INTELLECT…Am I challenging my mind?

LEADING THINKERS AND THINKING LEADERS
LEADING THINKERS AND THINKING LEADERS

Man cannot live by bread alone. He also needs some facts. Did you know your intellect craves facts like your body craves food? And just as there are all kinds of foods to choose from, there are all kinds of “facts” available for your consumption. But I’m wondering…

Has your mind been fed intellectual junk food? 

Remember the commercial ad campaign that made this tagline famous: “Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste”? I do and I believe it.

The life of a leader’s mind is important. So many skills converge to make leadership work, but the intellect is the source and head of that fountain. These days, I’m concerned that this fountain is in danger of drying up.

When was the last time you read Jesus? Shakespeare? Plato? Aristotle? Homer? Thoreau? Emerson? Whitman? Tolstoy? To name only a few… 

Barren. This is the word many critics would use to describe the intellectual life of the average American today. And what about our leaders? Are our leaders engaging their minds in ways that move beyond task-thinking or project-managing? Do our leader’s thoughts venture out in search of beauty or are they controlled merely by the grind of duty?

I’m talking about leading beyond behavior modification. We leaders are preached to about changing the culture where we work, ad nauseam. But I want to go deeper into the minds and hearts of those we lead, including myself. As leaders, we don’t just aim to change culture, we aim to change the thinking that creates the unwanted culture.

“The biggest puzzle is not solving and fixing problems, per se, it is fixing the thinking that causes the problems.” – Michael LeGault

We don’t just need more leader-doers, we need more thinking leaders; with the ability to use logic and reason to draw meaning out of the complexities of modern-day living. This is not a luxury! As leaders, we need better critical thinking skills to guide us and our followers through the turbulent waters of globalism and topsy-turvy economic times. Real consequences are attached to stupidity and poor thinking!

How can you and I become better thinkers?

1. Read

Read. Widely.  J. Oswald Sanders quipped, “Leaders are readers”. Take into your mind great literature, poetry, sacred scripture. Lessen the time you spend consuming t.v. and trash culture.

2. Reflect

Ask yourself questions about what you read and learn. Examine claims and counter-claims, concepts, opinions. Also ask yourself questions about what you’re experiencing in your life. Cull from them life-lessons.

 “He who learns but does not think, is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” – Confucius

3. Reason

“Leaders are so action-oriented and have so many responsibilities that they are often guilty of moving all the time and neglecting to stop and take time to think. Yet this is one of the most important things leaders can do. A minute of thought is worth more than an hour of talk.” – John Maxwell  

Now I need to go take my own advice!

 

 

 

INFLUENCE…How am I impacting people around me?

 

INFLUENCE

“Each of us is surrounded by people who look to us, count on us, and depend on us to make a difference.” – Blaine Lee


It’s like breathing air. It’s the most personal and the most universal human experience. What am I talking about? Influence.

Every day we’re surrounded by forces trying to influence us. We breathe it in (Marketing, Media, TV, Radio, Friends, Books, Magazines, Tablets, Smartphones ), opening ourselves up to be influenced by others; and then we exhale it out (Parenting, Leading, Managing, Socializing), attempting to wield our own influence-powers. Push, pull. In, out. Give and take. We influence others and are influenced by others.

When measuring our own influence, I’ve found that most people fall into 1 of 3 categories:

1.  MANY PEOPLE UNDER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

We see it in others. It glares at us.  We recognize influence in others, but do we see it in ourselves? John Maxwell relates that according to some sociologists, even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people in their lifetime.

All day today, you’re carrying around two kinds of influence: Active and Potential. Typically, people who underestimate their own influence do not value their own potential. They doubt their ability to make a difference. So, they hold back, stay in the shadows, sell themselves short. They don’t flex their influence muscles.

2. SOME PEOPLE OVER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

David and Heather Kopp, along with Larry Wilson, define an influencer as “a living person whose life and work has far-reaching impact–whether for good or ill–in today’s world”. We also refer to these people as “World-Changers”. And who doesn’t want to be considered a world-changer?

