Archive for the ‘Blog Roll’ Category

beehive LBK

I share a wonderful passion with my children.  We love to be involved with and watch programs about nature.  You can learn a lot about teamwork from studying nature.  Recently I discovered some fascinating facts about Honey Bees.

On a warm day about half the bees in a hive stay inside beating their wings while the other half go out to gather pollen and nectar.  Because of the beating wings, the temperature inside the hive is about 10 degrees cooler than outside.  The bees rotate duties and the bees that cool the hive one day are honey gatherers the next.

Isn’t it interesting to see the POSITIVE EFFECTS of Teamwork in Nature!?  There are so many examples for us to learn from.  I believe our Creator sends us constant reminders through nature.  There are three I am reminded of for effective teamwork:


1) The team members must care for one another
Without Sacrifice there can be no Success!  Sometimes we are called to sacrifice: time, effort, comfort, or our own desires for the sake of the team.  Uncaring people on a team remind me of two guys in a sinking boat, sitting together at one end doing nothing.  As the people at the other end are bailing furiously, one says, ’Thank God that hole isn’t in our end of the boat.’


2) The team members must communicate
In Hurricane Katrina, hundreds died while those who could have rescued them stood by.  Why? Communication broke down.  We might not die, but poor communication sure cripples a team.


3) ’Your rights’ must take second place
The old ’I’ll do it myself, so it’ll get done right’ attitude, robs others of the opportunity to participate, learn and grow, and leaves the job undone or poorly done.  The team’s success must be of greater value than your own interests.

A widely shared quote from one of my favorite leadership gurus, Stephen Covey certainly describes the success of people working interdependently on a team as well as our friends in the air conditioned beehives.

“Dependent people need others to get what they want.  Independent people can get what they want through their own efforts. Interdependent people COMBINE their OWN efforts with the efforts of OTHERS to ACHIEVE their Greatest SUCCESS.” -Stephen Covey

Written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/airconditionedbeehive

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enemy of unity

Whether you are leading a business, a competitive team or whatever your context for unity might be, your team is a big deal.  Teams lacking in unity rarely gain any sort of momentum, and will either fail or live in the misery of mediocrity.

A couple of years ago Dave Ramsey unpacked what he calls The Five Enemies of Unity on an Entreleadership webcast: 

Poor Communication: If one half of your team doesn’t know what the other half of your team is doing, or only a few know what’s really going on, you have communication issues.  Providing timely information about what is going on throughout your organization allows your entire team to have clarity, accept challenges and celebrate wins together.

Gossip: I like how Ramsey’s team handles gossip: the first time it happens, you get sat down and warned, the second time it happens you are fired.  They have a policy of “handing negatives up, sending positives down.”  This policy has a great ring to it, but effective implementation of that policy requires you to handle the negatives when they come up quickly, and effectively.  Responsive leadership kills gossip every time.

Sanctioned Incompetence: When one team member struggles, the entire team struggles.  When a team leader ignores the obvious shortcomings of a team member they send a message that says performance doesn’t matter.  When performance doesn’t matter, people begin to question why they are working as hard as they do.  Acknowledging, and addressing performance issues (whether through training, reassignment, or termination) ensures your team will function at a high level.

Unresolved Disagreements: Letting issues smolder under the surface will kill your team.  As a leader, you need to kill the elephants in the room whenever they creep up by addressing issues head on.  One uncomfortable conversation can spare your team years of dysfunction.

Lack of Shared Purpose: If your team is not headed the same direction, you really don’t have a team.  Being committed and enthusiastic about your vision, mission, and strategies help keep your team stay on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Where have YOU seen the enemies of unity wreak havoc?

Written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/theenemiesofteamunity

boxing gloves

Many boxing fans can remember the epic fight on February 11, 1990 in Tokyo Japan, between Mike Tyson and James “Buster” Douglas.  Like many, I know right where I was when watching that great fight that night.  Tyson was the unbeaten World Champion.

In the eighth round Tyson knocked Douglas down. Douglas was being given a ten count by the referee, but got back up before he was counted out.  Later in the fight, he went on to knock out “Iron” Mike and became the new heavy weight champion of the world.

From my life experience, I think God sometimes has His own way of giving us a ten count, and at nine if you’re not back up, his grace starts patiently counting over again UNTIL YOU GET BACK UP!

I have often heard success defined as getting up one more time than you have been knocked down. What a great definition?!  Life is difficult…  So, what do you do when life knocks you down?  When a dream is shattered?  A hope is deferred?  A business venture sputters or fails?  

