Four Steps To Seeing God In Your Driveway

No, I am not talking about seeing Jesus’ face in the cracks of the concrete or the tracks of the snow blower like the people who see his face in their food.

I saw God in my driveway yesterday, because a man was Jesus to me. A neighbor sacrificed his time and energy for me in snowblowing my driveway out of the kindness of his heart.

God’s love was on display through God’s creation. A free gift was given to me that I did not earn and am not asked to repay…although I plan to buy him a 12 pack.

I could certainly write about being Jesus to those around us and probably will at some point, but for now I think it is best to start at seeing God and helping others see God.

I think there are four basic steps. We need to:

Open Our Eyes To The World Around Us

If you are like me you spend plenty of time looking at a device of some sort. That is fine, but we all need to remember that what you see on there is not hard and fast reality. Too much device time creates an individualistic mindset…it has the potential to create a world view that says to us “this world is curated just for you” and embellishes the importance of what gets us excited/worked up.

We need to break out of that for the good of ourselves and those we love.

We need to see the people all around us. The world is in better shape than Twitter might suggest. Good people made in the image of God are all around you.

Remember That God Created People In God’s Image

Because God made humans in his image
        reflecting God’s very nature.”

Genesis 9:6 – The Message

When we remember this fact we are more likely to appreciate the people around us for what they are vs. what clickbait wants us to see.

Of course, our human resemblance to God’s image is most often the equivalent of a disfigured Picasso impressionist portrait…but God created us and remembering this is crucial.

Enter Each Day Looking For Blessings

Start each day expecting to see God in your fellow humans.

If we expect to see pain, suffering, and evil…we will struggle to see good. Your worldview drives your perceptions. Choose a positive worldview that reflects that God created and you will see the beauty in God’s creations…his people.

Use confirmation bias to your advantage and choose to see good.

Tell Stories

Humans love stories! Tell your family members, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances about the good you see in the world. You will shape their worldview so that they can see God too.

The more we notice good in the world the less we will dwell on the negatives constantly fed to us via our devices/social media.

Train your brain to see good and help those you care about to do the same.

They will thank you for it!

If this resonates with you follow the blog, connect on Facebook, and share this post.

Thanks and God bless!

Week Ender – Personal Strategic Question

A quick thought to help your week end and to provide stimulation for weekend reflection.

Will It Make The Boat Go Faster

Why We All Need Summer Break and Back To School

I find that back to school season is a great time to reflect. Mostly because I can’t think until my kids are back in school. Heading into this particular summer break I felt particularly fried. I was busy all summer, but didn’t feel productive. Maybe you can relate.

When the kids headed back to school I reflected on the summer. I tried to make sense of my lack of measurable output. I barely wrote at all. I kept the balls in the air at work, but didn’t really score many goals.

I truly came to terms with the fact that my progress stalled. I bet you have felt this way a time or two.

I realized I never really took a summer break this year. We took some long weekends that were sandwiched between work travel, the daily grind, and youth sports, but I never really took the time I needed to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus.

That was a big mistake!

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“I need a break”

I came to realize that the sprint I made in the spring left me empty in many ways. I was submitting manuscripts, recording a podcast, trying serve my team, teaching a new course, and delivering a TEDx talk. In many ways last spring culminated in a mountain top moment for me. But we all know the problem with being on a mountain top…

My metaphorical finals week left me drained despite earning good grades.

For those of us who are parents, teachers, coaches, etc we can all see this in the children and young adults around us. They lose focus, their tempers get shorter, they make more mistakes…just like all of us when we run out of juice. If you can’t relate, congratulations, you are super human.

I needed a summer vacation to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus.

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Sometimes you just need to eat ice cream with your friends.

At the beginning of any good summer vacation – whether it is a week, a month, or the whole summer – you just need to relax. Kids need to swim, run through sprinklers, play games, watch movies, and eat ice cream with their friends.

I personally need some serious kayak time, preferably with fishing involved. I need a few good camp fires with my wife and friends…and of course a few beverages help the cause.

What do you need to relax?

Unless you give yourself some time to decompress you won’t release the pressure that has built up. This will eventually lead to an explosion!

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We all need nutrition

However, summer break cannot just be about decompressing if we are going to use it as a time of growth and refreshment. We can’t live on ice cream alone…some of you might debate me on this point.

