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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Are you a leader?

Tony Morgan is the man. His blog outranks mine at Technorati by so much, it ain't even funny. And he flat out kicks my butt on GoogleFight (thanks to Scott Hodge for the link). His blog (and other stuff) is witty, insightful, and fun to read. He even has a cool podcast. The guy has it ALL! Tony... I beggin' you - put me on your blog roll!

Recently, Tony wrote an article for The Church Report. It is written for church leaders, but leaders of any ilk will find it insightful.

In any growing, vibrant organization, the multiplication of leadership involves continuous cultivation of an environment where leadership is welcomed and encouraged to grow. When you've built a church where new leadership is valued and embraced, the impact God can have through your ministry is greater than you could have imagined.

As a leader, you can begin cultivating that environment by doing the following:

Communicate a Big Vision. Remind People Frequently. Then Do it Again.
Particularly with ministry, where leaders are usually volunteering their time, they need to know they're investing in something of significance... something big. One of your primary roles as a leader is to frequently remind people of the mission God has called you to accomplish as a church. Without a compelling vision, you'll never attract high-capacity leaders.

Point to the Destination. Let Others Determine How to Get There.
Your job is vision. You get to set expectations... and even remind people of the values that should shape decisions and actions. When you begin to tell people specifically how to do it, they assume you don't need a leader. Leaders need to own it.

Find People Who Are Smarter Than You... and Give Them the Keys to the Car.
Leaders who don't have a chance to have an influence will take their influence elsewhere. Give people the freedom to succeed. Do everything you can to help them win. Again, you're not letting them drive anywhere they want. You get to identify the destination and help get them back on track if they get lost. You just have to remember that leaders don't want to be passengers... they want the chance to drive.

Think Relationships Before You Think Results.
You must invest your time with other key leaders and potential leaders; and encourage them to do the same. You can’t do it alone. It takes a team of empowered leaders to take ministry to the next level. What are you doing to multiply and release the leadership potential in your church? Are you creating an environment where high-capacity leaders are welcomed and challenged to be all that God created them to be? That may be your biggest challenge as a leader.

10 Easy Ways to Know You'’re Not a Leader
As you'’re considering your influence or evaluating the potential of others, this list will help you identify leadership capacity or, more specifically, where it may be lacking.

  1. You're waiting on a bigger staff and more money to accomplish your vision.
  2. You think you need to be in charge to have influence.
  3. You'’re content.
  4. You tend to foster division instead of generating helpful dialogue.
  5. You think you need to say something to be heard.
  6. You find it easier to blame others for your circumstances than to take responsibility for solutions.
  7. It's been some time since you said, "I messed up."
  8. You're driven by the task instead of the relationships and the vision.
  9. Your dreams are so small, people think they can be achieved.
  10. No one is following you.
Read the entire article HERE.

HT: Monday Morning Insight

Monday, January 30, 2006

Herding Cats

I was thinking about doing a feature on Fridays with funny video clips. I would have shown this later this week, but it is so pickin' funny, I thought I'd let it go a little early. One of the best lines is, "You see the movies... you hear the stories... I'm livin' a dream."

Anyone in leadership knows what this video is all about.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Power of an Aging Brain

It's no accident that history's firebrands and ideologues are young, while its peacemakers, judges and great theologians are more mature.

Until quite recently most researchers believed the human brain followed a fairly predictable developmental arc. It started out protean, gained shape and intellectual muscle as it matured, and reached its peak of power and nimbleness by age 40. After that, the brain began a slow decline, clouding up little by little until, by age 60 or 70, it had lost much of its ability to retain new information and was fumbling with what it had. But that was all right because late-life middle age crankiness had by then made us largely resistant to new ideas anyway.

That, as it turns out, is hooey. More and more, neurologists and psychologists are coming to the conclusion that the brain at midlife-a period increasingly defined as the years from 35 to 65 and even beyond-is a much more elastic, much more supple thing than anyone ever realized.

