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Articles

Daniel LeMoine is a social entrepreneur, change-maker, and writer. Here he writes at the intersection of faith, work, & building a matterful career.

Are You A "3-Dimensional" Leader?

Dan LeMoine

Each year a group of amazing individuals gathers to push into the question of how to become transformational leaders and coaches within their organizations, teams, and community.

This past March I had the honor to be the keynote at their small gathering of about 60 high capacity business leaders. These men and women  are connected to the organization Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Washington state and the event was graciously hosted by a good friend Glenn Powell at The Bank of the Pacific.

The content of the talk is built around the 3 Dimensional Coaching framework created by Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Jeff Dukes.  In a nutshell 3 Dimensional Coaching is a method of coaching athletes which addresses the players beyond just on-field performance, and looks holistically at the body, mind, and heart of the players. It’s a powerful framework which helps to meet their emotional and even spiritual needs.

This group of change-makers I was honored to address is working to take this from a coaching-only framework and build it beyond; to co-opt it and grow it into a leadership framework.

WATCH the 3-Dimensional Leadership Summit Keynote - Part 1 >>
WATCH the 3-Dimensional Leadership Summit Keynote - Part 2 >>

Below you’ll find my succinct talking points as well as a replay of the event.


Introduction — What's at stake, Biblical Principles Actually Work

The stakes are high if we don’t engage our employees!

I've used this metaphor here before — imagine for a moment that you’re in a rowboat.  

Say you’ve got 10 people in your boat.
You’ve got 3 people actively paddling;
5 people will paddle if asked, but if you look away they will be on their phones, playing with their oars, splashing in the water, etc.;
and you have 2 people in the back of the boat actively drilling holes causing the boat to actively take on water.

(If you haven't connected the dots by now, the boat is your business, or your nonprofit, or your kid's school.)

Gallup recently published a survey and those were the findings.

  • You've got 3 people actively engaged working to grow your organization and win.

  • You've got 5 people who are disengaged for whatever reason.

  • You've got 2 who are actively undermining your culture and vision.

Think about this for a moment — in America right now, the average org has 70% of its workforce disengaged. 70%!!

To win, we must start looking strategically at our employee engagement and how it impacts our performance as organizations.

Biblical Principles Actually Work!

Because of what's at stake, it’s imperative that we find ways to engage our teammates and employees. And I believe that Biblical principles—treating our employees with dignity, and engaging them on the heart-level, viewing them as created with value and purpose—are not only what we ought to do, but they happen to be highly effective way to engage our employees. This framework of what we're calling 3 Dimensional Leadership has the ability to catalyze our staff to bring their best selves to work, win for the organization, and mark them for the better as a result!

If 70% of our employees are disengaged, we will habitually turn over top talent, produce mediocre results, fail to innovate, and lose profits over long-term. We will be missing a massive opportunity to create organizations which move out of the transactional, carrot-and-stick culture, and into transformational places to work.

The aforementioned Gallup survey paints the picture of what's happening on average.

But we’re not in this to be average.  

By focusing on the whole employee—body, mind, spirit—applying the 3 Dimensional Coaching framework to our personal and organizational leadership, addressing employees beyond simply managing for results, will move people from disengaged to engaged, and help us win.

The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of 3 Dimensional Leadership

Here are the basic characteristics of coaching at each of the 3 Dimensions as structured by Jeff Dukes’s 3 Dimensional Coaching, and what these dimensions look like through an organizational perspective. This is what we're calling 3 Dimensional Leadership.

WHAT is 3 Dimensional Leadership

FUNDAMENTALS (or “Body”) — 1st Dimension

In sports this is things like: teaching technique, play assignments, speed, quickness, strength, and agility. The skills and abilities you must have in order to perform.

In your organization this may look like: sales training, process improvement, systems, and structure. Training and equipping your teammates to carry out the responsibilities found in their job description.

PSYCHOLOGY (or “Mind”) — 2nd Dimension

In sports this looks like: motivating your players, helping them channel their emotions, teamwork and team cohesion. Professional teams even have “mental coaches” whose sole role is to help players forge a bulletproof and unflappable mindset.

In your organization this may look like: helping your salesforce be better trained and more confident, creating an atmosphere of recognition and safety in which employees feel well thanked and well heard, conflict resolution, finding synergies between departments, forming solid team dynamics, regular feedback so evaluations don’t become this scary punishment-thing, but are seen as opportunities for growth.

HEART (or “Spirit”) — 3rd Dimension

In sports this looks like allowing the game to be a context to help players understand where their true value, identity, significance, character, worth lie (hint: it’s not in the sport itself). The best coaches in my life cared about me beyond what I could produce on the field, and I knew it. Paradoxically, that motivated me to want to exceed expectations.

In our organizations we have the ability to lead in a transformative way as well—where employees are highly engaged in the mission of the organization because they feel like they’re growing and receiving just as much.

[**There are many amazing resources out there to help you deep dive into the specific tactics and strategies to achieve each of these 3 Dimensions which would be beyond the overall purpose of this overview/talking points. My purpose is to give you a general overview of the framework, how it's been used in the coaching world, and begin to cast a vision and connect the dots for how we may start understanding how this applies to our organizations.]

3 Dimensional Leadership STARTS WITH SEEING people. Seeing them as capable and seeing them as worth pouring into.

Where to start

 Transformational, 3 Dimensional Leadership STARTS WITH SEEING people.  

In essence — “I see you as capable, and I want to pour into you.”

Transformational leadership boils down to choosing the paradigm of seeing employees as whole humans—body, mind, and spirit.

Choosing to see them as capable and worthy of pouring into. Choosing to care about them enough to guide them to success in their area of responsibility within your organization. To guide them to the life-changing revelations that since they are valued and can succeed at work, that they can do other things well in areas of their life beyond work.

Relational Work = Hard Work

Here’s the catch: This is freaking hard work.

There is no magic formula or cookie cutter process — it's messy and hard. God’s created us each with uniqueness, our employees each bring a life of experiences, and scars, and joys, and tastes, and worries and anxieties and insecurities to the workplace which we as leaders must navigate.

You will make mistakes. I make them every week.

As a mentor of mine, Zach Clark taught me, mistakes are opportunities for building relationships. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and vulnerable — i.e. 'human' — when leading your employees because you might make mistakes.

Back yourself.

Trust God will honor our messy attempts at loving our employees well and intentionally working to create a culture where others flourish.

The alternative to doing the hard work is doing what the average manager/owner/organization does: viewing work simply as a transactional, 1 dimensional world. A shut-up-sit-down-do-your-task-clock-out work environment. Viewing your employees as units of production.

This ugly alternative is what we get unless we work with intention to craft a work culture we’re proud of. A work culture that matters.

Why I left the business world...and why I’m returning.

5 years ago, I left the business world jaded and lacking a vision of how (or if) God could use business in his redemptive work in culture.

Profit is a subset of sustainability.
— Brent Warwick, Partner at ipsoCreative

We’ve missed the mark if our purpose starts and ends with maximizing our bank accounts.

Especially when that pursuit pollutes how we operate. When it leads to us treating employees as mere units of production, and treating customers as bundles of emotions we need to manipulate to buy more widgets. I realize now that’s a very 1 Dimensional approach to business leadership (at best).

Profit is a subset of sustainability, not an end in and of itself. And the environment which leads to sustainability over the long-term is when organizational health is prioritized and people are well-engaged and well-cared for.

As it turns out, RESULTS and TRANSFORMATION are not mutually exclusive.

We can achieve exceptional and tangible results AND make work a place where people can flourish.  

God does indeed have a place for business in advancing the common good.

3 Dimensional Leadership provides a great starting framework for finding our part in God’s vision to use business as a force to shape culture for his purposes.

WHY 3D LEADERSHIP IS IMPORTANT

Aside from the obvious employee engagement which we talked about above with what’s at stake, I believe there are two "Why’s" behind this concept of leading the whole person:

1. We are each made in image of God, with dignity and value

2. Each human has a purpose as part of the creation mandate found in Genesis 1:28

Reason #1: Made in Image of God (Loving doesn’t equal nice)

It's not just important to lead well to engage people so we don’t become the sinking boat example. It's important because each person is made in the image of God and we are called to recognize this and respond in love.  But that’s not a call to just “love” them — in the like, “yeah yeah I love you, bro. But I’ll never call you out or help you achieve growth”-kind of way.

We’re not called to stop there. I think we sometimes use that as a cop-out because we’re not working to love them into their truest selves. Too often we allow our desires to be “nice” or “popular.” And that’s not truly loving them. Loving people means keeping them accountable.

