After Climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me. To look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and i dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended
- Nelson Mandela
People who have truly changed the world. If I were to sit down and compile a list of people who have the greatest positive impact on the world Nelson Mandela would surely be in there.
Sitting in a cafe early morning sipping my coffee and looking out on the open streets of Perth WA. Sun shining and life passing by. I look over and out of the corner of my eye i see a newspaper with a front page headline “Nelson Mandela dies aged 95″. Shocked I steal the newspaper and read. I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach, as if the world I knew had just lost someone who for all intense and purposes was good.
How can this man whom i have never met have such a profound impact on me on the other side of the world? The ripple effects of his endless commitment to great leadership and relentless pursuit of freedom has more than shaped my worldview, it’s provided hope when perspective was challenged, perseverance when strength waned and inspiration when it felt impossible to believe that one person could truly change the world.
My one hope is that at 95 through thick and thin i could look back and know that i had a similar impact on even a few people i would be satisfied knowing God had used me to make the short time i had on this Earth meaningful.
But what is it about Nelson Mandela that has made him an inspiration to millions? What is it about his story that is able to transcend cultural boundaries and inspire in people of every ethnicity, social status and education globally? What is it that has allowed him to tap into something that is common amongst all peoples, something that makes us fundamentally human?
For me deeper than his core values and ideologies, deeper than his charisma, integrity was simply his story. His absolute willingness to identify a problem, and relentlessly pursue the solution. He overcame every social disadvantage and endured the most horrific obstacles imaginable only to stand up and continue to pursue his solution. This is a man that has truly found his “calling”, it won him friends, made him enemies but ultimately created for him a legacy with an impact beyond measure.
Perhaps for the disadvantaged it inspires in you faith… that you can make a difference no matter where you are from – you just need to want it enough. For the advantaged is dictates a challenge… why aren’t we doing more with the head start we have?
For me i have committed my life to great leadership, to serving and loving those around me as best I can by being the best leader possible to those entrusted to my care. So the next 10 blogs i’ll be writing about some leadership lessons that I have learnt and am learning from Nelson Mandela as a tribute to his death and celebration of his life.
14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Just a reminded for me
your faith and actions are linked and cannot be separated. If your faith does not alter how you behave you don’t have faith. Your faith is your values and identity which is the filter by which you behave. This is what the holy spirit does for us. He changes our value system which dictates our behaviour.
This is what it means when the law is written on my heart.
So daily i don’t need a check list, i just need a reminder of who i am in Christ.
God help em start being that person
Time is Money…
Okay i know was only meant to do 32 wise words, but i’ve loved documenting what i’ve been learning, more so from myself so i think we’ll just count up from 32 but keep the series the same.
I’ve heard that slogan said so many times… Time is money… the implication is that Time holds an equal importance as money, because you use time to produce it. This however is completely untrue, time produces money but so much more – to use this saying and use time as synonymous with money implies that they both hold equal value as each other. It would be like saying the oven is the cake… Yes while an oven produces a cake it is not equally valuable as a cake. Time is far more valuable than money and what i’ve learnt is that it is the most valuable resource available to us.
My job these days is basically helping with our company’s new start ups. Up until this point i’ve had the opportunity to help 6 entrepreneurs with their new start ups and the first and more common thing i’v discovered is that entrepreneurs are good entrepreneurs early on because they are doers. They would rather use their time helping the business succeed rather than spend money on things they could do themselves.
Though this attitude is good because i want them to have a good work ethic it’s often important the entrepreneur learns that their time is more valuable than the money they save.
Recently for one of our businesses some chairs were delivered and i walked in on the new partner putting them together. He explained that he’d rather spend 1 hour doing it then allow our receptionist 3 hours doing them, to this i responded – i think your time is worth more than $83 an hour and could be spent doing better things.
One thing i’ve learnt and am still learning – how to value my time, as Entrepreneurs we tend to at the beginning any way give ourselves a very low time valuation, but using your time to think, read, write, learn and lead people is also valuable. Now it’s important to note that in early start ups yes sometimes the best use of time is you doing it, because in stage 1 of start ups it’s about getting things done and getting customers in the door. Stage 2 starts as soon as you employ someone and build steady awareness for your business, at this stage it becomes about getting the most out of your people.
This means as leaders and entrepreneurs we need to start viewing the world in seconds not cents, in hours not dollars and see how we can get the most out of every second tracked by more than just dollars. As Christians we learn this lesson from King David who prayed “teach me Lord to number my days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Psalm 90).
