned if we will be learners.
This article originally appeared on ChristianityToday.com, here.
Ed Stetzer is the executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College. He is a prolific author, and well-known conference and seminar leader. Ed has planted, revitalized and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is former executive director for Lifeway Researchand is a contributing editor for Christianity Today and a columnist for Outreach Magazine.
The eight-hour workday was created during the industrial revolution in an effort to cut down on the number of hours of manual labor that workers were forced to endure on the factory floor. This breakthrough was a more humane approach to work 200 years ago, yet it possesses little relevance for us today.
Like our ancestors, we’re expected to put in eight-hour days, working in long, continuous blocks of time, with few or no breaks. Heck, most people even work right through their lunch hour! This antiquated approach to work isn’t helping us; it’s holding us back.
A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared it with their productivity levels.
In the process of measuring people’s activity, they stumbled upon a fascinating finding: The length of the workday didn’t matter much; what mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were religious about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.
The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. People who maintained this schedule had a unique level of focus in their work. For roughly an hour at a time, they were 100 percent dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish. They didn’t check Facebook “real quick” or get distracted by emails.
When they felt fatigue (again, after about an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work. This helped them to dive back in refreshed for another productive hour of work.
People who have discovered this magic productivity ratio crush their competition, because they tap into a fundamental need of the human mind: The brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15 to 20 minutes).
For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.
The best way to beat exhaustion and frustrating distractions is to get intentional about your workday. Instead of working for an hour or more, and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.
Real breaks are easier to take when you know they’re going to make your day more productive.
We often let fatigue win, because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks (checking your email and watching YouTube doesn’t recharge you the same way as taking a walk does).
The eight-hour workday can work for you if you break your time into strategic intervals. Once you align your natural energy with your effort, things begin to run much more smoothly.
Here are four tips that will get you into that perfect work rhythm.
1) Break your day into hourly intervals
We naturally plan what we need to accomplish by the end of the day, week,or month, but we’re far more effective when we focus on what we can accomplish right now.
Beyond getting you into the right rhythm, planning your day around hour-long intervals simplifies daunting tasks by breaking them into manageable pieces.
If you want to be a literalist, you can plan your day around 52-minute intervals if you like, but an hour works just as well.
2) Respect your hour
The interval strategy only works because we use our peak energy levels to reach an extremely high level of focus for a relatively short amount of time. When you disrespect your hour by texting, checking emails, or doing a quick Facebook check, you defeat the entire purpose of the approach.
3) Take real rest
In the study at Draugiem, they found that employees who took more frequent rests than the hourly optimum were more productive than those who didn’t rest at all. Likewise, those who took deliberately relaxing breaks were better off than those who, when “resting,” had trouble separating themselves from their work.
Getting away from your computer, your phone and your to-do list is essential to boosting your productivity. Breaks such as walking, reading, and chatting are the most effective forms of recharging, because they take you away from your work.
On a busy day, it might be tempting to think of dealing with emails or making phone calls as breaks, but they aren’t, so don’t give in to this line of thought.
Don’t wait until your body tells you to take a break. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late–you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity. Keeping to your schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive.
Remember, it’s far more productive to rest for short periods than it is to keep on working when you’re tired and distracted.
4) Bringing it all together
Breaking your day down into chunks of work and rest that match your natural energy levels feels good, makes your workday go faster and boosts your productivity.
Dr. Travis Bradberry (GLS 2016) is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His best-selling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries.
There are generally two types of organizations when it comes to how they manage their money.
The first group looks at what came in last year and then adds a percentage of how much more they hope to receive in the coming year. They view that additional percentage as the “faith” portion of their budget.
There are other organizations that begin in the same place. They first look at what came in last year, but they subtract a percentage from what they expect to receive in the coming year. They would argue that the entire budget requires faith.
Obviously, these are two extremes, and there are also many organizations that are somewhere on the spectrum in-between.
These two approaches to managing money lead to two very different outcomes.
For that reason, I’d place the first organization in the “foolish” category when it comes to stewardship of financial resources, and I’d consider the second group to be “wise” in their approach.
