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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.

Filtering by Category: faith

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.

ARTICLE NO. 75/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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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.


ARTICLE NO. 64/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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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
---

ARTICLE NO. 63/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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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.


ARTICLE NO. 59/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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Career Contentedness May Be Closer Than You (We) Thought.

Dan LeMoine

For most of us, we spend a vast majority of our waking time working. It’s part of God’s original commandment ("subdue the earth.”) Basically he’s saying, as far as I can tell, "go out and work to beautify the world." Build computers, compose music, scrub toilets (we’ll get to that in a minute), create structure and organizations which help others flourish.

It saddens me deeply when I see others who hate what they do for work. I have friends who synonym-ize loving what you do with being a workaholic. As if you must hate your job in order to justify being more focused on your family or to do work you really want to be doing.

I think we can agree that having a career you don’t find meaningful — or worse, one you hate or resent — is a tragedy and a sign of a wasted life.

Here’s the unconventional pivot to this “follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life”-type mentality: we can learn to love just about any job we find ourselves in*.

All this stuff about finding our vocational calling, following our passion, working to our strengths, etc. is really good stuff, don’t get me wrong. But is a very new luxury we are privileged to have. In the not-so-distant past you did what you did to survive, or what your family did, or what your tribe or community needed you to do, or what you were forced to do. Choice was a tertiary consideration, if a consideration at all. 

Are we saying those who had little autonomy over their professional destinies couldn't be happy and enjoy their work? I don't think so.

Here’s a story from entrepreneur and now Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at AirBnB, Chip Conley from his iconic TED Talk:

With the youthful idealism of a 26-year-old, in 1987, I started my company and I called it Joie de Vivre, a very impractical name, because I actually was looking to create joy of life. And this first hotel that I bought, motel, was a pay-by-the-hour, no-tell motel in the inner-city of San Francisco. As I spent time with Vivian, I saw that she had sort of a joie de vivre in how she did her work. It made me question and curious: How could someone actually find joy in cleaning toilets for a living? So I spent time with Vivian, and I saw that she didn't find joy in cleaning toilets. Her job, her goal and her calling was not to become the world's greatest toilet scrubber. What counts for Vivian was the emotional connection she created with her fellow employees and our guests. And what gave her inspiration and meaning was the fact that she was taking care of people who were far away from home. Because Vivian knew what it was like to be far away from home. […]

I guess I'm sort of a curious CEO. I was also a curious economics major as an undergrad. I learned that economists measure everything in tangible units of production and consumption as if each of those tangible units is exactly the same. They aren't the same. In fact, as leaders, what we need to learn is that we can influence the quality of that unit of production by creating the conditions for our employees to live their calling. In Vivian's case, her unit of production isn't the tangible hours she works, it's the intangible difference she makes during that one hour of work.

What Chip found was that Vivian made a connection with people and found meaning in a job that many of us would deem as undeserving or even undignified.

This is/should be utterly humbling as we strive to become servant leaders within our organizations. Somewhere along the path we will be required to do work we don’t “have a passion for” or isn’t “life-giving.” We all have the power, influence, and ability to step up and own our roles, no matter how far off they may be from our dream job, and bring meaning to ourselves and others. 

This doesn’t mean we give up our goals or abandon our direction for bigger and better things. It simply means we choose to practice contentedness, we decide our mindset and how we view our circumstances, we lead-up with even the smallest amount of responsibility, and we steward what we’ve been given right now…with the vision on our ultimate professional goals and aspirations.

Happiness and contentedness and meaning in our work is a choice. This is a lesson we should not soon forget.

Note:

*Learning to be content with where I'm at on my professional journey has been a long hard lesson. It is still something I struggle with often.

I get angsty with where I'm at compared to where I want to be. Remembering that this is a marathon, not a sprint is something I constantly need to be reminding myself. Being content with where I am at even though I yearn for something more, something different, maybe even something greater, is hard. It’s a constant battle to humble myself, trust that God has got me right where I am for a purpose, and ruthlessly try to lead up and solve meaningful problems for those I’m most close to now, all while keeping my ambitions high. Most of us are privileged enough to a have a certain level of mastery of our own professional destiny living in the developed world. Most of us will never have to scrub toilets if we don't want to. We get to choose our vocation and career and think through (usually over the course of many years from high school and college) what we want our career focus to be. Learning that we are in it for the long game and to have the patience to serve well where we are at now on this journey is as much an art as it is a science.


ARTICLE NO. 50/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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The Difference Between Managing & Leading

Dan LeMoine

There is a difference between managing and leading. 

Managing is checking people's work, doing progress reviews, having strict structure. Managing is generally for employees that are collecting paycheck and punching the clock. Not always, much of the time it is.

