Almost Isn’t Good Enough: Wayne Elsey’s New Book

As a leader, there are two qualities that really I value in other people, drive & selflessness. In most circles, these two words seem contradictory & rarely used in the same sentence. However, both of those words describe my good friend, Wayne Elsey. Wayne is the Founder & CEO of Soles4Souls. His drive has lead Soles4Souls to become one of the fastest growing non-profits in the country, but his attitude reflects total selflessness.  A few months ago, I interviewed Wayne in my leadership series. You can read it HERE.

This week, I had the opportunity to celebrate another milestone with Wayne, the release of his new book Almost Isn’t Good Enough After checking it out, I realized this book is unique. I can’t classify it as an inspirational, leadership, or business book because it incorporates all of those categories. Opening with Wayne’s story and; motivation to start Soles4Souls, the book goes on to share the principles that have driven the organization to where it is today. Each chapter highlights a principle that can drive your organization to fulfilling its overall mission.

The thing I love about Wayne and this book is the fact that, in the end, it all comes back to making a difference in the lives of others. Last night, Wayne told me that if this book could impact just one person to do something impactful, he’ll consider it a win. I know he genuinely means that.

The book officially releases December 26, which by way is the anniversary of Wayne’s calling to start Soles4Souls. Here is the cool part: For every copy sold, you will provide 10 pairs of shoes to a people group that you choose. So, buy 1 copy and give 10 kids their first ever pair of shoes. Buy 5 copies for you and your friends and provide a whole village with shoes. It’s a beautiful thing.

I would encourage you to pre-order your copy HERE. From now until December 26th, you can purchase 2 for $20 or 5 for $45.

This book is a powerful resource for every pastor, nonprofit leader, professor or business leader. At the same time, it is a must read for anyone who thinks they can’t do something to change the world. It’s a book that I would share with 50 year old CEOs and 18 year old college students.

Are you familiar with the work of Soles4Souls?

In honor of Wayne’s heart for good non-profit organizations, name one non-profit you are impressed with these days.

Bring Your Old Bible to Church for ReWord Day

We are recycling Bibles this Sunday at Grace Community Church. Recently during a staff retreat we were thinking of ways to encourage Bible reading. We realized as we were talking that many of us in the room have many Bibles that we never use. Not having one could never be a good excuse for the church staff not to read the Bible. The more we talked, the more we recognized that there were probably others in our church with multiple Bibles they no longer use. At the same time, we are always conscious of people in our church and community who have no Bibles.

What was the solution? Have a ReWord Bible Day! This Sunday we are encouraging everyone who has one to bring in an extra Bible…the one on the book shelf, in the night stand, or in the trunk of your car. (I have one there.) We will then get them to people who need a Bible. We love the thoughts of someone reading the Bible someone else has already read.

Do you have an extra Bible (or two) laying around your house? What are you going to do with it?

Characteristics of People Who Work at Grace Community Church

Recently I asked the staff what characteristics they think a person who is on staff at Grace Community Church should have. As we reflected on the list, we realized we see lots of these values in our volunteers also.

Here’s the list…

Motivated self starter

Servant leader

Trustworthy

Team player

Warrior Spirit

Flexible

Integrity

Grace-filled/Accepting

Personal Health

Accepting

Authentic

Enduring

Forward thinking

Excellence

Accessible

Steadfastness

You can read about the people who made this list, and are the team of Grace HERE.

Could you work with a team like this?

Are We Becoming Afraid to Take a Risk?

I was talking with a doctor recently. He said increasingly physicians are deciding not to attempt private practice. They are choosing to work only for guaranteed salaries at a hospital, afraid to take a risk of self-employment. In his opinion, it’s changing the way healthcare is done in America. I can’t speak with authority about the field of medicine, but I have noticed the same trend occur in other fields. I talk with people regularly who are settling for security rather than take a risk in this economy.

In a way, it’s completely understandable. This economy is scary for everyone, even churches (even though we are called to live by faith). I am certainly not an advocate for being irresponsible. I think we should be especially wise in these days. I will say, however, that we can’t allow our fear of the unknown to keep us from dreaming big dreams for tomorrow.

My personal concern is that if we eliminate the process of taking risks from our culture, it will be the end of life as we know it as Americans. Our country was founded and made to flourish by dreamers who took big risks.  An even greater concern, and of more personal interest to me, is that we will miss out on some God-sized opportunities because we are developing a culture of fear.