Far from slowly powering down, the brain as it ages begins bringing new cognitive systems on line and cross-indexing existing ones in ways it never did before. You may not pack so much raw data into memory as you could when you were cramming for college finals, and your short-term memory may not be what it once was, but you manage information and parse meanings that were entirely beyond you when you were younger. What's more, your temperament changes to suit those new skills, growing more comfortable with ambiguity and less susceptible to frustration or irritation. although inflexibility, confusion and even later-life dementia are very real problems, for many people the aging process not only does not batter the brain, it actually makes it better.

Essentially, the brain spends decades upgrading itself from a dial-up Internet to a high-speed version, not fully completing the job until age 45 or so.

(HT Time Magazine via Ethos)

This information is excerpted from Time Magazine Jan. 16, 2006. Written by: Jeffrey Kluger. It is transcribed this from the magazine. The entire edition is called: How To Sharpen Your Mind.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chuck is THE MAN!

As Jerry Seinfeld would say, "I did not know that."

Top Chuck Norris Facts:
  • Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.
  • Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
  • Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
  • The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
  • If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.
  • Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.
  • Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.
  • Chuck Norris' blood type is AK+. A**-Kicking Positive. It is compatible only with heavy construction equipment, tanks, and fighter jets.
  • Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate an Indian.
  • In fine print on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone else has ever gotten.
  • There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.

More Chuck Norris Facts:
  • Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie the heck down.
  • Chuck Norris is ten feet tall, weighs two-tons, breathes fire, and could eat a hammer and take a shotgun blast standing.
  • The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Chuck Norris, not the box jellyfish of northern Australia, is the most venomous creature on earth. Within 3 minutes of being bitten, a human being experiences the following symptoms: fever, blurred vision, beard rash, tightness of the jeans, and the feeling of being repeatedly kicked through a car windshield.
  • Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chuck Norris has 72... and they're all poisonous.
  • If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds 'til." After you ask, "Two seconds 'til what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.
  • Chuck Norris drives an ice cream truck covered in human skulls.
  • When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes, ever.
  • The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris' fist.
  • Chuck Norris invented Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous secret recipe, with eleven herbs and spices. But nobody ever mentions the twelfth ingredient: Fear.
  • CNN was originally created as the "Chuck Norris Network" to update Americans with on-the-spot butt kicking in real-time.
  • Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
  • There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.
  • What was going through the minds of all of Chuck Norris' victims before they died? His shoe.
  • Chuck Norris is the only man to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis.
  • Police label anyone attacking Chuck Norris as a Code 45-11.... a suicide.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't churn butter. He roundhouse kicks the cows and the butter comes straight out.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t wash his clothes, he disembowels them.
  • A Handicapped parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Chuck Norris and that you will be handicapped if you park there.
  • Chuck Norris will attain statehood in 2009. His state flower will be the Magnolia.
  • Someone once videotaped Chuck Norris getting ticked off. It was called Walker: Texas Chain Saw Masacre.
  • If you spell Chuck Norris in Scrabble, you win. Forever.
  • Chuck Norris originally appeared in the "Street Fighter II" video game, but was removed by Beta Testers because every button caused him to do a roundhouse kick. When asked bout this "glitch," Norris replied, "That's no glitch."
  • Fool me once, shame on you. Fool Chuck Norris once and he will mess you up.
  • The opening scene of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" is loosely based on games of dodgeball Chuck Norris played in second grade.
  • Chuck Norris once shot down a German fighter plane with his finger, by yelling, "Bang!"
  • Chuck Norris once bet NASA he could survive re-entry without a spacesuit. On July 19th, 1999, a naked Chuck Norris re-entered the earth's atmosphere, streaking over 14 states and reaching a temperature of 3000 degrees. An embarrassed NASA publically claimed it was a meteor, and still owes him a beer.
  • Chuck Norris has two speeds: Walk and Kill.
  • Someone once tried to tell Chuck Norris that roundhouse kicks aren't the best way to kick someone. This has been recorded by historians as the worst mistake anyone has ever made.
  • Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is based on a true story: Chuck Norris once swallowed a turtle whole, and when he crapped it out, the turtle was six feet tall and had learned karate.
  • Faster than a speeding bullet ... more powerful than a locomotive ... able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... yes, these are some of Chuck Norris's warm-up exercises.
  • Chuck Norris is the only human being to display the Heisenberg uncertainty principle -- you can never know both exactly where and how quickly he will roundhouse-kick you in the face.
  • In the Bible, Jesus turned water into wine. But then Chuck Norris turned that wine into beer.
  • Chuck Norris can hit you so hard that he can actually alter your DNA. Decades from now your descendants will occasionally clutch their heads and yell "What The Heck was That?"
  • Time waits for no man. Unless that man is Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't shower, he only takes blood baths.
  • The Chuck Norris military unit was not used in the game Civilization 4, because a single Chuck Norris could defeat the entire combined nations of the world in one turn.
  • In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Chuck Norris could use to kill you, including the room itself.

