Archive for the ‘Future’ Tag

Always Have A Dream   Leave a comment


Image provided by kickofjoy.com

Image provided by kickofjoy.com

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend.  We had not seen each other for quite a while so he was updating me on the activities in his life.  During our conversation, he asked me if I thought there ever came a time when a person needed to stop dreaming.  He was not referring to what occurs while we sleep but future hopes and aspirations.  I indicated that I did not think there was ever a time to quit dreaming.

Dreams are a rather complex aspect of our lives.  When we take inventory of our life, we can identify dreams that we had when we were younger which never materialized.  Because of the perceived times of failure, we can often adopt an attitude which states dreams are a waste of time.  However, I would have to disagree with that attitude.  I think that even if a dream does not materialize as we had hoped, the dream has driven us to move forward toward the fulfillment of the dream.  If we had not dreamed, we may never have taken the steps which we did that allowed us to be where we are now.

Dreams are based on the belief that there is always something more for us to do in life.  Dreams allow us to believe that we can continue to evolve into the person we aspire to be.  Dreams motivate us to take risk and to reach higher.  Without dreams, we just navigate through life going through motions but having little to no drive.

So my friend and I came to the conclusion that a person should always have a dream.  What is your dream today?

Advertisements

Posted April 14, 2015 by thoughtfulbeliever in Experiences, Leadership, Life

Tagged with , , , ,

A New Thing   1 comment


Image provided by turbosquid.com

Image provided by turbosquid.com

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

After a conversation that I was a part of yesterday, this passage has been echoing in my mind.  I am working with a group which is charged with the task of determining where the future of a larger body within an organization may be going.  We have had a multitude of discussions and there are some recurring trains of thought.  The group is confident that the future means there needs to be a radical change from the past in the structure and the focus of the larger body.  So this is why the passage from Isaiah keeps coming to my mind.

I think that there are some major points found in this one verse which speak to me today and should probably speak to many Christians.  The passage begins by God declaring to a group of people who are stuck in exile that something new is taking place.  God is doing something new.  This is the action of God and not of some human mind.  God has decided to do something new and it is going to happen.  For me, this reminds me of two important truths….. I am not in charge and it is futile to resist if God is the one acting.

The second point that has caught my attention is in regards to timing.  God says “NOW (my emphasis) it springs up;” this is not some future event but what is happening right now.  God’s timing most often is not our own.  In fact, there are many occurrences when God’s timing definitely does not align with mine.  However, since God is control, God gets to determine the timing.

The third point is found in the very first word of the verse and in the second half of the second sentence.  The verse begins with “See” and the second half of the sentence states, “do you not perceive it?”  This led me to understand that God intends me to take notice of what God is doing.  Then I am troubled by the question God asks regarding my perception.  I wonder why I and others struggle to see what God is doing.  I think that if we are being honest, the major reason that we do not perceive God’s actions is because we do not want to see them.  If we see them, then we have to respond to them by either accepting or rejecting them.  If my statement earlier that resistance is futile is correct, then the only option available to us is to accept God’s actions.  If God’s actions require us to change, or to do away with past ways, or any other uncomfortable response, we try to bury our heads in the sand and ignore that God is doing something new.

The remainder of the verse tells us the reason for God’s new direction.  God can easily see when we are stuck in the wilderness.  God knows that we become thirsty and our lives dry up.  So in these new actions of God, God is trying to provide for us relief.  By doing something new, God leads us out of the wilderness by showing us the way and provides the streams that will quench our thirst.  It is clear to me that many of us, and the organizations of which we are members, are definitely in the wilderness.  This portion of the verse reminds me that there is hope and possibility.  God has already begun something new which will get us out of the wilderness and provide a cool drink for our lives.

So the challenge to me and probably many of you is to look and see what is this new thing God is doing and calling us to take notice.  Then I must trust and follow down the path that God is providing in the wilderness by this new thing.

Boldly Going   Leave a comment


Photo courtesy of wikipedia

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

There are times in an organization when it is appropriate to take some bold steps.  In order to take those bold steps, a leader must be one to propose what those steps might be and then to work with others to move in that direction.  In a time when we clearly understand the great value of collaboration and a move away from hierarchy, it is very easy for leaders to adopt a view that any and all movement must be done in a “team-based” manner.  I think that this view creates an either/or scenario that I believe is unwarranted.  I find it much better to use a both/and approach.  Let me explain.