You do what you have always done, get back up one more time!

Written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/feelingdownforthecount

Pike with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a pre...

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a press conference after the march to Selma, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my mind easily goes to the topic of leadership.  On this day we pay tribute to the life and work of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.

In what is often referred to as the “I Have a Dream” speech, there are some profound insights into what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo: In fact, I would say that this is the defining characteristic of real leaders.  They are not indifferent; they are active and unwilling to agree to their status and circumstance.

Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality: This speech came at a critical point in the civil rights movement.  Dr. King did not pull any punches.  He faced the most brutal facts of his current reality.

Great leaders engage the heart: While logic may require the mind, stories and metaphors move the heart.  This is the difference between sharing information and inspiration.  Dr. King was a master of captivating hearts.

Great leaders call people to act with their highest values: It would have been easy for the civil rights movement to change strategy and resort to violence as some did.  However, just like Nelson Mandela when he became president of South Africa, Dr. King called people to a higher ground.

Great leaders refuse to settle: It would have been easy for Dr. King to surrender his principles and to have settled for less than his vision, but he was stubborn in a good way.  He was persistent and called people to persevere.

Great leaders cast vision and hope for a better tomorrow: Leaders can never grow tired of sharing their clear and relevant vision.  They have to help their followers see a vivid picture of hope as Dr. King did so effectively.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is full of lessons in leadership. 

In the spirit of this holiday, take time to sit down with your family and read or watch the entire speech.  You may find it on YouTube.

It will change forever the way you understand Martin Luther King Day.

written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/reflectiononagreatleader

Gratitude

As we just concluded the Thanksgiving holiday season, I wanted to share a quotation from Brennan Manning that has often encouraged me:

“The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness. Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace – as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand. Such recognition is itself the work of grace, and acceptance of the gift is implicitly an acknowledgement of the Giver.” (Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God, p. 24-25)

 May we live our lives in a continual celebration of thanksgiving for the gift of grace, and may our attitudes daily reflect gratitude to the Giver of life.

 Reflect:

What are some of the specific “Thank You’s” you’d like to offer today?

written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/gratitude

We are all interconnected and we have responsibility for each other.

This was the interpretation of the Xhosa word, ubuntu, offered near the start of a short, inspiring interview with photographer Betty Press by NPR a few weeks ago.  Then I ran across this proverb.

An anthropologist proposed a game to African tribe kids. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.  When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats.

When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

Wow.., until I heard the NPR interview and came across this proverb, I had two impressions of ubuntu: (1) I Am Because We Are as the 2008 documentary film narrated, and produced by Madonna; and (2) as the computer operating system based on the Linux open source software.

I now know UBUNTU started long before the software company and that in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”  I just wonder how our society would respond  if our tribes lived as the proverb above suggests?

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy (an all-male charter school) just pulled a THREE-PEAT announcing that ALL of their graduating seniors have been accepted into four-year colleges!

At a time where faith in the traditional educational system is beginning to waiver for many, Urban Prep Academy on Chicago’s south side must be doing something right.   Once again, 100% of its 2012 graduating seniors are heading off to college in the fall.  And by the way, this school is the only all-Black, all-male public prep school in Chicago!

This is the third year in a row that the school has achieved the feat thanks to hard-working teachers, parents and of course…the amazing students.

The school started with students whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school’s incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus.

The young men at this incredible school are reason for hope and celebration as they continue to break barriers and defy the odds!  What an inspiration!?

See Chicago Tribune Letter to the Editor: Success stories

For me to join the masses right now and voice “I am Trayvon Martin” would be presumptuous for an old white guy to say.  I cannot know what it’s like to be under constant surveillance and suspicion just for my skin color.  I have witnessed how some white folks watch black folks with automatic suspicion anticipating violence or stereotypical behaviors.

I’ve also witnessed racial violence, and both personally and historically the worst of it has always been from white folks – from the overt violence of beatings and murders (claiming self-defense) to the institutional discrimination perpetrated by those holding disproportionate power.

We are over forty years removed from the civil rights movement.  We are in a different era, however tragically with similar outcome.  Violence and fear build up on all sides, polarizing and feeding a vicious cycle.

The fact that neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman is still walking free after murdering young, unarmed Trayvon just because he was black is a clear illustration of the persistence of American racism.  This is an outrageous insult especially to African-Americans, but also to anyone who believes in equality and justice.