HT: Chuck Norris Facts via Jordon Cooper via Shlog

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Really cool commercial

I direct a choir at my church. They are good. They are really good.

These guys are at a whole other level!

HT: Raggamuffin Soul and Just Charlie

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

6 Myths of Creativity


These days, there's hardly a mission statement that doesn't herald it, or a CEO who doesn't laud it. And yet despite all of the attention that business creativity has won over the past few years, maddeningly little is known about day-to-day innovation in the workplace. Where do breakthrough ideas come from? What kind of work environment allows them to flourish? What can leaders do to sustain the stimulants to creativity -- and break through the barriers?

Teresa Amabile has been grappling with those questions for nearly 30 years. Amabile, who heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and is the only tenured professor at a top B-school to devote her entire research program to the study of creativity, is one of the country's foremost explorers of business innovation.

Eight years ago, Amabile took her research to a daring new level. Working with a team of PhDs, graduate students, and managers from various companies, she collected nearly 12,000 daily journal entries from 238 people working on creative projects in seven companies in the consumer products, high-tech, and chemical industries. She didn't tell the study participants that she was focusing on creativity. She simply asked them, in a daily email, about their work and their work environment as they experienced it that day. She then coded the emails for creativity by looking for moments when people struggled with a problem or came up with a new idea.

Amabile and her team are still combing through the results. But this groundbreaking study is already overturning some long-held beliefs about innovation in the workplace. In an interview with Fast Company, she busted six cherished myths about creativity. (If you want to quash creativity in your organization, just continue to embrace them.) Here they are, in her own words.

1. Creativity Comes From Creative Types

When I give talks to managers, I often start by asking, Where in your organization do you most want creativity? Typically, they'll say R&D, marketing, and advertising. When I ask, Where do you not want creativity? someone will inevitably answer, "accounting." That always gets a laugh because of the negative connotations of creative accounting. But there's this common perception among managers that some people are creative, and most aren't. That's just not true. As a leader, you don't want to ghettoize creativity; you want everyone in your organization producing novel and useful ideas, including your financial people.

The fact is, almost all of the research in this field shows that anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work. Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent; an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells. Intrinsic motivation -- people who are turned on by their work often work creatively -- is especially critical. But I believe most people aren't anywhere near to realizing their creative potential, in part because they're laboring in environments that impede intrinsic motivation.

2. Money Is a Creativity Motivator

The experimental research that has been done on creativity suggests that money isn't everything. In the diary study, we asked people, "To what extent were you motivated by rewards today?" Quite often they'd say that the question isn't relevant -- that they don't think about pay on a day-to-day basis. And the handful of people who were spending a lot of time wondering about their bonuses were doing very little creative thinking.

3. Time Pressure Fuels Creativity

In our diary study, people often thought they were most creative when they were working under severe deadline pressure. But the 12,000 aggregate days that we studied showed just the opposite: People were the least creative when they were fighting the clock. In fact, we found a kind of time-pressure hangover -- when people were working under great pressure, their creativity went down not only on that day but the next two days as well. Time pressure stifles creativity because people can't deeply engage with the problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up.

4. Fear Forces Breakthroughs

There's this widespread notion that fear and sadness somehow spur creativity. There's even some psychological literature suggesting that the incidence of depression is higher in creative writers and artists -- the de-pressed geniuses who are incredibly original in their thinking. But we don't see it in the population that we studied.