As we begin to release pressure we need to take time to strengthen ourselves through nutrition and exercise in order to thrive in our next. Many of us, myself included, can get into some bad eating habits when we are stretched too thin. Don’t even get me started on my exercise routine when I am in the worst phases of the grind.

Kids eat and exercise naturally as long as we provide a conducive environment. The key for them and us is the conducive environment.

Breaks allow us the opportunity to focus on what we need to strengthen our bodies and to reclaim healthy habits.

What habit do you need to reclaim/start to strengthen your body? What needs to change in your environment to keep your body strong?

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Feed your mind

Physical nourishment isn’t all we need refresh, recharge, and refocus.

At the end of my last sprint my mind was a pile of goo suited for little more than Candy Crush and running errands…

Fortunately breaks allow us time to feed our minds what they need to grow. Our brains are especially receptive when not cluttered with the day to day.

What do you need to learn? Do you need inspiration? Do you need to dream?

Books, documentaries, the theatre, lectures, podcasts, and conversations with thought partners can all provide what we need. We must use our breaks to learn and grow as thinkers and dreamers.

I find that campfires are catalysts for great conversations.

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Connect to refresh your soul

As a Jesus follower I also need breaks to help me get back in touch with my creator and God’s creation. I need time to reconnect with Jesus and to reflect on what he wants for my life.

I often neglect prayer, study, and reflection when I get busy. Although busyness is not an excuse, once I am out of the habit I need time to get refocused. Without reconnecting, refreshing, and refocusing spiritually I don’t feel well directed to move forward.

What do you need to do to reconnect and refresh your soul?

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Refreshed, recharged, refocused…time to go back to school.

We all need breaks to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus, but then we need to return.

Refueling is a waste if you aren’t going to burn that fuel. By the end of summer I can always tell that it is time for my kids to go back to school. They are stir crazy, bouncing off the walls, focusing their energy poorly…it is time for them to get back to work.

The same is true for us. I believe we are all called to work while on this earth. We should refresh, recharge, and refocus with the aim of returning to serve our people.

I believe we will be at our best if we return purposefully. Accordingly, the end of our breaks might be a great time to review and revise our purpose and to set goals to achieve that purpose.

What is your plan for your “Back To School”? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to serve?

I pray that you find a time to take a break to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus. That said, I also pray that you return so that you can make a difference for the people you love and serve.

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How I Applied New Tactics to Declutter My Mind & Surroundings

Stuff … stuff … and more stuff … I am amazed at how much stuff comes through my front door.

Junk mail, papers, tchotchkes, candies, toys … the clutter keeps piling up.  And this stockpiling of stuff doesn’t come only in the physical form – there’s also the mental stuff. The emails, the priorities, the inner dialogue, the to-do lists… this type of mental clutter can be just as taxing as the physical.

That’s why, earlier this year, I set a goal to get rid of the mental and physical clutter that prevented me from achieving the goals I had set for myself — the clutter that had been staring me in the eyes for years, daring me to go toe-to-toe with it.

While this goal was certainly nothing new to me, the time and intention I was willing to invest in it was.

You see, I seem to go through a cycle of decluttering every few months or so, only to find myself back in the very same place I started.  The cycle goes something like this …

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Stage 1: The Overzealous Purge

Nothing is safe or sacred at this point!  I’m determined to get rid of all the items I haven’t touched in months and to clear my agenda of any activity that doesn’t help me achieve my goals.

Stage 2: The Rational Purge

Ok… let’s be reasonable.  I can’t be irresponsible by getting rid of things that would cost money to replace.  I bet I’ll use these in the future, or even better… maybe I’ll save them for a garage sale.

Stage 3: There’s No Time to Purge

Sigh!  I’ve run completely out of time, and now all my items and thoughts are scattered.  I’ll quickly put them back in their place and get rid of them next weekend.

Sound familiar?

So, this year … I was (and still am) in the process of doing this differently.  How?

Enlisting the help of my husband and children.

Typically, my decluttering activities are a solo sport.  But this time, I thought it was important for us to participate in it together.  Because we all have different reasons for keeping particular items or doing particular activities, I wanted to ensure I wasn’t placing judgment on things they valued.

Now… some of you might be thinking, “How in the world does Bike Trailyour whole family have time to declutter life together?  We can hardly find time to eat together.”  Well, we had to get creative.

