• Growing as a Leader

    To Know and Be Known

    2015-07-22 22.30.29“It’s not what you know but who you know that counts” is one of those maxims that can be difficult to swallow, especially for those of us who value performance over politics.  But reality is there’s a kernel of truth in this maxim, especially when thinking about it in terms of relationships instead of politics.

    You see relationships do matter, and more often than not they’re the tipping point in any given situation or decision.  Healthy relationships, whether personal or professional, will always carry the day – even in those moments when everything falls apart.

    And relationships are not only good at saving the day, they’re also essential in building teams that can accomplish extraordinary  things.  Very rarely has history changing ideas, projects or efforts been accomplished solo. Almost always, great moments have been created by teams of people working in the context of personal, loving and caring relationships.

    So what does it take to create healthy relationships?  There’s two simple ingredients:

    To know!

    And to be known!

    Teddy Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Relationships require knowing others, who they are, what’s important to them,  their history, their stories, and how we can assist them and their goals. Relationships require us  think of others first, so see the world through their eyes, and in the end, simply and deeply, “to know” the other person(s).

    Healthy and meaningful relationships also require us “to be known”.  Allowing others to see into our lives, to know our thoughts, hopes and dreams.  To be known in this way is foundational to building the kind of relationships necessary for teams that change the world.  Without transparency, there’s no possibility of trust.  Without trust there’s no true relationship. Where there’s no true relationship, there’s no team or community. And where there’s no team or community, the possibility of world changing actions diminishes to almost zero.

    So I’m recommending a new maxim.  Instead of saying “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts”, we should say “it’s not what you know but who you deeply know and are known by that will make all the difference.”

  • Living as a Leader,  SpringHill Experiences

    The Ultimate Blessing of Making a Lasting Contribution!

    FullSizeRender 4Recently, in a 5 day stretch, my wife, Denise, and I attended funerals for three friends of ours and, maybe more importantly, friends of SpringHill.  These three men and their families each made incredible contributions at critical junctures in SpringHill’s history. And by contributions I’m not referring just to financial contributions (though they’ve made plenty of those) but the kind of contributions that come as a result of hard work, energy and wisdom.

    For example, one of these friends, Scott, was on our board during the sensitive transition of leadership following the death of our second President, Mark Olson. Another, Herb, spent 23 straight weekends coming to our camp in Evart, MI to help prepare it for it’s grand summer opening in 1969.  While our staff gave the third friend the nickname “Saturday Jim” because he was so faithful volunteering every Saturday.  And believe me, this is just the short list of their SpringHill contributions.  Frankly it’s hard to over state the deep, long and lasting impacts these men had on SpringHill, its staff and their ability to fulfill their mission and vision.

    As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure these men, before they passed on, were able to see with their mortal eyes the 100,000’s of people whose lives were, and will be, transformed forever because of their service.  But the good news is I’m convinced that all three are now in Eternity and so are blessed to fully see the extent of their effort, including knowing every single person who benefited from their work.  I believe this kind of sight, the sight we’ll have in Eternity, is one of the “jewels in our crown” we’re promised for remaining faithful like these three men were.

    Speaking of mortal sight, from my perspective,  I can’t even begin to imagine SpringHill without people like Scott, Jim and Herb. Together they reflect the nature and beauty of non-profits.  You see non- profits, like these three men, exist to benefit the common good and their only fuel is the passion, commitment, time, energy and resources of people who receive no other benefit from their contributions than the anticipation it all will make a lasting difference in the lives of people and in the world.

    So Herb, Jim and Scott thank you on behalf of 100,000’s of child, students, young adults, families and churches, past, present and future, for including SpringHill in your life. We’re all in a better place because of you.




  • SpringHill Experiences

    What Lies Underneath

    You never know what you’ll find when you remodel an old building. For example, at our Michigan overnight camp, we’re in the process of remodeling and expanding our New Frontiers infirmary and as our team peeled off the siding from above the front of the building this is what they found (see photo above).

    It’s a strategic location for all our arriving guest and staff to see over the next few weeks. And there’s no doubt it was a painted in that spot, by some daring volunteers and staff 40 years ago, because of its visibility, and the laughs it would bring, to those who arrived at camp during the infirmary construction.

    And these same daring staff and volunteers have now given our current guests and staff, especially those who appreciate the cultural significance of the television show M.A.S.H. was in the 1970’s, another reason to smile as they arrive at camp.

    But time does moves on, and as it does, cultural icons end up buried under old siding, only to resurface again one day, giving us a glimmer of where we’ve come from as well as reminding us of the people who’ve helped bring us to the place we are today.

  • Organizational Leadership

    Treating Organizational History as an Old Friend

    Organization history can act like an old friend or jilted lover. It depends on how you treat her.

    The secret is to understand the nuances of the organization’s history including what’s sacred and what’s not, then respecting the sacred even if it’s detrimental to the organization. If it is detrimental then change it. But work to preserve what’s good while only changing what needs changing.

    When SpringHill has approached its organizational history in this way the results have been honoring to its history as well as moved the organization forward. Our New Frontiers Dining Hall at our Michigan overnight camp is a good example.

    About 10 years ago we outgrew this Dining Hall. But because it’s the first major building built at SpringHill it’s full of history. For example there’s a miracle story about the beams and another about committed volunteers who made the very cool lighting fixtures.

    Then there’s the fireplace. It’s sacred ground because it’s the spot where, over the years, 100’s of camp speakers stood as they shared their messages. As a result 1000’s of people had life transformational experiences as they looked upon that fireplace.

    This meant tearing down the Dining Hall was not an option even if the cost of expanding and renovating was the same as building new. Instead we added to, renovated and built around the sacred parts of the building, designing it to feel and look like an updated version of the original.

    The result is we have a building that does two important things. First it preserves our history and allows us to continue to tell the important God stories which make up our past. Secondly we now have a Dining Hall that serves both our needs and most importantly the needs of our campers and guests.

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