Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review - Broken: Restoring Trust Between the Sacred & the Secular

Broken: Restoring Trust Between the Sacred & the SecularBroken: Restoring Trust Between the Sacred & the Secular by Greg Fromholz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trust is the foundation on which relationships are built. But we are not very good at it. Institutions and individuals have betrayed us. We have betrayed trust given to and received from others. We live in an environment permeated by fear. How can relationships possibly exist in such a climate?

Greg Fromholz examines the issue of trust and how to build it in Broken: Restoring Trust Between the Sacred & the Secular. He uses personal stories, Bible stories and passages, and research data to suggest ways in which we as individuals, groups, and churches can return to a trusting environment. The writing is engaging, and humor is frequently used to release tension in an otherwise heavy topic.

There are sixteen chapters across 222 pages (excluding endnotes). Each chapter discusses an aspect of trust - what hinders trust and what can help build it. Among the issues discussed are: forgiveness, fear, faithfulness, love, peace, and hope.

Gromholz issues a stinging indictment against the modern church and how it has communicated a separation between faith and trust, and how faith (the believing, intellectual kind) has become the most important thing in many churches. He that because faith has become so predominant, it has diminished and has even hidden love in the life of the church, communicating to any who participate and observe that love isn't that important to God. His indictment extends to the structures and systems that the church has placed around herself, to protect and to control; that such systems have replaced love in churches and in church life. The implicit message: where systems, structures, and control are important, trust is not. Organizations, small and large, seek to conserve and maintain -- by their very nature, they fear freedom. But without freedom, there can be no trust.

God allows great freedom to untrustworthy humans. God does not impose his will, but seeks to collaborate with humanity. As the bride of Christ, the church (and her individual members) should take a look at how God relates to us and seek to model our interactions with the world around us in the same way. This, I believe, is the message that Fromholz is communicating to his audience through this book.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before -- and After -- You Marry

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before -- and After -- You Marry (2015 ed.)Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before -- and After -- You Marry by Les Parrott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I warily approach marriage and relationship books from religious perspectives. I've encountered too many of them that promote a "biblical" perspective and ignore, discount, and dismiss findings from science and academics. I'm happy to report that this book takes current research and findings from the sciences and academia as priorities. It is informed by what is found in the Bible and its Christian interpretations, but it does not attempt to base its authority in the Bible.

For example, in the Question 2 chapter there is material discussing cohabitation. The Parrotts do not use judgmental terms, nor do they bring in biblical perspectives, but provides sociological and psychological evidence in their recommendation against it. They do not condemn it our call it "sin" or (especially) "living in sin" but sees it as something that is common in society but perhaps may not be in the best interests of couples from a scientific perspective.

I own an earlier edition (2006) of this book. Much of the material is the same. The most significant change is in the integration of the SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts) Assessment. A purchased book includes an access code for one couple to take the online assessment. The assessment is referenced throughout the book. Couples who have taken it prior to starting the book can refer to the results and use them as discussion points. An Appendix has been added giving an overview into SYMBIS and personality dynamics.

In the chapter Question Four discussing the topic of communication, material has been added discussing the problem of our electronic gadgets becoming barriers.

My biggest disappointment was with Question Five in which gender differences are discussed. On the positive side, gender roles are not prescribed nor are they discussed. The ideas of submission and headship are totally absent, which I see as a huge plus above many other "Christian marriage" material.

However the chapter does tend to paint in fairly balck-and-white terms personality, thinking, and behavioral style differences that are supposedly found between men and women. It defines feminism in terms of some of the radical 1970's era understandings (e.g., the abolition of gender), failing to recognize that this is one narrow perspective of feminism (albeit a common Christian misunderstanding of it). The chapter paints a broad, stereotypical portrait of men and women without recognizing that reality is far more nuanced and that broad traits identified with a particular gender often do not manifest so clearly in real people, or that real people usually have a combination of both "male" and "female" traits. What I could take away from this chapter was the advice to realize that I am not my spouse, and she thinks and sees the world differently than I do.