While I had increased my time commitment to this activity, not everyone in the house had that same luxury.  So, I made sure to actively involve them when I could, and I set key items and questions aside for them to review when they had the time.

Being more intentional about ‘how I decided’ to get rid of stuff.

I was never good at getting rid of items I haven’t used in a year; after all, we don’t always keep possessions because of their practical use.  We keep them for deeper reasons, as well.  So, rather than repeating the same old thought process, I decided to apply the five purposeful questions shared in a previous Minimalist Manager article.

I asked myself …

  1. Does this bring me joy?
  2. Does this help me live out my values?
  3. Does this help me employ my strengths or mitigate my weaknesses?
  4. Does this help me fulfill my purpose?
  5. Does this help me execute my strategy?

Asking these questions made the world of difference!  Especially when it came to items that I saw as ‘junk’, but my husband saw as ‘joy’ (or vice versa).  Or activities that some thought were a ‘waste of time’ and others thought were ‘helping them employ their strengths.’

By understanding each other’s perspectives, we stopped complaining about the things ‘we needed to get rid of, but never did’.  Instead, we saw their value for what it was… meaningful in its own way.

Prioritizing the most important and realistic areas to declutter. 

In the past, I’ve been guilty of taking on too much at once (a common theme you’ll notice in future posts).  Because of this massive undertaking, I tend to move the ball slightly forward on a lot of things rather than fully forward on a few.

Having recognized and acknowledged this personal tendency, I decided to prioritize the most important areas of my life that I needed to declutter.  I achieved this by noting the way particular rooms, activities, surroundings and people made me feel.

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Tackling the kitchen … one of those rooms that kept taunting me!

Then I asked myself … “can you realistically improve this?”  If the answer was ‘yes’, it made the list.  If the answer was ‘no’, I moved it down the priority list until something changes.

I also used the five questions above to guide which activities were most important.  While I might want to clean out my fridge, clearing out junk in my office is more likely to impact the success of my goals.

Where are you?

We are all on separate paths to decluttering our lives.  Whether it is the physical junk that has been sitting in the corner of our room, mental clutter that blocks our creative thoughts, or activities that keep us from what is most important, we all have different ‘stuff’ we need to tackle.

Head Clutter

Whatever ‘stuff’ is holding you back from fulfilling your personal goals, I encourage you to think about what you can declutter to get yourself back on track.

Join the Minimalist Management community.

How I Recharged on the Way to the Airport

I don’t know about you but I get drained. When the battery is running low I lose my focus on my purpose and I am more likely to do things out of line with my values. We all need energy to move forward.

At the conclusion of a recent work trip I had my Uber driver drop me off at a favorite spot on my way from my hotel to the airport. I was there for about an hour and a half, then headed to the airport. It made all the difference in the world…battery was charged and (or because) I connected with God through God’s creation.

I would encourage you to try to replicate this. Find an hour to stop, reflect, and recharge. You might not be going right by LaJolla. But I bet there is a great park near your path home. Give it a try. I bet you will find it helpful.

 

You Failed Yourself, Now What?

It hurts bad when you let yourself down! Especially when it affects people you value.

I was in a meeting with organizational leaders…a common situation. It seemed like it went fine. I knew that I had misspoken a couple times…I wasn’t flawless by any means. I read enough body language to know that I had missed the mark on one particular comment, but I was assured that it wasn’t a big deal and that everything had gone well.

Through informal back channels I learned that my mistakes were bigger than I perceived. To most people the mistakes were innocuous, but they were mistakes and they were MY mistakes. A few people were appropriately bothered.

I didn’t live up to my values and I certainly didn’t live out my purpose.

So, how do I learn and grow?

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Reflection

What went wrong?

Why?

Who was harmed?

What is the impact?

What should I do now?

What should I do differently in the future?

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Action

Reflection helped me understand what went wrong, who was harmed, and why.

I apologized for my mistakes to the people affected, now it’s time learn and grow.

Why?

I didn’t adequately prep. I was too casual. Some people like that I am casual, with preparation I believe I can maintain that feel while making sure that my word choice and anecdotes/examples are more appropriate.

Only through careful preparation can we uncover the unconscious biases that might emerge in our language. While I believe certain things, from time to time I contradict those beliefs through the examples and words I choose. I can avoid these missteps through preparation.