In the either/or scenario, the idea is a leader must either be dictatorial or must be passive and more of a facilitator.  If the leader wants to move the group forward in this scenario, then she/he must tell the group where it is going, how it is going to get there, and what the members must do as their required part.  The other side of this coin is that the leader calls the group together and then asks the question, “What should we do next?” and then sits backs and listens to the group.  The first option seems harsh and struggles to get “buy in” from the members especially if they are volunteers.  The second option often leads to a lot of wandering and usually a growing frustration on the part of the members.  So I find this approach unhelpful and even detrimental.

Side note:  This either/or approach seems to have dominated the thinking of most leaders and most organizations that I have witnessed or been a part of over the last twenty years.

With the both/and approach, the leader is directive in nature but encourages input and makes alterations based on input.  This approach lends itself to a leader casting a clear vision regarding the direction of the organization.  The leader must be strong in communicating this vision and even stronger in communicating the reasons for this vision.  Once the leader has cast a vision, then he/she seeks out and creates opportunities for discussions to occur.  Input is sought from a variety of sources within the organization.  Dialogue and discussion among members and the leadership occur so clarification and understanding may be established.  The leader takes into account the thoughts and perceptions shared by the members of the organization and makes adjustments to the vision when and  if they are warranted to make the vision stronger and acceptable by the majority of members.  This approach does not present a heavy-handed action of a leader but instead allows the leader to lead and the members to have confidence in that leadership.

So I encourage us to “boldly go where no others have gone.” I encourage leaders to cast clear visions and then truly listen.  I encourage members of organizations to seek leaders who take a both/and approach instead of the either/or approach.

Another Busy Week   Leave a comment


Minneapolis has the largest concentration of N...

Casting for the future. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week has been one of those crazy weeks.  I had a meeting Tuesday morning and then traveled to Minneapolis for a meeting that was most of the day on Wednesday.  The greeting of snow in Minneapolis on Wednesday made the commute back a bit more stressful.  I am in the office this morning and a little this afternoon before I lead to take a group later today and this evening.  The really exciting thing is that I had a wonderful experience yesterday.  I wanted to share with you a few observations that I took away from yesterday.

The first is that it is great to gather with other leaders who are willing to be on the edge of life.  Our group was tasked with trying to discern the future direction for an organization.  Anyone that has been given such a task realizes that this is not necessarily an easy task to accomplish.  What makes it even more difficult is that there exists a huge variety of opinions, aspirations, and senses of purpose.  The group itself is very diverse.  However, what created energy and excitement was a shared opinion that anything is possible and many of the possibilities have not even come to mind yet.  This was the first truly introductory meeting of this group and so we spent a considerable amount of time hearing one another’s backgrounds.  This was extremely important to help us understand one another’s perspectives.  We also found connections that we had no idea existed between us.  Then we spent some time working with some contemplative approaches and a beginning of opening ourselves to discover new possibilities.  This leads me to my next observation from yesterday.

I tend to be a task/accomplishment-driven type of person.  When I gather with others, I usually desire that we “accomplish” something and have a clear next step.  However, I was forced yesterday to spend time in silence (anyone that knows me would say that is a challenge) and spend time opening my mind to thoughts that at first may seem very random.  This was a huge step for me and lead to some meaningful learning.  After we had time to write down some thoughts, we shared them with one another.  In the sharing we discovered connections within our thoughts.  We also discovered other questions that need to be explored.  I would tell you that when this process was first introduced I was skeptical at least and more leaning toward resistant.  After having experienced this, I would definitely encourage any group that has been given a future-looking task to use this as a launching point.

There are four more phases that we will be using to do our work together.  All of them require some time of contemplation, silence, and exploration of questions.  We will then use Google Hangouts to gather three more times to share and reflect together upon the thoughts that we arrive at alone.  The final phase will lead to us gathering face-to-face as we prepare to present our recommendations/discoveries/thoughts with a larger body of the organization.  I will keep you informed on my experiences throughout these phases.

 

No Way Back   Leave a comment


Do Not Enter sign, made to the specifications ...

Do Not Enter sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am like most other people when I sometimes think back to earlier days in my life.  I remember different aspects of my younger years and have a sense of longing for those times once again.  Yet when I truly spend time thinking about those younger years, I remember how much I desired change at that time.  I remember that everything was definitely not perfect in my perspective even though now I can sometimes view those years in that light.  I remember that there were struggles and situations that I sought to escape.  Most importantly, I realize that there is no way back to those days.  Time has moved on and so has my life.