The final chapter is the only overtly spiritual/religious chapter. It discusses the role of faith and spirituality in a marriage relationship. The Parrotts see the integration of spirituality into a marriage as the ingredient that can turn a very good marriage into one that is great; a relationship that is intimate to one that can only be described as soul-mates. Once more the argument is made primarily from academic sources, not the Bible.

The problem with a "biblical marriage" is that there are so many interpretations and applications of it. Some may be good, while others can be bad to downright terrible. The Bible is not an authority on marriage: it describes marriage and many of them were quite bad. It was written across a huge span of time under many different cultural and sociological contexts. To use it as a primary source for marriage guidance today is problematic.

What I see being done in this book is far better: the ideals and purposes of marriage are broadly found in the Bible, but the specifics and practices of how that works out are found in the realms of science and sociology.

As this book does not contain overly religious material, I feel it is appropriate to a broad audience.

(This review is based on ARC supplied by the publisher through NetGalley.)

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review: Eve

EveEve by Wm. Paul Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is real and what is imagined, and how can we know which is which? This is the question that I arrived at by the end of the book.

I place Eve in a genre that combines sci-fi, fantasy, and spirituality. I best describe it as an imaginative re-telling and re-interpretation of the creation and fall accounts loosely based on Christian and Jewish traditions and mythologies.

This brings me to where I suspect many Christians will have a problem with this book: it does not follow the traditional (literal) biblical accounts; Paul Young takes great imaginative and fictional liberties in characterizations of both humans and God. Some may be bothered by the too-human characterization of God.

I think those of the Eastern and Orthodox traditions (vs. Roman/Western/Protestant) will have less of an issue with the way Young treats the biblical accounts. In this book, the biblical text is a starting point for exploration and discovery into "what might be," instead of a description of "what must be." God is described primarily in relational terms, rather than in law and holiness terms. Sin is a disease that must be healed, rather than law-breaking that must be judged and punished. God is a healer, far more and over a judge. The purpose of judgment is not to separate the righteous from the wicked, but to burn away all that is self-aligned (vs. God-aligned) within a person.

Inevitably comparisons will be made with Young's first book, The Shack. Both are re-imaginations of God, the Trinity, and their relationship with humans. Both attempt to show the primary attribute of God as love and his relationship with brokenness as The Healer. Where The Shack is set in a relatively small space, Eve encompasses multiple times and worlds. My opinion is that The Shack remains the better of the two.

There were some questions regarding the plot that remained unanswered. I think a few of these might be significant and thus diminished my opinion of Eve.

Some readers may fault the way in which Eve jumps from setting to setting and omitting what the reader wants to know to fully understand what is going on. But I think that this allows the reader to more fully identify with Lilly, the protagonist, and her confusion, her subsequent learning and development.

I enjoyed Eve and its imaginative retellings. However, I will caution anyone bothered by deviations from traditional (Western) biblical interpretations and theological perspectives to keep a very open mind when venturing into this book.

(This review is based on an ARC supplied by the publisher through NetGalley.)

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Friday, August 07, 2015

Brief Wrap-Up Summary of #GLS15

Another Global Leadership Summit has come and gone. What sticks in my mind after the two days? What were the highs and what were some of the lows?

The broad theme that sticks in my mind is that leadership is about helping transform the people you lead into better people. It isn’t primarily about managing tasks and finances, delegating, vision, or most of those things that is often seen as “leading.” Rather, it is about creating and maintaining relationships based on trust – not power, position, title, authority, etc. – that allow both the leader and those who follow to have positive interactions that mutually help to transform and grow themselves and the groups and organizations to which they belong.

As seems to be the pattern, the first day is relatively low-key when it comes to topics of religion and spirituality and inclusion of them in the talks and program. The two exceptions were at the beginning when Bill Hybels explains that GLS assumes a Christian worldview, and that in the same way the Summit respects people of other faiths and of no faith, he would like those who do not share the Christian faith to respect inclusion of Christianity in the Summit. The second exception was the last talk by Albert Tate which was the most “evangelistic” session of the entire Summit.

