Tag Archives: celebrate

4 Questions for Handling Obstacles

If you have been in leadership for any length of time…or part of a project for that matter, inevitably you have run into obstacles. Sometimes they were anticipated, but often they seem to come out of nowhere. Effective leaders do not panic when this happens. Instead, they walk through a series of questions to discover not only what the obstacle is, but more importantly what the solution is for moving forward. While obstacles often can feel like an insurmountable wall, there is typically a way over, under, around, or through.

What’s broken? Before you can even consider options and solutions, it is essential to discover what is actually broken. Slow down, assess what is happening, and determine what isn’t working. Is it a lack of resources? Maybe the original timeframe for completion now seems unrealistic. Perhaps, you have the wrong people on your team, or the right people in the wrong roles? You might even discover that nothing is broken and that the obstacle is simply a natural result of your process. Gain input from others and come to an agreement with key leaders.

What’s working? Sometimes, the best way to handle an obstacle is to take a break, walk away from the project, and celebrate the accomplishments of your team. This provides the opportunity to reflect on progress, to cheer for team members, and to fill up the energy of your team members. Great leaders constantly celebrate others and cultivate sustainability through encouragement. You might be surprised to discover that upon your return from a celebration break, the obstacles no longer exist. In addition, assessing what is working might also lead to potential solutions to anything that you previously discovered was broken.

What’s confusing? There is nothing more challenging as a team member than to be commissioned to accomplish a project, yet be unsure what the actual goals of the project are. How do you aim for a target than you cannot see? It is crucial for leaders to listen to the objections or frustrations of team members, clarify the vision of the specific task, and redirect energies as needed to successfully complete objectives. Clear and concise should be foundational requirements for every leader when it comes to sharing the purpose and process for a project.

What’s missing? If you have cleared things up, celebrated the accomplishments of the team, and determined that nothing is truly broken, the final piece of the puzzle is to identify gaps. It might be that you have everything you need to accomplish steps “A” through “G”, but you then realized that you never created step “D.” Find the gaps, determine the people and resources needed to fill the gaps, and then move forward with creating the solutions required to achieve the expected results.

I have led projects with as few as 3-5 people up to entire camps with over 100 volunteers. It doesn’t typically matter how many people are involved or what the scope of the project might be. Obstacles are reality and leaders must have the tools necessary to confront the obstacles, reassess the process, and get the team moving forward again in a timely manner.

What questions am I missing that you might use to handle the obstacles you have experienced?

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Three Little Words This Christmas

Christmas is such a wonderful time – the opportunity to see family, to celebrate the holiday and to enjoy musicals, parades, movies and an ever-present cup of hot cocoa. However, far too often we are sucked in by the hustle and bustle and find ourselves running from one activity to the next without the opportunity to truly enjoy any of the experiences.

Crazy singing Christmas House

This year, may I encourage you to employ three little words with great regularity? “No, thank you” can be so empowering, so freeing, so liberating for you and your family this month. You don’t need to stand in every retail line for that one item that will most likely be broken or lost by January. You don’t need to attend every version of the living Nativity, nor does every street filled with Christmas lights need to be seen.

It is really not crucial to say yes to every opportunity presented to you in celebrating Christmas. Saying “no, thank you” allows you to drink cocoa with your kids – to sit on the couch and watch Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree. It allows for story time and Christmas dreams and family game night.

The pressure is enormous and I completely understand. However, I believe that practicing “no, thank you” more than “yes, absolutely” will provide for a much better family Christmas experience. Relationships and memories that last will happen better in the moments of serenity than in the craziness of retail shopping.

Have a merry Christmas season and no, thank you, I am not able to attend your seasonal party!

~ Mike

The Necessity of P.E.A.C.E.

I don’t know about you, but it seems far too easy to stress, to worry, to be busy and to finish each day not completely sure what I accomplished but feeling exhausted and worn out. Then, there are the times that my brokenness is revealed and I am angry, irritated, short-tempered or other not so nice emotions.

busy train station

Humanity unchecked seems to embrace the hectic and stressful lifestyle. This can’t be healthy, definitely isn’t ideal, and I couldn’t even describe life like this as fun! So, how in the world should we deal with this propensity to worry?

