Monday, June 25, 2012

Creating Teams - Discipleship 180

We were created for community. Every person on earth enjoys being connected to and with others. Depending on the cultural context, some people call these connections communities, others call them tribes and some may refer to them as teams.

I believe that the only way to find success in life is to pursue a collective goal in community, or in others words, to work together as a team.

Whether you are referring to a family unit, a leadership grouping, a school setting or a workplace environment, each of these contexts provides the opportunity to work collaboratively as a team. The challenge in working together is knowing how to build or create a team. Here are three things I'm learning about building teams:

1. Everyone has value. Whether you are referring to the youngest person in a family, or the most senior member of a work place, everyone has value. The challenge in creating a team is to identify and establish a culture of value and appreciation so that every member of the community feels like they belong. Without a sense of connectedness or value, the gathered group of individuals will never be willing to work together and the quest to become a team will fail.

2. Teams are well rounded. If your team doesn't include a diverse group of individuals, it will not function well. Some people might say that we are drawn to individuals who are like us, while others might suggest the complete opposite. Regardless of who we are naturally drawn to, we must be intentional about pursuing diversity and embracing our differences. I'm not suggesting to employ a culture of tolerance, but I am suggesting we pursue a culture of acceptance. Acceptance doesn't always been agreement, but a willingness to honor one another for opinions and values while choosing to limit seasons where these things clash with one another.

3. The formation of a team is never complete. This may seem like a downer to some of us. The truth of the matter is that no matter what level of health your team might be experiencing, the culture of team must be continually cultivated and tended to or it will otherwise begin to erode. The challenge for leaders, parents and others is to find ways to keep the pursuit of this team oriented collaborative culture fresh. Read culture, read books, observe others interacting with one another and become a student of collaborative learning and experiences.

These are the top three things I'm learning about creating teams. What do you think?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stories are Inspiring - Discipleship 179

Have you ever considered that you and I are living stories? Our lives paint pictures and create waves that affect others around us, both positively and negatively. We also live in a culture that is fascinated with story. There are three basic elements to a story. Consider how your awareness of these elements may help you in your role as a leader, a parent and a friend.

1. Author - Every story has an author. The author is someone who creates a picture or a platform...something we call a story. If we agree that each of us is a living story, we are all authors and are all constantly writing, painting, demonstrating and living in the story (that is our lives) we are creating. What is fascinating about authorship is that we live in a world who's story has already been told, but as living, breathing and interactive sub-stories to this broader unfolding story, we still have the opportunity to be involved in this greater unfolding story. How we use our ability to tell our story is where we often find significant differences as authors.

2. Audience - Stories are meant for audiences. When we are stitching together an epic tale, we are often doing so while keeping in mind who our target audience might be. Our goal as an author, a living story, is to see how our own story might have an impact or make an impression on other living stories. Are we writing, speaking and communicating through our lives with our audience in mind, or are we simply trying to entertain ourselves? No one really loves going to the movies and sitting by themselves, alone in a theatre, do they?

3. Willingness to share - The last element of a story is its' willingness to be shared. Perhaps you've heard it said different in terms of giving your life away. We all can agree that we invest our lives in something. Sometimes what we invest in has great meaning, and at other times our investment might have lesser significance. The challenge we have is finding the courage to share our story, our lives, with those whom we desire to influence and impact. 

These are three elements of story. What might you add to the conversation?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Authenticity 2.0 - Discipleship 178

It looks like I may once again be focusing the bulk of my ramblings on the theme of community for this season. I can't help but be absolutely fascinated by our desire to define ourselves by how we do or do not connect with others. Call it a fixation with sociology I guess...

What I'm learning and observing most about community currently is with regard to the character development of authenticity. Authenticity is the desire to be real; to pursue truth. So much of how we form community is based more on appearance than truth or desire, and this is why it is difficult to add the element of authenticity into the formation of community. Here are for ideas as to why authenticity and community seem to be more polarizing than harmonizing:

1. Authenticity isn't convenient. Getting to know someone for who they really are is a lot of hard work. We have to peel back the layers of expectation, fear, confusion and cultural nuance in order to get to the core of who we are as people. It takes time, effort, investment, consistency and patience to do so. In our instant gratification based society, authenticity simply rubs us the wrong way. It forces us to slow down, take notice and listen to the lives of others. Because authenticity isn't convenient, it's often forgotten.

2. Authenticity needs to be modelled. Someone needs to take the risk of being real in order to demonstrate to others that authenticity is possible. There seem to be far too few people who are willing to risk rejecting the fake element of the human persona, making it virtually impossible for a community to pursue authenticity together. If someone would only take the risk to show their true self to their community, perhaps authentic community wouldn't be such a pipe dream perhaps.

3. Authenticity is a work in progress. This is perhaps the most frustrating dynamic in authenticity. You never "fully arrive" in being have to constantly work at developing this as a core value of your community. For those of us who are achievers, we need to figure out how to "keep things fresh" in our pursuit of authenticity so that we don't be disillusioned by the constancy of its development.

4. Authenticity is not a growth strategy. Somewhere deep inside of each of us we have a difficult time restraining ourselves by defining success simply based on numerical statistics. While authenticity is what we might crave, it's also something we fear because of the risk of it's unappealing nature to the broader community. We like to pretend, have fun and enjoy when someone tells us it's time to get serious for a moment, we might be less inclined to continue to be a part of the community, even though we long for an authentic experience.

While authenticity is difficult, I believe it is absolutely necessary in order to live a life of meaning, purpose, destiny and joy. Maybe it's time that we all choose to get real, reject the cultural nuance of being fake and find rest in what it means to be human? What do you think?