It has been over 25 days since this incident and I can only hope and pray that after gaining national attention that a thorough investigation is carried out with impartiality and integrity.

“Martin was shot in Sanford, Florida, nearly a month ago after a confrontation in a gated community with a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman maintains he shot Martin in self-defense, and a Florida self-defense law has so far let Zimmerman remain free.  But Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with him when it happened, says Zimmerman was the aggressor.  Before he shot Martin, Zimmerman called 911 and told an operator an unfamiliar African-American was in the neighborhood. The 911 operator told Zimmerman to stop following him.”  – Source: http://www.cbsnews.com

The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  He is even more delighted when we turn inward and destroy ourselves.  Heighten those facts with the victim being a person in leadership with the ability to transform others.  I have become aware of at least three tactics used to destroy the leader within.

The first way to destroy our leadership potential is when we begin to think those we lead exist to serve us.  As a servant leader, we exists to serve those we lead.  As Transformational Leaders, we want to demonstrate extraordinary and passionate servant leadership focused on helping every member of the group succeed.  Being a transformative leader is not about telling people what to do; it’s about exemplifying what we are asking our followers to do.

The second way to destroy our leadership potential is to surround ourselves with weak “yes” people.  If we don’t have someone on our leadership team with authority to correct or challenge us, we can easily become a self-absorbed, authoritative leader.  Our leadership teams must be composed of strong, courageous, gifted, humble leaders who will speak the truth to us.

The third way to destroy our leadership potential is to stop learning and developing as a leader.  As leaders, we are in a role to reproduce who we are in those we lead.   If we don’t like the culture of our company, organization, or school we should not look around at others to blame.  

As the leader, we often have created, through our leadership, what we perceive as a problem.  As we grow and develop as healthy leaders, our influence will go viral throughout the organization we lead.  

The opposite is true as well.  Unhealthy leadership can go viral throughout the organization just as easily.  The title and hook from one of my favorite Ice Cube rap songs is very good counsel for leaders, “You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.”  As transformational leaders, let us replenish ourselves regularly with the same hope, compassion and justice we need to reproduce in those we serve.

For many years as the Christmas holidays are approaching, I have often had the privilege and opportunity to speak with groups of young people involved in a youth outreach or in youth groups.  With the increasing commercialization of Christmas, it is a welcomed occasion to remind and discuss the “reason for the season” as we like to say.

It is a researched fact that the average attention span of teenagers is to be right about 12.5 minutes (for adults it is 15-20 minutes).  With that fact in mind, I have always known it to be important to grab attention, spark curiosity and be as relevant as possible within that short timeframe.

Young people often like to “rep” where they are from geographically in their cities so as I researched where the promised Messiah was born, I learned that Bethlehem was a small village five miles south of Jerusalem.  My friends in Chicago especially appreciate the title I created, “South side Messiah.”  Now that you have read this far, I share a few thoughts about this Messiah.

This miraculous child anointed by God to save human-kind is to establish a throne as the King and the Messiah.  The wise men who were seeking to worship the King went to Jerusalem first thinking it would be the city where the new kingdom would be established.  Think about it… if that were to be the case, the magi would have been the only ones who could have visited and worshiped the newborn King.  The shepherds and the lowly would have been forbidden to enter the gates of the palace and not allowed to see the Son of God.  

It had to be this way because the Good News was being delivered to everybodyeverywhere.  What an incredible moment it must have been!  All of the heavens celebrate to see God’s plan of love and salvation unfolding in this south side village of Bethlehem.   The new born King was not born in a palace, but in a stable; laid not in a crib for royalty, but a manger; dressed not in fine, princely clothing, but in swaddling rags.

The manger illustrates God’s affinity for the poor and the lowly.  The King of Kings was born into a condition that many of our young people and their families identify with today.  A condition of poverty and it could not have been any other way.  This poor and ordinary birth was an indication of the spiritual poverty required within the hearts of Christ followers to come.

It is those who know their own internal poverty who are the closest to God’s heart.  It is the religious, the self-important and puffed up that are most resistant to Christ… most resistant to a “South side Messiah”.  Jesus told us it is the simple, the childlike, and the weak who are closest to the kingdom of God (see Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:15; Luke 9:46-48).

The Messiah came to knock down barriers to God not raise them. The mystery of the King of Kings born in a lowly manger is simple yet profound. Out of a humble manger in the little town of Bethlehem came the greatest love man has ever known.  The Messiah born in that indistinct setting still touches and changes people 2,000 years later.