Leading is casting a vision and removing obstacles in order to maximize the efforts of already self-motivated people who arepassionate about their work, have a sense of ownership or investment, and are passionate about the organization’s vision.

When you get the right people in place, it ends up being less about managing and more about leadership. 

The difference is often subtle but is muy importante.

One isn’t neessarily better than the other. There is a place for both in organizational development.

People need to be led in seasons and managed in others. People need leadership in certain areas of their work and management in others. While I may be framing managing in a less-than-ideal light — as if managing something to avoid or never have in your organization — I do very much think it has an important place in helping your people move from a “punch-the-clock” mentality to being self-motivated and invested.

Effective managers create rule and order to help move people along that spectrum and create room for good things to run wild in and among their team which benefit the company.

The risk we run is being unaware of which hat to be wearing in a situation or with a certain teammate. If we go in wearing the leadership hat when we really needed to be wearing the managing hat we can end up walking away frustrated, disappointed, or angry (at them or ourselves as leaders).

As Christian leaders trying to push the envelope of excellence we need to be clear about the distinction between the two and think critically on how to best move someone along this spectrum of needing to be managed to wanting to be led.


*Thanks to Rich Landa and Dave Franco for helping me clarify this distinction.

ARTICLE NO. 47/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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What do you hope to accomplish?

Dan LeMoine

Who doesn't want to build a body of work they're proud of? 

I do. I also understand that takes patience. Like, decades worth of patience. I understand I won't hit the nail on the head every time I take a swing—every time I publish a post, or ship a project, or set an audacious goal to building an organization.

Yet my hope over the long haul, is that I will build a body of meaningful work which connects with others on a similar pursuit...

Others looking to build businesses and nonprofits that focus on people first.
Others rethinking the nature of relationships within and outside their organizations.
Others who want to win the right way, win in a God-honoring, and a counter-cultural way that make a statment.
Others who want to do right even if it may cost them. Others striving to make an impact, even the most micro engagement.

But, WHERE IS THE BLUEPRINT?

Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone out there laying a blueprint on how to do this in business and work. Sure there is some faith and work stuff out there from Tim Keller and some other thought leaders, but I'm talking about practical and tactical stuff (which I hope this blog develops into more of) but with the practices and tactics firmly rooted in a Christ-honoring way. 

I haven't seen anyone opening the hood on organizational development approached from a solid Christian worldview. Sure, I've been blessed to align myself with other change-makers who love Jesus and are working to rethink the way business is done and do it from a redemptive, restorative, and renewing way, but their roadmap is not public. 

I haven't found a resource that is both relevant and practical AND solidly biblical. What I see is either one or the other — super pragmatic and practical -OR- super Christian-ese (read: lame-o) and lacking in real-world substance and business-world relevance. 

I know it can be a both/and, I'm hoping my body of work will show that. That's why I write here. That's why I manage the blog of a business who is doing this successfully—not because they are paying me a few shekels here and there, but because others need to see this framework being implemented. The world needs to see that biblical principles are not just some Sunday school nicety, but actually work in the real world, and create an effective and life-giving framework to operate from.

DOCUMENTING THE PROCESS

I'm not trying to build a self-serving body of work. I'm working to document the process of winning in business while focusing on others-first and without sacrificing my spiritual identity. This is in hopes that it will help others do the same.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching videos of entrepreneur/personality Gary Vaynerchuk. While I don't agree with everything he says or how he says them, and I don't always agree with his underlying worldview from which he approaches things, he does deliver a ton of value which can be reframed and filtered through a worldview rooted in the Gospel. Here's something he said recently which speaks to building a body of work:

"If I can put out a body of work 40 years from now that showed the process of a young man that put in the work, had the vision, did it the right way, tried to help people along the way—because he was trying to build the biggest building in town by building it, not by tearing everybody else's buildings down. And then I actually accomplish it, well that becomes a real great american dream story...That becomes legacy..."

SO, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?

Our work here and now has eternal impact. We learned in recent a bible study that our best work—our most self-less, God-honoring, work-as-worship work will be perfected and present in our redeemed residing place we call heaven.

We get to be part of "planting the trees of Eden" which will have a role in beautifying eternity. We are called to do this now with our lives and with our work.

Really, think about that for a moment...what a privilege! That's why we want to build a body of meaningful work rather than simply pull a paycheck (though those are nice too...I've got nothing against paychecks y'all). That's what we want to accomplish with being excellent in our work and making an impact. 


ARTICLE NO. 26/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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Compounding What Matters (Not Just Interest)

Dan LeMoine

You'll hear about compounding interest again and again if you dive into any personal financial resource, talk with any advisor, or the watch the squawking heads on CNBC.