Here are some examples of the trends that distinguish the two:
I want organizations to be wiser with their financial resources, because it creates opportunities for generosity—including investments in new initiatives that the foolish will never be able to afford.
In which direction does your organization lean?
The following questions might help you diagnose your tendency:
Do you plan to spend less than you reasonably expect to receive?
Are you willing to make tough calls and cut expenditures in some areas to fund other priorities?
Have you found yourself in the enviable position of finding new ways to bless others or expand your vision because you received more than you planned to spend?
Are you fully funding your growth engines to experience new opportunities rather than just funding what you’ve done in the past?
Does your budgeting process create freedom for leaders to accomplish the mission of your organization?
If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time to revisit whether or not you are wisely stewarding your financial resources.
“Delivering the budget” has got to be one of the most universally entrenched, uniquely counterproductive exercises in organizations across the world.
Some form of financial planning is, of course, necessary; companies have to keep track of the numbers. Butthe budgeting process, as it currently stands at most companies, does exactly what you’d never want.
It hides growth opportunities.
It promotes bad behavior—especially when market conditions change midstream and people still try to “make the number.”
It has an uncanny way of sucking the energy and fun out of an organization.
Why? Because most budgeting disconnects from reality. It’s a process that draws its authority from the mere fact that it’s institutionalized, as in “Well, that’s just the way it is done.”
Budgeting doesn’t have to be that way. But before we suggest a better approach, think about what’s wrong with the usual process.
It begins in the early fall when people in the field start the long slog of constructing the next year’s highly detailed financial plans to make their case to the company brass.
The goal of the people in the field is unstated, but laser-like—to come up with targets that they absolutely, positively think they can hit. After all, that’s how they’re rewarded. So they construct plans with layer upon layer of conservative thinking.
Meanwhile back at headquarters, executives are also preparing for the budget review, but with exactly the opposite agenda. They’re rewarded for big increases in sales and earnings, so they want targets that push the limits.
You know what happens next.
The two sides meet in a windowless room for a day-long wrestling match. The field makes the case that competition is brutal and the economy is tough, therefore earnings can increase, say, just 6 percent. The headquarters people look surprised and perhaps a bit irate; their view of the world calls for the team to deliver 14 percent.
Fast-forward to late in the day.
Despite the requisite groaning and grumbling, the budget number will be square in the middle—10 percent—and the meeting will end with smiles and handshakes. Only later, when both sides are alone, will they crow among themselves about how they managed to get the other side to exactly the targets they wanted.
What’s wrong with this picture?
First, what you see is an orchestrated compromise. More important is what you don’t see: a rich, expansive conversation about growth opportunities, especially high-risk ones.
That conversation is usually missing because of the wrong-headed reward system mentioned above. People in the field are paid to hit their targets. They get a stick in the eye (or worse) for missing them. So why in the world would they ever dream big? They won’t, unless a new reward system is in place.
What if bonuses were based, not on an internally negotiated number, but on real-world measures—how thebusiness performed compared with the previous year and how it compared to the competition?
With those kinds of metrics, watch out.
Suddenly, budgeting can change from a mind-numbing ritual to a wide-ranging, anything-goes dialogue between the field and headquarters about gutsy “what-if” market opportunities. And from those talks will spring growth scenarios that cannot be called budgets at all. They’re operating plans, filled with mutually agreed upon strategies and tactics to expand sales and earnings—not all of them sure bets.
Of course, operating plans are not merely wishing and fluff, lacking any financial framework. These budgets should always contain an upside number—the best-case scenario—and a number below which the business is not expected to go.
The main point, though, is that this range will be the result of a dialogue about market realities. And because they’re part of a conversation, operating plans can be flexible, changing during the year with market conditions if need be.
In fact, the only rigid thing about this form of budgeting is the core value it requires of an organization—trust.
Executives have to believe that people in the field are giving their all to achieve those big goals. People in the field must have total confidence that they won’t be punished for not reaching “stretch targets” and also be willing to make a flat-out, good-faith effort to deliver.
With that “contract,” the budget dynamic takes on a whole new life.