The second day included more “Christian” themes, but overall I don’t think it felt that “preachy.” In the same way people of other faiths or of no faith obtain their leadership values and principles from their authoritative sources, Christian leaders find principles in the text of the Bible and in the lives of those found within its pages, and in particular, Jesus. To use these should be no more or less offensive than invoking other religious figures and texts, or secular authorities. That said, the Summit includes speakers from various backgrounds. Many are Christian but from various expressions of it. The rest may practice other faiths or not profess any at all. The point of all this is that Bill Hybels practices what he preaches: we can all learn from one another and that religion should not be a barrier.

All the speakers come from large organizations and have accomplished some large things, even world-changing ones. Can what it said apply to small, even tiny, organizations? I think that for the most part, the information scales down. What was said isn’t about managing large organizations. Most of it really is about building and maintaining one-on-one relationships with other people. The application goes beyond merely global businesses and megachurches. Useful advice is found to apply to any unit that involves more than one person – families, small churches, workgroups, government offices, etc.

A few sessions that I appreciated above others.

  • Session 2B with Ed Catmull of Pixar where he discussed how stories are the way we understand the world around us and how we communicate with one another. Life is more than just processing information.
  • Session 3B with Dr. Brene’ Brown whose discussion also involved stories and narratives. She discussed how our brains are wired to make sense of all the bits of information that we receive by crafting narratives. Where there are holes, we make up things – and frequently they aren’t true. She discussed the “middle space” of our stories where we are too far in to back out, but not far enough to see the light at the end, and what we do in that middle space is vital. We need to understand and identify our emotions in that space, to have the courage and vulnerability to face the discomfort and discover what is true so that we can write the ending of the story that we want.
  • Session 4A with Sallie Krawcheck in which she discussed the value and necessity of diversity (primarily gender diversity) in groups and teams. She discussed some of the challenges faced in promoting greater diversity.
  • In response to the previous (Session 4A, diversity) as Bill Hybels came on stage and talked, he became quite passionate about the church and its lack of gender diversity. He specifically noted regrettably that in recent years churches have gone backwards when it came to women in church leadership. He sounded a call that churches ought to be leading culture when it comes to leadership equality among men and women.
  • Session 5B with Sheila Heen in how to improve the feedback process by learning how to better receive feedback. Feedback is often dreaded or ignored and she discusses how this critical piece of developing individual and team effectiveness can be improved.
  • Session 7A with Sam Adeyemi who uses the Feeding the Five-Thousand story to develop the concept that Jesus came to crush the power gaps between men and women, adults and children, and leaders and their followers. He discusses how Jesus confronts the traditional power structures of his day (which continue to exist in our modern cultures in our institutions) and turns them upside down. Jesus came to empower people to be more fully human.

There were a few lows as well.

  • Foremost in my mind was Session 6 with Brian Houston of Hillsong. Bill Hybels asked Brian about his experience when it was learned that Brian’s father had abused a minor (which eventually turned out to be many more, and so much that Brian admits he really doesn’t know how many). The discussion on this question became all about Brian and how he suffered through the process, but has managed to work through it and continue to lead a successful church. Almost nothing was mentioned about any of the victims and their violations and suffering. What I heard in the discussion was that Brian was the victim of his father’s crime. The only thing really mentioned about the victim was that he didn’t want to cause any more trouble so asked that the police not be contacted, and then Brian says that later he learned that in that particular province the statute of limitations on sexual crimes never expires. Brian asked for continued prayer on this “issue” with the implication that this prayer was for the church and for his family. Again, nothing about the victims. Unlike the previous day’s gender equality issue in which Bill Hybels rose to take a stand, in this instance I thought it was abject failure. Here was an opportunity to use this huge Summit, seen globally, to take a strong stand against abuse, especially by religious figures, and to come to the victims’ sides. But there was nothing of the sort. I was terribly disappointed. This entire session with Brian Houston lost any credibility for me with this total and catastrophic failure.
  • The other low in my mind was the final session with Craig Groeschel. The main content of his session was fine, but it was the “stuff” (or fluff) around it that I was unimpressed by. His illustrations struck of egotism and excessive machismo. And his manner of presentation reminded me, at best, of a hyped-up motivational speaker, and at worst, a less-than-honest salesperson.

