My 3 Words for 2010: An attempt to add focus with fluidity

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live a life, and have such a positive impact on the world, that my grandkids kids would know who I was.

Have you ever stopped to figure out what your great grandparents did? I bet Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatgrand kids know. That’s the kind of impact I want to have.

For over 20 years, probably even before I was 16, I’ve been working on my life mission. Stephen R. Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a huge help, as was the book First Things First.

Every year I go through my MagnetGoals goal setting process. I find this process really helps me dream up dozens of ideas while allowing me to focus on a few.

I’ve also grown fond of choosing a “theme” for the year. I think of it as a sort of “theme” music. When Luke Skywalker’s theme gets played, you know he’s about to appear on stage. It reminds you about the character. So too with the theme for the year, it brings you back to what you thought the year would be about.

Last year, I came across Chris Brogan’s idea of summing your goals up in three words and I did my own three words for 2009.

I love the process of doing it! And I love sharing these with my friends that are doing it too.

As I processed this year’s three words, I noticed that they have the wonderful benefit of spilling into various areas of my life. They fit in my family relationships, work expectations, and in my fundraising coaching & training business.

Here are my three words for 2010:


By nature, I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy. I have high expectations and often choose to just get projects done on my own. I didn’t like group projects in school because I felt I’d have to carry more of the load to be sure to get the grade I wanted to get.

But being a solo act can severely limit my impact on the world. Chris & Julien talk about “armies” in Trust Agents but I don’t have a track record of building such a large group of people.

I toyed with the idea of “platoons” as a building step to “armies.” But that too seemed a bit grandiose and a bit too regimented.

So I’m choosing to focus on ensembles . I like the artistic fluidity of the word. Ensembles can be duets, trios, quartets, an occasional quintet—whatever it takes to accomplish a particular goal. This will include ensembles for various fundraising projects at work, those for FundraisingCoach trainings or joint ventures; and even family projects.


I feel most alive when I’m teaching. So I want to do it more in 2010.

This includes conducting fundraising trainings, giving keynotes, teaching classes, leading small groups for church, writing blog posts, reading a book with my wife, and learning along side my kids. Teaching is a core part of my DNA. And I love that I’ve been created in a way that people actually learn from what I teach.

I love that the Hebrew word for teach yadah (to cause to know) is the intensified form of the word “to know,” ie. learning. I believe the safest and best teacher is the one who’s committed to life-long learning. Learning is a journey, not a destionation.

In 2010, I want to find ways to do more of both.


I want to treat my family as well as I treat my donors and my employer. (My wife wants that too. 🙂 )

“Clan” symbolizes that for me. It speaks of looking out for one another and binding together in a cohesive unit.

My kids are at an age when they still want to talk to me. If I’m not careful, I could totally miss this window of opportunity. I don’t want to be so full of myself that I don’t take the time to be with them.

Even after 15 years of marriage, my wife still enjoys hanging out with me and teaching with me. I don’t want to squander that either. (Plus, I want to be with her for many more decades!)

I envision this including keeping my laptop closed a bit more than in the past…even choosing to close it when one of my kids starts chatting.

As I was writing this, my 10 year old son stood by me to talk. Yep. This laptop screen went down. 🙂

Out of the mouth of babes

This morning, I told job Caleb to stop talking. His sister dropped her breakfast and what he was saying things that would get her worked up.

He looked at me and asked me, “Why do you tell me to stop talking so much?”

Good question.

I reminded him of the gasoline and water analogy our pastor told us. We approach every the fire of every conflict with a bucket in each hand: one full of gasoline, one full of water. It’s our choice which we one we pour on the fire.

I pointed out why I thought he was adding gasoline in this situation.

Frustrated, he said, “You seem to only comment on gasoline. Why don’t you comment on my water ones?”

He went on, “Dad, if you don’t see the water ones, you shouldn’t mention any of them at all.”

He’s right. 9 years old and he’s right. And I told him so.

Isn’t this a great leadership lesson? If we only point out the deficiencies, we frustrate those we lead.

While it’s great to try to prevent fires ourselves, it’s even more important to notice when those who report to us–or when those who look up to us–try to put them out too.

Leadership and Clarity

Listening to Marcus Buckingham speak at a Willow Creek conference.

He’s so good.

He says every culture ever studied has been documented as having a fear of the unknown. And every leader’s job is pulling people to a better future…which is unknown.