We're all familiar with this concept of compounding interest. It's common wisdom to be saving diligently and early to take advantage of the game-changing nature of compounding interest. The earlier you save, the faster and and faster the snowball of your nest-egg will accelerate and grow.

But why don't we hear about the other thing — arguable the more important things — we can take advantage of the compounding nature of?

Like:

  • Compounding character...
  • Compounding discipline...
  • Compounding habits of creativity...
  • Compounding humility and mercy...
  • Compounding nature of building your body of work...
  • Compounding faithfulness...
  • Compounding strength (physical, emotional, spiritual)...
  • Compounding love...
  • Compounding influence...
  • Compounding focus...
  • Compounding gratitude...
  • Compounding impact...

Let's focus on padding our nest-egg of with what matters.

What other true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, excellent and eternally-focused things we should be prioritizing in our focus? Anything I missed? 


ARTICLE NO. 23/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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I'm a Christian. And I Cuss Sometimes...

Dan LeMoine

"I’m going to tell you three things:

  1. There are literally millions people in this world who are starving because of lack of sufficient food and nutrients right now.
  2. And I don’t think you don’t give a f*$%.
  3. Because the majority of you are more concerned about the fact that I just said the f-word than the fact that there are XX million of people dying of hunger as we speak."

My friend told me that story actually went down at the opening keynote of a Christian-themed talk or conference he was at. (Yes the speaker actually said the ef-word <gasp>) 

Pretty convicting, eh?

I drop a curse word from time to time. My old self still has some habits that flare, it seems. 

I’m not proud of it, but, if I'm honest, I’m also not losing sleep over it either. There’s uglier stuff in my life (and the world) I’ll focus on first—my pride and selfishness, my greed, my selfishness, my scarcity mindset, my selfishness…and then there’s the issues in the outside world...Sh*t, that’s overwhelming.

Not to mention when you stub your toe in the middle of the night or zap yourself with the electronic mosquito racquet there really is only one category of words your brain defaults to—the four letter category. It’s human nature! It’s science!

Not that long ago I was fired up telling my wife Danae some story about a perceived injustice or unfair-ity in my life and let an f-bomb go. She let me rant on, but I saw her walls go up. I saw her shut down. I hadn’t cussed at her or towards her, but I knew how she felt about that word in particular. 

So a bit later I revisited the crime. I found her in her craft room. “Hey I’m sorry for cussing. I need you to know I’m sorry for saying the ef word. I know it makes you feel unsafe. And I’m going to do my best to cut it out. But I also need you to know—I love Jesus, I really do. But sometimes I cuss."

It wasn’t an excuse or rationalization for my sometimes-potty mouth. It was a petition for grace and forgiveness and for her to know the state of my heart. That I am a walking contradiction, just like every disciple.

My mom always told me of her dad’s philosophy on the four-letter favorites: That using cusses reflects a lack of creativity to think of a better word. So in a spirit of growth, self-improvement, and creativity I’ve found a few alternatives.

That’s really it for this post.

I thought maybe this zesty little anecdote was relevant—not as an excuse to curse, but because, from time to time, I might let a four-letter special slip in one of my posts. Like the "F*$# Convention!" post from several weeks ago. So this post is more of a plea for grace and an opportunity to get a bit vulnerable and transparent and build some rapport with y’all.

Please just know—I love Jesus, I really do. But I cuss sometimes. Please know I’m (sorta) working on it.

Happy Sabbath,

Dan


ARTICLE NO. 22/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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How To Craft Your Truest Identity: Lessons From 2 Fishermen & A Farmer

Dan LeMoine

The last couple months I've been stuck in the short but powerful part of John's gospel. This story in chapter 21 is a beautiful ending — or begining depending on how you want to frame it — to Jesus’ earthly ministry. It’s one of the last times he hangs with the disciples after he raised from the dead.

[SIDE NOTE: If you remember Luke 5 when Jesus first calls Peter and James and John, there was a similar story of him on the water with the guys, helping them catch a ton of fish. Same setting in John 21—dawn on the water. With such a poetic way of hemming in his relationship with these guys, no wonder God is called an Author.]

John 21: 1-14 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

2 Big Identity Takeaways

 Here are two big takeaways on who we are from this passage:

1) I am: fully accepted, even when I fail him.
("He Doesn’t Need My Righteousness. I Need His.")

I love Simon Peter’s attitude here. He had just betrayed Jesus only days before and he knew it. His faith did not hold up to the trial of when Jesus was being accused and crucified. Yet when John (“the one whom Jesus loved”) declares in the boat “It’s Jesus!” what does Simon Peter do?

He dives into the water and starts swimming ashore!

It's easy to just read by that part as a matter-of-fact. But if (read: when) I hurt someone close to me, utterly fail, or don’t prove to be as strong as I should have been, my natural response is usually to hide in shame, rationailize and fight back, or blame others, or to loose hope.

