Ikigai

Ikigai

Scripture tells how we are uniquely created and wonderfully made. C.S. Lewis points out that each one of us uniquely offers one particular aspect of the Divine that no one else can. We are told that we are the crown of His creation and were placed here specifically to rule and subdue all that exists. Clearly we are here for a particular reason.

Tide

Tide

We met a couple during our trip to Colorado.  They’ve recently acquired a guest ranch that has been in existence for decades.  The story about how this all happened is too beautiful and extensive for me to try and share in the 500 words of this post, but I might give that a try on another day.

Among all the inspiring things we talked about during the long afternoon we shared, the career path he took to this vocational stint was particularly interesting.  He had been…

Seasons

Seasons

I grew up as a beach rat.  Hanging out at the shore and dunes of a small back bay that was reachable by foot or bike as a young boy and then to a much larger beach and National seashore by car as a teenager.  My time on the shores was largely unfettered and unsupervised.  That led to all kinds of great boyhood stuff early and all kinds of destructive behavior as I aged.

One of the things a coastal community of South Texas didn’t provide for much of was a traditional change of seasons…

Right

Right

The last few organizations I got involved with heard a similar refrain from me…

“I’m not interested in leading or being in charge of anything.”

I am not joining your organization or board. I am not taking an officer position or signing up to chair anything. I mean, I feel like I lead or am in charge in every other arena of my life. Decisions don’t seem to get made and nothing seems to happen unless I am driving it. Can you relate?

That’s a problem right? 

Deepest

Deepest

When the religious were trying to overcomplicate things, even confuse things, Jesus really made it clear. Almost as if he were establishing a hierarchy of things. As if he was telling them that all their rules, prohibitions, laws, judgements, tips and techniques are pretty much worthless if you aren’t first accomplishing these two simple (but not easy) things:

Love God.

Love others.


I think the lack of this…the lack of the reciprocal of this…is all our deepest longing.  When the bible talks about all creation groaning for the coming Kingdom and the restoration of all things, I think this is one of the things we are groaning for most deeply.

Intentional

Intentional

When we surveyed local leaders, one of the things they mentioned struggling with was maintaining a healthy life/work balance.  The demands of their work not only kept them at the office more than they liked, it tended to follow them home as well.

As a result we spend a lot of time studying Jesus’ way of doing things with the leaders with whom we work.  Despite the incredible mission he came to accomplish and contrary to our Western culture sensibility; he lived a slow, steady…

Soul

Soul

Interestingly enough, I am regularly challenged on most of the measures I have taken to quiet things.  Not by the menacing growl of all those beasts fighting for my attention, but by people who regularly partake in them and seem bothered by the fact that I am not.

I recently wrote about the need for soul care in “Attendance” a few months ago.  It turns out that ordering my life with “soul care” as one of the top priorities has been as disruptive to my life as it has been for others.

Disruptive for good, but disruptive nonetheless.

I am privileged to spend my vocational life in very close alignment with my calling, God’s particular intention for my life.  And while calling is…

Critic

Critic

As a man who felt like life had taught him that he would always be alone, examining life is something that I spent a lot of time doing.  But I wasn’t examining my own, I was just being critical of everyone else’s.  Doing life on my own meant that I was constantly surveying the landscape for anything I could find about others’ lives to criticize as a way to momentarily feel better about my own.

Subversive

Subversive

In the award-winning documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, they celebrate the life of a similar subversive.  He took everything you were supposed to do to create a successful children’s show and did the complete opposite.  Low production values, very slow moving pace, poor acting, and no slapstick energy or comedy.

As an ordained Presbyterian minister, he approached the work with a missional fervor that television has likely ever seen or probably even understood.  When the race…

Rule

Rule

It was always intended that we would lead.  Over our families, businesses, organizations, and pretty much everything, according to Moses.  We were all born to lead.  That taking charge, initiating, and trying to negotiate everything going on around us, is actually holy.  Or at least rooted in something holy.

At the heart of every great story is a…

….hero who decides to use their power for good and not evil.

….villain who decides to use their power for evil and not good.

Opposite sides of the same coin.  Both emanating from power, desire, and the interest in having things go their way.  The origin stories…

Suck

Suck

SUCK -

Not good. Bad. 

The early Jazz musicians would say that a guy could really "Blow" if he had a good sound when playing the horn. If he couldn't play very well then they would say that he was "Sucking" on that horn. That's where the term "Suck" as being something bad came from.

If you suck, it generally means you have no skill and/or talent. 

A good friend of mine is reading a book that was foundational to completely re-orienting my faith about 15 years…

Question

Question

If the primary question you are asking has to do with how to have a good retirement, that is going to lead you in one direction.

If the primary question you are asking has to do with how do you make the world a better place, that will likely lead you in another.