What’s Next?

I generally know when these situations are coming. I need to make sure I carve out adequate preparation time. I need to make sure I give my thoughts/plans enough time to bake so that I can refine them…fully bake them. I find that when I do this I realize things that I have missed. The cake gets better to stick with that analogy.

We all need to be willing to take feedback/criticism, reflect, learn, and grow.

None of us are above this if we want to maximize our potential and fulfill our purpose.

I am grateful for this lesson and I pray that I will be better in the future.

The foundation of both growth and leadership is self-awareness…not coincidentally. I am now more self-aware and am better prepared to pursue my purpose moving forward.

How about you?

We All Need Reminders

Wondering about any items on the shelf? Ask in a comment.  I would also love to know what would go on your “shelf”.

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If you found this helpful please share.

 

5 Purposeful Questions To Help You Get Rid of “Stuff”

At the core of the current minimalist conversation is “own less stuff so that your stuff doesn’t own you”.

I totally buy into this…

Much more importantly, I believe Christ actually taught this…

If you are not a Christ follower, Buddha, Confucius, and Socrates all seem to agree as well.

My take is that “stuff” can get in the way of relationships with those I love…Jesus, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my partners (see Value #1 below). So we need to get rid of obstructionary “stuff”.

Personal Strategy Template (7)

Time to get rid of the quotation marks around “stuff”. Stuff goes beyond physical possessions. Our definition of stuff must include the activities that consume our time.

As we manage across all the areas of our life we need to curate our stuff so that we only buy/keep possessions and engage in activities that add value to our lives and the lives of those we love.

In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondō suggests we ask of each item “Does it bring me joy?”. I think this can be helpful.

However, I believe it is a bit overly simplistic.

Minimalist Management is about the pursuit of purpose. So I think we need a more nuanced approach.

My laptop does not bring me joy in-and-of-itself, in fact I hate it sometimes. It, and other devices, can be a curse just as they can be a blessing. That said, I sure need my laptop in order to pursue my purpose. The pursuit of purpose brings me joy…so I guess I need to keep my laptop.

I hate clothes and I wish I could wear my black polos about 344 days a year (on the other days I would be in my kayak and would look very strange in a black polo) but I can’t cut back to just black polos because the career I love frequently requires that I wear a shirt with more than three buttons. That said, if the shirt isn’t required for something that will lead to joy…it should go.

I must keep some things that I despise because they are required by or for people/activities I love.

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Beautiful but absurd

If you work through the process of putting together a personal strategic plan it can serve as your guide to whether you need to own a possession or engage in an activity. Once you know your purpose and strategy you can ask “Will this thing help me achieve my purpose?”. Or, “Will this activity help me reach a goal that will move me closer to fulfilling my purpose?”.

If you cannot answer yes to at least one of the following it needs to go or you need to stop doing it…hint, the questions are not mutually exclusive.

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Does This Bring Me Joy?

If something truly brings joy…and you are sure you are being honest with yourself and not just justifying…don’t over think it. Upon reflection, you will probably realize that it brings you joy because the thing or activity is helping you live out your purpose(s).

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Making memories with people I love…yes, I mean you Chewbacca.

Does This Help Me Live Out My Values?

Values are our guideposts. I have decided to try to live by four (see above). If I own a possession or engage in an activity that does not represent meaningful relationships, growth, kindness, or impact then it needs to go.

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Does This Help Me Employ My Strengths or Mitigate My Weaknesses?

If I am not being intellectually stimulated or intellectually stimulating others I feel like I am wasting time…literally wasting my life. So if I am not taking in or dispensing data/knowledge/wisdom for more than brief recharge periods I get frustrated and listless.

I need to put my strengths to work! Activities and things that enable the utilization of my strengths should be kept…but not hoarded…I probably only need one of each necessary thing*. Activities and things that distract me and do not recharge me need to be jettisoned.

On the flip side, when I try to spend time thinking about time management, organization, or am trying to lock in on details…I quickly short circuit. These things are important and I can force myself to do them for short periods when I believe they are important for executing my strategy, but I need things and people to help me here. I also need to occasionally invest time in making sure these weaknesses aren’t derailing me.

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I love watching this kid grow.

Does This Help Me Fulfill My Purpose?

“I exist to help people grow into their full God-given potential so that they can impact the world.”