Have you seen this trend? Do you have an example? Have you been scared from following the dreams God lays on your heart?

We Wrote a Story Together

If you follow this blog, then you may remember that a couple weeks ago we wrote a story together. You can read how it started HERE, but basically I wrote an opening sentence and then different commenters each added a line to continue the story. Today I’m providing the completed story…or at least where it is today. It’s “different”, but reading it shows me how unique our minds work. I never would I have imagined taking the story in the direction it went. Have you ever been in a planning session that went this way? It’s how a team operates.

Here is our story:

Carolyn knew not to question the timing, but she had never experienced anything like this before now. She was anxious that someone so important was interested in her opinion. That she did not know what to say!!

Here she was, in a place that was both exciting and terrifying. And she could not have felt more exhilarated! The CEO, Mr. Jenkins, had asked to see her first thing this morning.

“Carolyn,” he said, shaking his head. “How did we not see this coming?!”

Puzzled, she really had no idea what he was talking about. “See what coming?”

Her mind raced as she replayed all of her hard work over the last month. But knowing about the events last week at the company HQ her pulse quickened. She tried to maintain her composure so as to appear neither excited nor nervous.

“Carolyn, the demand generated for your new book has been off the charts!” he exclaimed.

Her ADD was kicking in, this was important, she MUST STAY FOCUSED! Assured that she had, she struggled to retain her composure and asked to see the report. She turned her head quickly feigning like she was looking for something in her purse, but in reality she was executing a well-timed sniff test. See Carolyn had a history with deodorant.

She sat down, still confused and jittery. …as Mr. Jenkins announced, “You’ll be happy to know you’ve won employee of the year, and you won’t believe what the prize is!”

And then the hardest question of all:” Did I even remember to put on my deodorant this morning?” “What am I thinking? I’ve got to stay focused on the issue at hand”, which now seemed impossible as Mr. Jenkins was reaching for something inside his desk drawer.

However, since she is hardcore ADD, the thought faded as quickly as it came. As she contemplated her deodorant, her mind took her back to the place she most hated. Even though she should be enjoying this success, she felt like she was sitting in her high school principal’s office again.

Her mind wandered back to her hometown of Tribune, Kansas where Mr. Shaeffer had often had to dish out discipline to her and her friend Charlene. Where was Charlene now? Was she still alive….”What was that Mr. Jenkins?”

In that moment before Jenkins answered the question, Carolyn made a decision. It was time for a trip back home. She thought to herself, “I wonder if my name is still carved into the door to the gym?”

Mr. Jenkins answered, ” Oh, sorry…that’s just the new ring tone on my iPhone.” Sugarland’s, “Stuck Like Glue” echoed in the conference room as Mr. Jenkins pushed silence on his phone. The country music ringtone suddenly made all the pictures of Chuck Norris on the walls of Mr. Jenkins’ office make sense.

Her alarm clock was blaring in the background as she slowly woke to face her day. But going back also scared her…it had been so long since she had seen him. A secret only her dog understood. It had all been a dream- but it stirred up the desires in her to revisit her past.

She quickly scrambled to pack a bag and headed home, wondering after all these years if her secret would be revealed. On the plane, she thought more about Charlene, the murder, and of course, him.

The countryside seemed to move by in slow motion; would she ever be home; did she really want to be home? She dialed her phone with trembling hands: “Charlene?–it’s me.”

No one knew she had been there when it happened, and the shame and guilt were sometimes overwhelming. Silence crackled across the telephone wires as she waited for Charlene’s reply. And she wondered, ‘Should I really be here…should I be doing this? Does any of it really matter anymore?’
Sheepishly she pulled into the driveway, brushed a tear from her eye and slowly began to open her car door. Even the sound of the door opening and the wind as it whipped through her hair brought back unwanted memories.

The explosion knocked her to the ground.

Off in the distance a man with wire rimmed glasses looked on through a pair of military issue binoculars. The small device in his hand would ensure that the reunion would never happen. Carolyn raised her eyes up over the porch steps only to realize that Charlene was gone.

The only thing she could think to do was sit on her favorite rock in her favorite bay and think about what was happening. Carolyn was so confused! Everything was gone. Where was she! Who was Mr. Jenkins?

Rolling over in the bed she grabbed her blankets, pulled them up over her head and wished for a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep. Dreams sure have a way of ruining a nights sleep!

