• Living as a Leader

    In Favor of New Year’s Resolutions

    2016-11-07-12-43-44New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad rap lately.  There’s much written about how so many people make resolutions at the beginning of a new year but, in the end, so few actually keep them.  So the advice of many self help writers is simply this – why bother, why put yourself through this process, why set yourself up for failure?

    But this kind of logic isn’t how great organizations or movements are built, world changing action is taken, personal transformation happens, or mountains moved. Whether it’s  a New Year’s resolution or simply a personal goal or new calling, you’re taking a risk by setting them, it’s the reality of goal setting.

    But this reality should never stop us from setting a goal and then working to achieve it.  Just because most people don’t fulfill their New Year’s resolutions certianly isn’t a reason to avoid them. Instead understanding that failure is the accepted risk we take to create change, isn’t a reason to opt out, it’s the reality we embrace to increase our chances of success.

    Now how do we increase our chances of succeeding, in achieving our New Year’s resolutions? By remembering these five principles of goal setting:

    1. Reality – Know that we tend to be overly optimistic with short-term goals and too pessimistic about long-term goals – so we adjust our goals accordingly.
    2. Focused – Have only a few resolutions.  The less, the better the chance of success.
    3. Written – Write them down then review them on a regular basis (click here to learn about meetings with yourself)
    4. Guided – Share them with people who can provide wisdom and encouragement.
    5. Downside -Remember that even if we fall short of achieving our resolutions, we’ll most likely come significantly farther along our journey then we would have if we’d never set the goal in the first place.

    So let’s make 2017 our best year yet.  Best, not because we avoided failure by not setting challenging goals, but because we made a life changing New Year’s resolution, then worked like crazy to make it a reality.

    As Theodore Roosevelt said – “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”


  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    What Could Cause Me to Lose my Job?

    ???????????????????????????????Have you ever wondered “what could cause me to lose my job?”

    I believe most thoughtful people, if they like their work and want to keep their job, have asked themselves this question. Of course there are the obvious answers such as stealing, not doing your job up to standards, or changes in the organization. These answers are usually written up in employee handbooks and reviewed in orientation programs.

    But it’s the subtle or unspoken answers to this question, answers about attitudes, relationships, and organizational interactions that haunt conscientious people. It’s because these answers are usually what determines a person’s success in an organization.

    Now to assure that SpringHill isn’t falling into this fuzzy communication trap, I’ve started to include  in my portion of our new employee orientation, a section I call “the things that will cause you to lose your job at SpringHill”.

    So I share with them the seven attitudes and behaviors I’ve identified over my more than 15 years at SpringHill that have caused people to fall short as SpringHill staff –

    1. Misuse of power and authority
    2. Playing politics
    3. Not listening to others
    4. Mistreating people
    5. Believing they’ve already arrived
    6. Becoming an organizational martyr
    7. Having their own agenda

    At the core of each of these attitudes and behavior is arrogance, or the Christian version of arrogance – self-righteousness. When people are arrogant, when they’re self-righteous, it always leads to one or more of all these seven attitudes and behaviors.

    So I’ve told new staff that any of these behaviors and attitudes can lead to them losing their job at SpringHill. But the warning isn’t really about being self –righteous, instead it’s about bringing an appropriate humility to their work so that these seven behaviors and attitudes never take hold in their lives and in their work.

    Over the next several posts I’ll dive deeper into arrogance and self-righteousness as well as each of these seven behaviors because I believe they’re relevant not just for people who work for SpringHill but for anyone who wants to be successful wherever they work.

  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    The One Ingredient Necessary for Any Team’s Success

    Our exclusive IN Food Service Teams from the past 3 summers
    Our exclusive IN Food Service Teams from the past 3 summers

    We’ve just hired a new Food Services Director for our Michigan overnight camp. Her name is Ann Marie and she moved here all the way from Texas. On her first night in Michigan she had dinner with Joel Hamilton, our Site Director, and her son in our New Frontiers Dining Hall. It was a Saturday night of one of our Winter Retreats.

    And it just so happened that my wife Denise and I were also in the Dining Hall so we joined them for dinner where Ann Marie asked both Denise and I what we’d like to see in our Food Service program. I answered that I wanted people to brag about the food, the service, and entire dining experience.

    My wife, on the other hand had the far better answer. She told Ann Marie, “I hope working in the Dining Hall becomes the most desirable job at SpringHill”

    Why is Denise’s answer a far better one? Because accomplishing any great vision or achieving any big goal starts with having the right people. And the only way to have the right people is for the right people to want to be on your team. Which means you need to be the kind of organization that the right people want to work for.

    And I know this is to be true, even in Food Service, because this is exactly what our Indiana overnight camp has accomplished over the last few years. Under the leadership of our Operations Director, Keith Rudge and his Food Service managers, working in our Indiana Food Service Department has become one of the most desirable jobs at camp. And the result has been an ever-increasing quality of food and better dining experience.

    So after watching Joel, Ann Marie and her team work these past few weeks, I have no doubt they’ll exceed both Denise’s and my expectations and, more importantly, they’ll accomplish what our Indiana Food Service team has so beautifully accomplished over these past few years.

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    One Farmer’s Three Commitments to assure Success

    Corn planter before converted into a tomato planter
    Corn planter before converted into a tomato planter

    Last week I spent a couple of hours with Glenn Abbett, SpringHill camper parent and farmer in northern Indiana. We toured his farm where I learned more about his and his family’s formula for success. And successful they’ve been. Over the past 15 plus years Abbett Farms has grown 5 times over.

    When I asked Glenn what he attributed their success to he answered by sharing three commitments they lived out:

    1. Integrity: Abbett Farms always does what they said they’re going to do. This has built confidence and loyalty with their major customers, assuring ongoing business even in difficult economic times.
    2. Innovation: They’ve made significant investments in innovative equipment and processes to assure they will deliver on what they say they’re going to do. For example, they’ve designed, built and now operate the largest tomato planting machine in the world, assuring they always deliver on their tomato commitments.

      A corn planter which is now the worlds largest tomato planter
      A corn planter which is now the worlds largest tomato planter
    3. Advocacy: Finally, Glenn has personally invested time lobbying on behalf of other farmers and others who work closely with agriculture. This personal investment on behalf of his entire industry has led to further loyalty among his customers as well as assistance from his peers.

    As I drove away from our time together I realized that these three commitments are worthy for any person to pursue and are foundational for any organization if it desires to be successful, whether a farm, business, church or Christian camp.

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