Reason #2: Purpose

The creation or cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28 to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth is the purpose of all humankind. It is the very first commandment, if you will. In essence this calls us to go create — to build businesses, organize departments, marshal our resources to solve problems and add value, compose music, design computers, start companies, manage banks, etc. Business is central to the creation mandate.

We’re called to lead our organizations in a way which empowers people to do their best work and find joy and purpose in doing this work they’ve been called and assigned to within your organization. We have a responsibility to create work environments where people flourish and can fulfill their work and this creation mandate well.

HOW to become a 3 Dimensional Leader

This is by no means a definitive guide, but good place to start might be with some rapid fire case examples where we can see this working well (and not-so-well) and apply it to our own workplaces.

1st Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS

At the end of the day I was just managing and punishing bad behavior...

I recently had the opportunity to serve as a Spanish translator on a medical mission. I had a conversation with a gentleman who was recently retired from the Parks and Rec Dept. He talked about his retirement with a twinge of sadness, saying "I was just managing and punishing bad behavior." This is an example of a very 1-Dimensional workplace (at best) — just lording over the disengaged employees to get them to comply. No buy-in, there’s no sense of team or safety. It’s transactional.

If we stay at this dimension as leaders and organizations, we will lose.

2nd Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS + MIND

CONFIDENCE: Built through recognition, big and small. Casting and helping others live into an identity—a “future self” as Tim Keller puts it.

TEAM COHESION: We all have a longing for community, to be known and to know. Culture of recognition where teammates are praising each other, not just some top-down awards thing.

“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” - Norman Hidle

SAFETY: This is a base motivation. If people don’t feel like they can do their job without fear of punishment when speaking their mind or taking appropriate risk, they will not feel safe. When they do, we’ve tapped into this second dimension.

Recognition and team and confidence can be accomplished by being present. Visiting with employees at the office or outside of it. In the same way that 3D Coaching mandates that we must be able to enter the life of an athlete away from the locker room and field, we must find creative and authentic ways to do this in our jobs. This will create the space for authenticity and vulnerability which I’ve found to be key for helping others see leaders as human and relatable and worthy of following.

MOTIVATION: Money can be motivating. Rules and policy can be motivating. But only extrinsically and only so much. Over-communicating that the purpose of any policy or rules is for the highest good, through transparency.

But be careful: "Ultimately rules without relationship lead to rebellion." as Josh McDowell puts it. Each individual is different. What motivates one, doesn’t for the other. Finding out what motivates your different players or employees is key.

CELEBRATION: "Follow the bright spots" as the Heath brothers say in their amazing book "Switch: How to change things when change is hard". Find what’s already working and support and celebrate the crap out of it. Find the sparks — who/what is going well — and do everything you can to lift that up and oxygen to that spark to light a fire!

3rd Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS + MIND + HEART:

The most powerful motivating force in the universe is the force of LOVE.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7

How to become a leader at the 3rd Dimension boils down to this — 
That your employees know you care about them beyond what they can produce. That they are cared for, and that sometimes means doing the unpleasant or unpopular things for the greater good, but ultimately over the longterm your heart for them will be made transparent and communicated well.

Example—Reaching the 3rd Dimensional remember reading a story a number of years ago about a top high school recruit who was making a decision between USC and Ohio State. He ended up deciding on OSU. The player’s rationale: “both schools have exceptional football programs — you go to either school to become a great football player. But you go to Ohio State to become a great man.” We have this same power in our organizations, and here’s just one example:

Recently, a few friends of mine who own their own business were telling me how they had to scale back and let a few people go. They gave the employees being let go the hard news that it was their last day and they'd be paid 2 weeks pay. 

Now this is where it gets good...

One project manager who was being let go came back to the partners and said, "Hey, I'm going to be fine, but I know that Sally could use more time and money to land on her feet and find her next gig. My husband and I will be fine — why don't you give my 2 weeks pay to her."

Wow! I mean, if that doesn't speak to the culture of their business, I don't know what does.

My philosophy has been deeply shaped by these guys and other business owners I've been blessed to call friends who are trying to revolutionize how we view work and build work cultures that matter. They have insanely inspired staff who are themselves raving fans and brand ambassadors, and believe so deeply that business is to help others flourish that they'll even give up their severance!

FINAL CHARGE — WE NEED YOU TO LEAD US!

I think we all recognize that the world has changed.

We, the very people you’re leading, are no longer getting the support we once did from our communities and families. The world is a broken place, and many of your employees are looking to their work to be more than it once was. They’re looking to their work to help support and fulfill them, not only financially (of course financially, that’s a given!) but emotionally and even spiritually.

The world needs leaders to lead us — we need YOU to lead us! This 3-Dimensional Framework is a great roadmap to start guiding your path.

Thank You for the opportunity to be part of transforming this framework for leaders within the workplace.


Going Deeper

ACCESS the Leadership Discussion Questions from my talk HERE.

WATCH "Measuring what makes life worthwhile" TED talk by Chip Conley

READ: Peak by Chip Conley 
Chip beautifully and practically transforms Maslow's hierarchy of needs to fit the employee, customer, and investor and makes a case for how all three are connected and how our organzations can be massive forces for good (and profit). 

READ: Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard

Related Articles, Inspiration & Acknowledgements:

ARTICLE: Is Your Boat Taking on Water? (Culture Guardianship Is Everyone's Responsibility)

Bill Latham & MeTeor Education (meteoreducation.com) — Bill was the first to point me to the Gallup example and highlight what's truly at stake right now in the American workforce. He's on a mission to create a culture that matters at MeTeor and in doing so, rethink the 21st century classroom. Check out his new book (co-authored with Rex Miller!) Humanizing the Education Machine: How to create schools that turn disengaged kids into inspired learners.

ipsoCreative (ipsocreative.com) — they're a boutique web agency who's state (and lived) purpose is: "Business is not to maximize shareholder value. The purpose of business is to help humans flourish." The great thing is — they're winning.

Zach Clark (developmentandleadership.org) — Zach runs a business called Development and Leadership Coaching and has taught me so much on how self leadership and nonprofit development is an amazing laboratory for learning to lead other well.

Gallup survey on disengaged workers — http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx

 FCA/Jeff Duke's 3 Dimensional Coaching Institute (3dinstitute.com)

Hold Loosely To Your Plans -- Here's Why and How

Dan LeMoine

A friend of mine is looking to start his first business. 

He and his wife have been in a limbo of decision between two different geographical locations and weighing the ups and downs of each in light of what makes sense from both a business perspective as well as family needs and the desire to be in a flourishing community.

[We should all commend him — the mere fact that he is concerned about the community his family will be in, the ministries they will pour into, the people they will serve with their time and resources and love, and the needs of his growing family speaks to this guys heart and rightly-oriented priorities. We need more leaders in the business world with this right focus.]

Have you ever been “bogged down in quandary about God’s will for your life,” as John Piper puts it?

As many of us who are working hard to make an impact and forge a purposeful path have experienced, making decisions between multiple good options can be really tough.

In making these tough decisions and discerning where to go and what to do, and how to keep moving forward in the face of uncertainty or ambiguity, I’ve found somethings to be particularly helpful. Things like: learning to hold loosely to your plans, moving forward in the face of uncertainty, and what “waiting on God” needs to looks like sometimes.

Regardless of the stage of career or life you’re in or what decisions you’re currently facing or plans you’re currently making, I hope this may help you as you grow in authentic leadership of your family and your organization:

We must hold loosely to our plans.

Plans are good. I love plans. I think they’re pretty fond of me too. It’s a nice thing me and Plans got going. I’m thinking about buying a ring soon...

Really though, plans are great. Who doesn’t love a good plan.

But, as I think we’d all agree, we must hold loosely to our plans. (Cue .38 Special’s Hold on Loosely)

As my friend reminded me during one of our mastermind conversations about his business decision — God's ways are higher than our ways.

We must tethering ourselves to the truth that God’s got us — identifying and reminding ourselves that he has provided, is providing, and will provide for all our financial, emotional, physical, physiological needs. Why? Because this creates powerful freedom and confidence which in turn allowing us to be our best selves and allocate clear mindshare to making these plans and decisions.

Why is this valuable from a leadership and entrepreneurial perspective?

Letting go of our need to control every minute detail, holding loosely to our decisions and plans allows us to do two things:

1). grow in contentedness, and
2). build tolerance with ambiguity.

The latter being a key aptitude of entrepreneurial success. As far as I can tell, every successful leader I know can tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty very well.

Entrepreneurs and courageous leaders still make plans of course, but holding loosely allows us to adapt and overcome when the inevitable happens — reality.

Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.
— Mike Tyson

There’s only so much you can plan for, and something always goes contrary to our plans. Holding loosely helps mitigate the shock and discouragement which comes when things don’t go as we plan. It also allows us to be more nimble when God calls us into somewhere we weren’t expecting.

Holding loosely is simple, but not easy to do. Here’s some tactics to help deploy this strategy and grow in this ability of "holding loosely."

Do stuff.

Sometimes when planning and decision-making we can tend to get a little bogged down. When making our plans and setting our intentions we can get paralyzed into inaction. “Analysis paralysis” some call it.

Holding loosely to your plans does not mean doing nothing.

Simply choosing to make a decision, and moving forward in a decision while being open to God changing our plans is one of the most powerful tactics in making things happen. It’s been key to helping me creating a career I’m proud of.

I believe God honors our plan-making, but it doesn’t mean he always will honor it in the way we expect or want. Thus we must hold loosely keeping open the option for him to "call an audible."

Proverbs 16:9 should be comforting: 

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. 

He will honor our plan-making by establishing where that planning and subsequent doing takes us. We mustn’t hold too tightly to our exact plans or our idea of what the destination has to look like. Let me give you an example...

Tale of Two Countries

In 2012 we clearly experienced God "establishing our steps" while moving forward in a plan we made. We had decided to make a big career move which would’ve taken us from Cleveland to Atlanta. I had weighed different options, made multiple “vision trips” to ATL, and diligently planned our next chapter, and we were moving forward with it.

Throughout the process we were committing our endeavours to God. In this moving forward God audibled our plans and used the momentum we’d already established to move us instead to the Dominican Republic.

The truth is, if we hadn’t started moving forward into our plan and begun transitioning into the uncomfortable season of changing careers and geographies, we’d not have been ready for what God really had for us. But since we’d already “pulled up anchor and cast off all the bowlines” in deciding on and planning our move to Atlanta, it readied us to hear and follow his call for us in the D.R. that much more doable. 

I think there’s a Chinese proverb that says something like: the path reveals itself as you walk it. (I’m writing this in the back of a van, in the Dominican, during Hurricane Matthew...so fact checking my Chinese-proverb efficacy isn’t an option at the moment).

So, make your plans, but be sure to start and keep moving forward. It is a powerful way to make stuff happen.

[ProTip: If you’re feeling stuck and not having clarity on a decision, try giving yourself a deadline on that decision. When the deadline arrives, move forward with your decision while being open to God establishing your steps.]

Maybe you’re asking: But what’s this “moving forward while holding loosely” strategy look like? How will I know where to go, what to do, what decisions to make?

"Close doors” vs. “Give me a sign"

Have you ever asked God to “give you a sign” of affirmation? I have. I still do — “God make it abundantly clear what we should do.” I also know that God’s ways don’t always (read: rarely) fit my fickle wants and narrow perspectives. So we’ve gotten in the habit of asking him to close doors while we’re moving forward in our best plan. We pray this especially if the decision is between multiple good options. Because at some point you just have to decide and get moving.

In my opinion and experience, this is a slightly better approach than the “God give me a clear sign of what to do” while you twiddle your thumbs doing nothing. Actively asking Him to close doors if you’re not moving in the direction is sometimes a superior option. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me — there is a time to wait in discernment. Yet often we get hamstrung and paralyzed making our plans or trying to make a choice or decision. Sometimes we may have the opposite problem and we need to slam on the breaks and do a little waiting because we're making big decisions in haste. I know friends who are more of the "ready-fire-aim-if-aim-at-all"-types who a bit of intentional slowing down might serve well.

Self awareness here is key — if you tend to make “hasties”, then waiting and asking God to make it abundantly apparent which decision is best is for you is a good approach. But, if you’re like me, and tend to fall on the slower and more intentional side of pulling the trigger, you may be susceptible to analysis-paralysis and possibly need to be actively moving forward while asking Him to close a door if you’re not moving in the right direction.

Ultimately, as John Piper aptly reminds us, God isn’t concerned with some of the decisions we’re preoccupied with. 

"The text [Galatians 5:15] begins with a clear and refreshing statement of Christ's will for our lives. Sometimes we get bogged down in a quandary about God's will. And often we worry about decisions which are simply not a great issue with God (where to go to school, what job to take, where to live, etc.). [Dan: where to hang my shingle.]

We need to orient our lives on the clear statements of Scripture regarding God's will. And here is one: "For freedom Christ has set us free." Christ's will for you is that you enjoy freedom. Where you go to school, what job you do, where you live, etc., are not nearly so crucial as whether you stand fast in freedom. If they were, the Bible would have commanded those things as clearly as it here commands freedom. But it doesn’t.” (bolding mine)

So continue making plans and making decisions. But hold loosely to your plans and continue to pray through your plans, giving them to God, and asking he right your path or close doors if you've taken a wrong turn.

Keep moving forward and keep holding loosely,

Dan

P.S. Here’s a bit more intensity on Planning and Doing from my friend and mentor Zach Clark.


ARTICLE NO. 77/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Stop Trying To "Get Right With God"...Start Focusing On THIS Instead.

Dan LeMoine

Have you ever been frustrated by the frequent "you're a sinner and you need to 'get right with God'"-type messages we get from thought leaders and pastors? 

I do, and while the fact that I am a broken sinners is not untrue, it is only part of the truth. Because, as I understand it, I've been made right through Christ. 

Yet, unfortunately it seems we spend more time focusing on what we're being saved from (our junk, our stumbles, our mess ups, our sin, etc.) than what we're being saved to (a life of freedom, abundance, forgiveness for past/present/future sin, and safety from an unconditional love we can't barely begin to understand).

This sparked some great conversation with a pastor friend of mine, Ryan Tate, who really helped clarify this well-intentioned-yet-false idea that we need to "get right" with God.

Enter Ryan...

I was pondering the conversation we had about "getting right with God" and how that sentiment has well intentions but isn't always helpful. And, in typical fashion, I began to think about the prodigal son story again. So, I thought I would share... 

We're correct in the reality that we no longer need to "get right" with God because we've been "made right" with God through Christ. (God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:21). That business has been taken care of once and for all, and when we try to "get more right" with God we're basically saying that Christ's death was good, but not good enough, because there is more getting right work for us to do. 

The prodigal son returned home to "make things right" with the Father. He wanted to work his way back into righteous standing with the family. He thought he needed to prove himself, pay off his debt, and most likely live like a slave/servant (at best) for the rest of his life. He was hoping to be lucky enough to just be back in close proximity to the family; if only he could eat the crumbs that fall from the table. 

The Father wouldn't have any of that and immediately reinstated and welcomed him as a son, full royalty, fully secure, and fully clothed (in righteousness). What great imagery we have here with what the Father gives his son: shoes, ring, robe, feast. There is no "getting right" going on here. It's full-on, counter-cultural grace. And, grace is never about the condition of the recipient but all about the generosity of the Giver. Grace has a focus and it's not us. 

Imagine if the son, on the following day, packed up the ring, robe, and shoes deep in his closet and acted like a slave in his father's house? I think that's what we often do when we try to earn our righteousness. 

While I like the well intentions of "getting right with God" (and I'm sure I'm guilty of doing similar things from the pulpit before, so I'm speaking from a place of humility), I don't like the language because it's more about assessing our condition/standing before God. A better way to go is to talk about "trajectory." 

Like the father in the story, our Lord embraces and welcomes us even when our motives are mixed. If God waited for our hearts to be pure and "right" he would never have us back. In the story, what mattered most was not the son’s motives but his movement. He was finally moving toward his father after so many years of moving away. It's about trajectory. 

What trajectory are you on? Are you moving away from the Father or toward the Father?

Consider your trajectory. That language forces us to consider our sin, our heart, our idols, our worship, our everything, and that's much better than telling people to "get right with God" when they already are.  

What's your trajectory? 


Ryan Tate is currently a creative director at ipso a boutique web agency out of Akron/Greenville/Pasadena. Prior to that Ryan was a bi-vocational pastor and creative director, and once upon a time was a really really smart engineer guy.

Connect with Ryan on Twitter at @taterhouse or on Linkedin here.

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ARTICLE NO. 76/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Use This Tactic To Become A More Effective Conflict Resolver

Dan LeMoine

If you’re in any form of leadership (or have any human interaction in your work or personal lives really) you’ve no doubt had to have crucial conversations or been put in situations where you’ve had to lead through icky stuff. There’s no way around it. As your organization or your team grows, and you collectively seek to solve meaningful problems you will run into times where you need to resolve and work through conflict.

On the far side of conflict can be intimacy and continuity. Conversely, there can also be destruction and disunity. A big factor in where you end up as you work through conflict and seek to resolve issues depends on your approach.

