Raising your Stock

A company can have the most incredible product in the world but when you truly examine why some organizations are so successful, you will ultimately be left with one conclusion….It’s PEOPLE that make it happen.

Quality people produce quality products which in turn creates quantified profits. But how does an organization find quality people? Maybe a better question would be how can we ourselves become those quality people?

I believe there are 6 major factors or characteristics that can make you a great asset to any organization.

1. BE A PEOPLE PERSON-

John Rockefeller once said that he would pay more for the ability to connect well with others than any other quality. He knew the truth, that it doesn’t matter how gifted, talented or brilliant someone may be, if they are difficult to deal with and struggle in human relationships they will quickly become a shiny but useless piece of the puzzle. Work on your people skills and learn to easily connect with others on a heart level and you will immediately see your worth begin to rise to those around you.

2. BE A PROBLEM SOLVER-

Anybody can see whats wrong and easily point out the flaws and faults, but it is the mark of a leader  to think on it long and deep enough to find and create a solution. These people are the real difference  makers in every organization and when you become proactive in creating solutions you quickly become a go to player on the team.

3. BE AN INITIATOR-

Few things are as draining to a leader as having someone on your crew that you have to instruct in every little thing. Initiative is simply doing the right thing without having someone have to tell you to do it. When you become the kind of person that is consistently bringing new information and ideas instead of always waiting on new ideas and information, your worth rises quickly in the organization. Look for the things that you know need to be done and then do them quickly and without prompting and people will be glad that you are on their team.

4. BE AN ENCOURAGER-

We all naturally gravitate to encouragers and likewise, we all naturally are repelled by discouragers. Which one we ourselves will be is a choice we make. At the moment that you choose to care about and help others, you can count on the fact that they will begin to gravitate towards you. When things aren’t going the way you want them to go don’t fall into the long line of complainers and do what they do. Stand out, be positive and give the people around you hope, it is a distinguishing mark of a true leader.

5. BE COMMITTED TO A GREAT ATTITUDE-

As a leader of an organization I look for this trait in my potential team members perhaps more than any other. Life is too short, the hours are too long and our mission is too important to not enjoy the people I labor with. Attitudes are like potent air born viruses……easily and quickly caught. People with great attitudes are not only a pleasure to be around but after a while their spirit begins to infect everyone else on the team. This is a major asset to any organization and worth cultivating.

6. BE A SECOND MILER-

Do more than is expected. Go above and beyond. Never live on the minimum level. People who constantly live on the minimum level not only never get past minimum wage but also experience the minimum that life in general has to offer. Commit yourself to being a maximum individual and never do only what is expected. It’s the people who are doing the things that others aren’t willing to do that eventually end up with the compensation and favor that others wish they had. Live a second mile lifestyle and your worth in the organization will elevate dramatically.

What did I miss? Leave a comment and tell me some things that you think are important as well.

 

Advertisements

5 Be-Attitudes of credibility for Leaders

There are few things as rewarding as leadership but nothing I’ve encountered that’s more difficult either. Leading looks glamourous at times from a distance but when thrown into the real world responsibility of it, people quickly realize just how much one really has to give up in order to go up.

There are many elements that make up great leadership but ultimately great leaders are able to move people from where they are to where they want to be and need to be. In order to do this there is one element that trumps all the others in necessity….CREDIBILITY.

WIthout it you will simply walk alone. People must first believe in the leader themselves before they will ever even consider the direction they are trying to take them in.

The various components that equate to deep credibility are the subject of entire books but for today let me share 5 BE-attitudes that I think are huge in establishing great credibility with others. 

1. BE QUICK TO ADMIT WHEN YOUR WRONG-

Few things are more discouraging to a follower than a leader who will never own a mistake. We don’t really have to have all of the answers we just need a never ending curiosity to keep growing, searching and discovering. In our efforts to keep our organizations moving, we will at times get it wrong. This doesn’t mean we are bad leaders, it means we are human. When it becomes clear it was the wrong call, don’t defend it, admit it, your people will find strength in your security.