That is my purpose at this point in my life…maybe for the rest of my life.

I am blessed to work in a profession that easily maps onto this purpose. But Minimalist Management spans across all the areas of our life. I am sure people who don’t know me very well …and maybe some who do…wonder why I invest so much in my kids activities (time, money, mental energy).

The answer is quite simple…

I believe based on my life experiences that what kids gain from sports and music will help them grow into adults that will impact the world (teamwork, perseverance, creativity to name a few…but that is a different post).

These are certainly not the only activities that could yield positive outcomes, but I believe they work and they fit with my values. So I happily invest in the things that facilitate these activities and in the activities themselves.

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Building relationships with, and in, God’s creation.

Does This Help Me Execute My Strategy?

Whether it is the high levels strategic goals or the shorter term goals that will lead to your strategic goals the lesson is the same…if it doesn’t help, it probably hurts.

We need to focus. Buying that gadget instead of investing in your growth or your child’s growth…probably not helpful. Sacrificing a vacation in nature where you can bond with your friends or family (if relationship is a core value) because you are constantly getting fast food…probably not helpful.

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If we are going to maximize our motivation, capability, and subsequent impact…we need to be intentional in what we own and what we do. Anything else will limit our ability to have an impact.

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We all have a gift. – Image from Runner Tribe

If you have already put together your Personal Strategy, but haven’t yet started to prune back the possessions that aren’t adding value to your life then start today by getting rid of ten things that don’t help you move forward intentionally based on the above questions.

Or, commit to quitting one activity that is not purposeful and shifting that time to an activity that is.

There are a lot of great minimalist challenges and other resources out there that can guide you in pruning. Here are a few examples for those new to the idea of minimalism.

The More of Less – Josh Becker

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondō

The 30-Day Minimalism Game

Tiny Buddha

If you haven’t yet put together your Personal Strategy then I encourage you to do so. Once you put it together…own it…use it to guide you in your pruning and curating.

Move forward today!

If you find this post interesting, helpful, motivating, or inspiring please post to social media so you can help others and we can grow this community. Posting to Facebook and/or LinkedIn would be ideal…I am really trying to grow community on those sites.

If you want to engage further please join the Minimalist Management Community by following this blog and/or joining us on Facebook.

 

*Footnote

Collections are interesting, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with collecting as long as it is on purpose. I like to collect sports cards with my kids. We build relationship through the process and I think it teaches lessons.

How To Craft A Simple Personal Strategy That Drives Impact

If you are like me you hate when you are not working toward something meaningful and/or not living up to your God-given potential. I live with the desire to avoid these situations. Personal strategic planning is a tool that I believe can be helpful for each of us.

As I wrote in Why You Need A Personal Strategic Plan, creating and owning a strategy provides many benefits to successful organizations and I believe many of these same benefits are available to each of us if we employ a tailored version of these same planning tools.

I was due for a plan refresh and decided that working through my personal strategy would be the best way to model a simple but effective way for people to build their own plan. I hope you agree.

Here is a link to the Personal Strategy Template. It should be downloadable and editable. This tool is simple, but much reflection is required to arrive at something that will be meaningful and motivational to you.

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Values Clarification

If you haven’t reflected on what you truly value then you have some work to do. I don’t like the idea that we should all run to some predetermined set of values and just pick a few that feel right to us. Although this might be helpful for some, I think it is most useful to put what you value into your own words so you know exactly what you mean.

If you don’t understand what you value then you cannot successfully determine your purpose or strategy.

Simply understanding what you truly value will lead you to clarity that will improve prioritization and decision-making.

Here are some questions and resources to use as thought starters.

These are all worthless if you are not honest with yourself. After you develop your values I suggest running them by someone who knows you well so that they can call BS if you are off base…the same is true of the subsequent parts of the strategy document.

What do you hope people will say about you when you die?

Write your own obituary.

What do you want carved into your tombstone?

When do you feel most like your true self?

When do you feel most alive?

Describe the personal characteristics of the perfect person.

What things or ideas would you never sacrifice?

What are your greatest aspirations?

Who do you truly love?

What do you truly love?

Co-Active Coaching Resource

TheHappinessTrap.com

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Strengths & Weaknesses

To be crystal clear…we all have both!

Mountains of research suggests that when you are working in your areas of strength you will be more effective. Also, and contrary to some people’s/organization’s beliefs, your weaknesses matter as well.