We must approach situations — whether it’s an office gossip, questionable or destructive behavior, lack of representing our brand well, irresponsibility, slipping performance, whatever it may be — with the focus on seeking the highest good for those involved.

Confront what you know, question what you suspect.

One tactic which I’ve found extremely helpful in clarifying and getting to underlying issues is: Confront what you know, question what you suspect.[1]

This approach is extremely powerful in slowing us down and to avoid jumping to conclusions, make hasty assumptions, presume that others have horrible or negative intentions, and allowing my mindset to be put into a reactive or defensive state.

By confronting what we already know, and questioning with gentleness and loose assumptions what we may suspect, we are able to navigate situations with a fresher level of empathy, compassion, pity, and mercy than if we simply assume the worst and default into ‘fight or flight’ mode in our conflict resolution.

What tactics have you used in confronting other in awkward or hard situations which you’ve found effective?


[1] Hat tip to my buddy Curtis Powell for teaching and showing me this framework.

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What's In Your Code of Character? (You've got one, right?)

Dan LeMoine

At the school I serve we have a Code of Character for our students.

We work to point our students towards these attributes — encouraging and fostering them to berevolutionary, servant leaders, wise, relational, courageous, and perseverant. We even have these beautifully designed posters representing each one in classrooms and around campus as visual cues to remind ourselves to live into these things.

These traits (and thier foundatioanal and key verses are so powerful that I’ve begun to intentionally setting my own mind on these different attributes throughout the day, not just encourage our students in this way, but to actively work these into my own peronsal operating system as well.  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
— Philippians 4:8

Below I’ve shared each with you in hope that several may ping you and you may find them valuable in pursuing your best work.

As a disciple of Christ, in my work and life, I am...

Revolutionary

I seek first God’s kingdom and am transformed in how I think and act in all areas of my life.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

Servant leader

I lead using power, authority, and influence to love and serve others because Jesus first loved and served me.

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Wise

I can distinguish where, when and how to apply my knowledge and understanding of God’s teachings to not just my personal life, but my professional life as well.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!" Psalm 111:10

Relational

I celebrate that I am designed for connection to God and others, reflecting the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Courageous

I risk doing what is right and good when faced with challenges, big or small.

"The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

Perseverant

I move forward in confidence no matter the situation or possible outcome, trusting that God is good and in control.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Wouldn't you agree that these are character traits necessary to win at both business and life in a way which honors God? So we set our minds on Truth and marshall our energies to compound these character traits in our lives.

Any traits I’ve missed which are worth adding to this list?

There's value in defining our character so we know when we are acting in accordance with or out of- character. 

Recently there's a great example where Cincinnati Reds' 1st Baseman Joey Votto self-admittedly acts "out of character." The fact that he admits this and corrects course to makes amends with a fan shows us he's defined what character is and what his character goals are.

With a clear idea of the character he is striving for, Votto knows when he is not acting in accordance with who he knows himself to be. 


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Haters Gonna Hate: Leading Through Input, Criticism, and Suggestion

Dan LeMoine

Whenever you lead up, whenever you seek to solve meaningful problems, whenever you take intentional steps to build a career that matters, there will be no lack of people giving you feedback and “input.”

From what I can tell, whenever you do the emotional work of putting yourself out there, taking responsibility for an unmet need or problem, there will likely be someone there scoffing or suggesting. And too yet often, these suggesters are unwilling to get dirty and provide a solution with their critiques or jump in the trenches with you.

From my experience, we humans love to complain and criticize without proactively being part of a solution. It’s the path of least resistance. My challenge to myself (and you!), is that when we have criticism or suggestions, we bring them with possible solutions and we find ways we can contribute to the solutions we offer.  Every A-players I know takes responsibility and spends less time criticising, complaining or blindly suggesting and more time actually doing.

There will never be a lack of armchair critics, idea-only people, and well-intentioned fools unsolicitedly offering their ’shoulds’, yet failing to step up, take responsibility, and and actually do the work to make change happen.

And guess what, that’s okay. It’s part of life.

The skill we must develop as leaders is figuring out how to make these friends feel validated and significant.  Yet we must be self aware enough to know who to listen to. We must become adept at knowing when to take input to heart, and when to kindly acknowledge the input, make the input-er feel heard, then swiftly get back to crushing it.

If you listen to no one, you can become myopic and proud, unchecked and inflexible. And if you listen to them all, you’ll find yourself mired in self-doubt, unsureness, fomo, and with soft resolve. This selective listening while maintaining focus is a skill; one that matures the more you face criticism and suggestions as you do meaningful work.

The conventional wisdom I’m seeing from many other thought leaders is to rid your life of these type of people. They tell us to get rid of negative people, ignore the haters completely, and scoff at the scoffers. But I’d like to challenge that.

I’ve seen it done differently. Sure, hatin’ the haters is the easy route (just like complaining or criticising — it’s the other side of the same coin in some ways). And yes, there is a time to tune out this feedback completely. It may even be biblical (see Proverbs 9:8 below). But we must have grace and choose to engage. How will we ever invite others into a higher good — a better story — in their work and life, if all we do brush them off.

I’m learning that leadership isn’t just leading the agreeables, the playmakers, and the responsibility-takers. It means working to seek the highest good of even the criticizers, the scoffers, and the suggesters. 

Haters gonna hate.
— Proverbs 9:8a, paraphrased by yours truly[1]

Onward,

DL


[1] This of course is a paraphrase. Proverbs 9:8a is "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you..."

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How to Better Execute Against Your Goals & Actually Stick to Success Habits

Dan LeMoine

I was recently asked: How are you able to execute? In other words, How am I disciplined with sticking to things (habits, commitments, ambitions, etc.)

The short answer is to create leverage and decrease resistance.

I. Creating Leverage

I try to find ways to make myself do the things I should be doing (and to avoid the things which distract me). If I get leverage on something, it means I am applying force to get movement in the direction I want.

So I try to find ways — both implicitly (internally) or explicitly (externally) — to make sure I’m doing what I say I want to be doing, and to help create an environment of execution of my goals and ambitions.

a. External Leverage

For certain habits I need more explicit or external motivators to force myself to stick with things. I have someone else counting on me to deliver and execute in certain areas which keep me honest and true to doing the right things. For example, a few years ago my writing was sporadic at best. I wrote whenever I felt like it, whenever the “spirit moved me” to do so. It wasn’t until I took over the blog of a company I’m closely associated with, did my body of work really take off — my writing become tighter, clearer, and more consistent. The fact that the partners at this company expect a post published each week leverages me to shut up, sit down, and type.

We all have these external levers in some areas of our lives; we get up each morning for work whether we feel like it or not because there is someone (or many someones) who are counting on our input, leadership, and work, and because we need to provide for our families. We go to practice when we don’t feel like it because our teammates are expecting us to and because they’re going too. We go to the gym at 5:30a because our workout partner is there waiting on us.

What areas of your life (spiritually, physically, financially, professionally, relationally) could you build in some external leverage?

Maybe it’s finding a workout buddy, or an accountability partner who will ask you the hard questions no one else will. Maybe it’s finding a part-time or freelance opportunity in a desired industry where you’ll be expected to deliver — “forced" to produce work which will build your connections and body of work in preparation for a full blown career move.

b. Internal Leverage

For other things, or as our success habits begin to stick and become routine, our motivation shifts — at least in part — to more implicit internal motivation. 

This internal leverage is when we need less of an outside force to compel us to do the right things. We generally have a deeper understanding of why I must do a thing, or the success routine has become a full blown habit. 

I began lifting weights in middle school for sports. I have maintained a pretty consistent workout routine since then. Sports (mainly football and rugby) took up the majority of my athletic bandwidth until several years after college. These high school, collegiate, and mens athletic programs which I was a part of where great external motivators for staying fit. There was an expectation of athleticism which helped leverage me to get my butt in the gym. But somewhere along the way over the last 17 years I stopped needing that external lever as much.

Yet, while I’m no longer part of any official athletic program (no more external leverage), I still consistently hit the gym several times a week because I’ve conditioned myself to love it. I intrinsically know and feel the benefits (both short- and long-term) when I’m consistent with this habit. The leverage to get to the gym is much more internal.

We must also recognize that the need for external and internal leverage fluctuates and is not mutually exclusive. In some season, it seems like I need a workout partner to get myself out of bed at 5:30a, in other seasons I seem to have no problem making it happen from internal motivation. 

From my experience it’s a massively powerful spot when you’ve achieve both layers to help you execute against your goals and be successful in the things you want to achieve. Stoking the internal fire while also having someone else keeping you accountable to actively fanning the flame is when big momentum and movement begins to take place. 

