what about results?

Some people claim that results are “cold” or devalue people or are too hard to measure, but I think differently. Especially in ministry, our results are people and results mean changed lives… often for all eternity. At home, I definitely work toward positive results in my marriage and my children. It can be difficult to measure those results, but it matters to me to do well.

Henry Cloud, in his book Integrityrecognizes that there are some results that we cannot control, but claims that in most cases, character affects fruitfulness. He says that many people know the “what”or “how” of the work, but still do not produce good results. He claims that the missing ingredient is in “who” they are.

What I do… is intimately connected… to who I am.

In the 9th chapter of Integrity, Cloud mentions five important character elements for achieving results:

1. understand who I am and what I do well  Successful, effective people do better because they know what they like and don’t like, what they are good at and where they are weak… and they set up healthy boundaries based on their values. They don’t chase an idealized picture of themselves, practice a false humility, or fold to pressure from others… but rather they work well in teams with others who can complement their weak areas.

Am I pretending that I am someone I’m not? Am I trying to do what I am not created for in order to please someone else? Do I work alone?

2. prepare and focus before I act – Cloud describes this as “ready, aim… and then fire”.  Being ready involves discipline, evaluative thought, and delayed gratification. It means avoiding rash decisions, “winging it” and impulsive actions. To aim is to live within reality and limits… not be “all over the place” with ideas and dreams. And fire means actually getting things done.

Do I have a plan… for my marriage, my family, my job? Do I know where I want to go? Am I doing the prep work to get me to my goals?

3. willing to make the hard calls  I already wrote about this is my “no more mr. nice guy” post, but there are a few challenging quotes from this chapter that I want to remember.

      “Past being mean and uncaring, virtually nothing erodes respect in a person                       more than his or her inability to make the hard call.”

“The patient, the company, and the family will be better in the end…” 

Do I have the courage and the ability to make the difficult decisions that some people won’t like, but are for the best?

4. find a way – To achieve results, people often have to persevere through hard times, make changes, accept failures, overcome obstacles. Cloud states that, “perseverance takes courage, stamina, emotional reserves, judgment, creativity…”

Do I quit easily or do I have what it takes to keep going? 

5. learn to lose well – Most breakthrough inventions and ideas have numerous “well, that didn’t work” projects behind them. The keys to losing well are facing the reality of failure, accepting responsibility, and learning from the experience. Sometimes losing is just giving up something good for something better.

Do I take time to grieve and evaluate the loss? Do I blame others or do I consider my contribution to the error? Am I afraid to let go of something that is not the best?

Fruitfulness depends on focusing on who I am and what I do. I don’t want to sacrifice dreams, goals, or mission purposes because of my personal immaturity. I want to grow in character. What do you think about results?

truth matters

road sign for the town of Truth or Consequences, NM
© Alamy-Jonathan Larsen

Henry Cloud, in his book, Integrity, writes that many people lie… actually most of us do, in some form or another.

How about the little “white” lie answer to, “How are you doing?” Do I say “fine” when I’m not really fine? Or if someone asks me, “So… how did I do?”, do I give them honest feedback or do I respond with a generic, “Great”? What about when someone wants me to “fudge” on a recommendation letter, or a stats report, or a financial designation? Do I “help them out, or do I tell the truth?

Cloud states, “People of good character are people who can be trusted to tell the truth.”

  • Truth about myself – I’ve heard many times to consider reality as my friend. It doesn’t help to hide, avoid or deny reality – especially about myself. One powerful element of leadership is self-awareness, understanding my strengths and weaknesses. If I don’t contend with my weak areas, others will. I don’t want to be the fool who’s not really fooling anyone except myself. Although it is not easy for me, I am learning to seek out truth – ask others (husband, co-workers, boss, friends) for an evaluation, request feedback about my leadership, apply what they tell me, and seek help where I am weak.

      Will I pursue the truth?

  • Truth about others – I’ve written before about my desire to please others and be the “nice guy“. It is hard to tell people the truth when it may hurt them, but there is a big difference between a surgeon who causes pain while saving a life and a murderer who causes pain when taking a life. The pain itself is not bad – intent is what matters. I am learning that I sometimes have to tell someone a painful truth in order to help them mature, change, or make a wise decision. If I use tact, care, empathy, and respect when I speak, the truth pill is easier to swallow. The temporary pain is for their good; if I withhold the truth because of my fear of rejection or negative reaction, I have put my comfort ahead of their well-being.

      Do I care enough to tell the truth?

  • Truth about my world – In our ministry, we used to do an honest evaluation of our progress every school quarter. We would look at the stats numbers and consider the brutal-truth information they provided. We would celebrate where we were doing well, and we would prayerfully adjust our plans and activities wherever we were missing the mark. Cloud calls this assimilation and accommodation.