Something, perhaps a log floating in the rippling water, perhaps a shadow, reminded her of a long ago trip to Puerto Vallarta…Where she had visited a local Mexican restaurant. The owners, a kind indigenous family, had taken her and Charlene in for the night after their purses, with all their money and personal identification, had been stolen. Could Charlene ever understand the feelings being there brought back?

Suddenly, a gnawing feeling engulfed her as she recalled something…and it hit her: in only twenty four hours, she had left her boss standing in the office bewildered and begging her not to leave at this incredible moment of success, had shot off to see Charlene, had nearly been blown to bits, and then flown to Mexico like some asylum escapee passing into and out of reality, like some character in the first novel written by a writer with catastrophic ADD and way too much caffeine.

Startled by Bobby McFerrin singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, she answers the phone and hears a familiar voice say “I’ve been thinking about you”.

It was her Father; “You shouldn’t have come back!” He said. “You know what will happen now!”

Carolyn started to wonder where all her past friends were, just now, she needed them for support, validation or celebration, she didn’t yet know what Where were all her friends now, for support, validation or just plain help? More importantly, would her ADD allow her to make any sense of what was happening?

Right then, her phone vibrated, it was a text ” I’m not dead, meet me at our spot “. OMG, was all she could think.

The sound of sirens in the distance brought her back to the situation at hand. She knew she needed to leave before she was asked any questions. So she climbed back into the car, stared at the burning house in front of her, and made her decision. She knew that she could not talk to the police just then. She started her car and headed off to find Robert.

Though stunned by the fact that Robert was clearly not dead, Carolyn drove quickly, arriving within minutes to “their spot”– But what was that object he was carrying and why was he waving it in the air?

She pulled into a secluded spot, turned off the engine and got out of the car. In the distance she saw Robert waiting for her. Suddenly she heard a loud BANG! …as the balloon Robert was carrying burst…and she saw the person who had perpetrated this cruel action.

Could it be? “No, that’s not possible; she’s dead”, she thought as she ran to Robert. Carolyn, reached Robert right at the same moment that Charlene did.. Both of them where alive, for years she had lived with regrets that weren’t real, her world was about to change.

Because the helium that was released from Robert’s burst balloon made her voice so squeaky high that she could now sing super-hyper-soprano.

Amid the random, myriad thoughts, the bunny slippers peeping out from under Mr. Jenkins desk jolted her abruptly back into the present.

Bunny slippers, Mr. Jenkins office; what had happened to the day as it was obviously night now and she was alone in his office; alien abduction perhaps?

Carolyn shook her head trying to clear the cobwebs out-what in the world was going on? Has this all been a dream or is it really happening. Confusion took over. She needed to get out, to clear her head. But as she turned her mind saw two men in the shadows, then the same bright light and suddenly it was day and she was in her own bed; or was she?

She pulled back the covers, sat up and shook the cobwebs of sleep from her mind as she went for her bunny slippers, but where were they and where did those muddy footprints come from?

Carolyn felt a cold chill as she realized that the footprints led to the two shadows in the corner–it was Robert and Mr. Jenkins, and they were both dressed in clown suits!

“What are you doing here?”, she called out; “What’s going on?”

She hated clowns, terrified of them since she was a small child because her father dressed for one at her 5th birthday party and screamed so loudly, as he tripped over one of her friends.

Mr. Jenkins replied, “You’re still dreaming. Think real hard and you’ll wake up.” She did and all of a sudden she was awake in her own bed; no clowns or bunny slippers.

She relaxed with the knowledge that heard dear friend Charlene was, in fact, alive. But something was still not quite right.

So she had no other choice but to drop to her knees and pray “Lord, I have no idea what to do or what’s going on. What should I do?” Just then, she felt the Lord was leading her to the one place where everything would be revealed: The deodorant factory where she had witnessed the murder.She had always had a nose for trouble and now she could understand exactly what had been going on.

THE END (At least for now…)

I included links to the people who provided them. If you didn’t leave a link on your comment, to either a blog or Twitter account, or at least your full name, I didn’t assume you wanted credit for helping write this post. I did add a few names who commented frequently here or on my blog. If you added a line and want to be linked here, send me an email and I’ll happily add you. (Or, if you want your name taken out, let me know also.)