On the balance, I do continue to believe the GLS is worth the time and cost to attend and will probably do so next year.

GLS15, Session 8, Craig Groeschel – Increasing leadership capacity

There is way more inside of you than you can possibly imagine. God has placed more in you than you can dream.

Increasing capacity. 

As your organization grows your mindset had to change. If you don't change your mindset, you become the limitation to growth and effectiveness. 

5 Cs of expanding leadership capacity. Choose one to improve during next year.

1. Confidence. Change your self-talk. Stop the negative self-talk. Take a step into the confidence supplied by God.

2. Connections. Relationships. You may be one relationship away from a change in destiny. Don't try to copy what others do. Learn how they think. Broaden your perspective. 

3. Competence. It may be in a blind spot. 

4. Character. Talent can get you to the top but only character will keep you there. We need to check our lives for "leaks." Where is our talk not matching our walk? 

5. Commitment. What you want determines what you are willing to do to accomplish it. 

GLS15, Session 7B, Liz Wiseman – harnessing strengths of rookie smarts

Is it possible that we are actually at our best when we know the least? When we were rookies?

When you don't know much, you ask a lot of questions, you are willing to learn, you value mentor relationships, you aren't too proud to ask for help. You are cautious, but work quickly in small steps. Desperation leads to innovation. 

Knowledge and experience are good but they lead to assumptions, and sometimes, bad ones. We can become so focused on what we're paying attention to that we miss important things going on around us. 

Challenging situations lead to satisfaction. Without challenge people can become disillusioned and leave. 

When people are challenged their motivation is to return to a comfortable equilibrium. If too stretched, they might let go. Or the person breaks. The right amount of challenge at the right rate is necessary. 

We need to be on the lookout for becoming too comfortable. Knowledge and experience can lead us to stagnation. We need to harness the positive aspects of being a rookie. 

Throw away your notes. Allow fresh thinking to come in. 

Ask questions. Don't provide answers.

Admit what you don't know. Be courageous and vulnerable. 

Let someone else lead. See the world through different eyes. Allow the newcomers to renew you.

Disqualify yourself. 

The rookie zone is not only where some of the best thinking happens, but where joy is found.

Lead your team into the unknown. Remain a learner. Create new beginnings. 

GLS15, Session 7A, Sam Adeyemi – Destroying the power gap

Deprivation creates insecurity. It can lead to pursuit of personal material security and external success. 

When God asks a question it's not because he doesn't know the answer. It's often to confront problems in our thinking. 

Even in Christian ministry the goal of leaders is often personal success - me. Christ's object of leadership was success of his followers. 

Leadership is about positive transformation of those who follow. The promise that leaders make to their followers should be this.

Secular leadership gravitate toward hierarchical power structures. It should not be so  with Christ's followers. Power distance leaves followers worth low self-esteem and fear of challenging the leader. There is less initiative-taking on the part of followers. 

Jesus crushed the power gap between men and women, adults and children, leaders and their followers. 

Jesus confronted power structures of his day. Leaders today should be confronting harmful power structures in our world. Jesus gave power away. Jesus' power structure is not about amassing it, but giving it away. It is not about creating distance between those with power and those who do not have, but fully empowering all. 

Leaders can't grow their organizations. Leaders can only help transform those who follow them. Those who follow have the power to generate growth. 

Jesus overturned the power structures of the world. 

GLS15, Session 6, Brian Houston (Hillsong) – Q&R, IMO a missed opportunity and minimizing abuse

In this Q&R Bill asks Brian about his experience when his father's abuse of minors came to light. The discussion on this topic was really all about Brian and how he suffered and what he did to work through his issues. 

I was terribly disappointed in what I see as a missed opportunity as well as appalled at the minimization of the actual victims. It came across to me that Brian was describing himself as the victim. The request for prayer mentioned was not for any of the victims but for the fact that Hillsong and is part and current people are still dealing with the issue "that won't go away."

This could have been an opportunity for Hybels, Houston, Willow Creek, and Hillsong to step up to confront the very real problem of abuse and violence in the church. But that was all swept aside to focus on Brian.

