How Successful People Think Different

Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think” spent the last 30 years interviewing rich people to find out what separates them from the Average Joe.  Below are four of his 21 findings.  I re-wrote them to be “Successful People” rather than “Rich People” as in the church world ‘success’ doesn’t always lead to ‘riches’.

  1. The average person has a lottery mentality, “How am I going to strike it rich?” The successful person has an action mentality, “How am I going to make this happen?”
  2. The average person longs for ‘the good ‘ol days’.  Successful people long for the future.
  3. Average people set low expectations so they are never disappointed.  Successful people are up for challenges.
  4. Average people play it safe with their resources.  Successful people know when to take a risk.

I have to say of these four the last is the one I have to work on the most.  I’m more low risk when it comes to money and investing.

Note: I haven’t read Steve’s book so don’t read this as a review of the book.  Just heard a commentary on some of his points and they struck me.

Standardizing Email

Our senior pastor made an interesting statement a few week’s ago in a leadership meeting when he said, “When I get an e-mail, I wish I knew what the sender expected of me.  Do they want a reply or is it just an FYI?”  This got me to thinking, “What if we could standardize our email subject-lines to clarify the purpose of an email…”

Our Creative Technologies team decided to pilot the usage of standard subject lines.  So far I really like the results.  It’s adding immediate context to a message, even before it’s opened.  If we can get wider acceptance and usage I think it could get even more powerful.  Imaging being able to write inbox rules that can filter based on message intent.  Messages that are just “FYI” could be saved until the end of the day; while those labeled “URGENT” (especially from your VIP list) can be highlighted in red with audible alerts.

The pattern we came up with is:

ACTION: Project / Summary (where project is optional)

The standard actions we are using are:

  • FYI
  • INFO

Some sample subjects could be:

  • UPDATE: The Story / Square POS a Go
  • FYI: Off-Madison Contact Made
  • INFO: Article on Social Media
  • URGENT: Tomorrow’s Meeting Canceled
  • REQUEST: Command Center / GL Code Needed

Order of Leadership

The more I read and learn from others I think that the proper order of leadership is:

  1. Lead yourself
  2. Lead your supervisor (by this I mean figure out how they work and adjust your style to match theirs)
  3. Lead others

The unfortunate thing is that many work in the opposite direction. 🙁

How Our Team Uses StrengthFinders


The StrengthFinders personal assessment tool has been a great asset to our team. The assessment identifies an individuals top 5 strengths from a list of 33 possible choices. As an example my strengths are:

  1. Achiever: Have a great deal of stamina & work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy & productive. 
  2. Ideation: Are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
  3. Input: Have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect & archive all kinds of information.
  4. Learner: Have a great desire to learn & want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  5. Strategic: Create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns & issues.

We use this assessment in serval ways.  The first is in our interview process.  We always warn candidates that our team hires slowly.  We start with a quick initial screening (usually in person).  If a person is invited back we make sure that they take both a DISC test and also the StrengthsFinder assessment.  We then look at the results and compare them to the position.  These two assessments always give us a clearer picture of the candidate.  In the end hiring is always a bit of a dice roll, but at least we can load the dice a bit in our favor.

We also use the StrengthFinders in the day-to-day operation of our team.  Robin, our Member Data Analyst keeps this team StrengthsFinder chart up to date.  I use it so much I keep a printed copy on the wall next to my desk.  I find it helpful as a tool to constantly remind myself that not everyone thinks like me.  When I feel like I’m not communicating well with a teammate I take a quick glance at the chart to better understand where they are coming from.  

If you’ve never taken the assessment I highly recommend you do so. If you use it in a different way I’d love to hear about it.  Comment below.

What Is a Leader?

A leader is best when people barely know that he exists.
Less good when they obey and acclaim him.
Worse when they fear and despise him.
Fail to honor people, and they fail to honor you.
But of a good leader, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
they will say, “We did this ourselves.”


Parkinson’s Law

parkinsonslaw.png I ran across a reference to Parkinson’s Law today and decided to dive a little deeper into it. Basically it states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

and / or

The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.

Parkinson used this theory to explain why the British Colonial Office grew in number of employees as the actual number of colonies declined – so that it employed more people when the number of colonies had been reduced to zero than when they were at their highest number.