If I had just betrayed my friend and teacher (and Christ!) I would’ve been devastatingly ashamed and utterly embarrassed. I would have hid in the back of the fishing boat, while the knot of dread grew bigger and bigger in my stomach with ever row stroke closer to shore. Heck, I get panic attacks even thinking about having to have a hard work conversation; the pending awkwardness and shame and fear of interacting with the Son of God after I betrayed him in his hour of most need would have been crushing. 

But Simon Peter did the exact opposite. I think it’s because he knew how Jesus felt about him—how Jesus (and God) saw him. He knew Jesus’s love and friendship intimately enough to know that despite his denial and failure, he was fully 100% accepted. He know who he was to Jesus, and his only response was to dive into the water and swim in. No shame. No hiding.

As Russ Ramsey from He Reads Truth points out, Jesus even cooked the guys breakfast—an age old and timeless tactic which says, “We’re good, yo. You're still my top dudes. I got you. I still care for you.” 

Russ reminds us of how paradoxical discipleship is. That we love him, but we fail him, but we really do love him. And where does this love-fail relationship leave us? It leaves us in this beautiful place of God saying:

“I don't need your righteousness. You need mine. And I have given it to you."

This passage was humbling and enlightening and I realize my shame/fear/weakness is robbing me (and maybe you) of fully experiencing our relationship and salvation with Jesus.

2) I am: "The One Whom Jesus Loves" too

John refers to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved” throughout his Gospel. I love that. John, what a stud. I don’t think he was trying to be vain (though as someone who has never been accused of being under-confident, I can appreciate the cockiness if that was the case). I think John just knew who he was.

He was the one Jesus loved. Duh.

I know if I were penning a Gospel, I sadly wouldn't have thought to described myself this way. I would've led with all the accolades and qualifiers and worldly reasons the reader should view me as an authority—what qualifies me to be listened to. Things like: the size of my company. Revenue numbers from last year. How much my ministry has grown year-over-year. What projects I've worked on.  

Why is my default self-descriptor: "The One Jesus Loves." It's clear I need an identity readjustment. I clearly don’t think the right things about me. Which is surprising because I spend a lot of time thinking about me! 

When I take the time to evaluate my thoughts, I think things that are either less-than-true or complete lies I've picked up about myself. Things like:

I am what I produce. 
I am unworthy.
I am unqualified.
I am weak.
I am hard working.
I am lazy...just to name a few

But John reminds me to recalibrate my identity. To know that God wants me to fill in these "I am statements" (as pastor Stephen Furtick calls them) with Truth, not lies.

My friend Curtis told me a quick parable the other day which dovetails nicely here—

A man was walking on a road and saw a farmer kneeling down next to his field praying fervently. The man waited until the farmer was done praying and said to him, “I saw you praying. You must be very close to God.”
The farmer responded, “Yeah, God is very fond of me."

Yes, that is good stuff. I need that identity. 

Both John and Peter (and the farmer) had a better understanding of who Jesus is and how Jesus viewed them, than I think we do most days.

Do we know his love so deeply that we jump in and swim to Jesus even/especially when we betray him? Or do we wollow in shame or fear or self-loathing?

Do we identify ourselves as “the one Jesus loves”? Or do we place our identity on something less- or un-true?

My challenge to myself (and you) is to make a list of the things we believe about ourselves or how we think God sees us in light of our junk and betrayal of Jesus. Identify the false identities and falsities. Then we must ruthlessly filter these things through the Truth that we are accepted, loved, safe, a friend of him, righteous, and all the other wonderful truth the Gospel gives us about ourselves in light of Jesus. Wrestle this stuff out...I think it's worth getting right.

Happy Sunday,

Dan "The One Jesus Loves"


ARTICLE NO. 15/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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15 Actions, Habits, & Routines to Feel More Powerful, Peaceful, & Productive

Dan LeMoine

The last 4 or 5 years I’ve really been coming into my own in terms of routines and habits. It’s been a thrash—experimenting with different approaches and tactics, and finding what works for me and what doesn’t. A.M. workouts vs. P.M. workouts. Breakfast or no breakfast. So much is trial and error and finding out what feels most like me. As you experiment with your own habits and routines and disciplines, here are some of the actions that, for me, result in me feeling powerful, peaceful, and productive—little wins throughout the day which help build and maintain good momentum and good vibes.

Hopefully they can be of some help to you as well.

