“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.
We have many patients come in for taping, to prevent an injury in sport. One particular patient has injured himself over 20 times in the same spot. So the other day perhaps i saw it as my professional duty to sit down with him and ask him… maybe it’s time we planned for this problem to recur (because it will) and really be proactive and find out why it’s happening.
This principle is the same in business. Many company’s react to recurring problems by finding a band-aid for every situation. Developing a “system” which only sole purpose is not to move the company closer to it’s mission but to prevent a particular problem from recurring. Of course this has to be done there must be systems! But failure and difficult times will happen, they are inevitable, and to think we can prevent any from occurring leads a company down the road of proactive to reactive.
So this week has been ridiculous for our company. We’ve had one managing partner break his leg, 2 key people away on holiday’s, and subsequently 3 deaths in families. My COO called me at 730pm and had to re-emphasise this was not a joke… We supported our people in any ways we could, even at the detriment of our patients because of course our people always come first - we joked about scheduling these trial periods into our company.
Although painful, the bible uses a concept of pruning to describe it. A tree is pruned so that it can become more fruitful. Likewise company’s are often pruned to prepare it for seasons of growth. Not to say we cut people away (although sometimes this does happen in tough times).
In the early days of our company i would react to these difficult times by putting in place more people to prevent this particular problem from happening again. But as the company i realised that no matter how much foresight i would try to have difficult times will occur irrespective of what measure i’ve put in place.
So we’ve tried this instead. Plan for the downs in business. Knowing we could never band-aid every problem. We began implementing a culture that reacts well to challenges, by educating our team that it is in these times that the integrity of our company is demonstrated. To communicate to them how we support and treat our peers in their times of pain is how we will treat them should they ever need support. To communicate that our business is about people not about temporal fiscal gains or losses.
Secondly a culture that expects crisis, and can evolve and be dynamic is such an event, there aren’t rules just an attitude of “let’s do whatever it takes to learn form this and get through his for the good of the mission. With this overarching culture in place that can react in the event of crisis, it prevent a list of limitless rules or every previous problem that has occurred. Because each crisis is unique. A culture like this is that are scalable, and capable of quick change.
The fact that bad things happen, and that they happen in bunches is a fact of life. The mistake of our company in the early years and many early company’s is to try to create a band-aid for every problem. This is when your company’s moves from mission focused, and progress focused to “survival” mode where keeping the systems becomes the mission in the fear that something “bad” might happen.
“If you prohibit failure you prohibit innovation” – Dan Pallotta
so may we create a company culture that plans for innovation by planning for failure.
Find something worth dying for then live for it – unknown
So a close friend of mine asks me out for a coffee. He is extremely successful and has been challenged lately to step out of his current path and start a company of his own. He told me what was holding him back was the idea that rather then invest all his equity into starting a company he could buy a another million dollar house (yes he has one already) and rent that out supplemented with it’s organic growth and security it appears tempting. If he does this yes he will be in a more secure financial position with blue chip predictable and controllable increases in wealth.
I asked him the question – the problem is not one simply finance because if that were the case then just keep working, you have more than enough. The problem is purpose. Why aren’t you happy right now? Is it a lack of security? If so then obviously buy the house. Is it a lack of purpose? Then perhaps creating your own path might be the right option.
To which he responded… “what pushed you to the edge that you would give up everything to start the company?”
It forced a slight nostalgic moment as I was forced to reflect.
For me it was the moment i realised that I was happier trying and failing to fight for a cause then to live a secure life without a cause worth dying for.
I would rather have tried to start the company and failed, then to never start it which in my mind was failing from the beginning.
i’ve heard said:
“Faith begins at the end of your comfort zone”
As Christians we are called to have faith and he will be faithful. This means we believe God challenges people to step outside of their capabilities (comfort zone) and into his sufficiency (faith zone). The first of these steps is acknowledging you shouldn’t be in control of your life and you can’t solve this “sin” problem. So you step into faith that Jesus died 2000 years ago, and that death was for you personally.
Life subsequent to this step is continual steps as we become better (more like Jesus). We are challenged every day to step beyond our abilities and into his sufficiency. It might be in setting aside some time, it might be in giving to help some people, it might be leave your career to raise a child, it might be to do something unexpected like invest all your life’s savings into starting a company. It’s different for every person.
But one fact is clear, Christian or not – great stories always begin with someone stepping outside of their comfort zone to pursue something worth dying for.