We coded all 12,000 journal entries for the degree of fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, joy, and love that people were experiencing on a given day. And we found that creativity is positively associated with joy and love and negatively associated with anger, fear, and anxiety. The entries show that people are happiest when they come up with a creative idea, but they're more likely to have a breakthrough if they were happy the day before. There's a kind of virtuous cycle. When people are excited about their work, there's a better chance that they'll make a cognitive association that incubates overnight and shows up as a creative idea the next day. One day's happiness often predicts the next day's creativity.

5. Competition Beats Collaboration

There's a widespread belief, particularly in the finance and high-tech industries, that internal competition fosters innovation. In our surveys, we found that creativity takes a hit when people in a work group compete instead of collaborate. The most creative teams are those that have the confidence to share and debate ideas. But when people compete for recognition, they stop sharing information. And that's destructive because nobody in an organization has all of the information required to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

6. A Streamlined Organization Is a Creative Organization

Maybe it's only the public-relations departments that believe downsizing and restructuring actually foster creativity. Unfortunately, I've seen too many examples of this kind of spin. One of my favorites is a 1994 letter to shareholders from a major U.S. software company: "A downsizing such as this one is always difficult for employees, but out of tough times can come strength, creativity, and teamwork."

Of course, the opposite is true: Creativity suffers greatly during a downsizing. But it's even worse than many of us realized. We studied a 6,000-person division in a global electronics company during the entire course of a 25% downsizing, which took an incredibly agonizing 18 months. Every single one of the stimulants to creativity in the work environment went down significantly. Anticipation of the downsizing was even worse than the downsizing itself -- people's fear of the unknown led them to basically disengage from the work. More troubling was the fact that even five months after the downsizing, creativity was still down significantly.

My 30 years of research and these 12,000 journal entries suggest that when people are doing work that they love and they're allowed to deeply engage in it -- and when the work itself is valued and recognized -- then creativity will flourish. Even in tough times.

Read more HERE.

HT: Fast Company via davidblog.com

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Phos Hilaron

We did a really cool reading in church this morning - the Phos Hilaron. It is one of the oldest known songs of the Church - it is from the 2nd century AD. At site where Jesus was buried and rose again, they built a church, the Church of the Resurrection. In the tomb where Jesus was buried, they kept a lantern burning at all times. When the early Christians gathered to worship, they would take the light out and sing the hymn, "Phos Hilaron," together:

"Hail Gladdening Light of His pure glory poured, Who is the Immortal Father, Heavenly Blest. Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Now we are come to the suns hour of rest, the lights of evening ‘round us shine, we hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Divine. Worthiest art Thou, at all times to be sung with undefiled tongue, Son of our God, giver of life alone. Therefore, in all the world Thy glories Lord, Thine own."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Kiss more in 2006!

So how are your New Year's resolutions coming along? To forestall resolution failure, MSNBC's TIP SHEET asked experts in various fields for simple advice on New Year's resolutions that you might actually keep.

Pucker up.
Once people are in long-term relationships, it's "as if they forget how to make out," says sex and relationship therapist Dr. Laura Berman of Chicago's Berman Center. Her Rx: smooch every day—and hold the kiss for at least 15 seconds.

Take up the tango.
Staying active and learning new skills can help prevent dementia. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that people who ballroom-dance have a lower risk of dementia.

Skip the face-lift.
If you want to look younger, plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Leaf doesn't want to see you. "Most people don't need us." Leaf's message: take the money you would "throw at a surgeon" and for six months to a year hire a trainer, a nutritionist or anyone who can motivate you to eat better, sleep longer and move around more.

Hang up.
"If cell phones could be amputated from people's ears, everything would be nicer," says Cindy Post Senning, codirector of the Emily Post Institute. Limit public cell-phone use to quick conversations.

Change trains.
Hoping to meet Mr. or Ms. Right? Try varying your morning commute. New surroundings equal new opportunities to see and be seen.

Have a latte.
Nutritionist Keith Ayoob, author of "The Uncle Sam Diet," based on the 2005 U.S. dietary guidelines, believes deprivation is a recipe for failure. Instead of simply avoiding your favorite foods, add more calcium and protein to your diet. Aside from the obvious choices of low-fat milk or yogurt, indulge in an afternoon latte, which can provide about 400mg of calcium.