Sadly, this desire to be thought of as important and powerful leads some people to over-reach in their attempts to exert influence on others. They’re not so much confident as arrogant. They reek of ambition and sweat forcefulness out of every pore. Unfortunately, they tend to rub their nasty sweat all over everyone else around them. And it stinks!

We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps, at times, we have been people like this. I know I have. One of the best ways to discover if you’re behaving this way is simply to ask your family, friends and co-workers for feedback. Ask them:

  • Am I overbearing?
  • Do I give advice when you don’t really want me to?
  • Do I come across as too forceful?
  • Am I tactful or too direct?
  • Do you feel respected by me?
  • How do I make you feel?

Takes courage…but it’s the quickest way to learn whether you’re overestimating your own influence.

3. A FEW PEOPLE RIGHTLY ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

The Apostle Paul taught, “…I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” 

What’s he saying? He’s saying properly estimate your own influence. Don’t over-reach and don’t under-reach. When you stand in front of the mirror, don’t ask it, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Just go to the mirror and be honest; be willing to see yourself as objectively as you can. Warts and all!

Then go out and activate your properly estimated influence to change the world!

 

 

THE UPTAKE ON INTAKE…What are you putting into your mind, spirit and body?

What are you allowing into your mind, body and spirit?
What are you allowing into your mind, body and spirit?

The law of gravity says, “What goes up must come down.” The Law of Intake states, “What goes in must comes out.”

INTAKE IS A DISCIPLINE OF SELF-LEADERSHIP

When I say intake, I’m referring to what and who you expose yourself to; the images you see, the words and noises you hear, the tactile surfaces you touch and feel, the aromas and odors you smell, the food and objects you taste, and the people you spend time with.  Anything and everything you take in, according to the law of intake, will eventually come out.

WHAT’S AT STAKE WITH INTAKE IS WHO YOU WILL BECOME

Jim Rohn once quipped, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He meant, of course, that we catch attitudes from people like we catch colds.  We rub off on each other. Artist Austin Kleon puts it more plainly:

“You are, in fact, a mashup of everything you choose to let into your life.”

Jesus taught, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” What he meant is that what your eyes look at “goes into” your body and your being. If you’re viewing good things (light), then good things will “go into” your body and being.

GUARD WHAT YOU TAKE INTO YOUR LIFE

An ancient proverb says, “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.” How do I apply this? A few examples…

  • Pornagraphy is a poor choice. It causes men to objectify women and women to degrade men. It ruins relationships.  Don’t take in porn.
  • Some drugs, the illegal kind, are poison. It steals your awareness and diminishes your capacities. Stop putting poison in your body.
  • Gossip magazines are less intellectually nourishing than novels. Read People less and Tolstoy more. It’s about intake; what you’re taking into your self, your being.
  • Positive thoughts feel better than negative thoughts. Take in more positive and less negative.
  • Swallow your pride and you’ll sweat humility out of your emotional pores. This is a good thing. Humble people go far with others.
  • Should kids play violent video games? Studies go both ways. It’s worth examining.
  • Does a child raised by an abuser necessarily become one, too?Intake matters to all of us, regardless of age.

INTAKE SPELLS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PREPARING OR REPAIRING

“If you are preparing today, chances are, you will not be repairing tomorrow.” – Dr. John Maxwell

A good tomorrow starts with a good today. What I will be tomorrow I am becoming now. Therefore, I will either be spending tomorrow reaping the benefits of the good things I did today or repairing the damage from the bad things I did today.

Let me conclude by sharing what I believe healthy intake looks like. Healthy intake for leaders usually means…

  1. Serving the right God
  2. Having the right priorities
  3. Thinking the right thoughts
  4. Saying the right words
  5. Praying the right prayers
  6. Making the right choices
  7. Reading the right books
  8. Learning the right lessons
  9. Listening to the right people
  10. Attending the right events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAS RUSSELL CROWE’S ‘NOAH’ FOUND GRACE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD?