After a while, once something becomes a habit, the external leverage (like a workout partner or hard deadline) is more of a safety measure and barometer rather than the primary source of leverage. That’s because once something becomes a habit, we’ve conditioned ourselves to automatically and implicitly motivate ourselves to do a thing.

II. Decreasing Resistance

a. Visual cues and line of sight.

The second aspect of execution which I’ve found highly valuable is decreasing resistance. It’s insane how keeping something out of sight does often keep it out of mind. For the morning routine, setting my gym clothes out the night before takes one more step out of the process between waking up at 5:30 and getting the gym. Putting my vitamins out on the counter instead of in the drawer help me to remember to take them.

b. Remove distraction.

I’ve also heard of writers who, in order to get right into writing at the onset of their day, make sure their word processing software is open when they turn on their computer in the morning. No email or social to distract, just right into putting thoughts on paper. 

Remove ambiguity by breaking down into bite-sized tasks

Clearly breaking down larger projects or goals in to small bite sized tasks helps remove ambiguity which is a form of subconscious resistance.

c. Schedule your intentions

Another way to decrease resistance as well is to give give it a time and place to live on your calendar. "If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist” as my friend Joshua says.

I’ve probably quoted James Clear on this countless times, but I’ll over communicate for the sake of driving the point home:

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

Researchers found that people who filled out this sentence were 2x to 3x more likely to actually exercise compared to a control group who did not make plans for their future behavior. Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behaviour. [1]

Where can you remove ambiguity, distraction or resistance in the different areas of your life?

Now, I don’t get it right all the time. There are moments where I don’t operate as I’ve intended for a multitude of reasons. These are just a few strategies I’ve used to help me execute and implement what I say I want to be doing to make progress in different areas of my life. I hope they help! 


[1] James Clear, "The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time" (www.jamesclear.com/master-one-thing)

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There’s No Automating Authenticity — Strategies in Making Raving Fans

Dan LeMoine

I’m all for tools of automation to make doing work easier. There is serious credence which should be paid to the whole maxim “work smarter not harder” maxim. 

I love the Boomerangs and Buffers of the world, and any other tool which assist in simplifying my life and help us do things more efficiently. I mean, who doesn't?

But lest we forget that it is too easy to let efficiency undermine our effectiveness.

You can’t automate authenticity

I was reminded of a story a friend told me of his favorite clothing company Mizzen + Main. He said he is a raving fan and has no issue dropping $130 on a shirt because of the quality and the authenticity of the company. It’s not uncommon for him to receive personal handwritten notes in with his orders, thanking him by name for his support and patronage. More than once the ladies and gents at Mizzen + Main have sent him personalized videos telling him about a sale or offer they’re running which he may be interested in based on his previous purchases.

It’s personal. It’s honest. It’s human. It’s authentic.

This level of authenticity, which is not automate-able, is the exact thing that has created a life-long raving fan for Mizzen + Main.

Because you cannot automate authenticity.

Doing the most human thing is, albeit paradoxically, necessary to scale and grow.

When to Automate

What and when should we automate, then?

When I asked him how he would split his time between relationship building and the digital content creation side of development and advancement of our nonprofit/ministry, my friend Zach Clark helped me clarify a subtle distinction —

Automate so that you can be authentic.

In other words, automate the tasks and responsibilities which get in the way of doing the real work of building meaningful relationships in order to grow your influence and organization.


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Structure and Discipline Equals True Freedom

Dan LeMoine

As Americans we idolize the fiercely independent-, pull yourself up by your bootstraps-, make your own way-type spirit and mentality. We love our freedom (even when we become slaves to it…but that’s a different conversation entirely).

Our natural reaction to imposed structure, routine, or authority is to resist it, to resent it, or to downright fight against it. It’s this culturally fuelledknee-jerk reaction which may be robbing us of our ability to achieve what we say we want to in work and life.

Each summer over the last several years, my wife and I have had a good amount of unstructured time during the summer which we've chosen to spend in the States with friends and family. We still have certain work responsibilities and deliverables, but these are much more fluid and doable from coffee shops, libraries, or home of family members. This gives us a ton of autonomy and freedom to do, really, whatever the heck we want.

We enter each summer with grandiose plans of hitting the gym, buying healthy food we don't often get in the D.R., spending time in the Word, catching up on sleep, putting energy into our friend/family relationships which may have atrophied slightly while living abroad, reading, resting, finally spending time on some personal passion project which may have been marginalized, and sticking to daily success habits (like this writing!).

And all of this “un-structure" leaves us no room for excuses for not executing against the things we say we want to do and be about. In theory, all of those above things should be easier to accomplish. 

Yet, unfortunately, the opposite generally occurs.

The diet slips. Workout routines go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks. The end of summer arrives and we realize we didn’t see any of the friends we dreamed of sharing time with. We let our quiet times with God get interrupted and shortened. And we too often end up longing for the routine and structure of home. 

This naturally happens without structure and the discipline of routine. This is because discipline and structure creates room for these things to flourish. And that’s true freedom.

I have a friend who has been extremely successful in his real estate business which affords him extreme flexibility in his time and finances. He told me recently, "I used to think that freedom was getting to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. But I ended up realizing that that is not freedom...I ended up being a slave to my emotions and passions." Wow.

It’s funny how a lack of to-dos, a lack of mission, a lack of routine and structure — the things we often resent or complain about — lead to a lack of discipline and thus a lack of freedom and a lack of accomplishing the things we say we want to achieve in our work and life. This fantasy of full-on autonomy with no accountability is toxic to productivity and purpose, building bulletproof habits, and building your body of work. Lack of structure sabotages success.

I’ve found that I am incredibly more creative and productive in all areas of my life when I have an appropriately full plate.

Regardless of whether you’re in a super full season, or a more unstructured season like our summers — taking a few minutes to set your daily/weekly intentions, outlining your game plan for executing on them, and scheduling your routine and habits, making sure to align them with your overall goals — is key to success. Without structure and intentional routine, we end up allowing ourselves to compromise and operate at a sub-optimal state.

Too often we hear about the athlete who retires, only to return a season later out of sheer boredom. Or the ambitious high-achiever working their whole lives for this loosely defined “retirement” only to have a feeling of purposelessness and loss of direction once they get their.

Having purpose in your days starts with structure and routine and discipline. We may say we want full un-fettered freedom and autonomy, yet deep down we all crave structure. Our independent American spirit is something we can harness for such good, but let’s not let our craving for freedom and autonomy rob us of doing what we ought, or from structuring our time and energy for optimal output in doing the work we were created for. 

Do you find yourself resenting structure or routine? Is there a way you can leverage structure and routine in your life to cultivate discipline and crush your goals? 


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Is Your Boat Taking On Water? Here's What To Do If It Is...

Dan LeMoine

I recently got to know an inspiring new friend by the name of Bill Latham.

Bill gave a keynote alongside my wife at a recent conference, where he spoke on creating a culture of transformation. He (and his company Meteor) are leading the way in disrupting their industry, rethinking the 21st century classroom, and innovating in creating high impact learning environments for schools across the nation. When my wife Danae told me about Bill and the mission he is on, I couldn’t not reach out.  

During a recent chat we had, the topic of culture and employee engagement inevitably arose.

Based on recent GALLUP findings [1] on employee engagement, Bill painted an analogy of a boat:

“Say you’ve got 10 people in your boat.
You’ve got 3 people actively paddling;
5 people will paddle if asked, but if you look away they will be on their phones, playing with their oars, splashing in the water, etc.;
and you have 2 people in the back of the boat actively drilling holes causing the boat to actively take on water."

This is what is actually happening in our workforce today — according to the GALLUP findings, of every ten workers:

  • 3 people are positively and actively engaged,
  • 5 people are not engaged, and
  • 2 people are actively disengaged.

This means 70% of customers are being underserved, 70% of kids are receiving an inadequate education, 70% of hospital patients are not getting the treatment they deserve, 70% of public servants are underserving the taxpayer…you get the idea.

Bill continued by asking, "What would you do with the two people drilling holes in the boat?"

My answer: “Well, you’d get them to stop.” 

Bill: “And if they don’t?"

Me: “Throw 'em overboard."

We talk about making culture and fancy ourselves "culture-makers," at least to some extent. Yet we overlook, ignore, or forget our responsibility to, not only make culture, but to protect and guard the shared set of values as well.

[Of course, the caveat and important first step is creating a clearly defined set of values which are communicated effectively and shared corporately among your team.]

He reminded me that cultural guardianship is a responsibility of everyone in the boat.

It’s not just for the leader, or for a few zealous rah-rah culture police. Each one of us must take an active role in the creation, championing, and guarding of the cultural environment we desire to operate within. We have this amazing choice, opportunity, and responsibility to ensure that what we do aligns with the corporate identity we want to live out and into. As leaders, we are all vanguards of culture.