15 Things That Make Me Feel Powerful, Peaceful, & Productive

  1. ROMWOD or yoga—what I love about ROMWOD is that the practices only last about 10-20 minutes, and you’re left feeling like a million bucks.
  2. Morning Workout with a few buddies—getting a quick win right off the bat is key to feeling like an absolute savage during your day. Sometimes we hit it hard, other times we end up talking more about life and marriage and Jesus. Either way, it’s a blessed time.
  3. Quiet time / prayer / meditating on scripture—I'm currently using the He Reads Truth app to help facilitate this.
  4. Good views (mountains or city) — something about gazing out onto a beautiful scene jacks me up and makes me feel like I can conquer the world. 
  5. Hot coffee — freshly brewed coffee just smells like productivity. Nothing better to help you crush your day than a good cuppa.
  6. Cool fresh mountain air in the morning before the pueblo awakes—for me, this is linked to the morning quiet times, being up and at ‘em before everyone else, always gives me a solid sense I'm doing the right things.
  7. Publishing/shipping—when I’m creating and producing I feel like I’m making matterful steps towards building the career I want. Shipping blog posts, or newsletters, or creating content I hope is meaningful is a complete rush.
  8. Learning—there’s nothing like a new book or podcast or course…but I’m self aware encough to know that this can become un-empowering and unproductive if I”m not careful. The danger here is that there is endless info to consume and we can all fall into constanly learning and consuming and not actually shipping and creating.
  9. Checking things off my list (even if they're unimportant)—there’s just something about a well planned day and getting things done that makes me feel unstoppable.
  10. Paying bills, doing my taxes, budgetting, getting squared away on personal administrative tasks, etc.—I know this is weird (I mean, who actually likes paying taxes?). I don’t really like it, but getting it done and off my plate is such a good feeling, and it does kind of feel good knowing I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing — GTD on these type of perosnal administrative tasks generally leaves me with a sense of empowerment and good vibes that I’m doing the right things, paying my debts, tithing/giving generously, saving faithfully, and general feeling that we’re moving in the right direction with prudence and good stewardship.
  11. Connecting with other playmakers and world-changers—nothing like the excitement and good vibes of a new friendship, or potential in a new connection.
  12. Being appropriately rewarded by the market—not about money, but about the validation that something I created is connecting with people, providing value, and gaining traction.
  13. Cold showers and cold water plunges (especially preceeded by a solid sweaty workout).
  14. When my marriage is flourishing—When my gal is well, I’m well and feel invincible.
  15. Solid music to suit the mood and occasion.

It seems like the common thread here is doing the right things, in the right order, keeping first things first, and taking care of my responsibilities, and treating myself with respect. Some things are structuring my environment, some are habits, some are just quirks.

What things are on your powerful peace productive list?


ARTICLE NO. 10/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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

"Throwing Away My Career" Was The Best Move I Ever Made. Seriously, though.

Dan LeMoine

I received this text the other day from someone close to me:   

Do you ever regret not sticking to the business path since you and Danae went to the Dominican Republic?

It’s a solid question. Here’s my response.

The short of it—Not at all. I mean, I never really left the biz path in my mind. I built a full business accelerator and coworking space, began building my body of meaningful work, and have had more business opportunity come my way in the last few years than I could’ve ever imagined if I were still on the "traditional," “safe" path.
[That’s not to say a more 'traditional' path is a bad one, I just think coming to Doulos helped me connect some dots between seeing how business can be an incredible force for good. How it can be a force in shaping culture just like we’re doing with education].

While initially, my role at Doulos was not necessarily the most logical next step in “what” I wanted to become, it was hands-down the best next step in “who” I wanted to become. And I believe God blessed that and brought the “what” in line in due time.

Serving here has been so hard in so many ways and has shaped and matured and equipped me to crush it when I re-enter the biz world full time…my business philosophy has been deeply impacted by my time serving others and trying to solve a meaningful problem in this country and give generously of my blessings to help others.

(Yea, I know it was a novel in text message terms, but they set me up for it with such a loaded question!)

When we first made the decision to buck the conventional path and move our lives to the West Indies, naturally some of our well-intentioned friends and family showed a bit more concern than they showed or shared in our excitement.

Aren’t you worried about you career path? 
How are you going to ever explain the gap in your resume?
How are you going to make money and save and buy a house!?
Couldn't you serve in your own country in your free time? #Merica!
You’re leaving a budding career to go work at a school in the third world? That’s career suicide...

Hmm...These questions aren’t bad, necessarily. But the massive problem here is that, though well-intentioned, they are rooted in fear. 

I get it, I really do. Our default mode as humans, it seems, is to be driven by fear in many areas of our lives. People get scared that someone they care for may make an irrevocable mistake or wind up in the poorhouse. They play out the worse possible outcomes and then try to steer others away from making decisions that would lead to their nightmare scenario.

