day 2519: Short Sellers
“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
When you run a public company there is no group of people you dislike more or who cause you a greater headache than the “short sellers”. These are the people who own your stock but bet against you in hopes that the stock will go down, versus up. The pressure they put on the stock price and the company can be beyond a distraction, they can become a negative obsession of time and energy. We all have detractors that we have to work against and it is in how we deal with these people and forces that shape us and our actions. When they go negative, we must remain realistic and positive in intent and action.
I am convinced that the closer we get to doing God’s work and walking in His purpose and His will, the more we will be challenged with fears, doubts and naysayers around us. It is the other side of good that also works against us, trying to get us to short-sell ourselves. It is God’s promises that can keep us in the positive. To that we can have confidence and assurance.
Reference: Psalm 94:19
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day 2518: Systemic Surprises
“But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment.”
I was humbled to have had a phone conversation with an entrepreneur who told me of the story of how he created his product inside of a larger organization. It was not his original purpose or calling to be doing what he is doing today, but because of his product he has far-flung influence and impact across a wide array of people and organizations. As he was speaking to me he talked about the importance of delivering operational excellence and predictable consistency in a service and product, but we also discussed the downside of that approach in that our customers and consumers can become “bored” or feel like they are in a “rut” because they get the same thing, the same experience, time after time and while they feel comfortable in that delivery, they like all of us, may try something else because they just are looking for a change every now and then. So, this entrepreneur has begun to think about how to deliver “systematic surprises”. These are surprises that keep the offering fresh and exciting, but behind the scenes there is no extra strain on the “system” so that these moments of surprise can be delivered flawlessly and with excellence. This is no small task and one that demands thoughtfulness and deliberation. But, I know this, that with this type of thinking and action, it is a winning strategy.
We are like this as God’s messengers in the workplace. Without our consistency, discipline and predictability we can’t be the witnesses that we are called to be, but we also can’t be boring or come across as stuck in our ways. The beauty of what we are taught (and challenged to do) is that we can deliver systematic surprises each and every day with acts of kindness, generosity, encouragement and the giving of ourselves to others. There are tons of examples but imagine that today you were to leave a handwritten note of encouragement or gratitude on a co-worker’s desk so that it was the first thing they see tomorrow morning? If that thought warms a little something inside of you, then that is the type of systemic surprise that you can be.
Reference: Acts 24:4 (New Living Translation)
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day 2517: Time Out
“In early autumn,when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose.”
I was watching a close football game and with just minutes left the announcer said something to the effect that the coach of the winning team was one of the best strategists of the use of timeouts in the league. I thought it an odd comment until the three timeouts left against the team with none, got the job done and the extra timeouts were what made the difference. In business we tend to miss or misuse the power of the timeout. We might have regularly scheduled townhalls or all-hands or staff meetings, but I don’t recall that often a CEO or business leader calling a “timeout” and gathering everyone together in an unscheduled (and impacting) way. We do need timeouts, if for nothing else every now and then to catch our breath and regroup. It could be that the timeout could become a competitive advantage.
In the book of Ezra we see that the Israelites gathered together in their own timeout. The NLT version above says they came with a unified purpose. My earlier NLT version says, “all the people assembled together as one person”. As one person, unified, together in one place. It is not often that we can experience that kind of moment in our lives. We always have our own agenda as to do others and even though we assemble physically, we are not as “one person”. Yet, we need this type of assembly. I was asked to speak last week at a gathering of believing entrepreneurs and business people. It was special because it felt like we all were taking a timeout together and were of one purpose and one person. I suggest we all try to find a group like this, where we can gather, for just a bit, out of our regular routines, and not only catch our own breath but maybe even catch the breath of the Holy Spirit.
Reference: Ezra 3:1 (New Living Translation)
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day 2516: Disciplined
“Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.”
On Saturday of last week I read a story about the elite marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge and how he trains and keeps himself at the top of the running world. Beyond his physical training his mental training is just as critical and important to him. As I read his story he uses quotes and axioms to keep him strong. This one really struck me: “Only the disciplined ones in life are free.” We could stop right there take inventory of how disciplined we are and probably easily analyze the places in our work (and lives) where we feel trapped or hamstrung, correlating those areas to where we have allowed ourselves or our teams to be less disciplined. But, Kipchoge goes on to add: “If you are undisciplined you are a slave to your moods and your passions.” Yes, we need to be disciplined and if we are not, we risk falling into traps that cause us to lose focus, slow down and potentially wear down and wear out.
Dallas Willard in 1999 wrote a fantastic book; “Spirit of the Disciplines”. In many ways his book takes us to where Kipchoge challenges us to go. It is only in the spirit and disciplines that Jesus gives us that we can experience true freedom. We may feel enslaved today to areas in our work and lives that the discipline we need to draw upon is in surrendering to Him what it is that has us trapped. There is so much that we can’t control, but we can remain disciplined to what He calls us in being a follower.
Note: On Sunday, the next day after reading the article on Eliud Kipchoge, he broke the world Marathon Record at Berlin by nearly 1 minute and 20 seconds! His time…2:01:39! Wow!
Reference: Proverbs 1:2
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day 2515: Up In Smoke
“Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.”
Elon Musk didn’t need to go on Joe Rogan’s video podcast. He certainly didn’t need to partake of Joe’s offering to establish any street cred. But, he did and now he adds another point of scrutiny to his successes or failures. I’ve long been the advocate of it not being what we do, but how we go about it doing it is what is the real legacy of our work. We have been fortunate to live in an age when self-made entrepreneurs have been able to create products and services that will shape our future for ages to come. The same could be true for those who lived in time of Edison, Graham-Bell and Ford, but what is different today is that we gain access and exposure to them directly through social media and the internet. We not only experience what, we see how.
God calls us to bigger purpose behind the work we do. Today might not feel like we are running a race, that would be too kind. It might feel like we are stuck on a treadmill that is speeding up on us and with no way off. Today, let me be encouraging that the work we are given to do on this earthly part of our journey matters. This work is marked by how we go about doing it, which is what sets us apart. It may feel like one project, a particular job or a relationship with a co-worker or partner, comes and goes, feeling like they are going up in smoke, but the impression and impact of how we go about this work can last and even be indelible.
Reference: Philippians 2:16 (New Living Translation)
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