It’s real easy to complain that the boat is taking on water while sitting and doing nothing about it. It’s another thing entirely to guard the boat from those people who are actively engaged in drilling holes.

We have a duty to keep the boat afloat and moving in the right direction.


[1] "Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014": http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx
 

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Change: Why We Hate It & What To Do About It

Dan LeMoine

When asked if he was concerned that he would confuse the market when they decided to split popular check-in app Foursquare into two separate apps, founder Dennis Crowley told Inc.

“Initially, we heard a mix of complaints and praise. But 90 percent of Foursquare users adopted Swarm for check-ins within a matter of weeks, we we think we’re on strategy. On the internet people don’t like to change until they experience it.” [1]

I don’t think this is limited to user habits on the internet.

In the 4 years my wife has been in leadership at the world-changing school we help run, she often receives (as most leaders do) complaints and criticism from different stakeholders about “all the change” they’ve experienced over the years. But when asked what specific changes they’re unsettled with, rarely can they come up with specific changes they are discontent with.

It’s not because things haven’t changed. It’s just that, rationally speaking, they (read: we) love positive change (and our staffers tell us as much). Yet emotionally there is a resistance to change.

Rationally, we see the need for improvement and organization and change. Emotionally, our reaction to change (or the mere suggestion of it), at least initially, is often in opposition of it.

Change is rarely the path of least resistance, which is the path we’ve been conditioned to want and too often take. Embracing change is never a default mode in our comfort zone. Change is scary because with it comes an innate sense of ambiguity and uncertainty — two variables our control-addicted culture resists. Tolerance of these things is a feature we must cultivate and learn to love (or at least manage) if we want to grow and develop as leaders and as humans. Embracing and navigating and initiating change is a key ingredient if we’re looking to move from a fixed mindset to a growth-mindset.

Fortunately, we always have a choice when change is upon us.

We can choose to scream, cry, rage, complain, and criticize, get angry, dig our heels in, sandbag, or run away...

Or we can choose to observe the changing landscape as objectively as possible and ask ourselves: how can I use the change to benefit, grow, further our mission and further my calling?

We can choose to be paralyzed by the shifting state of affairs. Or we can choose to leverage this uncertainty and ambiguity (and the paralysis of others) to connect more, impact more, drive more value.

Tolerance of change, ambiguity, and uncertainty seems to be a common denominator of the successful and effective leaders in almost any sphere of culture. It allows our best leaders to remain relevant, connect with others, and seize opportunity. 

Questions to Push You Towards Leadership In Change

Here are a few more probing and guiding questions we can ask ourselves when we confront change:

What can I control here? 

In what ways can I be part of leading this change? How can I be proactive in the change versus being driven by it or reactive to it?

Why am I finding myself resistant? What do I feel like I’m losing by changing? Is there anyway to embrace this change while maintaining the best things from what we were doing?

Is it helpful and beneficial to complain, criticize, get angry or mad? If not, how can I take captive those emotions and harness them to my advantage?

How could this change actually spur me to grow? Is there a way I can frame this to develop more grit, resilience, perseverance, strength of character? 

Where is the opportunity here (to love, to profit, to connect, to impact, etc.)?

Does this change inhibit my ability to live out the gospel — that is to love God and love others? Or does it create more/new opportunities to shake things up and do so.


Quoted from Inc. Magazine in an article by Scott Gerber, October 2014

Further Perspective on Change

Explained: Why We Don’t Like Change, Huffington Post article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, PHd

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On Your Quest For Big You Become Bigger

Dan LeMoine

I touched on this yesterday, but we must divorce ourselves from the idea that success and scale looks like a straight line cleanly moving up and to the right.

To truly grow as leaders and grow our organizations in a healthy way, we must embrace the tension that comes with pushing your boundaries to grow while constantly battling the urge to tie our worth to how clean or successful our path looks. When we can embrace our imperfections, reframe failure as a key ingredient in growth that is when we flourish, regardless of the outcome.

The result of doing (even if it might not work)

With our identity placed in something (or Someone) other than the outcome of our efforts we are freed to be audacious. As we push into the possibility of failure in the name of curiosity, embrace the rollercoaster path, seek learning, and develop our understanding of what is possible, growth occurs.

The worst thing we can allow ourselves is to be paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. By pushing into the possibility of failure (or embarrassment or confronting past demons and failures), and embracing this truth that the path is not up-and-to-the-right, the mountain we thought we were trying to scale now seems like a mole hill. 

When we realize the journey is full of false peaks on the way to a larger destination it helps us achieve new levels of growth. And each new level of growth we achieve by ruthlessly confronting these fears with our rightly framed expectation of what the journey looks like, gives us a right perspective on our work and what we're working to achieve. It gives us a perspective we'd never even have gotten if we had never started.

In your quest for big you become bigger.
— Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan in The One Thing

Start. Do. Fail. Grow. (Repeat)


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Is True Growth Always Up-And-To-The-Right?

Dan LeMoine

The word ’scale’ in a business context is usually synonymous with boundless growth. 

James Clear showed us that growth is hardly ever linear and often is either exponential (growth increases faster as time progresses) or logarithmic (growth slows as time progresses) depending on the area of your business or life you are trying to grow. And if we zoom in, we may also see that growth laden with valleys and false peaks and plateaus and stalls.

I have friends whose primary goal when launching their business was to hit critical mass as quickly as possible. This allowed them to establish and ‘trade’ on their company's reputation and portfolio of work rather than the connections and networks of our founding partners. They were seeking growth and scale relentlessly. They have achieved growth but if you'd ask them, they'd tell you it was anything but linear. Or where it may seem boundless and neat, that neatness came at the expense of some other area of their business or lives. 

We so badly want to make our path (in work and life) nice and neat and graph-ready. When we frame our expectations for up-and-to-the-right-type growth we are setting ourselves up for failure. What if we realize growth is more like scaling a mountain than an up-and-to-the-right linear path. What if we realize true growth comes with false peaks, detours, getting lost, being found, only to realize you were lost in the first place.

There is a lot of credence to learning from others who have gone before you; to following the path and listening to the wise sages that will help you identify and navigate the obstacles in your business and life. It’s natural to avoid hard stuff and constantly looking for the clean, easy, safe, and sanitized path that promises boundless linear growth in our careers and lives. But it may be much more effective to embrace obstacles and failures as necessary milestones to achieving lasting growth.

Want Growth? Then do, even if it might fail.

Sometimes we have to do a thing to find out the reason for it.
— John LeCarre

Part of growing is doing a thing even or especially if it may fail. We hear a lot about this in the start-up world — fail fast. fail often. Yet we still tend to avoid this in other areas of our lives we want to grow in.

So there in lies the growth. It’s not enough to just know the reason for something, we must DO. To grow we need the inquiry and learning, data-points, iteration, and intuition and intelligence which only come from doing.


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On Humility

Dan LeMoine

‘Thank you,’ the old man said. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.

 — Santiago, the old man in The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

For the longest time I have had trouble accepting complements without squirming, or being affirmed verbally from a friend or my spouse. 

It is a skill to be able to accept help, accept a gift, accept a complement with a strong “Thank you” and without a feeling of inferiority or owing-ness or insecurity. 

Humility is not synonymous with weakness, yet can sometimes be perceived that way or feel that way. They are separate states entirely. In Proverbs — the wisdom wellspring of the b-i-b-l-e — actually humility is often associated with power, honor, wisdom, and wealth. 

Unfortunately we can too often get the whole humility thing wrong by deploying self-deprication-masked-as-humility. We deflect and downplay instead of saying, “thanks, that means a lot to hear that from you.” This of course comes out of our own insecurities. Insecurities which would likely be non-existent if we worked to root our identity and self-value in who we are in Jesus. That is — safe, forgiven, accepted unconditionally, more than conquerers, and innately valued, dignified, and deeply loved.

[Note: I’m not sure, but this may be more of a male problem — decopuling our value from what we do, or feeling squirmish when being praised or validated or affirmed. It can feel woo-woo, touchy-feely, or mushy to affirm and be affirmed verbally. To receive genuine praise or complements…or maybe it’s just me :)]

So here’s my challenge (to myself or you) to work on developing this skill of graciously and humbly accepting help and approbation or affirmation (or accepting anything, really). Whenever I find myself in a position of receiving (which is a practice in and of itself in our fiercely independent-valued culture), I will simply work to give a hearty “Thank you.” No bargaining. No trying to ‘even out’ the social debt in some other way. No downplaying. No deflecting. Simply accepting and thanking. 

