It's maddeningly easy to spend a lot of time learning about God. He's left us his word. We have centuries worth of writing from people who followed him. We can go to church and hear all kinds of interesting facts about him.
And in all of that, we can come away not knowing him.
Christ adds some scary words at the end of the sermon on the mount (Matthew 7:21–23):
On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
These are clearly people who know of him. They participate in religious practices, consider themselves a part of a community. Yet Christ’s response will be that he did not know them (and the inverse is implied, they do not truly know him). How do we ensure we’re not in this camp of people?
He gives that answer in the preceding verse:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
That’s a clear, concise answer. But it then causes us to ask, “What is the Father’s will?” I’ve always loved Jesus’s answer to this in John 6. After telling the crowd to stop working for food that perishes, but rather to work for the food that remains to eternal life, the people ask, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?”
This is the deed God requires - to believe in the one whom he sent.
But this believing is more than an intellectual knowledge. After all, even demons believe in the existence and power of the son of God (Heb James 2:19). This believing is a recognition of our need for a saviour. In the passage in John 6, Christ goes on to claim to be the bread of God, and invites the people to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood. There’s a lot of different ways to take that, but we can (hopefully) agree this invitation institutes an intimate relationship.
And that’s my point here. As we quickly approach Christmas, I want to make sure I’m making time to spend with my Lord. In one on one, intimate, personal conversation. Not to merely read my Bible, sing familiar, loved carols, or engage in the pageantry of the event. All good things.
But I want to make time for the best thing. Christ himself.
I enjoy the more practical nature of these tips. Especially the advice to have three questions he wants answered from each meeting prepped ahead of time. If he can't come up with theee questions for a given meeting, the question then becomes, "Why is this on my calendar?"
And on the lost art of punctuality:
Two minutes early. For everything. This means I look at my calendar at the beginning of the day and account for transit time. This means I gracefully leave the prior meeting five minutes before the scheduled end. This means I profusely and honestly apologize for wasting people’s time when I walk in two minutes late and this means I don’t let this failure become a habit.
Amen. It's odd to see how meeting start times morph to be later in so many organizations. But it starts at the top (which is why this is a "leadership hack").
Last month, I had the privilege of heading to the east coast to meet with our entire Customer Success team for a week. And a busy week it was. It included a stop in Georgetown (just oustide of Toronto) to visit my son, 4 days in Philly, and a quick 2 day trip to NYC.
The purpose of our train ride up the Big Apple was to take in SupConf, a relatively new event from the folks who run the Support Driven community. This was the second iteration of this event, this time run from the Digital Ocean office in Soho.
Overall, this conference was a little less polished than most I’ve attended. Which is a compliment. Where many conferences focus on the talks given, SupConf seemed to have two primary focuses:
give informative content for each talk
get conference attendees talking to each other
What I appreciated about the first area of focus is that the team behind the event mixed in a few speakers who were further into their career and used to giving talks with people who had never done this type of thing before. And each speaker worked with a team to polish their talk. Each was required submit an outline, then their slides, and work with the team to improve the presentation as needed. This showed in that no talk was terrible.
I did state that the event was “less polished”. That showed in some talks, as some speakers were clearly doing this for the first time. However, that added to the charm and the mood in the room was encouraging, rather than embarrassed or condescending. Web events need more of this: encouraging and aiding people in all stages of their career to be involved. This added to the charm of SupConf.
The second area of focus was also a bonus. As each talk ended, a question would be put on screen that was related to the talk just given. The audience was encouraged to turn to their neighbour and discuss the question at hand. And the overall intention was to move around, so you would find new people to meet during the event.
Apart from that, there were breakout sessions where each speaker was located in a different spot in the room and attendees could ask questions about their presentation or experience.
There was also the usual conference stuff. Sponsors giving swag, good food, and a photo booth. But, like any conference, the value derived is from the conversations you have. I’ve been blessed to attend some fantastic events in the past (XOXO, Brooklyn Beta), as well as some less fantastic events. SupConf was a really cosy middle ground, smaller in size and focused on the right things.
As for the content itself, there was some good value. For our team, it was a great reminder of how good we have it at Wildbit. A good number of the talks were focused on how support teams can improve their standing in their company, something we never have to deal with. However, there were a couple of talks focused on how to use data and how to make compelling cases from that data that helped me think “big picture” … always a good thing.
Mike Vardy talks a little about how he uses paper in conjunction with his overall digital productivity system. While his overall list of tasks is in an app, he uses paper for a few purposes. One stuck out to me:
There are times when I feel stuck, and that’s when I’ll bring some of the items in my task manager onto the larger paper pad/notebook. This gives me a good view at what I’ve got on tap for the day. Then I’ll evaluate those items in tandem with other factors (energy level, whether it is a heavy-lifting or a light-lifting day, etc.) just to give me a better chance to push through it.
This is similar to a link I shared a couple weeks ago, and I subscribe to this practice. And like Mike, my hybrid system uses paper to manage my day to day as well as to “clear the decks” from time to time.
I wanted to remind you that The Focus Course is open for registration as of today. Shawn and his team have refreshed the course and added new content (including the recent Focus Summit videos). For all those who sign up early on, there is also the chance to win some cool prizes.
Full disclosure: as a guest of the Focus Summit, I benefit from referring people to sign up for The Focus Course. I hope that you’ve been reading here long enough to know that I don’t recommend products & services because I benefit, but because I use them myself and am a fan. That is the same for The Focus Course. There will be no regular endorsements of this type, nor ads of any kind, included in The Weekly Review.
This is a special situation because I value how The Focus Course benefitted me. As I wrote in last week's issue of The Weekly Review:
As I’ve written about many times in the past, this course benefitted me greatly. As I worked through it over the better part of 2015, it really solidified my thinking on these topics. But even better, it helped me hone how I work. My routines and habits. Combined with Deep Work, nothing has changed how I approach my work more than this course.
If you dislike referral programs of any sort, please go to The Focus Course site directly: https://thefocuscourse.com. It’s worth your time — and money!
This one is an interesting link. It’s not to an article, but rather to a response to a response. Jason Fried wrote about why Basecamp does not conduct status meetings, then followed up on several responses to his post. This one stuck out to me, as he followed up to a person who stated, “Some of us just are not that good at writing stuff down.”
It’s worth working on becoming a better writer. So much communication these days is written. It doesn’t matter if it’s chat or longform — if you can’t communicate through the written word you’re at a major disadvantage.
I couldn’t agree more. Working remotely for 7 years has taught me the importance of being able to articulate my thoughts in written form (and I still need so much improvement). The benefits of writing are myriad.
The sentiment expressed above is a form of laziness; whether in a remote team or not, most teams can benefit from team members taking some time to hone their thoughts. That’s part of the issue of meetings: it’s easy to throw out any thought that come to mind, regardless of how valuable or unformed it is. The process of putting these thoughts to “paper” results in better contributions.