Instead realise time is tracked by many more metrics than profit – it’s tracked by relationships, quality of life, learning, impact, long term impact, social impact, there are so many other factors to consider, lets not say time is money, time is life and life is more than money.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4And let perseverance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing
- James 1:2-4
Well having just finished our 32 wise words i thought it was somewhat justified to end off with a series on biblical wisdom. The book of James has been widely considered a book of wise living for the modern Christian – However i’ve found in personal experience that the applications are definitely relevant regardless of faith.
It strikes me that the book starts with one of the most powerful statements about suffering. If I were an author why would you start your book with a statement about suffering? Essentially most people don’t need (don’t think they need) wisdom or self help in good times, and one thing is certain in life, rich or poor, young or old, if you’ve lived longer then 2 months you’ll go through trials and tribulation.
What does James say about it? he says we should be joyous about it, why? because it tests our faith (remember faith is action) which hence tests your ability to persevere through life and hence therefore shapes you into a well-rounded character. Basically it’s their to make you into the best you that you can be.
At our company it has become something of a tradition that we start off paying our partners terribly, we force them to go to more meetings than necessary, work harder than usual and we don’t even guarantee partnership until a few months into the process. It sounds silly they basically pay the group money to suffer, initially this looks ridiculous. But we understand that the short-term testing of their character is the only way we’ll see their true character and resolve.
I’ve found that talent is over-rated, discipline is under-rated.
We do this so that we can assess their ability to operate beyond the temporary conditions, to see how they treat their team when they are under pressure, to see if they can problem solve, push themselves toward a goal. Obviously this isn’t permanent, but it’s made leaders who expect trials and accept trials as part of leadership and use trials to become better.
At the end of it all James reminds us that trials will happen but when they do it’s all about perspective. Being a human means it will happen, great people utilise the tough times to build their character and become better.
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – The Apostle Paul
Apple is a company that is particularly good at building hype, without necessarily revealing anything concrete. I remember with the launch of the recent iPhone, it was planned, it was intentional, but at the same time foreshadowed without completely revealing the product until the launch. It was the perfect collaboration between secrecy and promotion. People would speculate “leaks” and different phone models but in the end none were entirely correct.
Some people have argued that Jesus’ death on the cross was simply an outcome of unfortunate circumstances. That his disciples saw an opportunity to capitalise on his death to expand their movement. However I would argue like every great leader Jesus knew of his plan, his ultimate “product” – he foreshadowed it throughout the movement, from the beginning he mentions his plan to conquer death, however people although would identify snippets completely understood the magnitude of his ultimate act of leadership.
You must understand that for a powerful leader to lower himself to death for the well-being of his people was completely innovative in a time where the king was so far above his subjects that the idea of simply generousity from those in power was un heard of.
He planned to demonstrate a leadership style guided by sacrifice, he planned that he would die so that those who could not reconcile themselves with God could be reconciled with God.
What does this mean for us today? Love in Leadership is something you plan not something that you are. You must pre-decide to love your team, you must weave it into your values, you must track it with KPI’s, it must be talked about at meetings, it must fit into your strategy. How do we build a culture that functions in the best interests of our mission and hence our people and therefore result in increased profitability?
So in conclusion of our “32 wise words” series” – One thing i’ve learnt and am still learning, love especially in tough times must be planned for, it must be strategised and implemented with intent. What does a leadership that serves it’s mission and people look like? Articulate it in your values and track it intentionally with your KPI’s, because at the end of the day people are your greatest asset, and time your currency. How then do we use our time to develop our people and hence increase our profits?
When we become aware that life will give us more than we can handle and come to grips with this, we find a promise: God is faithful to meet us in the mess and in the pain.
God never said he wouldn’t give us more than we could handle - interesting thought.
When I was going to the gym i remember having a goal, each session my trainer would force me to increase one of two factors – either a slightly heavier weight or an extra rep. Eventually that was easier we would continue to push ourselves.
It’s this slight push that enables you to do more than you could previously. In the same way if God was a poor leader he would keep giving you what you could do and not pushing you beyond what you could handle. Each time he pushes you, you get stronger. This is growth and yes it’s depressing to know the work out doesn’t stop, this is why life is an endurance race, endure the constant push, then one day you’ll discover that you’ve achieved more than you thought you could.
Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity
- Earl Nightingale
So as a follow on from my previous thoughts on Nehemiah chapter 2 is the action which follows the revelation. Nehemiah has just been overwhelmed by a need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and he has just cried out to God. To help him with this burden on his heart and the response comes soon after.