So the interview coveted other stuff but my disappointment in missing what could have been a moment of light made it impossible to hear and take seriously anything else that was said.

GLS15, Session 5B, Sheila Heen – Learning to receive feedback

Feedback is all the information I have about me. It can be formal or informal. It can come from anywhere and anyone. It's the little signals that come from relationships that you have with the world.

People struggle with feedback conversations. But feedback is critical for diagnosing problems and moving groups to better effectiveness.

The receiver is in charge. They are the ones who decide and choose what to hear and let in. The problem of feedback is not in the giving but in the receiving. We need to learn how to receive feedback and learn from it, even when it is poorly delivered or not entirely accurate.

Giving and receiving feedback involves relationship risk.

Feedback can feel good when it helps us see progress. We want to see that.

We have difficulty with receiving feedback because we have a need to be accepted the way we are. 

Three kinds of feedback.

1. Evaluation - comparison against expectations. 

2. Coaching - help to get better, to learn.

3. Appreciation - expressions of personal value.

Problem 1: Appreciation is often lacking.

Problem 2: Coaching and evaluation are commingled. So neither are effective. 

Getting better at receiving feedback doesn't mean you have to accept all feedback. 

Three feedback triggers—what affects how open we are to feedback and how we react to it: 

1. Truth triggers 

2. Relationship triggers

3. Identity triggers 

Three skills in getting better at receiving feedback:

1. Not doing anything – take time to process what the giver really means. Feedback may be about something entirely different from the literal words of the feedback. 

2. See yourself clearly and accurately. Realize that people see things in you that you don't see – blind spots. You don't hear things that are said about you behind your back. 

3. Enlist a friend to help. Have the friends honestly show you which parts of the feedback are true.

The fastest way to change feedback culture is for leaders to become better receivers. 

Terrible question: so… do you have any feedback for me?

Instead, two questions: 

1. What's one thing you appreciate? 

2. What's one thing I'm doing that you would like to see changed?

This is Jesus' model: he accepts us just as we are. But he desires that we need transformed into someone better. 

Love each other, counsel and admonish each other, forgive one another – as I (Jesus) have. 

GLS15, Session 5A, Horst Schulze – Service is caring from the heart

Service is not about song things. Genuine service is caring for people.

There can only be one Number One priority for your organization. Make it count. 

Customer loyalty makes our breaks your organization. Loyalty is trust. It's supplying what the customer wants. A product that is defect free, timely, accompanied by good service. 

Good service forgives many other faults. Initial impressions are critical. 

Welcome, good product, farewell – components of good service. 

Leaders have forfeited the right to make excuses. Leaders are leaders to lead over and around obstacles. 

Hiring to fulfill merely a function is immoral. Hire people to join your dream. Help them understand your vision and help them find ways to fulfill it.

Service is caring from the heart. It's the moral thing to do. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

GLS15, Session 4B, Albert Tate – Power of dumb ideas and living in abundance

(The one talk today that was predominantly religious, Christian, and evangelical.)

Jesus sometimes asks dumb questions because he wants us to realize the impossibility of what he is asking. Our response is often what seems a dumb solution. 

Jesus asks his disciples to feed a large crowd, already knowing what he is going to do. Andrew finds a boy with fish and bread, hardly enough to feed a single person. 

God asking Moses to talk to Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go.

Fr. Greg Boyle starting a bakery in L.A. to employ gang members. 

The power of a "dumb idea." 

Create a culture in which "dumb ideas" aren't laughed off, but heard and considered. 

What does it mean for us to "pack our lunch" and then give it away to Jesus? And then get out of the way. Too often we miss the last piint–we hang on to the lunch expecting to "help out" God.

We can become so consumed with the ordinary and mundane and with "reasonable solutions" that we fail to recognize opportunities for miracles. 

There were leftovers when the crowd was fed. What does it mean for us to have something left to return home with? 

Not having anything left after work is not a good work ethic. It's missing the miracle of what God wants to supply. We live as if resources are scarce. We ought to live in God's abundance. We don't have to lead in our sole strength. 

God can fill us so that we can lead from overflow, rather than empty. 