So don’t give up on budgeting yet. Maybe it’s just time to start a dialogue about changing the process.
A basic tenet within the world of WhiteSpaceis to only check one’s email at prescribed intervals. Technology is not making this discipline any easier. The old “Get Mail” feature has been replaced by the automatic, uncontrollable push of email on every device. Want to wait to see your new emails? You can’t anymore.
But there are ways to build this discipline… and we must. Without boundaries, email easily becomes a constant distraction, taking us away from deeper, more thoughtful work. When using email, we switch windows an average of 37 times per hour. When separated from email, we flip back-and-forth only 18 times in an hour.
In addition to improving concentration, scheduling checks at intervals also trains others not to expect a knee-jerk reply to every email, blissfully slowing down the email cadence all around you.
One Critical Omission
After years of telling folks only to check email at certain times, it became clear that many were missing a key definition upholding the entire practice. They did not understand the critical difference between checking and processing.
So let’s make that clear right now: Checking is when you walk out to your mailbox, collect the mail and rip it all open; processing is when you pour a cup of tea, grab your checkbook and work through the stack of mail before you.
Here are more literal definitions:
Checking Email:The action of collecting and opening new emails
Processing Email: Acting on and eliminating pre-existing email in your inbox
What you will quickly and sadly realize is that the processing part of the equation is the ugly stepsister at this ball.
Checking is a thrill, filled with possibility and that good old dopamine rush.
Processing is hard, tedious work, less exciting in every way than its sexy counterpart. There is a reason we tend to procrastinate with it. Dopamine, that happy chemical triggered when you complete a task, is sparked by the unpredictability and novelty of checking, not the humdrum cadence of processing.
A Counterintuitive Tip
So how can we check email only at certain times but still spend time in our inbox for processing? Like everything in the world of WhiteSpace, the perfect customized solution will be best designed by you—choosing from techniques that have been proven to help others.
The most core technique and the most counterintuitive, is to learn to pay less attention to bold emails at certain times. I know it seems crazy—almost impossible—but learning to control where we allow our attention to be directed can be a helpful technique.
Since we can’t eliminate push email, we must train ourselves to process through un-bold emails without getting pulled back into what’s new. It’s hard, but just play along with me.
Between times when you feel it would be strategic to check your emails, try to avert your eyes from new bold content. Scroll down to just below the line of the new bold emails and process away, clicking one by one through the un-bolded, older mail.
If something catches your eye and you feel like you must open it, go ahead. This is a very gentle practice, but over time you will see that by training your eyes away from the bolded section of your inbox, you reclaim quite a bit of control.
Remember that soon enough it will be check time, and then you can scratch that itch.
Between checks, it’s important to remove any unwanted pop-ups or notifications that will pull you back into new emails, moving toward zero notifications when possible.
Many times we are forced or purposefully choose to access new email between checks. Maybe you are interacting with your boss via email in a rhythm that can’t pause, or you are waiting for a conference.
At these times, simply open and use the search window of your email program. This way you can selectively access new emails for individual parties, while not getting pulled back into the entire barrage awaiting you. Some folks like to check for the names of their supervisors once per hour, just to relieve some concern, while staying away from the bulk of the new mail.
Processing email doesn’t have to feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, but it takes time and discipline to develop and maintain those healthy, productive habits.
It may sound impossible, but I promise it’s doable, and it’s certainly worth trying. You’ll be amazed by how much hidden productivity you’ll find.
Juliet Funt (GLS 2017), a recognized consultant and speaker, founded WhiteSpace at Workwith a mission to unearth the potential of companies by unburdening their talent. A warrior against reactive busyness, Funt teaches a streamlined method for personal process improvement that reduces complexity in the workplace. Teams that incorporate WhiteSpace mindsets and skill sets increase creativity and engagement, reclaim lost capacity and execute at their finest.
It doesn’t take long to feel thoroughly inspired when listening to Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC’s The Profit, talk about business. He is a wealth of information and has a proven track record of success to back up every piece of advice he offers. It seems that this entrepreneur could whip a dying business into shape, even in his sleep.