We all could use a little more peace in our lives – both internally and externally. Maybe less noise, more open calendar space, and even some time to enjoy nature and rediscover who we are.

reading on a couch

So, here are my elements to have PEACE in my life.

PRAY – First, I need to Pray. This involves every aspect of my faith – personal prayer, Bible study, devotions and meditation, engage in church, etc. Without faith, there seems to be a lack of purpose in life. This causes us to join the rat race, battle for every crumb, and lack eternal perspective.

EXPERIENCE GRACE – My life is a wreck, if I am honest. I am mean to people, talk lots of smack on the freeway, have sinful thoughts and in no way am close to perfection. Thankfully, I have a God, family members, and close friends who know all of my flaws but extend grace into my life regardless. I need to experience this grace and I have learned that best happens by extending grace to others. This is typically challenging for me, but I hope I am better at it today than I was yesterday.

ACTIVATE LOVE – So many people talk about love. Love is often minimized to feelings, emotions, or just carnal lust. This completely cheapens the true definition of love. Love activated compels me to look out for others, prefer them, serve them and generally find ways to help others around me get ahead. I need to learn where they want to be and see what I might contribute to their journey. It seems very counterintuitive to advance my own dreams, but that is what true love is all about.

CELEBRATE OTHERS – Jealousy is a complete thief when it comes to peace. If my energy is spent on being envious of others, then I will never be at peace. I will be stressed about the promotion of others, their well-being, and their good fortune. Peace comes as I intentionally choose to celebrate the life of those around me. Whether this is a co-worker, a family member or even somebody I might not know well, everybody knows that a good celebration is a great recipe to experience peace.

EMBRACE LIFE – We all spend far too much time with broken dreams, “what ifs”, and ponderings about what might have been. While I am not a proponent of a lifestyle that has no concern for the future, I do believe more peace will come on the other side of living life to the full. Take a risk, have some fun, laugh more often and live a life that has more adventure than regret. Enjoy family and health and blessing and friends – focus on what you have more than what you might lack and peace will soon enter the scene.

This is not a fool-proof formula and I cannot say that I live each day in perfect peace. However, I have learned that these different components all contribute differently to the daily peace that I so desperately desire.  Hopefully, at least one of them will help you to experience peace on a more regular basis.

~ Mike

3 Benefits of a Healthy Team

Working for a ministry provides so many opportunities for teamwork, both internally and externally. I have the honor of leading a team of eleven individuals from across the country in our Church Relations department. Last week we held a leadership summit and spent a day and a half together in collaboration, brainstorming and celebration.

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While I know that much has been said about teamwork, several things struck me last week. The level of productivity we achieved was greater than almost any I have experienced in such a short amount of time. This got me to wondering why and here are the results of my thoughts.

1 – A healthy team provides space to explore, encourage, challenge, confront and succeed. We have been working on a few projects for over a year now and this past week saw the culmination of several of them. The discussion that surrounded the final products was opinionated, fierce, provocative and passionate – and I loved every minute of it. Our team has learned to trust each other and that leads to great success. This does not come easy and it is something I must intentionally cultivate as the leader, but the benefits of a trust culture are truly immeasurable.

2 – A healthy team is able to include others quite seamlessly and not create an “us v. them” mentality. We had several attendees at our summit who have been part of the team for a very short time. One literally was added to the team within weeks of our gathering. However, there was no awkwardness, competitiveness or desire to protect the inner circle. Our team understands the value of collaboration and the idea that many leaders bring even greater success to projects and outcomes. Whereas a lack of health can lead to infighting, divisiveness and a cutthroat mentality, I am blessed to be on a healthy team that constantly seeks to include and learn from others.

3 РA healthy team knows how to celebrate together! I have to admit that I have never attended a baby shower until last week, but the culture of our team led me to not want to miss out. It was a blast and we completely surprised our expectant team member. We laughed and cheered and played odd baby shower games (I actually ended up with 4 clothespins). This was the perfect ending to a time of great accomplishment. Healthy teams celebrate as well as they produce!

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So, how would you describe your team? Healthy or unhealthy? Please notice that I never declared our team to be perfect. We mess up projects, have misunderstandings and often disagree on the direction of our ideas. However, at the end of the day, we are able to see the bigger picture and remember why we work together. This provides the framework for a healthy team and allows us to experience many benefits together.

Leading in His Name,

Mike