Our culture is far more important than our strategy of getting things done. Culture generates far more change the to-do lists ever will. We need to shift our focus to a “to-be” list, which is far better and more effective then a “to-do” list. Who and what we are becoming has to be our top priority as individuals and as a team.
I love boats. Everything about a boat is interesting to me. It’s pretty much always been that way. I have always found being on the water is one of my favorite places to be. Recently, some good friends of mine took me on a tour of the Grady White Boat Factory. We walked in the back door of the factory, because they were picking up some boat parts. The first guy I met was a man named Kirby. Kirby stopped what he was working on and walked straight over to us, called both of my friends by name, and looked me straight in the eyes. He introduced himself and began to ask me questions. He had a genuine interest in who I was and that felt I welcomed at the factory. I asked how long he has been with the company and his response blew me away. He has worked there for 47 years, he seems to be just as happy on his 47th year of work as he was on the 1st day. I was very impressed as we made our way to the front offices. Every employee we passed had a smile on their face and seemed to be happy to be at work. We walk up to the offices and out walks the CEO. Her name is Chris. She is in her sixties and is ecstatic to see my friends. Immediately after, she looks at me, and treats me with the same respect, asking me questions and engaging me in conversation. She wanted to know my story and what I was about. We talked for 10 or so minutes, and throughout our conversation we talked about books that she has read and all about how she pushed her entire staff to read and develop themselves into the leaders of tomorrow. She used constant language that was their core values and referenced her goal for her employees to “enjoy coming to work on Mondays, like going home on Fridays.” I was blown away. Here is company that makes millions, produces one of the most successful boat lines in the country, and builds 1200+ boats a year and the CEO’s main focus is that her employees enjoy coming to work. She understands that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Their culture is unprecedented in the boat world and would be a hard team to beat.
I am on a mission to improve our team’s culture. I want our church to have one of the greatest staff and volunteer cultures ever created. Not for the recognition, but because of what it does to the people that are involved. When people are apart of a winning culture, it changes them, helps them succeed and go farther in life. It helps them live a life worthy of living. A culture that is positive but aware, a culture that focuses on people. There are three things that I would challenge you to work on as I am working on.
Focus is required because we have to make sure we are focused on what is worthy of our time. People are worthy of our time, drama is not. We have to redirect our eyes, minds, and hearts onto what it is that really matters most in life, and that is the people around us. A genuine desire for others to succeed and for us to help them succeed is vital. We also can’t take out focus on the things that legitimately need to get done. We still need to place a high value on them being done right but I really do believe if we pour our hearts into loving and investing in people, the rest will come.
We all need encouragement. We need to be driving positive attitudes and seeking to encourage people to better themselves. This applies in every area. Encouraging people when they are having a hard time, but also encouraging people to lead and live better. Encouraging people to live their life as Jesus lived his is essential, because Jesus understood this idea better than anyone in history.
We have to have a culture that is eager to learn, not only from other places or books, but each other. A culture that says “I don't know everything, but I am willing to learn anything and everything I can.” If we focus our hearts on genuinely learning from the people around us, it adds value to those around us and helps us get better. Everyone wants to get better, we just sometimes are sure how. Having a heart to learn is the first step to getting better.
These three areas are the areas that are close on my heart right now, and I hope they will translate to your life too. We have a great team and a great church and that isn’t because anything else besides the people that God has placed around us… YOU. The individual people that make up our family is what makes us great, and we can not afford to miss that our people are our greatest asset. So, join with me and develop a focus on what matters, encourage and love everyone, always, and develop a tenacious heart to learn. Then step back, and watch our culture shift, productivity sky rocket, and lived know Jesus and feel loved. After all, that’s what we’re after.
Over the past several years, I have been introduced to the statement that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I have never disagreed with the statement, but I have certainly not stopped long enough to think about the weight that this statement carries. When I take personality or Strengths Finders tests, strategy comes high on my list. If you have ever met me, you probably have figured out that I love to accomplish things. Getting things done equates to the same as breathing for me. This started a long time ago as a kid when I was working for my father’s construction business. My dad required at the end of each day, when I got home, that I would go to my room and get a piece of paper. On that piece of paper, he wanted me to write the ten things that I did that day to move Goslee Construction forward. It was annoying for a thirteen year old kid, but it taught me to value of accomplishing goals. So here we are, nine years later and I am working at a church in a job that is task-oriented. It’s a job that always has something technical waiting to be accomplished. I have found that even if I have a list of accomplishments at the end of the day, I am still coming up short. I have searched and tried to understand why this is, and I believe I am in the beginning stages processing this. My heart has quite simply moved on. Massive lists of accomplishments or to do list with a bunch of check marks don’t mean what the list once meant. It’s moved from lists to people. This shift in attention has been nothing short of a process that has been hard at times... it’s a process to embrace and enjoy.