Thursday, October 28, 2010

Leadership Lessons From the Saddle #4

I have a love - hate relationship with the wind. I love the wind of the Spirit. I crave the beauty of fresh clean air. But, when the wind is in your face, you are going up hill, you are on two wheels, and your legs are your source of power...bummer!

In spite of all that, the leadership lesson is this; "enjoy the wind!" Scripture says the wind blows where it will. Little Bobby Zimmerman said, the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. No matter, just enjoy the wind!

Sometimes it will challenge you so much that you just want to dismount, find a safe place, and sit tight. BUT...there are other times, you know what I mean, when the wind is at your back, your sails are set, your journey is flowing with ease, and all is well with the world.

The bottom line is this, no matter which way the wind is blowing (did you know that you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing?) it will soon turn around. It all about the high and low of pressure. So why get stressed, let it blow.

Can you imagine this, sometimes (with the wind at your back) you can actually outride the wind. You will know you have reached mach speed (maybe semi mach) when you can finally feel the wind on your face. The joy of that moment will outweigh the occasional struggle of gale force air moving in opposition to your desire.

After all, the wind blows were it will! Fall mountain, just don't fall on me. Blow wind, breath on me breath of God. Amen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leadership Lessons From the Saddle #3

Here's the deal...sometimes you can actually get going faster than you can pedal! You might be going down hill really fast and discover that there is no resistance in the pedal. Try as you might, you can only spin and 'empty' pedal.

You can have the same experience going up hill. If you shift too soon or if you are in the wrong gear, the pedals will get empty and you will find no resistance.

Here is the leadership lesson, it is always harder to push 'empty' pedals!

Think about it, if everyone is just saying 'yes' for the sake of going along to get along. Or if you have developed a great presentation and no one is present to hear it. Or if you develop a culture where no one feels comfortable adding a critical comment or offering an alternate point of is like pushing empty pedals. Sooner or later, it will all go astray.

Imagine developing a culture where energy is created by positive controversy. Where no one would let the final product become mundane just because it was the easy way to go. What if decision making groups went to the next highest option rather than naturally move toward the lowest common denominator?

Work harder, get better, grow stronger, by committing to never push empty pedals. Either enjoy the downhill blast or climb in the right gear. Everyone will be blessed if you do!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leadership Lessons from the Saddle (2)

Pikes Peak (America's Mountain) and the Garden of the Gods are just a part of the glory of living in Colorado Springs. Both remind us of the beauty of creation and the power of God in the world. "I lift my eyes to the hills, from where does my help help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth."

When it comes to riding up a significant hill on a bicycle ... we all pray for energy, endurance, and (best of all) a tail wind!

We will get to the joy and struggle of wind later. Right now let's talk about hills, big hills! In life there are hills. Some times they come in the shape of relationships that end up in conflict. In some situations the hill is beyond our control ... like an illness from out of the blue or a death that arrives without rhyme or reason. Hills happen. So how do we expereince the hill?

For me the lesson from the saddle revolves around the reality that every good hill has the joy of a great downhill run!

This week a friend and I will ride from Colorado Springs to Woodland Park up Ute Pass. If you have never been up Ute Pass you need to know that it is a 2400 foot climb that rolls out over about 20 miles. It can be a challenge. In fact, it is a challenge!

But here is the good news...we are also going to reverse the ride and spend almost 20 miles going downhill. That will be a joy! As a result, the uphill climb is always worth the downhill run.

In the church (and in all of life) the key is found in Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20. You might want to read those two passages to find the link. In the end, every struggle, every bad break, each painful journey ... has a downhill run where God chooses to demonstrate that all things work for good in one way or another.

It is a lesson we all need to learn. Climb the hill knowing that there is a downhill blessing on the way. Don't get caught thinking that the hill has the last word!

Gear up and go for it!

Leadership Lessons from the Saddle (1)

The photo is a new Trek 520 touring bike. It is still just a dream because I am eternally fully committed to my 1982 Cresta that has served me well since it came off the showroom floor many years (and a whole lot of miles) ago!

But that is not the topic! I want to share a couple of things I have learned by simply spending time in the saddle. So here we go.

Here is the most obvious principle: When approaching a hill, gear down long before you struggle as the hill unfolds in front of your eyes, burns your legs, and causes your lungs to explode!

I missed this basic lesson on my early rides. I thought it was a bit wimpy to down shift so the pedals were easier to push. It may be a guy thing but it is not smart!

The key is to anticipate, get ready, shift early, enjoy the ride by using your energy in the best sequence.

From a leadership perspective in the local church, the key is the same...anticipate. Be ready for the Spirit to move, be prepared for an expected out come to actually arrive!

Right now we are blessed with strong and growing attendance at our early service of worship. We know that will not growth pattern will not go on forever. In fact, it will ultimately level off and stay at a plateau unless we anticipate, prepare, and are ready for a trigger point to arrive.

Therefore, it is our leadership task to look to the future, discern a trigger point, and be ready before the hill arrives. We know that groups in an 'auditorium' setting (read movie theater, worship center, or anywhere people gather to be seated)will typically perceive that the auditorium is 'full' when it is actually only 80% full.

In some situations folks will move beyond the 80% level and even move to 100% and beyond but that will only happen for a short time. Ultimately it will settle back to 80% as a limit unless anticipation has happened effectively!

Here is the bottom line...Gear up and go for it!