GLS15, Session 4A, Sallie Krawcheck – Strength of diversity

The retirement savings crisis is a women's problem. Women leave the workforce with 2/3 of the wealth of men and live years longer. By engaging women more fully in the workforce and closing the pay gap, the retirement savings crisis can be reduced. More women in leadership lead to greater diversity. 

The power of diversity is so great that it outperforms groups with more intelligence. Diversity improves ethics. 

#1 reason women accept a job: meaning and purpose.

Different voices and disagreements are necessary for effective decisions. It is not usually efficient. 

Diversity is hard. We're used to seeing things one way: white and male in power. We actually don't like powerful women. Even women miss sexist and gender bias. 

Encouraging diversity:

1. Recognize differences and disagreements. Value them.

2. Start asking, "Do we have the strongest team in place?" rather than "who is the best person for the job?"

3. Really live our values. People are watching.

4. Women are tired… of having to maintain external appearances. Women do spend more time on average than men on personal care. Sometimes women really are just tired. Recognize this.

5. Watch the microlessons. Women receive less feedback because men are afraid women will cry. How are women treated differently and we accept it as normal?

You can invest for both values and growth.

GLS15, Session 3A, Adam Grant – Destroying organizational paranoia by creating a culture of giving

What causes paranoia in organizations? How can I lead to overcome it – consistently?

Takers, givers, and matchers – three types of people/relationships.

Matching is quid pro quo. It attempts to balance. But it's it the best way to live?

Narcissists are one type of taker. But givers and matches who have been burned once too much may become takers. 

Givers are the worst performers. Across the board. Givers are too busy helping others to be a success. 

Our blind spot: we don't know our real style. Many think they are givers when they are really takers. 

Takers are not usually the best performers. They may have initial success but then they meet the matchers. Matchers are the "karma police". Most people operate as matchers by default. Takers are often the loudest at pointing out faults of other takers. 

Givers are the best performers. And the worst performers. They end up on both ends. Givers often fail in the short term, but succeed in the long. Givers' advantage is time: time to learn and to build social capital. 

How to avoid paranoia: It is important – critical – to keep takers off your team. Matchers follow the norm. In the absence of takers matchers become givers. 

Areeableness and taker/giver are on two separate axis. It is easy to spot disagreeable takers and agreeable givers. The other two are more difficult to spot but important to discern. How do you spot an agreeable taker? You don't want them. Givers use personal pronouns in terms of their own failures. Ask questions about motivations: people project their own motivations and behaviors onto hypothetical cars.

How to encourage giving: do five-minute favors. Short, doesn't have to be long-term. Create a culture of asking for help.

Takers can become givers when the cultural norm is giving. 

GLS15, Session 3B, Dr. Brené Brown – Courage and vulnerability

Connection. What is the emotion when connection is rebuffed. Shame. Anger is a secondary emotion.

Only path to more intimacy and closeness is more vulnerability. 

We make up stories in our minds to explain others' behavior toward us. Our brains require a narrative and rewards us chemically, whether or not it is accurate. 

Limited data points filled in with personal values and narratives: conspiracy. 

Middle space: too far in to turn back, but can't see the light at the end. What we do in the middle space separates leaders from non-leaders. It doesn't become any easier with repetition. 

Transformational leaders when confronted with the middle space: Reckoning, rumble, revolution

Reckon with the emotions. Become curious why you feel the way you do. Emotion is a part of our selves. Emotions have to be addressed before cognition can take place. "Help me understand."

Rumble with emotions. Have to get brave about talking about emotions. Be willing to be uncomfortable, face discomfort. Don't sweep it under or away. Rumble with what's true and hard. You can choose courage or comfort but not both.

When this becomes a practice, a revolution occurs. 

When we pretend hard things aren't happening, we still make up stories but they aren't true. And it only leads to more cover-ups and harm. Be courageous and vulnerable. Face the truth and take control of the end of your stories. 

The bravest among us will be the most broken hearted because we have the courage to love. 

GLS15, Session 2B, Ed Catmull (Pixar) – Q&R on creativity and doing great work

There is a misconception that art and science are opposed. Creativity is required for both. 

CGI animation combines both art and science. 