This is how we change the world – one step outside our comfort zone at a time
“ Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better. ”
— André Gide
So the other day i was sitting in the what can be described as the shell of the fit out for our fourth health/ medical centre opening in a few days. I turn to this staff member who happens to have been with me pretty much through the whole journey and i ask… isn’t it crazy that we’re here? To this she responds… I can’t deny the involvement of something divine in the miracle that is this company’s story.
It triggered some thought. No true artist would clim full credit for his work, it is a collaboration of inspiration from “God” if you believe in that or from some other source beyond the artist.
In the same way no true successful individual be it in business, career, ministry if they are truly honest can say that are where they are or have achieved what they have achieved without some form of divine involvement or “luck” depending on your worldview.
This is what intrigues me about the Christian worldview. We hold to the idea that an omniscient and omnipotent deity can do anything but chooses to involve lesser beings in accomplishing his great works. This idea is beyond human understanding, we just can’t accept it because our natural inclination does not allow someone who is more powerful or of more status than someone else to involve them in something. But that’s why acts of “servanthood” are so appealing at the same time… when we see a king kneel down and eat with a poor man, when we see the wealthy give to the poor, philanthropy is more popular than ever. The bible calls it “grace” that transcendant God would even work with lesser humans.
I propose that perhaps what we all seek whether or not we are aware is this kind of God. Because deep down those moments of “grace” we see in philanthropists today really reflect a God who did and does the same thing. A God that doesn’t demand an exchange, an equal return on his investment in lesser beings, but rather a God that realises that lesser beings can never do enough to merit his involvement in their lives. So he stoops down and collaborates with man to do beautiful work, be it “Art” or “business” or “music” or “parenthood” whatever your vocation or life’s work.
For me business and entrepreneurialism has been enjoyable because i realise how incapable i am but that I work with one who is capable. For the Christian leader or businessman it is a collaboration between God and the man… and the less the man does the better.
Just a thought.
So I recently had our company valued, our accountant walked me through the process and ia sked if there was some formula? He stated yes there is BUT a company is simply worth what someone is willing to pay for it. So this year he advised that yes we have a profitable company that has a replicatable model BUT our systems are not well documented and not scalable, thus to add value simply means to make it more appealing for potential hypothetical buyers.
Last night was good friday and i’m sitting there watching an amazing skit from thyme court church conveying the death of Jesus, I’m suddenly reminded of a quote from Pastor Tim Healy -
“That Jesus died is a matter of historical fact, that Jesus died for you… Is a matter of your faith”
In that moment i was reminded that Jesus’ death was not a powerful act because of the injustice that it is or the pain that he endured. What makes the death of Jesus a celebrated event for billions in the world, and countless people over the past two thousand years is the very fact that God was willing to purchase you individually at the highest price. Jesus died to purchase you… not every human but rather he died to purchase each individual sinner from the clutches of death and eternal separation from God.
We are purchased with the highest price. So i ask you where does your worth or value come from? - “what someone is willing to pay”. No matter what you’ve been through, what you’ve done, where you’ve been or who you are. Every single individual person has been purchased with the highest price.
If you ever feel worthless remember what God was willing to pay for you. If you ever doubt God loves you, remember what price he payed for you. If you ever need more faith in trusting that the storm you’re in is for your good then simply remember that he payed the highest price to purchase you, and his one desire is your good.
This is why the Christian celebrates this day, this is why someone’s horrendous death some two thousand years ago still has meaning today for billions of people.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” – Matthew 16:15
Nervous… I sit across the table from two receptionists, a physiotherapist and a podiatrist. This is my first business… This is my first team and at 21 years old this was my first time as a “CEO” to use the term loosely. The year was 2010 and i had just purchased my frist business, it was an old physio/ podiatry centre not performing the best and I leaped at the opportunity (nervously, prayerfully and incredibly tentatively). I thought to myself i will hold a dinner for my new team and woo them into submission. They would be so inspired by my charisma and entrepreneurial flare that they wouldn’t be able to wait to follow me into success. This was sadly not the case. We ordered mains and i began to speak, inspiration and motivation are my forte! After a lackluster 5 minute speech that wouldn’t motivated a child in a candy shop i left feeling confused. “Why weren’t they impressed by me? Why didn’t they want to follow me?”
