Saturday, February 27, 2016

Of Stones and Wings

On our journey to become entrepreneurial heroes, or in any pursuit in this life, we will invariably encounter stones in our path. Things that impede our progress, make the journey more difficult, or make us feel like we are failing.

“These obstacles are the necessary means for developing the faith and persistence to overcome the real challenges that inevitably confront any person who has set out to do something heroic.”
-          Jeff Sandefer

Those obstacles may be the very things which, by overcoming, will make us what we are striving to become. We just need to keep going, move that stone from our path, and continue forward. We cannot allow despair in these moments to take over what we have already come so far to do.

Be Like The Bird

Be like the bird that, pausing
in her flight awhile on boughs too slight,
feels them give way beneath her —
yet sings—
knowing she hath wings.

Victor Hugo

I want to be like the bird. Even when the ground seems to be falling out from underneath me, realize that my wings are my Savior and that I can sing.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Of Habits and Understanding

This week we discussed Dr. Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The seven habits are:

1.      Be proactive
a.       Take charge. Act instead of be acted upon. Take responsibility.
2.      Begin with the end in mind
a.       Have an end goal then live in a way that will take you there.
3.      Put first things first
a.       Prioritize. Stay in the “Important and Non-Urgent” quadrant.

“Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.”
-          Peter Drucker & Warren Bennis

4.      Think win/win
a.       Seek mutual benefit for each party, not just yourself.
5.      Seek first to understand, then to be understood
a.       Listen to understand, not to respond. Empathy.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
-          Goethe

6.      Synergize
a.       The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 1+1= anything greater than 2.
7.      Sharpen the saw
a.       Don’t be so busy sawing that you don’t notice your saw is dull. Renewal.

Two concepts that really stood out to me were Habits 5 and 7.

Communication is vital in relationships and work life. Most people, when they listen to another person – aren’t listening to understand - they are listening to determine how to respond. They are more concerned with their part in the conversation than they are in what the person is actually saying.

The key to good judgment is understanding. If we judge firstwe will never fully understand.”

The first item listed in sharpening the saw is physical exercise. This is something I need to do. I am caught in the endless cycle of being too tired to get up an hour earlier to exercise; however, if I don’t, my health won’t carry me to what I want to accomplish in life. I feel like I am doing pretty well with the other three items: spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.

I look forward to experiencing what Dr. Covey states will come from 30 minutes of daily exercise: improved quality of the remaining hours every day, preserved and enhanced capacity to work and adapt and enjoy, and a paradigm shift of my own self-image.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.”
-          Emerson

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Of Company Culture and Loyalty to God

Jan Newman gave a speech on Loyalty to God and Family. He discussed how you can never compromise (crunch time) your loyalty to the Lord or your family; the Lord requires a willing heart and mind and our greatest legacy will be our family and the Lord.

“Never be too busy with work to accept a calling.”

He mentioned that when he was working on his company he served as a bishop and then a stake president. He gave the advice that having integrity and honesty will make you stick out like a sore thumb. People will want you!!

In the paper So You Want to be an Entrepreneur, The Acton Foundation lists three areas of knowledge which are critical for starting a successful business:

1.      In-depth knowledge of the competitive structure of an industry and a network of contacts within that industry;
2.      The skills to run the daily operations of a small, rapidly growing company; and
3.      The ability to raise money. 

Understanding daily operations is critical for entrepreneurs because they include many different issues: ". . . from accounting, production, organizational and administrative dilemmas to general business philosophy. All of these must be woven into a consistent set of principles and proceduresA disorganized accounting system or poor physical surroundings can likewise take a heavy toll on profits"

This stuck out to me:

"If the company culture is flawed, almost any strategy is in jeopardy."

Why did it stick out? Because I work in an office where some of these things are really broken. I have been working on trying to change many of the problems that we have on a recurring basis; however, I have come to the realization that the problem is the boss and he is not going to change.

I have experienced what flawed culture can do. It decreases morale, increases turnover, decreases customer satisfaction, and ultimately does take a heavy toll on profits. Turnover is expensive. Unhappy customers don’t give referrals. But what do you do when the cause of the problem is the owner who won’t change? You either leave or deal with it the best you can.

That is something I would like to learn; how to manage up and change a boss who is stuck in behaviors that, I worry, may run him out of business.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Of Perseverance and Heroes

This week we read a talk given by President James E. Faust called Perseverance. When he was younger he wondered “What will be my place in this world, and how will I find it?” His only real goal at that time was to serve a mission. That mission eventually became "like a North Star." An important lesson he learned was: 

"If I faithfully persevered in my Church callings, the Lord would open up the way and guide me to other opportunities and blessings, even beyond my dreams."

He talked of President Hinckley who had as his theme "Carry On." Referring to carry on and endure. President Hinckley left an amazing legacy of temple building. He then quoted President George Q. Cannon who said of temples:

Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of the Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence.”

At the time, it seemed like such an undoable task, to get to 100 temples. Now we are over 140. He carried on and did amazing things with the help of God.

Jeff Sandefer of the Acton Foundation gave a speech about a Hero’s Journey. We can all be heroes if we find our true calling in life. He said:

“You have a mission on this earth that will succeed beyond your wildest dreams; IF you have the faith and courage to find your entrepreneurial calling.”

“Choosing a Hero’s Journey is to live every moment of your life like it matteredbecause it does; to live as if you have an important missionbecause you do; seeing struggles as adventures and setbacks as lessons. And like Sir Lancelot and the Holy Grail or Harry Potter and Voldemort, what matters most isn’t the prize at the end but how the Hero is changed in the process.”

In surveys of people over 60, it was found that they generally only had three questions that mattered at the end of life:

1.      Have I contributed something meaningful?
2.      Am I a good person?
3.      Who did I love and who loved me?

Contribute something meaningful by finding your calling – something that you are naturally gifted at, that brings you joy, and satisfies a deep burning need in the world.

Be a good person by creating ethical guardrails.

Remain loveable and loving by choosing your fellow travelers well. You will come to be like those who surround you.

I wonder what my place in this world is. What is my true calling in life? I look forward to finding that out.

Perseverance, James E. Faust, April 2005
A Hero's Journey, Jeff Sandefer, BYU-Idaho