I encourage you though to spend 5 minutes reading more about the theory behind this cheeky saying by reading the first half of this article in The Economist. Really it’s worth it.

I see the mechanics of this law in almost every organization I’ve ever worked at. I also see this at work in me. Over the last year or two it’s tempting to cry that myself and our team is ‘over-worked’ and that we need more resources. In fact our team has contracted quite a bit in the last two years while our attendance has jumped significantly. The key for me is 1.) Am I working on the right things 2.) How are we sharing the load with volunteers.

Knowing the facts of Parkinson’s Law will definitely bring clarity to future resource decisions.

Next Must Read

1086_26.jpgA week or two ago I mention I had 3 must reads for you. Here’s the second one (remember “Switch” was the first), Spiritual Leadership By Henry & Richard Blackaby (authors of Experiencing God). This book is the best I’ve read in years. It has so many simple, but brilliant points. Please don’t write this book off as only being for pastors. Any Christian who wants to grow in leadership should read this book. I’m not sure why it took me so long to find it and why I’ve not heard anyone mention it before.

Below are just a few of the points that hit me. There’s so much more I could add but doing so would probably break copyright.

Society longs for statesmen but it gets politicians. Statesmen are leaders who uphold what is right regardless of the popularity of the position. Spiritual leaders must be spiritual statesmen not merely spiritual politicians.

In the case of churches emulating the success of other churches, it seemingly elminates the need for Christian leaders to cultivate an intimate relationship with God.

If a vision must be sold to others, it is not a compelling vision and is probably not from God. Spiritual leaders don’t sell vision; they share what God has revealed to them and trust that the Holy Spirit will confirm that same vision in the hearts of their people.

Integrity doesn’t happen by accident. It happens on purpose.

In God’s eyes, how something is done is as important as what is done.

If growth in numbers is a sure sign of God’s blessing, then many cult groups are enjoying God’s blessing to a far greater extent than many churches.

The single most important thing leaders should do is pray. Prayerless leaders are like ship captains without compasses-they can make a best guess at which direction to go, but they have no assurance they are heading the right way.

While all Christians have the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives, the condition of being filled with the Holy Spirit come through concentrated, fervent, sanctified prayer.
Leaders cannot truely serve people they do not love.

Some leaders offer a token prayer and then compile a list of pros and cons from which to make their decision just like an unbeliever would. Leaders must be cognizant of the fact that determining God’s will is not a matter of merely compiling a list of pros and cons; it is a matter of relating to a personal God who is more than willing to guide His people.

When spiritual leaders struggle to make decisions, they need to immediately examine their relationship with God.

God never piles on more than someone can handle. God never overbooks people. God never burns people out. When people become overwhelmed by their commitments and responsibilities, they are operating on their own agenda. God does not give people more than they can handle, but people regularly assume responsibility for things they should not be doing.


Dave Ramsey gives this equation for momentum.


Focused Intensity over Time multiplied by God = Momentum

You can argue that his understanding of math is off a bit, but that’s not the point now isn’t it.

Gut Check

albert-einstein1.jpgDo you ever hear a quote that punches you in the gut? Lately, I’ve literally been stalked by a thought; reading it in numerous places. It goes something like (sorry I don’t remember it exactly… this dispite reading it in several places…)

We all have the same number of hours in a day Einstein, Mother Theresa, etc.. had.

We often look to our heros and forget they managed their success in the same number of hours we have each day. Sure some of them had gifts we don’t, but their ability to focus on doing the right things is where their success stemmed from (in fact, studies show that there is little correlation between intelligence and success.) Planning our time and limiting our focus is probably the most important key to success.

Update: Found the exact quote from Zing

“”Don’t say that you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Hellen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr. – pg. 113

Ways to Grow

The other day I finished the book Change By Design by Tim Brown. Tim is the CEO and president of the legendary design firm IDEO. It was a good book on how “design thinking” needs to be applied to all areas of an organization. As several people on the team can a test to I quoted from it nearly every day (sorry). I’ll blog more concepts from the book soon, but one that really resonated with me was his How to Grow Matrix. Here’s the chart.


The concept is that you need to be investing in all four quadrants. The chart is not so much revolutionary as much as it is clarity. It helped me really think about how we’re investing in each area.

More from the book coming soon (I promise hope).