The answer was clear – Who was I to them? A friend? certainly not, a Leader? well legally i was, a leader by position. This was my first lesson of leadership… Leadership is a relationship not a position. People don’t follow titles, they follow people. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
Sad to say that only one of that starting team are still with me, it was a arduous journey into leadership for the 21 year old Ben. But the most humbling experience I could ever have. Leadership is a mutual conquest, the follower receives as much as they will from the leader as they will allow, the follower receives purpose and direction, the good leader loves, listens and leads in the best interests of those who follow. Do your followers say you are a leader?
The life and relationship between man and God is somewhat similar. In Matthew, Jesus asks his disciple Peter a seemingly irrelevant question. Who do other people say that I am? Then who do you say that I am? – Other people saw Jesus as a politician, a great leader, prophet but Peter knew. Jesus was God and messiah (saviour). In other words Jesus to peter was omniscient, omnipotent and able to do anything.
You receive from a relationship as much as you will allow. God will be what he is to you. If God is a distant deity then that is what you will receive… a God who is absent. If God is not existent, then that is what you will receive, a life with you at the head – the worlds problems and your future are fully dependent on your abilities to achieve them. If God is cruel and demanding… then that is what you wil receive… a God who demands form you far more than you can achieve. But if God is relational, loving, and full of grace… then that is what you will receive… A relationship with a deity, and the provision to do what he wants you to do.
So if your God could ask… Who do you say that I am? Maybe This is how we change the world… relinquish control and realise the problems of world poverty, social injustice, sin are far more rampant and beyond our abilities then we perceive. Perhaps leadership from a deity is the answer? I say he is the answer to the problems we have been looking for.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 4:10-12
Last night Myself our COO and our various managing partners took a DISC profile test – we’ve been attempting to roll out a system that allows us to select appropriate and capable personality types to run a various clinics. The thing i enjoyed most about the test is once you’re done it gives you your results but the description is very positive. No matter what your personality it responds in a positive or neutral descriptors. Highlighting that there is room for every personality type in any organisation. No one is useless.
In the same way it gets me thinking about 1 Peter 4. If we work within the giftings we have “received” then God receives glory for giving it to us.
Our business model last year decided to change our work place to strength focused. What this meant was moving people from jobs they weren’t good at and finding them or creating for them roles that allowed them utilise their strengths.
For the Christian realising that all of use have “received” a certain set of traits. We are designed perfectly for our part in the canvas that God is painting. The story that is God and his pursuit of his creation (man). When you realise you are perfectly designed for his purpose there are three things we can realise:
Firstly – no one is useless
Secondly - that when you work to what you are designed for you are happier, but also you are more efficient doing what you’re mae to do
Thirdly – that when you work within your realm of “received” strengths you function within HIS grace (because you receive it, not achieve it) – therefore God is glorified when you work within your design.
This is how we change the world – work within your received gifts, take your focus on achieving and fix your eyes on receiving and embracing what God has planted into you. Together we paint the canvas of the holy God reaching down to reconcile relationship with sinful man.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail – Benjamin Franklin
I remember writing a blog some years ago about how every journey begins with a step. I find the saying so enlightening because it’s just so obvious that it seems silly to even point it out.
I was sitting with a friend over coffee when she asked if the city was walking distance from this cafe. I glibly responded that anywhere is walking distance if you have the time. It triggered a thought in my mind why don’t many people pursue their dreams? I’ve met with a lot of people with so much potential and sat their listening to their amazing ideas, ideas for social justice, ideas for entrepreneurship, ideas for the church, ideas for their family, and it’s become somewhat of a reflexive response of mine now to simply ask them… so what’s next?
Shocked they normally respond “what do you mean” – I mean where to from here? What are we going to do about your amazing idea?
For many people the journey toward their idea or their dream seems so distant that even imagining that it is possible somewhat overwhelming. Overwhelmed it seems easier simply not to walk. We yearn for control over the possibility of failure. One such example – one of my staff walks into our COO’s office and states that she has to quit. We ask her why? We have monthly reviews and she had voiced no concern. After some conversation she wanted an extra shift but felt we hadn’t given it to her and she shouldn’t bother asking. We gave her an extra shift and she was happy. BUT it astounds me that she would have rather quit then try to get what she felt she wanted. It is a picture of the human condition. We would rather not try then to try and risk failure.
Yes your destination is far away but every journey begins with a step. Step by step, day by day you’ll eventually get to your destination if you just don’t stop walking.
The premise of this series “this is how we change the world” is simply this… Whatever cause you stand for it, be it the church mission, a social justice cause, a business or enterprise, the change doesn’t just happen, it begins with a small step. Built within all of us is the yearning to play a part in making the world a little bit better. As Christians we happen to believe that the ultimate solution to bettering the world is through solving the sin problem by offering reconciliation to God through Jesus.