But if they're honest, the fear is often more self-centered too. They get scared that if someone else in their tribe chooses an uncommon path, chooses a more meaningful story, or simply chooses adventure and life over boredom and mediocrity, that they'll be forced to question their own lives, careers, and status quo. And that’s uncomfortable and frightening. And so the response is to critically question out of fear, or worse—scoff and snicker and play the devils advocate.
[Note: I used the third person “they,” but I really mean “we” because I’m just as guilty of this fear-questioning as the next chap]

Yet, we were not given spirits of fear (cf: 2 Timothy 1:7), or mindsets of scarcity

For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
— Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week

 We are called to encourage one another (cf: 1 Thessalonians 5:11)…In other words, we’re called to leave each other full of courage, not fear. 

I’m sure you’re thinking: 

Alright, bro. But, what’s the alternative? to say nothing? never ask questions (of ourselves or others)? That doesn’t seem prudent.

Below you’ll find several guiding questions you can ask (yourself or others) in lieu of the fear-based questions.

And remember: give the benefit of the doubt to the person looking to lead-up and take a big leap—it’s likely they have already confronted and battled many of these fear-based questions, naturally. They don’t need others pointing out all the reasons not to follow a call, try to make more impact, or simply do something epic, their own Fear and Resistance does that for them already.

The Alternative: 2 Extremely Powerful Identity-Based Guiding Questions

It’s likely that if you’re reading this you are a high-achiever looking to make an impact with your career, to do something uncommon or audacious in your life, searching out the uncomfortable path of growth and learning, giving more than you're taking, and trying your darndest to avoid the safe path (not because it’s safe, but because the alternative is a more meaningful one).

As you ignore the fear-based questions, here’s a few better ones to ask yourself (or others) who are about to “lead up" into a better story:

  1. "When you and I are 80 years old, looking back at your life, will you regret NOT doing this? Will you regret not pushing into the discomfort and fear that comes with finding the truest, most matterful story to write yourself into?"
     
  2. “Will doing this align with who I want to be individuals (or as a couple)? Will this help shape me/us into the man and woman we want to become (and the marriage God is calling us to)?

Surely, taking the uncommon path might not work. But are you willing to go anyway? knowing the transformation it WILL bring to yourself and others you connect with on the uncommon path is the true reward.

A guy I look up to online confronted the same skeptical fear-based questions before he left his budding career at a NYC startup to live in Brazil. I’m sure if we asked him, he’d tell you he returned after his time of epic-ness with more focus, conviction, and energy to crush it than he would’ve had otherwise. Here’s his take on the result of choosing the uncommon path:

"When you truly understand your life’s work and your actions are in harmony with this, I sense you’ll not only reach the greatest level of happiness, but also highest levels of impact due to the zeal and consistency that you bring to your actions.” — Scott Britton

[Want more on how to avoid making horrible decisions (or indecisions)? READ NEXT: The 4 S’s of Bulletproof Decision Making]

Trading Up

Looking back, I can say with 100% confidence, zero regret, and without question — I didn’t come close to throwing away my career as predicted by some.

It didn’t even stunt my career growth. The opposite occurred, actually. In pushing into this calling, choosing obedience over comfort, God blessed me/us with more opportunity, a more true sense of who I am in light of Jesus in my work, and a grander vision of where he wants me to go.

When I take the time to reflect on the last 4+ years of living an uncommon path, my only response is gratitude. In every area of life I’m more consistent with the man I want to become, the marriage I want to have, the career I want to build, the impact I want to make. In every area the metrics are moving in the right direction.

I’m the best version of Dan LeMoine because of where I work (and who I work with). And I don’t know many people who can say that.

There is zero doubt that I traded up and am now on a completely different trajectory than I otherwise would’ve been had let the fear-questioning keep me on more conventional paths.

End with this quote from CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It’s a part of the story where Susan is about to meet Aslan and is sharing her nervousness with Mr. Beaver:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"...
"Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Leading up, choosing a better story, playing at the highest level you can, is rarely ever safe. It is never conventional, and it is never easy. But it’s good.

Happy Hunting,

Dan

P.S. By the way, if you ever want to talk about this stuff or simply need a motivating kick in the ass to take the leap - call me and I’d be happy talk it out.

A Letter From A Christian To The Culture

Dan LeMoine

Dear Culture,

This is a letter asking for patience and forgiveness for the areas of my life where I am stubborn, prideful, hateful, misunderstanding, bigotrous, prejudiced, and bias. (I’m sure the tenses aren’t right on that list, but if felt right so I’m going with it.)

I know I’m holding onto ideas and approaches which do not represent Jesus well, and misrepresent how He sees you entirely.

I see things in you that alarm and frighten me (hell, I see some things in me that frighten me!). And I’m sorry I run and hide from those things rather than find ways to bring life and goodness and truth. I’m sorry I go find people who think and vote and perceive exactly as I do, so I never have to really engage. 

But please know, I’m changing. 