You need to bolster and work from strength while mitigating weaknesses so they do not become fatal flaws.

Once you understand your personal strengths and weaknesses you can better determine which opportunities are a good fit and what might derail your pursuit of a given opportunity. Furthermore, you will better understand which tasks you should take on yourself vs. those that require you to ask for help (delegate, partner, hire).

Questions and tools to help you determine your strengths.

What do people regularly compliment you on?

What activities lead to positive feedback?

What do other people see as your strengths (hint, ask them)?

What attributes do you have that are fairly unique (skills, degrees, experiences, certifications, personal networks)?

Gallup Strengths

Questions and tools to help you determine your weaknesses.

What tasks or situations most frustrate you?

What tasks or situations lead you to most frustrate others?

What tasks do you hate?

When do you most lack confidence?

What do other people see as your weaknesses (hint, ask them and stress that you need to know the truth)?

What habits do you have that lead to frustration (missing deadlines, arriving late, being unorganized, miscalculating)?

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Purpose Statement

I believe lives are clarified through purpose driven work. This can be work that is done for a business, not-for-profit, your family, or for yourself. When people have a sense of purpose they are more motivated and effective.

I believe that you need to have a purpose statement that is informed by your values and strengths then drives your personal strategy. Some people might prefer to call this a mission statement and that works too if it is authentic and/or meaningful to you.

The statement does not have to be fancy. It should be short and clear. People who know you should see it as authentic.

I believe we can all determine a purpose that is inclusive of our entire lives. However, it will take several drafts and will likely change over time as circumstances change and you better discern your values, strengths, and weaknesses.

Some questions to help guide you to your purpose statement.

What value do you want to provide (your family, your work, your community, the world)?

Which of your activities provide the most value to the people you care about?

What do you desire to do in and for the world?

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Strategy Statement

I am a big fan of Collins and Rukstad’s, and Lafley and Martin’s work on strategy creation. That said, their full treatments are probably overkill for most beginning personal strategists. As long as you have discerned your values, strengths, weaknesses, and purpose/mission I think you can write your strategy statement with just a little further effort.

You need your object, scope, and advantage (Collins and Rukstad).

Objective = A specific and measurable goal that will drive you into the future.

Mine has two parts because it is mine and that is what I need, but don’t go much beyond two or three parts or it will lose its ability to provide focus. Make yours meaningful to you!

Scope = Where you will take action (context, “customer”, activity areas, market, industry, etc)?

Advantage = What unique contribution(s) will you make that will allow you to meet your goal? You have a contribution to make!

Then combine these into a concise statement.

Goals

What specific, measurable, and challenging but achievable goals do you need to meet in the short-term (one year) that will lead to you meet your strategic goal(s)?

These goals should guide your monthly, weekly, and daily (to do list) goals.

If these goals are properly aligned with your strategy you can monitor your progress via the completion of these goals. Three is probably not enough for me given my strategy, but I think that is a good starting point.

If working toward your goals is exhausting or demoralizing you…something is amiss. They probably aren’t the right goals or you may have some personal work to do.

I hope this is a helpful starting point and I would love to help you continue on your journey. Please post questions and eventually your strategy statement as a comment to this post on the Facebook page. I would also love to hear about your successes and setbacks. I believe a Minimalist Manager Community would be helpful to people. Let’s get one started on Facebook.

Why You Need A Personal Strategic Plan

Crave fulfillment personally and/or professionally?

Desire clarity about how to best invest your time, energy, money?

Striving to create more value for yourself and/or those you love?

Then you (and I) need a personal strategic plan. Once you have developed a personal strategic plan you might use these same tools to develop a family or work team plan (the list could go on) that flows from your personal strategy. The point is, strategy isn’t just for the Fortune 500 or sexy start-ups aiming to disrupt an industry! Shouldn’t you use the same tools that drive world-class organizations to help you achieve your purpose more fully? Yes, you (and I) should…and here’s why!

Decision Making

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First Worm Collection of the Year

Life is about decision making. If you are conscious, you are making decisions.  Strategy exists to ensure that decisions are made in-line with purpose (or maybe you prefer mission)! My purpose in life is to help people grow…toward Christ likeness if you are from my faith tradition! Ideally all of my decisions would drive toward fulfillment of that purpose…at a minimum they shouldn’t contradict. Once you know your purpose and develop a strategic plan that flows from your purpose you will be able to better make decisions like: Should I make this purchase? Should I change jobs? Should I join this group? Should my company launch this new product? How should I spend my Saturday?