What is the next step toward your cause? Practically it can simply be scheduling in 10 minutes to pursue your dream every day. International Author John Grisham was a lawyer and hated his Job. He wanted to be a writer and didn’t know how so just started going to work thirty minutes earlier every day to write. He has now sold over 400 million books. But it began with the daily thirty minute step.
Billy Hybels says it like this:
“Most people create their schedules based on what they have to do. BUT great people base their schedules on who they want to become”
what are you doing everyday to become who you want to be? To take you closer to your dream?
Why did God allow me to fail? Immediately when I hear someone ask such a question it brings a few things to mind. Firstly that failure is bad! and Secondly that failure serves no purpose… That failure is just something you get through.
Tonight I thought i’d use some quotes to give us some perspective on failure. I have come to the opinion that failure is in fact good and secondly that failure is in fact necessary.
Failure is Good and Necessary because it produces success – Without failure there cannot be progress, failure produces character, learning and ultimately leads to progress and success. In business and entrepreneurialism i have learnt to enjoy failure, not for the temporal pain but for the future reward. I’ve found by reflecting on it i can learn from it and be better for it.
But despite having many more thoughts i’ve heard some great quotes recently and thought i might just post some on here to tickle our brains, and hopefully encourage anyone going through this process because we absolutely know it is hard, but it is also good and necessary.
“If you prohibit failure you prohibit innovation” – Dan Pallotta
“Failure is not a person it is an event” – Zig Zagler
“We do not fail, we are simply learning to succeed” – Unknown
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” – James 1:2-4
Next time you look at a not-for profit organisation don’t judge it by it’s overhead, judge it by the scale of it’s dreams… – Dan Pallotta
630pm it’s today tonight/ A Current Affair – another story massive outrage at yet another not-for profit organisation for running their company/ institution efficiently. This time it’s Hillsong Church… Didn’t you know that a CEO of a not for profit organisation has to live in the same poverty of those in the world that he helps? He can’t possibly live in a nice house or drive a nice car! Don’t you know money spent on marketing and promotion of their product (the gospel and social justice) is evil and waste of the precious $$$ that we generous individuals are donating for their cause! It’s misleading!
Don’t you know that they have no right to ask you for your money to use to advance their cause and help more people.
Next news article… Some young dynamo entrepreneur is celebrated for being so business savvy and efficient with his/ her business that he/ she is able to convince millions of the mass market to buy his/ her good or service. His/ her house is ogled upon and set as a benchmark to be achieved for young people and his/her brand new car just a trophy to his/her brilliant innovation – well deserved. No doubt this new product has changed our first world lives… he/ she is such a genius.
There is a tension between this somewhat double standard. Now i must reiterate i have been intentionally sarcastic above, but hopefully the gap is evident. I also must reiterate i have nothing against entrepreneurialism and and business (especially since i am running a successful company) BUT there is a tension between what is celebrated in business and rejected in not-for-profits. I have been involved in church boards, the first and one of the strongest not-for profits out there. Seen the double standard result in a community of 500 people cared for by one staff member because two would be a waste of the precious resources that the private sector has given so generously to the not-for-profit.
So just a thought, i am a firm believer in not-for-profits however as a passionate Christ follower i happen to believe that the highest form of social justice is deliverance from sin through Christ. BUT as a consequence of that healthy church’s are called to help deal with the effects of sin that is help our fellow man in any way possible be it drug rehabilitation, feeding the hungry, dealing with human trafficking. I used Hillsong Church as an example because in Australia i have always believed that they have been pioneers for social justice. Their love for people is amazing and yet rather then being celebrated for their innovation and money raised for their causes they are crucified by the media and the ill advised public any time there is a time slot that needs filling in the local media.
Just a thought – what if not-for-profits had the freedom to be innovative, what if they had the freedom to market their causes? What if they could afford to pay their team the best because they wanted the best team? What if they could spend money on HR and PR and developing scalable leadership and organisational systems required to make their dream a reality?
Just a thought – why is it okay for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to fundraise billions to promote their message and when any church leader wants to fundraise to spread the message of Jesus and help the people in his/ her local community he is suddenly deemed a scammer or deceiver? What if there was a level playing field and people were educated about not-for-profits, that their world views and preconceived ideas on not-for-profits were wrong…
As Dan Pallotta paints this could be an exciting future in dealing with real social injustices and making a real difference.
Just a thought