The response is not in a miracle or literal voice but simply an opportunity. Nehemiah appears sombre while at work and his boss (the king) asks him what bothers him… He responds and the King asks him what he would request? He answers shrewdly and is sent to start pursuing his dream.
I’ve had many coffees with friends in “transition” periods. What is this? It’s the period where you aren’t yet doing what you want but you also don’t know what you want… So you’ll travel or go partying as often as possible because apparently life’s solutions are made clearer from an alcohol induced state or when you leave reality and travel to another geographical location.
So often the queries are the same “why isn’t God answering?”.
Following Nehemiah’s prayer to change his world he goes back to work and continues with integrity in his responsibilities – he doesn’t “do nothing” or “travel” to seek clarity on his situation. He does life sensibly… God cannot move a parked car.
Secondly when an opportunity presents itself Nehemiah is prepared… he knows what he wants and how he wants it. He was prepared for the opportunity.
It seems that in today’s society there are 2 road blocks for young adults in making a difference… They don’t know what they want or they do but they don’t know how to get it.
I’ve been able to do some cool stuff with business and ministy not because i’m more talented or even more capable but simply because I knew what I wanted, and i continued in life with intention. Once i knew what i wanted i was prepared to do it so when opportunities came along i could be prepared to take it.
When you want to change the world it is impossible – when you need to change the world nothing is impossible – Paraphrased Pastor Craig Groeschel
Okay i recently returned from the business stream of Hillsong Conference Sydney Australia – to say the least it was incredibly inspiring, upon my return i’ve recently been reading the book of Nehemiah in the bible and finding it quite applicable to our current context.
In this book Nehemiah is an Israelite and the People of Israel are exiled from their homeland living in Babylon, they are desperate, depressed, hopeless and lost. To top this all off Nehemiah; a normal guy working as a cup bearer for the king hears about the fact that the walls of their capital and most holy city Jerusalem have just been destroyed.
Overwhelmed by this news Nehemiah began to mourn and he realised he had to do something about it.
In Today’s context innovators and entrepreneurs are not smarter, more talented, they are normal people. Normal people who see a problem and care enough to do something about it. When i say this it sounds light but in actual fact it’s the hardest thing in the world to care so much about something that you need to do something about it. Most people notice issues and problems, we walk past it every day, moments where we thing hmm that was annoying or that could be better, but we choose ot ignore it and forget about it. We are okay with wanting it fixed but we don’t need to be the ones to do it.
But every human being has to find that cause, that thing even if just for a season that thing that overwhelms you enough that you’ll do whatever it takes to do something about it.
Nehemiah shifts his thinking, he provides us (Christians) with a template by which we can endeavour on seemingly impossible tasks in the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah verse 5-11
- vs 5. – It starts with God – nehmiah reminds himself that there is a power greater then himself, God, not only that but reminds himself that this God we believe in is relational – he listens and is active in our lives – he can do anything and loves us and wants to work out our lives for our good and his glory. As Christians today this is often the hardest step – to believe that God wants to be involved in your issues and he does have your best interests at heart. The Apostle Paul tells us when we struggle with this to look to the cross, that God gave his only son to die the worst death to save you, there is therefore no other good thing he would with hold from you if he’s already given you his best.
- vs. 7-9 – We are nothing – we are sinners and can’t yet do the task we feel we need to do. Every person Christian or not does not start with the tools they need to do the task they have in their mind. If your vision can already be achieved then it’s far too small. An attitude of humility means an attitude of constant learning, for the Christian learning and complete dependence on God.
- vs 10. – To whom do we belong? If we are God’s people then he takes care of his own
- vs 11. God – Success is literal – you will achieve your task before “man” if it is by his “favor” and therefore for his Glory.
So let’s explore what we can learn from Nehemiah a normal guy trying to change his world and see what we can learn today for the Christian trying to change our world
I heard a friend tell me once that what you see if what you get. That made absolutely no sense to me. What I saw does not change what you get, what you get is what you get. However this truth was illustrated to me when i was approached by a a peer at our local church. He asked me for my opinion on this letter he had written up. The letter was to the leadership of our church and was basically a 2 page letter outlining everything that was wrong with our organisation. Now our local church (like every organisation) is far from perfect and i was aware of the problems. His letter was not untrue but it was also unhelpful. My suggestion to him was instead of writing a letter filled with problems, offer problems and solutions and most importantly what he could do to address these problems. I was aware of the same problems but instead of writing a letter i presented the board with a plan of action and i even offered to lead the action plan (which i did) and we moved forward.