Great animation alone will never create great entertainment. A great story must be present. Good stories connect with the emotions. A story that simply sticks to a form is sterile. 

Every story begins ugly. How to get from there to a good story. 

The measure of progress is how well the team works together. 

Corrective measure to regain objectivity. Peer feedback. Power structures prevent truth. A vested interest in each others' success. 

Creativity is about problem solving. It applies to all areas of life. Simple explanations dilute the problem. Real solutions are complicated. Solutions need participation from multiple people.

Society stigmatizes failure and we have emotional reactions to it (fear). Not all failure is bad and we need to learn to welcome and learn from appropriate kinds of failure. An environment where it is safe to fail. An early failure is better than a late, costly one.

Constraints can increase creativity. It forces prioritization. It forces creative solutions. Having no constraints wastes energy and saps creativity. 

Post-mortem introspection. Learning from what happened. Change how it is done so people don't get accustomed to it and game the system. 

You can talk about trust but it takes time and effort to actually trust. Stating values and agreeing to them is easy. Actually living them and getting them ingrained into culture takes much more time and effort. 

Stories are what will change this world. It's how we communicate with people. Storytelling can be abused but it can be used for good. 

Value of silent retreats. To clear all the self-chatter. May take at least four days before silence really begins to take effect. 

GLS15, Session 2A, Jim Collins – Great leadership

Altering even by a small degree the trajectory of leaders can have significant effects down the line. 

Questions are better than answers. 

1. What cause do you serve with Level 5 ambition?

If you have a charismatic cause you don't need a charismatic leader. 

Personal humility and indomitable will. Ambitious service to a cause. Level 5 leaders inspire people to follow a cause. 

2. Will you settle for being a good leader, or will you grow to be a great leader?

Leadership isn't management. Leadership isn't personality, position, rank, title or power. Leadership is about people following by choice. Invoking tank or power is abdication of leadership. Leadership is an art. It is unique to each individual. You can learn from others, but can't copy. You must learn your own art. 

3. How can you reframe failure as growth in pursuit of BHAG?

The other side of success is… growth. 

4. How can you succeed by helping others succeed?

Create the environment where a person is never alone in their struggles. Communal success is genuine success. 

5. Have you found your hedgehog – your personal hedgehog?

Passion – what drives you, enjoy? Design – what are you designed to do? Economic engine – what can you do to fund your BHAG? 

What are you energized to do and passionate about in spite of obstacles – your personal hedgehog. 

Life is a series of hands dealt. Some are good, others are bad. It's not about the hands but about staying in the game. 

6. Will you build your unit into a pocket of greatness? 

Focus on your unit of responsibility. Not on your career. Be rigorous, not ruthless, about the people you choose to do the seats on your bus. Focus on taking care of your people. And they won't let you fail. Great leaders make impacts on people.

7. How will you change the lives of others? 

Life is people. How can you be useful in the service of transforming people for the better?

GLS15, Session 1, Bill Hybels–Intangible traits of successful leaders

Leadership is moving people and groups from here to a new and better place. It's not about pontificating how much you know.

Armed with enough humility, leaders can learn from anyone. With sufficient humility, the religious can learn from the non-religious. Different traditions can learn from one another. 

Intangible traits of successful leaders.

Grit. The enemy of grit is ease. Leaders develop grit in organizations by demonstrating grit.

Self-awareness. Who are you trying to impress? What in your past is affecting you (unconsciously, negatively) even today? What blind spots are you not noticing (that others are aware of)? The dangers of blind spots is that you really aren't aware of these shortcomings. 

Resourcefulness. Learning agility. Curious. Experimenters. Willing to fail and stick to trying to find a solution. 

Self-sacrificing love. Love can transform the ones you lead. It is at the core of leadership. Vision and strategy are important, but they are not the core. Don't allow "professionalism" to become an excuse for not loving and showing it.

Sense of meaning. Leaders develop a sense of meaning for all in the organization. The "Why" of an organization. Why do I want to give a large part of my life to this organization? Why do I do what I do? What is my highest priority? What is your passion? 

These intangible traits in a leader develop unity, teamwork, total trust – essential to a successful organization.