The antidote to the unknown, according to Buckingham, is clarity.

Particularly, clarity with these three questions:

  1. Who do we serve?
  2. How do we keep score?
  3. What specific action do we take now?

Great questions!

One’s we’ve asked ourselves constantly at the Vineyard Church of Waterville.

Here are the answers as I understand them at this time:

  1. We serve those without a church.
    Irregardless of where someone is on their spiritual journey, if they’re without a church home, we’re here to serve them.

    This gets tricky. It’s easy to find people with a church home…at least on Sundays. But the group we serve is quite decentralized.

    So we do lots of things: servant evangelism, random acts of kindness, pool parties, supporting a local worship station (people without a church home still need feeding, radio is often all they get), partnering with Chamber events.

  2. We keep score by number of people served.
    There are lots of ways to keep score. We could count kinship numbers or Sunday morning attendance. We could judge success on how many first-time, second-time, and third-time visitors we have. We could keep score based on Sunday offerings and average amount given per person.

    All good stats. And stats we track. Here are our weekly averages for our Sunday worship services in 2008:

    2008 Weekly Averages
    Total attendance: 21.1
    adults: 12.8
    teens: 1.4
    children: 7.2
    first-time visitors: 3.6
    average offering: $340.39
    total first time visitors in 2008: 25
    average offering/person: $16.13

    If we kept track on these numbers, we’d have reason to beat ourselves up. Giving should be around $25/person, not $16. And we’d have reason to feel good: 3.6 first time visitors each week. That’s 17% of a Sunday attendance. (Sure, the “.6” person is hard to accomodate.) 🙂

    But we keep score by numbers served. Check out our 2008 score card:

    Jan: 215
    Feb: 224
    Mar: 100
    Total 539 served

    539 people served! That’s more than 25 people for each person that shows up on Sunday. Including the kids under 10!! 25 people served for each of them too!

    Some of these have been through formal VCW events and projects, some have been done individually and reported back to me. All are done because we believe our community has heard that God loves them but few have seen Christians actually be loving. And we’re out to change that.

    Our goal? 3000 touched in 2008. We’re right on track, especially with the 406 boxes of Peeps we’re passing out this week. (Check out our Easter invitation at our website.)

  3. Our next specific action is the Peeps Outreach this Saturday at 10:45 at the VCW building.
    We are constantly instigating ways to get us out of our comfort zones. The goal is that we’ll get so used to serving the people around us, that we’ll do it even when it’s not a “official” VCW event. The point is about Jesus, not VCW.

Buckingham points out that it’s not if the answers are “right” or “wrong.” The point is are the answers clear?

I think ours are.

If VCW is your home, do you agree? From your experience of us, do we serve those without a church home? Do we keep score with numbers served? Do we keep having a specific action?

Abilities and choice

Watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secretsyesterday with the kids. I like the movies. Not as good as the books but still quite good.

I loved Dumbledore’s comment to Harry in the infirmary at the end:

Harry, it’s not your abilities that make you what you are. It’s your choices.

Harry had the ability of a dark wizard to speak parseltongue (speak with snakes). But he chose to be in Griffindor at Hogwarts.

I’m a huge believer in using our natural abilities. But I once was told, “God’s giftings cannot take you any further than your character will keep you.”

It’s far too easy to rest in our abilities. “Hey, I’m just good at that. I always have been. And I always will be.”

But it’s such a great reminder that we need to keep making good choices. Are we doing our stuff to be seen by others? That’s not a good choice. We should be excelling in ways that are seen by others. Jesus clearly states that with the parable of the talents. But he also warns us to not do things in order to be seen by others.

If we’re praying for healing for one of our co-workers, we choose to do so simply because God wants to heal. Not to be seen as “God’s man for the hour.” Jesus makes the miracle, not us. We’re just the servants.

Jesus is the one that made the water into wine. The servants just brought the wine to the master of ceremonies.

I once had it described as getting a birthday gift delivered from UPS. We don’t hug and kiss and praise the UPS driver for bringing the package. He’s just the messenger. We save our thanks and adoration for the person that sent the gift.

So may it be for us.

May we excel at our natural abilities. But may we also be ever pressing in to the One that will give us the wisdom to make good choices on an ever consistent basis.

And may we daily deliver Jesus’ miracles to the people around us!