Turns out that the questions we are asking others can have a similar defining effect.  One of the things we regularly challenge the leaders…

Bassline

Bassline

I was listening to a podcast recently where they were talking about the bass note being the deepest, truest, most defining thing about who we are.  This is the type of podcast where they are trying to be inclusive of all religions, but the Christian leader of the podcast was clearly talking about the God that I know…

Betting

Betting

Every employer I talk to is frustrated with the state of the current employment base.  Workers seem less committed to long-term employment.  Tenures of their employees seem to be shrinking.  No one is interested in building a long-term career.  Nothing is like it used to be.

Or is it?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not much has really changed on the tenure of the average employee of a salary and wage job in over 50 years…


Prioritize

Prioritize

Most of us are pretty good at the one and pretty poor at the other.  We're super clear on what our priorities should be:

  1. God

  2. Family

  3. Friends

  4. Work

  5. etc.

We got the “noun” part of this thing down. We know how to give the right answer when we are asked about what is most important to us. The “verb” is where things really start to break down.

The reality is determined…

Staged

Staged

Our realtor came with a stager.  She rolled through the house and quickly arrived at a short list of things that would ultimately change our lives.

  • cut the contents of our closets down by half

  • whittle our hundreds of books in our shelves to dozens

  • make the house more welcoming from the street…

Boxes

Boxes

Zeus gives a box to Pandora, the first woman, with one strong stipulation: don’t open it. Like almost anyone, the prohibition on opening the box was actually the catalyst to that occurring.  (At least that is the way it works for me.)  She opens the box and all kinds of evils and miseries were unleashed to affect mankind.

Most of us suffer under the idea that there is stuff in a box or closet that we just need to keep closed. That if we open up to those mysteries, all kinds of misery and evil will be unleashed.  

But my experience has been exactly the opposite.

What is actually lurking in the shadows is opportunity, goodness, and the foundation for so much restoration. It is walking into those closets…

(In)validate

(In)validate

We believe in the idea of calling. We think that we were all uniquely created to offer one aspect of the Divine that no other creature can (as C.S. Lewis talks about).  Abundant life, momentum, productivity, joy, etc. are found at the intersection of your life, God, and what he particularly created you to do.

One of the leaders we work with said recently in an interview:

“Having that kind of clarity gives you a sense of calm, a resolve. You are not anxious about the future or even the past for that moment. You are a little more excited about the present and that everything is so purposeful and is so meaningful.”  

Turns out there is similar data to support the power of organizational purpose and helping employees align their own purposes to that…

Clear

“The right time to make the right decision…is as soon as possible.” 


When I was involved in the securities industry for a couple of decades, bond salesmen used to talk about firing clients. It was always a cause for celebration when you could.  

  • It meant you no longer had to deal with a tedious or challenging client.
  • It clearly meant that you also had enough other business that you could afford to lose the client you were firing.

It was not something you could do while you were building your career. When you were trying to establish your book of business, you pretty much had to accept doing business with whoever would help you pay the bills. It didn’t matter how difficult or challenging the client might be.

Every time we added a new salesperson to the trading floor I managed, the same process would occur. We would help the new hire establish a book by giving them the castaways from our existing sales team. These were the prospects that they hadn’t much luck with, but also the difficult or challenging clients that the team wanted to fire.

We are starting to see some of our clients fire customers as well.

I met with one recently who proudly told me that they had fired a client. It was a very big deal.  Before you think that this doesn’t sound like a very significant thing, you probably need to know that they only have 7 others.  

They were firing 1/8 of their customer base!

So far this year, this client has clarified their values and purpose. They have crafted a transcendent vision and started working on the strategic steps it will take to get them there.  They have elevated leaders and begun to approach their market in a much more strategic way.

They are clear on who they are.

They are clear on where they are going.

They are clear on the kind of clients they are going after.

They are clear on the kind of clients that no longer fit their firm.

They are adding a client to replace the one they are firing. The first of many they will add out of their new confidence, clarity, and desire to grow in their market.

In the investment world, you fired a customer when you could afford to.  Our client fired someone because they couldn’t afford not to. Their client didn’t align with their values, purpose, or fit the overall culture of their business. The revenue wasn’t worth the challenges, frustrations, or the way they treated their employees.

They are making the right decision for the right reasons. 

Consider

  • Are you clear on who the best clients are for you?
  • Are you clear on your values, purpose, future vision, and your overall culture?
  • Are you using these crucial benchmarks to guide your decision making?
  • Are you willing to make even difficult financial decisions based on them?

Restoration

Restoration

Stories about restoration may be my favorite thing. Honoring great leadership is one of the others.  Emma Koehler’s story and the construction of Hotel Emma are about both.  

We all, at times, feel like we are powerless to succeed given the deck of cards that the market has dealt us or our industry.

You know that feeling, right?

And while there is a humility in not taking full credit for our success, it can be a tremendous stumbling block...