I’m not who I once was. And when I become who I’m becoming, I won’t be who I am. 

The thoughts I had when I was in high school aren’t the same views I have now. The views I have now, will seem silly and shameful to the perspective I’ll have in my 50s. I’m appropriately immature, and in some ways inappropriately immature (e.g. the time I tried to create a viral video asking best-selling author Donald Miller if I me and my mustache could sleep on his couch).

Be patient with me as I seek to understand, because I'll bring to the table my own junk in my approach to understanding. Help me understand, help me to empathize with your point of view. We might not agree, and I guess that’s okay. We can (and should) still be friends, even better friends, because of this.

Know, my jacked up thoughts are not God's thoughts, and it will take me more than a lifetime to train myself to see you with the perfect Love and Truth and Grace that He sees you with. I know sometimes (ok ok, a lot of the time) we Christians probably come across as prideful d-bags. Or worse, hateful ones. Forgive us in those moments, because we’re falling short of the identity our Christ gave us.  In those moments I’m certain we’re not repping how He really feels about you. (But I know a lot of us recognize this and we’re working on it, if it’s any consolation.) Will you forgive me?

I am being sanctified (that our fancy way of saying I’m in the process of being made better). So, please give me time. I assure you I’m challenging myself daily to push into the messiness of the world, and bump into different lifestyles and ideologies, and beliefs, and views of which I’ve little experience growing up in upper-middle class white suburbia. These things are really stretching and challenging me. Please be patient as I wrestle with the mess in my own life and in the world. 

I’m trying my best to not focus on “you" vs. "us", but finding ways to focus on “we” — to be inclusive while still holding fast to my spiritual identity and what is true and good. I’m trying my best to engage, not pull away and divide and be full of pride. I’m pretty sure we’re all f-ed up, if we’re being honest; we’re in this thing together. 

It’s taking me some time to process and uncover the areas in my life where love and grace are being bottlenecked. The areas where mercy and grace are being trumped by truth and justice. It’s a constant battle for me to realize that grace and truth, love and justice are NOT mutually exclusive — they are magically interconnected and in some ways codependent. It’s hard for me to realize it’s not a zero-sum game. So please be patient with me.

Please be patient with me as I seek to understand and filter my experiences, with empathy, through the a Godly worldview…that is, a worldview rooted in the Gospel—of unconditional love and scandalous acceptance, of radical grace and audacious truth. A worldview that asks: “What was this created to be? How has it fallen or been perverted or corrupted? What can we do to redeem and restore it?" Just give me a little time.

Give me time as I work out how best to love God and love others in the situations when neither of those things seem easy or apparent or even possible. Give me time to sort out the best plan of attacking — with gentleness and love, of course — the obstacles in myself and the world which are hindering true shalom. The obstacles which are obstructing wholeness and peace and flourishing.

I’m in process. And I have lots of old habits and sin and prejudices still festering in me. They are trying to root themselves in the potent fertalizer of pride which my soul seems to produce faster than I can manage. This junk in my life takes for in lots of different way and ideas and perspectives I’m not particularly proud of at the minute. And I’m asking for your forgiveness and to have more understanding than I probably have for you. 

I assure you, people can (and do) change. I’ve changed. And I’m being changed. Thanks in advance for understanding.

Good talk, see ya’ out there.

Daniel


ARTICLE NO. 7/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

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

What I learned chillin' with $200M of MLB career earnings

Dan LeMoine

Let me preface this with I know very little about baseball. I’m the guy who had lived in the Dominican Republic for two years before I knew who this Big Papi fella was who everyone was raving about.

Basically, I’m Small’s from the Sandlot.

Somehow the other day a few months back, I found myself in Nashville on a small consulting project. I was dragged out of bed at the crack of dawn after a late night of hustling. Dead tired and running on only a few hours of sleep, I begrudgingly accompanied my friend Dave to an athletic facility where he throws batting practice to some Big Leaguers.

After hanging for a couple hours with about $200M of career earnings, here’s what I learned:

They are just men. Flawed, normal, regular men. 

They joke. Their poo smells (I assume). They talk about birth control and kids. They cry, probably (except for Chase Hedley cuz he's a manster). They wear regular clothes. They laugh.

If I hadn't had the context that these guys are playing at the pinnacle of their respective game, I would’ve just thought they were a group of friends, who love Jesus, and like blowing off some steam in the batting cages.

I’m sure some guys at that level strut around like royalty. I’m sure some are completely self-absorbed. I’m sure some guys are total d-bags. But these guys were just regular guys.

It was a good reminder to always be humble.

No matter what level you make it to, how many benjamins you stacked, or how high in the game you get, it pays to stay humble, keep working hard, consider others more important than yourself. Because, it’s the right thing to do. And from what I can tell, the right thing always pays off when playing the long game. If you’re not diligent, attaining any level of success can easily make you prideful and harbor feelings of superiority over another, to judge and to be an ass.