Like the Old Man, who graciously accepts help from The Boy in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, I must remind myself there is no disgrace or loss of pride accepting help even when there is no way to repay, depending on someone, or recieving praise. 


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The Real Casualty of Us-versus-Them (Instead of "We")

Dan LeMoine

The biggest casualty of having an attitude of 'us-versus-them' (instead of the inclusive ‘we’) is that we rob ourselves of the ability to experience the true fullness of life and the true richness of our humanity. I'm not talking about geo-politics or macro-economic policies. I'm talking about the most basic of human opportunities.

I’m ashamed to say that I was once much more an ‘us-vs.them’-type of person. By the grace of God I’ve grown tremendously in my openness to engaging with humanity — particularly the humanity that doesn’t talk like me, look like me, vote like me, laugh at the same jokes as me, believe like me, worship like me, dress like me, or smell like me. It’s not often easy. Nor is it clean and ordered, black and white. It’s messy and uncomfortable lots of the time.

If I’d continued to remain fixed in this mindset of separation and fear (that’s often what the us-them’ mindset is rooted in) — approaching those different than me with an aire of superiority and a closed mind and heart — I’m reluctant to think how shallow and less colorful my life would be.

Being driven by an us-versus-them mentality means we’d never have met our Syrian friends in a random park on the Canadian shore of Lake Ontario. I’d never have experienced the taste of their homemade grape leaves, the smell of the rich smoke from their argylle, the feel of their warm mint tea in tiny styrofoam cups, heard the pleasant sound of their Arabic and Syrian languages, or the comforting laughter we shared while sharing stories of kids and freedom and religion and life.

Old mindsets could’ve easily labeled them (<—see what I did there) as “weird,” felt superior about my clothes, my food, my skin tone, my language. Man, what an utter tragedy that would have been.

The real casualty of not having a “we”-attitude is us. When we put up walls (figurative and literal), the thing we are hurting is ourselves by choosing a safe, sterile, and hollow life. By choosing a life of fear and scarcity and segregation instead of a life abounding in love and connection, we hurt ourselves by living outside of God’s call to engage and be in community.


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What Guides Us in the Marketplace?

Dan LeMoine

There’s a proverb that instructs:

“Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” [1]

Do we functionally acknowledge, consider, and think about Him when making decisions in our business, voting for public officials, marketing our product or service, revisiting conflict at the office, or making crucial people decisions?
Or do we simply adopt the standards and methods which everyone else uses?

Do we work to allow Him to guide us?
Or do we thoughtlessly rush into things allowing our default modus operandi be driven by our pop-culture and the latest business gurus?

Do we trust Him that making decisions in the name of Jesus and for the sake of what is right, and which might cost us something, will put us on right paths? Are we really ready to let our faith inform our work in a way which is costly?
Or do we just say we trust him with our whole lives, but when the rubber meets the road we adopt “secular” practices which, and if we were honest with ourselves, are not the ways God would have us do it.

There’s nothing wrong with learning from others, seeking counsel, or even learning frameworks and best practices from the world around us (because unfortunately there’s no book in the bible that talks about effective cold emailing tactics). But until we learn to filter all that we take in and then all that we do — that is, our actions and decisions and intentions — through a Christ-centered worldview, then why would we believe we are on the right path?

Until we recalibrate the framework through which we conduct ourselves outside the walls of the church and in our daily lives, continually asking ‘why' until we get to our underlying intentions and weigh these intentions against the highest good of those around us, then why would we believe we’re heading in the right direction?

If you’re reading this, then you likely desire to be an intentional leader who walks with integrity and honor. Let’s let our intention inform the way we approach business through the lens of our faith as well.


[1] Proverbs 3:6 HCSB
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ARTICLE NO. 63/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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My Online Brand Building Strategy

Dan LeMoine

By the end of July, when I finish the 100 Day Project, I’ll have written about 150 posts here — mostly on topics at the intersection of faith and work, building a career and body of meaningful work, and how to forge a faith for Monday (not just Sunday). Not a bad little base of content to play with, wouldn’t you say?

I got a question from a friend recently who receives my newsletter:

“[W]hat is your process for identifying and building your online brand?"

While right now my focus has been on putting in the reps, doing the work and writing everyday, that is not where it will stop. I have put some thought into this. Here’s the actions I plan to take to grow awareness and exposure of the ideas I publish here on this blog.  

My Personal Brand Building & Content Distribution Strategy

Here are the tactics and actions I plan to implement, in no particular order (unless otherwise indicated).

Move to a 1-2x/week Publishing Schedule

Daily writing is an excellent habit. Daily publishing is not where I’d like to stay. Moving to a 1-2x/week fixed publishing schedule will allow for more researched and well structured and articles. 

Cross Post Featured Posts to Medium

Medium is a massive platform with lots of eyeballs. Cross publishing there will generate more view and greater brand presence. A business partner and I deployed a similar strategy with The Beach Shirt when we began selling one of our products on Etsy. The number of eyeballs that get to your things on these larger platforms is a game-changer. It’s the difference between the farmer who waits for people to come buy his produce and the one who goes to sell it at the market where 100s of people come each weekend to buy.

Footer Call To Action on Medium

As I cross post to Medium, adding a footer call to action may be a good way to increase engagement and give people the opportunity to go deeper by linking back to my home blog. Something like:

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! You're a champion! :) If you enjoyed it, hit that heart button below. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

FYI: this article originally appeared on my website.

[*Hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk for this framework.]

Using Buffer, Systematically Share and Re/Post Articles on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn

I don’t have the time nor desire to be on Facebook and Twitter everyday, let alone multiple times per day. Enter Buffer app and the beauty of batch processing! The plan is to set aside a chunk of time and batch schedule the articles to be posted throughout the coming weeks, months.

Use @ Mentions On Twitter To Tag/Credit/Honor Thought Leaders

Mentioning and giving credit to the thought leaders, authors, and mentor who inspired or were quoted in a post would be a good way to both honor them, and gain some exposure. It may even open up the possibility of collaboration or a retweet here or there. Who Inspired Or 

Something like: “@chipconley thanks for inspiring this post! [title] [link]" or "@ScottBritton have you seen this post you inspired?! Thanks!"

‘Passive’ Call To Action in my Email Signature

Adding a subtle call to action on my personal email signature may drive a few more reads from people I’m already in communication with who otherwise do not know about this blog on faith and works. I’ve used this tactic successfully in the past for other ventures and projects, and this project is no different.

Something like:

--
Dan LeMoine
danlemoine.co
330.620.3597
P.S. Check out: “26 Game-Changing Tools You Need To Be Using” 

Using Pablo, Create Instagram Quote Cards From Posts I’ve Published

Pull out select quotes or ideas from the work I’m most proud of and begin sharing those visual images on Instagram and Twitter. Buffer launched an amazing tool called Pablo which allows anyone to create these quickly, easily, and beautifully — not being a designer is no longer an excuse not to incorporate well designed visual media into your marketing strategy!

Make Blogs More Consumable

I’ve already taken a step towards making blogs easier to consume on the site with the use of the search bar at top right. As well, creating a “Best Of” and/or “Start Here” pages where readers can quickly jump into topics or articles relevant to them, not just the most recently published.

Other Ideas I May or May Not Pursue:

  • Read short quote from a post on Anchor to drive awareness and traffic and build authority.
  • Seek out guest post opportunities on like-minded blogs, thought leaders, or online communities.
  • Submit articles to publication like Relevant magazine.
  • Repurpose several posts into a downloadable free ebook.

--

The rationale behind building my online “brand presence” is two-fold.

First, I have this goal of trying to never need to use a résumé to get hired again. I desire to leverage meaningful connections I’ve made and the work I’ve produced. This blog helps highlight the later and showcase my journey of growth, curiosity, learning and becoming a change-agent. I have this intuition that to get any job I’d love, it’d be much more effective to point someone to a well designed website highlighting my body of work and meaningful projects I’ve been involved in, rather than a list of where I’ve worked and bullet points trying to beef up what impact I had. In my opinion, résumés are somewhat antiquated. 

Secondly, I have put a great amount of time and thought into the posts and ideas found here. I believe there are others out there who my writing would connect with and they’d say, “this is what i’ve been looking for all along.” I believe if more professionals started really trying to align their beliefs on Sunday with their actions in the marketplace we’d have better leaders, better organizations, and a better world. And I’m hoping a few of these thoughts move that needle, if ever so slightly, in the right direction. But they never will if they never get shared.

So, there you have it. That’s my approach and my rationale. 

Any other ideas on how to build your personal online brand presence?

(P.S. if you know anyone who is working to build a matterful career in a way that is informed by and glorifies God, please send ‘em my way!)


