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Saturday, June 09 2012
Why things fail is one of the main topics in the book “Adapt – Why Success Always Begins with Failure” by Tim Hartford. Two of the reasons resonated with me because they provide a sort of lens with which you can look at situations and predict their inevitable failure. These two main reasons are;
1. They are complex. Complex things fail easily. The reason they do so is because there are so many parts and functions to the thing (be it system, machine, organization) that each part is a target for an unexpected or new condition. New and unexpected things can show up (and will show up) that are provided great opportunity to break something because its complex. Sometimes in complex things, individual parts can get broken that may not destroy the whole thing. That is where the second thing that makes stuff fail comes into play.
2. They are tightly coupled. Tightly coupled things fail easily. Tightly coupled means that even though the thing is not complex, once failure starts it proliferates so quickly that there is no way to stop it. This is called the domino effect. Dominos are not complex but if set up close enough to one another that each one is quickly affected by the other, failure happens before you can stop it.
Consider that our global banking system was both very complex and tightly coupled and you now know why we have seen systemic financial failure that continues to have enough aftershocks to make you wonder if the big one has even happened yet. Put this lens on for your organization and consider the complexities (targets for the unexpected something) and how tightly coupled the pieces are. This insight into your own propensity for failure may actually help you avert it. You can’t eliminate error, but you should certainly try to simplify and decouple it.
See other book reviews at www.mjvi.org/jv_blog
Wednesday, May 30 2012
The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal Ph.d. makes a big promise on the cover. To teach you not only how self control works but how to get more of it in your life. The premise is that the “I will” power and the “I won’t” power are managed by the “I want” power. There is a comical component to the book if you can manage some self-honesty and admit that you believe this basic tenant. That we all perceive the future me to have more time, more focus, more desire and more willpower than the present me. Why a diet would work better next month or why next January is a better time to start reading the Bible through is better than starting today is a mystery. We see it that way, but in reality, it’s a myth. The future me will be more of the present me unless immediate modifications are made. The three components of willpower are;
1. I will power is the power to do what you should do even when you don’t want to.
2. I won’t power is the power to resist the thing you shouldn’t do no matter how tempting it is.
3. I want power is the power to remember the thing that you really want in life which drives and manages the other two.
Most willpower battles are the battle between the present and the future. The desire portion of the brain is in constant search of satisfaction (reward) and will take a lesser reward now rather than a greater reward later. That is one of the willpower challenges. The loud voice shouting reward now is louder than the faint voice saying bigger reward later. The section on Olds and Milner’s rats and the discovery of how dopamine works on the brain is worth the time to read the whole book. If you study the Bible you will see science is finally catching up with what the Bible has said for thousands of years about normal human behavior. Of course, the scientists discovered it.
The book has very good advice for coming to terms with the fact that your future you (the one you imagine has infinite willpower and total self control) cannot be trusted to act as nobly as you imagine he/she will. You will learn great willpower tools that are both effective and doable. Getting to the “I want” of your life will require willpower and willpower will require knowing what force is at work challenging your “I want” and how to disable it before it wrecks something.
Monday, May 28 2012
Energy management, not time management is the key to high performance. That is the topic of the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Scwhartz. The idea behind the book is that both the overuse and underuse of personal energy actually diminishes our capacity to accomplish things. That was a radical thought for a time management junkie to swallow but does explain a lot of the fatigue and dissatisfaction with results that they (we) can experience. So, time management, to the extent that it utilizes spiritual, physical, emotional or mental energy, but does not allow time to replenish them actually produces less results than properly utilizing and replenishing energy. Here are the four major energy food groups discussed in the book.
1. Spiritual strength is the ability to stay committed to the deepest belief and value that a person has regardless of external circumstances. This really answers the "why" question with respect to what we throw our life at. Its the objective of the others.
2. Mental energy (endurance) is the ability to concentrate and sustain focus. The power to pay attention to the important things at hand.
3. Physical capacity is measure in endurance, flexibility and strength. To work with energy and not just try to motor through the fatigue.
4. Emotional strength is the ability to function and respond in a broad range of emotions and the ability to bounce back after moments on extreme disappointment, frustration or loss.
The concept to build capacity for all four categories is a simple one that is the norm for physical training. You push all four dimensions past their normal limit then you create a system for recovery. The recovery system, in part, involves a group of positive energy building rituals. Rituals are those things you do habitually without thinking about them but they provide much of the recovery necessary to build energy capacity. The authors propose that energy management is the fundamental currency of high performance. If you face the paradox of needing this book’s advice in order to have enough energy to read this book (which I call the early morning need to drink coffee to be awake enough to make coffee syndrome) you will be relieved to find the “Bear in Mind” section (Cliff’s notes) at the end of each chapter.
