Power Under Control

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
-Matthew 5:5

meek power under control

I was recently approached by the National Society of Leadership and Success to do an interview. The interview would later be sent to their over half million members across the country. It was quite an honor to be asked for advice on leadership and success. Praise God! During the interview I was asked for advice on leadership, collaboration, and passion. And at the end of the interview I was asked if I had any last, one piece of advice for the leaders of tomorrow. I talked about Matthew 5:5:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Members in this society get advice from leaders such as Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard; Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com; and Rudolph W. Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City. Speaking amongst leaders with such depth of experience, it was my estimation that the only way I could pass muster was to turn to the Bible. This was my closing one piece of advice to the leaders of tomorrow:

As members of this society, you all are getting more powerful all the time. You are learning and applying advice from some of the most successful leaders in world. The only thing left to do is stay under control. If you stay under control you will get it all. That is my version of Matthew 5:5; blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Meek is a word that is often misunderstood. Meek is power under control. The word picture to think about here is a snorting war horse, but with a bit in its mouth. Extremely powerful and under control. Unbridled power will not end well. Stay under control and you will get it all.

In closing, let us think about this word picture a bit more and where it comes from. First its origin. Our english meek is the closest we have to the original in the greek. Praus, in Greek was used to describe a war horse that had learned to obey immediately and absolutely, amidst the great chaos of battle.

A snorting stallion prepped for war. Imagine with me one state: trampling underfoot. Charging and crushing the enemy. Another state: trotting right past another friendly. Imagine seeing the war horse pass before battle on friendly lines. Being close enough to reach out and touch it. Feeling the earth tremble under the force of its hooves. The respect given the animal. One would understand the power of the beast. Thank God for the bit controlling it moment by moment. For unbridled it would wreck havoc. At a moments notice the order can change and the stallion obeys. God be our bit, let Your spirit lead us and show us what to do. May we listen, hear and obey.

 -A takeaway from an internrocket.com press interview

-A takeaway from a study in Matthew 5:5

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

God willing

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
-King Solomon

God willing

James is a most useful book for Christians who want to learn how to act. In it James writes to newly Jewish-Christians and explains just that; as followers of Christ, how are we to live. There are many practical things in this letter. As a business person here is one that I have come to believe is important to practice.

In business there are plans. Plans to do this and to do that. When we speak about the future as Christians I think we need to understand the power of our words. As a quick side note please consider reading James chapter 3 for a better understanding on how our words can change the course of our whole life. Back to it then. In business we are called to speak of the future, to lead a team to a better place in time. James shows us how we are to do this in James 4:13-15:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

It is my estimation, that as Christians we are called to uphold God’s reputation. Here James also tells us not to boast in the future but humble ourselves and to submit it to God. Admit that it is subject to God’s will. This I have come to believe is a way to uphold God’s reputation. Here is an example of what I am trying at:

Whenever we talk about the future may we honor God. Let this remind ourselves that God is in control. Let this proclaim our belief that our future rest in God’s hands that others would know that we belong to God. The Creator of all.

 

-A takeaway from a study in James 4:13-15

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs 27:1

-A takeaway from a study in Jeremiah 9:24

-A takeaway from a study in 2 Corinthians 10:17

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Codex for Entreprenuership

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
-King Solomon

entrepreneurship codex from Proverbs 24:27

Before anyone talked about nailing it then scaling it. Before Mr. Collins’ bullets and cannon balls. Before Mr. Blank had an epiphany and started developing customers and before Mr. Reis coined the phrase lean startup that now dominates high growth venture philosophy; King Solomon laid down the codex to entrepreneurship in Proverbs 24:27:

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

All these books are fantastic. And as I read through them I could not help but thinking how lucky I was for the opportunity. They had so much truth in them. This is why I was not surprised to see this verse in proverbs backing up the core principle of these great thoughts on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is setting out against the uncertain. Gaining understanding is the first step. Is this problem worth solving? Do people really have it? Do they care enough about it to switch and pay to solve it? Does this solution we have solve it in a meaningful way? Can we produce this solution? Can we produce it again? And again? Now that we are past the basic stuff, what is the riskiest assumption we are making? Lets try to turn that uncertainty into certainty too. Oh and do not forget we need to do this in a way that turns uncertainty into certainty with the least amount of resources possible. And this brings us to our first principle from Proverbs 24:27:

Prepare thy work without,

Why? Why not just throw a lot of with at it, a lot of resources? Let us think about it this way. If entrepreneurship is setting out against the uncertain let us equate this to driving a car in the fog. The obvious thing to do here is to not go faster than you can stop before what you see comes to pass. It makes sense, right? Jumping in the Mustang and throwing some rocket fuel in the tank to see if she can take it and what she can do will not help things. Entrepreneurship is the same way; a lot of money; a lot of resources expended too early can lead to some costly mistakes. Costly meaning of course too costly, that is; otherwise avoidable. These core assumptions previously mentioned (all the questions above that need to be answered before we speed up), most of them can be answered without actually starting a business. Prepare thine work without.