But what I learned from these guys was that being human, being humble, is the best mode to operate in.

The most valuable Ted Talk I've heard (and you haven't)

Dan LeMoine

"But Ted, if I truly believe I am forgiven and washed with a covenant love and grace—that all my sins, past, present, and future, have been forgiven—why am I not just gushing with joy always? 

Maybe you've wondered the same thing. If we truly believe the truth and depth of our forgiveness in Christ, why are we not constantly elated and jumping up and down, running through the streets inviting every person I meet into this joy we should have?

As my friend Ted explained, the very pillars of my question are flawed. Approaching salvation this way reflects a very limited and transactional mindset. In essence I'm viewing Jesus and salvation as a lottery ticket instead of a relationship.

Lottery Ticket vs. Relationship

Lottery tickets are easy. They take no work, no skill, no development. 

Relationships, on the other hand are both hard and easy. Messy and beautiful. Orderly and crazy. 

Relationships are full of dry seasons and seasons of flourishing. They take work and discipline and devotion and intention and stewardship and apologizing and pursuing and probably a whole slew of other things I have yet to learn.

I remember the initial elation and zeal I had when in 2009-2010 as I truly began to internalize the depth of my brokenness and the forgiveness I've been gifted. That I am washed clean, and my junk and brokenness is being undone.

But I also have experienced extremely dry seasons, feelings of not hearing from God, and seasons of outright ignoring him. 

In the same way as God is not some one-dimensional ever-cheerful, happy hippy who our pop culture often lobotomizes with snackable 140 character moral niceties, we cannot expect to be forever gushing with cheeriness and joy. No matter how deeply we internalize the grace we've received, we are still humans susceptible to the full spectrum of emotions and are prone to the seasonality of relationship with God as we are with our earthly relationships. Depression is a real thing. Bad moods happen. Tempers flare. It's life. (The great news is that God won't bail on us. He is there always, no matter our mood, no matter our present state of being. Which is pretty sweet.)

My boy Ted wisely reminded me that we need to "look for the God who will cross our will not just cross our 't's' and dot our i's." In other words, a God who will push us and make us his treasured people, not just put the cherry on top of a comfortable life.

So much of the Christian life is paradoxical, yet we often only ever hear and regurgitate the easy message. And that message may very well be a false one—that life and faith are easy. They are and they aren't. It's easy because he talks our burdens...but it's hard too. As Steven Furtick aptly notes in his amazing book (Un)qualified:

"In some ways faith is going to be hard. To quote the old country preacher, 'Jesus said take up your cross, not your Tempur-Pedic mattress.' I get that. Forging a real life with God in this world is a complicated and difficult endeavour at times."  

So push through the dry times. Wrestle to reframe your understanding of joy to not be synonymous with the fleeting feeling of cheeriness. Restructure your expectations of what walking and working out your faith will look like. It's a relationship, not a lottery ticket. No great thing ever comes easy. In this case a joy-full and flourishing spiritual life and vibrant relationship with Jesus is no different from what I can tell. But keep grinding, we have an eternal hope that says it's worth it because we know how the story ends for us.

Both / And

Dan LeMoine

Sometimes we need to remind each other to look for the “both/and” rather than focusing on the “either/or.”

Unfortunately, our framework often revolves around the latter. What if we’re not seeing the larger picture and it’s actually a both/and scenario.

What if it’s both

Profit and People
Beauty and Functionality
Business and Pleasure
Imagination and Intention
Ideas and Execution
Life and Work
Growth and Attention to Detail
Action and Contemplation
Beer and Whiskey
Unity and Diversity
Purpose and Whimsy
Yeses and Nos
Dreaming and Doing
Performance and Caring

Framed in a similar way by Barrett Brooks:

“…the fastest path to losing your way is to base decisions on only one scale. In other words: high performance, or not…This creates a seesaw effect.
The alternative is to use two balancing factors… For example: performance and caring. This creates another plane of balance, with it being possible to be both empathetic (caring) and highly talented (performance).”

Trust in your creativity, resourcefulness, and grit to make it “both/and.”

Originally published at www.ipsocreative.com / 02 Sep 15

How Will You Use Your Craft?

Dan LeMoine

We’re talking about truth and love. You can wield your profession, your craft, in a way that hurts people. Because you’re so good. And so, when someone can present it in a way that is inviting people into their joy, that’s when the most beautiful things are formed.
— Josh Garrells

Do your best most matterful work and leave people marked for the better.

Use your craft in a way which invites people into your joy.
Which invites people to do their best work with you.


Originally cross-published at www.ipsocreative.com and on Medium.