A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Month: September 2007 (page 1 of 2)

Noon, Outside the “New” Starbucks…

Ah! Ironic coincidence! I’m sitting outside on a gray overcast day, having just picked up Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast from the little used-book shop down the street. Hemingway tells of sitting in a fine Paris café, writing in his notebook with a pencil, and Miller’s once-banned classic is set in the same city. And here I am, on the “sidewalk” in a suburban substitute for the cozy cafés of Paris, writing in my notebook with a pencil, and drinking the not-quite equal of Hemingway’s café au lait.

It’s quiet on this dreary day, even with the chiming church bells from across the highway, the constant stream of traffic, and the bouncy pop music blaring from the Starbucks speakers.

There are signs of life: commerce, travel, building, eating at the fast-food drive-thru window, the big box store across the way. People have computers inside. They are huddled around the tables, discussing this or that, reading the latest romance novel, and computing on important-looking projects. Not exactly the cultural center of the Earth, but likely a prime example of what passes for culture in our day and place.

I’m anonymous at the table. At least no one lets on that they know me, and I happily leave them alone as well. In my imagination, they probably look at my little notebook and little black pencil and say something like, “Look! There’s a new Hemingway, writing something profound in his notebook!” I could be a writer, I guess, except for the fact that I can’t write.

I wonder if there’s an Arby’s across from the fine Paris café where Hemingway sat and wrote and drank. I wonder if the fall of Miller’s second year in Paris included a Wal-Mart parking lot. I wonder if either of those observers ever thought of the kind of impression their presence was making on those around them.

I wonder which is more interesting – the traffic outside or the people inside?

What Good Mentors Know…

Good mentors/coaches know…

  • How to bring out the best and point out the worst
  • The difference between a whack on the side of the head, a pat on the back, and a kick in the butt – and how and when to apply each one

What else do good mentors know?

Assumed Constraints…

Ken Blanchard says in Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager that the first “trick” of the self leader is Challenging Assumed Constraints. He defines an “assumed constraint” as…

a belief you have, based on past experience, that limits your current and future experiences. (p. 33)

So, if I’m going to challenge the assumed constraints in my life and my organization, and if I’m going to move beyond those past assumptions to a more productive and effective future, the starting place seems to be identifying what those assumed constraints are.

I started thinking about those assumptions this week, and as they came up, I started listing them in my notebook. I’ve got to tell you, it’s not a pretty picture. Especially when I realize that the assumptions I’ve placed on the people I lead and serve may be more detrimental to our mission than the assumptions I assume they operate under themselves.

And that scares me.

So, since you’re already praying for me after “I Quit,” you might as well go ahead and look with me into these constraints that have been holding me – and us – back.

Assumed Constraints for Our Church

  • That our best days are behind us
  • That we “can’t compete” with the megachurches, the new churches, etc. all around us

What About the Constraints I’ve Placed On Our People?

  • That no one really cares
  • That they (we) aren’t willing to change
  • That they won’t follow my leadership
  • That they (we) are stuck in the past
  • That they (we) are not interested in the things that really matter
  • That the “old dogs” are too old to “learn new tricks”
  • That they (we) won’t respond to any bold challenges
  • That they (we) won’t accept the responsibility for a new season of growth and effectiveness
  • That they (we) are too interested in having our own needs met to actively reach out to meet the needs of others
  • That they (we) won’t give to support anything new
  • That they won’t like me if I lead in a different direction
  • That they will fire me if they don’t like me

What About the Assumed Constraints I’m Fighting Against Personally?

  • That I’m too old to attempt something great for God
  • That I’m hopelessly stuck in debt that keeps me from real freedom to do those great things for God
  • That I don’t have the necessary skills to be effective in this culture
  • That I – and I alone – am completely responsible for the success or failure of our church

This week, I’m in the challenging mode…if you need to challenge your assumed constraints, share them. Let’s commit to praying for and helping each other with challenging – and overcoming those things that are holding us back. Deal?

What Will They Say When You Speak?

I found this challenging quote in Perspective, the journal of the Association of YMCA Professionals

When Aeschines spoke, they said, “How well he speaks, what glorious words, what magnificent tones!” But, when Demosthenes spoke, they shouted, “Let us march against Philip now!”

WOW! What will my people say when I speak this weekend? What will yours say? The more important question is: What will my people do with what I say this weekend? What will yours do?