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!

My First Minimalist Management Mentor

I recently lost my grandfather. He was a hero to me, and as the title indicates, my first minimalist management mentor. I doubt he had even heard of minimalism, to him it was just how a person was supposed to live. He was a child of The Great Depression, but he didn’t live out of a fear of scarcity. He lived out of abundance. I aim to live a life marked by the same three things I saw in him. Purpose, fellowship, and faith.

Purpose

It appears to me that my grandfather had a clear overarching purpose…to make life better for others. This drove his business and philanthropic decisions. He was passionate about anything he pursued. He started several small businesses and put in the time and energy to make them successful. These businesses focused on his passion areas of agriculture, hunting and fishing, and community. He designed and manufactured products in response to needs he discovered in his daily life. He was always saying, “There has to be a better…”. He would then try to build that better. Most of his contraptions never made it to market, but they often made it to a neighboring farm or a friend’s home. Lives were made better.

His marketing tactics were community based. He largely marketed his products through county and state fairs. He loved traveling to fairs big or small. He built relationships with people across the midwest and would probably tell you that these relationships were as much the “profit” from these businesses as the cash that ended up in the bank.

Grandpa was passionate about helping people and developing community well beyond “business”. He was generous, maybe to a fault…if that is even possible, not sure it is. He and my grandmother enjoyed supporting children and communities in Central America. They were always “adopting” children from that part of the world. They would maintain correspondence and help to provide for their needs. They also loved to travel to get their hands dirty alongside the people of these communities. My grandfather was very “handy” and he especially enjoyed putting those skills to good use. As usual, he was way ahead of popular understanding. He was working to help people get clean water way before Matt Damon made it cool. This is one of the reasons a good chunk of any money I make off of this blog will go to water.org.

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He passionately served his lifelong home of Gladbrook Iowa. His passion for this place bordered on the absurd if viewed through the lens of a modern “big city” existence. This was most apparent when he and a buddy decided that if they built an absolutely gigantic, maybe record breaking, ear of corn for the annual Corn Carnival they might attract people to their small town…or at least earn it some attention. He was happy to put in the time and money to make this happen. He loved his community!

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It is just as important that he understood who he was not. If a potential activity didn’t align with his purpose and/or passions, he didn’t dedicate time to it. Time is precious, he understood that and now so do I.

Fellowship

If you ask people about my grandfather fishing will inevitably come up. He loved to fish. I believe one of the primary things he loved about fishing was the fellowship it enabled. Fellowship isn’t just exchanging pleasantries in some church basement or community hall. Fellowship is about building and fostering a community of shared interests. Grandpa loved to be around people who shared his interests. Yes, he loved to catch the “big one” but he really enjoyed trading stories with his friends and family while floating on a lake or ocean wetting a line. These are the times with him I most enjoyed. I learned much from him sitting on his boat and what I learned went way beyond how to tie a clinch knot.

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Faith

My grandfather lived out a quiet faith. I am not sure I ever heard him “evangelize” and he certainly wasn’t a bible thumper. But it was clear that he was a man of faith because of how he invested his time, talents, and other resources. He was truly stewarding what God had blessed him with. He understood that he was blessed and he wanted to share those blessings with others. I am sure he did more for people than I will ever know, but I know he did a lot and I only hope I can live out my faith half as well as he did his.

The final point I will note about what I realized while reflecting on my grandfather is that life is not easily categorized. Our beliefs drive our purpose (assuming we have discerned one), and in turn our relationships. We are whole people all of the time and we need to manage accordingly. As I have noted in other posts, Minimalist Management is not just about what we do at work. We are “managing” in all areas of our lives at all times. How about we strive to manage well?

I adored my grandfather and will miss him for the rest of my life. I owe him more than I could ever express in a blog post. I hope and pray that I can influence people the way he influenced me. Don’t overlook the amazing people who are already in your life. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone new you seek out. She or he might be right in front of you.

Who is your mentor?

Who are you mentoring?

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Yep, he built his mower on a car frame…I recall it being a Chevy Cavalier.

Want to join the Minimalist Manager Community? Just click!

Ingredients For Success From Great Chefs – Achatz Edition

Let’s get this out of the way up front, I am obsessed with Chef’s Table. It feeds my soul! I suspect this post is simply the first course of many in the meal that is “Ingredients For Success From Great Chefs”. All puns intended, but I will try to limit them from this point forward.