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One of the most entrepreneurial things you can do

Dan LeMoine

I think the most entrepreneurial thing someone can do is move to countries where they don’t speak the local language...
— Entrepreneur Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO, COMPASS

As someone who has moved to a country where I did not speak the language I have some inside perspective on this quote. Below are several entrepreneurial traits and qualities which are magnified and grown by living in a culture outside your own. Living in a culture which does not speak your native language forces you to:

Be resourceful.

You will find effective solutions for your everyday habits and routines which will inevitably be shaken up. You will find the best way to learn the culture and language quickly for you. You’ll identify your strengths and weaknesses and find tools and resources and routines to help you navigate based on those strengths. When you have no easy way to communicate, you will be forced to be more scrappy and gritty in order to communicate your message and intentions to survive. 

Think on your feet.

When you have to find the bathroom or you get thrown in front of local television cameras with no notice (#truestory) you will need to react quickly. To navigate another language and culture being adaptable is paramount. This think-on-your-feet adaptability is also a quality highly prized in the entrepreneurial ventures and positions.

Gain perspective (which results in empathy).

In the same way a fish likely doesn't even know what water is (video link), we often don’t know the wonderful, horrible, beautiful, ugly, amazing, broken, admirable and disgraceful aspects of our own culture. Not until we spend some significant time outside of it, can we have a more rightly oriented perspective of the best and worse parts of our own culture (and the culture we’re in). This more-realistic perspective results in empathy and critical thought as to how to bring the best of both cultures into your work and life.

Take risks (which grow your comfort zone). 

A friend told me about a conference where the keynote asked the audience to give a four-letter word which described how to be happy. Answers of love, cash, golf, abounded. The word the keynote speaker then offered was “risk.” Lives of fulfilment and happiness often have a healthy level of risk. Beyond fulfilment entrepreneurs are often very savvy at weighing and navigating risk within and for their organizations.

There’s risk in living in and navigating another culture. There’s risk in trying to speak a new languageYou’re forced to take risks everyday. Not to sound overly cliché, but the saying holds true in this regard: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."[1]

Determination in doing hard things.

There is massive value in doing hard things, in life and career. Not only does it expand your comfort zone, but it teaches us dependence, which is a virtue we don’t put much weight in in the Western world. Opening yourself to uncomfortableness, trials, situations where failure (if only social) is imminentcircumstances outside our control, and even suffering is something we tend to avoid at all costs.

This is unfortunate because these thing actually produce perseverance, endurance, emotional aptitude, self-awareness, and understanding. Moving to a culture where they do not speak your language exposes you to all of these things. I can’t help but think of Hebrews 12: 

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

To Develop and learn. 

Entrepreneurs crave learning and developing. Just like in the entrepreneurial landscape, in new culture, if you don’t develop you atrophy and die (not literally, I hope). I’ve found that the higher up and deeper into the Caribbean-Latino culture of the Dominican Republic I go, the more I crave (and need) to develop my linguistic and cultural knowledge. Where I am with my Spanish today is what I would have considered fluent four years ago, but not that I’m here, my definition of fluency has changed. I want more. I desire to continue growing out of a love for this language and the power it holds in allowing me to connect with others in this culture. Continual development is key to avoiding plateau and mediocrity.

To grow your confidence.

Your confidence grows, not only because you’re pushing the limits within yourself, but also because the constant failure of bludgeoning through a different language forces you to decouple your value, worth, and identity from how you look or perform. You’re forced to put your identity, if even just incrementally more, into something solid — in my case, my identity in Christ — which results in a more quite, peaceful strength and confidence. In our work, what we do is important. The problems we solve, the people we connect with, the growth we facilitateBut our confidence is not rooted in something (or Someone) deeper.

Comfortable with failure.

Every entrepreneur I know understands failure is part of the game. And I can’t think of any situation more than language learning where failure is so inherent. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and to deploy that learning to grow. Like the time my friend Curtis went into the local market looking for a pineapple (piña), but ended up asking for a penis (pene). HAAA. 

In another culture we have no other option than to laugh and move on past these failures, and hopefully this translates to our comfort with failure in our professional journey as well.

--//--

My path — as a believer, a husband, and as someone looking to build a matterful career — was forever altered (for the better) when we moved to the Dominican Republic in 2012. The extent to which my spiritualrelational, emotional, and vocational trajectories have been enhanced is beyond measure, and the value of my experiences living and serving in another culture will be something I’ll be uncovering and leaning on for the rest of my life.

It is inevitable that you’ll develop the values of learning to do hard things, grow your comfort zone, learn to be resourceful and scrappy, (re)orient and expand your perspective, learn to think quick on your feet, and have ample opportunities to develop, when you ever decide to take the leap and live outside your home culture. Whether it’s a few months, a few years, or a few decades, if you have the chance to live abroad in some capacity in a culture foreign to your own, I promise you will not regret it. The growth from living in a different culture and learning a different language is already proved to be massively valuable on my own entrepreneurial journey.


[1] Author Neale Donald Walsch
[2] Robert Reffkin quote from "In it to Win it: Compass Founder on Switching Up a Business Model" Creator Magazine (Nov. 2, 2015)

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Calmness as a Competitive Advantage

Dan LeMoine

The more I grow and mature, and the more messy experiences I have in life (in relationships, work, marriage, faith, etc.) the more I’m convinced remaining calm and collected under confronting circumstances is a massive variable to success.

Unfortunately, the only real way to grow this is by pushing out of your comfort zone, leading up, taking responsibility, and otherwise putting yourself into situations where chaos, uncertainty, strife, harm, sabotage and/or mass panic by others is likely.

It’s the only way to build a true tolerance to these things and grow this muscle of calmness. Fortunately these things seem to be inevitable when trying to solve matterful problems in the world, so we don’t have to try to seek these things out — as change-makers they will find us.

People will oppose us, doubt us, or try to thwart us. Broken systems and bad habits work to undermine us. Those antibodies to change will resist and sandbag. Well intentioned fools will distract us. Critics will moan and tempt us to lose focus. But if we have sangfroid, we do not react emotionally; we remain calm and have clarity in our calling and direction. 

I think this is why I find ROMWOD stretching so valuable. Not only do I end the ‘workouts’ completely relaxed and feeling totally open, but during the sessions I’m actively growing my “calmness muscle” by focusing on taming my mind and my body despite being in uncomfortable positions. Trying to remain passive, control my breathing, and accept and embrace the otherwise confronting moves and deep breaths, helps me to not only train my range of motion but my mind as well, if ever so slightly. 

“When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. They just react—not to what they need to react to, but to the survival hormones that are coursing through their veins. 

Welcome to the source of most of our problems down here on Earth. Everything is planned down to the letter, then something goes wrong and the first thing we do is trade in our plan for a good ol’ emotional freak-out. Some of us almost crave sounding the alarm, because it’s easier than dealing with whatever is staring us in the face.”

— Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

Calmness of mind must be trained.

Yet, this isn’t something we ever really train for. It seems our whole lives revolve around controlling and avoiding uncomfortable, chaotic, or hard situations. We rarely work to control the one thing we can fully control, our emotions. We have the choice to continually (re)focus our identity on who we are in Christ — fully safe, fully known, fully accepted as is, fully loved. Which, for me at least, does wonders in bringing perspective, defusings worry, and calming my anxieties in even the most dire of moments. But it's hard work to do this in the middle of a trying time or chaotic moment or when someone crosses you. It takes work. It takes practice. 

It's this very calmness and cool-headedness which seems to be a powerful advantage when those around us are losing it, freaking out, or being driven by in anxious, hurried, and irrational thoughts.

Next time we find ourselves in a tough spot, let’s pause, breath, and know that this is a perfect opportunity to flex and grow our calmness muscle.

How can you better prioritize self-awareness, controlling our emotions in order to stay calm under pressure?


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Simple rarely means easy...and that's okay.

Dan LeMoine

Simple and easy are not often mutually inclusive; one doesn’t always (or often) indicate the other.

This is something we tend to forget when framing our expectations or estimating our plans.

Simple does not mean easy. 

Building a business is simple (but far from easy). Allowing your faith to inform how you work and live is simple (but certainly not easy). 

Writing everyday, drawing boundaries, forging powerful habits, persevering through failure, taking beautiful photographs, living with integrity, staying fit, prioritizing your spouse, learning a new language, being compassionate, leading with empathy and justice, eating well, practicing mindfulness, cultivating rock solid relationships, being self-aware, delighting customers, building a brand, hiking a mountain, moving to a different culture, creating a bulletproof spiritual life — all relatively simple, but none easy...

…yet, nothing worth having ever is.


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