Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes

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Reflection on “Good to Great” by Jim Collins


This was a book that I felt I had read before.  I think because I’ve been in several of Jim Collin’s lectures and his stories were quite memorable.  The premise of the book was to show, through research, what were the common factors among companies that went from good (even mediocre) to being great performers.  The Good to Great companies had to sustain their greatness for at least 15 years and not just beat the market, but they had to beat their comparison companies, because good to great couldn’t be a measure of just a whole industry taking off.
I read this with a mind to the organizations that I’ve been in, the leaders I’ve been under and the leadership I would like to give in the social sector and my faith community.  Here are my top learnings from the main concepts:
  1. Level 5 Leadership is essential. Leaders of G2G organizations are not flashy – they subscribe to hard work, disciplined action, humility and they surrounded themselves with the right people.
  2. First Who, then What. Who you have around you is more important than the thing you are doing. The right people in the right places is essential. When the right people are in the right places, the leader doesn’t have to be the expert or the smartest – the team can passionately argue and then respectfully follow what was decided.
  3. Confront the brutal facts. The Stockdale Paradox: Be stubbornly convinced that you will reach your goal, but don’t make promises that you cannot keep. G2G companies were not optimistic, they under promised and over delivered. And, listen to the experts (your people who can see what’s actually happening).
  4. The hedgehog concept: foxes run around, try all sorts of things, but hedgehogs know one thing and have confidence that what they do will work. The secret to greatness lies in finding the one thing that you can be great at.
  5. Culture of discipline: fanatically disciplined, not bureaucratic. Within the consistency there is great freedom and great responsibility. There are no shortcuts, every action is focused around the one thing you could be great at. From the outside it looks boring and slow moving, but in reality more opportunities open up.
  6. Technology accelerators: technology is never a ticket to greatness and yet every G2G company was among the most innovative and tech savy companies. Technology had to work to enhance the one thing that they were passionate about.

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A book review of “Playground Prayers and Monkey Bar Meditations” by Rob Low


We’ve been reading the prayers in this little treasure of prayerful reflections. My children are drawn to the pictures and themes and I’m gently challenged to be playful in prayer. I’d say it’s like a devotional book but in the style of a prayer book. The style is very poetic.

Rob Low is a camp friend I grew up with. He has always been a quiet leader and here is an outpouring of his quiet soul and meditations with Jesus. It’s so fun to look at things I see every day with the question, “Lord, what do you want to show me about me today?” Bubble Gum Prayers and Bike Riding Prayers caught our attention to start and then off to PAC man and Lego prayers! I find myself curious about the curious way that Rob will hear God talking.

You can pick this up at Friesen Publishing or Amazon.

A little bonus in my copy were the Prayers at Gull Lake Camp. I loved Rob’s prayerful reminiscing about the camp hall and the swing set. Let me close with a little portion that I loved:

This is a place where you dwell, Lord.
I know this because so many have turned to you here.
So many have cried out to You and surrendered to You.
You have faithfully met thousands of your children on these swings,
Answering their questions and stirring up even more.
Your hands have enveloped many people here, Lord,
As they swung in the shadow of Your wings and swayed to the winds of Your Spirit.
Lives have been changed and this place has been changed.
This holy place where people have been encountering You for nearly 100 years.

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No more resolutions, Get One Word

As I head into a new year I’m looking back at what the Lord has done for us, how he’s brought us through and I’m considering what this next year will hold.  I really enjoy the challenge of dreaming and thinking about what is to come.  How can I make positive changes to the people around me?  What legacy will I leave?A year ago I came across a new resource called Get One Word.  I listened to the seminar (click here – it was free) and I’m considering, what is the One Word that will carry me through 2013.  With the fact that I can’t even remember what my resolutions were last year, I’m hopeful that this year, I’ve found a tool that’s more helpful.
Here’s a letter I wrote to some friends last year.  I’m looking forward to doing my One Word again for this year.
Well, at least one of my friends has been pestering me, “So, what is your one word for the year?”  And it’s been a difficult but fun journey to discover my word for 2013.  The pictures are of our family painting our “Words” – Trust, Turn, Obey, Truth, Faithful & Giving.
My One Word for 2013 - painted by me!At first, I liked the word “Convergence” to describe different streams coming together – especially prayer and mission, but also converging passions and vocations.  It seemed like a good word.  Then I shared it with Christa and as I said it out loud, it just didn’t seem right.  Then, in a moment that was relatively unspiritual, I heard the word “Trust.”  It didn’t seem right either, but I just couldn’t shake it.  Trust seemed to be the word that Jesus is giving me. (It does make me a little nervous when Jesus is giving me the word trust, but maybe that’s part of the adventure he’s got for me).
Trust.  This year I’m going to build a file on trust – Bible verses, quotes, stories, songs and even pictures.  We’ll also put our pictures up in a prominent place so that we’re reminded to grow together in 2013.
How about you?  What is your one word or resolution for this next year?  I’d love to hear.
My One Word for 2013 – painted by me!


What does it take to perform like a pro?

World class athletes often have a physical edge, but what really sets them apart is the work of preparation and their ability to concentrate.  I often watch NBA players at the free throw line with hundreds of fans in the background trying to distract them with balloons or banners.  It’s hard enough to hit a free throw without all the distractions, adrenaline and pressure of the situation that concentration is required.  Probably, it’s a safe bet to say that to make the NBA (or any pro-level sport) that you’ve outworked your opponents and your concentration has been finely tuned.

From NY Times 2009

When it comes to my life in prayer, (or as Chambers encourages, my holy occupation) I’d like to pray well.   Continue reading

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A Review of The Parenting Course

Last night was the last night of our Parenting Course and I thought that you might appreciate a review of how it went for us.

We advertised by word of mouth, in the community, at church, on Facebook and targeted emails.  We were quite specific with who we advertised to because we ran it in our home and knew that not everyone would be comfortable going to someone’s house.  In the end, it was Christa and I and one other couple. Continue reading

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Book review of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

A recent revelation of mine is that I’ve become a brand – not just a person, a dad and husband, but I’ve become a commodity.    A number of months ago this reality continued to frighten me but I think I’m coming to grips with this new normal.  Starting this summer, I’m beginning to manage my own online image.

So along comes Michael Hyatt‘s book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson).  Platform is a collection of wisdom on how to get your message across when there are so many competing messages – it’s especially for writers but really for anyone who has a message that they believe is worth hearing.  Hyatt says that while content (your message) is king, your platform (how people find you) is queen.


Surprised by my neighbours

Sometimes I get very distracted by bookshelves – so many great books to read and enjoy, and so much work to procrastinate! Picked up Thom Ranier’s book, “The Unchurched Next Door,” and I’ve been ruined for the past 2 days. I’d like to share with you his top 10 surprises from the introduction (didn’t even make it to chapter 1 before I was ruined).  I’m not sure how much I like the term “unchurched”, better might be neighbour – I’ll stick with that.

#1 – Most of your neighbours prefer to attend church on Sunday
#2 – Females are usually most antagonistic or most receptive to the gospel
#3 – Most of my neighbours feel guilty about not attending church Continue reading