  2. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR WEAKNESSES-

They already know you have them and the quicker you are able to be honest and own up to them the quicker they will begin to love and trust you. Reassure your people that while you know where you are weak you are also making efforts to improve. This type of honesty makes you a leader worthy to follow and elevates you even more in the eyes of those you lead.

3. BE HUMBLE ABOUT YOUR AREAS OF YOUR STRENGTH-

Just like they know where you are weak, it is also apparent to everyone where you are strong and those things that give you a decided edge over many. Flow out of it certainly, but don’t flaunt it ever. You don’t need to and doing so only makes you look arrogant and conceited about your gifting. This paints your good with a negative color and destroys credibility. Giving everyone your resume all the time makes you look insecure and desperate and no one wants this in their leaders.

4. BE WILLING TO ACCEPT LEGITIMATE CRITICISM-

It is extremely difficult at times to discern what is legitimate and what is just a difference of philosophy or operational opinion. The problem is further compounded by the fact we all get naturally  defensive when someone points out an area we are weak in. Great leaders manage this tension with grace and do their best to find the good and receive it with an understanding heart. When we are open and not only receive it well but grow from it, our credibility with others grows exponentially.

5. BE OPEN TO HEAR IDEAS FROM OTHERS EVEN WHEN YOU THINK THE DIRECTION IS CLEAR-

I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had thought something completely through and then someone says something that brings an entirely new level of clarity to the situation that changed it for the better. I am learning daily how to depend on others more and I am thankful for this in my life. Even when you are convinced of a direction, include others anyway. It will ultimately give them some ownership and elevate your credibility as a leader.

NOW THE CONFESSION….At times in my leadership life I have been horrible at all of these things, but I am growing, learning, stretching and striving. A leaders greatest leadership challenge will always be themselves. I am thankful that God has entrusted it to me anyway and I am honored to lead an awesome church and staff. Never give up, it’s always a journey worth taking.

 

 

Goals, Dreams and the People in between

If you are breathing oxygen and reading this, you’ve been given an incredible gift. God has given you an opportunity to leave this world a better place than you found it, to do something in the temporal that can have consequences in the eternal. My potential is God’s gift to me, my maximization of that potential is my gift back to God. In order for that to happen I must be goal oriented enough to place some demands on my time and resources. With that in mind let me share just a few observations about goals and there importance.

1. WITHOUT GOALS WE TEND TO LOSE FOCUS AND DRIFT

It is the equivalent to shooting arrows with no target or rowing feverishly in an open ocean with no compass. Without some kind of clearly defined destination, movement becomes monotonous and meaningless. Goals provide us with a clear place to direct our limited energy, time and resources.

2. GOALS HAVE A WAY OF INSPIRING UNCOMMON UNITY

 When the goal is significant enough, it not only makes you realize how much you need others to fulfill it, but it also inspires others to get involved and be a part of it. People intrinsically want their life to matter and they desire to be a part of something bigger than just themselves. Big goals create the necessary tension and challenge that engages others to invest their time and talents as well.

3. GOALS THAT ARE SEASONED BY GOD BRING AN ENERGY AND POWER THAT YOU WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN OTHERWISE

God gives supernatural strength, not as a toy but as a tool to do His will and work. Whenever you attempt great things FOR God, it is then that you can fully expect great things FROM God. Dream God sized dreams and you run head long into God’s strategic power.

4. GOALS REQUIRE COURAGE

Sometimes the reason people never set specific goals is because if you have no goals you never run the risk or possibility of failure. Goals require courage because they immediately bring accountability. When the goal is ever before you, it lets you know it’s time to get up and get moving.

There will always be 4 kinds of people around your dreams and goals, the quicker you learn to recognize them and adjust, the better off you will be.

a. Rejectors- These people will never embrace the dream and for some reason they are never content to simply bow out, they seem to be driven to convince you to quit as well. You can love them but you can’t allow them access to your life or they will eventually win.

b. Reducers- These people strive to dilute the dream and water it down to a consistency that they are comfortable with. If your dream is big and you feel it is from the Lord, then it’s big for a reason. Don’t compromise.

c. Refreshers- These people inspire your dreams and energize you to keep pressing and pushing. Always give ample access to these people, they will encourage you when things get slow and the climb gets steep.

d. Refiners- These people not only support your dreams and goals but actually sharpen them and make them better. They add value to your endeavor and consistently offer creative ways to elevate the dream. FIND THESE PEOPLE AND INVITE THEM IN AS A FIXTURE IN YOUR LIFE. You will immediately see the results.