Monday, April 09 2012
Sometimes there is no way out - but there is a way through;
The dawn of the great recession in America for the housing and development industry was July of 2006. I can still remember the eerie feeling that came when the calls for new business literally stopped and existing contracts began melting in value by the millions. By the spring of 2007 I realized that, in comparison to all the past downturns I had seen in 25 years in business, this one was very different. Still I was confident that a turnaround would show up as it always had. By late 2007, on one of my walks around the neighborhood, the realization came to me that there would be no turn around big enough and soon enough. There was no way out of this one.
Our business, though very healthy financial for the last 15 years, was also very complex and tied to everything that the economy was about to regurgitate. In good times it would have taken about 4 years to land the plane and bring the business enterprise to a complete and pleasant stop. In bad times, when suddenly a huge portion of your assets are worth less, and some are even worthless, there is no way to know how much time it will take to unravel it all. You can’t see the end from where you stand. That was five years ago. Here is what I learned.
1. There is no way out of these things, but there is a way through them. We really don’t like pain and hard things. They hurt. We resist them with everything in us. Unfortunately for us, we miss the value they bring when we resist them. The way through is a growing and learning time that will work valuable things in us that cannot be obtained any other way. Trying to get out of them means missing out on the person you can become for going through.
2. Face the fear and make a plan. Make a list of the things you fear. All the bad things you think will happen. Write them down whether they are foreclosure on your house, bankruptcy, embarrassment, lawsuits, angry creditors etc. Then write next to them what you would do in the event that they happen. You will notice that there are solutions and that life will go on. Now put that plan in a drawer and have the confidence that if the worst happens, you have a plan and you can stop worrying about it.
3. Get on offense. You need a new plan to succeed and the excitement that goes with it. Your mind, emotions and attitude need this. Find the new career or start the new business. Be positive and look for positive things. Things are bad and you can’t just forget about them, but every time the fear shows up remember that you have a doomsday plan, and can execute it anytime. Most people run to the bunker and hide there until things get better. That is the best time to take advantage of the job market or an entrepreneurial venture, when the competition is in mental lockdown.
4. Attitude matters. Realize that your worst day as an American or someone in a developed country is still 100 times better than most of the world’s best day. Realize that God has blessed us way beyond anything we could ever deserve. Realize that you have things way more valuable than money and work on being grateful for them. Nothing will cheer you up like encouraging your forlorn friends, helping someone that is destitute, giving more to God and His mission, and spending more time with your family. By the way, your kids are watching and learning how to deal with adversity from you.
5. Learn a lesson about wealth. Wealth is not how much money or net worth you have accumulated, it’s your ability to earn. Check out Deuteronomy 8:18 if you want to know where that ability comes from and why you have it. Losing all your money or possessions but still having the ability to earn is not as scary as you think.
Finally, remember that God is in control of all the events of the life of a Christian and He wants to do more in us than for us. Learn to praise Him and thank Him for every event that comes along knowing that He is working all things together for our good.
Wednesday, March 28 2012
MJVI/BCWE has been involved in the construction and operations of the Peru Bible College for many years now and it’s always a thrill to bring an update of what is happening. Also very exciting is the fact that a new website has been implemented to keep you informed on the three major ministries in Peru that we partner with. The Peru Bible College, the Jacob Hunter Christian School and the TV Station Channel 33 Arequipa. The website is at the end of this article and will have frequent news and information about the ministry there.
Classes started back at the Bible College last Tuesday March 20th with 14 new students for the fall semester. Its fall south of the equator even though there are not many trees in Arequipa. There are 23 students living on the campus and 43 total studying for the gospel ministry. You may remember the graduation of six men last December as they completed their four years of study. Those men will be working as full time pastors, missionaries or preachers in their churches.
The strategic nature of this college goes beyond South America as its graduates also serve in America, Morocco, Burkina Faso West Africa and are studying to go to other countries as well. Spanish is also among the world’s most used languages. Around 329 million people speak it as their native language is 44 countries. Graduates from the college are also trained in language acquisition to work in countries where Spanish is not the primary language.
Monday, March 26 2012
I was recently discussing some of what I consider to be the keys to discipline and time management with a young man that already shows a proclivity toward that lifestyle. I took about 15 minutes to describe the benefits of rising early and getting a jump on the day and the competition. (competition for your time) Since we don’t have that kind of time here, I will just say get up already! Five benefits that come with rising early.
1. Peace and quiet. Imagine working completely unmolested by coworkers or clients. We need both, but sometimes we just need peace and quiet. If I get to my office by 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. I have almost a half a day to work my own schedule before the first interruption.
2. Focus. You can safely turn off your email and cell phone because nobody is going to call you. The ability to focus on one item and put all your concentrative energies into it is a proven method to create more high quality work, faster. Multitasking means portioning one little sliver of yourself on 6 things at once. That just insures that all six get done in a mediocre fashion.
3. You are alert while others are still waking up. If I had a wasps nest to take out, it was always an early morning job. I wanted to be fully alert while they were still asleep. There is an advantage to being prepared for any meeting. There is a bonus for being awake and alert.