Rick Phillips , Jerry Webb, @LemonJazz, Joe Sewell, Lance Morgan, Charles Anderson, Bryan Ruffin, Esther Rennick, Lisa McAuley, Randy Gravitt, Paul Stanley, Ami Dean, and Cheryl Kosec, Felicity Shiro, Lin Pearson, Jon, Kyle Reed, Tom Jamieson,

This was fun…What do you think happens next in Carolyn’s story?

Thanks for playing along…we may try this again sometime.

Friday Discussion: #BlackFriday …What’s the Deal?

Black Friday…the day after Thanksgiving when retailers hope their financial books go from red to black…when they are completely profitable for the year…isn’t what it used to be…

I was in retail for years…I loved the excitement of this time of year…especially after I was in management.  Seeing people with their Christmas anticipation and the stores being full gave me energy…even as an Introvert.  I love growth, busyness, and energy, so Black Friday became one of my favorite days of the year.

Fast forward almost 20 years and Black Friday isn’t what it used to be.  My youngest son Nate Twittered that he had participated in his first Black Friday event.  He was finished and in bed by 6 AM.  In my retail days, that’s about the time I was going to work to prepare the store to open.  Because of the changes in Black Friday, and because I’m no longer paid to do so, I have participated in the day in years.  (Any other former or current retail folks out there?)

So, let’s have some fun discussing Black Friday today…

Dialogue with me and other readers with your thoughts, experiences, and predictions about Black Friday…

Here are some questions to get you talking:

  • Do you participate in Black Friday?  How early do you get up?  Or do you not go to bed?
  • What stores and prices were most exciting this year?  What are the items most in demand?
  • What gets you out of bed (or from going to bed) to participate…is it more the prices or the excitement?
  • Is Black Friday for the younger crowd or do middle-aged guys like me get involved?
  • Is there an online Black Friday experience?  Help a guy out…
  • For those who don’t participate…why don’t you?  Tell us what you really think of people who would get out of bed at 2 AM to stand in line for a 3 AM door opening…
  • Where is Black Friday going next?  I can see the change in 20 years…Give us your best prediction for the next 20 years…

You certainly don’t need to answer all of these, but hopefully that will get you talking.  I want to hear about your thoughts and experience with Black Friday.

Let’s talk…

7 Examples of Shallow Leadership

Growing in our leadership abilities, knowledge and relationships should be a goal for every leader. Many leaders settle for status quo leadership rather than stretching themselves as leaders. They remain oblivious to the real health of their leadership and the organization. I call it shallow leadership. Perhaps you’ve seen this before in leadership. Maybe you’ve been guilty of providing shallow leadership. I certainly have.

Here are 7 characteristics of shallow leadership:

Thinking your idea will be everyone’s idea…

Believing that your way is the only way..

Assuming you already know the answer…

Pretending to care when really you don’t…

Giving the response that makes you most popular…

Refusing to learn something new…

Ignoring the warning signs of an unhealthy environment…

Have you seen shallow leadership before? What would you add to my list?

Three Ways I Process Ideas

Perhaps this has happened to you…

You read a Tweet…you hear a message…you read a book, blog post or article…it gives you an idea, encourages you, prompts you to want to take action on the idea…

If you are like me, that thought can soon become lost in a sea of other thoughts and ideas and, as great as it may have seemed at the time, the idea never becomes reality in your life. Weeks, months, or even years later you may even hear the same idea again and remember that you never did anything with it the first time…

I often am asked:  How do you capture great ideas and make them useful in your life?

Here’s a simple system I use…there’s nothing extremely genius about this, but for me it had to become a habit to be successful. Others will have better systems, but this is what I do:

Record it – You are more likely to remember ideas that you write down. I’m always impressed (and slightly nervous) in the restaurants when the waiter doesn’t write down my order, but while this may work for short-term activities, it doesn’t for long-term. Find a system of recording the ideas that come to you. Right now, for me, that’s Evernote. I actually wrote an eBook about how to use it. Find it HERE.  I have used notepads, notes on my iPhone, notebooks, etc. It doesn’t matter what you use as much as that it be a tool you have easy access to throughout the day. Use the napkin method if that’s all you have, but I find having the same tool with me each time an idea comes to me helps me keep up with the ideas better. Ideas hit you randomly, so be prepared to record them as they come.