 

 

 

 

What’s your P.Q.?

I’m sitting in an airport watching people frantically walk around trying to catch flights and it got me thinking…what’s your P.Q.? Now I now you are probably asking what exactly is P.Q.? Good question.

Many people are familiar with I.Q. or one’s intelligence quotient, but many have probably never thought about their P.Q. or one’s PEOPLE QUOTIENT.

Unfortunately, some view people as something in life to be endured rather than something in life to be enjoyed. It’s tragic to me that more people don’t strive to learn to appreciate others and relate to them more effectively. I believe that everyone should strive to become a true people person and here are several reasons why.

a. It elevates your influence- People love being around others who make them feel better about themselves and are generally very open to their ideas and concepts.

b. It makes you a stronger witness for Christ- When we genuinely care and relate to others well, we stand out in stark contrast to a world who cares only about themselves. They see and sense the difference and it gives us a valid voice for Christ in their life.

c. Great people skills make you a real asset to any organization- When people enjoy working with you and respect you, promotions are generally not far behind. Organizations that thrive know that it’s about 10% product knowledge and 90% people knowledge. Learn to relate on every level with others and your stock in any organization rises exponentially.

With that in mind here are three ways to connect with people immediately.

1. People like to feel special…..so compliment them.

Take time to not only notice when someone does something well but take the time to tell them that you noticed. Make a habit of being sincere and generous with your compliments, it will impact people immediately.

2. People want to believe in a better tomorrow….so give them hope.

Be an encourager and stay positive. Help people going through difficult times see the light at the end of the tunnel. Remind them that life is just seasons and no season lasts forever. You will find people gravitating to you more than ever.

3. People need to be understood…..so listen to them.

One of the best ways to influence others is not always with our mouth, many times it’s with our ears. Take time to listen to others points of view and learn to not just hear their words…learn to hear their heart. Good listeners are not only popular every where they go but after a while they actually know something.

Ready, Set…GROW!

I have been writing a lot of leadership lately for Vital Vision, a leadership development business I started several years ago. I am about to teach this in South Carolina next week and as I was putting the finishing touches on it, thought it would be a great blog to share with others as we embark upon 2012. Personal growth is one of those things that I have an insatiable appetite for and discuss  a lot everywhere I go. It’s important to understand that you can never really learn how to grow, you can really only learn how to learn how to grow. I know that sounds confusing but let me explain. You cannot make a plant grow, that is an exclusive right that God retains only for himself. All you can do is create the environment, cultivate the climate and set the conditions. And when the conditions are right..GROWTH HAPPENS NATURALLY.

In the same manner we cannot force growth in our own lives, all we can really do is stay curious, maintain a constant open mind and seek new experiences and encounters. And when we create the right climate, we begin to grow.

With that in mind here are 6 characteristics of a high growth environment.

1. SPEND TIME WITH LEADERS AND PEOPLE THAT ARE WAY AHEAD OF YOU

If you ever discover that you are the biggest fish in the pond…find a new pond. Bigger fish know things about open water that small ponds will never reveal. The reason some people never explore bigger ponds is because being the biggest fish strokes their ego. The tragedy is that they have grown all they will ever grow even though their potential was much larger. Find people who stretch your spirit and your mind and hang out with them as much as you can, you will see the fruit of it immediately.

2. CONSTANTLY SEARCH FOR NEW CHALLENGES

Bored people never grow. Seek for new experiences and challenges that place a new demand on your talent and ability. This goes against our human nature big time. We crave familiar places, predictable experiences and things we know we can easily accomplish. We naturally think less effort is better when in reality it lulls us to sleep and robs us of our full potential. Get in something over your head and leave the familiar shallows, it’s deep and difficult waters that make the strongest sailors.