4. Do important things at the top end of your performance curve. The more stuff you heap on the brain during a day, the more it drains the reserves. The mental and emotional reserves for any given day have only so much capacity. It’s the P and PC of Covey’s seven habits. You run out of emotional or mental reserve and you are toast for the day. In the morning is when my performance capability is at its highest.
5. Info up. Get a quick Wall Street Journal fix or whatever information sources serve your industry. Be up on the important stuff. This would not include facebook updates or tweets about who had what for supper last night.
Many have mounted a good argument that they can create the same zone late in the evenings and get up at the crack of noon. Maybe so, but the boost that comes from the combination of the rest, the shower and the venti bold roast is a powerful tonic that the evening just can’t duplicate. I prioritize the steps to my goals and the most important tasks of the day for the first four hours. They deserve me at my best.
One more thing - go to bed already.
Saturday, March 17 2012
In all the years I have known David Lundy, our schedules have never lined up so that we could take a mission trip together. We fixed that blemish on the record this February with our trip to Burkina Faso West Africa. David promotes the work happening in Burkina Faso in churches and with anyone he can get to listen. That ministry has a tremendous friend and ally in David and Anne Lundy.
God has used David and Anne to conduct children’s ministries in the US and Mexico as well as Burkina Faso. David serves as the secretary on the board of directors and has been part of BCWE, Inc. since it started in 2004. He and his wife are very active in their church, Lakeview Baptist Church in Buford, GA.
David Lundy – Secretary: David Lundy, a resident of Braselton, Georgia, surrendered his life to Christ in July of 1987 at the age of 19. He is a member of Lakeland Baptist Church, located in Buford, Georgia, where he teaches discipleship classes and Wednesday night services. David completed biblical studies at the Resthaven Baptist Bible Institute. He makes regular mission trips to Morocco, Peru, Mexico and Burkina Faso, where he has served as a yokefellow, partner and longtime friend to Missionary Keith Shumaker in Burkina Faso.
David travels and speaks in churches and at events to raise interest and funds for the work in Burkina Faso. David has been in the construction industry for the past 23 years and in the owner and founder of D&L Contracting. David uses his business and his personal life to reach his goal of seeing the gospel spread to the world.
Monday, March 05 2012
My first pastor gave me some advice way back in the second or third year of my Christian life that has proven to be some of the best counsel I have ever received. It went like this.
Ninety-five percent of your Christian life is just determination.
We are seekers of the mystical powers of those that work 18 hour days seemingly without tiring and accomplish their mission. When the truth is that most of the time it’s not a mystical power that gets the heavy lifting done, rather it is the bland, unspectacular, anti-climactic hard work driven by a determined individual.
Persistence is why the water wins the battle with the rock. Consistency is the best type of character capital. Diligence produces work that is sound and solid. Reliability makes a man valuable. All these things boil down to determination.
Desire is not enough. Passion is an overused, tired word.
Determination is the collection of all a man’s willpower to finish a task. It is what pushes to the goal on the days where there is no desire, no passion and no mystical power.
Ninety-five percent determination means the determined man will finish what the genius may never start.
Sunday, March 04 2012
Quote of the Day
If you don’t get the business quote of the day from Mission Joint Venture International then you are missing a great business or character quote, in your email at 5:00 a.m. every morning and a Bible verse to get your day started.
Here is what you are missing.
"Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well."
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyways."
“Success happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
"Go to where the puck is going to be, not where it is now."
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas A Edison
"You won't get a second chance to make a first impression."
The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward. Psalm 19:7-11
Here is how you get on quote of the day.
Saturday, March 03 2012
Mike Dye is one of my heroes.
He holds the distinction of being one of the few people I know who was truly prepared for the real estate melt down of the last 5 years.
Mike participated in the 2006 career and professional seminar that I held as BCWE, Inc. with 9 other men and finished the course with a trip to Arequipa Peru to visit the Peru Bible College in December of that year. He has kept up with the ministry and been a huge financial supporter of BCWE/MJVI.
Mike challenges me and my ideas as the director which is invaluable to me and for which I am grateful. Send Mike an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael K. Dye – Treasurer:
Mike Dye is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and a graduate from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama in May 1992 with a B.S. in Business Administration with a dual major in Real Estate and Finance. Mike spent the past 20 years in the real estate industry and was initially employed by EBC Holdings Corporation. For a majority of the time he served as Executive Vice President where he directed and managed all facets of development for one of the largest US based executive office suite firms with locations throughout the southeast United States including Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
In 2003, Mike resigned his corporate position and founded Edge City Properties, Inc. Since that time, he has successfully invested and developed more than $50 million in commercial and residential projects. Mike is licensed real estate broker in the State of Georgia. He is a member of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders, Council for Quality Growth and the Atlanta Board of Realtors. In addition, he holds significant continuing education credits in real estate development and investments.
Dye lives in Berkeley Lake, GA with his wife, Tracy and two children, Hunter and Madison. They are active members in Perimeter Church located in Johns Creek. In addition, the Dye family are active participates and contributers to various charities including Samaritans Purse, Compassion International and Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF).
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