In my family we were blessed with the choice between having our oldest son do another select sport that would take up the time between his soccer seasons – which is his passion – and investing in a family fortress of solitude. He would have loved to play baseball, but as a family we chose the campground. Baseball would have been great. He would have made friends, developed his work ethic and team mentality, and had fun. When we are at the campground we get a ton of immediate and extended family time, we spend time in nature, we relax, we reflect, and we refocus. We were choosing between two goods. We chose the fortress of solitude because it added unique value vs. another sport. In the grand scheme of helping each of us grow we saw the campground as the better choice. This may have been exactly the wrong decision for you and your family, but it was the right one for us based on my/our strategic goals.

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The Fortress of Solitude

A well crafted strategic plan will help your decisions be grounded in intentionality, priority, advantage, and improvement.

Intentionality

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Every turn is a choice

Mindless decisions tend to be impulsive, add little value, and may be regrettable. Utilizing a strategic plan eliminates mindlessness. Decisions that are on purpose/strategy are by definition intentional. Next time you are faced with a decision of most any size you can ask yourself, “Will this help me achieve one of my strategic goals?” or, “Which of these will best help me achieve one of my strategic goals?” If you develop a strategic mindset you (and I) will still occasionally make poor choices, but they will only be mindless/unintentional when you make the decision not to employ your strategy…and of course that will be your choice.

Priority

How do you choose between two goods? Should I refine this spreadsheet to tell a better story or should I have coffee with my employee who is struggling? Both actions are good…which is better? The answer depends on your personal strategy. Which action most moves you toward fulfilling your strategic goals? In some cases this may require you to ask which goal is currently most important. In the case of our choice between another sport and investing in the camper, adding another sport would have further developed important attributes, but those were already being developed by soccer and basketball. We were progressing well toward developing our son’s work ethic and teamwork. We were not progressing well in trying to carve out time for the growth activities the campground provides.

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Yes, baseball is fun but…

Advantage

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Strength, yes it’s a stretch but come on…

Are you investing your time and energy in-line with your strengths? We all have limited time and energy. A well crafted strategic plan ensures that you will invest your time in activities where you are well equipped vs. other people or teams (as long as you are self-aware and honest with yourself). For example, I create more value for my family by focusing on my primary work and time with the family than by managing my personal financial plan. I love the intellectual activity of investing, but in terms of my life plan and strategic goals I create more value doing other things. Accordingly, I have chosen to work with professionals to help me in that area.

Improvement

How do you know you are improving/progressing/growing? One approach is to measure your progress toward your goals. A plan that produces measurable goals allows us to see our improvement over time. The first summer we had the camper we didn’t use it as well as we could have and we knew it. Consequently, we made it a goal to spend more quality days at the campground. The goal has two parts. More days and more quality. The next summer we said we wanted to get to the campground at least five weekends…more time. We did the same this summer. We met that goal. We also knew we didn’t really engage in all the activities that we needed to meet our goals for campground time. We didn’t have the gear we needed to get on the water and to actually catch those elusive fish. The second summer we bought a kayak and brought up the fishing gear we already had. The third summer we bought a stand-up paddle board and fishing gear that actually met our needs. All intentional purchases based on our goals for that time. The quality of our time at the campground increased. Each summer has been more fun, more relaxing, and more energizing. Obviously, this same mindset can be applied at work, church, or other activity areas.

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His first solo voyage in the kayak…growth!

I have found that the more purpose driven I am, the happier and more effective I am. If this is true for you then I think you will find a personal strategic plan to be extremely helpful. Accordingly, my short-term plan for this blog and related activities is to focus on crafting strategy. My goal – that I am publicly committing to – is to help folks who are interested create their own strategic plan by creating a new one for myself and posting every step. For those who want to jump ahead please buy or check out the book Playing to Win for an outstanding model from the corporate world (you can buy it from Amazon by clicking on the link). To engage in conversation please like my Facebook page.

Wondering what this site is all about? Read “Why Minimalist Manager”

Want a different take on how to view a relationship? Give this post on mentorship a read.