Month: January 2015

Setting a World Record

Right now, I have friends working on setting two world records. The Two Eagles Balloon Team has launched a helium balloon in Saga, Japan headed for North America to break the distance and duration records in gas ballooning that were set more than 30 years ago. It is a very cool adventure and worth tracking to see how it turns out. What has been really impressive is how many people around the world are tuned in and want to help out. Ballooning is already a pretty close-knit group, and it is still impressive to me. So, why do people rally around something like this?

Do Something Big

I think people like to help out on projects that are big. Bigger than they have ever done, or may ever do. It is very unlikely I will ever attempt or hold a world record at anything. That is OK with me. It is a great privilege for me to work with people who are doing big things. In fact, although I don’t really do much, it is still a great ego boost to say, “I helped with that.”

The same is true of our workplace; people like to join something big. As you lead your organization, is your vision big enough to rally the troops and get them fired up?

Leading is Lonely

We often hear that leadership is lonely. As we blaze a trail into the unknown, we feel like we are on our own. I think that is true when we have a really big vision. It is big because nobody has done it before. If we wanted to feel comfortable we would join the masses and do something mundane.

However, I think the loneliness can also come when we shrink from that big hairy audacious goal and pick something easier. If you are feeling lonely, I suggest two things.

  • Gather a Tribe. There are others like you trying to change the world. Find those folks and gather a tribe to support each other. Even if you are in different parts of the world, relating challenges with peers can bring great comfort, support, and insight. In fact, we think this is so important for church leaders that we started a whole section of our company dedicated to Tribes.
  • Get a Bigger Vision. While leading the pack is genuinely lonely at times, you should also expect people to come out of the woodwork and ask to join. I am getting calls and emails every day from people who want to support this balloon flight. If you are not getting that support, consider that your vision isn’t big enough. Is it really amazing enough for people to pause and reflect, then ask to join?

Your Next Move

Go do something big. It is ok to be afraid and second guess the path; and do it anyway. If you are feeling all alone on this adventure, then make sure you are really doing something big enough to be worthy of you. You are amazing, let your work reflect that. Once you are convinced you are on a big enough adventure, then gather a tribe. They are out there, go connect.

How’s Your Inertia?

Back when I studied physics Newton’s law regarding inertia was stated as

An object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion

This law was first defined in the 1600’s to describe the motion of relatively large objects in our environment. Think apples and bowling balls. I think it also applies to people.

People in Motion

Benjamin Franklin has been quoted,

If you want something done, ask a busy person.

I think this is because they already have the inertia of being in motion. If you ask someone who “has time” to get the work done, it often seems like the work never actually crosses the finish line. That is because they (and you, as their leader) have to overcome so much inertia to get moving in the first place.

I took some vacation around Christmas this year, and I really enjoyed the break and the slower pace of life. However, I noticed getting back to work and getting in the groove was tough. This is evidenced on this blog by the 33 day span between blog posts. So much for the “weekly” concept! I have been back at work three weeks now, and I am just now getting close to full speed and productivity.

I highly recommend staying in motion if you want to be productive. I am a fan of rest, and know it comes at a cost beyond the rest period itself.

Motion vs. Progress

I remember a friend of mine who hated to wait in traffic. Sure, I get it…traffic is slowing us down, and it is boring, and it is reducing our progress toward our goal. His response to any traffic (a red light, traffic jam, etc.) was to turn on some side street so we could keep moving. I found these detours often cost us more time than just waiting out the original delay. Sure, we were in motion…but was it really progress?

In fact, Newton’s law refers specifically to the term velocity, rather than speed.

Velocity is the combination of speed and direction. If we sacrifice direction in the name of speed, we have rarely gained true progress toward the goal.
There is a tension there: Do I stay in motion to maintain inertia, or do I accept slowing down to maintain direction.

There is no universal answer to that…a “tension to manage” as Andy Stanley would say.

Your Next Move

Two things to move forward here. First, take a close look at your own inertia. Are you moving at the speed and direction you want to? If not, fix it. Maybe you are moving too fast and need to slow down to avoid burn out. Maybe too slow and need to kick it up a notch. Maybe the direction is off or swerving…focus on the goal.

Second, ask people you lead about their inertia. Rather than “How are you feeling?” make the inquiry about their speed and direction – ask about their inertia.

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