Introduction To The Series

Many world class chef’s are amazing people, many are jerks. I am going to try to write about the one’s who I believe are amazing people that add more to the world than they subtract. Obviously their cuisine adds value or they wouldn’t be believed to be great chefs, but I want to look deeper. I want to try to see what we can learn from the chefs who create amazing experiences for BOTH their patrons and their kitchen.

Why look at chefs in the context of a minimalism themed blog? Chefs, while their recipes are complex, have a clear purpose…create experiences around food that feed body, mind, and in some cases, soul.

Grant Achatz – Alinea

Learning about Grant Achatz has been a mind blowing experience. Grant was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, has won essentially every culinary award, and appears to have made a lot of money. He is clearly a success by any normal standard. But if you have been following this blog, you know that is not what The Minimalist Manager is all about. I am writing about Chef Achatz because I believe he is truly inspiring others with his purpose driven work and is empowering his team to do the same.

In watching the Chef’s Table and reading about Achatz, three lessons emerged regarding success.

There Will Be Pain

In Chef Achatz’s life the pain was both quite real, life threatening in fact, as well as figurative. Grant didn’t graduate from culinary school and immediately start a world class restaurant. In fact, his first big opportunity was a flop. When he landed a position cooking under Charlie Trotter (a world class chef who I will never feature) he learned from an anti-mentor about how not to run a kitchen. He saw a cut throat environment that was all about individual rather than team pursuits…he was miserable and did not last long. Painful learning experience. Grant thought about hanging up his apron. The culinary world is obviously glad he didn’t.

We can all learn from this experience. Most great success does not come easy, there is usually failure along the way that causes people to consider what they really want. Purpose is called into question! Sometimes this leads people to understand that they are truly off track and need to make a major change. Other times it simply clarifies what people truly want and better illuminates how they need to move forward.

The literal pain came as Chef Achatz and Alinea where hitting their stride. Chef Achatz was diagnosed with stage four tongue cancer…yep, a world class chef with tongue cancer (you can read the amazing details of his treatment and recovery elsewhere). He lost his sense of taste for a time, but actually used this to his advantage. This trial led him to a greater intellectual understanding of what made great food and to a greater trust and use of his team…breakthrough stuff in the world of fine dining.

We all have trials, most less dramatic than his. What can we learn from our trials that will make us better moving forward?

Curate Experience

To fully understand the degree to which Grant’s team thinks about experience you will need to dine at the restaurant (I have not but would love to if someone would like to take me), but through Chef’s Table you get a sense. Every decision is made toward the goal of blowing the guest’s mind. Foods are made to look like other foods, restaurant decor is turned into food before the guest’s eyes, and foods literally float. Even the way patrons enter the restaurant is viewed as part of the dining experience. Notice I didn’t highlight the flavor of the food. It obviously tastes amazing, but that is simply the start.

Chef Achatz is also curating a work environment that maximizes the creativity of himself and his team so they can continue to create these amazing experiences anew. Team members are given voice and encouraged to create. Achatz has also created a cuisine skunk works where he and his team experiment until innovation is achieved. He believes that innovation is more a product of hard work than flashes of brilliance.

What is your singular goal? Your team’s? What experiences are you curating for your clients/customers/patrons and team that lead toward execution of your goal?

Find and Be an Amazing Mentor

After Grant’s painful experience in Charlie Trotter’ kitchen. He found his way to Northern California and The French Laundry. When he walked in to inquire about a job he found a man sweeping the floor only to learn that the man was Thomas Keller. In short he found a mentor who ran a world class restaurant in an empowering way. A leader who created a culture of continuous growth and creativity. Grant’s understanding of his purpose was clarified through this relationship. He was given the opportunity to learn to create for himself. When Achatz created his first signature dish Keller asked Grant if he was ok with his creation forever being known as a French Laundry/Keller dish or whether he would like to save it for himself. Grant gave back to his mentor.

Fast forward several years and you find a culture at Alinea that is reminiscent of French Laundry and a cook being mentored by Chef Achatz who has figured out how to make sugar float…yep. Grant of course asked his protégé, “are you ok with this dish forever being known as an Alinea/Achatz dish?” Protégé again gave back to mentor.

Greatness begets greatness!

Who should you be learning from? Who should you be mentoring?

Chef Achatz is an inspiration. Time for me to do some imagining about how to better curate experiences in my context! I wonder if Chef Achatz would mentor me?