But how do we turn all this uncertainty into certainty without starting a business? How will we know if the widget will fix the problem and if we can build it at a price that allows us to build more and so on and so on, without actually building the widget and trying selling it? This leads us to our second principle:

and make it fit for thyself in the field;

Mr. Blank is famous for the saying “get out of the building.” And this is a fantastic example of how an entrepreneur needs to shift from planning (identify those core questions) to interacting with customers. The idea is simple. Figure out the next riskiest question, that is; we think this is true but if this came back false this plan will not work, then go and interact with customers in a way that allows you to learn from them if it is in fact true or false. Search lean startup, minimum viable product, or best yet at this stage minimum viable experiment to learn more about exactly how to do this. The idea here again is simple:

  1. create a plan
  2. identify its riskiest assumption
  3. go test that assumption, with the least amount of resources possible
    1. if true, back to step two with next riskiest assumption
    2. if false, back to step one and create a new plan

Build, measure, learn, rinse, repeat until you have everything tested, as Mr. Ries would say, until you have a product-market fit, as Mr. Blank would say, until it fits in the field, as King Solomon would say. Then what? On to the next principle:

and afterwards build thine house.

Only after you have followed this codex for entrepreneurship should you spend the resources to build the business, the product, the service. This is where so many entrepreneurs think it all starts and that is scary. We can not forget all the hard work with next to nothing; no investors, no partnerships, no customers, why perhaps no one else at all for the first stent. Entrepreneurs often have to prove out a lot of these assumptions before they can even attract their first team member. Until then you are just another person with an idea, which is great mind you. And we can not forget all the prepare our work without and the making it fit for ourselves in the field and just run out and ask for money, I do not think this is good for anyone.

I am of the belief that entrepreneurship has wonderful potential when it is done the right way. I am also of the believe that God is the creator and created us in His image that we might go on creating. We are always creating. Entrepreneurs are always creating. They receive an idea and start out creating. God willing; creating wonderful products that make our lives better, creating wonderful services that make our lives better, creating wonderful jobs that make our lives better and on and on. Praise God for giving us the codex to reduce our risk in creating new things for our fellow!

 

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs

-A takeaway from The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

-A takeaway from Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank

-A takeaway from Running Lean by Ash Maurya

-A takeaway from Great By Choice by Jim Collins

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Praise God

As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
-Proverbs 27:21

Tested by fire

A fining pot for silver. A crucible or melting pot to refine silver. To make it pure. A furnace for gold. To burn away the impurities. Gold and silver are tested by fire. Their impurities raised to the top, separated by fire. Proverbs 27:21 tells us that man is also tested, but by praise. Interesting.

Praise God! This is go to saying for me. Deployed, God willing, when I am tested by praise. I have come to believe that I am here to glorify God and this is one way to do it. When someone says, “You are awesome, the way you did that thing was amazing.” I believe it best to say something of the sort, “Thank you, praise God!” I have noticed some people looking a little puzzled with this response from time to time. Some get a look on their face like to say “….anyways”. This of course is all part of it, being different. Having a way that others do not know or understand and sticking to it all the same. The way I mean here is that praise and glory belong to God not to me and any good attributed to me is for me to pass on to God. To uphold His reputation.

Try it out next time someone praises you; “Thanks, praise God!” or another option is to quote this truth:

But by the grace of God I am what I am: – 1 Corinthians 15:10a

I think you will enjoy it. After all, God is good and He is worthy of all praise, His faithful love endureth forever!

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. -Psalm 106:1

This brings me to another what I believe to be interesting idea, perhaps worth consideration. It rather starts off a question; what does that mean anyway, God is worthy of all praise? Throughout the bible we hear it. Praise God for He is worthy and so on. The other day I was talking with a rather well read, well learned economist about the unfortunate debasement of our currency and it came to me, how we worship it. How we worship money. And. How it can not stand it. I think it so because it is not worthy of our praise. It can not stand it, it falls, it fails admits the praise and worship. It is not up to the test. Interesting.

 

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs

-A takeaway from an internrocket.com meeting

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Love and Business: Protection

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserveres.
-1 Corinthians 13:7

Love and Business: Protection

What role does love play in business? One part often overlooked is the beginning of verse 7. “it always protects,” Sound counsel for those of us wishing to lead. A wise business man once taught me a lesson in the importance of intangibles in business. Protection, one of them, I learned is very important.

