Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

My 3 WordsAt the start of last year I decided to pick three words that would be my mental framework for how I shape my days.  After much thought, I decided to choose Ground, Stretch and Reflect as my three words.  As I wrote then, “A conceptual framework isn’t a goal or a detailed plan. It’s more like a mental structure by which you bring order and organization.”

Having lived by the framework for 2012, I decided that it fits me really well and that there is no need to be creative or different and come up with a new set of words for 2013.  So I share with you again my three words, this time with a year’s experience behind the framework.

The Ground word means that I will spend time daily grounding myself in that which is most important and foundational to me.  Since that is my Christian faith, it requires me to spend time in basic Christian disciplines such as Bible study, memorization, and prayer.  Ideally, I would get up early and do this before the rest of my day, but the truth is that I’ve always been more of a night person than a morning person, so it’s just easier for me to take some evening time to do this.  My periodic attempts to set the alarm back an hour just don’t seem to last for too many weeks.  The danger in waiting until evening is that I get involved with other things and don’t get it done.  If it’s important to me, though, I will find the time.

Stretch means that I will try to excel at what I do throughout the day – not just get by with the minimum expectations that others may have for me or that I may have for myself.  If I have talents and passions, they ought to be stretched to the max – no excuses – be they work related or personal endeavors.

To Reflect means that I will also take time at the end of each day to ponder what has happened and try to make sense of it all.  It meant last year that I wrote a daily lesson learned, and I will continue that in many of my every-other-day blog posts here for 2013.  But even on days when I don’t write about it, I need to do it.  Asking questions like the following helps:  What happened today that taught me something?  What did I do well that I’m proud of?  What did I drop the ball on?  Did I make a positive difference in someone else’s life today?  Did I treat others around me the way I want them to treat me?  Was I someone to whom my Lord would say “Well done, my good and faithful servant”?

The framework of Ground, Stretch, Reflect works for me, so I’m staying with it.  Do you have such a framework yourself?  If so, what is it?  If not, think about it.

As you might suspect, pulling off an eight-day trip to China takes planning.  There are the logistics of obtaining passport, visa, flights, insurance, hotels, ground transportation, admission and ticket info to various tourist spots, and more.  In our effort to visit churches and take part in services, there was coordination to have participants from multiple churches celebrate with us in one place on days and times they would not normally gather .  We needed to arrange an interpreter to be with us for such visits in order to speak to the congregations.

Such a trip could not happen without adequate planning and I am thankful for the several people involved in those efforts.

At the same time, there was an ongoing need for flexibility.  We did not know, for example, that one church had prepared a dinner for us to eat after their service.  We had other plans, but needed to quickly change them and graciously accept the dinner prepared by our hosts.  When driving to one church, we were a bit surprised to find the road come to a dead end.  We had to turn around and go a different way.

After another service in a rural area, someone suggested a different route back to the city that was about 20 kilometers shorter.  We took that route only to find that it was a dirt road filled with huge potholes.  Our 20-kilometer-shorter trip was suddenly plodding along at 5 miles per hour as we zigzagged down the road that others obviously knew to avoid.  Twenty fewer kilometers doesn’t help if you have to reduce your traveling speed by from 60 to  5 mph.

Flexibility was needed regularly in order to accommodate gracious hosts and to take advantage of conversations that could not possibly be planned in advance.

In business, nonprofit or personal life, we have to make sure that we plan well in order to accomplish our objectives.  But never allowing room for adjustments or last-minute changes is a mistake.  We need to be sensitive to new possibilities – especially interpersonal ones – as they arise, and adjust for unpleasant surprises that will inevitably happen.

Leap year lesson #114 is Find a balance between planning and flexibility.

Jeff on Sentinel DomeI recently read about some people I follow on Twitter who annually choose three words to provide the framework for how they go about their days in the year ahead. I found the idea intriguing. A conceptual framework isn’t a goal or a detailed plan. It’s more like a mental structure by which you bring order and organization to a matter.

So I’ve chosen the three words that will serve as my daily framework for 2012. They are  Ground, Stretch and Reflect.

By Ground I mean to ground myself daily in what is most fundamental and important to me. It helps if you start the day with this rather than just hoping you’ll remember it along the path of a busy day. For me, my grounding is based in my Christian faith and the daily nurture I need is found in spending time reading, studying and reflecting on God’s Word. So I set my alarm for an hour earlier than I would if I was just getting up and going to work and I spend that time getting grounded in something that will be a sure footing regardless of what the day holds.

The Stretch word means that I need to challenge myself throughout the day to go beyond some minimally acceptable quantity or quality in my work or non-work efforts. I need to stretch myself. That’s possible and even invigorating when I approach my tasks for the day with passion and a plan.

And then I need to make sure I take time to Reflect on it all at the end of the day. This year, that means that I capture a written lesson learned each day on this blog. But it would be enough just to ponder and think back and consider what I might have done differently. It helps me learn more and remember more of the lessons if I write them down.

So there is my daily framework, my plan for bringing order to each day. Ground. Stretch. Reflect.

What are your three words?