3. KEEP YOUR FOCUS FORWARD

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with glancing back from time to time especially if it increases your confidence or helps you avoid repeating costly mistakes. But my point is simply this, growth is impossible if you think and believe that your best days are behind you. Stay convinced that there is more horsepower, more untapped potential and that the best is yet to come. It is necessary if you are to keep growing.

4. SEARCH OUT ENVIRONMENTS WHERE OTHERS ARE CONSTANTLY GROWING

Growth can be a group activity. It is inspiring to be around other people and peers that are moving forward and pressing ahead. Many times seeing others move precipitates movement in us as well. Our environments make or break us. Choose them carefully because they will eventually determine the quality and direction of your own life. You will become what you continually embrace.

5. FACE YOUR FEAR OF FAILURE

Most people have thousands of game changing ideas in their lifetime and, unfortunately, most never act on them. Why? One word, Fear. Here’s the scenario. We get a great idea and before that idea has time to even settle it’s feet good we immediately make an air tight list of why we can’t do it. We aren’t smart enough, good enough, strong enough or educated enough. And before we know it, we have completely dismissed that it’s even a possibility…..that is, until we see someone doing it. And here’s the cold truth, they had the same fear as you the only difference was, while they had fear they didn’t let fear have them. Defang your fear and you will go farther than you ever imagined.

6. HAVE CONSTANT EXPOSURE TO NEW INFORMATION

Leaders are readers, plain and simple. Your judgement will only be as good as your level of information. If you have never been a big reader, it’s ok…trust me, your love for reading will grow over time especially when you start recognizing the new infusion of wisdom flowing out of your life. If you will be willing to FORCE IT AT FIRST….you will surely LEARN TO LOVE IT AT LAST.

My prayer for you is that in 2012 you would GROW TO LIVE STRONG, LOVE DEEP AND LEAD WELL.

Leadership, Lunacy and Church Planting

On the last Sunday of April in 2008 my wife and I along with what would be a core of about 35 people stood in a living room and officially declared that we were a church. We had no idea that the housing bubble had just burst one month prior and that many of those in that room would lose jobs and suffer some of the hardest economic times in their lives. From a logical standpoint you couldn’t have picked a worse time to plant a church. Having said that God has done some amazing things and 3 years and 6 months later CCA is not just surviving but thriving in health, vision and growth. Truly, to God be the glory. On more than one occasion during this process however, I have secretly said to myself “I must be crazy.” When you plant a church you’re kind of asking for it. But the truth is, if you are called to do it you are the happiest lunatic in the world. 

Here are 7 observations and lessons that we have learned along the way that I think are so important to keep in mind if you are thinking and praying about starting a church.

 1. Doubts are not the enemy, they remind you of how much you need God

I don’t care how confident of a leader you may be, there are times in the process when you will doubt your ability and wonder if this thing is going to really work out. This makes you pray, trust and lean on God like nothing else ever will. Ultimately, if He doesn’t provide we are all doomed.

2. Concentrate on Culture

Your church, like any organization WILL have a culture. It will either be by design or default but be assured, it will have one. Make sure you think it through and find God’s heart for what He wants your expression to be and make it by design.

3. Empower passionate people, leverage their strengths and give them room to run

The church is one of the most leadership intensive environments in the world primarily because it is 95% volunteer driven. Identify those who share your passion and vision and give them ownership. People are far less likely to engage if they feel like they are just “helping” you do your thing.

4. Realize that there are dangers with explosive growth

Everybody who plants prays for this but it could be the worst thing that ever happened and could effect the long term sustainability of the church. Explosive growth covers too many fatal flaws and makes numerical growth the only standard of success. Cracks in the foundation will show up, you can count on it and trying to fix them with the chaos of a full house is far more difficult and dangerous than adjusting them while maneuvering with a few. Focus on long term health and God will grow His church at His divine pace.

