The Red Equals Sign

I have to admit feeling a little saddened at all the red equals signs floating out there in social media circles the last few days. It saddens me to know that so many people are lending their support to the campaign for marriage equality.

Now please … please, please, please … please don’t think I’m a homophobe. I’m not. I wish the whole equality discussion wasn’t an issue at all, but judging by the number of red equals signs I’ve seen … it’s going to be an issue.

So, regardless of your sexual orientation, who are you trying to please? If you’re living for yourself and have no room for Jesus Christ, then being gay really isn’t an issue at all; you only need to please yourself. I would suggest if you’re living for yourself it’s much more important to get right with God, whether you’re gay, straight, short, tall, or ______ . (Fill in your own blank.) He’s the One who created you, and He loves you no matter how you filled in that blank.

Thankfully, someone much wiser than myself is able to lend a clear voice to this topic. Please meet someone I’m honored to call my pastor, Dr. Matthew R. St. John. Please follow the link to watch a very lovingly prepared discussion about homosexuality:

http://vimeo.com/59919490

I hope you have time to watch the whole thing, but if you can only take a little bit of time I’d like to suggest the most relevant part of Pastor Matthew’s sermon can be found from 33:02 to 35:50.

And then … consider shifting the bottom line of the red equals sign so it’s pointing in a different direction. That shift in perspective makes all the difference in the world!

Salvation

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True Colors (Christians, Cast Your Vote Carefully!)

We’re days away from Election 2012. As election day approaches, I just can’t get this scene out of my mind from the Democratic National Convention held just a few months ago:

Right away we hear this from Governor Ted Strickland: “I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we’ve expressed in our party’s platform.” The process of adopting an amendment reflecting this statement as part of the Democratic party’s platform continues. Adoption requires a two-thirds vote. The voice vote proceeds. And it … fails. Well, the chairman “forced” the amendment’s vote to win, but clearly on all three vote attempts at least half of the delegates voted “No,” effectively saying “No, we don’t want God in our party’s platform.”

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God spoke this promise to Solomon after the Temple’s construction had been completed: “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

I fear that healing for this land will not come easy if we aren’t willing to let God take His rightful place in our lives. And while I know that there are certainly God-fearing members of the Democratic party, if this voice-vote is any indication it does appear that roughly half of the Democratic party feels that they’ll be just fine to not include God in their party.

Christians, remember that on election day as you decide which party will best represent your values.

Mitt Romney’s Taxes

Today’s big political news: Mitt Romney’s federal income tax rate is around 15%. I’m not a big fan of Mitt Romney being the next guy in the oval office, but I have to say knowing that his tax rate is at the 15% mark scores points in my book. But I’d guess I’m in the minority. Can you just here all the whining and complaining coming up? No doubt many will start singing the “He’s rich, he needs to pay more taxes!” song.

I for one would rather see his money (and the money of others in similar positions of wealth) working hard in the engine of free enterprise and capitalism instead of … uhmm … “working” its way through the federal government’s tax code. The incentives (lower tax rates) are there to encourage pro-growth activity. He didn’t cheat, he didn’t do anything wrong. He’s not hoarding, he’s investing. He wisely chose to use his money in a way that reduced his tax burden. That’s a smart business decision. Do you really want someone who’s not making smart business decisions running the country?

Let’s cheer him on when he’s putting his money to good use. It not only helps him, it helps us all.

Systematizing Innovation

Here’s a snippet that’s been sticking in my mind today. I have nowhere “official” to record it, so I’ll put it here in my blog. The snippet is Steve Jobs’s answer to this question:

How do you systematize innovation?

His answer:

You don’t. You hire good people who will challenge each other every day to make the best products possible. That’s why you don’t see any big posters on the walls around here, stating our mission statement. Our corporate culture is simple.

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_41/b3903408.htm

The Ant and the Grasshopper

I’m not too keen on these type of “mass email” stories, but this one made me chuckle. Here’s the modern-day version of the Ant and the Grasshopper:

The ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER This one is a little different …… Two Different Versions ….. Two Different Morals

OLD VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter,so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE OLD STORY:

Be responsible for yourself!

 

MODERN VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green..’

ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, We shall overcome.

Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper’s sake.

President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper’s plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by theGovernment Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize and ramshackle, the once prosperous and peaceful, neighborhood.

The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

Be careful how you vote in 2012

Under Twenty Minutes!

Everything was working on my bike ride home tonight! During this season of biking to and from work I started to occasionally time the trip. One direction of the ride would typically would take 23 or more minutes. My goal became to get the time down to twenty minutes … just to give myself a little extra fitness push.

Today I did it! I got home in under twenty minutes! It was 19 minutes 59.72 seconds to be exact…and that was even with some bad timing at a few stoplights. Good thing for that last lunge! I think I figured out how to sit a little differently on the saddle in order to get a little more power on each stroke of the pedals.

Today’s ride felt good! Had it taken over twenty minutes it would have just felt exhausting. But under twenty minutes … it felt good!

EntreLeadership Brain Dump

Well, it’s done. The three-day EntreLeadership course is complete. Time to do a brain-dump and capture the most important takeaways from the event.

Without a doubt, the biggest takeaway for me was simply this: Scale. Huh? Scale? It wasn’t even an official lesson topic, it just showed up in a few conversations within the lessons and really stuck with me. I heard things like “Make sure you build it so it will scale.” Or “That won’t scale.”

So what does “scale” mean? To me (at least in the context of EntreLeadership) it means that you build your systems, processes, and organization so that it can easily adapt to different levels of activity, production, demand, etc. … as in “scale up to a new level.” That doesn’t mean the organization has to get bigger (scale up) in order to be successful, but it does mean that if the owner does want to allow the business to get bigger the mechanisms are in place to easily allow the change to happen. The system, process, and/or business can scale.

I took another meaning from “scale.” A good leader will train his or her employees so they can scale too. There’s only so much time in a day, and no matter what you do you won’t get more time. The solution? Don’t lead your project, lead your people so they can lead your projects. There, you’ve just scaled yourself by enabling more people to do what you were doing.

Other takeaways…

DISC profiles (a personality profile that gives insight into how people make decision and what their tendencies are) are a huge part of the Dave Ramsey organization. DISC profiles are clearly posted at everyone’s workspace so coworkers know how to best communicate with each other.

Similarly, while everyone at the Dave Ramsey organization fits into the company culture, that doesn’t mean they are cookie cutter robots, each one like the other. When touring Financial Peace Plaza (the building that houses Dave’s 300+ employees) it’s clear that everyone buys into the culture. At the same time everyone maintains their own unique personality.

Here’s a quote from the lesson on communication: “A team is not a team without a shared goal and vision.” Simple and powerful. I need to make sure the teams where I work have a shared goal and vision.

The gossip policy is real and passionately defended by the Dave Ramsey employees.

Dave Ramsey’s exhortation, with a hat-tip to Winston Churchill, to “Never give up!” was definitely a high moment.

And one of the nicest surprises was the opportunity to frequently visit with Aaron West. I’ve never met him before, but I got to know his father-in-law quite well in Fargo. Aaron works for the Dave Ramsey organization on the audio-visual team. Even though I never met him until this conference he made me feel like a long-time friend.

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