 

Russell Crowe as Noah
Russell Crowe as Noah

But Noah (Russell Crowe) found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Can we start there?  With God’s grace?  Can we begin a review of this movie applying Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

I saw the movie ‘Noah’ last night.  I was impressed by the breadth and scale of the director’s vision.  Of course, it was of “Biblical Proportions”:)

For example, nature’s full glory and fury rise in the form of fortress-like walls and waves of water.  “Death by water” Noah’s character quips during one scene in the movie.  The landscapes were breathtaking, reminding me of “Scottish”‘ green pastures and high mountain cliffs.  The wardrobe choices were “cool”.  I expected robes.  They wore pants:) My friend said, “It’s kind of ‘Lord of the Rings'”.  I said, “Yeah, it’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Lord of the Rings!”.  We laughed.  Me a little more as I recalled Johnny Depp’s make up and costume as Captain Jack Sparrow.

FACTUAL ALTERATIONS IN THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

But then, the movie got weird, and I was reminded that what I was watching wasn’t really God’s story as told in The Bible, but a different story; one being brought to life by Oscar Winning actors and actresses accompanied by enchanting music scores. Entertaining, yes!  But then there’s those nagging…what do we call them…facts.  Thank you, Columbo!

“Director Darren Aronofsky called his movie “the least biblical film ever made,” The Telegraph reported. He also claimed his leading character, Noah, was the “first environmentalist,” something that suggests the movie storyline doesn’t exactly follow the Bible’s.”

Because there are so many factual discrepancies in the movie itself (Both my friend and I agreed the storyline veered off into a manufactured direction) perhaps the best question is, “In what ways does the movie agree with the Biblical story in Genesis?”.  Honestly, only a few.

For instance, they did keep the main character’s name the same:)  God is involved (He’s called ‘The Creator’ in this movie), though His name is never actually spoken once. Then again, neither is God’s name mentioned in the Book of Esther in the Bible, but you certainly know He’s present in the story!  Not a big deal.  But then there was that bit about how God’s character is portrayed: as merciless and unfeeling.

I noticed that God’s motives for why He initiates the flood are misrepresented. For example, in the Bible God sends the flood because of the depth and incorrigibility of mankind’s sin.  Specifically implied in the Biblical story is that violence (Murder, Torture, Inhumane Treatment of People, Child Sacrifice and Cannibalism) and sexual immorality (Rape, Adultery, Homosexuality and Fornication) are the primary impetus for God’s wrath.

In the movie, however, God is seen as destroying people because they refuse to care for the earth or happen to be a meat-eater.  As a matter of fact, my friend said, “I felt more offended as a meat-eater than a Christian. It was like an assault on my diet!”

FAITH OBSERVATIONS FROM THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

Viewing the movie prompted me to consider that each of us “lives within a story”. What we see when we look at the world of people and objects around us depends to a great degree on what we think and believe within us.  In other words, what I find when I look at the world is what I’ve told myself is there to see.  This becomes my story; my own personal version of reality.

Telling myself “the true story” not just “my story” is vital to faith.  Just because God first relayed the facts of creation through a book and not on an ipad does not call into question it’s reliability. The Bible may tell us “the old, old story” but it remains historically accurate, poignant and timely for 21st century conditions today.  Objective reality does exist even if I refuse to acknowledge it.  The sun will “rise and shine” whether I choose to look at it or not!

FINAL CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

In the late 1980’s, Bono used to say at U2 concerts, “God is good. He gave us Hollywood.”  Hmm, did he?  Well, I think it’s more like God gave us stories and we built Babel with it; our own monument to ourselves.  God invented it, we just branded it.  We shaped it into our own image.

Keep in mind that ‘Noah’ is hollywood.  It’s CGI, green screens and props. It is art, after all, not archeology.  It isn’t science, nor is this movie the work of serious Theologians. It’s cleverly written and creatively imagined but in the end, it’s just a movie; flooded (pun intended:) with fake sets, cool stunts and handsome people convincingly pretending to be somebody they’re not:) Fun to experience; just don’t build your theology on it!