File it - Part of saving ideas is to have a system to process them effectively. This is an extra step where many people fail, but it is where I take my recorded notes and place them in a file that makes sense to me. One single idea can easily become a blog post, for example, but the sooner I get the idea in a specific file the better chance it has of becoming something useful. For me currently, Evernote allows me to do this seamlessly. If I have a thought for a blog post, I start a file that is for that specific post. New ideas for that same post can be placed straight into that specific file. If the idea is for a future sermon message, I have a file for that message. I have a file for staff meeting notes, lead team meeting notes, etc. The key here is to decide where it needs to go and to use file names that make sense and I will use and remember later. I also have a random file for notes that aren’t yet assigned to a specific use and I periodically go back to this file to attempt to place them in a useable file, but my first attempt is for ideas to immediately be placed in a useable file. (Prior to using Evernote, I took my handwritten notes and typed them into a Word document or Google document filing system. Again, Evernote make this seamless for me right now, but the key is to file them somewhere.)

Use it - The final step for me is to take the files of ideas, notes, and questions and work through the file until it becomes something of use. Again, for me, that could be a blog post, sermon message, meeting I’m attending, or even an email to someone, but I will process that file to make something of it. If I’m looking for a blog post for the next day, for example, the first place I go to is my list of files that I have saved. Normally I have a couple dozen of these waiting for me at any given time. I’m okay having long-term files, but I like to either do something with the file or delete it in a reasonable period of time. This means at some point during my week I discipline myself to look through my list of files and either update them, add thoughts, complete them into something, such as a blog post, or delete them. I have found that with this type of system I tend to gather more notes and ideas than I can use, so it’s okay not to do something tangible with every thought I have, but recording them in this way helps me ensures that I give ample time to process ideas instead of forgetting them.

That’s my system. What works for you? How do you keep ideas from being wasted?

Friday Discussion: Are The New TSA Travel Requirements Fair?

What’s your opinion?

Since 9/11 traveling has become much more difficult and time consuming. Our government has assumed new responsibilities as we travel. I am thankful for the diligence of people involved in keeping us safe. Their work should never be taken for granted.

The most active story on my radar this week, however, has been that of the new TSA restrictions on travel. (You can read a Senate hearing transcript about them HERE.) Apparently if you travel airlines in the future you will go through an Xray type machine that shows your body plainly on a screen to ensure you have no hidden weapons or contraband. According to some, you will be basically naked in front of TSA officials. I’ve read that the new body scanners give viewers a pretty good idea of what you look like without your clothes on. If you refuse, in order to fly, you’ll be subject to an extremely thorough pat down by a TSA official of the same sex. My friend Ed Stetzer is advising you to resist these machines, even if you have to face the pat downs. (Read his post HERE.) Another friend Michael Hyatt is addressing the issue with a somewhat different take on his blog. (Read that post HERE.)

I was in Florence, SC recently and a random female passenger was pulled aside and subject to the new style of pat-down search. Honestly, it was very personal…I would have been very intimidated to have the male counterpart.

So here are my questions:

Has the TSA gone too far or is this just being safe? Are we running scared or just being cautious?

Have our rights been violated or is this part of living in a country as large as ours?

Are we overreacting to fear or are we being proactive?

What do you think?

How will you respond to the new regulations?

Great Leaders Don’t Take Opportunities Just Because They Can

Part of being a good leader is not taking opportunities even though you can. Sometimes letting your staff do something you could do, maybe even would like to do, is a better for the entire team.

When we launched our church eleven couples took a risk on a dream we felt God was leading us to pursue.  We empowered this core team to do things the way they felt best doing them, as long as they were achieving the vision we knew God was calling us to achieve.  We encouraged them to explore new ideas, become experts in their field of interest, and then released them to dream and build.  It became part of our DNA and we are still allowing people to explore new opportunities.

For example, we had ideas of what we wanted our children’s ministry to look like.  We could have even scripted it for them, but we knew that the best energies would be invested when those doing the ministry actually created the ministry. Almost five years later, there are parts of our children’s ministry I am clueless to how they are done.  Today there are new creative leaders in children’s ministry and they have implemented even more changes, but God has blessed their efforts dramatically, far beyond what we could have commanded them to do.

One of the greatest things a leader can do sometimes is to let go of the right to control.  Good leaders are willing to take a risk on other peoples ideas, knowing that in doing so, others will be more likely to take a risk on their ideas and organizational strength will be enhanced.  If you want to encourage risk-taking, dreaming, creativity and innovation, then you must be willing to empower others with opportunities you can control.

Leader, what opportunity are you currently taking that you need to release the control of to others on your team?

Have you served under a leader who was always taking the best opportunities?