5. Never let your environment be an excuse for poor quality

Portable church is hard, very hard. But no matter what the limitations, our desire for excellence and creating contagious environments must be constant. We worship in an old elementary school cafeteria but by 9 am on Sunday it has been transformed into an inviting and creative space for people to experience and encounter God. We pay attention to the details right down to the restrooms. People automatically know that the way you do ANYTHING is the way you will do EVERYTHING and it communicates to them that we are serious about our God and the people He has called us to reach.

6. Simple is not merely better, it is best

We are in a perpetual fight to stay simple, and trust me simple and easy are not synonymous at all. Staying simple is hard work but it allows us to be nimble as well as keeping clarity for the people. If people can easily understand why we do what we do, they are far more likely to get involved and champion the cause. Complexity and confusion kills morale and greatly reduces the number of people who buy in.

7. Find God’s heart and never apologize for it

There are as many expressions and flavors of churches as there are fish in the ocean. They are all from the same species but varied in one way or another. This is on purpose. If God is leading you to plant, I promise you He already has a plan for what He wants it to accomplish and look like. Pray, fast, talk to trusted and mature leaders and find His heart and once you do….DO IT AND NEVER APOLOGIZE. Criticism from other churches and leaders at times will come. Don’t take it personal and don’t think their your enemy. Stay humble and keep working, WE LIVE FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE. His approval is what must concern us most. 

I pray this has helped you in some way, God bless and happy planting!

5 Reasons you do not want to miss CCA’s newest series

If you are familiar with CCA at all or follow our tweets you know we believe in series teaching. I have been teaching and preaching God’s word for 18 years now, and having pastored the majority of that time, have become convinced that series teaching is the most productive and efficient way to build disciples, create understanding and take people on a journey of transformation in Him. Beginning October 16th we are launching our next 5 week series entitled “Guardrails.”

The concept behind the series is very simple but extremely important. Guardrails on the road are somewhat of an invisible part of our driving experience. Nobody ever really pays attention to them or even notices them until you need them. They aren’t placed there to limit our driving experience or inhibit us in any way. They are there for one reason and one reason only….TO SAVE OUR LIVES. The guardrail stands as both a protector and warning of what lies just beyond.

In very much the same way God’s word gives us guardrails to protect and preserve our lives, our families, our marriages and our futures. This is going to be an awesome series and here are 5 reasons you don’t want to miss even one message.

1. IT WILL ANSWER MANY QUESTIONS WE HAVE ABOUT PIVOTAL ISSUES IN OUR LIVES

So many times in our lives we reflect on events and things that transpired and try to figure out why certain things occurred and how they could have been different. Oftentimes we simply just conclude it was just a part of life. While at times this may be true, many times the trajectory of events could have been greatly altered had we simply understood the power of a guardrail at a strategic spot.

2. IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE SCRIPTURAL INSTRUCTION

For many, the bible is nothing more than a big book of rules and regulations trying to limit our experience and take the fun out of life. You are going to gain a new found appreciation for how much our Father truly loves us and in His infinite wisdom has created a system to allow life to be lived to it’s fullest.

3. IT COULD SAVE YOU FROM FUTURE CATASTROPHE

All of us have regrets. Some of us have huge regrets. The truth is, that thing we look back on and regret the most could have been avoided if we had learned and embraced the principle of the guardrail earlier. The future of your marriage, your children as well as everything else in your life can be altered by learning this simple but profound truth.

4. IT WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHY CERTAIN PATTERNS ARE REPEATING THEMSELVES 

We all have a tendency to hope for a better tomorrow without ever truly changing anything to insure that things will in fact be any different. As we talk about various topics I am convinced lights are going to start coming on as to why things have been present in our lives for long periods of time.

5. IT WILL REDEFINE WHAT TRUE FREEDOM IS

We live in a world that defines freedom and liberty very differently than our heavenly Father who was and is the creator of all that we know. The truth is what many call freedom is ultimately bondage and restriction that leads to eventual devastation. When we learn to walk and live as our creator intended for us to walk and live, we experience the power of true discovery. The secret to life if you will. The key to liberty, true freedom and a life wide open.

I’m excited, stoked and ready to watch God do His thing. Hope to see you there and that you will bring someone with you.

All for Christ,

J.Mark