This type of desire to return to our nostalgic past permeates everyone’s life.  We have a way of focusing only on the positive aspects of our past.  This may be in part because we don’t want to recall the negative aspects since that would cause us to relive the pain and struggles that we worked so hard to escape.  I have heard others say that if we are honest, the “good ole’ days” were really not that good.  But we often are not honest.

When we are faced with challenges or struggles of today, we do one of two things.  We either push forward and look for a brighter future or we look back and wish to return to what our memory tells us was a better time and situation.  This speaks to me about where the focus in life truly is and where I am in my life journey.  I find that as I have grown a bit older, I have more of a tendency to look back than I used to have.  Maybe because I have created a larger bank of memories so I have more to look back upon in my life.  However, I also realize that there is a lot of life ahead of me.  I have a lot of future yet to live.  So if I focus on looking forward in the challenging times, I am declaring that  there is more life to be lived.

These truths are real:  the past was not nearly as good as I remember, and there is no way back any way.  So I must push forward.  I must continue to dream the dreams of the future.  I must experience the life that is now.  I can still have great memories and can relive them in the stories I share with others but they are just memories.  Life is too valuable to let a day be squandered on trying to regain that which I will never be able to regain.  So no going back, only going forward.

On the Edge   Leave a comment


melting snow

melting snow (Photo credit: SFB579 :))

One of the things I like about this time of year is that we know that we are almost ready to transition from Winter to Spring.  Some years this happens earlier than others and none of us know the exact week in which it will take hold but we know that we are on the edge of a meaningful change.  There are many times in my life that I have felt the same feeling in my spirit.  I can sense that a meaningful change is going to occur.  I may not know exactly what it is or when it will happen but I can sense it.

 

A few months ago, I had this feeling in regards to the group that I lead.  I could tell that something meaningful was going to happen and that we were on the edge of a transition.  Over the last couple of months, I have started to see this move from a gut feeling to an actual meaningful project.  I am excited about the future direction of the organization and the impact this project will have on others.

 

The excitement that is caused by the anticipation of something meaningful can energize a person.  As you stand on the edge of a transition, you have something that propels you forward.  I can handle the last days of winter, even though I am so tired of the snow and cold, because I know that there is a change in sight.  Each day brings me closer to what I anticipate.

 

As a believer, this is how I can approach life.  While it is important to live in the day, I anticipate a meaningful change when I will be in  the fullness of the glory of my Lord.  I am excited about what I will experience.  I look at each day as being on the edge of this meaningful transition.  I do not know when the transition will occur or fully grasp what it will be like but I am propelled through each day by the concept.  The difficult days are bearable because I know this is not the end result.  I live on the edge.

 

Death By Survival   Leave a comment


Risk It All

Risk It All (Photo credit: kylesteed)

Have you ever noticed that there are times in which organizations and companies end up killing themselves by trying to stay alive?  The individuals in leadership and/or those who are a part of the organization work so hard at maintaining what is established that they fail to see a need for a new direction.  Those same individuals put a lot of energy into continual use of the structure and techniques that they have always used.  They are so concerned about keeping the organization or company alive in the same way it has existed previously that they are killing it.

There are good arguments for using tested methods and approaches to keep an organization or company alive.  Those methods and approaches have been used and found to have success.  Almost everyone knows how to use them and many have become very proficient in executing them.  There is a level of comfort in knowing what to do and what expectations can be achieved when you do it.  After all, many of these perspectives and techniques worked effectively for those who have gone before us so there is no reason to believe that they will not be effective today.

In addition to the killing effect of using the methods and approaches of our past, the other killing behavior tends to be failure to risk resources.  What I mean by that is that when an organization or company is facing a downturn in success, they often tighten the belt.  They hold tighter to their money and other resources in an attempt to conserve and to wait out this down time.  The problem with this behavior is that it stifles creativity and taking risks with anything new.  So since there is not an inventive component being supported with resources, there is only a maintenance mode of operation instead of a growth mode of operation.

Jesus told his followers, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, NIV).  I think we could learn a lot from Jesus’ statement.  Companies and organizations must be willing to risk it all, even the life of their existence, in order to grow and to gain even more life.  Every generation sees change, some at a more rapid pace than others, but it is how we lead into the future that will make the difference.  While some level of moderation must be maintained, risk must be taken  and resources committed if the organization or company is going to live on.