Have you ever asked for something you thought quite reasonable at an establishment only to have an employee say something of the sort “There is nothing I can do for you.”? I’ve asked this question of several people and most everyone has agreed that, yes they have. It may vary a bit, “that is the policy” or “the rules keep me from whatever” but all the same, it is there. And I have come to believe that the root of the issue is a lack of protection. I think, if I am not mistaken, it illuminates a lack of leadership. Leaders of course are called to love. And as we have learned; love protects.

When we hear these responses, and often see the frustration on even their faces, I have come to believe what they are really saying is “I am not protected.” They go on, “you see we have these rules, and if I step outside them, I am not protected. So, therefore, I can not so and so to help you.”

People want protection and they will fabricate it when it is not provided them. What other forms of protection have our teammates created to rely on when we do not protect them? Collecting a string of emails perhaps, when what was really needed was a hard conversation with a client. Or holding back their experiences, when what was really needed was the truth in a meeting. Do your teammates feel protected? If not, what is it costing everyone you are leading?

A quick stop on leadership. Leaders who have authority are, I think, more effective leaders. Still, I do not believe that one needs authority to lead. Is there a lack of protection on your team? Step in and provide it. Lead. A rather animal example but a good one I hope is afforded us from the wolf pack. There is no committee. No vote is taken up to determine the alpha. The alpha is, or perhaps became the alpha, unless I am mistaken, because when danger arose, they went and dealt with it. They provided protection.

But what of the rules, the policies? How will we get on? Policies and rules seem to me to be put in place when there is a lack of trust. When a leader can not trust a team member they place their trust in a set of rules. Let’s think about what this is costing us. I once heard the founder of redbox talk about having this very experience in a Blockbuster long before the idea for redbox ever crossed his mind. “I am sorry but I am not authorized to help you”. At that moment, a spark lit, he thought to himself ‘there has to be a better way’. Interesting. That seemed to cost them the lot.

Trust enables. It empowers. Rules and policies of the variety we are talking seem to do the opposite. They seem to create robot employees that leave our customers frustrated as though they were dealing with a sort of automated phone tree that does not work. By the way the very next part of verse 7: “[love] always trusts”, interesting.

What policies have you lobbied, even put in place? Do you think this is the best way to protect your teammates or could it be that it is your way of protecting yourself? Is it really working, or is it costing you? Verse 5 “it is not self-seeking”, interesting.

Does your business, does your team, need a big dose of love, of protection?

 

-A takeaway from an internrocket.com meeting with Arnold Lovin

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

The Law of Authenticity

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.

-Anne Marie Lindbergh

The Roman sculpture of Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus

Sincerely. At the bottom of a note. “Trust me” we say. The note, not calculated, arrives bonafide. I am being authentic. I am not hiding anything. I am not playing politics. The word derived from the latin sin: without, cera: wax, comes to our sincerely. Without wax. As it were sculptors in ancient Greece who had something to hide, and were not above it, used wax to deceive. The wax used to fill in imperfections would of course eventually melt away. Sculptors then became expected to deliver to the buyer a note stating the product was indeed without wax.

What wax we use to cover and fill in what we wish were this or that in us? Always afraid of the wax melting away to reveal the truth. What an uncertain exhausting way. Complexes abound. Hindering relationships and progress. Search deep for wax and be without. Everyone has things they would prefer be filled in or unnoticed. That very desire is however what should concern. We are who we have been created to be.  Imperfectly beautiful. Live without wax and go in peace.

The Law of Authenticity:

The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself

-A takeaway from The Go Giver by Mann and Burg

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

The Law of Influence

And they that know your name will put their trust in you: for you, LORD, have not forsaken them that seek you.

-King David

Incoming Train
I stand at uptown station the other day giving a tour of our beautiful town of Normal, IL.  Highlighting our newly installed high speed rail we imagine the possibilities. What value could come along the rail. Anticipation exists mainly because we can not experience at the present. The town has yet to see it’s first high speed rail car.  Still the high speed rail installed lie trustworthy – waiting to accept the high speed cars. One thing before the next or first things first as it were. Trust proceeds value.

The rail a medium of exchange for value. Trust is the foundation upon which the medium is built. The more trustworthy the more value can be exchanged.

Let us pretend each of our relationships a rail. How trustworthy the rail? The more trust present, the more the other presents their needs and desires uninhibited. The more we know others desires the more opportunity to serve. The more we serve the more influence we have to improve the world we share.

Trust. Who better to trust than one who wishes you well over self? For both to gain is an admirable interest.  For them to gain at your loss and in their will presents grounds for trust indeed. Trust comes from interests. ‘Having your best interests at heart’ is a term we use. One who acts in your interest never mind theirs is one we trust. Put others first consistently over time and trust will follow. Trust with it brings opportunities to serve and influence.

The Law of Influence:

Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.

-A takeaway from The Go Giver by Mann and Burg

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.