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Strengths Testing

28 Oct

Over the years in ministry I’ve been introduced to a few tests that helped to reveal my strengths, as well determine how our team can work best together. Two of my favorite are Strengths Finder 2.0, and Your Unique Design.

Strengths Finder 2.0: helps people uncover their talents through an assessment of 34 themes. It produces a person report to help you thrive and work the way you are wired.

Your Unique Design: you will receive a Personal Profile Report that will explain the core strengths of your personality, your talents and abilities in detail. You will discover:

  • How you have been wired by God
  • How you go about doing things
  • The lens through which you view life
  • What makes you come alive!

These test have helped confirm what I was already thinking my strengths were, in most cases…in a more eloquent way 🙂 Check out my personal profiles if you are interested in taking the assessments. They are worth the money, at least to me they have been.

Strengths Finder 2.0

Your Unique Design

Why are we doing this?

21 Oct

Great questions to ask yourself as you consider new endeavors and opportunities or reevaluate current ones. (source: From Jason Fried @ 37channels) This is also one of those things i have printed out and in front of me daily…

These are questions we ask each other before, during, and sometimes after we work on something. That something can be as small as a couple-hour project or as big as something that takes a few weeks or more. Either way, it’s important to ask questions like this in order to make sure you’re doing work that matters.

Why are we doing this?

Ever find yourself working on something but you don’t know why? Someone just told you to do this or that? It’s pretty common I think. It’s important to ask yourself (and others) why you’re working on this. What is this for? Who benefits? What’s the motivation behind it? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better understand the work itself.

What problem are we solving?

What’s the problem? Are customers confused? Are we confused? Is something not clear enough? Was something not possible before? What problem are we solving here? Sometimes when you ask yourself this question you’ll find that you’re solving an imaginary problem. That’s when it’s time to stop and reevaluate what the hell you’re doing.

Is this actually useful?

Are we making something useful or are we just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Sometimes it’s fine to play a bit and build something that’s cool, but it’s worth asking yourself if it’s useful too. Cool wears off, useful never does.

Are we adding value?

Adding something is easy, adding value is harder. Is this thing I’m working on actually making the product more valuable for people? Can they get more out of it than they did before? There’s a fine line between adding value and subtracting value. Sometimes adding is subtracting. Too much catsup can ruin the fries. Value is about balance.

Will this change behavior?

Developers have a tendency to add stats to a screen just because they can. Counts, totals, sums, averages. Numbers can look cool, but do they change behavior? Does it matter if someone knows there are 38 of these instead of 42? Does it matter that someone knows it took 0.08 seconds instead of 0.02? Sometimes it might, but it’s important to constantly ask yourself: Will knowing this information change someone’s behavior? Can they do something useful with this information? Will they make a better decision because of this information? If not, pull it out of the interface. Data without purpose is noise.

Is there an easier way?

There are lots of ways to do things, but for simplicity’s sake let’s say there are two primary ways: The easier way and the harder way. The easier way takes 1 unit of time. The harder way takes 10 units of time. Whenever you’re working on the harder way you should ask yourself is there an easier way? You’ll often find that the easier way is more than good enough for now. Most people’s problems are pretty simple — we just imagine they are hard.

What’s the opportunity cost?

What can’t we do because we’re doing this? This is especially important for smaller companies that are more resource constrained. Limited time makes prioritization more important. If we work on feature A can we still do Feature B and C before April? If not, would we rather have B and C instead of A? Is A really worth the opportunity cost? Ask this all the time.

This one should come up all the time. Is what we’re doing really worth it? Is this meeting worth pulling 6 people off their work for an hour? Is it worth pulling an all-nighter tonight or could we just finish it up tomorrow? Is it worth getting all stressed out over a press release from a competitor? Is it really worth spending $1000/week on Google Adwords? Is it really worth…?

The questions listed above are just some of the questions we’re asking ourselves all the time. At the end of the day it’s all about making the right decisions about the right things at the right time. These questions help us get there.”