Loaf more.
Bill Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, wants families to hang out together on a Sunday with absolutely nothing planned. "People equate being busy with being worthwhile," he says. Better to spend unstructured time with the kids.

Forgive someone.
A growing body of evidence shows that nursing a grudge can make you sick. Similar to the stress response, harboring negative thoughts about someone restricts blood flow, decreases oxygen consumption and throws your immune and gastrointestinal system out of whack. You may never forget how your ex dumped you, but "you will sleep better, be more energetic and be happier" if you can put it behind you, says Boston psychiatrist Dr. Ned Hallowell. And, oh yeah, don't feel bad if you fail at any of these resolutions. "It's all a process," says Hallowell. "Every day can be Jan. 1."

Read more HERE.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Who do you look like?

Here's a bit of fun I found. You upload your picture at MyHeritage.com, and the MyHeritage Face Recognition tells you what famous people you look like. I uploaded the picture above, and here are my results:

  • Tom Cruise
  • Dennis Quaid
  • Kevin Costner

Not bad. My wife will be impressed!

Unfortunately, it also says I look like:

  • Naomi Watts (I look like a girl?)
  • Will Smith (I'll take that as a complement)
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Definately NOT a compliment)
  • David Beckham (OK, I guess)
  • Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock???)
  • Christina Ricci (Again with the girl thing!)
  • Hugh Grant (Hmmm...)

So what do you think about my matches? And what about you? Who does the software say YOU look like? Run the program and post your matches in the comments.

(HT: Daniel W. Drezner via Dynamist Blog)

Update: I uploaded a picture of Mrs. Two Blonde Boys. Her matches are:

  • Halle Berry (Catwoman!)
  • Lucille Ball (I LOVE Lucy!)
  • Sandra Bullock (aka Mrs. Jesse James)
  • Demi Moore (aka Mrs. Punked)
  • Cameron Diaz (Youve gotta admit... there is something about Mary)
  • Natalie Portman (Does that make me Darth Vader?)
  • Michelle Pfeiffer (The other Catwoman!)
  • Kate Winslet (I'm the king of the world!)
  • Hilary Swank (The Million Dolalr Baby)
  • Betonce Knowles ('nuff said)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

For all my single friends...

Single wallpaper.

This one is "Paul." According to the description, Paul loves watching TV with you. Kojak, Sports and Gone with the Wind… the full variety. Paul - the ideal man for couch-potatoes…

Here's what the manufacturer has to say:

People do not like living on their own. Still, many of them do.

Flatmates might get on your nerves... Lovers too.

They don't bother scattering bread crumbs all over the place, they leave the kitchen in a big mess and always insist on watching boring TV programs.

The single-tapete is the complete opposite: it is always friendly and doesn't smoke, it likes watching "Friends" with you for the 100th time without ever complaining, it doesn't leave dirty socks lying around, it never protests against your ideas, and it always looks fresh and attractive... even when, from time to time, you can't help losing your temper!

Talking to yourself? Well, never again! And if once again someone pities you for the fact that you have been living on your own for many years, you can always say: "Why? I've got someone!"

The single-tapete shows attractive, original-sized individuals, in different situations at home. It’s a photographic wallpaper, which is easily removable and – very practical! – it can always be reused when moving house.

No one ever needs to stare gloomily at empty walls again!

This stuff is genius. I wish I would have had this in college (yes, they have girls, too).

Want to feel like you're not alone when you're at home? No problem. Just put up this wallpaper and - BAM! - you've got friend (albeit a two-dimensional friend who doesn't speak or move.. but hey, they don't eat, either, so that will make the food bills a little lighter).

Manufacturer sb 2designers GbR can even customize a wallpaper from a picture of one of your real friends/boyfriend/girlfriend (although this does seem a little "stalker-ish" - and when you break up, you'd not only have to deal with the relationship not working out, you'd have to remodel, too).

For more info on this fun idea, go HERE.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006



And on the road.

No posts for a couple more days.