President Obama and Productivity

President Obama and Productivity

Mixing two of my interests (Presidential History and productivity), I was intrigued by this Vanity Fair article on President Obama. I’m quite sure it was part of the 2012 election public relations strategy, but I did find a few interesting approaches from the current President to streamline decision making, keep himself focused, structure meetings, and working with people. Just two short excerpts: Routine and Its Impact on Decision-Making This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an...
Cap-Quotes: Leadership Habits from President Reagan

Cap-Quotes: Leadership Habits from President Reagan

Over the past two weeks I’ve been reading through Richard Reeve’s, President Reagan. Reeve is an accomplished presidential biographer. While no friend to Reagan’s political philosophy, Reeve does paint a more objective picture than many of the former president’s detractors. Typically when I am reading a presidential biography I am mostly on the hunt for the habits that mark his leadership style.  Here are a few I have marked in regard to his first term: From the Introduction Reagan had the virtues and failings of an old man: He already knew what he wanted to know, he was set in his ways, stubborn, and he did not generally care what journalists or the hired help thought of him. He was not obsessed by history, as were Kennedy and Nixon (xiii). A note Reeves marked in Calvin Coolidge’s autobiography that Reagan read while in the White House: “In the discharge of the duties of the office there is one rule of action more important than all others. It consists in never doing anything that some one else can do for  you” (xiii). I do not subscribe to the many theories of Reagan’s passivity. It is true that much of any presidency is essentially reactive, dealing with crises unpredictable and unanticipated-strikes, bombings, market crashes, revolutions, plagues – but the President Reagan I found in the course of my research was a gambler, a bold, determined guy (xiv). I do not think Reagan was an unwitting tool of a manipulative staff. Quite the opposite (xv). He knew how to be President. The job does not pay by the hour. Presidential naps don’t...
An Ordinary Pastor’s Quarterly Planning

An Ordinary Pastor’s Quarterly Planning

This week I will spend the better part of a morning reviewing major personal and ministry goals from the past three months and evaluating what I should focus on over the upcoming three months. I make these plans in theological pencil, recognizing that God riules over every detail in both the short and long term ““ I am desperate to avoid presumption (James 13-17). At the same time, I want to be wise and intentional about the life and ministry God has entrusted to me as a stewardship. So what will I do this Thursday morning in evaluation and planning. Pray. This is more than an obligatory beginning step; it is a cry to an almighty God from a desperate heart that is deeply affected by His merciful grace, seeking wisdom and leadership from the one who is all-knowing. I dare not plan without a spirit of dependency, and dependency is deepened when I humble my heart in prayer. Review my long-range goals. I base these on the providential roles I have (husband, father, pastor, etc), as well as key verses that describe God’s desires for me inch of these roles. Some of my roles have been broken down into additional categories (i.e., pastor: teacher, shepherd, staff supervisor, etc.). I often find myself revising these long-term goals, seeking greater clarity insight of providential circumstances, better understanding gained through the study of Scripture, the passing of time and gaining specific experience. My aim is to to be practical in how I apply God’s word in each of the roles God has blessed me. Review my annual goals.  Each year I...
Weekly Planning: When and How

Weekly Planning: When and How

The previous post looked at the background, reasons, and benefits of having a weekly planning or review in order to focus on priorities in life. In this final post, I want to look at when you should do the review, what I do, and some things to watch out for. When Some of the principles that should govern when you do your weekly review are: “¢ Toward the end of your work week so you can look back on what was effective, how the next week will be affected by the previous week, what needs to be adjusted, and what needs to be followed up. “¢ Close to the beginning of your new work week. More than likely, your brain needs a break from the activity of the week. But before you begin a new one, your mind needs to gain an overall perspective of what”™s ahead. Pick an in-between time ““ where you”™ve had the opportunity to get away from the previous week and when you can mentally set the agenda for the next. For me this is Saturday morning. Friday is my day off and I typically block the day for family activities and rest. I don”™t want to think and plan on that day ““ I want to decompress and enjoy my family. So planning on Friday would simply be exhausting and frustrating. Sunday is filled with ministry opportunities. The morning is focused on preparing to preach and teach, the afternoon generally consists of lunch with church members and preparation for our evening gathering. I also often meet with a group of men to discuss Sunday”™s...
Pastoral Productivity – Roles & Goals

Pastoral Productivity – Roles & Goals

Values impact who you are and what you do. Roles and goals define who you are and what you need to do. What roles do you play in life? Husband, father, pastor, teacher, son, friend, neighbor? You know what they are. Think through the following questions in determining the roles you have in life and the biblical injunctions that best speak to how those roles should be lived out: 1. List your roles. 2. Assign specific Scriptures appropriate to each role. 3. List any key people associated with these roles. 4. Write a clarifying statement that describes specifically how you would want to fulfill this role If you have listed more than 7 roles, you may need to consolidate a few of them. Or you may even need to consider letting go of some of them – especially as you see more and more what is most important in your life and ministry. The Franklin-Covey approach to defining roles and goals suggests that you consider four other areas in addition to the roles you have listed. Covey calls them “Sharpening the Saw.” These are the areas of mental, physical, social, and spiritual priorities you should pursue and keep sharp. These roles/relationships will have a significant impact on the next step in the process of becoming more focused and hopefully more productive in life and ministry: Weekly Planning (more on that next week). Goals follow your roles. Ask yourself in regard to each of your roles, “What do I want to see accomplished in this role?” “Why?” “What would be a reasonable timeline in which to accomplish this goal?” Think...
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