If you have watched his show, you most likely have heard Lemonis stress the importance of knowing the numbers of your business.
According to him, failing to know your numbers inside and out is one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make. As a matter of fact, when it seems clear that a business is even a little unfamiliar with its numbers, Lemonis promptly tells them to figure them out, get those numbers clearly defined, and then come back to discuss business.
Lemonis firmly believes that the most overlooked skill of owning a business is basic accounting. If you are a business owner, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, I have a CFO and a full financial department to handle those matters,” then Lemonis would candidly say in return, “Nope, that doesn’t cut it.”
He preaches that business owners must know exactly how much they are earning, and if they don’t, then they simply don’t know their business at all.
What are these all-important numbers? And can you currently spit them out on command?
According to Marcus Lemonis, the following three numbers should be imprinted onto every business owner’s brain:
1) Annual Sales Revenue
Lemonis believes that if you are unsure of the exact number that your business is making right now, then you simply do not understand your business well enough. Business owners must base this number on a trailing 12 months and not the calendar.
2) Gross Profit Margins
Understanding this number is crucial because it represents the money left over from revenues after accounting for the cost of goods sold.
3) Expenses as a Percentage of Your Gross Profit
It is crucial for business owners to know where their spent dollars are going and to acknowledge whether or not these dollars are generating a profit. Your business expenses must be determined as a percentage of your gross profit, not simply as a percentage of your sales. Why? Because you pay your bills with gross profit, not with revenue.
These three numbers provide the foundation upon which every business decision must be based.
Can you immediately provide an accurate answer for these numbers?
If not, Lemonis would strongly advise you go back to the drawing board, clearly define these numbers, then proceed to talk business matters, both internally and externally.
Quoting Marcus Lemonis, “To not have a solid understanding of how much you make and how much you sell is a crime. To not understand how to make decisions based on numbers is a mistake. Too many people make their decisions based on their gut, but your financial statement is your road map to success.”
With many ventures on his resume, including the hit TV show, The Profit, Marcus Lemonis is the CEO of America’s #1 source for RVs and the largest organization of RV owners in the world. Lemonis lends his expertise to other entrepreneurs, using his evaluation system of three keys for business health and success: people, process and product.
There is a growing trend in organizations to apply a false formula when it comes to how they approach resource allocation. I call it the “just one person” logic, which implies that even if one person is helped through an initiative, it will have been worth it.
If you’ve found yourself falling into this trend, you need to:
Be aware of the trend
Recognize why the logic is faulty
Know how to respond
1) Be aware of the trend
The trend typically unfolds in this manner: During the budgeting process, someone will notice an unusually large dollar figure attached to a new or unproven initiative.
Churches will go so far as to say, “If only one person makes a decision for Christ, then every penny will have been worth it!”
The same reasoning pops up in other resource discussions too, such as:
If just one person hears about our company because of this marketing campaign…
Ifjust one person agrees to start supporting our cause…
Ifjust one person signs up for this program…
You get the idea. Put your radar on “full alert” when you start to hear “if just one person” language in your organization.
2) Recognize why the logic is faulty
In reality, there is a dangerous false economy at work with this reasoning. Suppose, for example, the line item is for $20,000, and it is being justified by the “if just one person” logic.
Could there be a more effective initiative that would use the same $20,000 but connect with 10 people? Or 20? Or 100?
3) Know how to respond
Those who toss the “if just one person” line into resource conversations often place a very high value on the importance of each individual who can be reached or impacted through the organization. That is a value worthy of respect.
The key is to respond with the equally important value of good stewardship. Have the courage to point out there is still a leadership responsibility at play that requires a maximum return on each dollar.
The stewardship value doesn’t negate the value of the individual; it simply places it into a proper context. Point out that the right to impact each individual is earned through the process of maximizing the return on each investment.
Maximizing resources is a vital leadership responsibility. Approach this role with wisdom, boldness and collaboration.
Scott Cochrane serves as the Vice President of International at Willow Creek Association | The Global Leadership Summit. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe, mentoring international teams. Prior to joining WCA, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia and provided leadership to WCA Canada.