Joyfully Inefficient

Now that is a novel thought if I ever heard one.  Joyful at being inefficient?

How is that possible when all our life we have been  admonished to be efficient, hurry up, don’t forget to take your lunch, don’t be late, use your time and money wisely, don’t leave home without it (whatever “it” may be)?

Can creative leadership and inefficient leadership work well side by side in the same group, church or business?  Can you pursue innovation and creativity and, at the same time, be excellently efficient? Maybe not.

Creativity is often not neat, tidy and “efficient.”  Being efficient, in the traditional sense of the word, can kill creativity. It seems like an oxymoron, joyfully inefficient; being a happy slob at work…seriously?

Do you have to choose here…to either be creative and inefficient, or be non-creative and efficient?

Being efficient, it seems, mandates that we not let our creative passions run too wild. Put a lid on it. Be in control. Be predictable.

Maybe we can go down the road of not asking creative types to be overly efficient nor efficient types to be overly creative. On the other hand, can’t we wed the two instead of making them enemies?

How many creative people have walked away from “efficient organizations” because they felt suffocated by all the “bureaucratic rules;” or been fired for not being organized enough? Can we embrace pockets of intentional inefficiency in an otherwise efficient culture, or is that asking for too much?

What do you think about being joyfully inefficient? It would be great to have your comments posted here. Weigh in…whether you are the efficient type or the creative type.


General Tommy Franks Lessons in Leadership

In June 2000, Tommy Franks was promoted to four-star General and assigned as Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command. It’s in this position that the world knows Tommy Franks best – the culmination of an almost four-decade military career that saw him lead American and Coalition troops in two strategically unprecedented campaigns in two years – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

The General’s awards include five Distinguished Service Medals, four Legions of Merit, four Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts, in addition to numerous foreign awards. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by order of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 25, 2004. And President George W. Bush awarded him the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom on December 14, 2004.

Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson, Inc.) heard General Franks speak and shared the following on his blog:

Tommy flunked out of the University of Texas in 1967. Rather than wait to be drafted to fight in Vietnam, he enlisted in the Army. When we got on the bus to leave for boot camp, his father said, “Son, I have one piece of advice. Be feisty.”

Tommy replied, “But Dad, I am feisty.”

My dad said, “Son, I know you’re feisty, but I mean it as an acronym.

F-E-I-S-T-Y.” His Father then went onto spell it out:

“F” is for focus. You need to get focused on what is important and stay focused.

“E” is for energy. Bring all the energy you can muster to every situation.

“I” is for integrity. This is your most important possession. Don’t ever compromise it.

“S” is for solve the problem. Don’t argue. Don’t make excuses. Just solve the problem and get on with it.

“T” is for take the blame when no one else will. Accept responsibility and be accountable.

“Y” is for “Yes, I do windows.” Don’t ever say, “That’s not my job.” Do whatever the boss asks you to do and do it with enthusiasm.




Do-Attitudes Part 3-Integrity

Whatever you do, do it with excellence, with enthusiasm.  Today we cover the last of the three do-attitudes, integrity.

We have heard a lot lately from political and religious circles about a lack of financial and sexual integrity. Chuck Colson, when asked at a speaking engagement in Chicago what he thought were the three most important characteristics of a successful leader responded: “Integrity, integrity, integrity.”

Integrity means, among other things, doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it. There are only two responses to an assigned task or responsibility: performance or excuses. Personally, I have seen a lot more excuses than performances.  The landscape of promise is strewn with “yes, buts!” Don't promise more than you can deliver; then deliver without excuses! Better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver. Personally, I place a very high value on dependability and faithfulness in those who work for/with me. Character counts; and, in light of what we read and watch on TV, it counts more than ever.

God places a higher value on our character than on our comfort or our convenience.  There is a phrase in Psalm 15 that bears this out and speaks well to the issue of being good for your word; a person of integrity.  It is found in verse four, "...who swears to his own hurt and does not change."  The person who promises and carries through, even when it costs him something.
So, join me in a renewed commitment to practice the DO-ATTITUDES of excellence, enthusiasm and integrity.  Along with Nike, I say to all of us, JUST DO IT!


Do-attitudes Part 2-Enthusiasm

Last week we started a three-week series on Do-attitudes that go hand in glove with the beatitudes.

We started with excellence; this week, enthusiasm; next week integrity.

Whatever you DO, do it with ENTHUSIASM.  Dr. John Maxwell tells the story of being in a small plane with a pilot friend and noticing the attitude indicator. Not understanding how an aircraft could have an attitude, he questioned the pilot and got an education in life. Yes, a plane does have an attitude; it is the aircraft’s position in relation to the horizon.  When the nose is pointed up it is called a nose up attitude and when the nose is pointed down it is called a nose down attitude. The attitude of the plane directly affects the performance of the plane.  So it is in life.  Nose down: negative, critical, pessimistic; nose up: positive, encouraging, enthusiastic.

DL Moody was once asked how he had become the engaging, enthusiastic communicator that he was.  He responded by saying that before he was to speak, he would go out into a field by himself and ask God to set him on fire. On fire with God-given enthusiasm;amen and amen!
Do what you do with a nose up enthusiastic attitude and the performance of whatever you do will be dramatically affected for the better. Those you are teamed with and lead will also be affected. Leaders who do their best and accomplish the most in life invariably possess this contagious characteristic of enthusiasm. Paul's advice to the Colossian believers is as relevant and essential today as it was when he first wrote it, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" Col 3:23.


Do-attitudes Part 1-Excellence

I guess I am not as smart as Robert Fulghum, because I didn't learn everything I needed to know in Kindergarten; but, I have learned an awful lot since. One of the things I have learned is that "When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done." Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, said, "Emotion is no substitute for action and action is no substitute for production." Talk is cheap and it seems to me that it’s getting cheaper all the time.

There is a premium on being able to get things done, and done well for the honor of Jesus!

We are all aware of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. With today’s blog and, for the next two, I would like to deal with three Doattitudes. Doing, after all, flows out of being.  Our identity in Jesus (being in Him) should affect what I do and why I do it (doing in Him).  James reminds us of being and doing working in tandem when says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith (being) but does not have works (doing) ...for as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”-James 2: 14, 26

Today let’s talk about doing with excellence; next week, enthusiasm; and, lastly, integrity.

Whatever you do, do it with excellence. Tom Peters, in his classic book “In Search of Excellence,” lifted readers to a new level of awareness for the need of excellence in business.  We could use a good shot of excellence in Kingdom work as well. There is an awful lot of incompetence and pure sloppiness in work done in the name of Jesus. From my vantage point, there are at least two reasons for this.

  1. We are trying to do too much and, therefore, lack time and energy to do things really well.

  2. We are doing things for which we are not gifted and passionate and, therefore lack motivation to do things really well.

In my own life I find that when I contemplate what I could do, eliminate what I shouldn't do and concentrate on what I will do (and do it for the honor of Jesus) my level of excellence improves dramatically. For me a great deal comes down to prioritizing and pacing.

 An IBM executive captured the essence of the matter when he said, "doing the best you can rarely means doing all you can and it never means doing more than you can do well."

After He had healed a  deaf man, people said of the Lord Jesus, in Mark 7:37 (ESV)  "He has done all things well."That's what I want for my life and work; doing all things well to honor Him.