The world is changing at breakneck speed. If I am not willing to let go of the “way we’ve always done it”, or if I mislead investors with a sugar-coated story that conceals the real numbers, or if I intentionally tell my teammates only a partial truth about my actions, I – and the organization – will never be able to grow to meet the demands of our reality. No growth = death.

      Am I willing to respond to the truth?

___________

Do you struggle with telling the truth?

What helps you remember that the truth matters?

are you happy to see me?

My dog Mandy loves me. She wags her whole body as soon as she sees me. She dances a little jig, and if I would let her, she would joyfully do a five foot vertical leap to kiss me smack on the lips. Sometimes I forget to feed her on time, sometimes her water dish goes dry, sometimes I don’t give her any attention all day… It doesn’t matter; I don’t deserve it, but she is always happy to see me. 

People aren’t like that.

Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni and others state that one of the most important elements in relationships is trust… and I have to deserve it; I have to build it; I have to earn it. I have learned a lot about trust from Henry Cloud’s book, Integrity.

  • The first way that I earn trust is by connecting authentically with others. People feel like I connect with them if I listen for understanding – really hear them, with empathy and validation for their concerns. Connection happens when the people I work with feel that I truly value them, that I care, that I invest in them. I will not always do what they suggest, but they know I will hear them out, consider their ideas, and never discount how I affect them with my actions.
  • Trust is also built by looking out for other’s interests. Cloud calls this “extending favor”. In other words, I am “watching their back”, and I am on their side. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals or performance standards, but it means that I will do all I can to help, train, encourage or provide resources so that others are successful. If I have built trust, they can be confident that I will always speak well of them, and I will always speak up for them. They never have to worry that they might “get on my bad side” or that I might turn on them.
  • I also build trust by balancing power and vulnerability. Others can trust me when they see that I make things happen and get things down. I earn trust when I am competent and responsible, and when I follow through with what I said I would do. On the flip side, I also need to acknowledge my mistakes and faults at times. When I am authentic about my own challenges, others gain courage to face their own. When I am honest about my weaknesses and needs, others can identity; they are often willing to help, and we build more trust in the process.

Since trust is the basis of relationships, I need be constantly evaluating how I am doing in my relationships at work and at home. Am I connecting? Do they know I care? Do they know that I am “for” them?  Can they depend on me to get things done? Have I been real with them?

Are they happy to see me?

How do you build trust? How have others earned your trust?

(** If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “how’s my wake?” – more from Henry Cloud’s book, Integrity.)

how is my “wake”?

I have been reading Henry Cloud’s book, Integrity, and evaluating the integrity of my leadership.  Here is a quick preview of the first two chapters of the book…

Cloud starts off summarizing some important requisites for success in this world:

  1. Have a set of Competencies – I need to be good at something…or various somethings… I will need to learn and have abilities to offer to my family, my job, my world.
  2. Be an Alliance Builder – Leaders who are successful understand the importance of creating and building relationships and partnerships…making a bigger impact through mutually beneficial alliances.

As important as these two points are, Cloud writes that the most important element to successful leadership is Integrity – which he defines as the ability to meet the demands of reality.

He also defines integrity as “having the character to not screw up” – saying:

who a person is will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed.

… so integrity is more than just not lying or not stealing…

Henry Cloud challenged me to evaluate my integrity by looking at the “wake” I leave behind me (like a boat leaves a wake behind as it moves through the water).

The wake has two parts: task and relationship, basically what do I accomplish and how do I deal with people in the process?

These are some of the questions he suggested that I am using for evaluating how I am doing in my integrity:

  • TASK: Are goals being reached?  Is there growth/progress in the organization or in my home? Is our mission being accomplished?  Are tasks getting completed? Are new ways of doing things being introduced and perfected?  Is there a stronger reputation for the work and the ministry? Do we have better systems and processes? Cleaner operations? Are profits being made, finances being raised? Is my house in order, my kids learning new things?

…Or does my task wake look like: un-reached goals, disorganization, chaos, inactivity, loss of focus, resources and money loss?

Performance and results tell us a lot about a person.  Results matter!

  • PEOPLE: Are people more trusting after working with me?  Are they more fulfilled as people? Have they grown as a result of associating with me?  Do they feel that I encouraged them?  Did they learn from me?  Are they inspired to be more and do more?
…Or does my wake leave people: wounded, hurting, manipulated, angry, feeling put down, devalued, unappreciated and inferior?  
And the key question:  Would they do it again?
 
Being in transition right now is a great time for me to look back at my wake and see how I’ve done… I have to admit, it is a bit scary to honestly consider where my lack of character or integrity may have negatively affected my results and/or my relationships… at work and at home…
 
On the other hand, it is worth doing since, as Henry Cloud says:
“All of us can always change and be better.”  
 
I am asking God help me grow in my integrity.  How about you?