It is very easy to sit back and criticise an organisation – anyone can whinge and complain and pick apart any organisation. But something i’ve learnt about great people. The point of difference is not the awareness of the problems, but their perspective on problems.
Great people have a perspective that problems are opportunities in disguise. Every great business was simply a great person who saw a problem, made a plan, and got it done. A vision can simply be reduced down to what the world looks like when the problem you or your organisation face is solved.
Steve Jobs saw a world where computers were not easily usable or accessible to everyone, Richard Branson was dis-satisfied with the level of fun and customer service (in whatever industry) the virgin brand has expanded to. Jesus Christ saw a world of sinful men separated from a Holy God and without hope of reconciliation without some help.
What is your dis-satisfaction? What can you do?
Thomas Edison had the perspective that every time he failed he was simply learning to succeed. He didn’t whinge and complain about every failure, he held the view that every failure was bringing him closer to success.
What is your perspective? and now what can you do?
This one thing i’ve learnt for sure, there are no event, trauma or trial you can face that can’t be perceived in a positive way, and turned around for your good. The Apostle Paul teaches this principle, in Romans 8:28 – All things can work out for the good of those who love God. There is nothing so bad that it can’t work out for eventual good. It’s a bold statement but i honestly can’t think of any examples.
This is not to discount pain, trauma or challenges, it isn’t easy but it can be good. I’ve seen women who were abused rise up and make a difference in the lives of thousands, i’ve seen first hand the death of a loved one bring about more strength and courage in a close friend then i ever thought possible (she is now our COO).
Great people see the world differently, how do you and I see the world?
“In the Past twenty years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the west has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made the emergence of capitalism then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.” – Anonymous Fellow of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences
“The irrational Character of Christian Ascetism creates the ideal type of capitalistic entrepreneur… gets nothing out of his wealth for himself, except the irrational sense of having done his job well; he exists for the sake of his business instead of the reverse.” – Professor Niall Fergusson (Historian and Professor at Harvard Business School)
So the bible defines the beginning Wisdom as the fear of God (Proverbs 9:10), in our theme verse Paul in Ephesians 6:17 – Paul starts his walk toward making the most of your time by beginning with the “Lord’s will”. Is this only relevant for Christians? or is this simply a staple fact about wisdom?
Many will ask what belief in God has to do with business? Has to do with wisdom? Niall Fergusson in his book “Civilisation” whereby he details the keys to the rise of the west (and the possibility of it’s decline) argues that belief in God produces a new type of worker. A worker who points everything beyond himself. He takes risk because his success is not dependent on him, he perseveres through suffering because it is not for him, he works long hours because his mission is not simply narcism, but rather beyond himself. When an individual thinks like this he will be fearless in risk, humble in success (because he has not earned his success), generous with wealth (because it is not his own). Aside from those factors he will also be fulfilled in his life because his joy is not dictated by circumstances, but that no matter what he does or what happens in his life his joy is routed in something beyond himself. He does not work to live, he lives to work because his life is to be a vessel for a deity.
He can whether storms better than any atheist because the solution is found in “faith” – his constant faith that a deity will see him through means he will keep going because hope drives him.
It’s ironic Niall Fergussion calls this “irrational” which in a logical sense it might be, but the question is simply what is your goal in life? If your goal in life is to be perceived as rational then by all means perhaps this might not be your path. If you’d like your grave stone to read “a rational person” then by all means maybe this is not the right path for you.
But i would rather be fearless in risk, perserve through trial, humble in success, generous in wealth, loving in power and joyful in spite of circumstances. I’ve heard the bible described as an instruction manual from the creator of the world, “these principles are how to the world works”, of course it is more than that but it is also that. Perhaps our Creator knew that those he created needed a worldview with a deity to live fully satisfied. Perhaps he knew that if our lives success fell on us at the top the burden would be too much for an imperfect person.
Every successful person and entrepreneur lives for something beyond themselves and beyond the task. Your God might not be the Christian God but that you need a God who is not you we could argue for. Branson believes in the Virgin mission, Jobs the gospel that is apple, Green in the Christian God.
So the only question is: how do you define success? Is it simply attaining your goal or is reaching the goal and still being a loved and respected leader, full of joy. Parenthetically joy is separate from happiness, joy is contentment in spite of circumstances.