Doers or Great Leaders…

14 Oct

The 80/20 Principal…great thoughts to keep in mind as your are leading a team or volunteers…not mine, but still great 🙂

In an organization with 100 people:

  • 20 people are doers.
  • With a leader.
  • 80 are hanging around watching, experimenting, consuming, or complaining.
  • When the 20 expand to 40, chances are there’s 200 now in the organization (or will be).
  • The 20 tend to get frustrated with the 80 for not doing anything and at times will tell them. (They should avoid that.)
  • The 80 will ride the coattails of the 20 and feel like they did it and even take credit for it.
  • This sometimes frustrates the 20. They should not be frustrated. They should just do.
  • Great leaders pour vision into the 20 while casting the net out to the 100.
  • Frustrated leaders spend a lot of time trying to get the 80 be part of the 20.
  • Of the 80, some will become doers as the organization grows.
  • The doers that simply do will some day realize there are people following them.
  • Some of the 80 will become part of the 20 with a simple personal invite.
  • A leader will be turned down 4 times for every yes. This does not bother great leaders. It frustrates others.
  • Frustrated leaders have the opportunity to be great leaders.
  1. When I’m hiring, I’m usually looking for leaders, not doers. I know if I find a great doer, I’ll get a bunch of stuff done. But if I find a great leader, he or she will find and lead many teams of doers and we will see the capacity and strength of the organization multiply.
  2. If I had an organization with 100 staff and 80 of them were hanging around watching, experimenting, consuming or complaining…I would fire the 80, give the 20 raises, and use the rest of the money to invest in growing the organization.

What Can We Learn From The Porcupine?

24 Sep

Have you ever seen a baby porcupine? So Cute…















Well it was the coldest winter ever.  Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person’s good qualities.

The moral of the story is to learn to live with the pricks in your life!

Best “pick two” illustration I’ve seen

19 Jan

I wrote a post on this a little while back, see it here.

I found this the other day and I think it explains itself, enjoy:

A Volunteer’s Plea

16 Dec

A Volunteer’s Plea

1. Tell me clearly what you expect of me

2. Give me the opportunity and resources to preform.

3. Let me know how I am doing.

4. Provide me with guidance, support, and training when I need it.

5. Acknowledge and praise my service accordingly.

Creating Your Own Frustrations?

16 Dec

Creating Your Own Frustrations?

Leaders, Are you the source to some of your own frustrations toward your volunteers?

While on church staff, there were times I was leading 3 or 4 different volunteer teams. Now, we know there is nothing better than a responsible, dedicated volunteer, Thank God for them. The kind of volunteer you trust to be there on time, who feels ownership over their area, and they do it well. One you don’t have to come behind, constantly adjusting and fixing things, not like the one you have to practically stalk to get an answer from during the week, or the one who constantly “calls in” the morning of…

I know lots of leaders who are frustrated with their volunteers for various reasons, 8 out of 10 times it is due to sloppy leadership. I got tons of examples that I will share throughout this series but here is one most leaders can identify with in some way. What is that one thing you always have to double-check or fix on/after Sunday because a volunteer did it incorrectly?


At church we rented the buildings we used on Sunday, which meant we setup all of our signs, tables, stage, ect… on Sunday morning. I had one volunteer team whose purpose was to setup signs, tables, offering baskets, and curtains. Almost every week, on my “patrol” walk I would notice one specific sign out of place, and move it to where it “should” be. Not a big deal, but when you do it every week… I started to notice myself getting frustrated.

What are my options here? Continue to move it every week and think about what a sloppy volunteer I have, they can’t even put the sign in the right spot. Until finally you break and let all your frustrations out on them, all of which they had no idea about, or just hold it all in and remain annoyed.

Maybe your issue isn’t signs, maybe it’s the way offering is counted, the way the coffee is made, or the way kids are being checked in. As long as you are there to fix it…no problem right?. So what happens when you aren’t there? You need to create a system that is independent of you, we will talk about this more in another section, but who is YOUR backup?

OR Talk to your volunteer…ask questions. Depending on who trained them, something could have gotten lost in translation. Is there a reason why they put the sign there every week, or why they count offering a certain way? You never know, they may have a good reason why it goes better somewhere else, after all they see it EVERY week. In most cases, they just didn’t know.

Here is where you help them gain a sense of ownership…by explaining to them why, in my case, the sign goes there. They don’t know that you spent hours walking the halls, strategically thinking through where each sign should go. What I didn’t mention before is if our sign is placed correctly it catches people exiting 2 different doors. Where my volunteer was putting it, it was only visible to the people exiting one door. By explaining that, showing them what it looks like as a guest, who doesn’t know where to go, they were able to understand why and remember because they have experienced it.

My point is…can you save yourself a headache, and an extra thing to do on Sunday, or a frustration just by simply having a conversation with a volunteer? No only are you not annoyed, but they now fell more connected to their role.  If you continue to fix it yourself because that is easier than saying something…You create your own reality.

These are just my takes on volunteers and leading teams. Things that have worked and have not worked for me. Love you hear your feedback and experiences in leading or being a volunteer.